What Every Family Needs

Bible Book: Ephesians  4 : 29-32
Subject: Family; Marriage; Husbands; Wives; Children; Home
Series: Fixing the Family

Sermon Series - Fixing the Family - Sermon 3 of 6

Ephesians 4:29-32

Today is the third message in our current series we've called "fixing the Family" and what I've been trying to do is give you some practical helps with family life that are appropriate for any home, regardless of its makeup or the ages of its members. That means if you are a senior adult living alone or a young couple beginning your family or anything in between, there are some scriptural characteristics that ought to be found in our homes. I'm afraid that so often we focus on the outward actions and disciplines and conduct that we miss or forget there are some inward things that contribute to the success or failure of our homes and relationships.

So far, we've looked that the way God operates His home and His family and we discover that the foundation of His throne is righteousness and justice. That means, there are some things that are right and wrong and because He operates according to the standard of righteousness, His judgments are just. Perhaps more than anything else, our kids just need to know what the rules are and what is expected of them. The good news is God has told us through a book called the Bible and His rules, His standards, never change. But God also employs the principle of mercy and truth. The standards never change, but sometimes we don't follow the rules as we should. And while there are consequences for our actions, God loves us unconditionally. And through Jesus Christ, the Truth of God, we can experience that unconditional grace and mercy and love.

Then last week, we though in terms of a functional family. When the principles of righteousness and justice, mercy and truth are being followed, what happens? How does that family look? Well, it's evidenced in several ways. First of all, we get serious about walking with God. We spend time in God's word and with God's people. The Bible is more than just a book of the table, it becomes our guidebook for life. Therefore, we live our lives in such a way that it demonstrates the calling of our life. We also get serious about the way we treat people in our family. We are followers of Christ, therefore, the way Christ treats people is our goal. We learn to be humble and gentle and patient and loving with our family. And when we are following God's principles, we will get serious about getting along with each other. Our homes are to be places of peace and joy. And finally, we should bet serious about enjoying life and being happy and letting the joy of the Lord fill our lives and home.

Today, I want to talk about culture. Now culture is an interesting word. It's been defined as the behaviors and beliefs and values of a particular society, or group, or tribe, or organization. Culture affects the way people think and the way people feel, the way people express themselves, and the way people interact with one another. It's common today to hear business and organizations us the word to define themselves and what they expect from employees and management and volunteers and participants.

Families have a culture also. Sometimes the cultural demands are for success at any price. Outward performance is more important than inner character. Success on the court or field is the most important thing. We must win at any cost. I'm always amazed at how sporting events become more important than church. And unfortunately, we are very often a lot more concerned about looking right on the outside than being right on the inside. Well God wants every family to have a godly culture. Now that doesn't mean you're perfect. In fact, if your culture demands that everyone believe you are perfect and have no problems, then your culture is one of hypocrisy. You're propagating a lie.

Nobody and no family is perfect, but we can be godly. We can learn to "walk in the light", as the Scripture says, "as He, Himself is in the light and you can have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus can wash you and cleanse you of all sin." So how do we develop this culture of godliness? Well, once again, I want to invite your attention to a section of Scripture in the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians is a great book for discovering practical help in how to live life, and much of it focuses on the family. Just so you know, the book is six chapters long. The first 3 chapters are devoted to doctrinal teaching about our position before God and who we are in Jesus Christ. Then, the next 3 chapters, are how to take advantage of our position and live as the children of God. It's as if Paul first of wants to tell his hearers who they are in Christ, then tell us how to apply who we are to daily life.

Last week, from the beginning verses of chapter 4 is where we discovered the instruction on some things we should take seriously such as our walk with God and how we treat other people. Today I want to move a little bit farther into the same chapter and let God's Word show us what kind of culture we should produce in our families and homes. Let's begin at Ephesians 4:22-24.

So here's the deal: everyone who is saved had a life before they came to know Christ and that old way of life produces a culture that leads to problems and destruction. That' what verse 22 is all about.

And the goal of the Christian faith includes two things:

First, we need to remove that old nature and how it acts.

Remember, as we saw in our very first study, Proverbs 14:12 reminds us, "There's a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof are the ways of death."

So that old nature and it's conduct has to be "put off", removed.

Then, secondly, it must be replaced with the nature of the new man. \

That means we let the Lord take control and He then shows us how to love and act and create the kind of environment that knows and enjoys His blessing.

Now, according to these verses, the removal of the old nature and the replacement of the new nature produces three characteristics, and these three characteristics then create this godly culture that every family needs.

First, God wants our homes marked by

1. Edifying Encouragement

verse 29

Every person needs encouragement. Every single person in your family needs encouragement. Dad needs encouragement, Mom needs encouragement, brother needs encouragement, sister needs encouragement, aunts, uncles, grandmother, grandfather, all need encouragement, little toddler needs encouragement. By the way, let me point out to you a little word found in Hebrews 3:13. Notice the word "daily". God says, "I want you to exhort (encourage) one another and I want you to do it every day.

