If God offered you anything you wanted in this world, anything at all, what would you ask for? Tough question. It takes a bit of thinking about – a new car; a bigger house; good health; a long life. There are so many things to choose from. What would you choose? Can I tell you something, after the basic provisions of enough air to breath, water to drink and food to eat and a roof over my head, do you know what’s right up there for me? Peace, just being able to live life in peace.
If you have a Bible, open it up at 1 Kings in the Old Testament, chapter 22 and verse 17. This is what it says:
“Then Micaiah said ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep that have no shepherd’. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master, let each one go home in peace’.
There’s something … something about being able to go home in peace. To kind of walk in the front the door, close it behind you, be in this sanctuary called “home” and to be able to withdraw from the world with our families and have peace.
In fact my hunch is, if you and I did a survey and a peaceful home was one of the things on that list, many a person would choose that because there is such a blessing in a peaceful home. Many a home is torn by strife – discord, disrespect, dissension – and many a family is disintegrating. What if we could have a peaceful home? What a blessing that would be.
When you look around this world there are many homes that are far from being peaceful. They’re a long way from that. And depending on where you live, either divorce is running at almost one in every two marriages or – if divorce isn’t quite the cultural norm – many of the so called families are no more than warring adults and a bunch of angry, ill-disciplined children.
There’s no peace in those places. You can’t have peace when the people aren’t living a peaceful life. There’s an interesting statement at the beginning of the Old Testament book of Proverbs. Proverbs is Wisdom Literature. Have a look at Proverbs chapter 1 verse 7:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
When it comes to peace, I had an interesting email from a rebel fighter in a war-torn part of Africa last year. He listened to a program of ours on the radio about the fear of God. Have a listen to what he said:
“Recently I was attending a peace conference. While I was in my hotel room I turned on the radio. As I was listening to your program, I realized that with no fear of God in our hearts there will be no peace. No peace at all.
This eight minutes were enough to take me to a turning point in my life as well as in my peace effort in this region. I left the room as a changed man. I’d been on the battlefield for 13 years now. I don’t know how many people have died because of my gun but what I know is that I decided to lay down my arms.”
Isn’t that an amazing testimony? But do you get it? Peace comes when we fear God. Peace comes when we decide to do it His way. Peace comes when we lay down our guns and stop shooting because deep in our hearts the fear of God has taken root – a right fear; a good fear – when we decide to start living our lives His way, the right way.
There’s a name for that. It’s called righteousness and righteousness has a real impact on our home lives. Again listen to the prophet Isaiah. I’m reading from Isaiah chapter 2 beginning at verse 7. Listen to how he puts it:
The effect of righteousness will be peace and the result of righteousness quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, a secure dwelling and in quiet resting places.
Man, what an incredible blessing. Peaceful habitation, a secure dwelling and quiet resting places. Let me ask you something. Is that something that you want for your home, for your family? When you walk in the front door and close it and shut out the rest of the world out there, is that the sort of home that you want to have.
I believe that it is time for us to start building a godly home; to take seriously our responsibility to play our part in making our homes godly. I don’t mean being perfect. We are imperfect people and so are going to have an imperfect home. Sure. But you know something, as we start to get the fear of God happening in our hearts as we honour God, as we start to decide to live our lives His way, something happens.
It’s a bit like that rebel fighter. Peace breaks out. It won’t happen over night. It may take months or even years to sort through some of the messes we’ve created and I know that we can’t change the past but we can change from this moment forward.
What a blessing a peaceful home is. I’ve lived in both. A house of conflict and a house of peace and let me tell you, peace is so much better. There’s a price to pay. I can’t have all my own way any more. You know something, that’s good, that’s something I had to learn and I’m still learning but I’m absolutely determined to do the best I can to make the home I live in peaceful. Not just for me, but for my wife, Jacqui and my beautiful daughter Melissa. They’re entitled to peace too, you know.
Now there are going to be times when the three of us rub one another the wrong way, when it just doesn’t quite work. But today on the program we’re going to be taking a look at some really practical things we can do to have a godly family and peaceful home.
I was talking recently to a real estate agent who was selling a house for a couple that had just separated. Every week they have the sales meeting with the real estate agent to see how the sale’s progressing. He was telling me how difficult those meetings were. He said you can cut the air with a knife. These two detest each other. They couldn’t see eye to eye on anything. Why is that? How did that happen? How did things get to such a low point?
Let me tell you, that’s the inevitable outcome if we live in our families for ourselves, selfishly. What I can get out of it. It starts not long enough after a couple’s married, tiny cracks appear, battles start that turn into raging wars and it tears families apart. Life wasn’t meant to be lived that way. We weren’t meant to live in a war zone called family. And part of what needs to happen in our homes is that each one of us needs to bring ourselves under the authority of God Himself. Godly people have the opportunity to build a godly home.
