RBBC, San Diego I Peter 3:7
5-13-07 Family Relationship
Extreme Makeover #1: The Family
"Good morning, Cox family!" "Good morning, Harris family!" That perky male voice shouting through a bullhorn isn’t exactly the most tranquil start to your day, but for the Cox and Harris families, it was a very-welcomed one. For Extreme Makeover host Ty Pennington was giving them the confirmation that they'd hoped for. In the span of one week (or an hour for TV viewers) the reality show would remarkably transform their dilapidated houses into extravagant dream homes. At the end of the week when Ty Pennington shouts “Move that Bus” to reveal their new home, the Cox Family leaped into the air, embrace one another and jubilantly shout. The Harris family on the other hand, just stood quietly with tears running down their cheeks, unable to express the flood of emotions they were feeling. Both responses reveal the life-changing impact that they were experiencing through the extravagant generosity of others who cared for them.
What if God’s voice were to awaken you this morning? And you knew when you heard “Good Morning, Marcy” or “Good morning, Steve!” that He was offering you a much-welcomed makeover in your life. It would bring a whole new transformation promising to exceed your wildest dreams! Wouldn’t it be great? Wouldn’t it be huge! Well, let’s ask God for that in these next few weeks as we study the book of Ephesians. He can do it, you know! For in Eph 1:3 we are reminded that we are blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. And then a few verses later in Eph 3:
We are starting our new six week series on relationships today focusing mostly on Ephesians 5-6 but using other passages as well. We’re are shamelessly using this familiar TV show’s title and logo calling it “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” because we are dealing with relationships that affect the home over these next several weeks.
And because today is Mother’s Day, it’s a great time to talk about families. The Census Bureau defines a family as people who live in the same house. Others would define a family as people who share the same last name. But most of know that a family setting is much broader than the traditional idea of a mom, dad, kids, and possibly a dog. The fact is only one out of every six people in the United States live in a traditional setting. So, what about the remaining 84%? If your home has been broken by death or divorce, God has not turned his back on you. Whatever your family situation is, He wants to help you be the strongest family you can possibly be.
And a good place to start is to acknowledge that there are no perfect families out there. Have you noticed that yet? Did you hear about the eight-year-old son of an obstetrician/ gynecologist? Twice he was heard telling a caller on the phone, "Sorry you have the wrong number. There's no plumber here." Finally his mother took the phone. The voice on the other end was so relieved, "Thank goodness I got you. I’ve been trying to tell your little boy that… my water's broken." Or what about the little girl who came home from school and announced, “We learned how to make babies today!” Her apprehensive mother asked, "Well, how do you do that?" And the little girl answered, "Easy, just change the y to i and add es." Children keep us on our toes.
What do women or mothers want from men in their families? A group of them got together and wrote: “Every now and again, we want somebody else to pick the restaurant, arrange the playdate, plan the seating, buy the tickets, do the laundry, schedule the appointment, pack the bags, balance the books, send the gift, walk the dog, fill out the forms, break the silence, lift the ban, make the payment, count the calories, hold the phone, explain the joke, beat the odds, hit the ground running, win the race, and save the day while we sleep past noon in high-thread-count sheets and a cashmere blanket. In other words,” these women wrote, “we want time off for good behavior.”
And so there are no perfect families today but there is a way for imperfect families to thrive during challenging times. One of the best places to look for advice on the family is in the Bible. Families for generations have turned to it. They have found advice on how to build stronger family relationships. And the principles found there are rock solid and time tested.
This morning we’re going to take a look at I Peter 3:7 as well as a few other verses which highlight some timeless principles for building family relationships. Sometimes these verses are applied to specific relationships in the home but we are going to simply acknowledge this and apply them to all of us in the home. And in the process, we’ll discover some great INVESTMENT TIPS for growing strong families.
Warren Buffet is one of the richest men in America. Many look to him for investment advice. He’s written a book about his investment strategies called The Warren Buffet Way.
If you could sit down with Warren Buffet and learn some investment tips, wouldn’t you be interested? Now imagine for a moment that you could sit down with God and learn some investment tips from Him on growing family relationships. Wouldn’t you be interested in that too? What kind of investments does the Bible recommend?
I. Investment Tip #1 is to… be considerate. Turn with me to I Peter 3:7. I Peter is a book in the New Testament that was written by one of Jesus disciples about 30 years after Jesus’ death. It is considered one of the best loved and most read. It’s distinctive characteristic is that of “warmth.” It was written to a group of Christians coming from Greek and Jewish backgrounds who felt marginalized living in outskirts of the Roman in Asia Minor. They were living at a time when the Roman Emperor Nero would begin to persecute them. It was not easy to live as a Christian in Roman society and model what it would be like to be a Christian family. And so Peter instructs them on how to live in difficult times.
In chapter three, Peter talks about husbands and wives. He tells husbands in 1 Peter 3:7 (read). Peter urges husbands to be considerate of their wives. They are to live with them in such a way that they show consideration.
What does that mean? What does it mean to be considerate of someone in your family?
