Today on Insight for Living...
If we allowed social media to dictate our definition of successful families, you might assume that great vacations, beautiful faces and financial success are at the top of the list. And today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll helps us identify those powerful disciplines. For starters, Paul told the Ephesians to lay aside falsehood and speak the truth. He added, let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth.
Let's pick up right where we left off yesterday in Ephesians chapter 4. Notice the word all. Let all, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice be put away. Each word is meaningful. See the word bitterness? It's a word for long-standing resentment.
Look at the positive side. No unwholesome words, no unpleasant reactions. Look at this courtesy in verse 32.
If I had a wish for the family of God, you can read it in verse 32. That we would be kind to one another. Tender-hearted is the word for compassionate and forgiving. Kind, compassionate, forgiving.
Say that with me. Kind, compassionate, forgiving. And the reason they are important is that all of us need all three. We are often unkind and there's nothing that disarms us in our unkindness like a kind response. It is supernatural. It comes from Christ.
It doesn't come from the flesh. That's the part of agape love that kicks in, causing you to love someone who at the moment is not very lovely. Kindness. Remember my comment about the president of the Bible college that I have visited? He has a small sign that hangs on the wall as you enter his office. Three words, kindness spoken here. Not surprisingly, there's not a student on the campus that doesn't enjoy being with that president. Because when you're with him, you hear kindness.
He tells the truth, but he does it kindly. I remember when I was selling shoes, working my way through high school, I had a really good boss who taught me how to fit a woman with shoes. And he said, you never say to the woman, oh, your foot's too big. You say, oh, this shoe is a little small.
Let me get the next size. I said the same thing, but I didn't get kicked in the teeth by telling her that she's got a big foot. Kindness is tact.
It's graciousness in verbal form. Some of you have a long way to go with that. I hear you talk. I hear you talk to your children.
I've heard you talk to your mate. And admittedly, there are times I've spoken to mine in words that weren't kind. Kind, compassionate. Why do we need compassion? Because every one of us at times get sick or can't keep up or have failed. And there's nothing like being understood in our failure. Compassion says there's room to go on from here. Forgiveness says we won't hold this against you. Let's go on. Okay, you with me so far? We're modeling restraint and courtesy. Now the third is across the page, chapter 5, verse 21.
Watch closely. Don't jump to 22 yet. 21 is following on the heels of being filled with the Spirit, 18. And some of the things that followed, we speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We sing in our hearts these melodies. Verse 20, we give thanks, another characteristic of being filled with the Spirit. Now notice verse 21, we are subject to one another. Now this is all about love. It is love for Christ.
It is love for others. And therefore, here's the point, we are willing to cooperate and adapt. Don't write down submission because a lot of you women are just going, I'm not writing down submission. So don't write it down. Write down cooperation and adapting.
Willing to cooperate and adapt. I'll get to the men in a minute. Relax.
Let me deal with you right now. We are to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Look at that. Loving our husbands enough as much as we love our Savior. Just as we fear our Savior, we have a love for our mate. It's wonderful. In fact, the verb doesn't even appear in verse 22.
The words be subject are in italics. So that's why I read it. Wives, to your own husbands is to the Lord. Here is this wonderful spirit of adaptation and cooperation. It's marvelous.
Now, how can that be? Stay on the same theme, the same context, and look at verse 25. Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her. The wife loves her husband enough to live for him. The husband loves his wife enough to die for her. Now, the principle is demonstrating Christ-like love.
Put that down. Let me tell you something I've observed these years I've lived on this old planet. I don't believe, I'll say rarely, I have rarely seen a woman who was loved as Christ loves the church who had any problem with adapting and cooperating with her husband. Often it's a husband problem, not always, but often a husband hasn't loved her as Christ loves the church.
That kind of love creates a desire to adapt and cooperate. Honey, I need a little help with the children tonight. Not a problem.
I'll be glad to do that. Or, you know, sweetheart, I got to work late. Could we just eat a little later? You don't leave a frozen TV dinner sitting on a table with the notes as late again, huh?
You don't do that. You say, sure, you know what? We'll make it great. We'll have candlelight.
We'll eat later this evening. That's great. Cooperate. You adapt. Why? Because you're loved. He's courteous enough to call, and you're caring enough to adapt.
That's how it's supposed to work. It's a good time for me to say a word to fellow ministers. There are a few of them scattered through our listening audience, if you will.
We can sometimes be pretty effective on our feet and be pretty pathetic at the house, under our roof. We can often love our parishioners more than our children know we love them, or our wives know how much they mean to us. Sometime I encourage you to do a study on the lives of some of the well-known greats of the past, C.T. Studd, William Carey, John Wesley, David Livingston. Read what they put their wives through.