It’s no slam dunk by the way. It’s no certainty but at least we have the opportunity. Ungodly people have got no show. Let me ask you again, what do you want? Do you want what the prophet Isaiah was talking about?
“The effect of righteousness will be peace and the result of righteousness quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation in secure dwellings and in quiet resting places.”
Is that what you want? Or do you want a home of discord and dissension.
Husband and Father
Now I truly believe that the husband, the father, the man, has such a great role to play in bringing peace. We men are a funny breed. There is something deep inside us that makes us the protectors and the providers for our families. Most men, not all, but most men are programmed, hard-wired, to provide and protect. Okay, these days women often go to work and bring income into the house (and that’s great), but it tends to be the man – the husband, the father – who carries the burden of protection and provision around in his heart.
It’s kind of how we blokes are. And even though we can get it wrong (we can become dominating, and reclusive and uncommunicative and in fact, downright abusive) you know there’s something special about the way God’s made us. There’s something inside us that’s wants to lead … and that, that is a real asset to our families. I don’t know about you, but I want a peaceful habitation, secure dwelling, peaceful resting place just like Isaiah spoke when we looked before the break.
And funnily enough it fits so well with the thing we men carry around inside us somewhere – to be the protector and the provider. Because if we really thought about it, that’s the sort of home we’d like to provide for our families, I certainly would. And that snug fit, that kind of hand in glove thing that’s happening here between God’s promise of a peaceful home and the man’s desire to provide and protect, you know what that tells me? It tells me that we men – husbands and fathers – have a big role to play in bringing this blessing to pass
That’s something I’d like to unpack right now, because if the truth be known there is more than one man listening today, for whom it’s time to step up to the plate and be a man. To be the man God made him to be; to protect, to provide, to bring peace and blessing to our homes.
The notion these days of the man being the head of the household, well, it’s not very politically correct. It’s not particularly popular. But the reality is the man’s protector/provider kind of strength fits in well for that role. Not to dominate people, not to abuse power, but to be a godly leader in the home.
And there’s the key – it’s in that adjective, ‘godly’, because an ungodly husband and father can be such a destructive force in the home. He’s so strong, his anger is so fierce it’s a part of who he is as a man. A father can be destructive. Have a listen to this piece of godly advice from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter 6 verse 4:
“Fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
You see there the two sides of the coin in that verse. There’s a strength and you can either use that, Dad, to bring your kids up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord or you can misuse it to provoke anger in your children. Godly strength wrongly applied becomes a harsh reality and where there is a harsh judgement and treatment from an ungodly man in the home there can be no peace.
The other mistake we make in the 21st century is the mistake of abdication. Many a husband and father walk away from his role as the leader in the home. And that’s sad, because as a godly leader he can bring such an incredible peace and stability and safety and order in this chaotic thing we call family. There are a few different reasons why men walk away sometimes.
The first is that they are just plain exhausted. They are working long hours to pay off the mortgage.
The second is that it doesn’t seem politically correct anymore for him to exercise leadership. We mistake equality between men and women by thinking they’re the same. We get it all wrong. We think somehow that it means that our roles in the home are the same. They’re not because we’re different and God planned it that way. The template men have in their heads of the relationship with their mother and father well it doesn’t work anymore so they give up.
Kids have been taught to disrespect their parents. That’s the third thing. In the TV program, ‘The Simpsons’, dad, Homer is this stupid old slob who can never get it right. Society’s teaching our kids to defy their parents and so many a man will abdicate for these reasons. And on top of all that, he’s too busy to have a close walk with God. He, himself, therefore isn’t godly. So if you’re a man listen up and if you’re a woman listen up too because this is important.
Men, God made us in a certain way. Strong with that protector/provider for a purpose and the greatest thing that you can do for your family is to get close to God; to start praying and reading the Bible and getting close to God so that you can hear His heartbeat. It’s a beautiful strong beat, the father’s heart – a constant rhythm.
And the closer we get to God, men, the more we rediscover who God made us to be. Actually being a leader and loving and cherishing our wives and nurturing our children. It ends up coming kind of naturally. It comes naturally to cherish our wives and to nurture and discipline our children and to protect our families from the things that will upset their peace.
There are probably so men have slipped into bad habits because they’re tired, because godly ways aren’t trendy anymore. Perhaps they’re not that trendy but if we surveyed women if they wanted their husbands to step up to the plate and take up the mantle of leadership – godly leadership – you know what we’d get? A resounding “Oh, yes, please!”
It’s great for us men to be passionate about our work. There is something my wife’s been teaching me, I have to have something left over for my family too. Not the dregs, not the leftovers but something of my best. So if you’re a man, if some of this rings true for you and is driving a bit closer to home than you wished it was, here is my encouragement to you today.
