Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 18 Number 1 January 2016
Page 13

The Family Spirit

Ronald D. Reeves

Ronald D. ReevesThe church and the home are both divine institutions (Matthew 16:18; Genesis 2), which respectively serve the spiritual and social needs of mankind (1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Corinthians 7). Each of the two is distinct in its respective purposes and should be managed accordingly. The respective biblical roles of each must be preserved and respected.

Though distinct in their respective purposes and responsibilities, the church and the home have at least one characteristic in common: each of these divine institutions qualifies as a family and should function daily as such. The apostle Paul spoke clearly about the responsibilities of wives and husbands unto one another and applied the principle of a family relationship to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). He also described the church as being the “household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Furthermore, Paul spoke of the church as the “house of God” (1 Timothy 3:15). Clearly, the New Testament church is the family of the saved (Ephesians 5:23) and must maintain the character of family internally.

As families are established and developed, new members are born into the family. A heart-felt sense of joy is experienced by family members and friends of the family. An enlivening of the family’s spirit is aroused. With fondness the family looks to the future when the newborn child will come of age and honor the family with his maturity and accomplishments as he takes his place in the family and in society.

Newborn children are both a blessing and a joyful burden. We are blessed as we receive their unqualified love and their dependence upon us to provide absolutely everything one needs to survive, prosper and grow into a healthy, mature adult. They also place important burdens upon the other family members, especially the leadership of the family, as they enter the family as a newborn. Immediate attention is demanded, without which the child will suffer and perhaps perish. The attention demanded must be both qualitative and enduring, and both must successfully address the real, timely needs of one who can communicate only on a very basic level. Those caring for such a one must instinctively know the nature of care that must be provided if the child is to be nourished and protected from all harm. This qualitative and enduring care can only be provided by those of the family who are truly committed to the well-being of the babe who needs such delicate attention. The family invests its labors with the hope of seeing the day when this child will fulfill their fondest expectations.

As newborn children place important burdens upon other family members, babes in Christ who enter our local congregation place important burdens upon us, their family. These burdens become ours simply because babes in Christ are a part of our spiritual family. Their presence immediately generates responsibilities and places demands upon us. If we fail to address these responsibilities, we will surely be held accountable. These burdens should be borne by both the leadership and the general membership of the congregation. New members of our congregation, especially babes in Christ, require immediate spiritual care as we seek to acclimate each new member and provide a measure of spiritual security in a new and sometimes intimidating setting. The spiritual care that we provide should be quality care that endures over a broad span of time. As the newborn infant cannot be left to himself, neither can the newborn Christian be left to himself either. Our congregational programs and individual efforts must reflect this reality. If we fail in this regard, perhaps the babe in Christ may be negatively impacted for many years.

Despite the disadvantage of a babe in Christ not knowing how to assist himself in the spiritual growth process, we must take the lead and embrace him in a manner that encourages and motivates personal development and strength. We can do no less and still be pleasing to God. We need to anticipate the needs of babes in Christ and address them in a qualitative and enduring manner. This demands genuine commitment on our part. Babes instinctively love those who care for them, and if unqualified love is to be maintained from babes to their spiritual mentors, then we must begin anew to truly care for the needs of these that depend upon us so much. Brethren, we have developing babes in Christ in our congregation who need our attention. May we have the courage and commitment to address their needs so that they may grow in grace and knowledge. May the Lord bless each of us as we endeavor to guide the spiritually undeveloped among us.


I Am Going to Rejoice Anyway!

Mark T. Tonkery

Mark T. TonkeryBad news. It seems like there is a lot of it these days. Our country is once again talking about going to war, we hear almost every day that another marriage breaks up, there are people losing their jobs, some of our dear friends are fighting life-threatening diseases with little hope and many of us are still grieving the deaths of dear friends and family members. Now, I am not sure that these are the worst of times in which we have ever lived, but nevertheless, we are still living in some difficult times.

The questions often are asked of me, “How will we cope? How will we deal with all these problems?” Well, what I like to do is go to the Bible and see how the servants of God dealt with their problems, their difficulties and their struggles. One example is the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk; he prophesied in Judah just before Nebuchadnezzar first invaded Jerusalem in 605 B.C. This was about the time when the prophet Daniel was taken into Babylonian captivity.

Now, the Lord had spoken to Habakkuk and commissioned him to carry the message that He was going to punish Judah by the hand of the Babylonians. The result of this was that the Jews were going to be taken out of their homeland and carried off to another land because of their refusal to obey God and repent of their sins.

Now talk about bad news, Habakkuk was commissioned to tell the people of Judah that they were going to lose their homes, their land and be put into slavery. This was such a difficult message for Habakkuk to preach that he spent most of the Book of Habakkuk questioning why God would do this and of all things use the evil Babylonians as His instrument of punishment.

With all the questions Habakkuk had, he does come to a point of surrender and relies on his faith in Almighty God. Notice how Habakkuk concluded his book.

I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:16-19)

Now I don’t know with what you are struggling, but I wonder if we could have the faith of Habakkuk and look at our struggles and rejoice anyway. Despite the bad, the struggles and hardships, can we see the good of God still and rejoice?

Matthew Henry, a well-known Bible commentator who lived in the late 1700’s, was one day robbed. He made the following entry in his diary: “Let me be thankful – First, because I was never robbed before. Second, because although they took my wallet they did not take my life. Third, because although they took my all, it was not much. And fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

May we too give thanks and rejoice that “God, the Lord, is my strength…” even when we do not understand the evil around us. Think about it!


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