A Well-Managed Home-Part One
Scripture: 1 Timothy 3:4
A Well-Managed Home-Part OneI Timothy 3:4
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Pastor Randy Smith
If you begin reading your Bible from the beginning, it won't take long before you see God's special concern for the family. After He created the world, He created two people (Gen. 1.27). And soon after he created man and woman, He brought them together to become one flesh in holy matrimony. They were called to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). Everything was very good (Gen 1:31).
Unfortunately, what God intended for good, soon became corrupted. The marriage partners disobeyed God (Gen. 3:6). They began to doubt and blame each other (Gen. 3:12). Their children experienced vicious conflict among themselves (Gen. 4:8). The family, the treasure of God's creation, was in no time in chaos.
Unfortunately the times have not changed regarding the family. What was intended to reflect God's glory to the world lives contently without any evidence of His presence. What was intended to bring joy to humanity experiences heart-wrenching pain and agony. What was intended to provide unity and support witnesses disloyalty, divorce, run-a-ways and rejection. And unrivaled in past generations, the sanctity of marriage and the biblical distinction between the genders is standing on the precipice of extinction.
The family as we now it is in serious trouble. Reason being is because the family is failing to function as God designed it. Possibly we can expect this from the world, but all to often the Christian family is no better. Possibly it is due to the absence of sound examples or biblical instruction. Possibly it is due to sheer laziness or the love for sin. Yet for whatever the reason, I am convinced that most Christian homes are not glorifying the Lord and are not experiencing the satisfaction and the joy that God intends.
I am not implying that Christian families don't experience the problems that worldly families encounter. We too have to deal with death and illness. We too have to deal with broken appliances, rising fuel costs and unreasonable neighbors. We too have to deal with poor report cards, difference in opinions and balancing busy schedules. Yet there is something different about the Christian family. For God has given us grace. And God has given us principles in the Bible that can help us weather these storms and even overcome them. Yet I believe in many Christian homes the grace is never utilized and the principles we employ come more from the world than God's Word.
That's why for quite some time it has been pressing on my heart to devote one month to break from our study in Matthew and focus on Christian living in the home. And after much thought and prayer on seeking how to package this material, I settled on 1 Timothy 3:4 as a foundation. "He (the pastor) must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity" (cf. 1 Tim. 3:12).
Now you might be wondering why I chose a verse related to the qualification of a pastor for Christian living in the home? The reason being is all these qualification contained in 1 Timothy 3 (and Titus 1) are expected for allChristians. The Apostle Paul is only saying to be sure we chose men for leadership that demonstrate these traits! Or as D.A. Carson once put it, "The remarkable thing about the pastor qualifications is that they are not remarkable (quoted from memory)." In other words, every Christian family must be a well-managed home.
Though our sermons over the next four weeks will flesh this out, for now allow me to say we are talking about a home that is orderly. It is a home that demonstrates the balance between mercy and firmness, between compassion and justice and between forbearance and confrontation. It is a home that biblically resolves conflict, builds unity, maintains love, promotes Scripture, rewards service, accepts responsibility, values fun and exalts Christ.
The same Greek word (oikos) translated here (in verse 4) "household" (or "family"-NIV) is the same Greek word used in verse 15 as a metaphor for the church. The implication is that the family should be a "little church." The only way we can have a strong church is to have the main church composed of a lot of strong little churches.
That's why dads like Eli from 1 Samuel are held out as a failure when they "honor (their kids) above (God)" (1 Sam. 2:29), and when they refuse to correct their disorderly conduct (1 Sam. 3:31). God wants order in the home. The home is the testing ground for all of us. The home is where we are all called to prove faithfulness. That's why Paul logically said in 1 Timothy 3:5, "But if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?"
