by Tyler Arnold
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deut. 6:6–7)
“I need help!” I must have said those words a hundred times to my algebra teacher when I was a younger fella. Math is not my strong suit. Today, I don’t often ask for help for math, but I still need help. I often find myself asking God for help with my home. Even though I’ve been a husband for 23 years and a father for more than 20 years, I still wonder if I’ve made the right decisions for the sake of honoring my wife or done enough to prepare my children to be God-fearing adults. I know I’m not alone. For matters within the home, we all need help — God’s help. So, let’s turn to His Word, listen to His direction, and ask: What does God say to us in the Holy Scriptures regarding His help for the home?
1. Love present and practiced
The Bible speaks about love as the most basic building block within marriage and the home. For instance, of one of the earliest marriages and homes the Bible records: “Then Isaac … took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her” (Gen. 24:67). Racing from there into the pages of the New Testament, we see that the importance of love in marriage and home reaches its ultimate height in these words: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ Loved the church… In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies” (Eph. 5:25a, 28). All throughout the Scriptures love is present and practiced in the Christian home. With eyes of faith wide open, we see this with all clarity in the cross of Calvary. Jesus demonstrated a love put into practice for His bride the church when He died for her. For families that find their life in Him, that same kind of self-giving love is to be present and practiced within the home — Christ-love, Christ’s love, Christian love.
2. Order and discipline
Homes are to be sanctuaries of peace, not battlefields of confusion — and confusion is the sure result where order and discipline are absent. The directives of the text from Deuteronomy 6 above and the words that follow are directives to parents in the home: “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.” Rules, order and discipline are to be taught in the home. And, contrary to what some folks think, children — and teens, too — appreciate rules and knowing the rules. They do best when they know what is expected of them. It is the vilest form of neglect to leave children without rules, order and discipline.
3. Good examples to imitate
Paul tells Timothy to “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12), and this wisdom is as important for parents as it is for church leaders. If children love and respect their parents, grandparents, and other adults in their lives, they are bound to copy them. If we have to scold our four-year-old for fussing, let’s first ask: Where did he learn how to fuss? If we lecture our teenager about the use of foul language, should we not also carefully watch what we say? If we boast about the value of prayer, do we also let our children see us pray? Hear us pray? Are we praying with them? Invariably, our children will walk, talk, and act like the examples that we their parents, grandparents, and adult mentors set before them. Give them a high target to aim at and a lofty goal to attain.
Now there may be those that downplay or give up on the value of the family, but not our God. From the days of Eden the present, God is in favor of and holds out His help for the home. And when the Christian home is under attack, as it increasingly is in our society, we need God’s help more than ever.
The Rev. Tyler Arnold is senior pastor at Christ Lutheran Church, Platte Woods, Mo. He is also a Collegium Fellow for DOXOLOGY — the Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel