What is the spiritual order of family and ministry? This is a question that was brought to me by one of our readers and I will attempt to answer that question for you today. You can also read The Three-Fold Cord of Marriage here.
There are so many demands in life that fight for our attention, that we must make sure that we are working in the godly order, the spiritual order as designed by God. While the Bible does not lay out a step-by-step order for family relationship, we can look to the Scriptures and find general principles for prioritizing our family and relationships. The godly order of family is God, husband, wife, then children. This is our first ministry, family, and should be seen as a whole. Then all other relationships will come after this, as a second form of ministry.
God, our Creator, comes first. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” All of one’s heart, soul, and strength is to be committed to loving God, making Him the first priority. We also see in Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Anything that we place our focus on that keeps the Lord from being the first priority in our lives becomes like a god to the people.
Other gods can be chasing money instead of purpose, socializing before ministry and fellowship, the internet world before family, and many other idols the world has wrongfully learned to prioritize. God must be our first priority, the center of every aspect of our lives. We must acknowledge Him in all our ways (Proverbs 3:6), remain prayerful in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:16), and share His good deeds with others (Psalms 9:11).
We find this reminder in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” Apart from God, we can do nothing – everything we do would be meaningless – without God we cannot bear good fruit, and bearing good fruit is our purpose on earth.
Matthew 7:17-19, “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.…” Anything we try to do without God is fruitless and aimless. Anything we try to be without God will only lead to eternal death and destruction. God must be our first priority.
Next, understand that family was created by God and imitates the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We find our first glimpse of this pre-earthly family relationship in Genesis 1:26-27, “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’… …in the image of God He created them; male and female created he them.” We see that God first spoke using the plural form of people, “us” and “our”. This is because the Trinity existed long before the human race was created.
God knew when He made Adam, that Eve would soon be created as well, and through procreation the family would be born. So this idea for family has been a part of God’s plan since the beginning of time. The family, therefore, is our first ministry, and we are held accountable for this first ministry. The family becomes our next priority after God, but even this has a godly order. If we look at how these creations came to be, we will see that God exists first, then came man, then woman, and later children, which became the completion of family, designed to be in unity.
When God created Eve, He took her from the side of Adam. We see Adam’s acknowledgement of this as he calls out in Genesis 2:23, “And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” and through this the Lord created the unity of marriage where man and woman would be joined together again as one spiritually.
This relationship is important because it imitates the relationship between man and God, as we find in Ephesians 5:23-25, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior… Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything… Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” So the relationship between husband and wife should imitate the relationship between Christ and the church, representing God’s unconditional love.
The principle is that a woman’s husband is second only to God in her priorities. If husbands and wives are second only to God in our priorities, and since a husband and wife are one flesh (Ephesians 5:31), it stands to reason that the result of the marriage relationship—children—should be the next priority – as family.
Parents are to raise godly children who will be the next generation of those who love the Lord with all their hearts, as we are instructed in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Our first instruction is to love the Lord with every part of ourselves, and this is the same instruction that must be given to our children. We find this same support in Ephesians 6:4 “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” We see here that God comes first in all generations, then the unity of marriage, and lastly the completion of the family through children, which are the next generation to receive the inheritance of the Lord.
All other relationships come after this as the next ministry, whether these relationships are with family or other sheep. There are scriptures that tell us to take care of our family members and that is because we are to be the light and the example of God toward our family members. But at the same time, we are also to be the light and the image of Christ to all the world. The same ministry we provide to other sheep should be provided to our extended family members as well. We can regard them within the same ministry according to this scripture,
Matthew 12:46-50 “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus reminds us that those who are seeking the will of the Lord are our brothers and sisters, our extended family. Those who become saved become engrafted into the lineage of Jesus Christ as our sisters and brothers. Strangers can certainly take this position as can extended family members. But we must remember that not everyone we come into contact with, whether other sheep or extended family, will want to receive the Lord. Our job is to plant the seed, be the salt and the light, remain the image of Christ.
And for those who do not receive His message, we must dust our feet off and keep moving (Matthew 10:4), seeking to save the lost, according to the will of God. As scripture tells us in Mark 6:4, “Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” There will be those who we may have been close to that will not accept or receive the message of Christ. But do not grow weary in doing good. The Lord is faithful and knows your heart. You will be honored for standing strong like a tree planted by the waters, as we see in the following verse,
Psalm 1:3 “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Amen.
The greatest thing we can do for anyone, whether or not they chose to receive the Word of God in their lives, is to pray for them. There’s hope for everyone, but we are not always called to be witness of the transformation. Again, many times we are called to plant the seed, and another will water, but ultimately it is the Lord that will cause it to grow. It doesn’t make us failures, because our prayers are powerful and can accomplish much more in one moment than we could ever try to do ourselves.
1 Corinthians 3:6-9 “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”
So again, we are to make the Lord our first priority, keeping Him at the center of our lives so that He may lead and guide us in all things. Next comes our spouses, representing the relationship of the church and Christ, then comes the family unit with our children representative of the Trinity, and finally comes ministry to all people, other sheep and extended family members alike. We are called to teach the Word of God within our homes and also to preach to the ends of the earth,
Mark 16:15 “And then He told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” Amen.
Prayer: Father God, we thank You for the blessing and gift of prayer. We thank You that we are able to commune with You at any given time or place. We thank You that You lend Your ear towards us and are faithful to answer. We thank You for our spouses, our children, our extended families and for the sheep. We thank You for the opportunity to be the salt and light for them, to remain as the image of Christ for them. We thank You that You have given us this calling in life to be joined as one spiritually to our spouses, to be the example to our children on how to love You best and make You the center of our lives, and also for the opportunity to save those who are lost and to have brothers and sisters of Christ not just in our own extended families but across the globe. We thank You that Your burden is light, that we come to plant the seed but that You will cause that seed to grow. We pray for our loved ones that we would grow closer to You with each day and live to share You with the world. We ask that You would fill us with Your Holy Spirit and equip to fulfill the tasks You have set before us. Help us to bring honor to Your name. In Jesus’ mighty and precious name we pray, Amen.
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