Stephen Bly Down A Western Trail

Growing the Perfect Family

March 24, 2023 Stephen Bly Season 3 Episode 6
Stephen Bly Down A Western Trail
Growing the Perfect Family
Show Notes Transcript

FAMILY, Season 3, Episode 6, "Growing the Perfect Family" audio podcast by award-winning western author Stephen Bly. The importance of and steps to emotional maturity for family relationships. Recorded at Fillmore Bible Church, Fillmore, California, 1984. Sponsored by Legacy Series.  

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Stephen Bly
Recorded at Fillmore Bible Church, Fillmore, California

Hebrews 5:11-14 (NASB), “Concerning him (Jesus) we have much to say, and it’s hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 
For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

1 Kings 21:1-6 (NASB), “Now it came about after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
And Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, ‘Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money.’
But Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.’
So Ahab came into his house sullen and vexed because of he word which Nabaoth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he said, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.’ And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and ate no food.’
But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, ‘How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you are not eating food?’
So he said to her, ‘Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or s=else, if it pleases you, I will give you a vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”
“Dear Father, Lord, I pray as we look at the subject of families, you will enlighten us about our own attitudes, that you will instruct us on how we can change and be different in every family relationship that we have. That we can open, Lord, not only to how we see others, but how we see ourselves, for I pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.”
An Ahab Attitude
How would you have liked to have been one of Ahab’s children when he came home that day? Maybe you have been there before. When Ahab returned to the palace after being turned down from making a nice little vegetable garden out of Naboth’s vineyard, when he slammed those big old palace doors, and he walked across and yelled to the kids, “Go to your room and make your bed like I told you.” 
And he said nothing to his wife, Jezebel, at all. Then he stormed into the bedroom and threw himself on the bed. 
Nobody heard from Ahab for a while and finally when Jezebel had the TV dinners warmed up or whatever it was for dinner, she called into the other room, “Ahab, honey, it’s time for dinner.”
“I don’t want any dinner!”
So, she had to come in. “Well, now, what’s wrong with the king today?”
“Well, I wanted a vegetable garden. I wanted that vineyard right on the other side of the wall. And he wouldn’t sell it to me and I’m not going to eat!”
Isn’t that a little immature for a King of Israel? Has that ever happened at your house? A little immature at your house as well?

Maturing Family Relationships

Let’s look at maturity in family relationships. That begins by looking at immaturity, which isn’t very much fun, but it happens. You can spot immaturity with phrases like these . . .

“(S)he won’t let me have it!” 

We expect that with little children but I’m talking about adults. “They won’t let me have the raise!” “She won’t let me have the new pickup!” “He won’t let me have a new fur coat!” Words of immaturity. 

Another phrase you might hear in your house showing immaturity, “Why can’t you be like . . .?” “Why can’t you be like your sister?” “Why can’t you be like your brother?” “Why can’t you be like my boyfriend, Harry, when I was a Senior?” “Why can’t you be like Tom Selleck?” 

Another phrase showing signs of immaturity, “You really disappointed me when . . .” The important part is to accent the ‘really.’ 

Another sign of immaturity is the phrase, “If you could do it, then I can do it.” “If it’s alright for you to go bowling on Wednesday nights, then it’s alright for me to go out on Friday nights.” 

Another phrase you might hear is this one. “After all you’ve put me through, it’s the least you could do.” Guilt, guilt, guilt. It’s said to children and parents and husband and wife. 

But maybe this phrase you’ve heard sometimes. “Why do you keep doing this to me?” Maybe you hear around your place, “Here we go again.” Or that great phrase, “I’d rather not talk about it, dear.” 

Immaturity—it’s not much fun. 

Here’s some clues how to spot immaturity in different members of your household. 

First of all, I’ll pick on the husbands. Here’s what I see . . . in other men’s lives, of course. 

Immaturity Clues for Husbands

-- Expect obedience without explanation. 

“You do it because I said so. That’s why.” They assume this is logic to convince the whole world.

-- A narrow, vocal, suspicious kind of jealousy.

“I want to know who you’re with and where you go and what you’re doing.” An attitude that says or implies, “I really don’t want you to smile at any other man on the face of the earth.” 

-- Failure to initiate family activities. 

Too many homes have husbands who’ve abandoned the care of the natural family leader. The leader in activities, in fun, in discussion and in growth. The immature response is to ignore that responsibility. 

-- Using money as a weapon.

“You do this or else you don’t get your allowance. Or else you don’t get any grocery money. You try to pay the bills without my paycheck.”

-- Avoiding leading discussions in important life subjects.

Again, as natural leader he should lead discussions about faith, the knowledge of God, topics like the future and vocations. Or discussions about self-acceptance. Most husbands and fathers say, “Of course you’re pretty. Why do you say you’re ugly?” And that’s the end of the conversation. 

How about the wives? What are the immaturity spotters?

Immaturity Spotters for Wives

-- Using Any Means to Maintain Position of Ultimate Decision Maker

No matter how they’ve gained that position, whether it’s been deserted and left to them or they usurped it through their own skills, the immature wife uses every means available to maintain that position. She may use bribery or charm or deceit.

-- Failure to develop creativity in family members. 

I believe wives are the creative nucleus of the family, proven by the spiritual wives seen in Scriptures. 

-- An Amplification of past failures to assure present success. 

A constant repeating and bringing up of past failures, whether for children or the husband.

-- Living in another world.

Sometimes it’s living in the past. “You didn’t used to be this way. You’re not the person I married.” Or it can be a fantasy world, a world filled with novels. Can you count how many romance novels are published in a month in our country, let alone read them? Maybe it’s a world of fantasy watching soaps, in the morning or the evening. 

-- Using sex as a weapon. 

