A Well-Managed Home-Part Two
Scripture: 1 Timothy 3:4
A Well-Managed Home-Part Two1 Timothy 3:4
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Pastor Randy Smith
I always find it fascinating how the leader of a baseball team differs from leaders in every other sport. As far as I can recall the others are called "coaches," but he alone is called a "manager." He is intimately with his team in their enclosed dugout. He enters the playing field throughout the game. He is not in a suit but rather dressed in a full uniform similar to his players. And he even blows bubbles and spits sunflower seeds like the rest of his team. He is appropriately called a "manager." I'll come back to that.
If you are joining us for the first time, we are currently taking a brief break from our study in Matthew to devote a few weeks to Christian living in the home. And as I informed you last week, our foundational verse for this series is 1 Timothy 3:4: "He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity." Today we will look at part 2 of a well-managed home.
In order to have a God-glorifying and healthy home, it is rather self-evident that our homes must be well-managed. From the positive side: in order. From the negative side: without chaos. Yet this characteristic which seems so obvious is often lacking in many families.
Back to my opening comments: Could you imagine a baseball manager who couldn't get his team to arrive at the ballpark on time? Yet many families have developed a reputation for being late for everything. Could you imagine a baseball manager who permitted his players to publicly criticize their teammates? Yet many families cast negative remarks behind each other's backs and think nothing of it. Could you imagine a baseball manager who never met with his team for instruction, practice and encouragement? Yet many families never have the time to read the Bible, pray, discuss personal issues and attend church on the Lord's Day. Could you imagine a baseball manager who ignored his authority to oversee the team and let the players do whatever they wanted? Yet many families have either ignored or abdicated the need for biblical roles, responsibility and discipline. Could you imagine a baseball manager who permitted his team to carry on in a spirit of individualism or disunity? Yet many families never spend the quality time together to build cohesive and durable relationships.
If our baseball manager acted this way, how victorious do you think his team would become? Moreover, what would you think of the manager himself and the owner of the organization?
Yet many home managers demonstrate this conduct and then wonder why there is so little victory in their household. Additionally, parents (especially the fathers) fail to see the negative image that is cast upon themselves and their Owner, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they claim to represent.
I hope we will understand the need to have well-managed homes.
1. A WELL-MANAGED HOME IS LOVING
Last week we began the first and arguably most significant aspect of a well-managed home. We said that a well-managed home is loving. Please open your Bibles again to the book of Ephesians.
Paul has much to say about the topic of love in his letter to the church at Ephesus. He informs us in 2:4 that God loves us with a "great love." In 3:19 we are called to "know the love of Christ." And in 5:1-2 we are to imitate God's love by loving others in a sacrificial way. It goes without saying that a home will not be pleasing to the Lord or successful if it fails to extend a Christlike love to its members. And according to our progression in Ephesians, receiving God's love, knowing God's love and extending God's love is the only solution.
To put some skin on this very misunderstood concept of love, I have provided three sub-points in your sermon outline. We will briefly review the first one that we looked at last week and then spend the remainder of our time examining the final two.
A loving home is a place where affection rules (review).
By way of review, we learned that a loving home is a place where affection rules.
Before we cover the sacrificial aspect of love, I want to make sure we understand that love is also to be affectionate. Love is to be "kind (and)…tender-hearted" (Ephesians 4:32). Love "nourishes and cherishes" (Ephesians 5:29). It is imperative that we as families seek to develop within our homes (and I am using biblical terms here) a spirit of compassion (Phil. 2:1) and tenderness (1 Thes. 2:7) and togetherness (2 Cor. 7:3) and enjoyment (Rom. 15:24) and trust (2 Tim. 4:16) and understanding (1 Pet. 3:7). Or as David Brainerd said, "A deep impassioned sympathetic love for human souls." It is imperative that we understand that truly loving one another includes liking one another.
In his book, The Practice of Godliness, Jerry Bridges said, "Love is very much a matter of actions rather than emotions. However, although this emphasis on acts of love is certainly necessary, we can sometimes give the impression that love doesn't involve any emotion-that it is entirely an act of the will, of one's duty, regardless of how one feels. We can even promote the "I can love him but I can't like him" type of attitude. The Bible does not support such an unbalanced concept of love…fervently, fondly, and affectionately (are used in the Bible) to describe the love Christians ought to have for one another… Obviously such a fervency of spirit cannot substitute for loving actions, but surely it should accompany them. We dare not settle for less" (p. 209-210).
Last week I informed you of two ways to cultivate this affectionate love.
First, we must experience and then practice the love of God. The only hope for extending love in this manner is to receive the affectionate love of God and then allow the Spirit to produce this love in you whereby it might flow from you to your dealings with others. Without an abiding relationship with the Living God, the love we are speaking about will be impossible.
