Sabbath, December 5, 2015
The Christian Home
A compilation from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, with commentary by D. P. Silva
On the sixth day of creation, God formed the first family. Since Christ is the Creator, He is the originator of the family, and He knows what is the best for each of its members. At the beginning of His ministry on earth, the first miracle Jesus performed was at a wedding feast when He transformed water into wine, thus bringing happiness to the new couple. The presence of Christ in the family is the number one factor of happiness.
A Christian is someone who follows Christ. Then, in order to have a Christian home, we need to know Jesus and how His life was at home in Nazareth, a small town in Galilee.
As a matter of fact, Christ is the perfect example for both parents and children. Speaking of Him as a child, Luke informs us that Jesus “grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).
At the age of twelve, Christ accompanied His earthly parents to Jerusalem to attend one of the greatest feasts in the Jewish calendar—the Passover. After the feast was over, He was forgotten in the temple of Jerusalem, where He met with the doctors of the law “both hearing them, and asking them questions” about the Scriptures (verse 46).
Luke records that after this incident, Jesus returned to Nazareth with His parents, “and was subject unto them” (verse 51). In spite of His previous position in heaven, the Lord submitted Himself to Joseph and Mary, giving us a perfect example of filial obedience.
“As He grew in wisdom and stature, Jesus increased in favor with God and man. He drew the sympathy of all hearts by showing Himself capable of sympathizing with all. The atmosphere of hope and courage that surrounded Him made Him a blessing in every home. And often in the synagogue on the Sabbath day He was called upon to read the lesson from the prophets, and the hearts of the hearers thrilled as a new light shone out from the familiar words of the sacred text.
“Yet Jesus shunned display. During all the years of His stay in Nazareth, He made no exhibition of His miraculous power. He sought no high position and assumed no titles. His quiet and simple life, and even the silence of the Scriptures concerning His early years, teach an important lesson. The more quiet and simple the life of the child—the more free from artificial excitement, and the more in harmony with nature—the more favorable is it to physical and mental vigor and to spiritual strength.
“Jesus is our example. There are many who dwell with interest upon the period of His public ministry, while they pass unnoticed the teaching of His early years. But it is in His home life that He is the pattern for all children and youth. The Saviour condescended to poverty, that He might teach how closely we in a humble lot may walk with God. He lived to please, honor, and glorify His Father in the common things of life. His work began in consecrating the lowly trade of the craftsmen who toil for their daily bread. He was doing God’s service just as much when laboring at the carpenter’s bench as when working miracles for the multitude. And every youth who follows Christ’s example of faithfulness and obedience in His lowly home may claim those words spoken of Him by the Father through the Holy Spirit, ‘Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delighteth’ (Isaiah 42:1).”1
From His birth until the age of 30 years old, Jesus worked hard at the carpentry shop of Joseph, taking part in the family duties, and cooperating with the maintenance of His earthly home. Then He left His home to be baptized by John the Baptist and be anointed by the Holy Ghost, thus being prepared for His mission.
From the life of Jesus and others who came before Him—men of God such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his children, Elijah, Elisha, David, and many others—we learn that a simple life in the midst of nature is most conducive to practical industry and spiritual development. The less the family is surrounded by the noise and agitation of the cities, the better will be the preparation for a life of usefulness in this world and fitness for the heavenly home.
Daily communion with God and nature
Nazareth was a very small town in Galilee, and Jesus enjoyed the natural environment that surrounded His earthly home. Early in the morning He left home to be in communion with His heavenly Father in the midst of nature. His mother, Mary, was His first human teacher, and He learned the Scriptures from her.
Even though Jesus was God in the flesh, He manifested high respect and care for His mother till His last moment hanging on the cross. He is the perfect example of filial love.
Christian homes need to be a Bethel—a house of God. Praise, prayer, and study of the Bible must be a permanent religious activity if we want to count on the presence of Christ and His holy angels in our home. Individual as well as family devotion will be a strong defense in behalf of all the members of the family. “The family that prays together stays together” is a famous saying known for its validity.
In the morning, our first duty is to gather around the family altar to thank God for His care and protection during the night. Melodious, inspiring hymns, short prayers, and the study of the Bible should be conducted in such a way that the time of worship will not be a tiresome duty. Then, when the members of the family leave home for their responsibilities outside, they will take with them a heavenly influence wherever they go. This will be a strong defense against the attacks of the evil one.
After returning home, the family should gather around the family altar once again to thank God for His blessings during the day. When we go to our evening rest meditating on Jesus, the next morning we will awaken with our thoughts on Him.
The Christian relationship
The apostles Paul and Peter give wonderful instruction about the Christian family relationship.
In Ephesians chapter 5, Paul describes the Christian family environment, “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (verses 5:19–33).
Let us imagine a home where the members are always “speaking in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord.” In such a home, the devil has no access at all. Moreover, the members of the family will be “giving thanks always . . . unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 20).
Following these instructions, Paul goes on to say that we need to “submit” ourselves “one to another in the fear of God.” Being first submitted to Christ, it will not be so difficult to submit “one to another in the fear of God” (verse 21).
Paul then explains the submission of the Christian wife to a Christian husband, “as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (verse 24). On the other hand, the husband must love his wife “as Christ . . . loved the church, and gave himself for it” (verse 25). It is not difficult for a wife to submit to a husband who loves her as Christ loves the church.
The apostle Peter also has very important instructions to husbands and wives:
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjec–tion to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives. . . . Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:1, 7–9).
In this Scripture we find that:
Christian wives should submit themselves to their Christian husbands.