God expects our homes to be well-managed. I've briefly covered the word "manage." Yet I have not spoken of word "well." The Greek word is kalos. I can still remember when I memorized hundreds of Greek words in Bible College. Kalos was one of my vocabulary words the week I suggested to Julie that we name our second daughter "Kayla." Kalos means "good" or "beautiful." And as we begin this series, it is my prayer that we will realize a well-managed home is good and beautiful.
I am convinced this is God's will. And I am convinced that when we walk by the Spirit and abide in His Word, by His grace, we can produce homes that exalt Christ and bring us much happiness.
Our time is very limited this morning, but to commence this series I will present the first and arguably the most important aspect of a well-managed home: A well-managed home is loving.
I will draw much of my material this morning from Paul's letter to the Ephesians.
1. A WELL-MANAGED HOME IS LOVING
The Bible says that "God is love" (1 Jn. 4:8). Throughout the early chapters of Ephesians, we read much about God's love for His people. 1:4-5 says, "In love He predestined us." 2:4 speaks of His "great love with which He loved us" through the grace found in Christ Jesus. 3:19 calls us "to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge." And 5:1-2 tells us to "be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved (us) and gave Himself up for us."
Did you observe the sequence? Loved before you were born-before you had done anything good or bad (cf. Rom. 9:11). That's unconditional love. And loved in providing Christ for your redemption. That's sacrificial love. We are to experience this love, know this love and then imitate God and showing this same love to others. Summary: Receive this love, extend this love!
Ephesians covers three spheres of where this love should especially be extended: One, we are to love God. 6:24, Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. Two, we are to love the church. 4:16 speaks of the "growth of the (church) for the building up of itself in love" (cf. 1:15). And three, we are to love our own family members. For example, three times in chapter 5 husbands are commanded to love their wives (5:25, 28, 33).
A well-managed home is an environment where love prevails. Allow me to expand that thought with some practical application. I only have time to hit the first sub-point this morning.
First, a loving home is a place where affection rules.
In Ephesians 5:28-29 husbands are commanded "to love their own wives as their own bodies." Paul says, "He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church."
Men, the examples given in this passage are very convicting! Think about how much you "nourish and cherish" your bodies. Think about how much Jesus Christ "nourishes and cherishes" the church. When we consider ourselves with our physical body and Christ with His spiritual body, tremendous affection takes place.
We must emulate the affection of God. I like what we read in Deuteronomy 10:15: "Yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them."
I am concerned that many family members in Christian circles in seeking to rebel against a "feeling-orientated" love have removed all feelings from their love. I am convinced that love is a duty, but I am also convinced that we have a duty to delight in the one being loved.
Wives, do the compulsory flowers on Valentine's Day bring you more honor than the husband who "cherishes" your heart on a regular basis? Children, do the tickets to Great Adventure mean more to you than the mom or dad who "nourishes" your soul by listening to all your stories with interest and delight? Family members, we are called to "love," but we are also called to "like!"
Is their an affectionate love in your family? Do you like one another? Is it evident to all?
Here is one way to start: Men, did you know that one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is a loving relationship with their mother? And wives vice versa! Do your children know that your relationship with your spouse is more important than your relationship with them?
Julie and I have made it a point since the time we were married to schedule dates with each other. Periodically breaking free from the children went well until Julie began to homeschool the kids. Being with her all day they became so attached that they cried whenever she departed. This gave me a tremendous opportunity to explain to my children that our time together alone as a married couple was important. And even though we love them very much, they would have to put aside their feelings. For actions that might prevent Julie and I from being together would not be tolerated.
Do your children see the two of you as "best friends?" Children learn much when they hear the tender words and see the outward displays of affection, but they also find a steady environment that each of them so deeply crave.
Elton Trueblood said, "It is the father's responsibility to make the child know that he is deeply in love with the child's mother. There is no good reason why all evidence of affection should be hidden or carried on in secret. A child who grows up with the realization that his parents are lovers has a wonderful basis of stability" (The Recovery of the Family, p. 94).
Model it parents! We need affectionate homes. C.S. Lewis once said, "Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives."
