During the month of March, I'm going to share with you 5 words that radically change families. Last week, I wrote about the first word: SURRENDER.
The second word that's essential to building a grace-based family is PURPOSE.
In my professional experience as a counselor - and in my personal experience as a flawed husband, father, son, and brother - I've come to realize that our default setting is to pursue a personal happiness agenda. In other words, the motivating purpose of a sinful human is temporary and momentary happiness.
If you haven't noticed, that hasn't worked out very well. Why? First, the world is a broken place; life doesn't operate the way we want, and that causes frustration and pain - the opposite of happiness. And second, when you have each individual pursuing their own happiness, those agendas will eventually collide and someone (or everyone) won't get what makes them happy.
But more than that, the biggest reason our personal happiness agendas have failed is because God has a greater purpose for humanity - holiness. God isn't oppposed to your happiness, nor is he opposed to your satisfaction, but he has a bigger purpose for your life: personal, continual, and radical heart transformation.
One of God's primary tools for this transformation is the family. He'll stick you in a marriage with a less-than-perfect spouse. He'll give you a less-than-perfect child. He'll choose for you to submit to less-than-perfect parents and share a room with less-than-perfect siblings.
In the midst of this messy family, God wants to change your heart. He wants to produce in you the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
The question is: will you take up God's purpose, or will you fight for your own?
You see, the reason why families experience so much conflict is because members of that family have reduced their purpose in life down to personal happiness. And when the messy family interferes with personal happiness - which it will - people don't get what they want and they spill their anger, bitterness, criticism, and envy onto their spouse, children, parent, or sibling.
But in the fruit of the Spirit, you'll find the family of your dreams. Imagine living with a spouse who is always gentle. Imagine living with children who are always joyful. Imagine living with parents who are always patient. Imagine living with siblings who are always peaceful.
Be honest with yourself and with God today. In your relationships with your family, who's purpose is driving your thoughts, words, actions and reactions?
Don't demand to be happy. If you do, you'll miss out on the family of your dreams.
- How have you recently tried to manipulate your family to serve your personal happiness agenda?
- How can you pursue God's purpose with your family this week? Focus on a specific fruit of the Spirit and live for something bigger than you!