It is undeniably easier to be Christian outside our homes. I’m sure that many of you can relate with that sentiment. The attitude of appreciation, respect and honour we desire to receive from others is much easier to come by, when outside of our immediate family. I’ve heard many Christians quote Jesus’s statement (and I’ve done it myself too) that “a prophet is not welcome in his own home”. That’s just not true in the vast majority of our cases! For Jesus, the pure and perfect lamb who had no spot of sin in Him, was not welcomed by His own, not because of His ungodliness but because of His holiness. Our situation is, more often than not, quite the opposite. The reason we are exalted by those outside is because they don’t see the deeper and hidden layers of our sinfulness, which are seen with far more clarity by those in our homes. People on the outside seldom see who we are behind closed doors, and let us be wise to note that hypocrisy and lies are not far away, even for the best among us. We are not revered in our homes, because of the chasm that separates our proclamation of the Gospel from the reflection of that very Gospel in our lives, our conduct outside from our conduct within, our head, as it were, from our heart.
The lies we tell ourselves
The human mind must be brought captive to the word of God. We remember the portion where the Bible talks about the heart being deceitfully wicked and untrustworthy, but we often end up giving our minds a free pass when it comes to the issue of sin. Now, before I get ahead of myself here, let me iterate, for the sake of clarity, that when we refer to the “heart” in these situations, we are talking about our emotions. These emotions can be so potent that they can single-handedly drive us one way or the other regardless of what our rational minds may have reasoned out. Yet, it is obvious that the mind is neither detached from our actions, nor is it oblivious of them. In fact, our minds work in tandem with our hearts to push us to act in certain ways, and then to justify those actions. The question should rather be, are we allowing our emotions to get the better of our minds, or vice-versa?
I know a lot of people who suggest that the solution, since the heart is so deceitfully wicked, is to focus only on the intellectual convictions of the mind. Although this may seem better, a mindful action devoid of the heart brings neither glory to God nor joy to the human soul. Elevating one at the cost of the other is both unwise and dangerous. Therefore, the diligence that we must have is to guard the heart and the mind. No godly emotion would ignore the righteous discernment of the mind that is based on God’s word, and no true godly thought of the mind would run its course without birthing the appropriate passions in the heart. The danger is always in tipping either way, and therein lies one of the oldest tricks in the devil’s book of deception. The enemy seeks to create and magnify this very imbalance in us and make us believe the lie that we bring glory to God by disobedience!
Yes beloved, you heard me right. There are many occasions where we justify our sins thinking that we are glorifying God. Take me for example. I have seen in myself the tendency to be more caught up than I should be in the good things of ministry, whether it be preaching, teaching, counselling or any other pastoral function. As a result, I glance over some very fundamental responsibilities that I have, like spending time with my family, caring for their interests, helping out with household activities, shepherding my wife’s heart, or even something as basic as keeping my promises.
In fact, any sensible and honest minister will tell you that the most common lure of the enemy in their lives is to elevate the ministry in an irresponsible manner that lays devastation to the foundational aspects of his Christian home and life. The hypocrisy is real. It is undeniably easier to be Christian outside our homes. The effort it takes, the humility it calls for and the love that is needed, to be the light inside of our homes, cannot be faked. For this is the real test of our godliness, of our faith. Do you see how, in the name of the ministry and in the name of the Kingdom of God and His glory, we fail to prioritise that which God expects us to? Such sins are not reserved for ministry or church leaders alone, but run rampant in the lives of all who call themselves Christian.
The risk we must take
Beloved, do you know that when the Bible mandates certain qualifications for leaders in the Church, it lays as one of its core foundations the requirement – “the husband of one wife, and able to lead his home well”? For, if he cannot lead his home well, how is he to lead Christ’s church? Can it get any clearer than that? When the Bible talks about the transformed life of a born-again believer, how can any who claim to be of Christ not bear these fruits? If our fruits aren’t ripe within our homes and among the ones closest to us who know us well, what does it matter if those outside are impressed by our Christian lives? If a minister cannot preach, teach, serve, counsel, care, assist and do all the necessary and godly functions within his home, is he not sinning? Yet, most ministers would glance over all that, and for what? “For the sake of the ministry”, they say. “For the sake of God’s glory”. Do not be caught up in this lie, beloved. The lie from the enemy who is out to destroy our homes. Most Christians would pursue as a goal the things that set them on high among outsiders, when their homes are a mess they care very little about. Oh that we would be more clear sighted than that! Risk it! Risk it, beloved! Risk it all! Risk the ministry and risk the glory of God in order that you may obey Him fully! For these are fears or excuses that arise from a lack of trust in God, and a lack of obedience. God is most glorified when you succeed by His strength, not yours! If I spend the time and effort that is expected of me in my home, it may mean that my Church or ministry or something else might be impacted. Then let it be impacted! I say again, risk it. I believe that the rock will burst open in the desert and living waters will flow out, because the pastor and his people have not relied upon their strength but on God, by doing what they ought to do by not forsaking their families. For what glory does God receive if you’ve gained the whole congregation and raised your ministry, if in the process you’ve lost your family because of your sinful ignorance. Risk it, brothers! Risk the glory of God for the sake of His glory!