Imagine a home where everyone felt emotionally safe-where each family member was appreciated and accepted and respected. Imagine a home that enjoyed each other's company and laughed at their silly inside jokes and was able to have fun in the most simplistic environment. Imagine a home where everyone rallied around someone hurt and everyone rejoiced when someone succeeded. Imagine a home where chores were done voluntarily and forgiveness was offered frequently and communication was conducted joyfully. Is this not the home of affection that your heart desires?
You might be saying, "Yes, but we don't know how to achieve it!" Allow me to say for starters that these homes don't happen naturally. Like a garden that goes without discipline and dedication, weeds and chaos are the natural by-products of a home that is not well-managed. There is no easy four-step procedure. It takes work and skill and time and dedication and humility.
I believe the best way to have an affectionate home is to first understand and then practice the affections of Christ. If you are not growing in your knowledge and experience of God's love personally, you will not have the know-how or the strength to manifest it with your family. Second, I would encourage you to spend not only quality time but also quantity time with your family. It's like Paul said to the Philippians, "I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:8). Or as he said to the Thessalonians, "Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us" (1 Thes. 2:8).
Here are some ideas for you to consider to build family affection:
Make it a point to eat dinners together. This is a tremendous time to engage in meaningful communication. Families are great at talking but very few have any idea of what it really means to communicate - the mutual sharing of our thoughts and ideas and feelings. Discuss the day without interrupting each other. Teach without lecturing. Correct without running roughshod over another's opinion. Create an atmosphere that is calm and cheerful and fun and positive, and definitely one that does not compete with outside distractions like a television set or out-of-control telephone. It's not easy with the busyness of our schedules nowadays, but I believe it is imperative to guard this sacred time.
Also, make every effort to do things together as a family. Break away from the modern technological devices that promote isolationism and find activities that your family enjoys doing together.
Plan a vacation each year. And make it a point to be together on the vacation! Recently, a fellow pastor from the community informed me that he would be attending the same Bible Conference that we as elders of this church are planning to attend. Currently we have one room to share among the three of us. He kindly offered to allow one of us to stay off the cot and join him in his room. Though I appreciated his suggestion, I declined his invitation. I informed him that this is a time for us to build unity and therefore we needed to be together.
Family vacations will never provide a greater opportunity to be together 24 hours a day. It's the best time to give undivided, unrushed a relaxed attention to one another. It's a great way to build family camaraderie.
I can still remember the memories we built as a family when driving through West Virginia. It was getting late and we need to find a campsite. Eventually we were directed to a real remote location, the kind of place were there is only a metal box to collect you money when you arrive. My kids still talk about "going to bathroom in the hole" and "swimming in the 'crick'" when we joined some local residents for an evening dip.
Also, intentionally schedule regular outings for the family-anything from a day-trip to a game of croquet in the backyard. I am convinced that the best activities that build family affection are often minimal in expense or entirely free.
Climb a lighthouse. Walk the beach. Visit an historical site. Go for a car or bike ride. Find a new nature preserve. Play flashlight tag. Play board games. Catch lightning bugs. Build sand castles. Go out for ice cream in your pajamas. Pitch a tent in your backyard…
All these events are saying, "I choose to spend time with you." I choose to give to you my most valuable commodity-time." That says worlds about our priorities!
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. But even the failed activities bring success because they develop family character and oftentimes leave behind the best stories, if we are humble enough to laugh at ourselves.
Keep it varied. Keep it exciting. Keep it creative. Keep it deliberate and yet spontaneous. These are the events your family will remember for a lifetime.
It is important that our families are affectionate (cf. Phil. 2:1). And lest anyone think I jettisoned the Bible for the closing twenty percent of the sermon, I was only fleshing out Ephesians 4:32: "Be kind to one another (and) tender-hearted," treating each other as Christ treats us. As our affection for one another grows, we will be more loving. And as our family grows in mutual love, our home will be well-managed for our joy and God's glory.