As we conclude this series through the home, we need to address a few out of the way places, and reiterate the central theme of Christian living in a Christian home.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Rom. 12:1-3).
We are very familiar with the first two verses here, but sometimes do not connect them to the verse following. We are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God—my life for yours—and this is to be considered as entirely reasonable. It is not an “above and beyond” kind of thing. We are not to be shaped by the world, but rather to be transformed in our thinking, so that we can do what is good, acceptable, and perfect. In short, we are to do the will of God. And then comes the cash pay out—if we do this, refusing the mold of the world, we will think of ourselves soberly, in faith. Every Christian must learn this lesson, and learn it well. Think of your behavior in your home soberly, without inflation. Walk by faith, not by self-esteem.
DIFFERENT HOMES AND STAGES OF LIFE
One of the problems with living in an affluent society is that the standard gets set by the advertisers, and the lived out standard is set by those who have been married for thirty years and are enjoying the fruit of their labors. But we should expect a measure of sanctification in our possessions. There is no shame in starting modestly, and more than a little potential shame in refusing to. This applies to furniture, houses, cars, and all your other stuff. First the plowing, then the planting, then the harvest. “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house” (Pr. 24:27).
THE MEDICINE CABINET
There are a number of temptations that confront us when we are dealing with our health. Just a few comments are in order here.
hypochondria—faking illness (even to oneself) is a tried and tested method for getting out of work, school, or responsibility. It is also used to get attention and sympathy that you may believe is due to you.
the opposite of hypochondria—faking health rather than go to a doctor (or take medication) is also a bad business. There are basic stewardship issues here, as well as basic concerns of charity.
contentment—we live in a fallen world, and we do not have a guaranteed “right” to health. Paul had learned this lesson (Phil. 4:11).
Many of the families in our church have enjoyed the blessing of housing college students as boarders. Now a boarder is not quite family, and yet is far more than a guest. But regardless of exact status, all share the status of Christian, and this means that the principle of “my life for yours” is fully operative. The places where it comes into play are obviously different, but the attitudes are to be constant in a Christian home. Two principles that should be remembered by all are authority and clarity. Whose home is it, and what exactly is expected?
WHEN PARENTS DO POORLY
In talking about parents doing “poorly,” we are not talking about parents who sin. Sin is present in every home; the question concerns what we do about it. God’s covenant with man takes sin into account, and faithfulness includes availing oneself of the means He has supplied. The same thing is true in the covenant of the home.
What should be done when the parents (or a parent) do not deal with sin appropriately? As a child or a wife in such a home, you need to acknowledge first of all that you are not “stuck.” It is a wise providence that has placed you where you are. In such a bad situation, your first task is to ensure that you are not an active part of the complex of sinning yourself. If you are not a player, you then need to guard your heart against resentment, being prepared at all times to forgive if given the least opportunity. And last, you need to learn (now) the power of example.
One mark of a healthy home is the fact that the members of it have an intense loyalty to the other members of it. There are other factors that are necessary, obviously, but in a godly home, this should certainly be present. This includes loyalty to the persons, reputations, and opinions of everyone else in the home. There are many practical aspects to this, but they include obedience, verbal respect, and defense when appropriate.
MY LIFE FOR YOURS
Self-centeredness is always destructive, and it always destroys in similar ways. Charity, in its turn, always brings about a harvest of kindness and mercy. This is why all familial questions should never be presented apart from the question, “Have I been offering my life for yours?”