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Your Family: Root, Stem, And Branches Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
October 13, 2021 1:00 am

Your Family: Root, Stem, And Branches Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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October 13, 2021 1:00 am

How have you experienced the effects of a father’s influence—for good or bad? Israel’s King David was a great leader, a “man after God’s own heart.” But he was a lousy father. The Bible provides an honest portrayal of David, including the great damage he caused by his failure as a dad.  

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Israel's King David was a great leader, a noted military commander, a man after God's own heart, and a lousy father. Today, the Bible's honest portrayal of David and the great damage done by his failure as a dad.

For lessons on what not to do as a parent, stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, tell us about your family, root, stem, and branch. Well, Dave, this is a very important message, and isn't it interesting the way in which you portrayed David? We all love the Psalms, we all love the fact that he loved God, but you're absolutely right, he failed as a father. But you know, the interesting thing is, and the point of hope here is this, God sometimes chooses to use a crooked stick to make a straight line.

Even in the midst of failure, there is grace, and that's why I think that this message is so critical for people to hear, because as they think about their own family and its shortcomings, God is there to help them. And by the way, thank you to the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Of course, you need more info, here's what you can do, go to, when you're there, click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And of course, at the end of this message, I'll be giving you the same information again. For now, let us listen. Would you join me please, as we pray one more time? Father, we ask that in the midst of the brokenness of this world, that we might look to you as the one who is able to fix what's gone wrong. Some of your people have come here today with very heavy hearts for different reasons. Would you lift these burdens?

Would you give us insight regarding family relationships that will be transforming for many? Our needs are great, Lord. Our expectation comes from you and you alone, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Amen. When you are born, you are actually born into a family with a system. You are born into a network, a father usually, a mother most certainly is in the home, and brothers and sisters, and how you relate to this network determines to a large extent how you eventually will live your life. You have a certain amount of inevitability, certain cause-effect relationships that happen within families, but at the same time there's individuality and individual expression and individual choice so that you can break out of the family system.

Now, you may be born into a harmonious relationship, you may be born into a dysfunctional one, but in each case there are these interrelationships that are very critical. Well, as you know, this is another series on the family, Reclaiming the Family, and my message I entitled today is Your Family, Root, Stem, and Branch, and we're going to be looking at a dysfunctional family found in the Bible. It's not the only dysfunctional family in the Bible.

As a matter of fact, there are many of them. What's so surprising about this one is that it's a family that you would not expect to be so out of control. The family is that of David. We know David as the sweet psalmist, the one who through his poetry has blessed millions and continues to bless us in the Psalms, but I need to emphasize that even though David had it together in his relationship with God, he could never possibly have it together in his relationship with his family.

He failed miserably as a father. Now, the first part of this message is going to be very discouraging because I'm going to tell you the story of David's dysfunctional family. It covers several chapters of the Bible and that's why I will simply summarize it for you, and as we go through you may say, what a bad example, and he is, but at the end what we're going to do is to learn five principles that are very necessary to move from a dysfunctional family to a healthy one and what to do if you can't move it at all, what to do if it just will not fix.

That's the agenda because I think it's possible for us to learn from a positive example, but it's also possible for us to learn from a negative one. The story is in 2 Samuel, 2 Samuel chapter 13. If you have your Bibles, we will be looking at a few verses from that passage. Remember that David had committed two sins.

One was adultery with Bathsheba and the other sin was murder to cover it up. The prophet Nathan came to David and said to him, the sword will never depart from your house. There's going to be trouble in your family and the sins that you committed are going to be multiplied in the lives of your family. David, you set in motion a certain number of dominoes and you're going to have to live with the fact that those dominoes are going to have terrible consequences. Now there is a sense of inevitability that has been set up because God said that, but looked at in another way how different it might have been if David, after he committed those sins, had gone to his family, had begged the forgiveness of his wives and of his children. And if he would have said to them, don't do what your dad did, look at the consequences and warn them through his own brokenness and humility and crying up to God for the need for them to take a different path, it might have turned out very differently.

But it's clear that David did not do that. He did what many fathers do and that has become a passive father. He became very, very passive. And passive fathers have certain characteristics and David had all of them to an extreme degree. First of all, passive fathers have anger oftentimes without action.

They become angry, but they do nothing. Let me tell you the story of 2 Samuel chapter 13. David had a number of different wives that was tolerated in the Old Testament, though not strictly approved by God. And he had his oldest son whose name was Amnon. Keep that name in mind, Amnon, the oldest boy. But David also had two children, a brother and a sister, Absalom and Tamar, both of whom were drop dead, good looking. In fact, if I had time to read the text later on when it discusses Absalom in his rebellion, there are several verses of scripture devoted just to the way in which he looked.