So what does that do? When you encourage somebody, you give them strength. You fill their hearts with courage. In fact, the word in Hebrews 3 that's used for encouraged comes from the same root word that the Lord used in John 14 to describe the Holy Spirit when He called Him the Helper or the Comforter. The Lord said the Holy Spirit is the One Who will come alongside you to be your helper. And that's what encouragement literally is. It means to come alongside and strengthen and build up and help. That's encouragement. And who doesn't need that? People need encouragement. And in our homes, especially in our homes, we need to learn to speak words that build up instead of tear down.

Look again at this verse. "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth". The word "corrupt" means bad or rotten. Picture rotting meat or fruit. Don't let rotten words come out of your mouth. In fact, God uses the singular to describe the communication. It's not words, it's word. What does that mean? God doesn't want a single word of corruption, of rottenness, that tears down to be uttered. Instead, we are to speaks words that build up and encourage. In our homes, we need to be careful about what comes out of our mouths. We need to be careful to guard our words and speak words that build up and encourage. Words that give life, not death. Words that build out and not words that destroy. And you know as well as I it's so easy to just speak our minds and say what we want to say to our families. But the Bible says in Proverbs chapter 18, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."

You can use your words to speak life, to encourage to build up or you can let rotten things come out of your mouth that will discourage and dishearten and tear people down. And by the way, this is about so much more than cursing and being off-color and taking God's name in vain, although that is included. I am embarrassed by how casual we have become with our language.

You can't watch a ballgame anymore without being exposed to the foulness of the language both from those who are playing and those in the stands. The movies and TV are filled with filthy language. Teenagers now think nothing of using words that were so off-color and out of bounds a few years ago that even most lost people blushed at their use. Now that are bandied about with absolute disregard for who may be listening.

But this verse says don't let a single word that is corrupt escape through your lips. We don't need to have that kind of stuff coming out of our mouths. And I just figure those that do are too ignorant and too uneducated to know how to use proper words. But beyond that, we need to be careful about how we speak to one another. When we're talking with our spouses and kids and parents, make it the discipline of your life, the culture of your home to be encouraging.

Second characteristic: God wants you to have a culture of…

2. Spiritual Sensitivity

verse 30

Circle the word grieve there. That word means "to distress or make sorrowful". It can also mean "to offend or make uneasy".

Now, just to point out the obvious, if the Holy Spirit can be grieved, then the Holy Spirit must be a person and not just a force or influence. The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity and He can be grieved and hurt. He can experience sorrow and disappointment. The Holy Spirit can be offended and made to feel uneasy. And the encouragement is to not do those things.

And I want to make a very practical suggestion. If you don't grieve the Holy Spirit, you won't grieve the people who live in your home. Isn't that simple? If we could develop the kind of spiritual sensitivity that prevented us from being offensive to the Spirit of God, we'd be much less likely to be offensive to our family. That means we need to make our homes Holy Spirit friendly. We do it for the dogs and the babies, why not do it for God?

A few years ago, we had some friends who were blessed with a little boy and bless his heart, when he got big enough to get around on his own, that kid was into everything. And his mother couldn't get anything done for chasing him. They were at our home one day when I told her, "You know, if you'd put him in a play pen, you wouldn't have to chase him nearly as much." She said, "Oh no! That's how he learns!" I said, "He could learn he couldn't touch everything in this house if you'd put him in a play pen!"

Now I'm all for houses being safe and friendly for the children, but how about making our homes safe and friendly for the Holy Spirit? How about making sure the Holy Spirit is welcome in your home? That means you're not going to be doing things in any room of your home that are going to be offensive to the Holy Spirit. Does it grieve you to grieve the Holy Spirit? Does it make you uneasy to think you might be making the Holy Spirit uneasy? Because, I promise you, if the Holy Spirit is uneasy in your home, others are going to be uneasy in your home. If you are doing things that offend Him, you're offending others also.

Let me see if I can illustrate that. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is illustrated by a dove. When Jesus was baptized, the descending Spirit that came upon Him reminded the gospel writers of a dove. Now the dove is a symbol of peace. And the Holy Spirit, our comforter, comes into our lives and brings us peace. And it makes sense that a dove would represent the Spirit because a dove is a beautiful little bird, that shows no aggression at all. In fact, even in the noise it makes, a dove is pleasant. With that picture in mind, I want you to think about something: When Noah was on the Ark, and he wanted to determine if land had appeared, he sent out two birds.

