Develop a Culture of Love in your Family

This week, I want us to think about the importance of creating a culture of love in our homes.
In Matthew 24, Jesus stated that at some point lawlessness would grow in intensity and the love of many would grow cold. I believe that as followers of Jesus, we need to be intentional and deliberate in our pursuit of love. When you think of this warning by Jesus in terms of the measure of real faith spelled out in 1John 3:14 which tells us that love is the evidence of authentic faith, we need to be vigilant about growing in love. It seems that Jesus was warning us that when lawlessness and offenses grow, we are in danger of allowing our love to grow cold and callous. I’m not going to list all the growing evidence of lawlessness, offenses, and injustices… I think those are self evident. I want to focus on encouraging you to guard and grow love in your heart and home.
I think the place to start is by thinking about love vs hate. In 1 John 4, we are told that God is love. Everything in the Kingdom of Heaven works by love. Love is the core principle of God’s Kingdom. The Bible refers to it as life.
Those who are a part of God’s Kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ are expected to grow in love and to diminish in hate or death. God’s love has many components. I want to list just a small percentage of them for you to consider as we prepare to delve into this through the week. Love includes: encouragement, respect, kindness, forgiveness, politeness, trustworthiness, honesty, initiative, helpful deeds, generosity, and unselfishness.
In order to understand love better, I think we should take a moment to think about the opposite of love. The Kingdom of Darkness operates by that, the Bible refers to the core principle of the kingdom of darkness as death or hate. Some of the components of this kingdom are: insults, disrespect, selfishness, harsh criticism, rage, refusal to forgive, deceit, harmful deeds, slander, greed, offenses, and malice.
As followers of Jesus, we are obligated to daily choose to identify the characteristics of death in our hearts and wash them out through repentance. We are commanded to choose to grow in love everyday. This has to begin in our homes with our mate and children, extend to our friends and family, and then out to the world. We are called to be a light in darkness. Many want to be a light, but struggle to know how… the answer is to live a life of love and the world that is filled with lawlessness and death will take note.
Remember, love is a choice, not an emotion. The greatest act of love ever committed was Jesus’ choice to offer Himself on the cross so we could be reconciled to the Father. It was a demonstration of love carried out by His choice of will. He set the example for us. I want to encourage you to refuse to participate in all the anger and rage and offense and choose love.
As we get started, I need to tell you that love is controversial and often creates heated opposition. In Ephesians 4:14&15, we are told that as followers of Jesus, we should no longer be as children who are tossed back and forth by all kinds of doctrines and deceitful plans of men, rather, we should speak the truth in love so we can grow up into maturity in Christ. In other words, love requires that we don’t agree with and go along with every idea that comes along… no matter how passionately people feel about it.
The truth is that many ideas and behaviors are harmful and destructive both physically and spiritually. Many today, seeking to be seen as tolerant and understanding and desiring to not be labelled as judgmental have begun to practice a false form of love. This false love simply says, “ I don’t want you to dislike me, so I will approve whatever you do…or at least I won’t attempt to correct you.”
The love of Jesus compels us to learn the truth and to share the truth with others in a respectful way. This is where love becomes hot, controversial, and even volatile. When we tell those around us that their ideas and behaviors lead to trouble and destruction either physically or spiritually or both, they often respond in anger and wrong accusation. However, to stand by without speaking the truth in love sends them spiraling toward the consequences. The truth is that if we choose not to speak up out of fear of being rejected or criticized we are demonstrating that we love self more than others.
The pattern of the Bible repeated from Noah to Moses, to Elijah, and Elisha, to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles is to love people enough to tell the truth about the consequences of sin and plead with people in love to repent and turn to God. Every one of them dealt with rejection and found themselves the target of hatred and lies, yet they valued expressing the love of God enough to endure anything… even death.
My point is that being a person of love probably will make you unpopular with many people. It may brand you as controversial and intolerant, but as we share the truth with those around us in love, kindness, and respect, we can see God at work to transform lives. We especially need to teach our children the truth to counteract the many doctrines of darkness that they hear daily. So ask God for the courage to live a life of love.
In order to create a culture of love in our homes, we need to be deliberate in adding expressions of love on a daily basis. We need to insist on respect in our homes. Respect is simply remembering that each of us has great value to God and treating each other accordingly. It is disturbing how many families today are filled with harsh words, sharp criticism, screaming, yelling, and even violence and threats. It is shocking how many children routinely rebel against and disobey their parents. I have a friend who is a Christian family Counsellor and he tells me that the most common problem he hears in his office nowadays is belligerent children who passionately declare that they hate their parents and stubbornly hold onto that position no matter what.
It’s time for us to set a new standard in our homes. As parents, we need to remember that children are a gift from God and we are responsible before God to prepare them for life as adults. God expects us to pass our faith on to them. He expects us to train them to live the Christian life by teaching them and by role-modeling Christianity for them. Treating others with respect is certainly a big part of that lifestyle. We need to train our children the importance of honoring and obeying their parents.
