Texts for the Week: Isaiah 38; 39; 1 Cor. 7:12–15; 1 Pet. 3:1, 2; Heb. 6:12; 13:7; 3 John 11; Isa. 58:6, 7, 10, 12
Memory Text: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV).
Opening Question: What can people see in the house of a believer?
The whole lesson this week focuses on the home of a believer and what might been seen there, what ought to be seen there. This is an invitation that invites us to look first at those who are within the house, at what they experience or ought to experience. Then it asks us to contemplate what others who are outside the home might see when they come into it.
First, then, we think about those who are in the house. What do they see? Do they see joy, openness, love, kindness, mutual support or do they see harshness and arbitrariness, selfishness and unkindness? We all know the truth of the saying that children in particular pay more attention to what parents do than to what they say. Of course, if there is a synergy between those two things, the effect is most powerful.
One thing that comes to mind here is the nature of household operations. Is the home very rigid with father or mother asserting authority over all others in the home? This smacks of authoritarianism and it tends, over time, to produce rebellion for nobody likes to be dominated. Certainly, when children are little, they can be dominated, but as they grow up, most refuse to be cowed even by an authoritarian parent. And, as every parent knows, the final arbiter in life is not in their control but is inside each individual person to the point that children will eventually tell the parent how life will be. How much better then, rather than being authoritarian, is the idea that there should be a staged dispersal of authority so the child gains more and more governance of their own life as they grow through the stages of life. When that task is done well, parents end up with adult children who are their friends rather than adults who dislike or even hate each other. And, in this kind of environment, there is the best prospect of belief and religious commitment being transmitted from one generation to the next. Great effort should be undertaken by members of a family to show love and loyalty and selflessness to each other making the pathway through life more pleasant.
- Consider the story of Ruth and Naomi as an example of how beautiful relationships can become. Ruth 1:8-22.
- Consider the hospitality of Rachel and her household and what the effects of that were.
One complication that warrants some discussion perhaps, is the issue of marriage to an unbelieving spouse. Sometimes people marry across religious lines with the full knowledge of doing so while on other occasions the difference comes from change made after marriage such as when a spouse converts to another religion. What then? Fortunately, there is some advice to be found in the Scriptures on this:
- 1 Cor. 7:12–15;
- 1 Pet. 3:1, 2.
- Don’t walk away from an unbelieving spouse for you might have a very good “sanctifying effect” on them.
- Realize they may walk away from you.
- Lovingkindness, faithfulness, a gentle spirit, selflessness and things like that can go a very long way to making even a home divided by religion a happy place.
- It is advisable to ever keep in mind that a persistent pushing of your beliefs or a persistent complaining about religious difference can destroy a home quite quickly.
Then there is the matter of what people who are not in the hope see. Hopefully, they see a happy and hospitable place. All of us can no doubt think of occasions where we were treated kindly and taken in and even fed. Those occasions linger in our memories as wonderful occasions that tell something about the people who were kind and hospitable. For believer’s to be people like that, who are willing to invite others to their homes for a meal, for conversation, for study, are all ways in which those outside the home can benefit from Christian witness. In times past, this was a major means of carrying the gospel to unbelievers especially in those societies that prize hospitality as chief among the social graces. There is no reason to think that does not pertain today.
- If your home is not a place of grace and love, what steps can you take to remedy that situation?
- When last did you show hospitality to someone who was not a member of your family?
- What could you do to come alongside someone who is struggling due the fact they are married to an unbelieving spouse?
- If you are married to an unbeliever, what are your responsibilities and what are your opportunities?