A Christian husband should give honor unto his wife, as unto the weaker vessel, since both of them are heirs together of the grace of life.
If these conditions are fulfilled, their prayers will not be hindered.
The two should have one mind, having compassion one of another, being pitiful, courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing.
Conducting themselves in Christ’s way, they will inherit a blessing.
Parents and children
After instructing the parents regarding their relationship, Paul directs his words to the relationship between parents and children:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1–4).
In Colossians 3:18–21, Paul summarizes the Christian behavior of the whole family:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”
“Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God. The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to succor and comfort them in old age. It also enjoins respect for ministers and rulers and for all others to whom God has delegated authority.
“This, says the apostle, ‘is the first commandment with promise’ (Ephesians 6:2). To Israel, expecting soon to enter Canaan, it was a pledge to the obedient, of long life in that good land; but it has a wider meaning, including all the Israel of God, and promising eternal life upon the earth when it shall be freed from the curse of sin.”2
Christ, the center of the family and the church
“What is it that causes dissension and discord? It is the result of walking apart from Christ. At a distance from Him, we lose our love for Him, and grow cold toward His followers. The farther the beams of light recede from their center, the wider separated they become. Each believer is as a beam of light from Christ the Sun of righteousness. The more closely we walk with Christ, the center of all love and light, the greater will be our affection for His light-bearers. When the saints are drawn close to Christ, they must of necessity be drawn close to each other, for the sanctifying grace of Christ will bind their hearts together. You cannot love God and yet fail to love your brethren.”3
“The cause of division and discord in families and in the church is separation from Christ. To come near to Christ is to come near to one another. The secret of true unity in the church and in the family is not diplomacy, not management, not a superhuman effort to overcome difficulties—though there will be much of this to do—but union with Christ.
“Picture a large circle, from the edge of which are many lines all running toward the center. The nearer these lines approach the center, the nearer they are to one another.
“Thus it is in the Christian life. The closer we come to Christ, the nearer we shall be to one another. God is glorified as His people unite in harmonious action.”4
“My brethren, preach Christ. . . . The pen of inspiration has traced the words which Christ spoke in order that those who believe in Him may give to others the words which He has given to them. Ministers should set before the people the lessons which are to be brought into the home life.”5
Lighthouses to the world
“The mission of the home extends beyond its own members. The Christian home is to be an object lesson, illustrating the excellence of the true principles of life. Such an illustration will be a power for good in the world. Far more powerful than any sermon that can be preached is the influence of a true home upon human hearts and lives. As the youth go out from such a home, the lessons they have learned are imparted. Nobler principles of life are introduced into other households, and an uplifting influence works in the community.
“There are many others to whom we might make our homes a blessing. Our social entertainments should not be governed by the dictates of worldly custom, but by the Spirit of Christ and the teaching of His word. . . . How much such a welcome might do to cheer and encourage the missionary nurse or the teacher, the care-burdened, hard-working mother, or the feeble and aged, so often without a home, and struggling with poverty and many discouragements.
“‘When thou makest a dinner or a supper,’ Christ says, ‘call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just’ (Luke 14:12–14).
“These are guests whom it will lay on you no great burden to receive. You will not need to provide for them elaborate or expensive entertainment. You will need to make no effort at display. The warmth of a genial welcome, a place at your fireside, a seat at your home table, the privilege of sharing the blessing of the hour of prayer, would to many of these be like a glimpse of heaven.
“Our sympathies are to overflow the boundaries of self and the enclosure of family walls. There are precious opportunities for those who will make their homes a blessing to others. Social influence is a wonderful power. We can use it if we will as a means of helping those about us.
“Our homes should be a place of refuge for the tempted youth. Many there are who stand at the parting of the ways. Every influence, every impression, is determining the choice that shapes their destiny both here and hereafter. Evil invites them. Its resorts are made bright and attractive. They have a welcome for every comer. All about us are youth who have no home, and many whose homes have no helpful, uplifting power, and the youth drift into evil. They are going down to ruin within the very shadow of our own doors.
“These youth need a hand stretched out to them in sympathy. Kind words simply spoken, little attentions simply bestowed, will sweep away the clouds of temptation which gather over the soul. The true expression of heaven-born sympathy has power to open the door of hearts that need the fragrance of Christlike words, and the simple, delicate touch of the spirit of Christ’s love. If we would show an interest in the youth, invite them to our homes, and surround them with cheering, helpful influences, there are many who would gladly turn their steps into the upward path.
“Our time here is short. We can pass through this world but once; as we pass along, let us make the most of life. The work to which we are called does not require wealth or social position or great ability. It requires a kindly, self-sacrificing spirit and a steadfast purpose. A lamp, however small, if kept steadily burning, may be the means of lighting many other lamps. Our sphere of influence may seem narrow, our ability small, our opportunities few, our acquirements limited; yet wonderful possibilities are ours through a faithful use of the opportunities of our own homes. If we will open our hearts and homes to the divine principles of life we shall become channels for currents of life-giving power. From our homes will flow streams of healing, bringing life and beauty and fruitfulness where now are barrenness and dearth.”6
If, by God’s grace, we as His children, take into serious consideration these inspired instructions, then our families will be the most powerful sermon to outsiders, and for sure we will receive the inheritance promised to the faithful ones.
May the Lord grant this experience to all of us who are taking part in this week of prayer!
The Desire of Ages, p. 74.
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 308.
Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 87.
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, pp. 501, 502.
The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1253.
The Ministry of Healing, pp. 352-355.