A friend of mine was recently talking with a Christian couple when the husband and father used some pretty foul language. My friend paused in the middle of the conversation to address this man's repeated use of bad language. She asked him if he normally used such words and did he talk that way at home.
The man hung his head and said "no." But my friend surmises from his frequent and casual use of the profane words that he probably does.
By the way, I know nothing more about this couple than what I've just told you. My friend and I weren't gossiping about these people; but she was simply telling me about an event that happened and how it made her think about our somewhat duplicitous behavior between home and the community. I don't know the man's name or anything else about him. But I do know that, like many of us, this man has a harder time walking out his Christian faith at home than he does at church, at work or in the community.
Today I read in Psalm 101:2,
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
The psalmist must have known the difficulty of trying to live out godly standards behind the closed doors of his home as well. Perhaps he was prone to say a few choice words, lose his temper, or grow impatient. Whatever his natural inclinations within the confines of his own home, he made a pledge with his lips and his heart to raise the same standard in his home as he held to in the community. We'd be wise to do the same.
Why is it so difficult to live a consistent life in view of both the "public" and our families? Perhaps we are simply comfortable enough at home to let it all hang out. Or maybe our family just really knows how to push our buttons like no one else does. Or maybe we just desire for someone to think highly of us and we know the people at home are beyond hope because we've already messed up so many times in the past, so we throw all of our efforts into behaving well in public while letting our guard down at home.
Whatever the cause for our duplicity, it's not ok in God's eyes. He calls us to a high standard of living when we are all alone, when we're in the midst of family and when we're out in the public realm. He calls us to live lives of integrity. And for good reason. He wants everyone we encounter - family, friends, foes - to see His glory in us. He wants the fruit of His Spirit to consistently control our behavior so that we point to Him at all times. And, oh my, isn't it important that our children see genuine godliness modeled in front of them at all times? They are not fooled by our duplicitous behavior one bit. In fact, it can serve as a huge detriment to them developing their own personal faith in Jesus Christ.
So here are some things for us to think about as we gauge our behavior at home and in the marketplace, so to speak. Join me in honestly asking the following questions. These are the things I'm grappling with today:
- Do I use language at home that is befitting a godly woman or man? Do I continue to refrain from foul language, hurtful and demeaning words, exaggerations, crass terminology, and blasphemous use of God's name when I go home?
- Do my children hear me gossip on the phone? Do they hear me talking about other people, criticizing, judging and bad-mouthing other people?
- Do I show my family members the same kind of respect and consideration I show my clients, co-workers, patients, students, etc.? Do I speak with a kind and tender voice to the people with whom I am most comfortable, my family members?
- Do I occasionally do something extra special nice for people in my family? I may do little things to show kindness and grace to people outside the home, but do I do the same at home? Do I go out of my way to show kindness? When was the last time I put gas in another family member's car, prepared their favorite meal for dinner, made cinnamon rolls for breakfast instead of cereal, did someone else's chore, or made another's bed?
- Does my family just get the "leftovers" from me? Do they only get the tired, spent, and frazzled me? Or do I reserve a hefty portion of my time, energy, creativity, love and other resources for the people who are supposed to matter the most?
- Am I consistently considerate of my family members? Do I get to their ballgames on time, pick them up from school on time, give them their lunch money each day, clean their clothes (if that's still my job) on time, make sure there's milk and bread in the kitchen for them, and have dinner ready on time? Or do I just do things for other people on time, but not my family? Am I as considerate of my own family as I am of others?
What about you? Do you have any other indicators to add to these?
- Do I give God the glory in my home? Or do I claim to have worked for everything we own? Do I moan about my troubles, complain about my lot in life, worry about the future, spread anxiety about the smallest things, and refuse to forgive those who have hurt me? I may act like I'm obeying the Bible and living by God's precepts out in the community, but the people at home know if I'm genuine or not. They know if I'm on the throne in my life or if God really is. Am I shining His light at home?
I know I've got work to do in some of these areas. I tend to raise my voice in frustration more at home. I also tend to give my family the leftovers on some days while I'm fresh and energetic around other people. I feel convicted about these things today and I'm going to work to raise the bar of my behavior at home. The people who live with me deserve it and God demands it. I've got work to do behind closed doors.