Recently I was asked to speak for one of the Adult Fellowship meetings of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore on the subject “Setting Up A Godly Christian Home.” This subject is of particular relevance for the young. people of the church here. Most of them were raised in pagan homes. They were therefore not taught from childhood on what a Christian home is. They do not have the example of a parental home after which to pattern their own homes. When they establish their own homes they must needs be radically different from the homes they grew up in. How thankful unto the Lord we in our Protestant Reformed Churches should be for our Christian homes. How thankful we as young people should be that we have the model of our parental homes to follow in establishing our own homes. Perhaps we do not appreciate the great significance of this because we take it all so much for granted. For some of us this blessing of the Lord is greater than for others. Sad to say, there are homes in our midst that bear little distinctive Christian character. The families of such homes are in danger of being cut off from the covenant of God in their generations. There are other homes in the midst of our churches however which are shining examples of truly Christian homes. We thank the Lord especially for these. These are a testimony for the whole church.
It is good for all of us to ask the question, what really makes a Christian home Christian? What distinguishes such a home from the ungodly homes of the world? More distinctively, we ought to ask the question, what ought to characterize our homes as truly Reformed Christians, even distinguishing our homes from others that call themselves Christian?
It is of course according to spiritual characteristics that our homes must be different. From a natural point of view our homes are much the same as those of the world. Some of us may live in beautiful palaces, others in simple lowly and plain homes. Some of us may have very beautiful furnishings in our homes; others may have nothing more than the barest necessities. It does not really matter. Let us not be overly concerned about this. Let us not spend all our time and energy making our homes only physically beautiful. Let us be especially concerned that our homes are spiritually beautiful. From a spiritual point of view our homes must be radically different from those of the world. I want to present to you a list of twelve spiritual characteristics that ought to characterize the godly, Christian home. To do that we will need the space of two Standard Bearer articles.
The home of the Christian is first of all a place where the fear of God is. God is known and worshiped and served as the only true living God of heaven and earth. God is known in that home as the absolutely sovereign Lord and God of heaven and earth. It is profoundly known in that home that God is a God of perfect righteousness and holiness, a God therefore Who hates sin and evil with divine and perfect wrath, a wrath which is terrible to those who live in sin and wickedness. He is a God Who judges all men in perfect righteousness. He curses the house of the wicked and blesses the habitation of the just. Though this God is a God of just wrath to the ungodly, in His holiness He is a God of faithfulness and mercy and lovingkindness to those who fear Him and who according to His grace and Spirit live by His commandments. In the truly Christian home all of this is known about God. Therefore husband and wife in this home live in fear and trembling before Him. They reverence and worship this God in humility and godly submission. Children in the Christian home are taught of the infinite greatness of God and of His perfect holiness so that they too learn to fear before Him. The principle of the fear of the Lord determines all that goes on in the home of the godly. It determines what things are done and what things are avoided. It determines the very motive and spirit with which all the activities in the home are conducted.
In the second place, the home of the godly is where the love of God reigns. That is of course immediately related to the fear of God. God is feared out of the motive of love and not out of the motive of dread and terror. In the home of the godly the Lord God is loved for all that He is and all that He has done and is doing through His blessed Son the Lord Jesus Christ. In the home of the Christian there is a great delight in God, there is constant seeking of His blessed presence and fellowship. It is the greatest desire of the godly family to do only those things which are pleasing in the sight of the Lord God and those things which bring glory to His name.
The love of God in Jesus Christ is evident also in the godly home in the relationships of the members of that home. The godly husband loves his wife, and the godly wife loves her husband. This they do according to the operation of the Spirit and grace of God in their hearts. This goes much further than a mere natural affection or shallow romantic attraction. The love that there is between the husband and wife in the godly home is the holy love of God in Christ Jesus. In this love the husband and wife give thanks unto the Lord for each other. In that love they delight to live with each other in communion of life, having been made one flesh. In that love the husband gives himself, as Christ gave Himself for His church, to nourish and support and sanctify his wife. In that love the wife submits herself unto her husband, to serve him as his loving helpmeet. This is her life and joy. Radically different from the world in this respect is the home of the godly. Because of this love the husband and wife live in life-long faithfulness and devotion to each other. The husband does not, when his wife gets older and loses some of her physical beauty, look for a younger and prettier woman. He does not lust after the women of the world but rejoices in the wife of his youth and is satisfied with her love. The wife of the godly home does not go flirting after the men of this world, dressing and tempting them to lust after her. She is discreet and chaste because of her love for her God-given husband.
