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**SPECIAL NOTE: In the spirit of loving our neighbors and ALL of God’s children, I encourage you to check out the Related Resources below, where I’ve listed a couple of Hurricane Harvey Relief resources. Please be in prayer for all those who are affected, including the first responders. Thank you.**
Today, I want to talk about what the phrase Putting Faith and Family First means. At least, what it means to me. After all, it is the name of my blog, but I don’t think I’ve adequately expressed my true feelings about it— or rather my VISION for this blog. So, let me break it down for you by explaining what it DOES MEAN to me and what it DOESN’T MEAN to me, and I pray that my personal interpretation will help encourage you as you think about what it means to you to put faith and family first in your own life.
WHAT IT DOES MEAN
When I started this blog, the following verses kept coming to my heart and mind.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:37-39
God wants us to love Him first, then others. And by focusing on God first, we naturally serve and bless others through our love for Him. When we pursue God and embrace the fruit of the Spirit, we embrace love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
These God-given and Christ-like attributes make loving and serving others a natural desire. And even during the times when it’s not truly desired, it may become a natural act of obedience. In other words, we may not always feel like loving others, but because we love God and want to obey God, we choose to embrace the fruit of the Spirit, thereby loving others.
If I had to re-name my blog, a possible title might have been somewhere along the lines of Love God, Love Others. But I really do like my title, Putting Faith and Family First— and rest assured, I’m keeping it! As a mom and a wife, I want to write a lot about family, and I also truly believe that today’s society needs more emphasis on the importance of family.
A strong family foundation, especially one built on Christ, is likely to produce generations of strong, united families to come. Just like trees that draw their strength and vitality from their deep, rich roots, God calls us to root ourselves in Him and to allow our faith to branch out into our relationships with others, including our own family. Psalm 1:3; Jeremiah 17:8.
Children who grow up in loving, supportive families generally become well-adjusted and confident adults, raising healthy families of their own. Not confident in the sense of “ego,” but confident in the sense that they know they are loved and supported even when they fail and make mistakes. That’s how God loves us. He gives us grace, though we make many mistakes, and He wants us to extend that same love and grace to our spouses and children.
“‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:40
Families are far from perfect—even Christian families. No one is immune to sin, and no one is immune to poor choices. But the more we can talk about and advocate for strong, loving families— families who love each other the way God loves— the more we can help this vision become a reality.
WHAT IT DOESN’T MEAN
This blog is not exclusively about family. When I say the word, “Family,” in Putting Faith and Family First, I’m not excluding it to your immediate family, family of origin, or blood relatives. I’m including your world family, ALL of God’s children. Remember Matthew 22:39 from earlier? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Naturally, your closest and most intimate “neighbor” is your family, but I believe you should strive to serve and love all your neighbors, Christian and non-Christian alike.
We can’t be a bright shining light for Jesus if we stay in our little family bubble, sheltered from the outside world. Yes, you can still be a shining light for your family, but God wants us to be a shining light for ALL His children.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
Jesus wants us to be a beacon of light for others— a beacon of His hope, peace, and love. But our light can’t reach everyone, everywhere, every time. We are only one beacon. Our light can only go so far.
I am a firm believer in life’s many seasons. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. […] He has made everything beautiful in its time.” – Ecclesiastes, 3:1,11
For mothers and fathers with young children, sometimes their primary ministry (for a season) is to focus on loving their children and raising them to love the Lord. For adult children with older parents, sometimes their days and hours are spent caring for their parents and tending to their needs. There is a season for everything. Our roles in life change over time.
I used to feel guilty that I wasn’t more involved in church, or volunteering out in the community, or inviting friends over for dinner often. I had (and still have) my hands full with two young children, a full-time job, and a full-time household. My hands are full with diapers, and laundry, and dishes, and bedtime schedules, and floors littered with toys and gold-fish crumbs. It’s just my current season of life; it’s not permanent.
That isn’t to say that I am not open to God leading me to specific opportunities for service like praying for a friend, volunteering in the church nursery, providing a meal to a neighbor, BLOGGING, etc., because I know I am still supposed to be a shining light not just to my little family, but to my entire family of God, whenever and however He leads.
