Principles Of Harmony In The Home
By Paul Maxwell
The Principle of Love's Commitment
The home that is harmonious is built on commitment. Two individuals come together to commit themselves, body, soul and spirit to each other. The proper foundation for the home is laid as each person in approaching the marriage altar says with his or her whole heart, "I am committing myself completely to you."
This, of course, includes commitment not only of all that one is but also of all that one has. The spirit of the happy home is that of giving to the other person, even as "God so loved that He gave." Those who have had their own cars, bank accounts, homes, and furniture suddenly find that in becoming one, all artificial property distinctions melt away as each gives all to the other person. Commitment short of this does not lead to the happiness of full harmony, but it leads, rather, to doubts and reservations.
The key factor in commitment that is being attacked so persistently today is that of permanency. God's order is "until death do us part" (Rom. 7:1-3; Matt. 19:6). It is tragic when a marriage vow may now read "until divorce do us part." There is no doubt that total commitment of oneself for one's entire life is God's order.
Mutual recognition of the permanence of marriage is also a great key to overcoming the inevitable obstacles that confront two individuals seeking to harmonize their lives. If there is a way out of marriage, our fallen human natures will seek that way, rather than endeavoring by the grace of God to overcome our differences. Love's commitment is for the entire life. As someone has stated, it is "total commitment of the total person for the total life."
The Principle of Love's Acceptance
The counterpart of commitment is acceptance. It is a blessing to see two imperfect people living in blessed harmony because each has accepted the other just the way the other is. This, of course, means accepting the partner's strengths without being jealous and his or her weaknesses without being critical. Love accepts its object without having a driving desire to remake it.
Love also accepts the fact that the marriage partner will not always be young, healthy, beautiful and vibrant. This kind of love does not find the husband planning that when his wife gets to age forty, he will trade her in for a twenty-year-old. On the contrary, by the time the loving couple is forty their acceptance of one another is far stronger because in maturity each has come to fully accept the other with his or her defects and idiosyncrasies. Such acceptance binds them to an even deeper commitment.
The Principle of Love's Confession
The Scripture states very simply, "Confess your faults one to another" (Jas. 5:16). My father has often stated that "I am wrong" is the hardest sentence in the world to utter. Our proud and fallen human nature never desires to admit failure. Harmony, however, is built largely on two basic elements that lead us to confession.
The first element is honesty with oneself. This type of honesty begins with an openness before God. The person who has learned to see himself as he is before a loving and holy God has begun to prepare his heart for the harmony of the home. It is in the home, of course, where we see ourselves for what we are and where others see us in this same light. In such a situation honesty is essential.
The second element is humility. As husbands we must be ready to admit failure verbally. It seems that we fail on this particular point more often than on any other. Somehow we feel that we may jeopardize our authority if we audibly acknowledge that we have done wrong. Interestingly, the exact opposite is true. Our families more readily share their confidences with us and with one another as we lead the way in the confessing of faults.
The Principle of Love's Forgiveness
Likely one of life's greatest difficulties and yet one of its greatest blessings is that of forgiving another person. True forgiveness is not natural; it is divine. There are various elements of forgiveness:
1. Forgiveness overlooks the faults of others rather than focusing on them. In this sense forgiveness focuses on qualities and strengths, not on weaknesses and failures.
2. Forgiveness forgets the wrong done and, of course, never brings up such a wrong in public.
3. Forgiveness seeks to heal the offender rather than seeking to "get even."
4. True forgiveness forgives from the heart. This frees the forgiven one from the desire to retaliate or to harbor nagging suspicions.
The Principle of Love's Submission
The minute we mention the word submission, some people think of slavery as of one person forcing another to fall into line.
The Scriptures make the matter of submission very simple. It is my responsibility to submit to those who are over me in the Lord (Rom. 13:1). In other words, as a husband I must submit to God. It is the responsibility of my wife to submit to me, but, of course, it is not my responsibility to request, much less to demand, that submission. It is the responsibility of children to submit to their parents. Following the line of divinely constituted authority is, then, the primary dimension in submission.
Ephesians 5:22 suggests a secondary dimension, and that is the beauty of a mutual submission which focuses on the common headship of Christ. Submitting one to another in the fear of the Lord is the spirit and attitude that should characterize the husband and wife who are members of the body of Christ. In First Peter 3:7 we read that we are "heirs together of the grace of life." The male who is truly secure does not view mutual submission as a threat to his God-given authority or responsibility.
The Principle of Love's Discipline
The more we know of God's loving discipline of us, the more we are capable of expressing this discipline to our children. Often parents wonder why they are lacking authority. The life of Christ would demonstrate that when a person is totally submitted to the will of another and is therefore living a life of godly self-control, he possesses true authority.
Another key element of love's discipline is the mutual unity of husband and wife. Children sense that they cannot "divide and conquer" when they see there is an indestructible and indivisible love which binds their parents together.
A final dimension of love's discipline is that of consistency. If you were to ask my mother today what is the most important factor in raising children, she would quickly respond with one word, "Consistency!" Secure children have learned that they can depend on the words and actions of their parents.
In conclusion, we believe that God is calling us to "raise up the foundations of many generations" (Isa. 58:12). We "have a godly heritage," and we trust that our young people will go out, not only to establish good homes, but also, if the Lord tarries, to help establish godly heritages for generations to come.
– From Prairie Overcomer.