Covenant Godly Living: (1) The Great Good of Family Love

January 19, 2003 / No. 3133

Dear Radio Friends,

     Today I would like to speak to you of the great blessing of family love.  I’ll base my remarks upon the Word of God in the book of Proverbs, chapter 15:17, where we read, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.”

     God is speaking to us of the power of the love of Jesus Christ to make our homes the richest blessing that we can know.  And God is also warning us of the sin which can turn a home into the greatest heartache and bitterest curse that we could know.

     Your home is sacred.  It is created by God for His purposes.  And when, by the grace of God, we live according to God’s will, we will enjoy love and peace in our homes.  And when we live according to our own sin we will also suffer the greatest woe and dread in our own homes.

     The proverb that I quoted to you is true in our own experience.  We know that the love of God sweetens the pot of trial, poverty, and hardship.  But we also know that hatred sours everything.  God says that His love is so good that a family, with that love of God, will be happy even though they have nothing else in the world.  And God says that, without His love, a family will be miserable even though they might have everything that the world could possibly offer.

     Is there love in your home?  Is there peace there?  Is God there?  In your marriage is there love?  The Lord is in His holy temple.  He is inquiring of us right now:  how do you live in your home?

     Let us consider God’s Word then:  The great good of family love.

     In the proverb that I quoted, two extremes are being placed side by side, two homes are being contrasted.  Please read it once more.

     On the one hand, we have a home of humble poverty.  There is only a dinner of herbs.  But there is love there.  On the other hand, we have a home filled with luxury — a stalled ox, prime rib of ox.  But there is hatred there and everything is spoiled.

     Let us open the doors and go into these homes for a moment.

     It is mealtime, suppertime.  The family is about to partake of the blessings of food and drink given by the heavenly Father.  It is at that time that the Holy Spirit would have us examine these homes.  That is significant, is it not?

     The Word of God says that what happens at your table is a pretty accurate reflection of your home.  If you would spread out all of your life, and if you would only take out the sample of what takes place at the supper hour when your family is together, that would give you a pretty accurate reflection of the nature and the state of your very home.  That is what the Word of God is saying.  And today we need to ask the question, and you need to answer the question:  Do you have regular, consistent family meals?  Are you there, Dad?  Are you there, Mother?  Are the kids (the teenagers) there?  If they are not, and if you are not, why not?  Where are you?

     But let us go into the home.  It is mealtime.  In the first home the mother is preparing a very meager meal.  Let us imagine that the little boy, we’ll call him Billy, comes in from school and he asks, “What’s for dinner, Mom?”  “Oh,” she says, “just some herbs.  A little morsel, a few things that we have.  Not much.”  “Mom, is Dad going to be there?  Are my older sisters and brothers going to be there?  Are we going to talk?  Is Dad going to pray and read the Bible?  Can I sit on his lap when he does that?”  “Yes, Billy, that will all happen.”  “Oh, I’m hungry, Mom.  I can’t wait.”

     You see, the love of God is in that home even though they are having but a meager meal.

     Let us go to the second home.  It is next door.  The mother is also preparing a meal.  A little boy comes in (we’ll call him Johnny).  “What’s for dinner, Mom?”  “Oh, stalled ox, prime rib of stalled ox, that ox that your father has been feeding and padding down.  He’s going to slaughter it and we’re going to have the best slice of meat we can find from it.”  “Mom.”  “Yes.”  “Are you and Dad going to talk to each other?  Is Dad going to pound the table?  Are you going to cry?  Are my sisters going to act like cats?  Is there going to be arguing and yelling?  Are you going to say to me, ‘Pass your father the peas’?  Mom, can I go to Billy’s house for supper tonight?”

     You see, the boy does not want to be there, even though there is the best possible food, because hatred oozes out into all kinds of strife in that home.

     We have been at these tables, have we not?  Probably not, for the most of us, at a meal of herbs.  Maybe some of us have had such meager food.  Today we have so much more than that.  But we have certainly been at a table where the love of God flavored every dish.  And we have also sat down to a stalled ox — a lovely dinner (Thanksgiving or Christmas meal) — all spoiled by the sin of hatred in our hearts.  Hatred shown in ill-will, resentment, jealousy, dissatisfaction, anger, frustration spoiling your appetite and maybe even you stood up and left the table in anger because you did not walk in love and you harbored sin in your heart.  The love of God makes the home.  When the love of God in Jesus Christ leaves the home, there is no security in that home.  There is no safety in that home.  There is nothing that is left.  Then there is only jealousy between husband and wife, anger and resentment.  There is rivalry among the children.  There is selfishness, envy.  The words “I hate you” are spoken.  And we dread the home even though it is the most beautiful home on the block and it is decorated just so.  We dread being there.

