Lists are very convenient. Being able to check off items on a list gives us a feeling of accomplishment and closure. But God's to-do lists in the Bible aren't about what we are supposed to do; they're guidelines that show who we are in Him. And who we are is a much bigger picture than a list of priorities.
The Christian's master list is simple: love God and love others.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39
This is the greatest commandment and our greatest priority in life. How these two things are accomplished looks differently in different situations.
IIn relation to family, we are to love our wives and respect our husbands (Ephesians 5:33), become one in marriage (Genesis 2:21-24), train our kids to follow God (Deuteronomy 6:7), support our parents (Mark 7:9-13), and live in unity with other believers (John 17:22).
Our family priorities should fit within the context of our relationship with God and our role in His kingdom. The purpose of marriage is to become a unit that is internally supportive and works together to serve God.
Part of that support and work relates to raising children and taking care of older parents. We raise children to love and serve God. We take care of our own parents out of appreciation for how God provided us with them and to preserve church resources for the needy.
These relationships continue to build on each other. Keeping our parents close enough that we can care for them gives our kids an example of responsibility as well as a sense of extended family. Loving and disciplining our kids helps create peace in our families today and prepares them for godly work in the future.
Ideally, all these individuals and relationships work together so the family can support God's kingdom, but sometimes that doesn't work. 1st Timothy 3:4-5 indicates that if our children are in a place where they need more time and attention, it is absolutely biblical to take a hiatus from church ministry to see to their needs.
Similarly, Mark 7:9-13 demonstrates that older parents have a priority on our resources over ministry. A healthy family life is important to our work in the church body.
Seen from this perspective, "priorities in the family" becomes less about a list that drains our energy and more about our place in God's kingdom. Ultimately, everything in the Christian life comes down to how our actions demonstrate our commitment to Christ.
If we accept the community of family and church that He's provided for us, we need to value it as much as He does. Priorities simply become those things we need to do now to best glorify God.
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