No one takes away from their accomplishments they were marvelous, but there was a price paid behind the scenes. That's my whole point. Finally, I give a word of caution to you in ministry. Don't ever go anyplace where your wife resists the call.
Stay right where you are. Dragging her along won't make her a happy camper and won't make her love it more because she was forced. If she's not convinced, when you love her as you should, you'll pause and adapt and spend time working through whatever it is that holds back. For all you know, her restraint might be spirit-directed.
If you respect her as you should, you'll acknowledge that. All right, enough of that. Let's get on to children, verse 1 of chapter 6. Not get on them, but let's address the children here in verse 1. And let's put the point down, showing respect for authority.
Showing respect for authority. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. How long am I a child? As long as I'm living under the roof of my parents. As long as I am drawing my livelihood, finding my place to sleep, eating my food at my parents' table, sleeping in the bed my parents have provided.
Please observe the words, this is right. Now, showing respect for authority not only happens between a child and a parent, a child observes it in a parent with those who are in authority over her or over him. Their respect for their bosses, their respect for the law, their respect for obeying, being responsible for things that are required of adults. And as our children observe that kind of respect for authority, they have less problem respecting us. By the way, respect is earned. Early on, it is required as the child grows older, by then the child will have cultivated on his or her own a learned respect because of the way we have treated him or her. Please observe, if you're still living under the roof of your parents, honor your father and your mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may be well with you, you may live long on the earth. We never grow too old for that. I love it when I see adult men and women treating their aging parents with honor.
Few things are more Christian than that. You never reach an age where honor is no longer needed. It's all part of showing respect for authority. Now, verse 4 is helpful because it keeps us from going too far in demanding respect. This point says giving others space and encouragement.
Look at verse 4. Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, giving others space and encouragement. Now dads, let me talk to you again. I would talk to mothers too, but the Lord directs this to fathers. And so it may apply to some mothers, but I've discovered that it mainly applies to dads. We are often the more demanding. We're often the more exacting, the less forgiving.
We often are the ones who nag and do not give our children the space they need to become. So it says don't exasperate your children. In fact, look at Colossians 3 21. It just occurs to me to have you turn there. Yeah, I'm so glad.
Sometimes you think, is that the verse I'm going to want? Yes, it is. There it is. Fathers, do not exasperate your children so they will not lose heart. It's the word for being discouraged. We can discourage our children by being too exacting too much of the time. So give them space. Give them room. Kids go through stages. They go through periods where they test us.
I like the way John R.W. Stott writes about this. Every child must be allowed to be himself. Wise parents recognize that not all nonconforming responses of childhood deserve to be styled rebellion. On the contrary, it is by experiment that children discover both the limits of their liberty and the quality of their parents' love. In order for them to grow up, they have to develop their independence, not because they are resistant to their parents' authority, but because they need to exercise their own. Parents need to take time and trouble with their children. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones pertinently observes, if parents but gave as much thought to the rearing of their children as they do the rearing of animals and flowers, the situation would be very different. Give them a break, especially as they get a little older. And if they do childish things, understand that's what children do. They spill milk. They make messes.
They break rules. I sound like a doting grandfather right now, don't I? I'm talking to myself and I should have been listening to me 30 years ago and 25 years ago, no one else was telling me this.
So I'm telling you this now. I've told you before that when we didn't spill milk at our table, my dad would just turn a glass over to make things, you know, complete for the meal, just so we'd have a glass turned over. Sometimes what we did wrong was laughed at. Not if it was, you know, grossly wrong, but if it's just a childish mistake, it's okay.
Give them a break. You will find your children snuggling a lot more closely if you give them space. That's the thing you love about God. He doesn't wipe us off the scene because we do the same wrong things over and over again, does he? Or we come back to him, Lord, I'm back again.
You again? Isn't it good he doesn't do that? You just say, Lord, I'm back again. The same old thing I've asked forgiveness for. You know what he says to that? What thing?
He's forgotten it. That's grace. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might, verse 10, put on the full armor of God so you'll be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
Here's the last one. Standing strong against the real enemy, he doesn't live under your roof. He comes uninvited. He looks for a moment where he can engage and then he steps in and takes advantage of the moment.
The real enemy is Satan, who doesn't want your family to succeed. In a former church, one of our members was making a flight and she said as the meal was served on the airplane, she noticed the man sitting next to her in the seat right there didn't eat his meal. He bowed and prayed quite a bit through his meal. And when they gathered the meal back, he handed in his full tray and she looked at him and said, I noticed that you were praying. He said, yes. She said, are you a Christian? He said, no, I'm a Satanist. And in our coven, we are praying that this year 100 Christian leaders will fail in their marriage.
