I have a question for all of our men this week — What do you wash around your home? Do you wash clothes? How about the dishes? What about the family cars? How about the children before bedtime? Is there an off-chance you do windows? The truth is that we may find ourselves washing many different things in the course of an average week, but are we washing the most important things?
If you turn to Ephesians, chapter 5, you see Paul giving instructions to husbands and wives about how they should relate to one another in light of Christ. Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.”
These verses direct us as husbands to follow the example that Christ set in sacrificing Himself to accomplish the redemption of His bride, the church. You will notice at the heart of this text the phrase, “having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” This refers primarily to how Christ cleansed us and set us apart through the Word of truth — the Gospel. But secondarily, this phrase also points to the ongoing ministry of the Word that Christian husbands are to have toward our wives in the home. We are called to regularly part the pages of Scripture so that we may speak the Word of life into hearts and minds of our brides.
If you go a little further in Ephesians, you see Paul also give husbands and fathers the primary responsibility in washing the children with the Word. After commanding the children to obey their parents “in the Lord,” it says in Ephesians 6:4, “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This admonition means that, as fathers, we also have the responsibility to set our children on the path to godliness by loving them and teaching them and disciplining them according to God’s instructions. We are to show them a living picture of Christ in the way we love and lead them.
I know that hearing this is challenging, because all of us struggle at different points with maintaining our spiritual leadership in the home. We struggle to find the time and confidence to roll up our sleeves and undertake this spiritual ministry of “washing” our loved ones in the truth. But let us make no mistake, if we work hard to provide all the earthly necessities and opportunities for our families yet fail in our responsibility to shepherd them spiritually, we have cheated them of that which is most important and contributed grossly to the endangerment of their souls. So let me encourage you to a few things.
1. Make reading and praying the Scriptures a central activity in your home. You don’t have to be prepared to expound deep matters of theology — just take up your Bible and impart its contents to those you love. Read it to them at the table, or together before bed time, and then pray those same words over them. It really is that simple.
2. To lead spiritually takes TIME. Guard the time it will take to read and pray together. In our contemporary culture, we allow family time to be regularly decimated by individual interests and entertainments. Turn off the electronics, take a break from other pursuits, and invest yourself in what is eternal. Even just one hour (total) out of the 168 hours we have every week is a small investment with infinite returns.
3. Be accountable to a group of fellow believers. Have men in your life who will ask you about your purity, your devotion to Christ, and your leadership in the home. We most often resist accountability when we are not pursuing God, so get serious about what you need to do.
4. Take advantage of church training and retreats that will sharpen your skills as the pastor of your home. Our men’s retreat is just a couple weeks away — sign up! In MIT this quarter, we will have a class on leading your children to Christ — take it! We have a ministry for men’s accountability that is getting started — Whitestone Men — be a part of it! Avail yourself of training that will grow you and thus grow the ones you love.