God Give Us Christian Homes (1)
What makes a family truly healthy, happy, and strong? A culture filled with divorce, abuse, and dysfunctional homes demonstrates that multitudes are groping in darkness where building a strong and healthy family is concerned. Since God created the family (Gen. 2:18-25), we need to examine His word concerning how the family ought to work! Scripture teaches, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they that build it labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1).
Families are an investment — in fact, they are among the most precious investments in life. No one on his or her deathbed wishes for more money or more time spent at the office, but often they do wish for the company of those who are closest to them. When Jesus commanded His disciples to, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-21), certainly one application of that principle has to do with the way we treat our families. The time, energy, spirit, heart, and even the finances we lovingly invest in our families will not only be profitable in this life, but those investments will reap benefits in eternity as well!
Why would anyone want to study God’s word in relation to the family? Several reasons come to mind:
Families are hurting — The norm in too many homes is fussing, fighting, and the like. One needs only to look at available statistics in our country to notice that too many children feel estranged and distant from their parents, and too many marriages end in bitter failure. Romans 1:31 mentions that one evidence of consistently suppressing God’s truth is that more and more people will be, “without natural affection” — that is, without the kind of natural love that parents ought to have for their children. Can anyone reasonably deny that families both in and out of the church are hurting?
A matter of practicality — The old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but that is an incredibly naïve and irresponsible policy when it comes to the family. In recent years, many articles have been written and sermons preached by our own brethren about God’s will concerning divorce and remarriage (cf. Matt. 19:1-9). However, it should occur to us that while we do need to preach about such matters, we also ought to be teaching more of what God says about how to prevent divorce in the first place (cf. Eph. 5:22-33)! It’s more practical to help strengthen our families now than try to fix them when things go awry.
God commands it — God wants us to study the, “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), and His word includes a multitude of passages about the home. Obeying God’s word makes better marriages (1 Cor. 13:4-8), better parents (Eph. 6:4; 1 Thess. 2:1-12), and better children (Eph. 6:1-3). God’s word tells us the home is to be a place of love, respect, and healthy teaching (Deut. 6:1-9). Blessed are those who hear and do (James 1:22).
Satan is after your family — Satan is a very real enemy, yet many families are ignorant of his devices (cf. 2 Cor. 2:11). He floods our lives with cares and yearnings for “things,” and that chokes out the word of God (Mark 4:19). Our enemy and his accomplices provide “harmless” entertainments that portray all manner of ungodliness as acceptable, and our families too often gladly enjoy that entertainment. We are at war, and too many families are being devoured by the lion already (1 Peter 5:8)!
If your family is not everything God desires (and what family is???), there is always hope! God’s word can change things, but it has to begin with individuals — with you (Rom. 12:1-2). Whether you are a spouse, a parent, or a child, won’t you begin making the choices God says will build strong families today? “Choose this day whom you will serve…” —JB
God Give Us Christian Homes (2)
One of the most telling questions ever asked was, “What have they seen in your house?” (2 Kings 20:15). Has love been seen in your house lately? Have kindnesses been seen? Has Christ been seen in your house?
A Christ-centered home is a place where Jesus is evident. A plaque in one family’s home read:
Christ is the Head of this house; The silent Listener to every conversation; The unseen Guest at every meal.
When Jesus is present in our homes, His influence cannot be hidden (cf. Mark 2:1; 7:24). There is a genuine and urgent need for Christ to be seen in our homes today!
A Christ-centered home is a place of purpose — Joshua boldly declared to Israel: “Choose you this day whom you will serve… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). Building a home God’s way does not happen by accident or osmosis. We do not stumble and bumble our way into the kinds of loving relationships that God desires for us! Christ-centered homes take investment and planning. What is wrong in any home is the sum total of what’s wrong with the people that comprise that home. Therefore, we ought to be willing to examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5) and see where we are not manifesting the spirit of Christ in our thoughts, words, and behavior. There really IS hope for every home, but where there is genuine hope, there must always be genuine purpose (cf. Heb. 6:11-12).
A Christ-centered home is a place of blessing — Jesus’ presence in our home means that life is not just good, but abundant (John 10:10). The principles that God desires to see in our homes bring dignity through wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (Prov. 24:3-4). In the word of God, husbands learn how to love their wives in a way that blesses them (Eph. 5:25). Wives learn to love their husbands in a blessing way as well (1 Pet. 3:1-6). Parents who emphasize Christ-likeness in their lives will inevitably bless their children (Prov. 22:6), and children who desire to honor God will bless their parents through honor and obedience (Eph. 6:1-3). Wouldn’t it be great if every home was a place of genuine blessing? God truly blesses whatever He is allowed to build (Ps. 127:1)!
A Christ-centered home is a place of possibility — When Jesus is properly emphasized in our homes, family members are actively encouraged to grow in grace and knowledge (cf. 2 Pet. 3:18). The kind of love that is involved in a Christ-centered home is the kind of love that believes the best about others and likewise brings out the best in others (1 Cor. 13:8). Too many homes are places where “discouraging words” are the norm: sarcasm, put-downs, and harsh criticism are all to common. On the other hand, in Christ-centered homes, careful attention is given to kindness, tenderheartedness, and genuine forgiveness (Eph. 4:32). If God sees us not just for what we are, but also for what we can be, wouldn’t it be great if we could learn to see the people in our homes the same way? Godly homes encourage each member to develop his or her potential in the Lord.
