Its that time of the year again. The holidays have come and gone and many of us are now facing the winter months ahead in which we will be forced to answer that nagging question, Will I make good on my New Years resolutions? In todays independent self help culture, New Years resolutions are almost exclusively about me. Whether the resolution is to go on a new diet, to get out of debt, exercise more, get organized or quit smoking most resolutions are focused on the improvement of ones own health and well being. But when the Christmas lights are taken down and the holiday events are over, how about implementing a resolution to improve the health and well being of our relationships? Resolutions focused on self-improvement are fine and often worthwhile, but improvement on the health of our marriages and families really show great benefits for men, women and children. Family success has nothing to do with luck or fate and has everything to do with obedience and submission to God and His eternal truths. Today we will look at a passage in Colossians in which the Apostle Paul provides biblical essentials to having healthy relationships. We will also see how the benefits of these principles, when lived out, provide success to marriages and families, thus giving us in our lives, what we will call home field advantage.
What is the Current Situation of the American Family?
- A persons marriage starting out today has about a 41-43% chance of ending in divorce, 60-67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. (Research gathered by Glenn T. Stanton, Director of Global Insight for Cultural and Family Renewal and Senior Analyst for Marriage and Sexuality at Focus on the Family)
- Only 1/3 of couples going into marriage have pre-marriage preparation. 85% of couples who divorce have had no preparation of any kind.
- Cohabitation (sexual partners sharing a household) has increased 1100% in forty years. Over 50% of first marriages are preceded by cohabitation. Almost 40% of cohabitating households have children in them. (The National Marriage Project: The State of Our Unions 2006)
- In 1930 84% of adult households were married. Today that number is just under 50%.
- New research indicates divorce costs taxpayers an estimated $112 billion in federal and state expenditures annually. (Smart Marriages 2008)
- The average American family has $9,800 in credit card debt. (ABC News)
- Cost of divorce: emotional agony, social stigma, pain for children and serious financial loss to both parties.
- The Harvard Prophecy: 1947 report called The Family and Civilization found that throughout history major civilizations have tended to begin with the society built upon a strong family unit that resembled the biblical model. The downfall of each society was directly associated with the breakdown of that traditional family unit.
What Describes a Healthy Marriage and Family?
- Marriage between a man and a woman was designed by God (Ge 2:24) and approved and sanctioned by the Lord Jesus (Mt 19:4-6).
- Where there is companionship and intimacy for the various members of the family (Ge 2:24)
- Where there is lifelong commitment between husband and wife.
- Where there is work and employment to provide for each other.
- Where there is love and service to each other and the Lord.
- Where there is harmony in which love for God and neighbor are in-stilled into each member (Dt 7:3-4)
- Where unconditional love, respect & honor (Eph 5:33) and how to forgive and be forgiven are taught and practiced. (Col 3:13)
- Where there is a provision of joy, love, morality and security.
- Where parents build trust and provide spiritual development to their children as disciples and help them listen to the Lords voice. (Mt 11:25, Ps 8:2, Mt 22:37)
- Where children learn to honor and obey their parents as this pleases God. (Col 3:20)
How can I Have a Healthy Marriage & Family?
1) Resolve to have Christ-like Character (v12)
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
a) Know who you are as a Christian.
Beloved dearly loved, part of the family of God.
Im the object of Gods love set apart for great things.
Holy as believers in Christ we are being set apart for His service.
Im not living life for myself anymore but Im to be in a relationship with Jesus and live for Him. He is the Lord! He is the boss! New motivation.
b) Allow Christ to change your character.
As a believer God wants to conform you into His image. (Eph 4:24)
As a believer my behavior changes:
- Put off immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed, which amounts to idolatry. (Col 3:5)
Put off anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech from your mouth. Quit lying. (Col 3:8-9)
Put on heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
2) Resolve to Forgive (v 13)
bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
a) Bearing with one another - putting up with others and enduring discomfort.
Enduring discomfort makes us a long-suffering person. Love bears all things
endures all things. (1Co 13:7-8).
We are all going to require support at some period in our lives due to our common human frailty.
b) Forgiving each other - not holding a grudge or grievance.
Motive: The Christian forgives out of being forgiven. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Eph 4:32)
Question: Is it appropriate for one who knows the joy and release of being forgiven to refuse to share that blessing with another?
One of marriages primary purposes is to teach us how to forgive.
Forgiveness is not limited (Mt 18:22)
Sin in marriage (on the part of both spouses) is a daily reality, an ongoing struggle that threatens to hold us back. You will never find a spouse who is without sin. Your spouse will eventually hurt you, so make the decision now to be a forgiving person.
Steps of forgiveness: Repent of your own sin, release the other person from your condemnation and bless them (Bless and pray for your enemies. Luke 6:27-28)
Results of forgiveness unity (blessing) and mutual reconciliation. Psalm 133
3) Resolve to love and be peaceful (vv 14-15)
Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
a) Love (Agape) means doing what is best for another person.
Motivation of love As Jesus loves us we are also to love each other. (Jn 13:34)
Power of love The bond that holds the whole family (& church) together.
Examples of love Patience, not keeping record of wrongs, listening, serving, respect, good manners and spending quality time with each other.
b) Peace of Christ is to rule in our hearts. This means that we ask which choice will produce peace in our souls and relationships according to the Word of God. In a conflict will I choose to be right or to be righteous.
Christians are to be peacemakers, to pursue peace and cling to it with all our might. (Mt 5:9)
Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (Jas 3:18)
4) Resolve to Grow (vv 16-17)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another
a) I need to be teachable. Allow the Word of God, the commands of Christ to teach and change me.
b) I need to learn how to live in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Kill the flesh. for the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. (Ro 8:6)
We must have the power of the Holy Spirit to have the right kind of marriage and family relationships.
Vows and promises alone, no matter how sincere, can never overcome the power of the world, the flesh or the devil. It can only be done by experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit. (Jim Cymbala)
c) Read the Bible together as a couple and a family. Discuss its truths and how to live those out. Great way to disciple each other.
d) Pray together Be sure to thank God as well as petition Him for the needs in your life. Pray as a couple and as a family.
e) Attend church together. Be involved and find ways to serve (missions, ministry, community service, etc.)
f) Be in community have a support system.
g) Attend marriage conferences and classes to grow and keep learning together.
Benefits The Home Field Advantage
- Married people live longer than unmarried or divorced people. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000)
- Married people are happier than single, widowed or cohabiting people. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000)
- Married people have more sex and a better quality sexual relationship. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000)
- Married people are more successful in their careers, earn more and have more wealth. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000; Antonovics & Town, 2004)
- Children from homes where the parents are married tend to be more academically successful, more emotionally stable and less likely to have premarital sexual intercourse. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000; Manning & Lamb, 2003)
- Two-parent households protect children from the negative effects of poverty. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
- Adolescents living with both biological parents exhibit lower levels of problem behavior than peers from any other family type. (Carlson, 2006)
- Healthy marriages and families can be evangelistic in that they show the world the results of living out Gods principles.
- Healthy marriages and families are a model that teach the next generation.
- Healthy marriages and families can be a ministry that provide mentoring to help struggling relationships.