God’s Portrait of the Family by Tony Evans


Families today are often made up of broken hearts, broken lives, people who have made mistakes, and people who have done wrong things. Yet God has another picture for how He wants the family to be. This is His portrait for how a kingdom family is designed. Psalm 128 lays it out very plainly.

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. (Psalm 128:1-4)

The first thing the psalmist says in verses 1 and 2 is that the kingdom family begins with a personal commitment to God. In verse 3, he begins talking about family. But before he starts talking about the family unit, he talks about the people who make up the family unit. Why? Because in order to have a contented family, you must first have contented people living there. Or in order to have a miserable family, you must first have miserable people living there.

When a person says, “My home is miserable,” he doesn’t mean the bricks are miserable or the grass is miserable or the utensils are miserable. He means there are some miserable people living there. To try to have a happy home when you have unhappy people is impossible.

So the starting place for fixing the family is fixing people. And God says for that to happen, the members of the household must have their lives centered around God. If they are not centered around God, then the unhappiness of their lives will rub off on the other members living in the home.

When God says, “How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,” He is saying, “Take God seriously.” To fear means “to be in awe of or to reverence.” If you don’t fear God, your lack of fear will show up in your family.

God is like the sun, and you are like one of the planets. You can only have your orbit straight if you stay within the gravitational pull. Pluto circles the sun from between 2 billion and 4 billion miles away. The sun keeps Pluto in its gravitational pull, or else Pluto would be flung into outer space. It would leave our solar system. We have watched families leave the solar system, get flung off into space, and be utterly destroyed because the sun was no longer the controlling factor. God was no longer the center. If men are not kingdom men who align themselves under God, or if women are not living as kingdom women likewise aligned under God, then we shouldn’t be surprised if we are flung into outer space, so to speak, or if our lives spin out of control.

Because the husband is responsible for setting the tone of the family, he is the first focus in Psalm128. Notice the words “your wife” in verse 3. When the husband is centered around God, fears God, and walks in the ways of God, an automatic response will come from his wife.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table” (Psalm 128:3). The image in this verse is of a grapevine, and a grapevine always clings. The atmosphere in a home is that a woman should be able to wrap her branches around her husband. A wife who hangs onto her husband and wraps around him totally is doing what God wants because God wants wives to be clinging vines.

Vines not only cling, but they also climb. When a man is the right kind of man, the wife wants to cling to him, and then she grows. She develops strengths, abilities, and skills. She becomes a better woman than she was before. If a wife is not growing, either there is nothing to cling to, or the husband has not created an environment for her growth.

A grapevine also clusters and provides grapes for wine. If a husband lets his wife cling and climb, she’ll cluster and make him drunk with her love. That love will naturally overflow, and the husband will be fulfilled. Living out biblical principles with regard to our families produces a better home environment filled with love and kindness, and it enables all members to do all that God has designed them to do.

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