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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at Life BPC 10.30am service, 2003-05-11

Text: Colossians 3:16-21

As today is Mother's Day I think it would appropriate for us to meditate on what the Bible says about the home. Hence, the topic for our message this morning is 'Recipe for a Godly Home.' God wants us to build godly homes for Him because our family life is important to Him. This can be seen in the way that God dealt with families in the Bible. When God called Abraham to go to the Land of Promise, he included the promise that 'in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.' (Genesis 12:3) When the Gospel of Christ was preached by Paul at Philippi, it brought not just individuals to salvation, but their families as well. This was the case with a woman named Lydia, and with the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:15,33). And when God gave instructions to His people in His Word on how they should live, He included instructions on their family life as well. All these go to show us that God has a claim upon your home. He wants you to make your home a godly home. But you need the right ingredients to do this. What are the ingredients that must be used to build a godly home? 

I. Jesus Christ must be the Head of the Home

The first ingredient is found in Colossians 3:16,17 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.' 

You will notice that Jesus is mentioned no less than 3 times in these two verses. This indicates His pre-eminence within the church. His Word must dwell in every heart; His praise should sound from everyone's lips, and His Name should be honoured by everyone's works! But this also applies to the home, since each Christian family is a subunit of the family of God which is the church. The Lord is therefore the most important member of the home. Even though He may not be visible, He must be given the greatest honour and respect by all in the home. In some Christian homes, you may find a plaque that reads, 'Christ is the Head of this House, the Unseen Guest at every meal, and the Silent Listener to every conversation.' And He must be loved more than anyone else, even more than one's spouse, one's children or one's parents. It is this common love that all family members have for God that binds them all together. It is the mainstay or backbone of the family. And if the ideal situation is achieved, where all members of the family are equally and fully committed to the Lord, then that love becomes the strongest force that can bind the family and keep it from disintegrating despite any trial or crisis. 

But how can such a home be realized? It will not come about without effort. Efforts must be made to cultivate the knowledge of God and love for God in every member of the home. A godly home cannot be built and maintained without this. This is why you need to do what v.16 says, 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom'. The Word of God must be read, taught and studied not only in church, but even at home. And this is not only to be done individually, when each family member has his or her own quiet time with God, but also together as a family. 

Unfortunately this important principle of family religion is being neglected in many Christian homes today, even in the families of our own church. Everyone is so busy, that many families today do not even sit down to have a meal together. Either they come back home at different times, or they quickly heat up a meal and plunge themselves in front of the TV, hoping to catch their meal as well as the evening news or a favourite prime time TV show. And as they watch TV there is hardly any communication with each other. And the only time when there is any kind of meaningful conversation is when father or mother sits the child down to get him to do his school homework! The typical Singaporean family does not spend time together anymore. Parents are often too busy, and when they do have time, they are too tired from a hectic working day to communicate well.

What is the result of this on Christian homes? The result is that the spiritual nurture of the children is left to be done by the Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. And if children receive all their spiritual knowledge and values from sources outside the home, rather than in the home itself, then they may tend to dissociate spiritual things from the home environment. Such dissociation is unhealthy, and will certainly not help to build a godly home. Let us therefore make time to bring the teaching of God's Word right into our own homes. How wonderful it is to have a home where family members take delight in opening the scriptures together and talking about the things of God in moments of family devotions! 

Thus we have seen that the first and most important ingredient in the recipe for a godly home is that Jesus must be the head of the home, and that His Word must dwell richly within the whole family. We come now to the second ingredient, which is found in v.18:

II. The Wife Should Submit to Her Husband

v.18 'Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.' Wifely submission is not a very popular concept in the world today. Some would even consider the idea offensive, old fashioned and even unjust. But every Christian wife is commanded in the scriptures to submit to her husband. There are some today who do not think that this command, and even the biblical model for marriage should be taken seriously anymore, especially with regard to the husband's leadership role. They claim that this model for marriage was actually the outcome of the male-dominated society that existed in Bible times, and it is therefore just a cultural phenomenon. Times have now changed. Men and women are equal in all aspects. 

Hence they believe that the leadership role in the family should not be restricted to the husband any more. And they say that those who keep on insisting that leadership in the home belongs to the men, are too old-fashioned and outdated. The way to settle this issue is to ask: Is the biblical role of the husband merely a temporary cultural phenomenon, or is it based on something more than that? To find the answer, let us read 1 Corinthians 11:3 'But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.' In this verse, Paul argues for the man's headship. He does it by comparing it with two other headships: the headship of Christ over man, and the headship of God the Father over Christ. These two headships will never change, because they are not cultural, but essential. 

