Cherish Family (Ephesians 5)

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  • “To love and to cherish”
    • Words repeated during wedding vows.
    • Cherish: treat as a treasure and tenderly for something/one.
    • Cherishing is the ongoing and intentional action of love.
      • I love PB & Chocolate, but I don’t cherish it [every day].
      • I love #HTTR but I don’t cherish them; their season ends way to early and they never return my affection. So why do we spend so much attention & assets on sports!?!
      • I love my wife & children… and cherish them every day.
  • Cherishing Examples
    • Khanittha “Mint” Phasaeng’s life changed when she was crowned a Thai beauty queen in 2015. Her pageant win transformed her circumstances, but it did not change her character. Even though her new life came with beautiful clothing and luxurious living, she did not forget where she came. Upon returning home, still dressed in her tiara and triumphant sash, she greeted her mother with the most humbling posture: she bowed. Even more striking is the reality that her mother was a scavenger – sorting trash for items and resell, which was the only job she could do to keep their family from starvation.
      Mint didn’t just send a thank-you card or phone in a message. She didn’t just nod respect or give a side hug, but she embraced her mother and then bowed. Her posture toward her mother reflected her affection and attitude. In a word: “cherish.” She cherished her mother, saying “All I have accomplished is from my mother.”[1]
    • When a police motorcade of black SUV’s escort a car with U.S. flags, you know the person inside is important and must be protected because their position is cherished by our nation.
    • Women don’t keep their diamond engagement ring in a shoebox or bin near the pet food. They cherish it on their hand or in a special locked jewelry box.
    • If you had an autographed Ray Lewis (or whomever your team fan), you wouldn’t use the paper as a coaster. Instead, you would cherish it by framing it as having personal value.
  • Cherished possessions put time, thought, effort into honoring, showcasing, and protecting them.
  • Likewise, cultivating a cherishing attitude toward your family: spouse, children, parents, extended family, will require intentional goals and actions. Christians are called to love and cherish their family.
    • 1Timothy 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide [προνοέω; thoughtful care] for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
  • Cherish is continuous. It’s not just a duty but a delight to prioritize each day.
    • A cherishing husband sees his wife and studies her in such a way to communicate love in how she needs to hear it and feel it (1Peter 3:7; SoS 4:1-7).
    • A cherishing wife values the labor of her husband and is his biggest fan championing his love. (SoS 2:4).
    • A cherishing parent will work long hours with little sleep, wipe noses & bottoms w/o regard to their own well-being and do hundreds of similar actions each day for their child as acts of worship to God (Ps 127).
    • A cherishing child will honor parents whether they’re in the room or even still alive. Note at least 10x command of honoring parents is referenced, and dozens more implied (Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16; Mal 1:6; Mt 15:4, 19:19; Mk 10:19; Eph 6:2; Col 3:20; 1Ti 5:1; 2Ti 3:2).
    • A cherishing family member does not keep a record of wrongs, always hopes and perseveres (1Cor 13:5-8).
    • A cherishing church member will not consider the interests of others before their own (Php 2:3-5).
    • A cherishing Christian has a posture of humility before the holiness of God and a hunger to know Him more deeply each day through His word and prayer (Php 3:7-14).

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EXAMINE                       EPHESIANS 5:21-33              Cherish Family & Marriage

Ephesians: Chapters 1-3 Gloriously Saved & Made Worthy / Chapters 4-6 Growing Sanctified & Walk Worthy

Ephesians 5:15 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil”

And the next passage describes how to function as Christian family with passage after that describing spiritual warfare. Living as a Christian will never be easy and always require a war-time mentality of focus and sacrifice.

Ephesians 5:21-33  
21  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
23  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
24  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
26  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
27  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
28  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
30  because we are members of his body.
31  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
32  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
33  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

 

Family is a shadow of a greater reality.
As we start this series on cherishing family, we need to be reminded that we can make idols out of anything; even marriage, children, and family.[2] When we read the book of Ephesians, and the rest of the Bible, we are confronted with the reality there is only one God. God is ultimate. Any other possession or relationship must fall under the ultimate authority of God.