One way you show consideration is by… Listening to them! Good relationships are built on mutual understanding! Understanding begins with…. listening! If you feel that someone is listening to you, you feel respected and understood!
Shakespeare said in Hamlet “Give every man your ear but seal your tongue!” James urges in his book, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak.” An old Irish proverb says, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.”
Chris Conway is a single parent, the father of two teenage sons. The boys had gotten involved with a youth group and were very enthusiastic about it. Mr. Conway asked them what they liked about the group, and the older son answered, "We can tell the leaders really care about us by the way they listen to us."
This surprised single parent dad said, "I listen to you."
His son replied, "I know that. But you are always doing something else. All you ever say is 'yes' 'no' or 'I'll think about it.'" At that moment, Chris Conway decided that he was going to focus on listening to his sons. At dinner each night, whenever one of the boys would speak, he would stop eating, set down his fork, turn to him and listen. This revolutionized his relationship with his sons. And since he spent so much time listening at the dinner table, he lost fifteen pounds during the first five weeks. Most importantly, the average length of their evening meal went from less than 10 minutes to almost 45.
Sometimes in a family we need to listen more. Concentrating on what a family member is saying shows consideration and communicates that they are important.
A second way you show consideration in your family is by just being kind to them! Prov. 4:3 portrays a neat picture of how kindness can permeate the home life, “ Kindness is looking toward other family member’s needs and doing what is good for them in light of their needs.
One of the best ways to show kindness is by empathizing with them. We need to know that others are on our team. We need to know that our motives are understood, especially when they make mistakes.
One morning, David Leroy's mother announced that she needed to take some clothes to the cleaners. "I'll move the car around front for you, Mom," said David and then, quick as a flash, he was out the door before his mom could protest. David Leroy was so excited as he rushed to bring the car out that he forgot to close the car door, and as he backed out, the open door smacked against the garage, the door ripped completely off and fell with a sickening thud to the ground! His dad arrived home just in time for supper. David chose not to eat that night. Somehow, he just didn't have any appetite! Rather, he stood sheepishly out of sight, just outside the kitchen door and listened as his mother told his dad what had happened. David braced himself and anticipated the worst! His Dad’s response, caught him by surprise and touched him deeply: "Well, you're right, Ruby. The car is precious to me, but not as precious as David Leroy. Just as you said, he didn't mean to do it. He was just trying to help. We can get the car fixed. The main thing is that no one got hurt. He's our son, and he must feel awful right about now. We just need to love him through this."
You might be interested to know that David Leroy become one of the great preachers of America and in one of his messages, he reminisced about that episode: "Mom interceded for me, and Dad forgave me. The way my parents responded that day touched me more deeply than I could ever describe. I learned from them that day something of what God is like. I learned from them that day the meaning of grace--and it is, indeed, amazing."
Would that be something you could do more of in your family? Could you be somebody who would yield your personal right what you perceive it to be and maybe start being a little more consideration of other members in your family?
There’s another tip that if God were sitting down with us, I’m confident he would recommend.
II. Investment tip #2 is to…. show respect.
Peter says to husbands in particular but we’re going to apply to family members in general, show respect. He urges them not only to be considerate but also to treat their wives not as inferior but equal partners of the gift of life.
One way we show respect to family members is by extending them “honor.” The word “honor” in the Hebrew means to “consider important. Romans 12:10 says that as Christ followers we are to take delight in honoring each other. When we delight in honoring another person, another family member, it boosts their confidence and sense of self-worth.
The War is a movie that came out in 1994 about a husband, father and former solider named Stephen (played by Kevin Costner) who returns from Vietnam to rural Mississippi. He tries to raise a family and integrate back into society, but he struggles with nightmares and flashbacks from his fighting in Vietnam.
In one scene, Stephen needs $50 so he can get a union card and work in a mine. But he only has part of the money. His wife, Lois, says: "I have 800 Coke bottles you can have. That should give you about 35, 40 dollars at least."
Her daughter Lidia is sitting at the dinner table protests, "Mama, I thought you were saving that money for a…." Her mother interrupts, “Special occasion? That is exactly right. That is what this is. Your daddy just landed the best job of his life."
Stephen kisses his wife on the top of her head and leaves with his son and a friend. Lidia says: "It took you six months to save that. Now he's going to blow it on a job he'll probably lose inside the first week."
Lois turns around and firmly says, "Come outside." When they get outside, her mother asks, "Lidia Simmons, what is the matter with you? All your dad has ever done is fought to make this world a better place for us. Yes, he struggles. Yes, he has had dirt kicked in his face. All the more reason he needs our help. Now, you don't wanna help him, that's okay. You gotta follow your instincts. But I will not listen to you knock him. He's part of me. You cut him down, you're cuttin' me down. You're cuttin' down yourself."
That is a wife and mother who knows the meaning of respect and what it means to honor one another. She is someone who making regular deposits into her family relationships.
And when you make regular deposits in this way, you end up with a huge investment that will cause your family to thrive.