This implies that the headship of the man in the family is also not cultural but essential. It applies to marriage in every age - ancient times as well as modern times. It is the God-given order for marriage, and it is sinful to go against it. This does not mean that wives are considered to be inferior in the Bible. Before God, husbands and wives stand on the same footing, as 1 Peter 3:7 says that they are 'heirs together of the grace of life.'

Moreover, it is significant that in 1 Cor 11:3 the headship of husband over the wife should be compared with the headship of God the Father over God the Son. We know that the distinction of the roles of the three Persons within the Godhead does not in anyway diminish the deity or importance of any one of them. Therefore when wives submit to the headship of their husbands, this submision does not diminish their personal standing and importance before God.

But the questioned that we should ask is: What kind of submission is this? Does it mean that a wife must give up all her initiative and creativity? Not at all. In fact a wife can be very creative and have much initiative within her submissive role, like the 'virtuous woman' in Proverbs 31:10-31. The Christian wife is to submit lovingly and willingly to her husband, in the same way that she would submit to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The Christian wife must always recognize the fact that God has given her husband the role of leadership in the marriage, and she should never attempt to usurp this role. And the husband must not tempt his wife to usurp his role by neglecting his leadership role, leaving a leadership vacuum in the home that has to be filled. In many homes abdicating husbands are to be blamed for the disruption of the God-given order of leadership. And husbands must always exercise their leadership role not in a forceful or tyranical manner, but with love. This is the next ingredient in the recipe for a godly home that we want to consider:

III. The Husband Should Love His Wife

This ingredient is mentioned in v.19 'Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.' On their wedding day, all husbands will most gladly say 'I will' to this requirement, especially when they see their bride all dressed in a beautiful wedding gown smiling demurely at them. But when the initial excitement of the wedding is over, and the routine of living together sets in, all the faults and weaknesses of each person's character will become apparent. Then, the feelings of love may change into feelings of bitterness. It is against this that the Word of God here says to husbands, 'love your wives, and be not bitter against them.'

This love must be characterised by commitment. In Christian marriage, love means being firmly committed to one another, regardless of how one may feel about the other. Little irritations and strange habits may change the way that one feels about the other. The husband may feel irritated that his wife is not as punctual as he would like her to be, and the wife may feel irritated that her husband is not as neat and tidy as she would like him to be. I once read a story of how a couple argued on how a toilet roll should be placed on the holder - one prefers the paper to roll off in front, the other prefers the paper to roll off behind. Dearly beloved, feelings may change with time. But if there is commitment, then your love for each other would still remain strong and steadfast, despite any change of feelings. 

Besides Commitment there must also be an element of Constructiveness in a husband's love doe his wife. Let those who are husbands here realize that you ought to do everything you can to be a constructive influence in the life of your wife, to build her up, being sensitive to her many needs - physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. There is one way to know that you really love your wife: When meeting her personal needs becomes as important to you as meeting your own personal needs.

When God created the first woman and brought her to Adam, the first thing that he said was, 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' This is because Eve was made from Adam's rib. Every husband should think of his wife like this. She is the bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. She has become a part of himself, and he must therefore take very good care of her. Let all of us who are husbands therefore not fail to keep this commandment that God has given to us in v.19, 'Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.' Now that we have seen the first three ingredients for a godly home we come to the last two ingredients, which deal with the relationship of parents and children. 

IV. Children Should Obey Their Parents

V.20 'Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.' This command to children is so important that God made it one of the Ten Commandments. I think we all know about the Fifth commandment which says, 'Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.' (Exodus 20:12)

In the New Testament, the importance of the fifth commandment can be seen in the obedience of Jesus to Mary and Joseph. According to Luke 2:51, Jesus as a child was subject unto His earthly parents. In the Old Testament we have the example of Isaac which is described in Genesis 22:8-9 - 'And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood' The obedience of Isaac in this instance enabled his father to obey God's instructions. Isaac was already old enough to have refused to be bound and placed on the altar. But he chose to honour his father with his obedience. He also shared his father's faith that God would provide a sacrifice. And God blessed Isaac as he grew up to inherit all the precious promises that God had made to his father.

Children who obey their parents like this will also be blessed in another way. They will grow up to understand obedience to authority, and obedience to God. They will not become rebellious, trouble-making misfits, but good law-abiding citizens. This helps them to live a life of tranquillity that would tend to prolong their life. This is why the fifth commandment is accompanied with a promise of long life. 

Now, if children are left to themselves without any instruction on the fifth commandment, they will not naturally develop such obedience to their parents. They need to be taught to obey them. They need to be encouraged and at times even disciplined to submit to parental authority. And it is the responsibility of parents to do these things. This brings us now to look at the parents� role toward their children.

