December 17, 2011
The Gift of Family
This Advent Daily Devotional is focusing on the gifts God gives us, as uncovered in the book of Ephesians.
Did you know that researchers have found that people who are married have a better life? Yes, it’s true! Many may find holes in the data to support their own experience, however, if you are married there is a strong likelihood that you will live a longer life, have a better financial picture, and enjoy better mental health and greater safety than those who are not married.
From my perspective, this data supports God’s perfect plan all along. Today’s Gift from Ephesians is the Gift of Family.
Here’s how The Message describes the key relationship of wives and husbands, beginning in Ephesians 5:22:
Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.
Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.
Paul’s definition of marriage is the way God would like it to be for us. That’s the way it CAN be. It’s not just a pipe dream or an awesome goal. With the Holy Spirit in us and encouraging us daily, it CAN be that way.
A good marriage takes a lot of hard work… a good family life even more work. It is understandable to say that you may feel like you’ve put out all the hard work you can muster at your job and that there just isn’t enough time or energy to put in the hard work to make your marriage in the way God intended. I get that.
Someone once said that marriage is not a 50-50 proposition, in that each spouse does 50% of the work. No, marriage is a 100-100 proposition. Both the husband and the wife are to pour 100% of their energies into making it work.
One could drone on and on about what makes a good marriage and what makes a bad marriage, quoting wedding vows and divorce statistics.
It’s not that simple. Life is complex. It is complicated as a single adult. It’s more challenging as a couple. And it gets really interesting when that couple adds some children into that life. But what a gift your family can be! What a joy our children are! Especially when we take the time to see them as God does.
Billy Graham says “Children will invariably talk, eat, walk, think, respond, and act like their parents. Give them a target to shoot at. Give them a goal to work toward. Give them a pattern that they can see clearly, and you give them something that gold and silver cannot buy.”
Marriage, and family, is a great gift! When you have a little more time this Season, read Ephesians 5:22 through 6:4 and ponder how you can be a better parent, or a better child, in your family. Ask God to give you His grace and His eyes to see your family members the way He does. That is a wonderful gift!
Father God, thank you for the gift of my family. Let me see the members of my family the way you do. Use me to bring your peace and your grace and your love to my family this Season. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2011. Rich Ronald
 The Case for Marriage, by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, 2001, Broadway Press.
 Billy Graham, The Hour of Decision, 1958