Plethos Discipleship - We are helping each family unit be a love and truth center
This week we are discussing the third ‘We are’ statement, “Helping each family unit be a love and truth center”. This is a profound truth to consider and we are privileged to do so tonight.
One morning I sat in my office and talked to an old friend of mine. He has been estranged from his son for as long as I have known him. We have often prayed for him and his son to be reconciled together but there has been no movement in that direction after all of these years. This morning he sat on the couch in my office discouraged and ready to abandon all efforts to continue. He told me of an encounter recently when he saw his son with his five daughters and he went to say hi to them. His son did not acknowledge his dad and turned and walked away. How would you encourage this dad?
A few hours later I was again sitting in my office with another man who would in a few hours sit down with a young husband who was angry and frustrated with his wife. In that moment he did not respond in a godly way. Rather, in his anger he told his wife that he did not love her and that he thought that he had probably made a mistake in getting married. These words, as you can imagine, have broken her heart and caused great pain. Again, how would you counsel the husband?
This week, we are looking at the fact that a disciple of Christ is called to help each family unit be a love and truth center. The two example that I just shared above are not the exception; they are the norm for so many of us in some way. Relationships are difficult. Often we respond poorly when it really mattered. As a result, feelings are hurt, promises are broken, damage is done.
We see the great need to help to make each family unit be a love and truth center; but is it too late? Will people believe it is possible to restore and recover what God intended for these relationships? Will they listen to a disciple who comes in love with their bibles open saying, “God loves you and wants to speak the truth to you that can help in this very situation?”
Building relationships is so difficult that people are often leaving relationships, neighborhoods, and churches all the time when conflict arises. I think that we all understand that building homes, relationships and church communities is very difficult. They are often very messy. They try our patience. They make us throw up our hands and say, “I quit”.
Ten years ago Mindy and I built the house that we are currently living in. I still remember the day that we finally found a house plan that we both liked. That was a big hurdle for us. I may have liked the two-story house plans but she would like the ranch style house. I will admit that there were days when I wondered if we would ever agree on a house plan that we both would like. When we finally found that house plan I was so excited. Then I realized that we still had to pick out all of the hundred other little details that go into building a house.
When we built the house I would often tell my wife that I only want to be in charge of two things where our house was concerned. Then I would tell her that I only wanted to be in charge of everything inside and on the outside of the house. In other words, since deciding all of these things seemed so difficult I only wanted to be in charge of the two things that would include every decision that needed to be made. Now, that is not how we built this house. We made these decisions together and most of the time it worked out quite nicely. In fact, I will admit to you that Mindy has done so much more to make this house a home than I could ever have done. And I really would not want it any other way.
If building a home is difficult then I would think that building families and communities can be even more difficult. Yet, we are called to build our families and churches into love and truth centers. As we have seen, not only are healthy families a challenge to build; but often times we see that because of our sinful nature we can make them self-destruct. Consider Proverbs 14:1, “The wisest of women builds her house; but folly with her own hands tears it down.”
Have you ever seen a home that was built wisely? Have you seen a family that operated in truth and love? Have you ever been to a church and seen believers live together in a healthy and wise manner? These families and churches may be rare today but they do exist. One of the reasons I moved up here to Wisconsin was to be by my in-laws who could model for me what a godly and healthy family would look like.
Some years ago our family left a church and at that time I wondered if there was even one church that would be safe, healthy and biblical. I was very pessimistic about churches at the time and I really thought that it would take over a year to find a church if one even existed. It was in that season of my life that God showed me that there are many healthy churches with faithful ministers who truly want to honor the LORD. In fact, within two weeks we found the church that we would attend and feel at home. Now, no family is perfect and no church is flawless; but the wisest of them builds the house. The wisest always seeks to build up and never to tear down.
Proverbs 14:1 contains both beauty and sadness. It speaks of the wisest of women who builds a house and of a foolish woman who tears it down with her own hands. Is there anything more beautiful than seeing what a godly person can build? And is there anything more tragic than seeing someone who with their own hands will tear it down foolishly?
