Is Your Home Uplifting?

A checklist of qualities to cultivate in day-to-day family life
From the August 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

“You always hurt the one you love,” the old song says. In public, around strangers, we tend to be polite and gracious. But at home, we can easily let down, and be more petty, crabby, critical.

Is your home an uplifting place?

How do you talk to your family? Your mate, your children? How do they talk to you and to each other? Are your interactions laced with negativity, sarcasm, guilt trips, nettles and mean-spirited humor? Or are they positive, respectful, concerned for the other?

Want a go-to checklist you can fall back on when you feel like home life isn’t quite right? Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It tells us what God’s love looks like in action. Measure your family life against this list. It shows you how to practice selfless love toward those closest to us.

“Love is patient and kind …” (verse 4; Revised Standard Version). That means being patient with each other’s faults and weaknesses—which we are more aware of in our family members than anyone else. Imagine if God were only as patient with your weaknesses as you are with your family’s. “Kind” means performing kind acts—acting on your love, even in little ways.

“[Love] is never rude” (verse 5; Moffatt). Our manners, our etiquette, our standard of conduct—how we present ourselves to others, must never be rude. Extend these same courtesies not just to strangers or acquaintances, but also to your own family. In The Missing Dimension in Sex, Herbert W. Armstrong elaborated on this point: “During the dating and romance stage, both groom and bride-to-be put a ‘best foot forward.’ They are careful about manners, grooming, the courtesies. Then after marriage comes the ‘let down.’

“If you want a happy marriage, be far more particular about all such things after marriage than before. Be careful about your sleeping garments—be sure they are neat, clean, attractive to the other. Be careful about your hair—especially on rising in the morning. The very first thing I try to do on rising is to get a comb and brush, before my wife sees tousled and messed-up hair! …

“Ever notice how people answer the telephone? A wife calls her husband at his place of business or work. He answers: ‘Oh, it’s you. Well, I wish you wouldn’t bother me now. I’m busy.’ But if some other woman might call on a matter of business, his voice is cheerful, courteous, warm and friendly. And of course it’s the same when hubby calls the wife during the day. She’s warmly cheerful and polite to all but him. She feels, ‘Oh, he’s only my husband.’ …

“If you must be cross, discourteous, or appear tired before someone, let it be anyone else—but never your husband or your wife! Don’t ever utter the alibi, ‘Oh, but we’re married, now.’ Be lovers, as long as you live!”

“[Love] seeks not her own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Moffatt says, “[Love] is never selfish,” and the Revised Standard Version says, “Love does not insist on its own way.” This world needs more of this kind of love—a love that is never selfish. Not around your worst enemy, and not around your spouse. Within your family, strive to always meet the needs of your spouse and children before your own.

This is perhaps the most fundamental key to making family relationships work. If everyone is looking out for the other rather than himself, there is plenty of overlap to meet everyone’s needs and many of their wants. That’s God’s love! It’s not, “I’ll give you this if you give me that.” It is never selfish. It’s unconditional.

“[Love] is not easily provoked.” If you are loving your family, you are never irritated. How easy to violate this principle! You’re tired, stressed—something hits you the wrong way at the wrong time—and BAM! you lash out at someone—usually a loved one. Your spouse and your children are the ones who see you in your most trying moments. But God’s love is never irritated. It finds a way to control itself, even under difficulty. God’s love is not easily provoked—it is not too touchy or sensitive. Even if someone does wrong us in some way, God’s love will let it go.

“[Love] is always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient” (verse 7; Moffatt). We live in a negative world. But with this love, you still have a positive, hopeful outlook. You see people for their strengths and their potential—as God does. Even those in your family. You concentrate on what you admire in them. You recognize their growth, their personal victories, their achievements.

The author Goethe said, “If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is; but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” How true that is among our families! How much can you help your family grow by cultivating a positive attitude toward each member?

Everyone needs appropriate praise and appreciation. Especially our impressionable children. Sometimes we can get into a bad cycle of always seeing their mistakes. This can be a trap. When you see something praiseworthy, tell them so! You’ll see them blossom like a flower receiving water.

Let’s make our homes training grounds in putting God’s love—the most positive force in the universe—into action, every day.