Living for the Lord (II): In the Home
Adapted from a sermon series by Simon Chin―Singapore
In part one, we learned we have been purchased with a great price; so
we need to live our life aligned with Apostle Paul’s exhortation: For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to
himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the
Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Rom 14:7–8).
In part two, we learn that living for the Lord also extends to our family life.
When we live for ourselves or even
for our family, life can still feel empty. Solomon once lamented, “Vanity of
vanities” (Eccl 1:2). Indeed, everything conducted under the sun can feel like vanity.
In contrast, everything done above the sun—for a higher purpose and according
to God’s will—brings meaning to life and a future reward in the kingdom of
heaven. In the conclusion to the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon defines that
higher purpose: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole
matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will
bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or
evil” (Eccl 12:1314).
Today, by the grace of God, we come
to know the word of God and understand that we can live a meaningful life because
God loves us and has redeemed us from a life of hopelessness. If we continue to
live for ourselves even with such knowledge, we are the most foolish of people.
Let us start with our home, where
we should live our life for the Lord. What must we do to achieve this?
HONOR (RESPECT AND OBEY) OUR PARENTS
Apostle Paul warns that in the
last days, sinful behavior will be prevalent (2 Tim 3:1). This is very evident
today, where it is commonplace to hear of news on the lack of morality in society,
where children are capable of even murdering their parents. One wonders what
has happened to filial piety. For Christians who fear God, honoring our parents
is our basic duty.
obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your
father and mother,” which
is the first commandment with promise: “that it may
be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Here, Paul quotes the Fifth Commandment;
the first commandment with a promise, where those who honor their parents will be
blessed with longevity. Some may think that such obedience is conditional, “If
my parents treat me well, then I will obey them. If my parents do not take good
care of me, I do not need to obey them.” But this is not what the Bible teaches.
As long as we have parents who are with us, our duty is to respect and obey
Biblical examples of those who
obeyed their parents and were blessed would be Joseph (Gen 37:13–14; 47:11–12)
and David (1 Sam 17:15–20). Conversely, we see the two sons of Eli, who,
despite growing up in the temple, were disrespectful and disobedient to their
father. In the end, God let the enemies kill them in battle. Samson was another
person who did not heed his parents’ advice. He insisted that they helped to arrange
his marriage to a beautiful Gentile woman. Despite being a judge and a Nazarite
with a special gift of physical strength from the Lord, Samson came to a calamitous
end—because he disobeyed his parents and married a Gentile woman.
At its most basic, living for
Christ at home means obeying and respecting our parents. When we do so, God
will bless us. When Solomon succeeded his father David as king, his mother, Bathsheba,
approached him. Despite being the most important person in the land, Solomon arose
and bowed to her. He also made sure she had a throne by his side. Such was his filial
piety. As a result, God blessed Solomon.
Honoring our parents is something
we must learn. However, filial piety is not always easy to practice, as we may find
it difficult to get along with our parents; but the fact remains that they are our
parents, and as children, we need to honor, which is to respect and obey, them.
UPHOLD HOLINESS IN MARRIAGE
One of modern society’s ills is
the lack of holiness in marriage. Some choose to marry multiple times; others divorce
when they fall out of love. Fornication and adultery are rife. But the author
of Hebrews reminds us, “Marriage is honorable among all, and
the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb 13:4).
In church, marriage is to be
treated with honor and conducted in a manner blessed by God. Before marriage, we uphold holiness by
refraining from sexual intimacy; after marriage, we are faithful to our spouse:
upholding the one man, one wife principle. God blesses such marriages, since,
by respecting the sanctity of the relationship, we are honoring God and acknowledging
that He has brought us together.
The Bible says, “Therefore what
God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mk 10:9). Sadly, society no
longer heeds these words. Instead, couples take the marriage vows lightly. We have
seen young couples who divorce after a few years of marriage, and even couples,
despite decades of marriage, divorce when their children have grown up; citing the
absence of feelings, sentiments or obligations towards each other.
Apostle Paul says, “Nevertheless
let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the
wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:33). Marriage
is a reciprocal relationship: a husband should love (treasure) his wife
and a wife should respect and yield to her husband. A marriage is not conforming
to biblical teachings if it lacks either love or respect.
In today’s society, many find it
difficult to accept these biblical teachings, mistaking them for gender
inequality and thinking that they give men the license to oppress their wives. On
the contrary, these teachings mean that a husband has to make sacrifices for
his wife, to love and treasure her just as Christ gave Himself for the church.
In turn, a wife is to respect her husband. When we apply such principles in a marriage,
the relationship will grow and blossom.
In history, God’s people had ignored
His will concerning marriage:
And this is the second thing
You cover the altar of the Lord with
With weeping and crying;
So He does not regard the offering anymore,
Nor receive it with
goodwill from your hands.
Yet you say, “For what reason?”
Because the Lord has
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
“For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously.”
Prophet Malachi ministered around 400
B.C., after the rebuilding of the temple and the city walls. By right, the
people’s faith should have been restored by then, but we note that God, through
Malachi, rebuked them for a number of transgressions, including men’s
relationship with their wives: instead of honoring and respecting their spouse,
they had oppressed them. Hence, God rejected their offerings.