God calls each of us to minister to others— including our families— in our own special way, using the time and talents He has given us. That looks different for everyone. And that ministry may look different over the course of a person’s lifetime.
So, go ahead and give yourself some grace and know that you can still serve God and others in whatever season of life you may find yourself. God has placed you on your little “hill” for a reason and a season. Be a beacon on that hill. And, it’s perfectly ok if it’s just one hill right now. There will be plenty of other hills throughout your lifetime.
WHAT IT DOES MEAN
Going back to the Putting Faith First part, I do truly believe that we should put our own walk with the Lord first, above all else. After all, God commands this of us in Matthew 22:37. He is our Creator, our heavenly Father, and He deserves our utmost adoration.
I mentioned the fruit of the Spirit earlier: Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
When we focus on becoming Christ-like and embracing the fruit of the Spirit, our relationships with our spouses, kids, and neighbors will naturally blossom as well. We will become better givers. Better listeners. Better encouragers. Better helpers.
Is your spouse not serving you the way you want to be served? Choose to serve them regardless, remaining faithful to your vows.
Is your child driving you crazy by doing (or not doing) fill in the blank? Choose gentleness and patience.
Is your neighbor pestering you with loud dogs, loud parties, or tall, un-mowed grass? Choose peace and kindness, and maybe throw in some fresh-baked cookies.
Did a friend or family member hurt your feelings? Choose forgiveness and love.
When we choose to follow and obey God, He will help us love others with His love. It’s not always easy, but with His help, it is possible. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 3:1-8
WHAT IT DOESN’T MEAN
Lastly, even though God commands us to put Him first, I want to encourage you today to not neglect your family and neighbors while you are pursuing God and His righteousness.
People in the ministry might often feel like they need to focus so much of their attention on serving others within the church or community that they sometimes forget to serve their own families. Maybe not all the time, but some of the time.
Serving your family and spending time with your family IS glorifying and pleasing to God; it’s a form of worship. You are STILL following His commandment. It’s not a matter of Faith vs. Family but a matter of Faith AND Family harmoniously co-existing together.
Just as we study God’s Word and strive to become a student and follower of Christ, God wants us to study our spouses and children and become a student of their love languages. God feels loved and honored through our worship and obedience. How does your spouse or child feel loved? How do they feel honored? Ask them.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a season for everything, and I encourage you to try to find the right balance between God and Family. I know I still am, and I will be for the rest of my life. Putting your faith and family first is a life-long journey. Sometimes those moments may be intertwined, and sometimes those moments need to be separate, just you and God, alone together. That “balance” looks different for everyone, and it may change during the different seasons of your life.
PRAY ABOUT THIS
Ask God today to show you what that balance should look like in your own life. Ask Him, “Am I spending enough time with You, Lord? Am I spending enough time pursuing You and studying Your Word? Am I spending enough time with my family, loving them, serving them, and learning their love language? Am I spending enough time serving my community and other people outside of my family? Show me, Lord, how You want me to prioritize my time and my gifts. Please show me. I want to honor Your Greatest Commandment.”
I’d love to hear from you!
Thank you for journeying alongside me as we strive to follow God’s Greatest Commandment. Do you have any struggles in this area or words of wisdom to share? Then please COMMENT in the Comment section below! We are all on this journey together.
Before I sign off, with all this talk about fruit, and trees, and being rooted in God, I highly encourage you to check out my friend Sharon’s blog, Deeply Rooted Life. She is a Jesus-loving wife, mom, blogger, homeschooler, and freedom advocate! And get this— she’s converting a bus into a family RV— how cool is that?!? Also, starting in September, Sharon is offering a 21-day Spiritual Detox! 21 days of meaningful devotionals to cleanse your soul, including special bonuses like healthy recipes and other health and wellness tips! You don’t want to miss it! Sign up today at http://deeplyrootedlife.com/detox!
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund (via American Red Cross)
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund (via Americares)