  • “In the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30). Family and marriage will be different in the new heavens and earth so that our relationships are more fulfilling and complete. Marriage is momentary but Christ and church are ceaseless.
  • Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Following Jesus when others do not will be felt as hate when faith choices are made and separations result.
  • “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed” a woman cried out to Jesus. And he turned and said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:27) … – – –
  • “And when his own mother and brothers asked to see him, Jesus said, ‘Who is my mother and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.’” (Mathew 12:48-49). Following Jesus creates a stronger bond than biological family.

Ephesians 5 tells us marriage is an earthly relationship that points to an eternal reality – that God exists in perfect harmonious relationship within the Trinity and seeks to bring others into a right relationship with Himself. God is not lonely bc He is Trinity, but He does want us to experience His love. Our earthly relationships such as marriage are but signposts to the greater and profound relationship with Jesus and His Church.

Dave Harvey says, “there’s something more important at stake than a great wedding album [and generations of family pictures]… How easy it is to act as if husband and wife are the only relevant parties in a marriage… marriage is most amazing not because it brings people joy, or allows for a nurturing environment for children, or because it stabilizes society (even though it does all those things). Marriage is awesome because God designed it to display his glory… When a man and woman are joined in marriage, a new and lifelong model of the relationship between Christ and his church is launched.”[3]

We are in danger of turning family & marriage into an idol when[4]

  • We are not good neighbors.
    • Barely knowing names of neighbors and they barely know you.
    • Seldom serving the needs of your neighbors: snow shoveling, grass cutting, fence mending, child watching, dog walking, house sitting, etc.
    • Seldom sharing a pain or problem with neighbor to show humanity and vulnerability. God sovereignly placed you in a neighborhood to meet some of those needs through them.
    • Seldom inviting neighbors to your church.
    • “The Gospel Comes With A House Key.”[5] Christians who are not building relationships in real time with real people in the houses next to ours are not being good neighbors. Further, they’re not being good Christians (Lk 10; Mt 25). Our homes should be friendly not fortresses.
  • We are too busy for members of your family.
    • Families can be experience rich but relationally poor.[6]
    • Spouses who are lonely and not feeling loved bc little time is invested in marriage for communication and romance. Being a child-centered home is not a Christ-centered home. A Christ-centered home prioritizes marriage to stabilize the home for children to grow up in.
    • Parents who are workaholics and miss time with children: helping with homework, eating dinner together, seeing extracurricular activities/sports.
    • Parents not truly knowing the uniqueness of child with facial expressions, voice tones or words spoken that are hidden indicators of something wrong. Children not feeling like they can talk to their parents about hardships or deep issues.
  • We are too busy for church.
    • Family time and recreation are good but can become a god substitute.
    • If your family is too busy to participate in Sunday Groups & Gatherings 3-4x a month then you’re in danger of being too busy for God. Church family experiences are essential to individual family’s spiritual growth.
  • We are too good for others.
    • If our family is frequently critical of other families: pointing out their problem parenting styles or child’s actions, making fun of people’s appearances or quirks, comparing others as not measuring up to your standards… then you have become prideful and judgmental.
    • Instead, our families should be filled with gratitude for friendships and people in our life. We should be growing to give grace to others regardless of their shortfalls. Children should hear parents promoting the good in others so they know others to whom they can turn if they ever shall feel or be without you in their life.
    • People should enjoy being around you and extending invites to you because you refresh their spirit and revive their soul. Christians are to be known for light and love (Jn 13:35).

Our homes are to be honored and families are to be celebrated and cherished, but never replacements for God. When our happiness, hope, self-worth is dependent upon being loved by family members more than identity as being loved by Jesus, then we have turned family into an idol. Spouses, children, and any other person cannot sustain the weight of your worship – only Jesus can do that. Our earthly family is a shadow of a greater reality with marriage being a picture but faith becoming sight as the fulfillment of that picture. Tim Keller calls marriage a sign and foretaste of the future kingdom of God.[7]

When our happiness, hope, self-worth is dependent upon being loved by family members more than identity as being loved by Jesus, then we have turned family into an idol. Spouses, children, and any other person cannot sustain the weight of your worship – only Jesus can do that. 

