Practising our faith at home is one of the most difficult things for a Christian to do. Family members observe our lives at close range and see our true colours – the quick temper, bad moods, rudeness, selfishness, addictions, slothfulness and hypocrisy.
As noted in our article last week, young people often find it hard to manifest Christian behaviour at home. In fact, this is also the struggle of every family member, even Christian parents.
Leading our children to Christ involves much more than just guiding them through a simple prayer. We must be living examples of our faith by showing them what it means to walk with Christ daily. This means practising our faith where it matters most – before our watching children. This means teaching them to view things from God’s perspective, showing mercy, extending forgiveness, asking for forgiveness and encouraging them to love the Lord – in short, living out God’s Word in our daily lives.
“A Christian home is a place for the parents themselves to grow – to grow into beauty of character, to grow in spiritual refinement, in knowledge, in strength, in wisdom, in patience, gentleness, kindliness, and all the Christian graces and virtues. It is a place for children to grow – grow into physical vigour and health and to be trained in all that shall make them true and noble men and women … There is no inheritance which the richest parent can bequeath to a child, which can compare for one moment with the influence and blessing of a truly godly home! It gives to the whole trend of the life, away into the eternal years, such a direction and such an impulse that no after-influence, no false teachings, no terrific temptation, no darkening calamity, can ever altogether turn it away from its course. For a time it may be drawn aside by some mighty power of evil – but if the work in the home has been true and deep, permeating the whole nature, the deviation from rectitude will be but temporary” (J R Miller).
In her tract, “Being a Christian at home,” Melody Green addresses parents with these pertinent thoughts (slightly adapted):
1. Are you kind, courteous and patient – or do you growl and snap at the slightest provocation? (I Pet 3: 7; Col 3: 19; I Cor 13: 4).
2. Do people at church see you as a real “spiritual giant” – while at home your family is starving for godly guidance, encouragement and example? (Eph 5: 25-30).
3. Do you provoke your children to anger, causing them to be discouraged by your harsh dealings with them? (Eph 6: 4; Col 3: 21).
4. Do you teach God’s Word to others, but neglect your duty as spiritual head of the home to lead in family worship, devotion and Bible study?
1. Do you nag and manipulate to get your own way?
2. Do you make a real home for your husband and children?
3. Do you – even in small ways – show a lack of respect for your husband’s authority, teaching your children rebellion and deceitfulness, thus invalidating the Word of God?
4. Are you a godly example to your children, showing them by your actions and words what it means to love God?
1. Are there unresolved conflicts between husband and wife?
2. Is there a bitter spirit in the heart, one against the other?
Constant conflicts between husband and wife bring disorder and grief to the home. Our children will learn from our bad example and “will think you unfit to reprove them for their faults – when they see you guilty of such faults and folly of your own. Nay, you will become the shame and secret derision of your children, and bring yourselves into contempt” (Richard Baxter).
Dissension in the family not only hinders our fellowship with God but also our prayer life. We will find it hard to pray together, to speak of the things of God or to be of encouragement to one another. Anger and bitterness in our hearts will affect the way we rule our homes. Discord within our family also exposes us to the malice of Satan. Indeed, a divided house cannot stand (Mk 3: 25).
Parents, if we have failed the Lord in our homes, let us repent immediately. Seek God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of those whom we have hurt or offended, even our own children. Seek God’s help and wisdom to raise our children in the ways of the Lord. Resolve to be godly examples before our family members.
The home is a true testing ground of our faith. God moulds our lives as we accept and accommodate one another in the family. “We are constantly being sandpapered by those around us – the rough edges and snags becoming smoothed and polished. If we see it in this light, we have a real opportunity to become more and more like Jesus. If we are self-righteous, stubborn and constantly demanding our ‘rights’ – we will not only be a grief to God, but a real source of misery to those who have to live with us (Eph 4: 30-32)” (Melody Green).
Brethren, let us relate to our family members with a loving heart and a lowly mind (Philp 2: 3-4). Faithfully fulfil the responsibilities that God has entrusted to us in the home. May the Lord grant us grace to be faithful witnesses within our own families.