19: Deuteronomy, David, First Things First

     First When I am asked what my vision for a Christian home looks like I usually respond, “Where each lives for the other, and all live for Christ”. In light of a recent meeting with men in Illinois, I am rethinking this statement.

     We, about 50 men, were meeting informally in an evening session to discuss issues pertinent to men. God by His Spirit visited us and directed our conversation. We talked about our need to be better fathers and husbands. As we encouraged one another and shared our struggles, the tenor of the meeting moved from focusing on our needs as men and how to love our wives and train our children to loving God.

Notice the order in this familiar portion of Deuteronomy 6. God comes first, followed by family.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7 NASB

Before we can teach our children we must first love God with all our heart, soul, and might.

     I have just finished reading through Samuel and Kings and the contrast between David and Saul is stark. David’s men loved him and were willing to die just to get him a drink of water. Saul’s men followed him, out of fear and duty, but there was no love for their King. There are numerous examples of this.

     David loved God with all his heart. He was a man after God’s heart. He danced before him irregardless of how he appeared to men. His relationship with God is sublime. As he focused on his vertical walk with God, the horizontal relationship with his men followed.

Saul’s foremost desire was to please men. God was a distant second. As a result he was not pleasing to either.

     As men, we may not feel equipped to relate to our wife and children, but we can draw near to God. We may have come from dysfunctional homes (who hasn’t) and perhaps we didn’t have positive role models, but we can love God. And as we love God with everything in us, our horizontal relationships will prosper as well.

As I thought back on our time I was reminded of the passage in Ephesians where Paul prays for the church. It is a long passage but worth reading slowly and deliberately.

     “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

     Notice that this passage is written to a group of believers; “we comprehend with all the saints.” That was another special part of the evening. Not only did the good Holy Spirit point us to loving God, but He did so while we were gathered together. God revealed his truth to a group of earnest needy men who sought His counsel and direction. There is power in fellowship. Where two or three. 

I now think my vision for the family should read “When each lives for Christ, all will live for the other.”

     Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV