by Mike McHugh
Not surprisingly, most of the issues and challenges that home educators focus upon each week involve the daily struggle to get their youngsters to comprehend their academic material. In at least some cases as well, parent educators are preoccupied with trying to identify the ideal learning style or schedule to be employed in their home school. One challenge that seldom gets the attention it deserves, however, is summed up in the familiar old maxim “familiarity breeds contempt”.
At the heart of any institution, organization, or social structure is the dynamic of human relationships. Like it or not, in a fallen world where sinners are in steady contact with each other, the task of maintaining positive relationships within any setting is seldom easy. This is no less true when it comes to relationships within the family, and in particular within the households of home school parents. After all, unlike most families today, the people who are involved with home education commonly spend a great deal of time each day interacting with one another.
For this reason, if home school parents are serious about success, they can not afford to neglect the importance of stewarding the relationships that exist between each member of their family. The starting point for laying a proper foundation for family relationships is to begin by incorporating the following biblical principles:
Let each family member respect and embrace the authority structure that God has placed over them, knowing that this was done for their ultimate good. A wonderful overview of the way that God intends for family members to relate to one another, begins in Ephesians 5:21 and continues through chapter six, verse 4.
The Bible teaches that contention and strife only comes into relationships through the spirit of pride or arrogance. For this reason, it is imperative that each family member be encouraged to follow the teachings of Philippians 2:3-8, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, …”
In the same manner that Paul the apostle learned to be content, family members need to learn to forbear and forgive the faults and offenses of others. Those who are incapable of extending forgiveness to others, have no good reason to expect that they will ever be able to live at peace with those that God places in their path. In Ephesians chapter 4, we are told in part to, “…walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness, and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The Word of God also declares in Colossians 3:12-13, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
Family members must ask God to grant them a loving heart, and a thankful spirit. As we are told in Colossians 3:14-15: “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” The old biblical truth is still true that love covers a multitude of sins!
Parents and children must be taught not to let the sun go down upon their wrath. In other words, family members need to recognize the importance of working to resolve their differences promptly, in order that they might not grow larger and more entrenched through a root of bitterness. Ephesians 4:26-27 states, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Another helpful passage comes from Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
Although the biblical principles for family relationships listed above are by no means complete or exhaustive, I am confident that if each home school household took the effort to live them out each day, they would soon see God’s blessings begin to multiply. Of all the lessons that parents need to pass on to their children, few are greater than the knowledge of how to live and work alongside others in a manner that promotes peace and brotherly love.
Copyright 2008 Michael J. McHugh
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