A Strong Foundation
Building a Marriage and Family That Will Last
May 1, 2004
A Message by Billy Graham
The home is the foundation of any society. But something is wrong with many of our homes. We've never had more books available advising us how to solve our family and marital problems than we have today. Yet somehow we're more miserable, we're more broken, we're more torn, we're more hurt, than we've ever been. Why? Because we have not taken the Word of God into account. God has laid down the rules and regulations for a successful and happy home, and we've broken them.
Is your home built on a solid foundation? If we disregard God's regulations for the home, then our homes are in danger of ending in disaster.
The husband-wife relationship is the key to family success. A successful family needs to be founded on a divinely ordered marriage.
Marriage is not a short-term option. It is a contract for life; it is ordered by God. The Bible says, "Live joyfully with the wife of your youth" (Cf. Proverbs 5:18). Don't even think about a divorce—be faithful. Christ can hold you together; there is no problem that cannot be solved by the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you are a believer in Christ, you are to marry a fellow believer, not an unbeliever. Jesus said, "If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand" (Mark 3:25, NIV). Don't say, "We'll settle some of these things after we're married." Settle them before you marry. The Scripture says, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14, NIV).
Be careful about whom you fall in love with. What are you looking for in a spouse? In our obsession with physical appearance we often fail to look for and to recognize the inner qualities that make a woman or a man truly attractive. Proverbs 31 says, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (Proverbs 31:30, NIV).
Put God First
A cornerstone in the foundation of a happy home is the spiritual exercise of prayer, Bible reading and church attendance. Do you attend church? Do you read the Bible in your home? Do you gather your family and have a time of Bible reading and prayer? Do you ask God's blessing at the table?
In Deuteronomy 6 we read, "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, NIV).
The key to a solid family is putting God first in our homes and families. And to put God first in your home, He needs to be first in your own life—whether you are a father, a mother, a husband, a wife or a child.
All of us have problems. I have never known a marriage or a family that did not have problems. But Jesus listens, and He always hears and answers our prayers. How wonderful it is to go to Him in prayer! How wonderful it is for a husband and wife to kneel together and pray.
Men need to work at being good fathers. If I had the opportunity to do anything over in my life, one of the things I would do over is be a better father. But, thank God, all five of our children know Jesus Christ.
The Bible points out the importance of strong husbands and fathers. In Hebrews we read, "Noah ... built an ark to save his family" (Hebrews 11:7, NIV). The Bible exhorts married men, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25, NIV). Christ loved the Church so much that He died on the cross and rose again.
Husbands are to love their wives like that, but some men have abdicated their responsibility. When a husband loves his wife as Christ loves the Church, it is easy for the wife to submit to the husband. The image here is not that of a mighty potentate sitting on his throne and ruling his subjects with an iron hand. No, it is more like a conductor directing a symphony—delicate but definite, subdued yet powerful.
A successful home also needs a devoted wife and mother. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully" (1 Timothy 5:14, KJV).
I don't think anyone works any harder than a devoted mother [whether she works outside the home or not]. Don't ever say, "I'm just a housewife." Say, "I'm a homemaker and a mother, and I'm proud of it!"
Disciplined and obedient children help to make a happy home. But the Bible predicted that society would be characterized by disobedience to parents. How many young people today are disobedient to their parents? Parents too often have shirked their responsibility to discipline their children. In one survey of American teenagers, 75 percent said that they would welcome more discipline and that they need it. They admitted that more discipline would cause them to respect their parents more.
The Bible affirms that children can absorb loving discipline: "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6, NIV).
There may be a period when young people seek their own identity. They may want to pull away from the family and be on their own. That's natural and normal. But sometimes we parents don't know how to handle it. I'll tell you how I think we ought to handle it. Love them; let them know that you disapprove of some of the things they are doing, but do it in a spirit of love. No matter how old your children are, they still need to be loved.
Finally, have you made it your primary concern to lead your child to Christ? Our oldest daughter accepted Christ when she was five years old. You ask, "Don't you think that's too young?" No. Jesus called the little children unto Him. Paul reminded Timothy, "from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15, NIV). Do all that you can to lead your children to Christ.
And what about you? Do you know Jesus Christ?
The first step is to turn your life over to Jesus Christ. Be willing to confess and repent of your sins—to turn away from them. Let Jesus come into your heart and help you to be the right kind of husband, wife or child.
Let's come back to the Word of God and build our homes on the solid foundation of the Bible and God.
How to Receive Christ
We hope this message has helped you to understand what Jesus Christ has done to save us and what our response must be. If you are not sure that you are right with God, you can be sure—right now. Remember, we must admit that we are sinners. We must turn away from our sins and turn to Christ. We must trust Him as our Savior and follow Him as our Lord. God promises that when we do this, He will save us and make us His children, and we will live with Him forever. Will you turn to Christ now? Pray:
"O God, I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sin. I am willing to turn from my sin. I receive Jesus as my Savior; I confess Him as my Lord. From now on I want to follow Him in the fellowship of His Church. In Jesus' name. Amen."