What is the most important key in strengthening family relationships?
All too often, God’s people lose generation after generation to the distractions and cares of this life, bringing up children who leave faith behind as they reach adulthood. We want our children to continue on in the faith. This outcome does not happen by accident. It is necessary to have a loving relationship with our children in order to influence them for the Lord.
As Christian parents, we must become students of the Lord as He teaches us how to raise Godly children. Through times of fervent prayer and demonstrating genuine love, we can increase the harmony in our family and lay the foundation for loving relationships that last a lifetime.
Experience the Power of Prayer
In seeking to build our family relationships, we must pray and ask God to show us how to strengthen these relationships. We all experience struggles within our families, and nothing can replace the power of praying for our children.
Many times we have experienced discouragement over the spiritual growth, character development, or academic achievement of our children. From our perspective, things seemed hopeless and we felt it was too late to make any corrections. When we called on the Lord in desperation, to our amazement He answered and we saw Him do more than we could even imagine in the situation. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…be glory” (Ephesians 3:20–21).
Home education brings us to the end of our abilities quickly and gives us many opportunities to cry out to God. As our children see God answering prayers and meeting our needs, their faith is strengthened. Our children receive training for life as they see our great needs and God’s faithful answers to prayer. “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:6).
Develop and Maintain Loving Relationships
The foundation of a dynamic home must be a love for God and for His Word and loving relationships between parents and family members. It is vital to maintain a good relationship between the father and mother in order to have peace within the home. It is essential to win the hearts of our children by accepting and understanding each child, resolving any anger problems, and being the first to ask for forgiveness.
Daily family devotions are also important for the spiritual growth and unity of the family. As we have meaningful devotions, our children see that the Word of God is powerful and has answers for their needs.
When we become overwhelmed with all of our responsibilities within the home, church, and ministry, it is easy to miss out on the loving relationships within the family. To keep our relationships strengthened, we try to spend our evenings together as a family as much as possible, whether at home or when out ministering as a family.
We also try to schedule an evening once a week where we have special time together. In our family, we have designated Saturday night as “Family Night.” We have a special dinner that evening, along with our favorite snacks. We spend the evening enjoying our family, playing board games, outdoor games, or doing some other type of activity together. We may invite other families over, or just spend time together with our family. The Lord has used this time to continue to build our relationships.
A favorite activity for “Family Night” was taking turns putting together presentations on character qualities. We gave our children the freedom to be creative with the ways in which they presented the quality, such as through a skit, object lesson, game, project, or activity. The entire family usually enjoyed a good laugh over the unique presentations! We have wonderful memories from such evenings.
Demonstrate Genuine Love
God establishes a pattern for loving one another when He demonstrates His love for us. His love is unconditional. In John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” He did not say that He would send His Son when we stopped sinning. There are no conditions mentioned. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us while we were still unlovable sinners. (See Romans 5:8.)
Our love for our children must follow this pattern. We need to love them unconditionally, no matter what they say or do. Even as we correct and train our children, it should always be done in an attitude of love. “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Psalm 16:24).
It is this unconditional love that will be a key as we raise our children for God in the light of eternity. It will be the strength of our relationship with them and a model of how they should have a relationship with their Savior. We can begin this at any time—the sooner the better. It is never too early or too late to begin loving our children.
I Corinthians 13 reveals many insights on demonstrating genuine love. Living out these aspects of love will increase family harmony.
“Charity suffereth long…” (I Corinthians 13:4)
- Love is long-suffering when exhausted and discouraged.
- Love is long-suffering when relationships are strained.
- Love is long-suffering when expectations are unfulfilled.
“And is kind…” (I Corinthians 13:4)
- Love is kind when other family members are unkind.
- Love is kind during times of conflict.
- Love is kind when correction is in order.
“Charity envieth not…” (I Corinthians 13:4)
- Love is content with God’s design for our lives.
- Love does not wish for the temporal things that others may have.
- Love does not compare ourselves with others, but rather with God’s Word.
“Charity vaunteth not itself…” (I Corinthians 13:4)
- Love seeks to glorify God in all that is done.
- Love expresses gratefulness to God and others.
- Love encourages those around them.
“Is not puffed up…” (I Corinthians 13:4)
- Love walks in humility.
- Love does not take credit for God’s working in our lives.
- Love is not ruined by success.
“Doth not behave itself unseemly…” (I Corinthians 13:5)
- Love walks in God’s Spirit, not in the flesh.
- Love responds to life from God’s perspective.
“Seeketh not her own…” (I Corinthians 13:5)
- Love seeks first God’s kingdom.
- Love puts family members ahead of self.
- Love remembers “one for all and all for one.”
“Is not easily provoked…” (I Corinthians 13:5)
- Love has patience with family members.
- Love disciplines with love, not anger.
- Love maintains a clear conscience by asking for forgiveness when wrong.
“Thinketh no evil…” (I Corinthians 13:5)
- Love focuses on God’s working in a life rather than on failures and struggles.
- Love looks for the good in those around us.
“Rejoiceth not in iniquity…” (I Corinthians 13:6)
- Love corrects sins without being harsh with the sinners.
- Love realizes that God is merciful and has forgiven our sins.
“But rejoiceth in the truth…” (I Corinthians 13:6)
- Love praises the good in others.
- Love trains our family in the truth of God’s Word.
- Love shares the truth of the Gospel with those we meet.
“Beareth all things…” (I Corinthians 13:7)
- Love shares one another’s burdens.
- Love serves family members.
- Love overlooks the shortcomings of others.
“Believeth all things…” (I Corinthians 13:7)
- Love trusts God to accomplish His best.
- Love has faith in the sovereignty of God.
“Hopeth all things…” (I Corinthians 13:7)
- Love looks for the best in others.
- Love keeps praying and caring.
- Love rests in God’s faithfulness.
“Endureth all things…” (I Corinthians 13:7)
- Love does not give up when discouraged.
- Love withstands pressure while rejoicing.
“Charity never faileth…” (I Corinthians 13:8)
- Love is unconditional, even when others are unlovely.
- Love endures even in the midst of broken or strained relationships.
- True love mirrors Christ’s love for us.
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (I Corinthians 13:13).
God is establishing families around the world who are making a difference for His kingdom. They have by no means achieved “perfection,” but they are seeking to take each situation to the Lord so that they can respond correctly to it. The potential addressed in the statement “The world has yet to see what God will do through one man who is totally dedicated to Him,” can be multiplied by the number of people in your family when you are all following the Lord together.
May the Lord richly bless your family as you seek to develop strong relationships that will last a lifetime and will influence others for Jesus. May He receive all of the glory!
- Do I seek after God’s wisdom for training my children?
- Do I pray daily for each of my children?
- Am I an example of God’s love to my family?
- Do I ask for forgiveness when wrong?
- Do I focus on meeting the needs of my family before reaching out toothers?