Our Goal Is Love • Sermon • Submitted • Presented • 46:17
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Well, this is our third week in our series articulating our core values as a church.
Thus far, we have seen that our goal is love for God and others in our family, church, community, and world.
We defined that love as a sacrificial response to and concern for another individual. We also said that our love is only a reaction and response to the love God has for us.
Loving God involves everything we are and everything we have, as we see that we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Last week, we shifted gears and moved our focus from our vertical relationship to God and towards our horizontal relationship with others.
We saw that loving others in our family, church, community and world meant that we notice their needs, care about seeing them met, and then investing our time, money, reputation, and whatever else to demonstrate love to them.
This morning, we are building on that and narrowing the focus to a specific aspect of life.
That love we have for God has to spill over into every relationship, but that starts with those closest to us: our families.
I want you to know as we begin that there is a very specific reason we start talking about loving others at the home.
How many times have you heard someone say, “Well, my dad was a deacon and a Sunday School teacher, but you should have seen him when he got home. The way he treated us made me hate everything he said he stood for.”
Although we know it shouldn’t be this way, the people closest to us are often the most difficult to love!
We can put on a front and fake it at church or at work or in the organization where we volunteer, but if we don’t have genuine love, it will show when we get home.
How much harsher are we with our spouses than we would be with anyone else? How short-fused do we get with our kids or are parents because we know we can get away with it?
How loving is your home, really? If I brought your spouse or your kids up here, gave them a truth serum, and asked them to tell us exactly how they feel about the love you show them, how would they respond?
I want to suggest something to you this morning: If we fail to love our family, then we fail to love anyone else.
So, what does loving your family look like?
We are going to be looking primarily at Deuteronomy 6:6-9 to try to answer this question this morning.
If you have our core values sheet, you notice that we have made four points under loving our families:
We model vibrant relationships with Christ to our family.
We encourage all our family members to love Christ.
We seek the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of family members.
We participate in church life together.
Of those four, I imagine the one we most readily agree on is that third one – I cannot say I am loving my family unless I am fulfilling my role to meet the physical and emotional needs of my family, whatever that role looks like for me. It varies from person to person and family to family.
However, some question the inclusion of the other points. Some feel that religion is a personal and private issue and that we should let our children and families decide for themselves what is best.
This morning’s passage goes completely contrary to that idea, and it forms the basis for the other three points.
Your relationship with Christ is personal, true, in that there are unique aspects of your relationship that makes it different than others. Some find it easier to pray, others find it easier to read their Bibles. Some can share the Gospel easily with strangers, and with others, it takes more work.
Although each member of the family has a unique, personal relationship with Christ, that personal relationship is not private.
Therefore, we believe that if you are not living your faith out at home, you are not loving your family.
In fact, if you catch nothing else this morning, I would challenge you with this: Show God to your family.
Show that he loves them and show that you love him.
Show God to your family.
Let’s look at the text…
Coming right off the heels of the admonition to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength, we are confronted with the necessity of keeping the Word of God central to our life as a family.
Let’s make three observations about what my family needs from me. These help us truly learn to love our family as God intends. None of them are likely to be earth-shattering revelations, but sometimes the familiar truths are the easiest to overlook.
1) My faith must be genuine. (6)
1) My faith must be genuine. (6)
Look at verse 6 again.
The words, about loving God with everything we have and everything we are, must be engraved on our hearts.
Remember what we have said thus far: the Bible uses the term “heart” to refer to the very core of our being.
When God says these words must be in our hearts, that means they must be central to who we are.
The first step to loving your family well is to make sure you have a right relationship with God that is genuine.
It is like an airplane.
When you fly, during that part you always ignore, the flight attendant tells you that, in case of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling.
What do they tell you to do? If you are traveling with children or someone who needs assistance, put your own mask on first before assisting them.
The same is true here. You cannot love your family and help them find a relationship with Christ if you don’t have one!
Not only that, but we mentioned last week that we can’t love them with our love, because that love will always run out.
If you don’t have a relationship with Christ, you won’t be able to pour the love of Christ out to others without eventually burning out.
Additionally, our love is selfish, where God’s love is completely selfless.
Apart from a personal, vibrant, growing love relationship with Christ, you cannot love your own family with the quality or quantity of love that God expects.
This isn’t just for those here who have the traditional, “Leave It To Beaver” kind of family with a mom and a dad and some cute and perfect kids.
That’s a good thing, because none of us really have that kind of family!
You have a personal responsibility to live this now, even if you don’t have a family of your own.
Whether you are a mom or a dad or a step-parent or a foster parent or a child or a grandparent or a single adult with cousins and brothers, you cannot love your family as you should without first having a genuine love for Christ.
You start living this out now, whatever situation you find yourself in, and you let God sort out how it works from there.
Get in right relationship with God so you can love the family God gives you the way that God needs you to love them.
Here’s the great part of this: if I have a genuine relationship with Christ, then He can love my family through me! He can equip me to deal with all the squabbles and bickering that comes with living with each other and knowing each other as well as we do those in our own families.
There is more that we can learn from this passage about loving our families, though. If I am going to love my family…
2) I must talk about my faith with my family. (7)
2) I must talk about my faith with my family. (7)
This is the key part of this passage, and it takes us back to what we covered initially. Your faith is not private!
You have a responsibility, especially if you are a parent, to be continually talking about the things of God with your kids.
Men, you have to take the lead in this with your wife and with your children and with anyone else in your family.
It isn’t always comfortable, but it’s what you are called to do!
This may be controversial, but this passage tells us that it is not the church’s responsibility to teach your children the Bible.
The primary role for teaching your family to love Jesus belongs with you, Dad. Mom, it is your job to help as well.
