Family is important. It provides relationships that will be your foundation, through thick and thin your entire life. What’s more, families are where we get our foundation spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. In short, families are the cradles of character.
But in Mark chapter three, Jesus demonstrates that as important as family truly is, it’s not what’s most important. The scene took place on a day when Jesus and His disciples were so overwhelmed by the crowds they didn’t even have time to eat. Jesus’ mother and brothers approached the house where Jesus was, but couldn’t get in. So they did the next best thing. They sent word inside that they wanted to speak to Jesus.
When Jesus heard this, He asked provocatively, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ Then He looked at the crowd around Him and declared that they‘those who did God’s will’were His true family members!
This is one of the many times where Jesus shatters our preconceived notions. Yes, your family is very important. It’s very important to God, and therefore, should be important to you as well. Yet family doesn’t take precedence over the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom makes a total claim upon us and radically reorders our entire existence. Therefore, to exalt anything over our loyalty to Jesus Christ is to make that thing an idol, even your family. Don’t let something good take the place of what’s clearly best.
Are you unappreciated? I have, on occasion, seen men suffer from a lack of appreciation from their wives. When years of working hard are met with ingratitude, men are likely to grow bitter, and eventually resentful of their wives’and sometimes even their children.
So what can you do if you fear your relationship with your wife is headed in this direction? Worse yet, what if your wife already seems to be silent when it comes to expressing her appreciation of your hard work?
First, it’s important to remember you can never force a true compliment. Gratitude and appreciation stem from the heart. We all know the difference between a heartfelt thank-you and a hollow one. So don’t attempt to manipulate your wife into praising your actions.
Second, check your own heart. Have you become bitter over your wife’s apparent attitude of ungratefulness? Has it begun to taint the way you serve your family? If you find yourself grumbling every time you’re asked to sacrifice something for the family, it’s definitely time for a change. Talk to your wife about this. Open up about how you feel. She may not even be aware that she hasn’t complimented you in a long time.
And along those same lines, make sure you’re giving out praise as well. It’s somewhat unreasonable to expect verbal accolades from your wife if she hasn’t received one from you in a long time. Appreciation flourishes when it’s given, so shower her with kind words.
There’s a growing tendency in our culture to minimize the importance of the father’s role in the family. In fact, there have even been studies that attempt to demonstrate the father’s place in the family is not that important to the family’s overall health and functionality. It’s just not true!
Of course, there are other ways families can rally to help offset the absence of a father. Thousands upon thousands of godly single moms labor faithfully to nurture their children toward healthy, productive adult life. But even these moms know their love and efforts aren’t enough, that their children need the balancing influence of a male presence. And thank God again for godly brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and others standing in the gap for children lacking their father’s presence. But those exceptions only help prove the rule: a father’s role isn’t optional.
Yet while a father’s role isn’t optional, it is temporary. One expert states that about 90% of a child’s personality has been set in place by age six. What that means, guys, is that every day counts. Every day that passes is a day fathers are impacting their children with some idea of what fatherhood is about’ideas that will greatly influence their understanding of what the fatherhood of God is all about. My point is this dads: be present, and live in the present.