Second, we must make the time and the effort to be together as a family. Everything from family worship to eating together to evening fun to day-trips to yearly vacations not only builds family affection but also provides the opportunity to extend family affection.
You have had seven days since our message on this topic. Has anything improved? Husbands and wives, children and parents, look each other in the eye and ask yourselves, Has anything improved? Did your family take even a small step over the past seven days to improve and display your affection? If it does not follow on the heels of a sermon like last week, doubtful it ever will.
A loving home is a place where giving is cheerful.
We must practice an affectionate love, but we must also remember that love is much more than a feeling. It is an action! For the second point, a loving home is a place where giving is cheerful.
Author Jay Adams remarked, "Love at first is not feeling. Love first can be expressed as giving. That is at the core of love. If one gives, the feeling of love will follow. To love we must give of ourselves, of our time, of our substance, of whatever it takes to show love; for giving is fundamental to the biblical idea of love" (Christian Living in the Home, p. 41).
It has been said, "You can always give without loving, but you can never love without giving" (Corrie ten Boom).
This concept is also clearly seen in our Ephesian text.
In 5:2 we are commanded to "walk in love." There is the command. Here is the example that follows: "Just as Christ also loved (us)." And how did Christ love us? "(He) gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God."
The way we are to love others is to follow the example of Jesus Christ. And according to the Scripture, Jesus Christ loved us by giving Himself up for us (cf. Jn. 3:16; Gal. 2:20; Rom. 12:20). The command to husbands later in the chapter is no different. 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her." The principle is clear. As God cheerfully and sacrificially gave Himself for us, in the same way we too are to demonstrate our love through the act of self-giving to others.
A well-managed home is where others understand and practice this concept with each other. Each family member considers the others more important than him or herself. There is commitment. There is a sincere interest and a cheerful desire to meet the needs of another that transcends feelings and personal interest.
A loving home is a place where discipline is enforced.
A loving home is a place where affection rules, giving of self occurs, and finally a place where discipline is enforced.
Let's go back to our text in Ephesians. In chapter 4, verse 15, we are called to "speak the truth in love." We have been talking about love. Here love is associated with "the truth."
The truth spoken of here is not as much honesty, although that is quite important (Eph. 4:25), as it is the need to proclaim and practice the teaching of Scripture. As Jesus said to the Father, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth" (Jn. 17:17). As Christians we are to search the truth, understand the truth, communicate the truth, defend the truth and apply the truth. What I am saying is this: The hallmark of every loving and well-managed Christian home is a firm, unwavering commitment to live out the truth - the teaching of Scripture.
As parents, it is our responsibility through words and example to uphold the truth for our children. Our home must be built on the rock of Jesus Christ. Scripture must be the ultimate authority in our daily conduct. God's ways must be a nonnegotiable. Regardless of what others do, our mantra must be akin to Joshua: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Jos. 24:15).
So if we "speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15) and have a great love to conduct our homes according to the truth, it is only natural that we will encourage our children when they obey the truth and discipline our children when they disobey the truth.
For without proper discipline, a righteous atmosphere will not prevail. And without proper discipline, love will not prevail either because discipline is the proof of our love (Heb. 12:6), and discipline is the tool to produce righteous living (Heb. 12:11). And isn't righteous living the most loving gift you can give your children? That is why Proverbs 23:13 says, "Do not hold back discipline from the child."
That was the long way to say something found right here in our letter to the Ephesians. In chapter 6, verse 4, we read, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
Although time permits me from an extended discussion on disciplining children, allow me to cite ten guidelines that are essential to a loving and well-managed home.
First, make sure your rules are from the Scriptures. Then when children violate these principles you must take them back to the Word of God to show them where their ultimate submission must be. Follow God's example. When God gives commands in the Bible, His rules are clearly presented along with the consequences for violating them. His commands are not burdensome (1 Jn. 5:3). Neither should ours be.
Second, provide for your children clear expectations.
For example, how do you expect your children to sit in church? Do you permit them to make noise whereby others are distracted? Do you expect your children to be more respectful of others in the movie theater than the corporate assembly? Do you permit them to squirm and fidget throughout the service? Are they allowed to melt off the pews like wax?
I can remember having our children just practice "sitting still" in our home. They can do it for a two-hour movie, why not a 45 minute sermon? Do you permit them to sleep in church? When is the appropriate age for children to begin sitting through the sermons? How much do you expect your children to comprehend from the message? Do you expect them to take notes? Do you expect them to serve? Do you expect them to be more alert and more engaged in school than they are in church? What expectations do you have in place to ensure your children are trained to be productive Christians in church once they are prepared to leave your home? Have you established any clear guidelines with your children regarding church life?