V. Parents Should Love and Nurture their Children

v.21 'Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.' The same command is found in Ephesians 6:4 but with something extra added to it 'And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.' Although only the fathers are addressed here, it is understood that mothers are also involved in the care and upbringing of the children. In fact mothers are usually the ones who are left to provide the children with the care and nurture they need. Many fathers are so busy with their work and so tired when they come home, that they hardly spend any quality time with their children. When the children come to them for help or just for companionship, they scold the children for bothering them. When the children make a little too much noise, they scold the children for disturbing their rest. Such treatment will only discourage their children from getting close to their fathers, and worse still, it will provoke them to anger - anger that their father does not love them or care for them.

God wants those of you here who are fathers to take your parenting role seriously. Together with your wife, you should regard your children as God�s precious gifts that are entrusted to your care. And you must do your best to love them and nurture them well, to build them up for God. One good example in the Bible of a good father is Abraham. God gave him a son in his old age that was named Isaac. Abraham loved Isaac and provided for his son's needs - even to the extent of finding a suitable wife for him. He taught Isaac all that he knew about God and His covenant with them. That's how Isaac later on knew enough to continue in the same covenant relationship with God that Abraham had enjoyed.

Imagine what would have happened if Abraham had been too busy (like many fathers today) to spend time with his son - the line of redemption would have come to an early end! 

As a loving father, Abraham probably took the young boy Isaac with him whenever he went out to tend to his flocks. He would talk with him about God, and he would answer whatever questions his inquisitive son would ask him. His son would also be there with him when he worshipped God in the offering of animal sacrifices. Abraham made sure that his son knew every detail about the whole procedure - how to bind the lamb, cut it and lay it on the altar with the firewood, and then calling upon the Lord in prayer. And Isaac later knew the whole procedure so well that when they went to Mt Moriah he observed that his aged father had forgotten the most important item for the sacrifice - the lamb! And Abraham replied that God would provide one for Himself, which was actually fulfilled. 

And when Isaac realized on the mount that he was the sacrificial lamb, his response revealed the very strong bond he enjoyed with his father. Although he was probably able to outrun his hundred year old Dad quite easily, he chose to submit himself to him without any struggle or resistance. As Abraham commanded him, 'Isaac my son, go up on to the altar and lie down there' Isaac willingly gave his life to his father to be used as a sacrifice to God.

That event on mount Moriah did not only reveal Abraham's obedience to God. It also revealed Abraham's success as a parent. Here was a father who, as God had said, would 'command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment' (Genesis 18:19). Abraham had successfully taught Isaac how to obey the Lord, and Isaac knew that he must obey God, even if it had to cost him his life.

Abraham had taken such great care in building up Isaac for God, loving him, teaching him, and providing for his needs, because Isaac was God's precious gift to him. And that is the way that we who are parents ought to regard our children - They are God's precious gifts to us. 

Another child in the Bible who was also a precious gift from God was Samuel, the son of Hannah. While Abraham serves as a pattern for fathers in this aspect, Hannah serves as a pattern for all mothers. Like Abraham, Hannah initially had no children to build up for the Lord, but after her fervent prayers, the Lord graciously gave her a boy named Samuel. Like Abraham, Hannah was willing to give her son to the Lord. In fact she gave him the best care a mother at that time could give to her son until he was old enough to serve the Lord at the Tabernacle.

From looking at the life of Abraham and of Hannah we learn that we should not look upon children as heavy burdens that we are responsible to bear, but as precious lives have been entrusted to our care for a time. Psalm 127:3 'Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.' They are given for us to build, to mould, and to train them well. Let us build a strong bond of trust with each child we have, and carefully teach them to love the Lord.

As we conclude our message on 'Recipe for a Godly Home' let us summarise the five ingredients that we need - The first and most important ingredient we need is to have Jesus Christ as the Head of the Home. Secondly, The wife should fulfill her role of loving submission toward her Husband. Thirdly, the husband should love his wife. Fourthly, the children should obey their parents, and lastly, parents should love and nurture their children.

Now that you have found all the ingredients for a godly home, please use them well to build your own homes into godly homes. Some of you may say, 'It is not easy for me to do this. You don't know what my husband is like, or You don't know what my wife is life. You don-t know what my children are like.' Dearly beloved, the first person to change is yourself. As you change your attitude and conduct at home, and earnestly ask God to work in your family, the rest of the family members will gradually change as well. Share what you have learned today with them and encourage them to follow these principles. Don't give up hope when you face difficulties in building a godly home. And most of all, trust God to help you to overcome all the obstacles.

 

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25