The first bird he sent out was a raven, the second bird was a dove. Now ravens are a lot different than doves in that ravens are scavengers. That means they eat dead stuff. They are dirty birds. So Noah sent out these birds and the raven never returned. Do you know why? He didn't need what Noah had in the ark. There were plenty of dead carcasses floating around out there in the flooded waters. I mean, as far as a raven is concerned, it was a virtual Golden Corral! And Mr. Raven could just find something dead to light on, gorge himself on all the dead stuff that was available, and just live off of whatever happened to be floating by. But the dove didn't do that. He went out for a while, couldn't find a place to light, and come back to Noah. A week goes by, he sends him out again, and he returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf. Another week goes by, he sends out the dove and she doesn't return. So what's the point? The dove could not be satisfied with what the filthy world had to offer. It couldn't live and thrive on death. It seeks out life and waits for and thrives on the newness and freshness of what God provides.

Now, I tell that story to ask you this question: Does your home satisfy the ravens or the doves? There is a great difference between the dwelling place and food supply of the ravens and the doves. There is a difference in where they light, what they eat and how they communicate. And if we will not grieve the Holy Spirit, we need to make sure our homes are an environment of peace and life.

We have to decide. Do I want my home to be a place that welcomes the Spirit, that is Spirit friendly, that makes friends with God, that is enjoys life, or do I want my home, my life, to be a place that is marked by death? God wants the culture, the environment of our homes to be that of encouragement and spiritual sensitivity.

And, thirdly, God wants you to have a culture of

3. Christlike Characteristics

verses 31-32

Before we look at the characteristics of Christ in verse, just briefly look through the list given in verse 31.

First, he mentions bitterness. Bitterness is a smoldering resentment. Wrath has to do with rage. Anger is a more internal deep hostility. Clamor is the vocal evidence of strife out of control. Evil speaking is slander and malice is a general word for every kind of evil. And unfortunately those six words describe far too many homes in America today. Mom is screaming and the kids are out of control. Dad is angry and smut is playing on the TV and blasting from the speakers. And that is their life. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard and every day just means more of the same. And far too many children grow up believing life in that environment is normal.

But God says, "I've got something better in mind. And here's how it can happen. I want you to be kind to one another. Be tenderhearted and learn to forgive. These are the things that I want to characterize your home. Why? Because that's the way I treat you. Did you ever think about what that means? God says I want you to be kind and tender and loving and forgiving because that's how we act at My house. And by the way, I want you to live at My house. That's what Jesus said. He said, "I'm going to prepare a place for us all to live together." And dear friend, where Jesus and God lives is a place of kindness, forgiveness and love. That's what we need in our homes. In fact, notice what we read in Ephesians 4:26-27. Don't give the devil a place. That means I can be make sure I'm not angry and sinning by being kind and living and tender, and therefore give God a place in my home. Or I can do just the opposite and give the devil a place in my home. So who do you want to live with? I promise, if you'll give the devil a place, he'll take advantage of it. He'll come in and any place and every place where the devil comes in, he turns it into a garbage dump. He turns it into verse 31 where it's full of bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander and malice. And so much of the time we have homes like that because we give place to the devil.

On the other hand, give God an invitation, and He'll come in also. And where and when God takes up residence, it is heaven! He can come into your home and make it the closest thing to heaven on earth you'll ever experience. And when your life on earth is over, He'll take you to the real thing. And even when your home on earth isn't what it's supposed to be, what God promises you forever is.

Author Keith Miller shares the story of an outgoing 40-year-old woman who was part of a sharing group he led. Here's her story in her words:

"When I was a tiny little girl, my parents died and I was put in an orphanage. I was not pretty at all and no one seemed to want me. But I longed to be adopted and loved by a family, as far back as I can remember. I thought about it day and night, but everything I did seemed to go wrong.

"But then one day the head of the orphanage told me that a family was coming to take me home with them. I was so excited that I jumped up and down and cried like a little baby.

The matron reminded me that I was on trial and this might not be a permanent arrangement, but I just knew that somehow it would work out.

"So I went with this family and started to school. I was the happiest little girl you can imagine, and life began to open up for me just a little bit. But then one day a few months later, I skipped home from school and ran into the front door of the big old house we lived in. No one was at home, but in the middle of the front hall was my battered suitcase with my little coat thrown across it. As I stood there it suddenly dawned on me what it meant: I didn't belong there anymore."

Miller reports that when the woman stopped speaking there was hardly a dry eye in the group. But then she cleared her throat and said almost matter-of-factly, "This happened to me seven times before I was 13 years old. But wait, don't feel too badly. It was experiences like these that ultimately brought me to God, and there I found what I had always longed for: a place, a sense of belonging, a forever family."

God offers us a forever family and everything He has designed for the home to be on earth is just a little sampling of what eternity will be for His children. It is a place of encouragement, spiritual sensitivity, kindness, forgiveness, tender love and unspeakable joy. And today, you can begin moving toward making your home into a little piece of heaven on earth, and you can begin the journey to heaven itself. Come to God and allow Him to move and work in your family so I can function as He designed.

Let's pray.