 

Christian family is modeled by Jesus.
Throughout the book of Ephesians, Paul sets Jesus as the pattern for our life.

  • Jesus gave glory to God by accomplishing the will of God, so we should live in His Spirit (Eph 1:9-14).
  • Jesus made us alive by grace through faith, so we should exhibit gratitude with good works (Eph 2:8-10).
  • Jesus reconciled us to God, so we should extend reconciliation in all relationships (Eph 2:11 – 3:6).
  • Jesus gives the church gifts, so we should use them to grow His body into maturity (Eph 4:1-16).
  • Jesus makes us new, so we should be putting off the old (Eph 4:17 – 5:14).
    • Put away falsehood and speak truth (Eph 4:25)
    • Be angry and don’t sin. Don’t use words to tear down but to build up (Eph 4:26-29).
    • Be kind, tender, and forgiving as Christ forgave you (Eph 4:30-32).
    • Be imitators of God and walk in love as Christ loved us as a fragrant offering to God (Eph 5:1)
  • Jesus submitted to the Father, so we should submit and serve one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph4:21, 22; Php2:5-11; Mk10:45).
    • Jesus’ constant example was one of serving the needs of others… imagine this type of family, church, and world!
  • Jesus loved and led the church perfectly with sacrifice (Eph 4:25).
  • Jesus obeyed His father, so we should honor our parents (Eph 6:1-4).

Our world has all kinds of models. Many of the heroes we look up to and try to pattern our life after come from celebrities more than commonplace.

Marriages gauged by movies & songs

  • Jerry Maguire with Renee Zelwegger to Tom Cruise saying “You complete me.”
  • Hollywood Celebs as “relationship junkies” getting highs off being in a relationships and going from experience to experience that you can’t deal without having someone.
  • Chicago (Peter Cetera)
    You know our love was meant to be / The kind of love to last forever / And I want you here with me
    From tonight until the end of time
    You should know / Everywhere I go / Always on my mind
    In my heart, In my soul
    You’re the meaning in my life / You’re the inspiration
    You bring feeling to my life / You’re the inspiration
    Want to have you near me / I want to have you hear me saying: “No one needs you more than I need you”
  • Gary Thomas, “Marriage doesn’t solve emptiness; it exposes it… If someone can’t live without you, he or she will never be happy living with you either.”

Children imitate athletes, entertainment celebs… in all, children are like wet cement in that whatever falls on them will make an impression. So, parents must be careful to be setting the right patterns in their own life and in the media allowed to consume. Supremely, parents we cannot say follow my advice but not my actions. We must be imitators of God (Eph 5:1).

  • We will teach what we know but reproduce who we are. So, our Christian faith must not only be external but internalized.

 

APPLY/THINK

As we talk about cherishing family we also realize we live in a world that falls short of the ideal. How shall we respond to the brokenness, hurt, and pain caused by parental mistakes, children’s rebellion, and family’s foolishness? We should respond as Christ did for us – He loves the mess out of us. The God who cherishes an imperfect you empowers you to love and forgive your family.[8] Gospel-centered families can only love and cherish bc Christ first loved and cherished us (1John 4:19). Our choice to cherish comes from the overflow of how God cared for us and we must be filled with God’s Spirit (Eph 5:18). God forgives sin and provides fresh starts… today is an opportunity to renew your relationship with the Lord and commit your family to Christ.

How shall we respond to  brokenness, hurt, and pain caused by parental mistakes, children’s rebellion, and family’s foolishness? We respond as Christ did for us – He loves the mess out of us. The God who cherishes an imperfect you empowers you to love and forgive your family.

 

[1] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/peoplesdaily/article-3293212/Thailand-s-beauty-Miss-Uncensored-News-2015-thanks-mother-success-touching-way.html

[2] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/really-danger-making-idol-family/

[3] Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do.

[4] Thoughts inspired from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/7-signs-we-are-worshipping-the-family/.

[5] Roasario Butterfield.

[6] Andy Stanley, Parental Guidance, DVD.

[7] Tim Keller, Meaning of Marriage, 198.

[8] Gary Thomas, Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything For Your Marriage, p.218.

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