Establishing a Home
Establishing a Home
The definition in the dictionary for the word home is “a family’s place of residence.” But God’s standard for the ideal home far exceeds such narrow boundaries. It is made up of people who care about God and about one another, people who pray and work toward making the home conform to God’s pattern.
When two people begin their lives together as man and wife, they soon discover that many adjustments must be made. Each is a unique personality—with his own dreams, ambitions, frustrations, and needs—and individual differences are not done away with because a marriage ceremony has taken place.
In this lesson we will study about the kind of home that fulfills its purpose for being. We will consider the adjustments that confront a married couple, and ways of resolving problems that arise.
A couple who recognizes, “if the Lord does not build the house, the work of the builders is useless” (Psalm 127:1), and purposes to establish a home that will glorify God, will find the rewards immeasurable.
Importance of the Home
The Home Defined
An empty house is not a home—home is where a family lives. When God first set the pattern for family life, He gave Adam and Eve a special place to be their home: a beautiful garden, which Adam was to cultivate and take care of. God still wants every family to have a home in which all members can live together as a unit as one.
One writer has said:
A home may be compared to a small government. The father is the president, and the mother is the vice-president. They help each other in ruling the home. They make good laws so that the children will have a peaceful place to live. Their laws will teach the children to live orderly and to be obedient. If the children learn to obey their parents in the home, then later they will obey their school teachers, their pastor, and their country.
A home does not need to be elaborate or costly in order to be a happy, peaceful place where family members love God and enjoy being together. The relationship between them is what matters most. And if they are to build the right kinds of relationships, they must spend time together. Home is more than just a place to eat and sleep. Because these relationships are such an important part of a home, we often use the word home to mean “family.”
Importance to the Husband and Wife
One of God’s provisions for mankind’s happiness was a home. Husband and wife were to share their joys and sorrows, work and play, problems and success. Home is a school for parents as well as for children, where they, too, can learn patience, understanding, and consideration for others. Home is a refuge from the tensions and problems that man faces daily in his work. The love, peace, and presence of God in a Christian home refresh both husband and wife for their responsibilities outside of the home.
One of the chief functions of the home is to provide for the birth and development of children. The shared responsibilities of parenthood bring closer together that husband and wife who seek God’s daily guidance for their lives. Children in the home can bring great joy and fulfillment. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing” (Psalm 127:3).
This does not mean that God withholds His blessing from childless couples. The Bible does not give a husband the right to leave his wife, send her away, or marry another because she is childless. Nor does the Bible give the wife the right to leave her husband, if she blames him because they have no children. Whatever the reason, God is aware of the your desire for children and will guide you through this concern too. Remember Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 20–21).
The Bible gives examples of childless couples, and how God answered prayer for them. The priest Zechariah was in the temple when an angel of the Lord appeared to tell him that his prayer had been heard, and Elizabeth would have a son (Luke 1:13). Hannah prayed for a son, and God gave her Samuel, who became a mighty leader in Israel (1 Samuel 1:11-13). Many childless couples have adopted children. God blesses them as they provide a home for these little ones. A deep and lasting love can develop between children and their adoptive parents, and they can bring great joy to one another.
Psalm 113:5, 9. There is no one like the Lord our God . . . He honors the childless wife in her home; he makes her happy by giving her children.
Importance to the Child
A home is extremely important for a child. He needs the love, care, happiness, and protection of a Christian home. The training received there not only shapes his character, but it affects his entire outlook on life. Whatever dangers, problems, and disappointments he may face in the world, he needs the security of his home, to know that there he is safe. There he has parents who understand him, love him, and take care of him. He belongs. A sense of security will help the child to have a well-adjusted personality. Just as what a child eats is important for his physical health and development, the love of his family is equally important for his health and lifelong happiness.
We can compare the home to a school. The parents are teachers; the children are students. Parents teach by their words and by their example. And how quickly children learn to imitate them in word and in deed! A husband and wife who live godly lives before their children need not fear to have their children follow in their footsteps. Unfortunately, there are also many ungodly parents whose children follow their pattern of living. The Bible gives us examples of both. “Like his father Manasseh, he [Amon] sinned against the Lord; he imitated his father’s actions, and he worshiped the idols that his father had worshiped” (2 Kings 21:20-21). King Jehoshaphat, however, was a good king whose early life had been influenced by godly parents.
2 Chronicles 17:3-4. The Lord blessed Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father’s early life and did not worship Baal. He served his father’s God and obeyed God’s commands, and did not act the way the kings of Israel did.
When you establish a home, if you have not already done so, may you never forget that the greatest influence in the lives of children for right or wrong is that of the parents.
In the first few years of his life, a child’s character and his lifetime habits are formed. The influence of ungodly parents will lessen the possibility of their children ever coming to know God.
In fact, they may be led very far from God. But in a God-fearing home, which is ruled with love and discipline, children learn spiritual lessons they can never forget. “Teach a child how he should live, and he will remember it all his life” (Proverbs 22:6). They are taught to be God-fearing, upright, and honest, so that they can be a blessing to the world.
Importance to the Community
We can say that a society depends on the family for its existence; that is, the family produces the members that make up that society. A good family gives the children the training that they need in order to become well-adapted members of society.
The home determines what kind of people we have in our communities. When a child is born, his first contacts are with other members of his family. His character is formed and habits are developed in the home. He learns how to treat other people. With the proper training, a child develops good habits, a sense of duty, love, loyalty, and respect for the rights of others. Much of what he learns in the small community of the home, he will practice all of his life in the larger communities of his neighborhood and his world.
Relationships of Husband and Wife
Perhaps an individual never faces more varied or greater adjustments, in his lifetime, than in marriage. For this unique relationship demands that a man and woman adjust to a whole new way of living.
