December 18, 2017

Home Sweet Home

Ben Strohbehn

An architect can design a house. A contractor can build a house. But only God can transform a house into a home.

Do you remember the song, “Home, Sweet Home”? Remember how it begins?

‘Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though we may warn,
Be it ever so humble,
There’s no place like home.

But did you know some people don’t sing it that way? They sing:

‘Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble,
I don’t want to go home.

Why do they sing it like that?

Perhaps their homes are like that of the man who went into a cafe, where he had noticed a sign which said “Home Cooking.” The waitress asked, “Something for you?” He said, “Do you have any cold beans?” “Yes,” she said. “Bring me a few.” “What else?” “Got any cold cornbread?” “Yes” “Bring me some.” “Anything else?” “Got any coffee made from grounds two or three days old?” “Sure,” she answered. “Bring me a cup.” When the waitress got through, she grinned at him, but he didn’t crack a smile. She said, “What else for you?” He said, “Sit down across the table and nag at me so I can feel at home”

Strange that so many homes miss the blessing of being a home, sweet home, or, as someone has said, “a taste of Heaven on earth.” The Bible clearly sets forth the way to achieve happiness in the home: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1). And in Colossians 3:18-21, the Apostle Paul concisely establishes the standards of family relationships by which the Lord would help us build home, sweet home “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is lit 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.

In view of these Scriptures, it might be well to suggest another change in singing “Home, Sweet Home”:

‘Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though we may roam,
When the Lord builds the house,
There’s no place like home.

When the Lord is preeminent.

The Psalmist said, “Except the Lord …” Certainly this speaks of preeminence. And this is supported by the words of the Apostle in Colossians 1:18, “That in all things [even homes] he might have the preeminence.

Many years ago, soon after a new pastor came to a little church in a French village, he called at a certain cottage. When the husband got home from work his wife said, “The new pastor called today.” “What did he say?” asked the man. “Oh,” she answered, “he asked, ‘Does Christ live here?’ I didn’t know what to say.” The man’s face flushed. “Why didn’t you tell him that we were respectable people?” “Well,” she answered, “I might have said that only, that isn’t what he asked me.” “Then why,” continued the husband, “didn’t you tell him that we say our prayers and read our Bible?” The wife replied, “But he didn’t ask me that.” The man grew more vexed. “Why didn’t you say that we are always at church?” “He didn’t ask that either. He asked only, ‘Does Christ live here?’”

For many days the man and woman pondered what the pastor meant by his question. Little by little their lives were changed they grew to let Christ: live through them. And some way, they knew not how, through great love and through a willingness to be surprised by the mystery of His radiance, they knew Him. He did indeed live there!

Does Jesus live at your house, sir
I heard a child once ask;
Her little brow was so furrowed
It looked much like a mask;
I saw that her eyes were troubled,
Her face marked with a tear;
The voice now a wee bit wistful
And her ear poised to hear.

Jesus used to live at our house,
With Mamma — Daddy, too;
But now He’s gone away somewhere—
I don’t know what to do;
‘Cause Daddy’s not the same today,
And Mamma laughs no more;
And ‘cause they spend no time with me
They must think I’m a bore.

It didn’t used to be this way
With Jesus in our home,
For every night my Daddy came,
When all my curls were combed,
To help me say my bedtime prayer,
(And Mamma helped me, too)
And they would smile and tuck me in,
But now they never do!

Could you tell me where Jesus is?
‘Cause everything seems black;
I want Him in our house again —
Oh, how I want Him back!
And should He come I’ll tell Him
I love and miss Him so!
Oh, if Jesus lives at your house
Don’t ever let Him go!

The child then turned and departed,
While I pursued my way;
And thoughts came back of altar-fires
That could be bright today!
But Jesus is forgotten and
Our homes become defiled;
So please don’t sin and shut God out
From your home or your child!