It’s common. “I control the family relationships, what my husband does and doesn’t do, because of this nice little reward system that I enact.”

How about immaturity in the kids?

Signs of Immaturity in Kids

-- Associate fun with money.

“I’d have fun if only I had this thing.” “It’s really boring because I don’t have money to do something.” 

-- Play one parent against the other.

“Well, daddy said I could do this.”  “Mommy doesn’t do it this way.” They continue it as long as it works.

-- Living in a world of deceit.  

This is extremely harmful but prevalent. A world of lies. A world of thinking of themselves as something they are not. Continually needing to lie to remain in that world. A child who says, “I could have done better, but they cheated.” “The teacher doesn’t like me. That’s why I’m having trouble here.” “I was really better than they were but the referee or umpire helped him.” 

-- Children who put down their parents in public. 

Putting down mom and dad in the presence of others—other peers or adults. 

-- The absolute minimum involvement possible. 

“I’m going to do the absolute minimum around the house to survive without the roof coming down on my head.” “I do only what I have to or forced to, such as being asked the third or fourth time.” This attitude hits husbands, wives, and kids, the whole family.

Biblical Maturity

Here are some examples in the Bible of being mature, perfect, or complete.

Matthew 19:21, “Jesus said to him (the rich, young ruler), ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’”

The mature family member is willing to set aside all personal possessions in order to grow in knowledge of the Lord. That can be children and wives and husbands and grandparents too.

Not Seeped in this World 

In Romans 12:2, Paul says that we are not to “be conformed to this world.” 

If we are to be perfect, complete, and mature, we’re not to be conformed to the world. A mature family member would not let the pressures of this world pressure them to a physical, mental, or spiritual shape. That goes for either the mind or the spirit. They refuse to let that happen. 

Wisdom & Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 2:6 speaks to those sensitive to, that is, prepared to receive and recognize God’s wisdom as among the mature. Such a person, whether child or adult, readily enacts new spiritual truth in their lives as they perceive it coming from God.  

1 Corinthians 14:20, Paul writes we should be mature in our thinking, especially concerning spiritual gifts. 

The mature family member can see God working in others’ spiritual lives and encourages them to use their God-given talents, gifts, and ministries.

Tests of Maturity 

In Ephesians 4:13, Paul gives us three ideas of the meaning of maturity. There is 1) unity of faith, 2) knowledge of Jesus Christ, and 3) fulness of Christ.

A mature family member continues to grow in knowledge of the Lord, grows closer to other believers with an increase of Christian friends united in faith, and year by year has their character shaped more into the likeness and qualities of Christ. 

Philippians 3:13, an attitude of “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead …”

A mature family member does not live in the past, whether for glory or for shame, but rather continually focuses on new goals, new relationships, new achievements and accomplishments. 

More Signs of Maturity

Colossians 4:12, may you “stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” 

A mature family member is so confident of what God’s doing in their lives that such qualities as jealousy, spite, greed, revenge, and anger seldom influence their behavior. 

What is jealousy? Jealousy says I’m unsure of myself. Revenge and anger and spite indicates I don’t think I’m going to make it unless I attack back. But the one who’s confident of what God’s doing in their life finds no need for those kinds of qualities at all. 

In Hebrews 5:14, one who is mature is one who senses and is trained to discern good from evil. 

So, a mature family member quickly discerns right from wrong, good from bad, helpful from unhelpful, and spiritual from unspiritual. This is one who continually chooses the best qualities to demonstrate within family life.  

Proved Thru Tough Stuff

In James 1:2-4 maturity is translated becoming perfect through trials and testing. “And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The mature family member views every struggle and tough time as an opportunity for spiritual growth and pledges themselves to see it through to the end and thus produce God’s best.  

The mature family member realizes the enormous power of their words on other family members. He or she works hard to make the spoken word a positive rather than a negative instrument within the home. 

The above are some of the signs of biblical maturity. Yes, they can be applied to all people but also to family relationships as well.

Hard to Grow Up a Family

First, try to accept whatever level of maturity or immaturity you find in others. No matter what level of maturity each member of the family rates, that’s where they are. That’s the starting place.  

Second, chart some personal progress and growth. Make it personal. Don’t chart those around you. Don’t announce, “I have this chart where I’m going to mark the progress of your immaturity. If you do these things, our family life will be a lot better.” It won’t improve anything. Chart your own levels instead. 

Read through the above signs of immaturity until you find one where you need to grow, an area you could begin to work on. Improve your relationships. 

Third, continually encourage and support any activity that increases family maturity for individual members.

Fourth, consider family maturity a lifetime prayer goal. “No, ladies, he will never grow up.” We’re always struggling to be more mature in Christ. There will always be something—after you’ve been married 10 years, 20 years, and 50 years. There will still be an area to work on. So, it’s a prayer goal for a whole lifetime. 

Fifth, never give up on yourself or others because of some lack of maturity. Immaturity is a curable disease. No one is stuck in it forever. So, don’t give up in your work in your own life and your prayers for others. 

How Crucial Is Maturity?

If you leave family life to the immature, you’re going to find a certain theme dominates about everything you do. Things like revenge or bitterness, depression or self-centeredness, desertion and divorce, or violence. God can do little work within certain environments. 

Family life that works is going to take a) privacy, b) intimacy, and c) maturity.

Closing Prayer
“Lord, there’s a great temptation to see other people when we hear a sermon. I pray you’ll banish that from our minds. We don’t need to look at other people’s immaturity. We need to look at our own. Help us allow you to instruct us in where our family relationships are immature, where you want us to change. And, Lord, we’ll give you the praise when we see others change but we’ll be overjoyed to see the changes you make in our lives. For we pray it in Jesus Name, Amen.”