Recently, I took a tour of ‘America’s greatest architect’ – Frank Lloyd Wright. I was shocked to see that his home would never even come close to passing an inspection if it were inspected today. In fact, the home is literally sliding down the face of the hill that it was built upon. The front of the home is kept from sliding down the hill by big timbers. The lady who gave us the tour said that Wright did not consider homes to be permanent; rather they are to be temporary. As a result, of this his home would take hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair today.
As a builder for twenty years I once built a home for a lady who wanted to pick out many of the things we used in the home. She picked out her own sub-contractors and many of her own lights and appliances. Ten years after the sale of the home her dad called our company and asked to see a representative. I went there with the house folder in my hand and the first words he said to me were, “Let’s be honest with each other. You did not build this house to last.” I did not get upset or offended with him; however, I did open the file up and if he mentioned he had an issue with something I looked to see who was responsible for getting it. Every issue he had was with the things that his daughter was responsible for. She bought the cheapest products and they were the ones that were failing. Ironically, the father was so excited about the basement he finished for her that he asked me to come and look at it. The first thing I noticed was that he did not run any heat runs or returns in the basement. I will remind you that we live in Wisconsin!
The wisest people will build their homes; but folly will tear it down with their own hands, with their mouths, with their decisions and actions.
I find myself wondering, If a fool tears down their home with their own hands, who built it in the first place? I suppose that someone might build a building and then one day go crazy and tear it down. But let me add another option. God in his goodness has blessed every person. He allows all people to have relationships and engage in marriage. The Lord builds and erects these things in us and if we will honor Him and His Word they will last. However, we are commanded not to separate what the LORD has joined together. He joins and we are not to tear apart. He constructs and we are not to tear down. He blesses these unions with His Spirit and we are not to grieve the Spirit.
So how are we to build wisely? How can we not be foolish and tear down our families with our own hands and with our own words?
Christians are called to be love and truth centers. We are to be Christlike, filled with the Spirit and empowered by the Gospel in the way we construct our homes and our relationships. We build our homes and families by caring enough to dig deep to the bedrock and placing the foundation of that home upon Christ and His Word. Then when the storms of life come it will stand. It will not be washed away. (Matthew 7:24-27) Storms will come, devastating winds and floods will come, but a wise person will have built in such a way that the home will survive.
It is not the same with the foolish person. Those who do not hear and do what Jesus says will be like those who build their lives on the sand. Jesus says, “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell and great was the fall of it.”
What type of family or church life do you want to be engaged in? Galatians 5:19-24 gives us a good picture of what a health and an unhealthy life looks like. In Galatians 5:19-21 tells us that those who are not led by the Spirit are led by the flesh. The flesh producers sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. Paul warns us that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
However, those who are led by the Spirit of God will display the fruit of the Spirit. They will be bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (22-23)
There are four areas that we may find ourselves in as we come to the topic of being a family and church that is a love and truth center.
First, we may be worldly. We may find that we are apathetic in love and in truth. We confess Christ, but our lives are conformed to the world. We reflect the worlds thoughts, beliefs, actions. If this is the case, we are a person who is low in truth and in love.
Secondly, we may be a person who takes pride in truth but who displays very little love. This person thinks that they are like Christ but they are prideful, critical and legalistic. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. This person is trying to live by their own power and expects others to do the same.
Thirdly, we may find that we feel we are like Christ. We strongly identify with love but we tolerate sin even if it destroys the person, the family or the church. This is a person who enables others and approves of the sin that they see. They speak of love but it is not tempered and guided by the truth of God’s word.
Fourthly, there are those who are operating in both love and truth. They are becoming more and more like Christ who Himself was full of grace and truth. They are filled with the Spirit and empowered by the gospel. They are daily displaying love and truth.
In ministry I have often been encouraged by 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” If Paul is encouraging us to be patient in this process with all these people, how patient does that mean that God is with each of us.
May God’s grace be abundantly supplied to you and I as we grow in love and truth.