     The source of family blessedness is the love of God.  For it is the love of God which is the power that makes everything flourish and that provides rest and joy.  When our sin (my sin) evaporates that love, nothing remains.  Members are scattered.  Each person of the family mounts a miserable guard over his own interest and sets himself against the other.  Understand, the Word of God is not telling us that there is virtue in poverty and that there is evil in wealth.  The answer for our problems is not “give everything away and you will experience love.”  No.  The point is this:  riches cannot secure happiness.  Poverty cannot destroy happiness.  Blessedness is only by the power of the love of God in Jesus Christ.  With the love of God, you will be happy in your home, in the lowest estate and under the heaviest burdens.  Without that love you will be miserable in the highest estates.

The source of family blessedness is the love of God.

     Hear the heart of the matter:  Walk in love as God’s dear children.  That builds the home.

     What is that love of God?  It can only be known by a sinner humbled under the hand of God.  If you do not know and hate your own sin, do not talk about the love of God.  You do not know what you are talking about.  Sin, unrepented of and unforsaken, in our lives takes away from us so many things.  Sin is always taking away from us.  I know that sin is always promising us all kinds of things — contentment, pleasure, satisfaction, power.  But sin never gives you anything.  Sin takes away from you everything.  And it takes away from the child of God the experience of the love of God.  You cannot get around it.  Do you want to know the love of God in Jesus Christ the Lord?  Do you want its power as a husband, as a wife, as a child?  Do you want its power as a young person who is struggling to be liked but feels insecure?  Do you want the power of the love of God?  You cannot know that unless you know your own sin.

     You see, the love of God is a wonder, it is the greatest wonder of all.  It is a greater wonder than when God spoke the universe into being, or parted the Red Sea, or caused the walls of Jericho to fall.  The greatest wonder of all wonders is this:  He loved me.  The very Son of God died in my place for my sin.  What a wonder!  Ever ask God to prove His love for you?  Oh, we do.  We say, “Where is His love?  Look at what’s happening in my life.  My life is falling apart.  I’m losing my name, my hopes.”  God says, “Look to the cross.  Behold the love of God.”  What manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us!  The unchangeable love of God.  And that love of God towards us who are sinners and undeserving is sufficient.  That is the point.  The whole point here is this:  the love of God satisfies.  Nothing else can.  You need to hear that, young people.  You need to get that down into your soul.  There is nothing that can satisfy except the love of God.  Girl, the lustful embrace of a man cannot satisfy you.  The body of a girl, man, cannot satisfy you.  Being the best in your field brings no satisfaction.  The applause and the worship of other people cannot satisfy you.  Three thousand, or four or five thousand square-foot homes, a car, clothes — these things cannot satisfy you.  Hear my authority.  I speak in the name of the living Lord.  “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  The whole world will not satisfy you!

     But the love of God?  It is enough!  Oh, it is more than enough that He loved me and gave Himself for me.  In God’s love abiding, I have joy and peace!  Do you believe that?

“What doth it profit a man if he gain

the whole world and lose his own soul?”

     That brings blessedness in the home — the love of God.

     If love is the source of family blessedness, then we are taught that covetousness, or discontentment, is its deadly enemy.  Although the Word of God teaches that there is no evil in things and there is no virtue in poverty, yet we cannot miss in our text that misery and hatred are found in the house of prosperity.  And if it is so that earthly things of themselves and wealth of itself is not evil, then we ask, “What is the connection, what is the Word of God saying?”  The Word of God is saying this (look farther in the chapter — Proverbs 15:27), “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house.”  It is not the things.  It is not the abundance of earthly things which is the problem.  It is the love of riches.  It is the love of things.  The enemy is covetousness.  The enemy of your home is when you yearn after someone or thing other than God as the satisfaction of your soul.  You trouble your house.  When your heart is set on something, or someone, other than God, that is what you are doing.  You are troubling it.  Is there strife in your home and in your marriage?  Is there hatred?  Is there a lack of peace?  Is there tension and ill-will and resentment and smoldering fires ready to flare up in arguments?  Do you feel like you are walking on ice?  Is there distance between you as husband and wife, suspicion between you and your parents, growing accusation, hurts?  Why are these things happening?  The farmer looks for a reason for his crops to be distressed.  The shepherd looks for the wolf attempting to spoil the fold.  God looks down and He inquires in your family, in your marriage, in your relationship to your parents.  Do not tell Him that He does not have any business asking His questions about your family life.  Why is there a problem?

