In the last post, I laid some foundations concerning God’s purpose for the family. We saw that God clearly stated the family’s mandate in Genesis 1:26-28. We also noted that the family’s critical importance in God’s plan continued to be revealed as a thread throughout the Old Testament. God brought — and is still bringing — His redemptive plan for the earth to fulfillment through Jesus our Lord. Isn’t it interesting that He chose to do that by having Jesus be born into a family! He didn’t have to do that. He could have had Him arrive on the scene in a myriad of other ways, but He chose family as His vehicle. God stays true to His principles and patterns.
How does God’s mandate for families affect us today? How can we fulfill His plan for building His kingdom through our families? Let’s go back to Matthew 28:19, 20, where we started in our last post:
Go therefore, and teach [disciple] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.
In our eagerness to evangelize lost people throughout the world, the Church has sometimes neglected to realize that God’s plans generally start at home and move outward — a ripple effect, if you will. In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples, “But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit comes upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Their witness was to start at home and spread outward from there. While we’ve been zealous at times to bring the Good News to all nations, we’ve often forgotten to disciple our own families. We have not done well at following God’s pattern.
Furthermore, in 1 Timothy 5:8, the apostle Paul said, “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” He was speaking of providing materially, but I think we could carry the principle into the realm of the spiritual as well. Many of us have made the mistake of neglecting the spiritual needs of our immediate family for the sake of ministry outside the home. In doing so, we have stepped outside of God’s order. Whenever we fudge on His order, the fruit of our labors is also compromised. The results do not reach the level of excellence which God intended.
So, in discipling all nations and teaching them to observe the Lord’s commands, we must begin at home. It is just as vital to have the Kingdom populated with our own sons and daughters as it is to fill it with converts from outside our families. This is why Paul exhorted the older women to “teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, so that the word of God is not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4, 5). We don’t want our children to eventually become reprobates who blaspheme the word of God. Neither do we want nonbelievers blaspheming, due to seeing that our families are a mess. Our families are meant to be a testimony to the greatness of God, just as the family of Israel was meant to show forth His glory in Old Testament times.
That idea of expanding the Kingdom by filling it (in part) with our children has become foreign to our American way of thinking. We’ve been brainwashed for decades into thinking responsible stewardship of the earth means we must play our role in population control. Having more than two children has become exceedingly frowned upon. However, God told Adam and Eve to replenish (fill) the earth (Genesis 1:28). He also said that “children are a heritage of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is His reward” (Psalm 127:3).
This doesn’t mean that it is more spiritual or blessed to have a large family than a small one. Many of us have not been given large families. Jacob’s son Joseph had only two sons, and yet Genesis 39:21 tells us, “The LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor.” The point is that we must see children as a blessing, not a liability, and that having children who grow up with a passion for the Lord is an excellent way to build God’s kingdom.
More on this subject next time.