One of the Old Testament prophets predicts a coming golden age, when the bells of the horses shall be as sacred as the garments of the high priest, and the common cooking utensils in the people’s homes shall be as holy as the vessels of the Temple. Paul teaches this lesson when he says, “Whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” This covers all our acts and all our words. It applies to our Bible-reading, but no less to our other reading. We must read our morning newspaper, our Tennyson, and our school textbooks in the name of the Lord, so as to honor Him and get knowledge that will add to the beauty and strength of our life. We are to pray in the name of the Lord Jesus, but we are also to go to our business in the same blessed name. We regard the Lord’s house as holy, and we say that we would do nothing in it except that which is reverent and honorable to God. This is true; but the house in which we live is sacred also, and nothing should ever take place in it which would not be fitting and proper to do in the presence of Christ Himself.
We think of certain acts as worship; and as we enter upon them, we hear a voice saying, “Take off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” But where is God not present? Where shall we go on any common day that it is not holy ground? There may be no burning bush, but God is there as truly as He was when Moses came suddenly upon the symbol of His presence in the desert… We consider it a most sacred duty to sit down at the Lord’s Table, at the service of Holy Communion; but have you ever thought that there is also a sacredness that is scarcely less holy in sitting down together at our family meals? In ideal Christianity, the bells on the horses’ bridles are holy unto the Lord, as well as the high priest’s garments; and the pots used in the people’s houses are as sacred as the vessels used in the Temple.
When we learn this lesson, Christian life will have its true meaning and glory for us. Nothing will then appear commonplace. We will never think of our occupation as lowly; for the lowliest work, if it is God’s will for us, will be heavenly in its splendor because it is what we are set by our Master to do. Our God is not only the God of the sanctuary and the solemn worship; He is just as much the God of the workshop, the factory, the sewing-room, and the kitchen. We please Him just as well when we live sweetly and do our work faithfully in the lowly place, amidst temptation and care and weariness, as we do when we honor and worship Him at church.
We think we are in this world to attend to a certain business; to perform certain professional duties; to look after certain household affairs; to be a carpenter, a stonemason, a painter, a teacher, or a housekeeper. We call these our vocations. But God thinks of us as being in these occupations to grow into noble and worthy character. While we are making things, God is making people. With Him, a carpenter’s shop is not merely a place for making doors and sashes and banisters, and for sawing boards; it is a place to build character, and to make real men. A home is not merely a place for doing beautiful housekeeping; it is a place to develop fine womanhood.
Jesus Himself gave this as the rule of His life: “I do always those things that please him” – that is, His Father (John 8:29). Every friend of Christ should be able to say the same thing. All who bear Christ’s name should live so carefully in their everyday lives, that no reproach shall ever come back to the name of the Church from anything that any of them may do during the week in their common work… But even the play and the amusement of a Christian are part of his Christian life. They must be as holy as his devotions. We need not wear long faces, nor do we need to condemn pleasure. The Master did not. His first public act after His baptism and temptation was to attend a wedding-feast, and we know that He cast no shadow over the gladness and festivity of that occasion. He smiled on the children’s play; they never were afraid of Him, and they did not run and hide when they saw Him coming… He was not like the Pharisees, who posed as saintly persons, and yet made their religion unbeautiful and unwinsome. He wants us to be happy, and to have His joy fulfilled in us. But our pleasure and our amusement must always be pure, holy, and unselfish – as sacred as our worship.
Home tests us. It ought not to be so, but perhaps no other place tests our Christian consecration more severely than our home. Its very sweetness seems to free us from the restraint which we feel in the presence of those whom we do not know. Those who do not love us would not endure the words and acts which we sometimes compel our dearest ones to endure from us. It is pitiful to think of how often those who stand for Christ in His Church, and who elsewhere witness a good confession for Him, yet seem to feel themselves absolved in their own homes from all the courtesies and amenities of love – and even of good manners!
It ought not to be hard to love our own family, and to show our love to them in all sweet and gentle ways. Surely we ought to give our love’s best to our own dear ones… If there is any place in this world which should be holy to us; which should be like the very house of God to us, and as sacred as the Lord’s Supper; and which should call out our deepest reverence and our warmest love – it is our own home! If we are Christians anywhere in this world, let it be in our own home, where we are so greatly loved and trusted. If we must be sullen, bitter, gloomy, selfish, and sour somewhere; let it not be where our beloved ones wait for us, and where their hearts cry out for tenderness.
Let us not fail to make our home-life sacred and holy. If we write “Holy unto the Lord” even on the bells of the horses; let us not neglect to make our home – in which we dwell, pray, live, and love – a fit place for Christ to live in, and a sweet and gentle place for our dear ones to grow up in!
Do you regard your home and occupation as being “holy unto the Lord”? How do you strive to make your house as sacred as the church building in which you worship God? Do you live in such a way as to shrink from doing anything that would not be fitting and proper to do in the presence of Christ Himself? Let us who bear the Savior’s name pray for grace to live so carefully that no reproach shall ever come back to the cause of Christ from anything that any of us may do or say in our everyday lives.
In what ways is the Lord using your home and your daily calling to grow your character into something noble, worthy, and holy? Please share your reflections and questions with all of us in the Comments section below!
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for the King’s glory,
photo by James Staddon | Lenspiration.com
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on our website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.