Written by :   Zac Poonen Categories :   The home
WFTW Body: 

In relation to our home, we are told in Ephesians chapter 5 & 6 about three relationships - husbands and wives (Eph. 5:22-33), children and parents (Eph. 6:1-4) and masters and servants (Eph. 6:5-9). This last section applies to servants working in our homes as well as to those who work in an office - as servants of a company or the government, with bosses above us. So these instructions tell us how we are to conduct ourselves as masters/mistresses and servants - at home, or in an office. We all spend most of our time in two places - at home and in our office. A Spirit-filled person will manifest the Spirit of Christ at home and at his place of work. It is only with that Spirit that we can build the body of Christ.

Ephesians speaks about building the Body of Christ. The fundamental principle that underlies our conduct towards one another should be: "Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ" (Eph. 5:21). So just like wives have to be subject to their husbands, husbands also have to be subject to their wives. In the same way, fathers also have to be subject to their children and masters have to be subject to their servants. What does this mean?

God has drawn a boundary around everyone and we must all respect those boundaries. That is how we "honour all people" (1 Peter 2:17). Husbands, wives, fathers, children, masters and servants, all have a boundary drawn by God around each of them. If you have a servant working in your home, he has a boundary of certain rights that you cannot violate. For example, he must be given his salary regularly, his dignity must be respected, he must not be humiliated when he is being corrected, etc. Thus a master must be subject to his servant.

In the same way, when a child is being punished for bad behaviour, his dignity must be respected. Fathers must be subject to the boundary around their children. As a father, I made it a rule that I would never punish my children in the presence of others - whether visitors or their brothers - because that would be a double punishment for them - first the rod and then the humiliation before others. And the humiliation could be more painful for them than the rod. So a child also has a circle of dignity around him - and his father must respect that boundary.

In the same way, a wife has a boundary around her too. She may want to do things in a certain way in the kitchen. That's her sphere. The husband should not interfere in the way she runs her kitchen. I heard of a godly man who was very orderly in his ways. But his wife was the very opposite. She used to keep the plates and cutlery in her kitchen in a very haphazard way - all mixed up. Whenever the husband washed the dishes in the kitchen, he was tempted to put away the dishes and the cutlery in the orderly way that his mind told him to do it. But he knew that when his wife saw the orderly kitchen she would get discouraged because she could never arrange things that way. So he deliberately put away everything in the same slipshod way that his wife put them away, so that she would feel quite at home in her kitchen. What was the result? They had a slipshod kitchen but glorious fellowship between them!! That godly brother knew how to be subject to his wife in reverence for Christ! He was wise and recognised that fellowship between him and his wife was the most important thing. He didn't care whether the plates and cutlery were kept in a haphazard way or an orderly way. Some married couples are so foolish that they value a neat home more than mutual fellowship.

Fellowship between parents and children also is more important than having a neat and tidy home. We must certainly teach our children to be neat and tidy and to put things away in their proper places. But when they are young and play in the house, it will be impossible to keep everything neat and tidy at all times. Their home is the only place where our children can be free. Personally, I am not at all concerned whether others think my house is neatly kept or not. I want my wife and children to be happy in my home and I want fellowship with them. That is more important to me. Always value fellowship more than having a neat and tidy home.

It goes on to say in Ephesians 5 that a wife must recognise the authority of her husband as her head. God has placed the husband as the head - just like the brain in our body. The head (brain) cares for all the members of the body (Eph. 5:28). Even so, the husband must care for his wife. Being the head doesn't mean just giving orders. The head gives commands to the body - it tells the hands, legs and tongue to do various things. But the head also cares for the members. If there is the slightest injury anywhere in the body, the head feels it immediately and does something about it. Even so a husband, as the head, must be sensitive to the hurts of his wife. That is how Christ our Head is towards us. I am not referring merely to physical hurts, but to emotional hurts as well. When the wife is feeling sad or discouraged or hurt about something, the husband must sympathise with her and bring healing. A husband who is not interested in such care is not fit to be the head. A head who merely gives orders is a dictator! A sensitive husband and a submissive wife are together a beautiful demonstration to the world of what Christ and the church are. That is the type of home we must all build. This will take time, but we must pursue it with all our hearts.

Children must be brought up to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1-4). The most important thing we have to teach our children is obedience to parents. Slaves are commanded to obey their masters, not with eye service but heartily. And masters are urged to deal with their servants graciously and without partiality (Eph. 6:5-9).