God understood man’s need for companionship. Companionship was one of the main purposes of the family. God looked at Adam and saw that it wasn’t good for him to be alone, so He created Eve as a companion for him (Genesis 2:18).
Proverbs 18:22 says, “Find a wife and you find a good thing.” Yet many, having exchanged the marriage vows without having first considered the solemn responsibility of such a commitment, come to question whether it is a good thing after all.
Two people who consider themselves mature adults may find when they marry, that they still have a lot of growing up to do. Faults to which they were blind before gradually begin to surface. A person who, before marriage, was accustomed to thinking only of what was best for himself or herself must now begin to think in terms of “What is best for both of us?”
Building a marriage is a lifetime job. It is not accomplished in the few minutes it takes for the wedding ceremony. And the more understanding a man and woman have of the responsibilities and obligations of marriage, the better prepared they will be to make the necessary adjustments.
There will come times of disagreement, and neither husband or wife should expect the other to give in all of the time. They should talk over their problems and agree on a solution. The adjustments of marriage will require all of the honesty, patience, wisdom, and unselfishness both can lay hold of.
It is sometimes difficult for either marriage partner to sacrifice his own plans and wishes, but love makes the adjustment possible. This is an essential part of marriage, and is necessary for a happy home!
Relationship to Parents
Another problem that often arises is the relationship to parents. Marriage should not lessen the respect and love a couple have for their parents. It does mean leaving the close relationship that the husband and wife, as children growing up, had with their parents. Now that they are establishing their own home, the most important relationship is between husband and wife.
Mark 10:7. And for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife.
Parents sometimes forget that their married children are grown now and must have the right to manage their own lives. Parents may be able to give valuable advice when the young people ask for it, but they should not try to dictate to them how to manage their homes. And even in receiving advice, husband and wife must realize that their relationship to each other now comes before their responsibility to their parents.
A wife should not run to her parents every time there is a problem between her husband and herself. It is right for her to visit her parents from time to time, but she must remember that her home is no longer with them but with her husband. She should not be away from him for long periods of time. They need one another. Long separations may weaken the marriage, and place temptation in the way of either husband or wife.
One thing that often causes quarrels is money. It is good for a husband and wife to talk over all money matters. A young husband may not have a large income, and his wife must help him by saving wherever she can. Just because she is married does not mean she should make unreasonable demands of her husband. The wife should not complain if her husband cannot afford to give her all of the new clothes she would like to have. If they have to live more simply than some of their friends and neighbors, this should not make them unhappy. It is, rather, a challenge for them to make the home as happy and attractive as possible with what they has.
Of course, the husband must not expect his wife to manage the household without money, or to provide the living for the family. A woman may help with the expenses but it is the husband’s responsibility, as head of the house, to provide for his family.
1 Timothy 5:8. If anyone does not take care of his relatives, especially the members of his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Christians and Non-Christian Homes
The Non-Christian Home
Many homes are far from what God intended them to be. Sin spoiled the first home. Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and this brought jealousy, quarrels, and murder into their family in place of joy and love.
There are homes that resemble the ideal Christian home in many ways. The families of these homes respect and obey the laws of the land. They care about one another. The husbands provide for their families. They are good neighbors. They help the poor and needy. Many of them are church members. But the vital ingredient is missing: they have never acknowledged that they are sinners; they have never invited Christ into their lives and homes.
They are like the church to whom the angel said, “You say, ‘I am rich and well off. I have all I need.’ But you do not know how miserable and pitiful you are! You are poor, naked, and blind” (Revelation 3:17). This description can apply to anyone who does not recognize his need of God. Then, when the many heartaches and problems of life press in upon them, they do not have Christ’s presence, peace, and help to see them through.
There are other non-Christian homes where husbands and wives waste their earnings on gambling, drugs, tobacco, and liquor. Some become such slaves to their habits that they spend their entire salary in the bars in one night, until there is nothing left with which to buy food for their families. Quarrels arise because of jealousy and hatred. Unwholesome literature and profane talk corrupt the minds of the children of these homes. At an early age they are introduced to violence, crime, and immorality. The practice of various mystical philosophies, spiritualism, witchcraft and other occultic practices, in which the members of some non-Christian homes participate, adds to the sorrow, fears, and trouble already found there.
The Christian Home
A Christian home is filled with the love of Christ, and acknowledges Him as its supreme authority. The members of this home do not simply remember God on Sundays; they are taught to obey and honor Him in their everyday lives. God is pleased when a couple who are establishing their home accept Christ into their lives, and pray and ask Him for His guidance. But a truly Christian home does not just happen or develop automatically because people are Christians. They must work at it.
One of the ways they do this is through family worship. Before there were any churches, God taught man that each father should lead his family in worship. The man was to be a priest for his family.
Establishing family worship should still be the father’s responsibility. When parents and children read the Bible and pray together regularly, they grow in the Lord, and in understanding and love for one another. This time, which some call “family altar” or “family devotions” is a very important part of a child’s training.
A husband and wife who begin their marriage with family devotions, and practice this faithfully, will find their lives enriched and blessed. They will be better able to resolve whatever problems may arise, as they rely upon God’s help. It is best to select a time for devotions together when other activities are less likely to interfere—perhaps before the husband goes to work, or at the close of the day. Thanking God for the food before each meal is another part of worship in the home.
1 Timothy 4:3. But God created those foods to be eaten, after a prayer of thanks.
Those families who purpose to honor God in their homes (Joshua 24:15) will be blessed of Him, and they will grow in their love and understanding for one another.
Let us look together at a paraphrased version of the Bible and what it says about the unselfish love that characterizes the ideal Christian home.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (Living Bible translation). Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.