We are indeed living in critical times and every good thing is under attack, especially the role of the family. All signs point to the nearness of The Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are going Home! But we must remember that we are saved as individuals and not as groups. The character we develop during the probationary period we spend on this earth is the only treasure we take to Heaven. While we notice chaos and confusion in the world, our church, and in our own lives, we see the need to “afflict our souls” and to prepare for the coming of Our LORD. 

 

A character formed according to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next. Those who are under the instruction of Christ in this world will take every divine attainment with them to the heavenly mansions. And in heaven we are continually to improve. How important, then, is the development of character in this life.” { COL 332.3}

   

    In a couple of weeks my wife and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. I have been doing a lot of “soul searching” in reviewing these past years. My precious wife and our beautiful family are invaluable to me. As I age this becomes more apparent. I realize that I have too often, taken them “for granted” and not always given them the attention they deserve. The following quotation has captured my attention.

 

    ““That which will make the character lovely in the home is that which will make it lovely in the heavenly mansions. The measure of your Christianity is gauged by the character of your home life. The grace of Christ enables its possessors to make the home a happy place, full of peace and rest. Unless you have the Spirit of Christ, you are none of His and will never see the redeemed saints in His kingdom, who are to be one with Him in the heaven of bliss. God desires you to consecrate yourself wholly to Him and represent His character in the home circle.” { CG 481.2}

 

The role of family and relationships are becoming increasingly important in my life. I have noticed over the years that one can identify the relationship of couples dining out by how they treat each other. Those that are dating, are attentive, respectful, and have a certain look in their eyes. Those that are married often treat each other as an “old shoe”; comfortable but not too attentive.  I have resolved to treat my wife better and according to Scripture “Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”. After much thought I have adopted the “second date principle”; the way I treated my wife years ago on our second date; attentive, respectful, and with that certain look in my eye; making sure that there would be a third date coming. 

 

Guess what? What a wonderful change has taken place. Our worship time is more meaningful, our conversations more respectful, words of kindness more frequently expressed, and our home more of a place that Angels love to dwell. Even octogenarians can experience character development after 50 years, with the Lords help, and how much we love our spouses be reflected in the way we treat them.

 

I see a lot of parallels between my marriage and Christian experience. Throughout the Bible the relationship between Christ and the Church is expressed in the metaphor of marriage. Isa 54:5  “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called”. 

 

As the years go by, we get caught up in the affairs and interest of this world and gradually the expressions of intimacy wane. The hand holding, the sweet words, the acts of kindness, the expressions of intimacy are forgotten or taken for granted. There is a real risk of becoming “roommates” instead of “husband and wife”. To promote an “intimate relationship” time needs to be set aside. If not our “first love” is in danger of being lost.

 

So, it is with our relationship with Christ. At our Baptism we are “in Love” but often as time progresses, we take our relationship for granted. We casually rationalize that; “He knows I love Him why do I always have to express it”. Christ tells us in Rev 2:4 “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love”. The antidote is to spend time to tell our Savior how much we love him and express this love in service to Him. Otherwise, our relationship is in danger of becoming a “worn out marriage”. We are instructed to spend a thoughtful hour each day in Bible sturdy and prayer. I also recommend  spending a thoughtful time each day in an intimate relationship with our spouse.

 

In Conclusion: I would suggest that the best way to prepare for our Heavenly Home is to prepare our earthly home, as demonstrated in the way we treat our spouses.

The daily acts of life tell the measure and mold of our disposition and character. Where there is a lack of home religion, a profession of faith is valueless. Then let no unkind words fall from the lips of those who compose the home circle. Make the atmosphere fragrant with tender thoughtfulness of others. Only those will enter heaven who in probationary time have formed a character that breathes a heavenly influence. The saint in heaven must first be a saint upon earth.” { CG 481.1}


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