I was reading a tract, “Being a Christian at home” by Melody Green. I would like to highlight some insights from it, which I believe are worthy of our consideration. In the tract, Green quotes a letter from a Christian mother that reflects the dilemma of many parents today:
“ … It seems that our sixteen year old likes to be responsible for either of our two cars but not for washing the dishes or cleaning the tub or setting the table – oh sure if we pay her to clean the house – she will vacuum – (but not very well). She feels she must love our neighbour, but not her nine-year-old sister. We find she speaks respectfully to those in church, but not to us. … There seems to be an 11th commandment, ‘Thou shalt work hard every place … except at home …’ And I’ve noticed among Christian teens it is a sport to slander their parents’ character, with tales of who’s the most severe, unreasonable and strict …”
This mother’s struggle with her teenager is a very real one. It is not easy to be a practising Christian at home. Indeed, the hardest testing ground for our faith is right in our own homes – with parents, siblings, spouse and children. These are the people who observe us at close range and see us as we really are.
The author aptly comments: “If we can’t prove our Christianity there, we can’t prove it anywhere! If we won’t go the extra mile for those we literally share our lives with, who are we trying to kid when we knock ourselves out by being ‘super spiritual’ at the Bible study.”
We may, by our outward piety, fool our friends at church, but at home, those who know us best see our “double life” – our murmurings, rudeness, stubbornness, self-centredness, and addiction to digital devices and television. Sadly, we are no better than the hypocritical religious leaders whom the Lord sharply rebuked and condemned (Matt 23: 27-28). If our family members were called upon to testify of the reality of our faith, how would they rate us?
A word to children
It takes only one discordant life in a household to mar the harmony of the home. Examine ourselves and ensure that our life is not the one that causes family friction. Take time to consider our conduct and our relationship with those closest to us. Study the following checklist (adapted from the tract) and determine to practise our faith, starting with the home.
1. Do you love and respect your parents (whether Christian or non-Christian)?
2. Do you accept them with all their faults and weaknesses?
3. Do you slander them behind their back or lie to them?
4. Do you sulk and argue when you cannot have your way?
5. Do you subject them to your moods?
6. Do you take them for granted, believing that they have to accept your bad behaviour just because you are their child?
7. Do you resent having to help out with household chores? Do you do these duties in a sloppy, half-hearted way?
8. Do you respond to their correction with a proud and scornful heart?
9. Are you a blessing or a bane at home?
10. Do you spend time with the Lord?
If we have fallen short of God’s calling in our homes, let us repent. Let us seek God’s forgiveness, as well as the forgiveness of those whom we have hurt or offended.
Remember the biblical command for children: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Eph 6: 1-3). This is the first great duty which God has enjoined on children because “the good order of a family, and hence of the community, depends on it; no community or family being prosperous where there is not due subordination in the household … No child that is disobedient to a parent will be obedient to God; and that child that is most obedient to a father and mother will be most likely to become a Christian, and an heir of Heaven. And it may be observed, in general, that no disobedient child is virtuous, prosperous, or happy. Every one foresees the ruin of such a child; and most of the cases of crime that lead to the penitentiary, or the gallows, commence by disobedience to parents” (Albert Barnes).
Young people, let us cultivate a humble heart and a lowly mind. Let us put away our love for self; seek to love our family members and be a blessing to them: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven” (Matt 5: 16). May our loved ones see the love and grace of Christ through our daily lives. Amen.