THERE are healthy families and sadly, there are unhealthy ones too. But make no mistake, there are no perfect families. What we need are just good, healthy, strong families. But for this to happen there are some things we must know.

            FIRST of all, there is the family way. Will it be humble and heavenly or hard? In James 3:13-15, James writes, "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom."  "But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil."

            THE humble and heavenly way is God's way (that's why it's heavenly) of relating to one another within the family unit. It is a way of treating each person in the family with love, grace and mercy. It is the "wise" way to live which produces a climate of growth, inclusion, happiness and freedom. These families are well, well, because they treat each other well. And this is not just for the family, but for our work places, schools, neighborhoods and communities. Make no mistake about it, good begets good.

            ANOTHER way which some families or members of the family adopt, is the hard way. This is the way of bitter envy and selfish ambition. Envy is different than jealousy in that jealousy can be rooted in love. Like God who loves us with a jealous love. Envy is never rooted in love but in greed, lust, and unholy desires. Selfish ambition is different than ambition. Ambition is good and we all should have it. But selfish ambition, well, it speaks for itself.

            ENVY and selfish ambition is a contentious spirit that is always wanting more, never satisfied with any outcome or result and always believes it is being cheated or taken advantage of. This spirit is devastating in any group of people. It is a pushy, demanding, selfish attitude which causes all sorts of fighting and bickering.

            EVERY established country has a currency. The same is true of heaven. The currency of heaven is love, grace and mercy which purchases acceptance and forgiveness. When we live this way now it's a slice of heaven on earth. But how can we get a hold of this "wise" heavenly currency? By choosing to be content. People who choose to be content have little strife in their life... they are "good."

            CONTENTMENT can best be defined as "I am good (full, satisfied), God is good (all the time), and whatever (everything) I am going through will work for my good." James writes, "...Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving..." James 3:17. Contentment is wise because it brings about purity. Paul's perspective on purity comes from Romans 16:19, "...Be wise about what is good, and innocent (unwise) about what is evil." Innocence about evil means I am unaffected by the temptations of Satan. This will bring great peace to my life and therefore to all my family members.

            PAUL says in Philippians 2:14-15,  "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." People who argue and complain are more susceptible to temptation and thus less likely to be pure. This takes us back to contentment versus envy and selfish ambition. Contentment is the antidote for all the arguments and complaints in a family. Being content makes us good. Learning to be content will give us peace. The more at peace we are, the more we prefer it. This makes us peace-loving people, which is good for all of our families. By choosing to be content, I choose to be a safe person and at peace with everyone in my family.

            THIS practice of peace is easier once we have learned contentment. Being content makes us wise, according to James 3:17, "...Considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." All good things for our families.

            HOW could we go wrong by being content? Contentment helps us to be pure and peace loving (not envious or selfishly ambitious) and full of good fruit, all of which are good for our families.

            IF this were the case (true), who in a family would ever be hurt again? We'd all have healthy (dynamic) families.