SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 11:10–21; Proverbs 3
By this time the winter is upon most of us with its cold days and even colder nights. How rich we are in having homes which are heated. Here we and our children enjoy the comforts to which we have grown altogether too accustomed. No scene seems to evoke quite so much longing within us as that in which as family we can sit together in a cozy room, perhaps even before a brightly burning fire.
There is, however, another kind of temperature which we ignore at our peril. Of it we don’t seem to be nearly so conscious. It concerns not our physical comfort but our spiritual welfare. Nor can its level be so easily ascertained as the warmth or chill which pervades our houses. Its influences for good or ill, however, are much more far.reaching.
Although using altogether different figures of speech, God’s Word calls attention to our responsibility in keeping the true fires, not of houses but of homes, burning brightly. A Christian home is to be known by the “atmosphere” which pervades it. Both Scripture passages, each in its own way, direct our attention to this. And it is our calling to judge accurately whether our homes are warm or lukewarm or chilly to God, his word and his will for our lives.
A. The Bible speaks about the home
1. To know what a truly Christian home is we will have to get back to Biblical principles and precepts repeatedly. Indeed, we do not find a detailed consideration of this subject in any specific place. Yet throughout the entire book of God mention is made of these things. And uniquely enough, God’s Word doesn’t seem to be much concerned at all about the kind of houses in which we live; rather, about the homes which we are building. Do you think that our high living standard makes for better or worse Christian homes? What are some of the blessings? What are some of the dangers involved in our living standard? Are we more concerned with houses (physical appearances and luxuries) than with homes? What difference do these two words spell out for you?
2. The Bible strongly stresses family relationships, Marriage, begetting and training of children, family relations, etc. are often considered in Scripture. Mention several examples. Why are these mentioned so often? What does it mean that ours are “covenant” families?
3. Notice from Moses’ address how God considers Israel to be his own family. Thus his commandments are so directly applied to the parents, particularly the fathers, How are national and family blessings connected here? Is the same connection to be observed today? Give reasons for your answer.
4. Notice also how material prosperity is connected with obedient and laving service to God. Nowhere is there apparent a sharp divorce between physical and spiritual favors. What should this teach us? Do you suppose we tend to separate the two too much? Will God also today ordinarily bless the obedient with prosperity? Can you prove your point? If this is so, will this tend to produce a kind of work-righteousness?
5. The essential quality of the truly God-centered home is love which manifests itself in obedient service to the Lord. This may well be remembered in our day when love of man for fellow-man, also within family relationships, seems to crowd out love for God above all. What is the Scriptural view of “love?” Wherein does this differ from the modem notion of love? Why does the Bible so closely associate love and obedience?
B. The Bible speaks to the home
1. In unmistakable language Moses describes how this love must be specifically expressed. Love for God expresses itself in keeping God’s commands. Which commands are meant? What is the difference between the kind of obedience required here and legalistic obedience? Why do you suppose so many today sharply separate love and law? How does love for God produce love within the home in the various family relationships?
2. This love for God is to be cultivated by calling the attention of the children to the marvelous works of the Lord on behalf of his people. To which deeds does Moses refer? Are there such deeds to which we should refer? Which deeds are these?
3. In much the same fashion Proverbs urges the same calling. Here the father is called upon (as he actually does) to exhort the son to remember the Lord in all his ways. Notice the “do’s” and the “don’t’s” found in this section. How does sound God-centered teaching produce understanding, wisdom and discretion? Discuss these qualities.
4, All the blessings of the Lord are assured to those who so testify to God’s right to the love of his people. In Deuteronomy these blessings are assured to the people in general; in Proverbs more specifically to the individual, here the son, who hearkens to such teaching.
C. The Bible speaks within the home
1. In both passages the emphasis falls upon the word of God as that which is to be taught. How do we know that the Bible is God’s word to and for us? Isn’t there much else that our children must learn than that which the Bible contains? How is this knowledge related to the knowledge which the Bible provides? Discuss the proper attitude towards Bible reading and study in our homes? How can we avoid formalism in our use of Scripture? Why do you suppose our children seem to be more interested in other books than in the Bible? Are we perhaps responsible for this? Can love for God be cultivated without daily meditation on and discussion of Scripture?
2. Attention is called to the ways in which the Israelites were to remind their children of the Lord. What were “frontlets between your eyes?” Why write these things upon doorposts? Do you think we should have wall plaques containing Scripture verses in our homes?
3, Mention is also made of the frequency with which the Israelites were to speak about God to their children. Do you think such children got too much religious training? Do we tend to insist on too much of this for our children? Which methods should we use for this kind of home training?
4. Aside from all the outward blessings enjoyed in this way, mention is made of happiness, Does this cancel out sorrow for sin? Do you think we and our children are happy in the Lord? What is meant by this according to Proverbs? Show and discuss the practical benefits of such a loving fear of the Lord as listed in Proverbs 3.