2009-01-20 - Three-Bean Salad
As do many of you, my husband and I regularly attend "potluck" dinners at church. (For the uninformed, those are dinners at which each family brings an entree, dessert or salad etc.). One of my signature dishes is Three-Bean Salad.The first few times I fixed it, I would take it to church, but by the time my husband and I wound our way through the serving line, it would all be gone. So Richard would never get to partake of his own wife's contribution. I later realized that my husband should get the first taste of my salad, not the leftovers (of which there were few, if any). So I now put some aside for him. He gets the "firstruits" of my food.
Now, some of you probably think you know where this devotional is headed, that I'm going to remind us that God should receive our firstruits of everything. But that's been done often, and by far more eloquent folks than myself. No, what has been pressed upon my heart of late, is that our families often get our "leftovers" - of time, energy, talents and yes, even our three-bean salad.
Spouses (in my experience, usually wives) run off to church every time the door is open, don't spend a lot of time with their husbands, and then wonder why their spouses start to resent the church, and don't want to go. Where did people get the idea that we are supposed to treat those outside our families like royalty, give all our time to good causes, but put our families last? Not from the Bible.
In fact, God gave us our families to care for. And He wants us to treasure them. Our first ministry is to our families - spouses, then children and parents and others.
1 Timothy 5:8 (The Message) But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Now while this context involves finances, I believe there is a general principle here; we need to take care of the family God gives us - financially yes, but also emotionally and spiritually.
Where in the Bible does it say we are to be at church every time the doors are open, and that we should castigate Christians who devote some time to their families, instead of burning out emotionally, as they continually choose church activities over family time? That is a slippery legalistic slope (a la Mark 7:9-13). There are many valuable ministries that we should support at our local churches, and I myself am quite active in ours. But that involvement shouldn't occur, at the peril of our families. A good modern-day parable about this, which I recommend, is a movie from the 90s: "The Preacher's Wife"©, starring Courtney Vance and Whitney Houston. I've known of pastors' and missionaries' children committing suicide, with contributing factors of neglect by parents. And even Billy Graham has said one of his regrets is not spending more time with his children. Thankfully, his wonderful wife Ruth did his job too, while he was away so much.
Ideally, we can prayerfully find a ministry, and get involved with our families! But never should we neglect them "in the name of God!" God won't accept that. Remember that your family should get the best of your three-bean salad, for they are your primary gifts and responsibilities from God.