by Neil Anderson
The Primary Labortory
Wives, be subject to your husbands . . . Husbands, love your wives . . . Fathers, do not exasperate your children
God works in our lives primarily through committed relationships. Your family is the primary laboratory for your character development. This is precisely the order of Scripture: Establish your identity in Christ, then focus on living out who you are at home. Notice the order in Colossians 3:10-25;
God's great goal for His children is that we conform to His image: "Put on the new self" (verse 10). Our identity is no longer in racial, religious, cultural or social ties: "There is no distinction . . . but Christ is all and in all" (verse 11). Character is the focus of development once identity is established: "Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (verse 12). Character is developed in the context of relational living: "Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other" (verse 13). Love is the highest level of character development: "Beyond all these things put on love" (verse 14). The means by which all this is accomplished is Christ in you: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts . . . Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you" (verses 15, 16). The primary setting for character development is the home: "Wives, be subject to your husbands . . . Husbands, love your wives . . . Children, be obedient to your parents . . . Fathers, do not exasperate your children" (verses 18-21).
As a parent, you are not just shaping your child's behavior, you are developing his character. Training a child means discipling him to be Christlike. Don't be a phony at home; your spouse and children will see right through it. You can't model perfection, but you can model growth.
Prayer: Lord, help me be the spouse and parent You want me to be by remaining committed to be a growing child of God.
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