A Christian marriage can be compared
with the relationship that Jesus has with His church. Just as Jesus loves the
church, we need to have this type of love for our spouse—sharing respect and honor,
and helping each other to walk on the path to the kingdom of heaven—with godliness
We must ensure that our marriage is
holy and that we are faithful to each other (1 Thess
4:3–8). This stems from the understanding that we are children of God, and that
we must honor Him as the Lord of our household. This is very important.
When we live for Christ, we use the
word of God to cultivate ourselves in our marriage so that we can be holy and
know how to respect one another, just as we honor and respect God.
ESTABLISH THE CHURCH IN OUR HOME
Next, we build our homes to become
like a church. In the apostolic
times, many homes were churches. One such home was that of Aquila and
The churches of Asia greet you.
Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in
their house. (1 Cor 16:19)
Aquila and Priscilla lived in Corinth.
They received Paul into their home when he spent eighteen months preaching the
gospel in Corinth. Their reception was in contrast with many others who doubted
his apostleship, as they could not forget that Paul was once a persecutor of
Christians. When Paul left Corinth to continue his ministry, Aquila and
Priscilla accompanied him to Ephesus. There, they met Apollos,
an eloquent speaker who knew only the baptism of John. Aquila and Priscilla took
him aside to explain the gospel of salvation more accurately. Later, Apollos travelled from Ephesus to Corinth to pastor the
Because Aquila and Priscilla were
willing to use their home as a church, they could nurture key workers such as Apollos and Paul for the ministry. Had Aquila and Priscilla
not been devout Christians, their home would never be a church. (For a home to
be a church, that home must have godliness and holiness, a place where people
like to gather for worship.)
This is what we should establish
in our homes, a place of worship. We can set up a family altar, when family members
gather to read the Bible and to pray, even if it is only for five to ten
minutes each day. Let us not become so busy with secular matters that we no
longer place importance on family worship. If we want God’s blessings on our
home—for our children to understand their faith, grow up in the Lord, live for
Christ, and rely on Him—we must establish our family altar while they are
SERVE AS A FAMILY
It is also important that we serve
the Lord as a family. We are familiar with the biblical account of Abraham and
Isaac who climbed Mount Moriah together. Had Isaac
not agreed to walk with his father, carrying the fire and the firewood, or had he
struggled on the altar, Abraham would not be able to demonstrate his
willingness to offer his beloved son to God. In their joint service, we are
left with this legacy of Abraham’s great faith—a testament why he became the father
of faith, someone who brought God’s blessings to his son Isaac, his grandson
Jacob, and to his descendants, including David and Jesus Christ.
Acts 21:8–9 relates how Philip’s family
served God together: “On the next day we who were Paul’s
companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip
the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with
him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.”
Earlier in Acts chapter 8, we learn of Philip’s
preaching in Samaria. Afterwards, he preached to the Ethiopian eunuch, before
the Holy Spirit transported him to Azotus. Later Philip
moved to Caesarea and settled down. He had four daughters who were prophetesses;
in short, the whole family served the Lord. What a beautiful picture!
Today, it is the same. The entire
family must be ready to serve God.
If we had to decide whether our
son should be a preacher or a doctor, many of us may choose the latter because we deem this will
give him a better future; serving God would be a secondary priority. If Christians
raise their children with such secular values, it is difficult to nurture them
to have a robust faith and reliance on God. We can see this trend in church: members
who are successful in society have drifted away from church, no longer living
their lives for Christ. While they could be fervent during their tertiary years,
having been taught by their families to seek the world first before seeking God,
they turned away from their faith after their studies to seek their fortune in
In order for parents to establish a
home where family members love and serve God, these parents must uphold the
right values and understand that serving the Lord is a grace and encourage their
children to serve God always.
In our lives, we have to make many
choices—on our marriage, our career, our place of residence, and our way of life.
If we want to live for Christ, we must set correct priorities: serving Him must
be of utmost importance. If church members can have this mindset, the church
will not lack workers. We will be able to fulfill the duties that God has given
us and serve Him joyfully together.
Sadly, the reality is that many of
us do not give God priority; rather, we prefer to live for ourselves. It is not
surprising, then, that we raise children who grow up to become talented people,
but who withhold their gifts from God. Over time, ”Living for Christ” becomes
an empty catchphrase.
In church, we are witnessing a
decreasing number of full-time preachers; a trend that suggests our resolve of
living for Christ is declining with each generation of believers. Our
predecessors had a strong sense of what it meant to live for Christ. Many offered
themselves for full-time ministry. We need to review once again, how we can
truly live for Christ and serve Him.
If we can be certain of our reward
in heaven when our life ends, we will sing praises to the Lord. This means we
have done our duty as a human being, as a parent or grandparent, and at the
same time, we have fulfilled our duty as the Lord’s disciple. We have laid up for ourselves abundant treasure in heaven and left
a legacy of faith for our children so that they, knowing God, will keep His word
and also enter His kingdom, where we can be together forever, in the presence
of our Lord.