One of my favorite word pictures related to a successful family is “a playground with a fence around it.” A family should be fun. It should be a warm and welcome place built around enjoying God and each other.
Through planned activities and prioritized relationships, it should be a sanctuary of enjoyment and encouragement. It should be a playground!
But it’s a protected playground. To protect our family relationships as well as each individual, we need clearly defined rules. This keeps the atmosphere of our homes safe.
A fence keeps us from wandering outside the playground and into dangerous territory—and it keeps danger out of the playground as well.
We’ve been talking about the balance between truth and grace when it comes to marriage and families. A family of truth without grace is like a fence without a playground inside.
It may be a safe place, but it’s also a dead place. It’s a prison.
A family of grace without truth is like a playground without a fence. It may be a lot of fun, but it’s at risk of being interrupted with danger, tragedy, or destruction.
A playground with a fence around it is a place of balanced grace and truth, where rules and relationship work in harmony to produce the desired goal.
Just as God is full of grace and truth, so are a successful marriage and family life. This balance is essential to a functional, happy family.
To check the balance of your family atmosphere, first examine your concept of God. Do you view God as a perfect balance of grace and truth—a compassionate father who still holds his children to standards of holiness—or do you focus too much on one or the other?
Also consider your own upbringing. Were your parents balanced between grace and truth? Our parents’ influence upon us is profound and even has a great impact on our concept of God. If your parents showed a flawed combination of grace and truth, forgive them—then look to Jesus, the perfect balance between the two.
You may also realize you’ve been making some of the same mistakes your parents made. If that’s the case, confess it before God and your family, then ask God to help you make the needed changes.
Above all, listen to the people around you. That’s a great way to recognize imbalance. What does your spouse complain about? What issue does he or she keep bringing up? Does this represent a lack of grace (too much fence) or a lack of truth (too much playground)?
Listen also to your children and consider the fruits of your influence in their lives. Balance can be found by opening yourself up to God and letting others speak into your life.
We are drawn to Jesus because He best exemplified the redemption and power that a balance of grace and truth brings. Your marriage and family can be that same force for redemption.
Make your family into a playground—but don’t forget to protect it with a sturdy fence!