I’m sure you’ve wondered what it might have been like for you to have been born to a rich family or a famous family. I’ve also wondered what it would have been like to have been born into a third world family and had to struggle with daily survival as many do in our world today. Regardless of what I’ve imagined, the truth is that God chose to put me where He chose to put me. We were born into the family that we were born into. That family, not the fictional family, is important. God says it is. All the instructions regarding honoring parents, remaining faithful and loving to our spouses and accepting responsibility for those in our household are just general expression in the scripture that instruct us on the importance of our earthly families in God’s eyes. Once a family is formed by marriage, that unit becomes sacred in God’s eyes. I’ve heard numerous stories of how ministers have sacrificed their families in order to serve, as they say, “The family of God.”

The first and most important ministry that God has assigned to any of us is the ministry we are called to regarding our families. Paul made the perfectly clear to his young disciple, Timothy. He wrote to him and said, “… if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Ministry must always begin in the home. When you study the other instructions that Paul gave to both Timothy and Titus, we learn that those who are called to serve as “ministers” in the church must first have the ministry needs of their family satisfied. No one should be giving attention to others, when those in their own families are suffering or struggling. That must always remain our first priority.

In that same chapter, Paul exhorts family of the importance of ministering to its own members before ministering to others. He says, “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God” (1 Timothy 5:4). The phrase that struck me is “let them first.” Some translations say “of primary importance,” or “the highest priority.” Sometimes we must sacrifice our personal interests and desires for the welfare of others in our family. God’s family values are such that we must always make those in our own household, the primary recipients of our ministries. Then, working together, the family as a whole can serve God in many ways. One writer said, “When we submit to God’s family values we put ourselves in a place of blessing. Any other values will soon prove to be an insufficient base for a permanent and joyful union.”