Did you hear how comprehensive this is? Go back and read verse 7 again...
God doesn’t say, “Hey, every once in a while, on a special occasion, you ought to mention God.”
No, it commands you to repeat the truths of God’s word to your children.
As your children grow, they will face different challenges.
How are you helping them face those? Do you bring those conversations back to Jesus, or do you just encourage them to buckle down and get over it?
Loving your family means teaching them about Jesus!
I think it is interesting that the Bible says we should repeat the words and we should talk about it.
There should be times when we sit down and teach them direct lessons from Scripture, but the things of God should always be on our lips.
Look again at verse 7 to see when we should talk about God.
He is not saying these are the only times; God is teaching us here that whenever and wherever, we should be pointing each other to Christ!
By the way, you can easily expand this out to spouses.
We should talk about what God is teaching us in our quiet times or how we saw Him at work that day. We should pray about decisions together as a family.
When is the last time you prayed with your wife, guys? What did you pray about?
When is the last time you prayed with your kids and it wasn’t over a meal?
If the only true satisfaction, lasting peace, and ultimate purpose in life is found within a right relationship with God, then why aren’t we talking about Him with our family?
If I love my kids and my wife, shouldn’t I want them to know who God calls them to be?
Yes, we want our kids to be happy and healthy and live satisfying, productive lives. All that is worthless if they don’t have a relationship with Jesus, though!
There are some great examples of this in Scripture.
How many of you have heard of the young pastor Timothy?
He was a disciple of the Apostle Paul, and Paul wrote two letters to him. In his second letter, we see that Timothy was an incredible encouragement to Paul and that the old apostle thought incredibly highly of him.
Where did that start?
Here’s what Paul says in the second letter:
I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now, I am convinced, is in you also.
Where did Timothy hear about Jesus? From his grandmother and mother!
It was their faith that was passed down to him that God used to make Timothy who he was.
That wouldn’t happen if the only time God came up was Sunday mornings when they dropped little Timmy off at Sunday School.
It was a faith that was passed down through generations of godly women to Timothy.
Do you want to love your family? Then talk with your kids about Jesus. Pray with your spouse. Ask each other what you’ve been reading in Scripture and search out the answers together. Thank God together for provision and answered prayer. Teach your kids who Jesus is.
That brings us to the third point. If we are going to love our family,
3) Faith must fill every aspect of our family. (8-9)
3) Faith must fill every aspect of our family. (8-9)
Perhaps this is restating what we just said, but the summary of this section is that faith in Jesus Christ must fill every aspect of our family.
Are you starting to catch on to something here?
Last week, we saw that faith was all-encompassing on an individual level.
Now, we are seeing that it involves every aspect of our family.
Do you see this?
Following Jesus is an “all-in” decision. It isn’t a decision you make when it’s convenient or when you feel like it.
Look at verses 8-9 to see what this looks like for families.
Orthodox Jews took this very literally and would have little boxes on their foreheads and arms with these words on little pieces of paper inside them.
Jesus mentioned them in Matthew 23:5 when he says Pharisees were all for show so they “broaden their phylacteries”, making these boxes more prominent.
So is that what this is saying?
No; building on what we have already seen, God is telling His people that faith must fill every aspect of our families.
We mentioned this verse when we talked about loving God, but it is fitting to remember it here:
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We need to immerse ourselves individually in God’s word so deeply that it spills out into what we talk about as we are brushing teeth in the morning or balancing the checkbook or setting a family budget for the month.
Our faith in Christ must fill our response to our kids grades and athletics and job success. It determines how we teach kids to respond to bullies and how to treat those in their class they don’t like.
Perhaps you should make a family challenge to memorize Colossians 3:17 and look for ways to live it out together as a family.
If I am going to love my family, I must work to fill every aspect of our home with faith.
The biggest threat to this for most families is busyness. We get so caught up in the details of our calendar that we stop to check on each other’s spiritual lives.
Between doctor’s appointments, baseball games, work trips, and the like, we struggle to maintain our own quiet time, much less spend time talking about it with our families!
When we are together, we are all on our separate devices, so we may as well be in different worlds.
We go into autopilot, so we stop asking the question, “Is this the best way for us to honor God with our time or our money or our resources this month?”
You are going to have to be intentional in this. You have to work against the priorities the rest of the world is telling you to set.
Remember what we talked about from 1 John 2? That the world is all about satisfaction, stuff, and status?
That’s what your family is going to be tempted to chase, but that isn’t what God wants!
It is going to be hard, but think about what is at stake here.
The stats on how many kids grow up and walk away from the faith are staggering, but they don’t have to be like that.
We can’t ever guarantee that our kids will grow up to love Jesus, but we can devote ourselves to living Jesus out in front of them in every aspect of our home so we can provide as much of a fertile space as possible for them to grow.
Dad, your family needs you to lead out in this.
Mom, your kids need to see that you seek to fill your home with Jesus.
Kids, you are starting to develop your own walk with Christ. Talk with your mom and dad about what you are struggling with and what questions you have. Believe it or not, they are there to help!
You see, if I genuinely believe that God has loved me with an always and forever, never stopping, unbreaking kind of love, then I will want that love to permeate every square inch of my family.
I want to love Jesus so much that I can’t help but show it in how I respond and how I react.
I want to show Jesus to my family.
Isn’t that what he did for us? Jesus showed us his love for the Father and the Father’s love for us by teaching us, walking with us, and taking our sin on the cross.
I am called to do the same - showing God to my family through a genuine faith that teaches and fills every aspect of our home.
My love for Him will spill out into every conversation and ultimately every aspect of our family as we seek to love God and others in our church, our community, and our world.