It has now been nine weeks since the shelter-in-place order was issued. Unique and unprecedented trials are good because they force us to consider the Word of God more deeply and its application to our daily lives. “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes,” says the psalmist (Psalm 119:71). Being sheltered at home by government mandate due to this global pandemic has forced us Christians to contemplate everything from how to live in light of God’s sovereignty and the uncertainty of tomorrow, how to remain obedient to God while submitting to the government; to the essential nature of God’s Word and the fellowship of the church.
One of the key realities that we’ve been forced to consider during this shelter-in-place time is the condition of the places in which we’ve been sheltered. In other words, this order has forced all of us to take a good, microscopic look at the conditions of our homes.
I can’t remember a time when people across the globe were mandated by the government to remain in their homes and limit all extra-domestic endeavors to a bare minimum of essential activities. Before this order was issued, I was spending approximately sixty to seventy percent of my non-sleeping hours (approximately sixteen hours) of the day outside the confines of our apartment unit (if you count exercising).
Now, I’m spending virtually one hundred percent of those hours between my bedroom and living room. And I’m but a microcosm of the state of the nation. Instead of being in physical classrooms during the school day, kids of all ages have been doing schoolwork from their bedrooms. Instead of having corporate meetings in conference rooms, working adults have been laboring from kitchen tables.
It’s no wonder that someone recently said that, once this order is lifted, the saddest member of the household will be the family dog! As a result, we have been “forced” to spend more time with the members of our own households than normal. Tensions and frustrations that have largely been ignored or hidden are being brought to the surface.
So, what kind of a home have I been sheltered in? From your honest examination, have you been sheltered in a healthy home or a toxic one? Such examination can be done by testing what you’ve experienced so far in your home against the wisdom from God’s Word. And God’s Word— specifically the book of Proverbs—leads us to ask two crucial questions to determine whether we’ve been sheltered in the kind of home that God intends for His saints.
First Question: Have I been sheltered in a home filled with love? (Prov 15:17)
When many envision their “ideal home,” they envision stuff: five-bedroom home with a picket fence, a backyard with cobblestones and a pool, a tailored room for each kid, a remodeled kitchen for mom, a comfy man-cave for dad, a front porch, and much more. Stuff, by the way, isn’t bad. The Bible doesn’t condemn it. What the Bible warns against is gaining stuff at the expense of virtue—particularly, the virtue of love. Proverbs 15:17 says, “Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred.”
In other words, more important than the quantity or quality of material resources we have in our homes is whether each member of the household is exhibiting sacrificial love and servanthood toward one another. Better for a family to eat nuggets and fries at McDonalds (not exactly a dish of vegetables, but you get the point) on a floor mat of the bathroom where love pervades than to feast on oven-roasted Santa Maria tri-tip with scalloped potatoes served on a Ranchester industrial-style dining table where the members seated on the table want nothing to do with each other.
Better for a family of five kids to have one iPad tablet and one bedroom where the five kids have learned to share with each other than for each to have their own room and tablet, yet spend their days self-absorbed in their own words without once batting an eye to anything else happening in the home.
Better to have a family that has no more than the essentials but where each member is concerned for the needs of all others than to have one rich in physical resources where everyone cares about no one else but themselves. Ask yourself: is my home filled with people who genuinely and sacrificially lay down their lives for each other, or am I filled in a home of constant tension and animosity?
Second Question: Have I been sheltered in a home filled with calm? (Prov 17:1)
A home living in godly conditions is a home pervaded not just by love, but also by quietness. Proverbs 17:1 says, “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife.” A godly home filled with God’s wisdom is a home filled not only with love, but with a particular brand of tranquility, where the members of the household are living harmoniously with one another. It’s easy to fill up the family schedule with activities: vacations, get-togethers, birthday celebrations, soccer practices, dance rehearsals, extended-family reunions, playdates, and anniversary dinners. It’s easy to try to turn your home into one that is “full of feasting.” And, in and of itself, feasting isn’t bad or sinful. It can be enjoyable.
But it must not be engaged in at the expense of quietness, the latter which God sees as a priority for our homes. Too often, the family schedule becomes more important than the family relationships. A family where fighting, bickering, and arguing are the currency of communication isn’t a healthy household, no matter how many fancy birthday parties and Christmas dinners you have. God’s priority for our homes is that they be filled with peace, tranquility, and relational harmony. The confines of our home should be a sanctuary of rest, not a UFC combat cage. Ask yourself: is my home filled with people who truly get along with each other where fighting and arguing are more aberrations than the norm?
So what kind of a home have you been sheltered in? As Christians, Jesus Christ redeemed us from every lawless deed to be a people of His own possession who are zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:14). One of those deeds is the way we build and sustain our homes. This shelter-in-place order is difficult for everyone. But for those saints sheltered in homes filled with love and quietness, it may have not been so bad!