The ABC-TV sitcom “Family Matters” aired from 1989 until 1998. It was an entertaining comedy about the Winslow family in Chicago, Illinois, who had a nerdy neighbor, Steve Urkel, played by Jaleel White. “Family Matters” was a good television series, but this devotional is not about that program.
The term “family matters” can be interpreted two ways. It may mean a situation or state of affairs, something, like: “Our finances are a family matter.” Or it may mean something of real value or consequence, like: “Among things that really count, family matters most.” This is the sense of meaning I want to address.
Family matters. It is obvious that the family unit is the foundation upon which communities, cities, states and nations, is built. The family, as designed by God, is to execute His plan for monogamous relationships and for increasing the human population with good people. God said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Based on the solid foundation of marital commitments to each other, God designed the family structure to be led by a man and a woman—functioning as husband and wife—father and mother. These two similar but uniquely different individuals, together, became a complementary team responsible to bring up children who would be born to them. A mother and father, who train, educate and discipline their offspring, best accomplish the nurturing of children, who then grow into conscientious adults.
God planned for children to be brought up by parents. Young ones need the input, example, training, teaching, nurture and discipline that only parents can best provide. Proverbs 29:15 reads, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” The KJV renders it, “a child left to himself,” whereas the NIV translates it, “an undisciplined child.” All renderings mean the same thing—if a child is left to himself, or if he always gets his own way without discipline—he probably will not turn out well. That is why babies are dependent on their parents—to be loved, cared for, taught, disciplined and corrected by them—for their own good.
Even God practices corrective discipline with His spiritual children because it results in improved behavior. Hebrews 12:10 reminds us that God “disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” The discipline of God on His spiritual children, like the correction of parents on theirs’, is not enjoyable to receive, but is beneficial in results. Verse 11 goes on to say: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
The foundation of human society is marriage and the family. It is the support underpinning every aspect of our humanity. Family matters more than most people realize. Family matters because it is the cornerstone—the linchpin—the pivot-point of our very civilization.
One of the most famous passages of Scripture in the Old Testament is called the “Shema,” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). These verses compose the groundwork of Jewish family life, and are as important to families today, as when Moses wrote them 3500 years ago. Here God lays out principles to live by and commands to obey, so that life can be long and enjoyable.
The Shema begins by commanding fathers to know God’s Word, if they would share its truth. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart” (Deut. 6:5-6). Parents must Love the Lord with all their heart, soul and might, then keep His Word in their hearts.
Next, parents were to communicate spiritual truth to their children in the context of daily life. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (verse 7).
Obedience to God and communicating His Word should never be confined to Sundays. Instead, parents who love their children and want God’s best for them should insert principles of biblical instruction into the activities of everyday, normal life. Did you notice when and where teaching was to happen? It should occur: “when you sit in your house….when you walk by the way…when you lie down…and when you rise up.”
Teach your children about the Lord when you sit at your table to eat. Offer thanks to God, showing dependence upon Him. Talk about the Lord when you walk by the way, or when you are driving your car. Share truth about God when your children go to bed, and when they get up in the morning. All these are prime teaching opportunities for the observant, loving parent!
Professor Howard Hendricks used to quote this formula for child-rearing success: CP=MI (Close Proximity=Maximum Impact). If parents want to have the greatest effect for Christ on their children, they must be close to them—spiritually, emotionally and physically. The greater distance between—the more barriers allowed—the less impact parents will have on their children.
Since family matters more than almost anything on the planet: Spend some time getting to know your Lord—make time to spend with your children—be alert for opportunities to teach—be ready to share spiritual truth—then watch God work in their lives. Yes—Family Matters!