If you are constructing a building, you don’t want me as the carpenter! In years of church building programs, I’ve learned a little about construction processes, inspections, and codes. But, trust me, you do not need my construction skills—unless you’re hoping for a shaky finished product.
Similarly, if you are building a home, you don’t want to trust your own intuition. You need God’s wisdom and God’s help.
All across our nation, families are crumbling—so much so that Time Magazine ran a recent article titled, “There Is No Longer Any Such Thing as a Typical Family.”
And yet, God’s Word still holds the blueprint for a Christian home. And God’s Word still tells us that children are a gift from God—the “heritage of the Lord.”
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it…Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.—Psalm 127:1, 3
In whatever way you find yourself a guardian of God’s heritage—whether you are raising children as a married couple, a single dad, a single mom, grandparents, or foster parents, the Bible gives the only reliable blueprint for building the lives of those children.
Last Sunday evening, I began a new sermon series titled “Family Life” in which we are studying God’s truths regarding raising children. (View a list of the upcoming message topics here.)
In the first message, we learned five components of a godly home—with a corresponding practical application in each one:
Foundation of Scriptural Truth
If you’re like me, watching a building being constructed is too slow a process—especially in the beginning when most of what is happening doesn’t result in visible results. For a solid above-ground structure, much work must go into the foundation.
The all-important foundation for Christian homes is the Word of God. It must not just be a book that sits on our coffee tables and comes with us to church on Sundays. It must be a book that is part of our homes.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…—Colossians 3:16
Practical application: Read the Bible daily in your home with your children.
You don’t have to be a theologian. (In fact, your children will probably appreciate it if family devotions does not resemble seminary.) You simply need to open the Bible daily with your family and give some spiritual insight to them every day.
Foundation of Loving Acceptance
One of the most vital needs of a child is to know he is loved—not for what he does, but for who he is. Even if you did not receive loving affirmation from your parents, you must give it to your children. Thankfully, as Christians, we have a heavenly Father who consistently affirms His love to us in His Word.
I’ve known Christian parents who had strong standards, but did not demonstrate a consistent heart of love to their children. Rules without relationships will breed rebellion.
Is there a gentleness that permeates your home and your relationship with your son or daughter? There should be!
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:—1 Thessalonians 2:7
If a child is assured of your love and acceptance, they will be more willing to receive the direction you give.
Practical application: Express positive encouragement daily to your children.
Pillar of Time in Nurture
Love is spelled T-I-M-E. And yet, the average parent spends less than twelve minutes per day with their children!
Your children are a gift from God; make time for them. And I’m not talking about spending time watching television together—but actually living together. Have family dinner. Ask about their day. Go fishing. Clean out the garage together. Work on a project. Interface in their lives.
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.—Colossians 3:21
An absent parent can provoke children to anger and discouragement just as easily as an abusive parent can. Spend time together.
Practical application: Plan a special weekly night with your family.
Pillar of Loving Admonition
Your children need to see firsthand that the Christian life is real to you. There is nothing that brings a greater disconnect in the heart of child—especially a teenager—than a mom or dad who appears to be a great Christian at church but is woefully inconsistent at home.
None of us are perfect, and thankfully, our children are forgiving. But there is a difference between imperfection and inauthenticity.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.—Ephesians 6:4
In addition to making your words and life match, allow your children—especially as they reach their teen years—to be influenced by other godly adults. Outside of my family, the most influential man in my life in high school was my basketball coach—and I will forever be grateful for his godly influence. Young people need additional mentors in their lives who share your values.
Practical application: Teach your children with your word, your attitude, and your actions.
Rooftop of Biblical Authority
I’m not speaking here of ungodly authoritarianism or just yelling and screaming to prove your authority. But the fact is, God has ordained parents to be an authority in the home.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)—Ephesians 6:1–2
Even as an overly-authoritative parent can wound a child, an overly-permissive parent can also create a lack of acceptance.
You should know and care about your children’s whereabouts, friends (including online friends), and activities. As a parent or guardian, you are responsible for the precious gifts God has entrusted to your care; guide these young hearts and lives responsibly.
Practical application: Establish and maintain boundaries of behavior, friendships, and media involvement.
Investing in the lives of children is a serious endeavor. It’s more significant than building a house—or a skyscraper.
I don’t know a single person who would take the raw materials for a house and start sawing and hammering on them without a previously-drawn blueprint to guide the assembly of the pieces. That would be laboring in vain.
Building a home is an even greater undertaking than building a house. If we attempt to build on human reasoning and contemporary philosophies, we build in vain.
May we instead pattern our homes after the blueprint of God’s unchanging Word!