Living for the Lord (II): In the Home

Adapted from a sermon series by Simon Chin―Singapore

In part one, we learned we have been purchased with a great price; so we need to live our life aligned with Apostle Paul’s exhortation: For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Rom 14:7–8). In part two, we learn that living for the Lord also extends to our family life.

When we live for ourselves or even for our family, life can still feel empty. Solomon once lamented, “Vanity of vanities” (Eccl 1:2). Indeed, everything conducted under the sun can feel like vanity. In contrast, everything done above the sun—for a higher purpose and according to God’s will—brings meaning to life and a future reward in the kingdom of heaven. In the conclusion to the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon defines that higher purpose: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl 12:1314).

Today, by the grace of God, we come to know the word of God and understand that we can live a meaningful life because God loves us and has redeemed us from a life of hopelessness. If we continue to live for ourselves even with such knowledge, we are the most foolish of people.

Let us start with our home, where we should live our life for the Lord. What must we do to achieve this?

HONOR (RESPECT AND OBEY) OUR PARENTS

Apostle Paul warns that in the last days, sinful behavior will be prevalent (2 Tim 3:1). This is very evident today, where it is commonplace to hear of news on the lack of morality in society, where children are capable of even murdering their parents. One wonders what has happened to filial piety. For Christians who fear God, honoring our parents is our basic duty.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

(Eph 6:1–3)

Here, Paul quotes the Fifth Commandment; the first commandment with a promise, where those who honor their parents will be blessed with longevity. Some may think that such obedience is conditional, “If my parents treat me well, then I will obey them. If my parents do not take good care of me, I do not need to obey them.” But this is not what the Bible teaches. As long as we have parents who are with us, our duty is to respect and obey them.

Biblical examples of those who obeyed their parents and were blessed would be Joseph (Gen 37:13–14, 47:11–12) and David (1 Sam 17:15–20). Conversely, we see the two sons of Eli, who, despite growing up in the temple, were disrespectful and disobedient to their father. In the end, God let the enemies kill them in battle. Samson was another person who did not heed his parents’ advice. He insisted that they helped to arrange his marriage to a beautiful Gentile woman. Despite being a judge and a Nazarite with a special gift of physical strength from the Lord, Samson came to a calamitous end—because he disobeyed his parents and married a Gentile woman.

At its most basic, living for Christ at home means obeying and respecting our parents. When we do so, God will bless us. When Solomon succeeded his father David as king, his mother, Bathsheba, approached him. Despite being the most important person in the land, Solomon arose and bowed to her. He also made sure she had a throne by his side. Such was his filial piety. As a result, God blessed Solomon.

Honoring our parents is something we must learn. However, filial piety is not always easy to practice, as we may find it difficult to get along with our parents; but the fact remains that they are our parents, and as children, we need to honor, which is to respect and obey, them.

UPHOLD HOLINESS IN MARRIAGE

One of modern society’s ills is the lack of holiness in marriage. Some choose to marry multiple times; others divorce when they fall out of love. Fornication and adultery are rife. But the author of Hebrews reminds us, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb 13:4).

In church, marriage is to be treated with honor and conducted in a manner blessed by God. Before marriage, we uphold holiness by refraining from sexual intimacy; after marriage, we are faithful to our spouse: upholding the one man, one wife principle. God blesses such marriages, since, by respecting the sanctity of the relationship, we are honoring God and acknowledging that He has brought us together.

The Bible says, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mk 10:9). Sadly, society no longer heeds these words. Instead, couples take the marriage vows lightly. We have seen young couples who divorce after a few years of marriage, and even couples, despite decades of marriage, divorce when their children have grown up; citing the absence of feelings, sentiments or obligations towards each other.

Apostle Paul says, “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:33). Marriage is a reciprocal relationship: a husband should love (treasure) his wife and a wife should respect and yield to her husband. A marriage is not conforming to biblical teachings if it lacks either love or respect.

In today’s society, many find it difficult to accept these biblical teachings, mistaking them for gender inequality and thinking that they give men the license to oppress their wives. On the contrary, these teachings mean that a husband has to make sacrifices for his wife, to love and treasure her just as Christ gave Himself for the church. In turn, a wife is to respect her husband. When we apply such principles in a marriage, the relationship will grow and blossom.

In history, God’s people had ignored His will concerning marriage:

And this is the second thing you do:
You cover the altar of the Lord with tears,
With weeping and crying;
So He does not regard the offering anymore,
Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.
 Yet you say, “For what reason?”
Because the Lord has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
 But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

“For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously.”

(Mal 2:13–16)

Prophet Malachi ministered around 400 B.C., after the rebuilding of the temple and the city walls. By right, the people’s faith should have been restored by then, but we note that God, through Malachi, rebuked them for a number of transgressions, including men’s relationship with their wives: instead of honoring and respecting their spouse, they had oppressed them. Hence, God rejected their offerings.

