The Christian and the Home

Whilst much has been written from time to time concerning the ecclesiastical associations and conduct of the believer, very little seems to have been written concerning his behaviour in the home. Yet it is not less important. The will of God should govern us wherever we are, and our manner of life within the secrecy of our own home should not contradict that which appears before the eyes of others in the church.

Home life is a divine institution, originally established by God, with Adam and Eve as the first parents and Cain and Abel as the first children. It was God’s intention that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife (Gen. 2. 24) and that, within the bosom of the family, their offspring should be reared and trained. Genesis chapter 4 makes sad reading.

The fact that murder came into the first family tells eloquently what damage the sin of Eden had so quickly wrought and how extensive it was. Abel listened to his parents concerning the proper way of approach to God, but Cain did not heed them. He thought he knew better than his seniors and pursued his self-chosen path, with such tragic results! Oh, that this heady generation would hearken!

The indissolubility of marriage makes for the firmness of family life. Divorce was never God’s intention. It was permitted in the times of Moses because of the hardness of man’s heart, but nothing is calculated to do so much damage to family life and to the children concerned as divorce. Thereby the children are deprived of the care of at least one parent. Nothing can make up for a father’s advice and a mother’s love.

Parents’ example. The father, in particular, should be a good example to his children. If that be so, there is little doubt that the mother’s example will be equally good. Such a father was Enoch, who was translated to heaven in the midst of his days. He was a preacher, warning men of coming judgment (Jude 14, 15). He sincerely believed what he preached and was convinced of the truth and certainty of his foreshadowings. Indeed, so convinced was he that he named his firstborn son Methuselah, meaning ‘in the year of his death, it shall be sent.’ Methuselah lived longer than any other man, 969 years, thus showing that God was longsuffering, not willing that any should perish. But. in the year he died, as may be readily calculated from the early part of the book of Genesis, the flood came. Enoch ‘walked with God,’ or perhaps more literally ‘made himself walk with God.’ It was a self-imposed discipline, so that he gained this report that ‘he pleased God.’ He ‘begat sons and daughters’: he loved family life. Is it any wonder then, that his great-grandson Noah should have been ‘a righteous man, and perfect in his generation,’ and one who ‘walked with God’? (Gen. 6. 9). The influence of a life such as Enoch lived is long felt.

But not all parents, whose records are given in the Scriptures, have been good examples; some have set their children a very bad example. What a shocking example was set by the mother in Gen. 27 when she directed Jacob to trick the father into giving him the blessing. It is true that Jacob was old enough to have known better, but the inspired writer has left this incident on record to warn all mothers not to train their children in wrong ways lest, like a boomerang, it comes back in later days. For Jacob successfully deceived his father with a coat, arid he in turn was deceived later by his own boys with another coat that they had dipped in blood, deceiving their father into believing that Joseph had been torn by wild beasts. Why should they not try the same scheme that their father had tried? If it was right for him, it was right for them!

Thus it was with David. He committed adultery and, shortly after, murder by proxy. He engineered the death of Bathsheba’s husband, whose loyalty to God and his king only irritated David who wished to conceal his guilt. Is it any wonder then that in his family there was found adultery? and, in direct consequence thereof, the second sin of murder by proxy, Absalom arranging the whole affair? ‘Father did it,’ the children might argue, ‘so we may do so also.’

Christian fathers should exercise the utmost care as to what they themselves allow or do. Children are copyists, and they imitate none so quickly as their parents, either for good or ill. To cause one of those little ones to stumble is a sin, the full gravity of which cannot be weighed nor its consequences foreseen …

Ideal conditions. Joseph’s dream gives us an insight to God’s ideas of what a family should be. It is like a solar system made up of sun, moon and stars. The father is the head, the sun. The mother is the moon, for she reflects the glory of the’ head (the sun) in his absence. The children are the smaller stars surrounding the sun and moon. Old Jacob perceived the force of Joseph’s dream and spake to him of ‘I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed coming to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth’? No family is complete where any one of these is missing. Not that God fails if the father is removed from the hearth; He is the Father of the fatherless and the God of the widow. The education of no child can ever be complete if it is deprived of the guidance of the parents. The duty of the Sun and moon was to rule either by day or by night; and the work of the father is to rule the home when there, the work of the mother being likewise when the father is absent. For the moon rules by night, when the sun has gone down, and it is then that the Stars shine clearly. But when neither sun nor moon appear, then the stars shine even more brightly, and experience teaches that God-fearing children are at their best when both father and mother are away.

Strange anomalies occur, however. It is a mystery why some good fathers have bad children. Hezekiah’s son Manasseh is of lasting infamous memory. Can we, dare we, allocate the blame to any? ‘I have nourished and brought up children, yet they have rebelled against Me’ said Jehovah Himself concerning Israel. If they kicked against such kindly care as He gave, is it any wonder that here and there a prodigal rebels against the parental control and goes in quest of a liberty which ultimately, like a viper, turns and bites him? Yet it has been known to be the reverse, and some bad fathers have had good sons. Ahaz begat Hezekiah. This is all of grace. God’s purpose has overridden man’s sin and in its course has broken into the homes of the ungodly and claimed for Himself the children that have there been begotten. They deserved to have ‘cursed children’ (2 Peter 2. 14) but who can measure God’s grace or fathom His purpose?

It is not always the children’s fault entirely if they do not turn out well. More than likely it is the product of parental weakness. Of David in regard to Adonijah it is recorded ‘his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, “Why hast thou done so?” He should have known that ‘He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.’ ‘Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.’ ‘Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beat him with the rod he shall not die.’ ‘Thou shalt beat him with the rod and shalt deliver his soul from hell.’ ‘The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.’ Was not this the case with Adonijah’s mother? ‘Correct thy son and he shall give thee rest; yea he shall give delight unto thy soul.’ If you will allow a child to be trained up according to its own bent, then, later on, when you desire him to alter and depart from the self-chosen course he will not do so. It is then too late.

Christian parents should heed the words of the Apostle Paul given twice, once to the Ephesians and then to the Colossians. Wives should be subject to their husbands: they are not to be servile, but they should recognize that the head of the wife is the husband. They are an object lesson on earth that, as the church is subject to Christ, so they should be subject to their husbands. Conversely, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, so the husband should love his wife as himself. Christ and the church are one: husband and wife also are one. No husband ever yet hated himself, but they all take steps to ensure their own comfort and welfare. They should do likewise towards their wives. Children, too, should obey their parents, for that is right. They should, further, honour them, having regard to the fact that it is the only item of the decalogue with promise: it will be well with them if they do, and they may expect a long life. Modern education should not cause any believing child to disobey his parents, or to despise them.

But parents must remember that if the children are to honour them, they must merit their respect. Fathers must not provoke their children to wrath, but should nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord. The word ‘chastening’ here does not mean necessarily the use of the rod. ‘Chastening’ has to do with securing the good conduct of the child; ‘admonition’ has to do with securing the good thinking of the child. This latter is as important as the former.

But how shall this be accomplished? Let the reader ponder 2 Tim. 1. 5 and 3. 14. Although, apparently, the father had no sympathy with divine things (for he was a Greek) both grandmother and mother taught young Timothy the sacred Scriptures from his earliest days. No wonder that he had faith in God! Not that faith runs in the blood, but God honours the faithful teaching of parents. Divine impressions are made in the most impressionable years, yielding the happy result of personal faith which lasts throughout life. This is the most sacred duty entrusted to mother! Heaven will be filled with those who, at their mother’s knee, have been taught the truths of the gospel. Though hidden now it will be manifested then: though sown with tears now, yet doubtless it will be seen again with rejoicing!


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