Heads turned as the gleaming truck rolled down the street and turned into his driveway. After a brief rev, the powerful engine was silent except for the ping of the cooling exhaust. Backwoods Bob remained inside fiddling with the radio and lights as his neighbor strolled across the street to check out this new rig. Meanwhile Bob’s wife and two children came out the front door of the house. Bob stepped out to greet his neighbor and they admired the cool features of the truck. They soon drifted deeply into conversation about the great fishing and hunting trips that lay ahead with the rest of the boys.
Little Joe walked around the truck to his dad but did not get his attention until he pried open the gas flap and let it slam. Dad’s jovial talk turned instantly into a scolding bark. Little Joe walked around the truck and came back to Dad. He begged Dad to come and see the fort he built in the back yard, but Dad only said “pretty soon.”
Mother walked back into the house. She picked up the coupons she had been saving and began to wonder if the money she has saved would ever be used for the family camping trip. Lately his vacation time had been spent out in the woods or lake with his buddies. She had thought that his circle of buddies would leave after they were married and his passion for cars, hunting, and fishing would turn into strong dedication to the family; but things had not changed much. It never was very easy to get his attention, but she thought once she broke through his world of cheap thrills that he would see the importance of church and the family. She had been certain that a loving wife and comfortable home would make him happy and content, but he said that he still needed time for himself with his buddies. She began to feel as though she was but one of many his many toys.
As the years went by, the family structure was becoming soft and weak. It looked good on the outside as long as no major problems arose, but there was not much there to withstand severe trials should they come. Dad could not be bothered with discipline problems when he came home from work. His prayers were shallow and hurried. He worked overtime so he could pay for his hobbies and a few extra toys for the kids to keep them happy in his absence. After work he needed some quiet time behind the newspaper away from the bustle of family life. He did not have time to play with the kids or answer their questions and explain their catechism lesson. He did not have patience for his wife or any interest in her day. He even suggested that she find a job to supplement his income. He was not ready to give up the carefree life and toys he had grown used to while he was single. Meanwhile, the family was growing weak and bitterness began to seep into the cracks.
The same was true with the families of his buddies. Everything looked good on the outside, but the inside was hollow and empty. They had nice homes. They sent their kids to a Christian school. They all belonged to the same church. They all walked into church faithfully each Sunday and talked long together in the parking lot. They would talk excitedly and laugh, but when the pastor walked up, they had little to say. Like little boys, their heads were filled with their toys; yet they were old enough to know that the head of a household should be busy guiding his family toward covenant life with God. Home was not the place where Bob and his friends wanted to be. Home was ok for awhile, but they did not hurry home in order to settle in with the family for the evening. At home they were grumpy. They would rather be out having some fun flying free in a boat, four-wheel drive, or snowmobile or working by themselves in a hobby shop. Selfish desire to satisfy ones own wants was a top priority. A strong home was not the goal toward which to devote ones energy. Making sure the family was in church and a few other traditional things was good enough. The home was becoming a whitewashed sepulchre.
But being head of a household is not a part time job in light of God’s Word. A godly home must be the chief goal of a father and husband. We read in Deut. 6:6-7,“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” And in Ephesians 5:25 we read “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” The husband and father must give himself to his family.
A proper attitude begins even before marriage. We read in Ecclesiastes 11:9 “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” Freedom to follow the desires of a sinful heart is bondage to sin. The young man must learn to seek the will of God when he is young, then he will also be humble and willing to seek the will of God in marriage as well. Instead of wasting the years of youth on self-satisfaction, we read in Titus 2:6-8 “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” Whether single or married, the sober-minded young man will take seriously his calling in the church.
The married man is called to devote his life to his wife and family, and he must do it out of obedience and love for God and not view it as an unfortunate side effect of marriage. The family must not be seen as an interference with his personal life. His home must be cultivated and led in accordance with God’s word so that it is like a refreshing garden and a place desired after a day of work. His home, not his toys, must be his joy.
The devotion of a godly husband and father to his home results in a strong home, and a church that has strong homes is a strong church. It is a church in which covenant children grow up in the fear of the Lord and are prepared to defend the truth for another generation. The husband and father who looks for ways to avoid his home and would rather play with his toys is a man who heaps up treasures in this earth. He and his family become dead wood in the church. We need to fight against this in our churches. Those who already have an established home must continually strive for a strong godly home. Those who are looking forward to married life must begin now by practicing those attitudes, practices, and priorities which God commands in His Word. May the young men of our churches willingly submit by God’s grace to their calling. May the young women also prepare to be a wife and mother in such a household. ❖