He oozed charisma. And his sister Tamar was beautiful too. Amnon, the oldest son, wanted to become intimate with his half-sister Tamar.

She said no. So he set up a series of circumstances in which he raped her. So you have a son raping his half-sister. What do we expect at that point? We'd expect David to get involved and to say wait a moment now, let us make sure that Amnon gets appropriately punished. And then he should come along and put his arm around poor Tamar and help her in her need and in her shame. What does David do? The Bible says in chapter 13, it says in verse 21, when King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. And we could add he did absolutely nothing. Now he may have thought to himself, well, I committed two sins to immorality and murder.

Who am I to get involved in my children's disputes? Our hearts should bleed today for Tamar. The scripture says in verse 15, when Amnon had raped her, after that he hated her with a very great hatred so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he loved her.

That is a commentary on the nature of sexual bonding if there ever was one. Verse 19, and Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore and she laid her hands on her head and went away crying aloud as she went. Later it says, so Tamar lived a desolate woman in her brother Absalom's house.

She lived as a widow, despised and filled with shame, all because of this terrible, terrible evil. David could have changed that. If he had gone to Tamar and said, Tamar, I'm going to be with you through this.

The God who has forgiven me for my sin is a God who is able to heal you of the evil and the injustice that was done against you. And even though society considers you to be an outcast, I'm your dad and I'm going to stand with you. But he didn't. Well what happens in dysfunctional families when the father is passive? The kids begin to take responsibility for what's happening. So Absalom, who is a full brother to Tamar, says, I'll take care of it. And two years later, Absalom sets up a series of events whereby Amnon, who raped his sister, is murdered. Well now you think for sure, for sure that David is going to get involved, but he doesn't. The Bible says in verse 31, after this happened, the king arose, tore his garments, lay on the earth, and all his servants who were standing by tore their garments.

Big deal. But he doesn't do anything. He allows it to happen. He had committed murder, so he thinks to himself, maybe I can't do anything here.

And he lets it pass. Now you may say, well, Pastor Luther, you're being a little hard on David here. Are you sure that he was that passive? And the answer is yes, I am that sure, because the Bible says something very interesting in 1 Kings chapter 1 verse 6. He had another son who was totally out of control, trying to take over the kingdom. And it says in chapter 1 verse 6 that David never displeased him. David never crossed him or even asked him, why are you doing this? Wonderful relationship with God that David had, out of touch emotionally and in every other way with his very dysfunctional family. Anger, but no action. Secondly, David does something else. He accepts reconciliation without forgiveness.

Reconciliation without forgiveness. Absalom runs away and stays away for three years, and then he wants to come back, and he comes back to Jerusalem, and David has him under house arrest for about two years. But Absalom wants to see his dad. His dad won't see him.

David doesn't know what to do. And so what Absalom does is he begins a fire to get some attention. That's what kids sometimes have to do in a dysfunctional home.

They have to do something just to get the attention of dad or mom. So he begins a fire, so his dad has to talk to him. And so his dad speaks to him and says, okay, after two years, it's been five years now since the murder, you can come back. This story is told in chapter 14, and the chapter ends, you'll notice there, it says, so Absalom came to the king and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king, and the king kissed Absalom.

Wait a moment. Absalom, you murdered, you murdered your half-brother. Don't you think that at the very least he should be asked whether he was sorry and beg the forgiveness of his dad? But forgiveness was neither asked for nor was it received. And so David, you see, reconciles without forgiveness.

He does not deal with the issue. That's the way it is in most dysfunctional lives. No matter who's out of control, no matter what happens, there is never a resolution, there is never communication that says let's sit down and talk about this and let us ask for forgiveness and let us make sure that there is reconciliation. Because, you see, if you have some family member who's out of control doing evil things and it's never reconciled, the family just has to hush up, paper it over, pretend that it hasn't happened, and then go on pretending to be reconciled when in point of fact the issues that are unresolved are deep, damaging, and sometimes very evil.

Now let me ask you a question. Absalom is able to be back in the good graces of his dad without even having to say I'm sorry for murder. Do you think Absalom says to himself, oh, you know, I just really love my dad because he's so gracious and merciful and so forgiving without even demanding anything of me.

You think he said that? No, no, he hates, he hates his dad. In the next message in this series I'm going to emphasize that parents who do not discipline their children end up with those children hating their parents.

Proper discipline and the kids will love you. So what happens to this young man who's been able to get by with his evil? He begins to plot against his dad. He gets a chair near the gate of the town, sets himself up as a judge, begins to to steal the hearts of the people. Absalom would say things like this to the people, now you know my dad's had a wonderful career, but don't you think he's doing this wrong?

