Worship As a Family

father holding a small daughter
image by Caroline Hernandez

Romans 12:1-2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

How can I make every aspect of my life an act of worship to God? This can be especially tough when we’re at home, where we are most comfortable, where we feel least guarded. Sometimes who we are in front of others and who we are at home can be two different things, but our spirituality should be as strong in the home as anywhere else – whether serving our home as a husband and father, a mother and wife, or as a child.

Worship as Children

Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20 tell children to obey their parents in the Lord. This more than simply doing what parents say. It involves respect and attitude, but we do not see the severity of the Old Testament in the statutes of the New, where disobedient children faced severe punishment for their transgressions.

I Timothy 4:12 records Paul telling Timothy to set an example in his youth, in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. There comes a time when we need to grow up a little and be an example to our friends in the neighborhood, at school, and anywhere we can influence others. Verse 16 says that example can save both yourself and those you come in contact with.

Worship as Wives and Mothers

Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18 both speak of wives being submissive to their husbands (and we’ll be talking about men’s responsibilities in this in a moment). Peter explains this more in I Peter 3:1-6, speaking of the esteem a wife’s conduct can bring, of the example she sets for her husband, of the respect she shows for her family and God, the holiness shown in inner beauty instead of external beauty. It’s about putting others for self and living self-sacrificially for the sake of our families.

Worship as Husbands and Fathers

Paul has much to say to men in Ephesians 5, illustrating the love men should have for their wives in the sacrificial manner Christ loves the church. He also says to love one’s wife and take care of her as he would care for himself. I Peter 3:7 tells husbands to be understanding to their wives, treating them as carefully as a valuable possession. If we love someone as deeply as this, if we really are willing to be as caring and respectful as this, then we have the foundation for a relationship of mutual love, respect, and service.

The New Testament also has much more to say to men about raising children than it has to say to women. Ephesians 6:4 tells fathers to raise their children in the Lord, avoiding exasperating or provoking our kids. In this, fathers must set rules consistent with God’s law and set an example that speaks to our commitment to God. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 illustrates a home where God’s law is always in the hearts and on the lips of the family,and this begins with teaching. It begins with living God’s word in all aspects of our family lives.

Worship as a Family

What do our neighbors see in us as Christians? Do they see the faith we profess in our examples? Are we reverencing Him with our lives. We profess faith in God, but are we really living it? Our faith in Christ, the conduct we have in God, applies at home as well as anywhere else, and every member of our family should always see His light in us. If we are indeed living sacrifices before our God, then every moment of our lives will be spent honoring Him.

Removing the High Places


We are wrapping up our series about the high places we might have in our hearts. We’ve studied about a number of things that might take God’s place in our lives — our finances, our success, our earthly relationships, our own happiness and our opinions, our culture, even religious leaders who might mislead us. These things can be very pressing and immediate. People and relationships can have great meaning to us, but none of these should ever overwhelm God in our lives.

Coming Between Us and God

John 14:25 – 30 records Jesus telling His apostles that He would ensure they had all knowledge to guide God’s people. His word, His love, and His covenant are all we need. Nothing should be replacing its place in my heart. He is the truth that should always guide us, regardless of what’s going on around us and what may seem momentarily important during our brief lives. He is the foundation upon which our lives should be built.

When anything stands between us and our work for God’s kingdom, then it has become a high place to us. We might not think of it as an idol. I doubt we think of much as idols. After all, I doubt anyone here has a statue on a shelf to which we offer prayers. We may testify God as first in our lives, and we might even believe that. We have to be self aware, however, and be honest with ourselves when the immediacy of our physical lives overtakes our spiritual relationship with God.

A Question of Importance

Matthew 10:34 – 39 speaks specifically about family and our spiritual priorities. But the overarching principle speaks to anything in our lives. It’s a question of importance. What is more immediate to our hearts? What informs our decisions, our conduct, and our attitudes? These are the things that demonstrate what is most important to us.

I Timothy 4:1 – 5 and II Timothy 4:1 – 5 both speak about making other things more important than God’s word. When we allow idols to grow in our hearts, we might be willing to alter God’s word to put those things where we want them. God has given us so much, and He wants a relationship with us. But it’s a relationship that takes true commitment. He and His will have to come first, and that requires us to tear down every high place we keep in our hearts.

Lesson by Herb Smelser

Idols in the Family


When you think about family, what do you think about? Do you think about good times, safety, and importance? Perhaps your images are not so positive depending on your experiences. In the context of us studying about the idols of our hearts, we have to think about where we place our family in comparison to our God. Now this lesson is going to have some tough passages to consider, but we have to keep in light the love we should always have for all — our families as well as our God — and where we place our ultimate trust for salvation.

Families Are Imperfect

Matthew 10:34 – 39 puts it bluntly: we cannot love our families more than God. So often in our lives, we have challenges with and goals for our families, and we try to take care of those before all other things. It becomes such a big concern that we forget the higher things. Instead, we should be establishing our spiritual goals first and let those guide us in how we love and support our families.

There are numerous lessons about family in the early days of the Bible. From Adam and Eve to Noah and his family to Jacob and Esau to Joseph and his brothers to David and his sons, and on and on throughout the family dramas of the Old Testament — we see positive lessons and negative examples in God’s word. There are no perfect families, but there are families seeking to be perfect in God’s eyes.

An Idealized Family Picture

In Mark 3:31 – 35, Jesus says that His true family is whoever is doing God’s will. There are no perfect families in this world. Faith doesn’t create perfect families. It gives us strength and opportunity to grow when trials come. We should not be seeking to abandon our families. Rather, we should be supporting them with a faith in and a love for God as a foundation. Despite the flaws we might all have, God has a place for us in His kingdom if we are keeping Him first in our lives.

Jesus’ brother James once thought of his brother as possibly crazy. Later, he would become a strong disciple and a leader in the early church. Our relationships can evolve over time, and a faith in God can strengthen some relationships while weakening others. The way we preach about families, however, can sometimes artificially weaken our families. We preach perfect marriages and perfect parent-child relationships. We create a myth that can discourage families who are struggling. We hold up the past while disabling the present.

A Foundation of God

Our main purpose in this life is not to do things like perfect our child’s baseball pitch. It’s not about family vacations and entertainment. It’s not about sports events, concerts, and school productions. These things can strengthen our families and provide quality time, but they cannot supersede our relationships with God. If our pursuit for family quality time comes at a cost to our time with God, then we have put our faith and trust in the wrong place.

My love for my family should be kept in the context that I am trying to help them get to Heaven. I do not hold them to my expectations, but rather to God’s. Rather than trying to create an ideal family, I should be accepting the struggles and flaws that they have, and then help them work through those troubles through God’s guidance. Focusing on being more like Jesus will make us better spouses, parents, and children. Family is important, but our foundation is God. Putting Him first helps us better guide our family to a home in Heaven.

lesson by Donn Koonce