You my friend are God’s gift to your wife and to your children. He expects you to lead, he expects you to protect and provide and when we figure out what that means in our particular family – what we discover is that who we are brings such peace to our homes and that, that’s an incredible blessing.
Wife and Mother
Before the break we talked about the man, the husband, the father. What an incredible asset his strength can be in building a godly family and bringing peace to the home. Now it’s time to talk about the wife and the mother and the incredible asset that she can be in being the glue that binds the family together into a working unit; the one who makes the home a nurturing environment.
But so often the women feels used and abused. No wonder! In many places and cultures she’s expected to go out and earn income as well. In Australia at least, the lion’s share of housework is still done by women and not men.
Now the Christian view of male/female relationships can seem, well, old fashioned. But the more I delve into what the Bible has to say about male/female relationships, the more I realise that whilst maybe we wouldn’t quite use the same language today if we were writing it, what God has to say about families and husbands and wives, when you dig beneath the language that offends our 21st century sensibilities and go to the heart of what He is saying, it’s as true today as it was when it was written. Have a listen to this. 1 Peter in the New Testament, chapter 3 verse 7:
“Husbands, in the same way show consideration for your wives in your life together paying honour to the woman as the weaker sex since they too are heirs of the gracious gift of life so that nothing may hinder your prayers.”
That weaker sex thing makes me smile. Women after all are the ones who have the babies and the very thought of having a baby is enough to send me into a cold sweat. I mean, I go weak at the knees at the thought of what it must be like for a woman to give birth. And then the Bible calls them the weaker sex. Bit chauvinistic don’t you think. Actually what the original Greek that sits behind our English translation says, is that they are the weaker vessel.
This is how I picture this. You know, the big metal vats that they use when they milk cows, you know, those big sort of aluminium cans – that’s the bloke and the woman is this small, delicate, exquisite vase on the mantel piece of infinitely more worth, infinitely greater beauty than that big hard can. That kind of does it for me, that picture.
Men have this knock-about strength and robustness about them. They play the game of rugby or football or whatever your code of football is, the bone crunching thing that they do. Not very much a girl thing is it?
Women on the other hand are delicate, they’re much more emotional creatures and for the most part we men don’t get that often. And see what Peter’s writing here to us blokes is this: just because you appear stronger; just because you’ve got it in your heads that you’re bigger, better, stronger, faster (and this was particularly relevant to the patriarchal society he was writing to) just because you’ve got this macho picture in your head, don’t you for one minute even begin to think you are somehow better in God’s sight.
In fact you’d better honour her. Do you know what that means? Do you know what it means to honour someone? It means firstly and foremost to value her. That’s why the old marriage vows say love, honour and cherish because she needs to be cherished and she has this incredible strength, men, that we don’t have. So God’s calling us here, through His word, to value her, to honour her, to pay deference and reverence to her. This is very strong language and there’s a sting in the end of this last bit for men. Have another listen.
“Husband’s in the same way show considering for your wives. (Boy, if only we could show consideration for our wives). Husbands show consideration for your wives in your life together paying honour to the woman as the weaker sex, (that beautiful vase on the mantel piece) since they too are heirs of the gracious gift of life, (now here’s the sting) so that nothing, nothing may hinder your prayers.”
Look at how seriously God takes this. People, women play such an amazing role in the building of the Godly family and the bringing of peace to the home. But to those of you who are woman, I’m going to say this. I want you to hear the sting in the tale that God puts in his advice to men about how they treat you.
I want you to hear how seriously God takes you. How much He cares for you, how much He doesn’t mince His words when He’s standing up for you. It’s time for some women in this world to realise how incredibly important your gentleness and your commitment to your children and your commitment to your husband and your commitment to your home really is in building a godly home.
See, in my heart, I think of my wife as the pillar of our family. She’s the one that binds us all together and while I’m out there being a hunter/gatherer she is binding the family together. She’s knocking off some of my rough edges. She’s softening who I am. She’s helping me to see the children. She is a wonderful asset in our home.
I want to come back to what we were talking about today. It’s about the blessing of a peaceful home. Remember we talked at the beginning of the program about Isaiah chapter 32 beginning at verse 17 where God says this:
“The effect of righteousness, that is living our lives the right way through Jesus Christ, the effect of righteousness will be peace and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. (What a beautiful home that would be. God goes on to say), People will abide in a peaceful habitation in secure dwellings and in quiet resting places.”
Can I encourage you today, it is so worth it to decide as husband and wife, as the leaders of the home, that you are going to have a peaceful home and then to set about using the different gifts, the different skills, the different ways that God has made each of you, to be a blessing and to bring that to pass.
Doesn’t matter how dysfunctional our homes may be, doesn’t matter what mistakes we’ve made in the past, doesn’t matter how bad things are, God wants his people to live righteously and the blessing that comes from that is peace and security and a quiet resting place. And that is so worth doing.