At City Harvest Church’s Chinese New Year service last weekend, Kong Hee reminded all to honor their parents and put family first.
By Dawn Seow
The institution of family has always been vitally important to God. “He was the one who initiated the first family unit in the Garden of Eden where He placed Adam and Eve, making them Man and Wife. God Himself is called our Heavenly Father,” said Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church at its Chinese New Year service on Jan. 21.
Kong explored the concept of family in the context of Chinese New Year. Traditionally, this is a time for the Chinese to rest and enjoy the harvest with their family.
Traditional Chinese live their lives by the horoscope, and that includes decorating their homes in a way that would “bring good fortune”, so they believe.
But even before these traditions took root, God gave the guarantee of prosperity and long life in His Word thousands of years ago. Quoting Ephesians 6:1-4, Kong reminded the members that God has promised,as long as there is honor and respect in the family, everyone can enjoy the prosperity and long life they are looking for.
What is FAMILY?
- F is for Forgiveness
“No one is perfect and we all make mistake,” said Kong, “and when we do, we want to be forgiven completely.”
Kong drew from Ernest Hemingway’s short story The Capital Of The World, to illustrate a powerful point. A Spanish father’s relationship with his son fell apart and the son ran away from home. Years later, desperate to find him, the father put up an advertisement that simply read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the Madrid newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven, Daddy loves you.” The next day, 800 young men named Paco turned up at the office, each seeking forgiveness from his father.
God promised His people in the Psalms that His forgiveness has no limit. In the same way, Christians should forgive others, especially their own family, without limit. There is a need to create a culture of forgiveness in the family, and it all starts with a gracious tongue. Kong encouraged everyone to exercise grace and forgiveness this Chinese New Year.
- A is for Affection
Paul told the Christians in Ephesus to be “kind to one another, tenderhearted” (Ephesians 4:32); being tender-hearted means being affectionate and sensitive.
Many pride themselves on being straightforward. But their tactlessness is not smart, it is insensitive. Kong joked that if God were to talk to him in a straight-forward manner, he would be in depression! “But God never does that,” he continued. “He says that He loves us with an everlasting love.”
Kong shared the touching testimony of Gan Tiong Wan, an ex-gambler, whose live was transformed by affectionate words. At the age of 70, Gan was disowned by his children because of his life-long gambling habits and the debt he had accumulated. A member of CHC, Kong Choy, befriended him and showed him love, using affectionate words to encourage Gan. Eventually, Gan became a Christian, kicked his gambling habit and was reconciled with his family—before he passed away last November.
- M is for Mindfulness
Philippian 2:4-5 taught Christians to “look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Kong proclaimed that “God is thinking about us 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour! The Bible says He is always mindful of us, thinking and remembering us all the time. We need to be thinking of others too.”
The opposite of love is apathy, which means to ignore and be indifferent, and that is the worst form of rejection. Kong encouraged the members to be mindful of their aging parents, and siblings who may not be doing well, in the midst of busyness.
- I is for Integrity
People with integrity do what they say and say what they do!
The words we speak reveal our nature and character. “Our name is only as good as our words, if others cannot count on us to keep our word, our name, or our reputation is no good and others cannot trust us,” the senior pastor advised.
Kong used the example of a man who promises to bring his son cycling on the weekend. But he ends up breaking his promise because of work. The child, not being able to differentiate a broken promise from a lie, learns to think of his father as a liar.
“Our word is our bond! That’s why Jesus said that one day; you will have to give an account for every idle word that you say,” said Kong.
- L is for Loyalty
Faithfulness is the cornerstone of our character, as is loyalty. In Genesis 9, Noah got drunk, took off all his clothes and lay in his tent naked. His youngest son Ham chanced upon this and told everyone about it, shaming his father.
“It’s not a sin to see our father’s nakedness, but it’s a sin to broadcast it,” Kong explained. Noah’s two other sons, Shem and Japheth, took a robe, walked backwards into the tent so as not to see their father naked, and covered Noah.
1 Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sin. Kong encouraged the members to honor their parents, no matter how much of their weaknesses and imperfections they have seen.
- Y is for Yieldedness
To be “yielding” is to give way, to be flexible. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 teaches Christians not to rebuke the elderly but to treat them with respect.
Kong reminded members to love their parents even when they are weak and frail. Drawing from a classic Grimm’s fairy tale, he told the story of a couple who lived with their old father and their four-year-old son. The daughter-in-law despised her father-in-law for being unable to eat without spilling his food, and so she made him eat his meals out of a wooden trough, just like a pig. One day the couple saw their son carving something out of a piece of wood. The boy explained that he was making a wooden trough for them to eat out of when they grew old. Only then did the couple realize how badly they had treated their father.
Kong’s sermon was perfectly timed to prepare the church members to love and appreciate their family during the Chinese New Year holiday season.