I want my home to be a place of joy, happiness and fun. One day my children and wife will stand in a funeral home before a casket where my body rests. While there, conversations will be had, comments made, and private thoughts will be in the mind of each person. I know this for sure, for I have been in that setting personally and observing other families as their pastor.
What kind of memories will they have as they recall the years when they grew up in our home? It is not an optional issue. They are going to remember me some way – good or bad.
I suppose a better question is what kinds of thoughts do they have about me right now? Whatever perspectives they currently have are the same feelings they will have when I die. I can’t just wish something to be different in their minds on that day when I have not given them cause to think well of me. I am making future memories each day that I live.
A close family does not happen accidentally, but intentionally. It is the result of fulfilling the many “one another” commands mentioned in the Bible. God gave them to us to establish a wholesome community in our local churches. I believe they ought to be first lived out in our families first or they will never be practiced within our churches.
The “one another” command we have been considering is from Galatians 5:13 which says, “…serve one another”. In addition to bringing family members closer to each other, are there other benefits for our homes? There are two I want to highlight, one in this post and the other to follow later.
Here is an attractive characteristic of a home that serves one another – it is a place of great joy. Willing serving brings joy to an environment.
This joy of giving and serving is seen in the life of the Lord Jesus and Paul, who penned most of the New Testament. Note the words in Acts 20:35, especially the last line – “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
The word “blessed” has the idea of being happy and joyful. Paul worked to earn moeny to help provide for others that were needy. He was not a taker, but a giver! He learned to live this way from the life of the greatest giver and servant of all, the Lord Jesus Christ.
What a profound oxymoron, the greatest joy isn’t found in the receiving, but in the giving. Christ verified this truth after he had humbly served his disciples in washing their feet. He then told them of a perquisite of offering this type of service – “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” (John 13:17)
The “these things” mentioned here refer back to his washing their feet. The clear implication is if we do not serve willingly that we will not be happy. If service brings great joy to the one providing it, the corollary is also true: selfishness brings misery and unhappiness to a person.
I believe with all of my heart, based on God’s Word, that the entire atmosphere of your home would be invigorated with a spirit of joy if it were filled with people that were eager to serve each other.
Several years ago our family was at Disney World and we were in a small store shopping for souvenirs. Our kids had an allotted amount of money for souvenirs which they had earned through their chores at home and working for other people.
My son, Jake, was nine at the time and had around $50 to spend that he had saved. He was so careful counting every purchase and weighing whether he should buy it (he has always been good with his money). During this time Jake would bring me various items for me to examine and inquire about my opinion concerning the value of what he was considering buying.
Finally when we all had finished and were walking back to our car he sheepishly pulled something out of his bag and said, “Here, Dad, I bought you something”. It was a key chain with a small ornament attached with the word “Dad” engraved on it. I looked on the back and saw where it had cost him $6.00 I knew it was his own money that he had spent (over 10%) and I was so humbled at his sacrifice and deeply grateful for his expression of love for me.
Though it brought great joy to my heart as I felt loved, I knew that it brought greater joy to him because he was the giver.
I still have that key chain and will always keep it because of what it represents and reminds me: I know my son loves me. His heart of service and sacrifice drew my heart to him and it made me feel close to him, not only then, but even now as I write this.
During the same trip we were at another souvenir store and I saw a nice shirt that I liked, but when I looked at the price it was wasn’t even a consideration for me. I didn’t know it, but some of the older kids had seen me looking at it. (I suppose because it was so unusual because I hate shopping and it was a rare occurence for them!)
About thirty minutes later my older children (Jeremiah, Jonathan, Ashley, Jordan and April) called me over and asked me to try on the shirt I had been looking at. I declined, but they insisted and bought me the shirt with their money they pooled together. It meant so much to me and brought a lot of joy to me, but I know they had greater joy. (By the way, I still have and wear this shirt and am always reminded of their love and sacrifice for me). Their thoughtful service brought me closer to them – and it still does.
A little later in the same store the older children again put their money together and bought Paula a beautiful decorative gift that sits on top of our bedroom dresser today. To Paula and myself this is a sweet reminder every day to us of the kindness and sacrificial love of our children. We enjoy it, but I think it brings them deeper joy because “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. Each time I look at it my heart is attracted to my children – and it makes me feel closer to them.
Great joy comes to a family that serves each other. I want to be a source of joy for my wife and children by serving them. Sure, it’s fun to receive, but it’s more fulfilling to give and serve. My friend, Don Sisk, says, “Receivers eat well, but givers sleep well”.