The children of the home of the godly are also taught that love of God. They are taught that God must be loved with all the heart and soul and strength and mind. They are taught how God, as their creator and redeemer in Christ Jesus, as their faithful provider and protector, as the God of all mercy and lovingkindness is worthy of that love. The children of the home of the godly are taught also that they must reveal the love of God in their relationships one toward another. They are taught that it is a grievous sin for them to live in strife and bitterness against each other.
The love of God is reflected in the home of the godly also in the attitude that is there towards outsiders. The home of the godly is a place of genuine Christian hospitality. Especially fellow members of the church of Jesus Christ are often found in that home. There they find comfort and counsel, there they find fellowship and love in the Lord. In the home of the godly there is hearty concern for the poor and the needy. The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, though she is very busy with her own family, does not fail to stretch out her hand to the poor. There is a general attitude of respect and righteousness toward the neighbor, in the home of the godly, because of this love. The home of the godly surely is not a place of gossip and slander and evil speaking about the neighbor. It is not the place where the neighbor is dealt with deceitfully and craftily. All the dealings with the neighbor are done in such a love and justice that always the good of the neighbor is sought, even when this means financial sacrifice and loss. How important this is. How sad it is when Christian homes have the reputation of being corrupt and deceitful. What a reproach this brings to the name of the Lord, what dishonoring of His name and glory.
In the home of the godly there is a covenant consciousness. It is known in that home that God is the wonderful covenant God Who has established His covenant with believers and their children. The knowledge of this covenant is the source of great joy and blessedness in this home. In the consciousness of this covenant, children are brought forth in this home. Children are not brought forth merely for the pleasure and joy of the parents because they are so cute and nice and because they can bring much glory to their parents. Children are brought forth in the Christian home according to the command and obligation of God’s covenant. They are brought forth in the hope of God’s covenant promise for succeeding generations. It is known in this home that the woman is saved through child-bearing. This determines the attitude toward birth control and the number of children that are found in the home of the godly. Though the whole world today is strongly emphasizing birth control (in Singapore even the government is forcing families to limit their children to two), it remains true that one commonly finds many children in the home of the godly. This is not because of rebellion against human governments but rather because of a godly desire to bring forth the children of the covenant. Because of this covenant consciousness, children are brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord. The primary concern of the parents of that home is not merely to give their children a good education by the standards of the world or to prepare them for a financially stable and prosperous future. It is a far greater concern of the parents in this home to raise the children in such a way that they grow up to acknowledge and fear God and to serve Him through all of their life in the future. Parents in that home are willing to make all kinds of sacrifices so that the children of the home may get a good Christian education. These parents themselves spend much time in their home to teach their children out of the Word of God. They seek to be a godly example to their children in all that they do. Indeed, this must be one of the striking characteristics of the home of the godly that makes it so very different from the world. This spiritual characteristic is perhaps of all most sadly lacking in many so-called Christian homes.
The home of the godly is where one finds a deep love for the cause of God’s church and kingdom. This can be seen first of all in that the Lord’s day is devoutly observed in this home. The family of this home goes faithfully to the house of God to worship God together. The Lord’s day in that home is as much as possible sanctified for the Lord’s use. The love for the church and kingdom in that home is reflected also in that not only the worship services but the other activities of the church are well attended. Children from that home go faithfully to catechism classes. When they go, they go well prepared because they have been faithfully instructed by their parents. Young people attend young people’s society eagerly and zealously. Father and mother in that home do not make themselves so busy with the things of this world that they are not able to attend church activities. Furthermore, one finds in this home a hearty and zealous support of the church. The church and her ministry in this world are constantly prayed for. When it comes to the financial support of the church and Christian school the home of the godly is known by how liberally and cheerfully it gives of all of the abundance that the Lord has given. The home of the godly is where real and great sacrifices are made for the sake of the kingdom. There is there a willingness to forego some of the riches of this world in order that the church and kingdom of Christ may be seen to prosper.