A Christian marriage can be compared with the relationship that Jesus has with His church. Just as Jesus loves the church, we need to have this type of love for our spouse—sharing respect and honor, and helping each other to walk on the path to the kingdom of heaven—with godliness and holiness.

We must ensure that our marriage is holy and that we are faithful to each other (1 Thess 4:3–8). This stems from the understanding that we are children of God, and that we must honor Him as the Lord of our household. This is very important.

When we live for Christ, we use the word of God to cultivate ourselves in our marriage so that we can be holy and know how to respect one another, just as we honor and respect God.

ESTABLISH THE CHURCH IN OUR HOME

Next, we build our homes to become like a church. In the apostolic times, many homes were churches. One such home was that of Aquila and Priscilla.

The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. (1 Cor 16:19)

Aquila and Priscilla lived in Corinth. They received Paul into their home when he spent eighteen months preaching the gospel in Corinth. Their reception was in contrast with many others who doubted his apostleship, as they could not forget that Paul was once a persecutor of Christians. When Paul left Corinth to continue his ministry, Aquila and Priscilla accompanied him to Ephesus. There, they met Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew only the baptism of John. Aquila and Priscilla took him aside to explain the gospel of salvation more accurately. Later, Apollos travelled from Ephesus to Corinth to pastor the church there.

Because Aquila and Priscilla were willing to use their home as a church, they could nurture key workers such as Apollos and Paul for the ministry. Had Aquila and Priscilla not been devout Christians, their home would never be a church. (For a home to be a church, that home must have godliness and holiness, a place where people like to gather for worship.)

This is what we should establish in our homes, a place of worship. We can set up a family altar, when family members gather to read the Bible and to pray, even if it is only for five to ten minutes each day. Let us not become so busy with secular matters that we no longer place importance on family worship. If we want God’s blessings on our home—for our children to understand their faith, grow up in the Lord, live for Christ, and rely on Him—we must establish our family altar while they are young.

SERVE AS A FAMILY

It is also important that we serve the Lord as a family. We are familiar with the biblical account of Abraham and Isaac who climbed Mount Moriah together. Had Isaac not agreed to walk with his father, carrying the fire and the firewood, or had he struggled on the altar, Abraham would not be able to demonstrate his willingness to offer his beloved son to God. In their joint service, we are left with this legacy of Abraham’s great faith—a testament why he became the father of faith, someone who brought God’s blessings to his son Isaac, his grandson Jacob, and to his descendants, including David and Jesus Christ.

Acts 21:8–9 relates how Philip’s family served God together: On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.”

Earlier in Acts chapter 8, we learn of Philip’s preaching in Samaria. Afterwards, he preached to the Ethiopian eunuch, before the Holy Spirit transported him to Azotus. Later Philip moved to Caesarea and settled down. He had four daughters who were prophetesses; in short, the whole family served the Lord. What a beautiful picture!

Today, it is the same. The entire family must be ready to serve God.

If we had to decide whether our son should be a preacher or a doctor, many of us may choose the latter because we deem this will give him a better future; serving God would be a secondary priority. If Christians raise their children with such secular values, it is difficult to nurture them to have a robust faith and reliance on God. We can see this trend in church: members who are successful in society have drifted away from church, no longer living their lives for Christ. While they could be fervent during their tertiary years, having been taught by their families to seek the world first before seeking God, they turned away from their faith after their studies to seek their fortune in the world.

In order for parents to establish a home where family members love and serve God, these parents must uphold the right values and understand that serving the Lord is a grace and encourage their children to serve God always.

In our lives, we have to make many choices—on our marriage, our career, our place of residence, and our way of life. If we want to live for Christ, we must set correct priorities: serving Him must be of utmost importance. If church members can have this mindset, the church will not lack workers. We will be able to fulfill the duties that God has given us and serve Him joyfully together.

Sadly, the reality is that many of us do not give God priority; rather, we prefer to live for ourselves. It is not surprising, then, that we raise children who grow up to become talented people, but who withhold their gifts from God. Over time, ”Living for Christ” becomes an empty catchphrase.

In church, we are witnessing a decreasing number of full-time preachers; a trend that suggests our resolve of living for Christ is declining with each generation of believers. Our predecessors had a strong sense of what it meant to live for Christ. Many offered themselves for full-time ministry. We need to review once again, how we can truly live for Christ and serve Him.

CONCLUSION

If we can be certain of our reward in heaven when our life ends, we will sing praises to the Lord. This means we have done our duty as a human being, as a parent or grandparent, and at the same time, we have fulfilled our duty as the Lord’s disciple. We have laid up for ourselves abundant treasure in heaven and left a legacy of faith for our children so that they, knowing God, will keep His word and also enter His kingdom, where we can be together forever, in the presence of our Lord.

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