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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Family - learning to relate

It takes wisdom to build a house, and understanding to set it on a firm foundation; it takes knowledge to furnish its rooms with fine furniture and beautiful draperies. (Proverbs 24:2-3)

Ever wonder how some folks have families that look like they are all "put together" in a neat package, while your own looks like it is just barely held together with threads?  The writer of Proverbs gives us some insight into how we are to be "building" our households.  Okay, before you shut me off today just because you aren't married, don't have kids, or don't think this applies to you, hear me out.  There are many forms of "family" in this world and you are in a position of learning to relate in some type of family today.  So, let us take this apart one by one:

Wisdom - the chief ingredient of a family relationship is that of wisdom.  Why, you may ask, is this is so important?  If we look at the four main meanings of wisdom, we may find our answer.
  1. Wisdom is the full amount of accumulated knowledge or learning - when a "family" is built on the knowledge that God gives, it has a strong foundation and withstands the toughest attacks of the enemy.  We gain knowledge in various ways - through teaching of others who have learned from the Word, or in our own independent study of the Word.  Notice, I did not say "exposure" to the Word - it takes study to develop this kind of wisdom.  Wisdom is accumulated - line upon line, precept upon precept, until the pieces add to the whole.
  2. Wisdom is the ability to discern the inner qualities of relationship.  This is probably one of the most valuable things we can possess in our relationships - the ability to "read" the other person, knowing what makes them tick.  God grants this kind of insight so that we will compliment the other person and challenge them where they need it.
  3. Wisdom is just plain good sense.  We sometimes think a wise person is someone who has studied long and hard, becoming sage in their old age.  It is really just the operation of good sense!  Through trial and error, we come to an awareness of "what makes sense" in a situation or a relationship.  Do something long enough and you will learn what makes "good" sense and adds to or takes away from the relationship.
  4. Wisdom is a wise attitude.  As we are exposed to truth through God's Word, we begin to develop an awareness of human character.  To this, God adds the ability to use good sense in our human relationships.  In turn, God changes our attitude toward those we are in relationship with, allowing our relationships to be built upon a strong foundation.
To build implies that there is work in being part of a family.  Any building project requires effort.  Building implies that there is an "ordering" of the parts and a "uniting" of the materials in order to make a whole.  This process takes time - it is gradual and systematic.  There is a systematic process to the building - you don't put a roof on until you have laid a foundation and put up the walls.  God puts us in various opportunities for "family" relationship (at work, at home, in our communities, and at church) in order to use us in the perfect way he knows we will "fit" into the building of that "family". 

Our writer also says it take understanding to allow this building to be well-formed and strong.  Understanding is comprehension - the capacity to apprehend general information about another and to use it appropriately.  More importantly, understanding in the "family" sense is the ability to adjust to the differences of the other person.

We often accumulate much knowledge, but do very little to "order" what we have learned into useful tools that bring things within our own lives and the lives of others into right relationship with each other.  The writer of this Proverb gives us just a little insight into how we are to learn to relate to each other within the families where we are placed.  We will do well to embrace our opportunities for learning within relationship and then to allow what we have learned to affect the foundation of each "family" we are called to relate to.