They'd say, well, you know, I hadn't thought of it, but you know, you really do have a point. And he begins to stir up opposition to his dad until it results in civil war. Absalom commits immorality publicly to show how he disdains his father and in the midst of this civil war David has to leave Jerusalem. Eventually Absalom is killed in the process. But David has been humiliated because he had a son out of control and did nothing, nothing about it.

So you have reconciliation without forgiveness, you have sentimentality without strength. After Absalom dies, David becomes very, very filled with grief. You know, down deep inside I'm sure David really did love Absalom. In fact, I know he loved Absalom.

If you read it, you remember the king said, oh, Absalom, my son, my son, would to God I had died for thee, he said. But you know, there are fathers who love their children who just don't know how to express it. They don't know how to do discipline. They don't know how to do reconciliation issues.

And that was David. Well, that's a very discouraging story, isn't it? But you know, there are lessons that we can learn from this family that was handled and managed so badly. What are those lessons? I speak to those of you today who are in families that are out of control, single-parent families, families where there is no love, where there is no concern. How can we help you?

How can we manage to give you instruction and hope and advice? So I take these lessons from the story of David, adding my own hopefully common sense so that we can help families. The first lesson is this, that a family is an interrelated system.

It is an interrelated system. Everything that David did impacted his children. Everything David did not do also impacted his children. The passive father has awesome power over his children, even when he does nothing, when the family system needs him and he isn't there emotionally or physically. So David was connected to his family.

He was, in effect, the root, the root, and from that these branches grew. The various mothers who were involved, they were next in line to do something that would be helpful. They perhaps didn't know what to do, and you can imagine the jealousy between the wives.

This was a, this was a real, real difficult situation, obviously. Those who struggle with alcoholism and receive help, and the helpers who help the people, have learned that oftentimes you can't just deal with one family member without dealing with all of the others that are also involved. That's why now they have family counseling, not just individual counseling. Your family is something like a violin. If one string is out of control, especially if it is a very important string, maybe the lead string, maybe violins have a lead string, all of the other strings will get in harmony with it.

And if the first string is out of harmony, all of the others will adjust, and they'll all become out of harmony. That's why you have to deal with the whole family system. In fact, it has been shown that even if one parent ends up being mentally ill, and having a great influence over the other members of the family, oftentimes the children actually adjust their view of reality in accordance with their parent, because somehow they have to make sense out of all this, and everybody begins to play a different kind of role to fit in with what is happening in the family leadership. When a child is on drugs, the question you always have to ask is, what about the rest of the family? If a woman comes to me and says, you know, my child is out of control, he's into alcoholism or drugs or immorality, I don't ever begin by asking questions about the son. The first question I always ask is, tell me about your relationship with your husband.

And if a husband comes, I ask about his relationship with his wife. A family is a system, and it has to be treated that way as a network. And if there's no father in the home, then you have to look into that, and the violin may be totally out of tune.

So you have to ask the question, how do you fit in the big picture? Second lesson, time itself does not heal family wounds. Time itself does not heal family wounds.

It would have been easy for David to say, well, Absalom's been gone five years. Surely I can just kind of forget about what happened five years ago. Time heals none of those wounds, whether it's five years, 10 years, 15 years.

Unresolved matters continue to have consequences, not only in one generation, but also in another generation. They just boomerang, and everyone is affected, and it just lies there unresolved, undealt with, and time heals nothing. If somebody mistreated you, think of Tamar. How long would it take Tamar to forget what Amnon had done to her?

She lives with it until her dying day. I've been to funerals where there are family splits, family disagreements. Have you ever been there, when you can just feel the tension when one group of family members want to come to the wake at a different time than the other, hoping that they won't meet? Because now they have to somehow be connected in some way, but nobody wants to deal with all the underlying issues that may be 10 years old, 20 years old, or 50 years old, because time really heals nothing. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Luthsir. I don't know where you are at in your family relationships.

Perhaps there are all kinds of issues that have never been dealt with, and maybe wisdom would dictate that you don't need to deal with all these issues because they may have become impossible as the years have gone by. But I want to give you hope. I want to encourage you. I have in my hand a letter from someone, actually.

Her name is Barbara. She says, about 10 years ago, my husband backslid, and every day after church, I would come home and turn on Pastor Luthsir. It is through your ministry that he came back to the Lord, and I'm so thankful for you, and to God be the glory. And I want to emphasize to God be the glory. Let me ask you something.

Would you consider helping us regularly with your prayers and your gifts? People who do that, we call them endurance partners. To become an endurance partner, to learn more info about becoming one, here's what you can do. Go to Of course, rtwoffer is all one word. When you're there, click on the endurance partner button. Or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. If you were to help us, it would be a great encouragement as we continue to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to thousands upon thousands around the world. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago. Next time on Running to Win, dealing with bitterness before bitterness poisons you from head to toe. Plan to join us. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-11 16:05:35 / 2023-08-11 16:14:09 / 9

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