The enemy of your home

is when you yearn after someone or thing

other than God as the satisfaction of your soul.

     Here is the cause:  Sin.  But do not leave it general.  It is because you are not satisfied in God.  You set your heart on something outside of His will.  It may be yourself.  It may be your riches.  It may be your will.  It may be your lust.  It can be materialism.  It can be the love of earthly things.  That is a great enemy.  Today we are told that you have to have … and if you have it, then you will be happy.  Things become pacifiers — possessions, clothes.  Homes become the “fix” for the soul.  So now we need two incomes — husband and wife.  And we need a certain type of home.  We need a certain type of car.  We are ready to sacrifice a mother being at home in order to get it.  And this infects your children.  They begin to learn that the solution to unhappiness is things.  To your teenage girl, if she is having trouble with her relationships in high school, you say, “Well, we’ll make you happy.  We’ll take you to the mall and get you a new dress.”

     It can be materialism.  It can be hedonism.  It can be the love of pleasure.  It can be setting your heart on entertainment, sports, and games.  It can be lust.  The breaking down of the bonds God places on purity — wanting to satisfy your own self.  It can be discontentment — I don’t like my parents.  I don’t like my father.  I’m not happy with my wife.  I’m not happy with my husband.  They have to change.

     The enemy to your home is covetousness.  It is a wandering heart from God.  It is discontentment.  No, this is what it is:  It is pride, smelly, stinking, in God’s nose, pride.  It is the failure to be thankful to God.  Before covetousness can take hold in your heart, you must first want your way, your lust.  You must first want that house, that thing.  You must first fail to appreciate that God has loved you.

     Then, when that takes hold, we can understand how it happens.  We begin to say in our hearts, “I want this, and you stand in my way, so I hate you.  I want a car at sixteen and Dad said ‘No,’ so I hate him.  I want her looks and want her popularity so I hate her.  I want my husband to be like … and so I hate him.  I want my wife to be what I dreamed, and so I don’t like her.  I want my child to be this way and so I’m frustrated when he is not.  I’m upset.  I hate!  I strive against God.”  I’m saying that I’m God.  And I tear down my house and I burned everyone in it.  I troubled my house, my sinful pride is the cause of the strife and the hatred.  It is true.  You do not need to look any further than yourself.  You had better leave other people alone right now.  You are before God and His Words.  So am I.  Repent.  Plant the cross in your home.  Plant it in the kitchen, the family room, the bedroom, the van on the way to church.  The gospel must come in its power.  It must come to humble you under the weight of your sin.  And it must cause you to pour out your confession to God and to cry, “Father, heavenly Father, Father of mercy and love, build my home.  Build it in the love of God.  Give me to know the love of God in Jesus Christ.  Then my home will be built.”

     That is the blessing of the Christian home.  Will you take inventory today of your home?  Will you go through the cupboards?  Will you itemize your possessions?  Will you tabulate your net worth, fathers?  Will you add up your assets?  Right now, in the name of your wife, your children, too.  Go to the office, look at your diplomas there.  Pack up your tools.  Get everything all together in one bundle.  What are you going to take with you?  What is important to you?  Soon, or so very soon, you are going to leave it all behind — your wife, your child, your parent — and they are going to lower your body into the grave.  What are you going to have?

Plant the cross in your home.

     Ah, says the child of God, “In the love of God, I have everything.  I have absolutely everything.”  That is the blessing.  The blessing is the family God gave you that you might work the work of God in that family and that you might live in His love.  That is the blessing.

     Maybe in the bitterness of your soul and under the load of your trials you say, “I can’t.  I know what you’re saying, but I can’t.”  Now listen to the Word of God.  It is true that right now our families are not perfect and they are the place of many sins.  But, nevertheless, it is possible for you, for every believing home.  How?  In Jesus Christ, in the way of a broken, humbled sinner gathering at the foot of the cross.  He is our peace.  Abide in Him, little children.  Set your heart upon Him.  Walk in love before Him.  Confess your sin.  Watch over your heart.  Do not set your heart upon a stalled ox.  Do not set your heart upon a house of pleasure, or of earthly power and self-promotion.  Happiness cannot be found there.  Happiness is found in the love of God.  God builds our homes.  He does that by grace.  He does that through repentance.  He does that by clinging to His love.  In God’s love abiding, you will have blessing in your home.

     Let us pray.

     Father, bless Thy Word to our hearts in Jesus’ name, Amen.