And we're fasting to Satan with that goal in mind. That is the enemy. He wants nothing to do with a happy family that's strong and stable and secure. He wants to fracture it. He wants to bring some appealing, alluring temptation that says to you, don't worry about your family.
You're on a trip. I mean, you've worked hard. Standing strong against the real enemy is a vital part of making it work. Patrick Morley writes, Satan doesn't come to the Christian and tempt him to transparent evil. To presume Satan will attack us at our strong point defies good sense.
No. Instead, he will tempt us at the weakest point of our defenses where we have forgotten his capabilities. He will not mount a direct attack on our strengths. He will look for our vulnerabilities, the places where we do not think defenses are needed. For example, Satan will not tempt you to hate your family. He will tempt you to absentmindedly let your good deeds consume your time until you are out serving Christ five nights a week.
The result for your family will be the same as if you hated them. Mission accomplished. How do I do this, Chuck?
How do I put all this together? It's really not complicated. Couple of very quick comments. Verse 18. Prevailing prayer. Persistent awareness.
With all prayer and petition, pray at all times. Name your family members. Name your husband. Name your wife. Name your children. Name them every day. Name your grandchildren. Name them. Bring before the Lord the things they're going through.
Name them. Pray for them every day. That's praying without ceasing. That's persisting in prayer. That's praying at all times. Pray for your family.
Pray for your partner. Second, persistent awareness. He says be on the alert with all perseverance.
Job one for any family member is to stay awake. Pay attention. Watch for signs. Listen sensitively.
Look when nothing is being said. Pay attention to attitudes. Find out what they're learning at school. Discover where their struggles are. Help them know what a good date is all about. Pay attention to their choice of friends. Pay attention.
Just like you would if they were newborns. But now you've got to do it wisely and very sensitively. And speak. Say something when you're concerned. It's all part of persistent awareness. Now, you have sat through this message once.
I preached it three times. That ought to tell you something about who needs it the most. My hope is that it will not just remain as notes on your outline. But it will become guidelines for you when nobody's looking. Or when pressure grows. And you sense your family needs something here.
It's never too late to start doing it. You're listening to Insight for Living and the Bible teaching of pastor and author Chuck Swindoll. And to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. It's been many years since we've addressed marriage and the family on this broadcast. And many in our listening family have inquired about additional resources. Well, you'll be glad to know Chuck wrote a book called Marriage from Surviving to Thriving. Many are using this book in their small group Bible study. And others have given copies to their adult children and grandchildren who are wrestling with the normal issues of married life. His book includes a chapter called Practical Advice on Making a Marriage Stick. And there's a full chapter on the topic we address today, What Families Need to Thrive.
There's something for everyone in Chuck's book called Marriage from Surviving to Thriving. To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash offer. Or call us if you're listening in the United States.
Dial 1-800-772-8888. And then finally, as a compliment to your worship experience in your local church this coming Sunday, remember you can also celebrate with Chuck Swindoll by viewing the worship service at insight.org slash sundays. Just a few weeks ago, Chuck presented a mini-series that was delivered over two weekends.
One of those was designed to help us look back at the prior year, and the other was designed to help us look forward into the future. Chuck reassured us that God's fingerprints are all over our past, and His fingerprints are all over our future as well. Well, the response was broadly received, and in fact we've decided to offer both audio recordings free of charge. These two messages from Chuck are offered under the title Pressing On in Faith.
So download the free audio files by going to insight.org slash pressing on. And now, once again, here's our teacher, Chuck Swindoll. May we bow together. In the quietness of this moment, I fully realize that some have heard all of this and have never really entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ. It's a futile attempt to try to get your life straightened out if you don't start at the cross.
Say it again. It's a futile attempt to straighten out your life if you don't start at the cross. Jesus Christ paid the complete penalty for your sins. Your sins have separated you from your Father who created you. You can't know His strength or His blessings.
You can't know His insights or His power to hold your feet to the fire if you don't know His Son, Jesus. So I urge you to start there. If you've never made that journey of faith, that is the place to start.
Let us know how we can help you get going in the right direction. Father, thank you for the time we've spent searching the Scriptures. Thank you for direction that will help us in the midst of a culture that's gotten sideways in a world that's long since lost its way. May we be your men and women who are in touch, joyful to the nth degree, full of grace, at the same time loving truth. May we grow in both, especially inside our homes behind the doors that have hinges and a lock. Help us as we build the museum of our memories to build one full of magnificent pictures that result in years beyond our own years of joy and security and happiness and purpose and meaning as lives are built from our homes. I ask it in the name of Christ our Savior. Everybody said, Amen. It was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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