I want to encourage you to build respect into the culture of your family by setting boundaries on the words spoken in the home. First of all, swearing or cursing and name-calling should be abolished. Next, a home of respect is filled with simple courtesies like “thank you”, “please”, “yes sir” and “yes m’am”. Next, a home of respect is a home where the people are careful how they speak to each other. Respect does not allow for habitual outbursts of anger and rage accompanied by a stream of harsh and hurtful words. A family who respect each other learn to make their point without wounding each others’ souls. I want to encourage you to learn to communicate calmly and clearly addressing behaviors without attacking the character of others. This kind of communication brings necessary correction without belittling or demeaning the others.
A family who insists on mutual respect creates a culture of love and peace in the home that will last a lifetime. Children who are raised in a home where respect is required will show respect to others in the world. So, if the respect in your family is slipping, it’s time to hold a family meeting and re-establish mutual respect.
One of the hallmark traits of love is forgiveness. In marriage and in families, there will always be a need to seek forgiveness and a need to give forgiveness. As we go through life together, we inadvertently say or do things that hurt others. In those moments, we need to be quick to admit our mistake and ask for forgiveness. Likewise, others will say or do things that will hurt us and in those moments, we need to be quick to forgive.
Forgiveness includes cancelling the debt created by the offense. When we forgive someone, we should drop it and not keep bringing it up in an attempt to keep the person feeling bad and obligated to us. First Corinthians 13 tells us that love refuses to keep a list of hurts or offenses committed by others.
Forgiveness is based in the understanding that I received forgiveness of my sins from God and therefore I ought to forgive others. God’s love for me compelled Him to release me from the penalty of my sins and bring me into fellowship with Him. So, love should compel me to forgive others and restore fellowship with them.
Forgiveness demands that I will not hold grudges or seek opportunity for retaliation. Forgiveness demands that I will not slander or gossip by telling others negative, hurtful things about my mate or children. Forgiveness wipes those things away and refuses to embarrass by spreading it around… that includes posting on social media.
Forgiveness takes the tension and coldness out of relationships in the home and re-introduces warmth and closeness. Forgiveness drives away insecurity and fills relationships with security. Forgiveness drives out fear and welcomes confidence. Forgiveness drives out anger and frustration and hopelessness and fills a home with peace, hope, and joy and laughter. Forgiveness makes a home a place of peace and rest.
If your home is filled with unforgiveness, bitterness and festering grudges that are creating coldness and separation, the answer is to choose to give forgiveness. Holding onto the offense to protect yourself is really sinking your family and poisoning your soul. I hope you will choose to let it go today. Forgiveness is a powerful spiritual weapon to heal your marriage and family.
All week, I have been talking about the importance of deliberately cultivating certain qualities of love in the culture of our families. Today, I want to wrap it up by briefly suggesting a couple more.
Love includes generosity and unselfishness. it is important that we teach and role model these qualities.Everyone in our family should be far more likely to make a personal sacrifice to benefit another than to selfishly fight to take something away from another. We need to learn to find the pleasure in giving a blessing to someone else rather than always focusing on getting something for self. This is the atmosphere that should fill our hearts and homes as followers of Jesus.
Another quality that we should work on is speaking words of hope and encouragement to each other. Husbands, wives, and siblings need to develop the habit of lifting each other up with words of encouragement and support. It is easy to fall into the pattern of criticizing, mocking, and making sharp sarcastic remarks, but it is much better to train ourselves to resist those sinful impulses and choose to speak words that build up and encourage each other. Safe words transform a home into a safe haven where the disappointments of life can be overcome.
One of the most important qualities we need to add to develop a culture of love in our home is initiative. The time to make changes is right now and the person to set things in motion is you. Whether you are the husband or wife or one of the children, you are the person to get things moving. When we wait for someone else to make the move, no one will. When we wait for the right time, it never gets right. When we hesitate to create a plan, we get sidetracked. The time is now. The person to take the lead is you. Love is a powerful force that has the ability to transform any family. Love can heal a marriage that is struggling. Love can heal a family that is cold and harsh. Love can lift a person out of the pit of depression. Love can overcome hopelessness. Love can fill a broken heart with joy. Love can transform a home filled with fighting and yelling into a home filled with hugs and laughter. You can light the spark of love in your family and fan it into a flame. So, release love today in your home!
Now, before I go, If you are looking for a devotional that will help you strengthen your marriage, I want to recommend I Still Do, A Guide for the Marriage journey. This devotional is filled with biblical principles, practical suggestions, and questions to help you implement these principles in your marriage. Order your copy today at nolareallife.org or at I Still Do on Facebook. Order yours today.

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