The vision of FamilyLife is that every home would be a godly home. It’s a God-sized vision. It’s what compels us to invest in families in a world that seems increasingly resistant to anything or anyone who would attempt to distinguish anything as godly or … ungodly.
But what makes a home a godly home?
My family just moved into a new home in a new neighborhood. Within a few days of moving in, several families came over to welcome us to the neighborhood. Surprisingly, we were asked by our new neighbors if we would be hosting “worship nights” on our patio … like the previous owners of our home.
The home we had purchased had been occupied by a family who had distinguished themselves in the neighborhood as having a godly home. Our home was known as being a place where God was honored and worshiped. It was a place where others knew they could encounter God.
It led us to ask, “What kinds of things are we going to do to keep the reputation of our home alive as a godly home?” Should we host worship nights? Do we have to keep our kids off the neighbor’s lawn? Do we have to keep the landscaping manicured? What does godly landscaping even look like?
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis put it this way, “We might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rules: whereas He really wants people of a particular sort.”
What is a godly home?
Godliness can be understood most simply as “God-likeness.”
Theologians help us distinguish between the communicable and the incommunicable attributes of God. No matter how hard we try, there are some ways we will never be like God. Only God is all-knowing and all-powerful. Good luck with that. Those are incommunicable attributes we will never achieve. But God’s communicable attributes—like His love, forgiveness, and kindness—are attributes we should pursue daily in an effort to be “God-like,” or “godly.”
Homes where God’s attributes are on display can be accurately described as godly homes. Although our homes will never be perfect, our homes can and should become increasingly godly. Let’s put it this way…
Godly homes are places where imperfect families rely on God’s grace to be faithful reflections of Him in the way they relate to others both inside and outside of their homes.
Pursuing godliness in your home
A quick survey of godliness in the Bible teaches us that it’s something to be pursued. We are commanded to “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).
Godliness is a daily pursuit by people of God to be like Him. Godly homes are not built by passive people. It takes initiative, intentionality, and endurance. No matter how much progress I make toward the goal of building a godly home, there is always more to be pursued. Godliness is not so much a destination as it is a direction moving toward God and His likeness.
Here are a few things to remember as you aim to move your family and home in that direction.
Godliness requires training
In Titus 2:11-12, we are told, “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
Training in godliness is not easy, especially in this present age where so many influences seem committed to training us in ungodliness. But the greatest threat to my home is not the ungodliness on the outside. The greatest threats to my home are the ungodly passions still living inside my heart. Because those passions remain in me, they often spill out onto others in my home. That is a reality for every family. That is why every family needs training in godliness.
Godliness is a gift flowing from the grace of God
Too often we think godliness is a status to be achieved through good behavior. Certainly, God desires to change our behavior, but before our behavior changes, we must receive God’s grace to do so. Godliness is a gift to be received more than a status to be achieved.
No matter how godly or ungodly your home currently is, God’s grace is available today to move the needle toward godliness. Wherever you have a family committed to being trained daily by God’s grace, you will find a godly home.
A godly home is a home where God is needed
Because I am aware of the residual ungodliness remaining in my own heart, the goal of building a godly home often seems daunting. My selfishness, laziness, and apathy seem to sabotage every motivation toward godliness. Yet, a heart that recognizes its neediness is precisely what God is looking for.
Most people never get to the place where they will humbly admit, “God, I need you. My family needs you. My home needs you.” That prayer of desperation is the starting place of a godly home.
A godly home is a home where God is heeded
Once I acknowledge my need for God, I should be ready to hear Him speak to me about changes I need to make. One of the most encouraging verses in the bible is 2 Peter 1:3, where Peter assures us God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
That’s great news! God has already given us everything we need to build godly homes.
Yet, Peter goes on to implore us to add seven very specific attitudes and actions to our lives and homes. In other words, God has supplied the building material, but we are responsible to furnish our homes with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (verses 5-7). Interestingly, Peter says in verse 3 that godliness has already been granted to us. Then three verses later, he says add to your godliness … godliness. The work never stops.
If we want to build godly homes, we must act godly in our homes. We can’t just acknowledge our need for God, we must obey Him. We must choose godly words, godly attitudes, and godly actions. Heeding God’s Word is what distinguishes godly homes from other homes.
A godly home helps others build godly homes
We should not view our homes as fortresses the world can’t penetrate. Rather, we should view our homes as sending bases that penetrate other homes in our corner of the world. God’s people view their homes as the place they launch from and return to daily while living on His mission in the world.
God has strategically placed your home right where it is to display His likeness to the homes around you. Godly homes extend hospitality to individuals and families who need to see what He is like. Godly homes take initiative to care for the needs of other homes around them. Most importantly, godly homes point others to Christ in hopes that one day they would have a home in heaven.
An embassy of heaven
Several years ago, I visited Liberia on a mission trip. Liberia is an impoverished country with few modern conveniences—namely, electricity. Even though the national language is English, I struggled to understand the dialect of my Liberian friends. After a few days, I felt very far from home.
Our team took some time to visit the U.S. Embassy while we were there. The contrast between what we experienced inside the walls of the embassy versus the outside was stark. Stepping inside was like stepping back into America. There was abundant electrical power. I was offered an ice-cold Diet Coke. ESPN was visible on the flat-screen TV. Residents were speaking American English. We even heard American music. It made me homesick.
A godly home is like an embassy of heaven. Whoever steps into a godly home should sense the influence of Christ. They should see evidence of other-worldly power. They should hear words and music that reflect words and music currently filling heaven. A godly home should make those who live and visit there homesick for heaven.
Until we get to our eternal home in heaven, let’s work together to make every home a godly home.
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Trent is the Vice President of Content Development for FamilyLife and speaks frequently with his wife, Andrea, at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. Prior to joining FamilyLife, he planted and pastored Gospel City Church in Granger, IN for 13 years. He and Andrea also spent 15 years as conference speakers with Life Action Ministries. Trent is a graduate of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis. They have four children and live in Orlando, FL.