Is your home Christ-centered? If not, things can be different! Like Joshua, you need today to make a choice about whom you will serve, for Christ-centered homes do not happen by accident. Make a decision to stop tearing down others at home and bless them instead — teach them how much you love, value, and appreciate them. Help the people you live with to see Jesus in your home. I expect you’ll be genuinely surprised at the results! —JB
God Give Us Christian Homes (3)
If I could convince people of any one principle concerning the home, it would be this: things really can be different in your home. No matter how broken, bruised, and damaged our relationships might be, Jesus can truly help and heal if we will let Him. His power is made available to us through His mighty word, and His desire is that we listen and obey what He teaches concerning the home (cf. Jn. 14:15). Jesus says that His word brings, “everlasting life,” a phrase that expresses not just quantity, but quality of life (Jn. 12:48-50).
The Bible speaks of a woman who had the twelve-year issue of blood and had, “spent all her livelihood on physicians, but could not be healed by any” (Luke 8:43). However, when she demonstrated faith in the Great Physician, He did for her what no other could do — he healed her (Luke 8:44-47). While there may be some limited benefit in “spending all our livelihood” on books, counselors, and the like, only submission to Jesus and His word can truly fix what is broken in our homes.
God’s word provides hope for the home: things can be different.
Things can be different when we obey God’s voice (James 1:22) — Is your home a place where God’s word is heard consistently? God told the families of Israel to, “hear” (Deut. 6:4). There are many families where God’s name might be mentioned often, but are our families really doing what He says? For example, we might have read in Scripture how God wants us to treat our spouses, our children, or our parents, but have we really put God’s word into practice? Obeying God’s voice is a matter of obtaining information and then properly applying it. As we seek to know God’s will, our families need to be concerned about what we are hearing (Mark 4:24). Do you work in your home to make sure that God’s will and word are a part of your family’s daily hearing? Families also need to be concerned about how we hear (Luke 8:18). Is there an eagerness in your home to do the will of God (Ps. 40:8)? The Bible calls people who pay attention to God’s word, “noble” (Acts 17:11). While it is true that things can be different in every home, there will never be substantial change to the glory of God until we genuinely obey what Jesus has to say concerning our homes!
Things can be different when we love God fervently (Deut. 6:5) — Hypocrisy in the home will destroy relationships. Unfortunately, too many parents and spouses make a mere pretense of loving God, while our lives might demonstrate that our real priorities are elsewhere. Children can spot hypocrisy in an instant! As one writer put it, “You can con a con, and fool a fool, but you can’t kid a kid!” Too many parents are consistently hypocritical in the home, and then later many wonder why their children grow up and depart from the Lord. God says, “love Me with all your heart, soul, and strength.” Our family members see a side of us that others rarely do, and they will know immediately if we are sincere and genuine in our desire to follow Jesus. Loving God and building Christ-centered homes is a matter of integrity — doing the right thing because it is right, even if nobody outside our homes would ever find out. Do you love God like that? Do not misunderstand: we are not discussing sinless perfection in our love for God. However, is it clearly evident to your family that you are honestly and consistently trying to be faithful to Jesus Christ? Do your kids know that honoring God is a priority with you? Does your spouse know and see it? “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7) — does your family see you putting up much of a fight? Jesus can transform our homes into places of purpose, blessing, and possibility, but we must let Him have His way in our homes! —JB
God Give Us Christian Homes (4)
It almost goes without saying that the American home is in crisis. It seems that our culture has adopted the foolishness of the Israelites in the days when, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Here is food for thought: the decline of some of the greatest civilizations in world history (e.g. Egypt, Greece, Rome) corresponds directly with a decline in how those cultures viewed the home. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
God intended our homes to be places of companionship and blessing (cf. Gen. 2:18ff). How we have distorted His will! Too many children seek refuge away from home, and too many busy families appear view the home as a mere place to eat and sleep. God desires so much more for our homes!
God intends our homes to be places of remembrance (Deut. 6:6) — “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” Godly homes especially remember three things. First, they remember God and His loving concern for them. Families remember God when they make worship a priority (Heb. 10:25), and when they demonstrate that God always gets the first place in our hearts and lives (Matt. 6:33). Second, Godly homes make an effort to remember God’s principles. “Thy word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11). We remember the principles of God’s will when we choose what is noble and right — even when it sometimes hurts to do so (Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12; Matt. 5:10-12). People in Christ-centered homes know that true love requires sacrifice. Third, there is also a diligent effort in Godly homes to remember each other. Remembering each other is sometimes best accomplished by establishing and maintaining healthy family traditions. God gave the families of Israel a yearly “family tradition” of sorts. At Passover, the children would traditionally ask, “what does this mean?” and then the parents were tell the great story of God’s deliverance from Egypt (Ex. 13:14ff). Godly homes seek the kinds of traditions by which every family member learns his or her value to God and to the other members of the family. Is your home a place where the really important things in life are continually remembered?
God intends our homes to be places of teaching (Deut. 6:7-9) — “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit… when you walk… when you lie down… when you rise up…” God’s first and best means for teaching the Bible is the home. Too many parents seem to have abdicated their responsibility in this department, and so they let the Lord’s church shoulder the load of teaching their families what God’s word says. Friends, weekly Bible classes, while important and necessary, are merely supplements to the teaching that ought to be occurring in the home daily. Israelites were commanded to teach with diligence. Just as parents don’t give up instructing a toddler who repeatedly makes poor decisions, so parents should be diligent in teaching older children how to make good spiritual decisions as well! God also commanded the Israelites to teach everywhere. The church building should not be the only place where kids hear or see Scripture! Put God’s word in the car, on the refrigerator, on the bathroom mirror — everywhere! Talk to your family about what God’s word teaches. Talk about it at dinner, at bedtime, on the way to school — teach them everywhere!
It is impossible to pass on to our families a faith that we do not possess ourselves. If your faith and obedience to God are not genuine, the change in your home needs to start with you. May God truly help us to build Christ-centered, loving and obedient homes! — JB