(Author unknown)

Does Jesus live at your house? Remember, if Christ is to be preeminent in your home, He must first. be the foundation (1 Corinthians 3.11). But don’t assume that He is “the Head of the house” just because He is the foundation. The preeminence of Christ in the home involves a day-by-day endeavor and experience around the family altar.

Regular family worship assures the very presence of the Lord Jesus in the home, for He Himself said, in Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” His presence “in the midst” is the very essence of a Christian home. In His presence, each member of the family receives that blessing and grace of which they stand most in need.

When the Wife is in Subjection.

The reality of a home, sweet home is also dependent on the wife’s willingness to be in subjection to her husband. It is probably safe to say that most problems with subjection are caused, not by what the subjection involves, but rather by the wife’s rebellion against the very thought of it or the husband’s improper and immature use of it.

For example, some husbands abuse the phrase “in everything” in Ephesians 5:24, believing this to mean the wife has forfeited her individuality and initiative. To hear some husbands talk, their wives must ask permission to put salt on their food or to sweeten their coffee! No wonder there’s so much confusion and misunderstanding about the meaning of “subjection”! Incidentally, most Bible teachers interpret “in everything”, to mean everything in the marriage relationship.

On the other hand, other men who talk so much about being the head of their house are typified by the husband who said to his wife: “Stop yelling! I’m the boss in this house — and I’ll wash the dishes before I vacuum if I want to!”

As used in Colossians 3:18, the word “subjection” means “to be under another, to obey.” It is not the Apostle’s purpose to downgrade womanhood; instead he desires to place her in an exalted position by comparing her to the Church, the Bride whom Christ loved and for whom He died. As the Church is subject to Christ, so is the wife to be in subjection to her own husband. Thus, the wife’s relationship to her husband is a means of exhibiting and exalting the relationship of Christ and the Church. Her subjection is also the means whereby she shows her love and respect for her mate.

When the Husband Loves his Wife.

There is a close relationship and an interdependence between the wife’s subjection and the husband’s love for his wife. And yet, there is sense in which his love becomes of greater import because of the position he occupies in God’s chain of command for the home. Some men speak of their wife’s duty to be in subjection and imply that the husband’s role as “lover” is optional. But one is as much a duty as the other!

To be sure, love is one of the keys to having a home, sweet home. The husband must realize that he is the one who sets the tone of love for his home. His love for his wife is to be patterned after the love of Christ for His Bride, the Church. This love is made easier by the willingness of the husband to be in subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ according to 1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ.” The man who understands and submits to the headship of Christ will be that husband who lovingly exercises his headship in the home. The more he experiences the love of Christ, the better he will function as a husband, endeavoring to love his wife as Christ does the Church; and the more he will “rejoice with the wife of [his] youth” and be “ravished always with her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19).

When Parents Discipline and Children Obey.

Equally important in the development of a home, sweet home is, the obedience of children and its counterpart, discipline by the parents. Here again, the interrelationship is very strong; the obedience is determined by the discipline. Consistency and clarity in discipline are both essential if a child is to develop a proper attitude and response. The child must know when he can expect to be disciplined and to what degree.

Discipline is not a conglomeration of rules, but rather a few well-defined standards that are understood by the child. Some parents have so many rules that they can’t remember them from day-to-day, yet they expect children to comply explicitly. Other parents are too harsh and rigid with their discipline. One father, who was attempting to follow the Navy pattern in his home, was finally asked by one of his sons, “Sir, how do you get a transfer out of this outfit?”

Happy is that home where the parents understand the importance of consistent discipline as the means of teaching obedience to their children; where they firmly believe that “the rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15); where they do not provoke their “children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Happy is that home where the children are taught to obey their parents because it is the right thing to do!

Where is the happy home today? It is that home that utilizes God’s standards for a home, sweet home as a daily checklist. This is the home where parents and children alike will be singing:

‘Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble,
There’s no place like home!

The late Dr. Ben Strohbehn was the pastor of the Bible Baptist Church of Kokomo, Indiana at the time of original publication.

This article was first published by Faith for the Family, January / February 1975. It is republished here by permission.

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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