Third, make sure you follow through on your discipline in a way that is firm, fair and consistent. Anything less will, as Ephesians 6:4 says, "Provoke your children to anger."
Fourth, be a man or woman of your word. Expect immediate compliance from your children the moment you voice your expectation. None of this, "When Daddy counts to three," stuff! Teach them that God demands they honor your position, and He enforces it with a promise. Ephesians 6:1-3, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth." Teach them about God-appointed authority. This lesson not learned in the home later spills over to how they treat other individuals in authority: teachers, pastors, police officers, elected officials and Jesus Christ! In many homes I am afraid that children are controlling their parents more than parents are controlling their children.
Fifth, do not use something good as a form of discipline. I never understood why gym teachers have kids run laps or do push-ups when they get in trouble. For in doing so, students soon learn to associate these desired actions with nothing more than punishment. I assume our college football coach believed my thinking on this as well. Show up late for practice and you were enlisted on the "roll patrol." One-hundred years up and one-hundred yards back on the Astroturf in full pads. Believe me; you never made that mistake again.
Now I am not in any way suggesting that we resort to these tactics with our children! Yet we must refrain from using something good as a means of discipline. I already mentioned exercise, but I could include housework and excluded participation in family activities. On the other hand, I would encourage you to employ "the rod" for younger children and restitution for older ones. Both of these are very effective and both of these are very biblical. We will address this subject in further detail during our current Sunday school series.
Sixth, do not confuse punishment with discipline. I feel the following comparison is helpful: "There's a big difference between punishment and discipline. Punishment gives a negative consequence, but discipline means 'to teach.' Punishment is negative; discipline is positive. Punishment focuses on past misdeeds. Discipline focuses on future good deeds. Punishment is often motivated by anger. Discipline is motivated by love. Punishment focuses on justice to balance the scales. Discipline focuses on teaching, to prepare for next time" (Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, Home Improvement, The Parenting Book You Can Read to Your Kids). We are not called to punish our children. We are called to discipline our children.
Seventh, all discipline is ultimately intended to point out sin to reveal our child's need for a Savior. That is why we shepherd the heart and not the behavior. They need to realize that only Jesus can help them obey and only Jesus can forgive their sin and remove a guilty conscience. You see, the cross gives discipline an eternal purpose and the cross gives hope to the child being disciplined.
Eighth, all discipline should move from parental administered discipline to personal self-discipline and respecting God's discipline. Tight control when they are young to increased freedom when they display responsibility.
Ninth, parents must serve as a living example for the children. "Do as I say and not as I do" does not fly in the Christian household. Unless you wish to raise little Pharisees, parents must practice what they preach and uphold what they claim to enforce. Mom and Dad, hold each other accountable!
Tenth, to stay encouraged, keep the end picture in sight. It often seems the immediate progress does not outweigh the effort and heartache. Many battles will be lost, but the goal is to win the war. Have faith that conducting discipline God's way will reap the greatest benefits in the long run. I believe Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Imagine a home where wild kids in the background prevent you from hearing a phone conversation. Imagine a home where children are an embarrassment to have in public. Imagine a home where family trips become nothing more than selfish demands, arguments and complaining. Imagine a home where a child says, "We don't have to obey until mommy puts on her 'mean face.'" Imagine a home where parents have never earned the respect of their children.
I believe you would agree that these are not signs of a well-managed home. Proverbs 29:15b, "A child who gets his own way brings shame to his (parents)." Don't buy the lie that affectionate love and firm love contradict each other. To have order in the home, we must present clear biblical expectations and then enforce them with loving and affectionate discipline. It is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.
We have spoken on the topic of love this morning. Ephesians 5:2 articulates the command to "walk in love." Yet many poorly managed Christian homes fail to understand and practice biblical love. And God knows it! That is why I not surprised to see counterfeit love immediately identified here in chapter 5.
In verse 3 He mentions "immorality" which is a corrupt marital love and "impurity" which is an illicit love of evil and "greed" which is a love of material things. In verse 4 He also spoke against unloving actions such as "filthiness" and "silly talk" and "course jesting." In verse 6 He reminds us that these counterfeit forms of love only bring about "the wrath of God."
Yet, for us as Christians, verse 8, we are "Light in the Lord." We are to, verse 10, "learn what is pleasing to the Lord." We are, verse 18, to "be filled with the (Holy) Spirit."
And it's only after Paul explains true love, which is righteous living, and the empowerment to manifest this love in the Holy Spirit, does he launch in verse 22 his extended discussion on how the Christian family ought to operate.
And when our families do operate, may they operate in a loving environment-one where affection rules and giving is cheerful and discipline is enforced. For this is the character of a well-managed household.