III. Investment Tip #3: Keep your commitments.
God expresses how much he values the commitments we make to Him in Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 (read). It says that when you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. For it is better not to make any commitment than to promise something that you don’t follow through on.
Parents we need to do everything we can to keep promises to our children. Spouses we need to do everything we can to keep our promises to our wives or husbands. Children you need to do everything you can to keep your promises to your parents.
Why is keeping our commitments so important? Because we build our hopes around the promises we make to one another. When a man promises to love a woman until death they do part, that commitment gives a woman the security to become all she was meant to be in the marriage relationship.
The same thing holds true in our commitments to each other in the family. Proverbs 3:3-4 says 3 Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them down within your heart. For then you will find favor with both God and people. Our commitments become the foundation upon which a family is built.
It is still difficult to believe that one of Hollywood's most athletic stars became a quadriplegic and died not too long ago. It’s ironic that we remember him most for his role as SUPERMAN. A few years ago Columnist Liz Smith asked Christopher Reeves a very difficult question, "During those times in the night when you woke up and faced reality, did you go through a major depression? Did you ever want to die or pull the plug?" Christopher Reeve answered, "Yeah, I did! It was four days after my injury when Dana and I were alone in the hospital room. The doctors had just come in and said I needed an operation but that I might not pull through. I remember saying to Dana that maybe it wasn't worth the trouble, maybe we should just let me go!”
If Dana had looked at the floor or taken a pause…I would have thought she was just being noble. But without missing a beat, she looked me right in the eye and said, “But you're still you and I love you.” And that saved my life right then and there. That put an end to any thought of giving up…”
Now I ask you, “From where did you think Superman Christopher Reeves really draws his strength? He got it from His wife and children who made a commitment to him. It’s that same kind of commitment that helps families to grow and thrive today! Keep your commitments and in so doing you will make investments that will have a huge pay-off down the line.
IV. Tip #4: extend forgiveness. Colossians 3:13 states “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Anyone who lives in a family knows that people will disappoint and hurt you. Someone who had been married for 54 years, was asked “What were the secrets to their long and happy marriage?” He said, “You overlook at lot of little things and you forgive each other a lot.”
It’s more natural to carry a grudge; to record all wrongs in red on a legal pad in our minds; and to think of ways of getting even with those who hurt us. Yet the Bible is clear: as we have experienced forgiveness from God we are to forgive others.
Ron Rand writes about one father who usually took his family out each week to see a movie or sporting event. When they came home one time, they made a fire in the fireplace and popped some popcorn. During one of those evenings, little Billy made a real pest of himself in the car on the drive home. So he was disciplined by being sent to sit in his bedroom while the rest of the family had popcorn. After the family had the fire going and the popcorn ready, the father went back to Billy’s room and said, “Son, I forgive you. You go out with the others. I’ll stay here and take your punishment.” Through this father’s action, the entire family experienced a vivid example of what Jesus did for everyone.
And so when we look into the Bible for an investment strategy for building family relationships, there are four investment tips we can follow: Be considerate, show respect, keep your commitments and extend forgiveness. When these four investment tips are followed over time, your family will grow and flourish in a way that becomes a wonderful treasure! But… you have to decide what you are going to put first in your life.
One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of powerful and energetic business students in a nearby college who were earning their MBA. He stood before them and pulled from behind the table (a) a huge glass jar with a wide mouth and (b) a kettle of stones more than enough to fill the jar. And he took one stone after another and placed them inside the jar until the class could see that the jar was full to the brim. And he asked the class, “Is the jar full?” And several quickly said, “Yes it is!” And he reached out and pulled a box of rough gravel and poured it in the jar over the rocks. And they watched as the gravel as little stones tumbled down inside and he said, “Is it full now?” And somebody said, “Likely not!” He said, “You’re catching on!” And he reached down again and pulled out some fine sand, “And he pour it into the jar and they all watched as the sand trickle down and filled the jar. And he said, “Is it full now?” And somebody said, “I don’t think so!” He smiled and said, “You’re smart!” And he reached down and pulled out a glass of water and he poured the water over the stones and over the rough gravel and over the sand. And finally he kept on pouring the water until it was filled to the top.
And then he said, “What’s the lesson?” And one of the bright ones said, “It means that no matter how full your schedule is, if you work at it hard enough, you can always squeeze something more in!” And the guest speaker said, “You’re absolutely…wrong! What this teaches is… that if you don’t put the rocks in first, you’ll never find room for them after the sand, the pebbles and the water are in.”
Then he said, “The rocks are the things that matter in your life. They are your core values! They are those things that you cannot ignore without bringing great cost to yourself.” So he said, “Put the rocks in first!”
If your life is like mine, you live with a constant struggle to prioritize the things that matter most. Showing consideration, showing respect, keeping commitments and offering forgiveness are four “rock” values needed in any family. They represent the things that matter most in our families. They are the things that we cannot ignore without bring great cost to ourselves and our families. So, PUT THE ROCKS IN FIRST! If you do, you’ll be building a family that will be lasting treasure to you and a joy to God!