Edgar A. Guest was right when, in his famous poem called “Home,” he said, “It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.”1 One may live in a beautiful mansion, but it may not be a beautiful home. On the other hand, one may live in a hovel in the wrong part of town, but it may be a beautiful home. It is not the kind of house in which one lives that makes a home, but it is what is going on in that house, who the people are who live there, and what effort is being made to establish and maintain the right kind of home that makes the difference. Although a house is not what a home is, let us draw an analogy between a house and a home to demonstrate what a home is to be if it is to please God.
There are four walls in the home we are seeking to build. First, as found in the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, there is the wall of love and joy . Love makes the home and binds everything else together in unity (see Colossians 3:14). Biblical love is a decision we make and is sacrificial, undeserved, and unconditional. Joy, a sense of pleasure and happiness, is the result of love in the family. Second, there is the wall of peace and longsuffering . In a family where there is love and joy, there will surely be peace, an atmosphere of tranquility and quietness which the home provides when the labors and activities of the day are past. For peace to prevail in families there must be the spirit of patient
endurance practiced by each member of the family. Third, there is the wall of kindness and goodness . These synonymous terms demonstrate the outward words and actions of those who want the home to be a place where peace prevails and patience is practiced. Fourth, there is the wall of faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . Faithfulness of the family members to one another and to God gives the home a direction and a trust in each other. Gentleness does not insist upon its own way but is considerate of others and is under the control of God. Self-control springs from the heart of one who recognizes the authority of God over his life and who will be dominated by no power other than the will of God. If these four walls are found in the place where you live your house can be a home.
The Foundation Is Jesus Christ
If we seek to build our homes upon the foundation of pleasure or power or money or education, we can never expect to build homes instead of just houses. Solomon tried all of them and concluded that nothing brings meaning and purpose to our lives if seek to live without God (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Pagans build their houses upon these things. We are confident that God does not care what kind of house you live in, what kind of car you drive, how much education you have, how much wholesome fun you enjoy. However, God is concerned about our putting things before Him or doing things which violate Scripture. Paul said, “For no other foundations can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). Paul’s statement had to do with his work in ministry, but this principle is true of families— in building houses into homes we must build upon the solid foundation of Jesus Christ by following His Word, which teaches us how to build godly homes.
The Roof of Spirituality
Good homes have husbands and wives and parents and children who love each other and who love the Lord. God has given the father in the home the responsibility to take the lead in the spiritual development of his family. Sadly there are many fathers who have chosen to be absent from the families. Other fathers are absent while remaining with their families because they are preoccupied with many other things. However, God has always wanted the father to be the leader in the teaching and training of his children. It was of Abraham that God spoke when He said, “For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice” (Genesis 18:19). Under the Law of Moses God said to fathers, “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). In the New Testament God says, “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). It is obvious that mothers will help in the training of children, but the primary responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the dad. Usually the spirituality of the father and mother will be reflected in the lives of their children (see Proverbs 22:6). Parents should be careful to invest the time, set the example, and practice the discipline necessary for the training of children. It is then that houses can become homes.
The Door of Hospitality
The writer of Hebrew said, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). When I was a boy my parents had preachers, elders, and other great Christians in our home because they wanted my brother and me to be influenced by God’s people. Be sure to welcome the friends of your children into your home for meals, games, worship, and conversation. This is important because you need to know the kids with whom your children are associating. This kind of hospitality will have an effect upon your children so that when they are grown they will want to continue this practice in their homes. Make your home a safe haven for your children, their friends, and for great Christian people who will have a positive impact for good upon your entire family. In this way your house can become a home.
The Window of God’s Word
David said that God’s Word “is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Let the light shine upon your life and the lives of your children. Let the Bible be the standard by which you live and teach your children to follow the same standard. Read the Bible together as a family. Recall statements from the Bible when your children do what is right and when they misbehave. Let them know that you recognize you are imperfect (they already know this to be true whether you admit it or not), but also let them know that your goal is to do the will of God and that you want them to have this goal for their lives.
Are You Seeking to Build a House or a Home?
I do hope this analogy has impressed upon all of our minds the importance of not just having houses in which to live, but homes that are lights to our communities, to our nation, and to the local congregations where we worship and serve.
When our children were small I used to spend Christmas Eve, after the children were in bed, putting together various toys which they were to receive the next morning. I would place all the contents of a box on the floor in front of me and begin to put things together. I was not much of a one to read the directions and invariably I would have a part or two left over and the thing I was putting together would not work. One time I noticed these words on a box that contained something I was to assemble: “For best results follow the directions of the maker.” What a great idea! God is the author of marriage and the home. He has given us, in His Word, every principle we need to establish and maintain homes instead of merely building houses. We would do well to remember,
“For best results, follow the directions of the Maker.”
By Jay Lockhart
This article appears in the December 2014 issue of “Think” magazine. Learn more about subscribing to “Think” by clicking here.
1 Guest, Edgar A., The Best Loved Poems of the American People,
(New York: Doubleday and Company), 1936.