August 20, 2012

Family first

What of that person who labors in prayer for children and immediate family? What of those whose only Christian service is to raise godly children? Is this a service to God and an example of faith? Or does that person need to do something more spectacular?
In the “hall of faith” of Hebrews 11, several individuals are commended for their faith. While it seems like Noah’s great accomplishment of building an ark to save living things from destruction would be the action that demonstrates his faith, God also honors this man’s reasons for doing what he did.
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
Noah exercised his faith in his desire to save his own family. This commonplace life of a family, was just as much a place of worship and the center of service to God as a temple or a church. For Noah, building a refuge for his wife and children was an act of faith, commended by God in the same breath as He commended Abraham for going to a new land by faith to receive an inheritance and Sarah for being able to conceive when she was far too old to have a child, trusting God who promised her a son.

As I read through the other commendations for faith in Hebrews 11, I note that almost all of them involve family activities and concerns. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. God asked that same son to bless his sons. He asked one of them to bless his grandchildren and one of them to worship Him and to direct his family out of bondage in Egypt.

God also commended the parents of Moses for hiding him, and Moses for refusing to be called a stepchild of the Egyptian family who raised him, but instead identifying with the family that those Egyptians were persecuting.

Faith is always about family, even family first. If I ever have doubts that praying for my family is selfish or too me-centered to be commended by God, I need to remember that the giants of faith, no matter what else they did because of faith, first exercised their faith in God because of and for their families.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)
God honors this ordinary sphere for the exercise of faith. Noah’s purpose for building the ark may seem a small thing compared to that huge undertaking, but in the mind of God, family is the most consecrated place to begin trusting and serving Him. He wants His people to make their house His house because of our faith.

Lord, thank You for Your word to me this morning. Prayers for my family and serving them is high on Your priority list and so it should be on mine. What would the ark matter if Noah’s family were not on it? What would the faith of Abraham or Isaac mean if their family remained in bondage? What importance would the faith of Moses be if he decided to abandon his true family and serve the Pharaohs who enslaved them? When facing other options, may I always put family first.

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