Worship in the Home

Ken Chumbley
OF THE SEVERAL FACTORS that are contributing to the ruin of our society, the failure of families to be what they ought to be is chief. And the most profound failure of any family is undoubtedly the failure to impress upon its members the singular reason for man's existence; namely, living to the glory of God (Ephesians 1:5-6, 11-12).

In my copy of the American Standard Version of the New Testament there is this marginal note on Matthew 2:2: "The Greek word [for worship] denotes an act of reverence whether paid to a creature (see ch. 4:9; 18:26), or to the Creator (see ch. 4:10)." It would be hard for me to improve on this definition because "worship," at its essence, is an act of reverence that proceeds from the inner man and is authorized in God's word (John 4:23-24). Worship is the objective means whereby God is glorified. In the New Testament, worship includes not only those acts of reverence done by the church on the first day of the week, but also those things done every day by individual Christians with a view to glorifying God. "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28; also Matthew 4:10). In this article, I wish to say something about how God should be worshiped in the home. To do so, I shall enlist the aid of Moses in his great passage on how God is glorified in the home: Deuteronomy 6.

Deuteronomy 6

From this text please note that: 1)at the beginning (6:2), middle (6:13), and end (6:24) of the chapter men are commanded to "fear" [i.e., reverence] the Lord;" 2)this reverence is to be expressed in the home ("these are the commandments . . . which the Lord your God commanded to teach you . . and thy son, and thy son's son," 6:1-2); 3) the well-being of the home depends upon rendering to God the reverence that is due Him ("fear the Lord . . . for our good always, that he might preserve us alive." (6:24); and 4) a home shows reverence for God by being obedient to His word (6:2,25). Whenever a family expresses their devotion to God through their obedience, they are engaging in worship.

If a family's worship is to truly be all that it should be, these considerations must be remembered.

1. God must be the home's chief priority. "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: (6:4). According to Jewish tradition this was the first commandment parents taught their children, for in these words the Jews saw a summation of their highest priority; namely, the acknowledgment that Jehovah is God and that He alone is to rule one's life! The home is the place where most people receive their earliest and deepest convictions about that to which they become committed. Thus, from birth children need to learn that God's claim on them is antecedent to all other claims. Seeking the rule of God and His righteousness, rather than the trivialities of the secular life, should be the consuming passion of every home.

2. God's word must be in the heart. "These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart" (6:5-6). In verse five, Moses unpacks the implications of verse four. Since Jehovah is God, He is to be loved with all of one's being. Jesus said this is the first and great commandment (Matthew 22:38). Parents cannot impart what they do not possess. And children label as insignificant any belief their parents do not feel keenly about. If we expect to raise a child totally committed to glorifying the Lord, such commitment must be the groundwork of all that parents do and say. This, in fact, is Moses' next point.

3. God's word must be habitually in the home. "Thou shalt teach them diligently unto they children . . . when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (6:7). When God's word isn't in a parent's heart, their daily habits will plainly reflect such. And when children are exposed to parents whose lives are given over to unashamed reverence, they - the children - are being indoctrinated (mostly unconsciously) with an unfeigned faith they will find hard to shake (take the time here to read 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-17). If I remember correctly, John Gregory, in The Seven Laws of Teaching, said that the seventh and final rule of teaching is:"Repeat, repeat, repeat." Repetition isn't just a good way to teach, it's the only way to teach. And repetition is precisely what Moses calls for in verse seven. Whether getting up, walking around, sitting down or lying down, let the worship of God be the air that we breathe.

Some suggestions for family worship: 1) Daily Bible study is a must. Set aside a few minutes each day (it's best to do it the same time each day so that it becomes a regular part of your daily routine) for Bible reading. As a family, try to isolate one important truth from your study and then discuss ways in which that truth can be applied to life. 2) Daily prayer. The prayer of the righteous is powerful (James 5:16). This means of praising, petitioning, and thanking God should be resorted to often throughout the day. And don't forget about the gift of Divine blessing that we can give another through intercessory prayer ( 2 Corinthians 1:11). 3) Acts of service. As a family, learn first-hand that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Esteeming each other better than self should be expected in the family unit, not debated. Surely there are people in the congregation and neighborhood who could use some help with their burdens (whether it be babysitting, chauffeuring, housecleaning, listening to, etc). Remember that ever the most humble acts of kindness done to another for Christ;'s sake are highly honored by God (Matthew 10:42; 25:40).

The important thing to remember is that worship is not something limited to fifty-two days in the year. It is to be an intrinsic part of our life -- especially our home life. If your family isn't aware of their obligations to God in this matter, make them aware. Start family traditions that consciously seek to reverence God in ways acceptable to Him. In this regard, it is a greater achievement to be an ancestor that a descendant. If you are conscious of the importance of producing an atmosphere of reverent worship in the family circle, you can start at once the effort to produce it.

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