Balancing Relationships and Responsibilities

This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.

Does the Assemblies of God believe Christians need to prioritize their relationships and responsibilities?

The teachings of Jesus clearly indicate the order of our priorities as believers. Part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount deals with this crucial issue. In Matthew 6:25-34 and especially verse 33 we are admonished to keep the Kingdom of God (His rule and reign over our lives) and His righteousness our number one priority. If this priority is kept usually everything else will move into proper perspective.

But how does one go about seeking first God's kingdom? This is accomplished primarily through continually yielding to God’s Spirit (the agent of the Kingdom) and by obeying the truths of His Word (the Bible). This leads us to greater depths of love for God and others. Jesus tells us in John 8:31-32 that by obeying His Word we demonstrate that we are His disciples. In practice this means we accept and implement God-given priorities. The highest priority is God himself. The next priority is our spouse if we are married. Next in line comes our children. For unmarried children, relationships with parents and other members of the family is the second priority. Paul suggests that these responsibilities as well as our testimony before the church and the watching world are objective criteria by which we may evaluate our Christian maturity (1 Timothy 5:8).

As Christians we must be cautious to avoid unbalanced thinking that suggests priorities other than God are not important. Instead of just thinking of our priorities in a hierarchical fashion we should think of them as a cluster of values with God himself at the center and all of the other priorities flowing out of our relationship with Him. For example if our relationship with God is not what it ought to be it will affect our relationship with our spouse. Likewise if our relationship with our spouse is off track it will affect our relationship with God, even to the point of hindering our prayers (1 Peter 3:7). Jesus implied as much when He talked about problems between brothers in the faith hindering our worship of God (Matthew 5:23-24).

Biblical priorities are often in contradiction to the priorities of the secular world. For a Christian family, relationships within the home and with God are to be more important than material goods. Things like vocational success are fine as long as they are not achieved at the expense of biblical priorities. The stories of Joseph and Daniel are not only inspiring, but they remind us that devotion to God and success in life are not mutually exclusive of each other.

A Christian should not sacrifice his relationship with God or his family for "success". Ultimately our success in life is defined in terms of our faithfulness to God. Our priorities ought to reflect our responsibilities. We are first of all responsible to God, then to our families, the church, and then to our neighbors in the world.

The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.

All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.