Man of the House
Several years ago, one day on my way home from church, I saw some men handing out what appeared to be fliers, as I approached a major intersection just as the traffic light was turning red. Not knowing what these men were handing out, I muttered to myself; “if they come near my car, I’m going to give them Jesus.” I said to myself, “If any of these men comes up to my car, I’m going to ask him if he knows the Lord, and has come under His Lordship, as the Savior of his life?”
Just as I thought, one of them approached my car and handed me what I thought was a flier. To my surprise it turned out to be a Christian tract! I was pleasantly relieved that they were handing out tracts and not a flier to a nightclub! However, I still asked him if he knew the Lord. I didn’t want to assume that just because he was handing out tracts, that he had a relationship with the Lord.
However, what really caught my attention was the scripture verse on the cover of the tract taken from the NIV Bible. It read, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”-- Acts 16:31. Even though I’ve read this verse many times, for some reason the phrase “you and your household” jumped out at me. I thought that was a very, very bold statement to make, that if a man believes in Jesus Christ, not only will he be saved, but his household too!
Quickly, I flipped open my Bible to read the passages before that verse, before the traffic light turned green. I found that it was the story of Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail – how the doors of the jail had been thrown open as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. The jailer, thinking the prisoners had escaped wanted to kill himself, but Paul cried out to him saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” -- Acts 16:28. And the jailer trembling asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” -- Acts 16:30. Paul and Silas responded by saying, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” Acts 16:31
I couldn’t get that verse out of my mind. It kept coming back to me over and over again, leading me to ask myself these questions: “Why did Paul and Silas tell the jailer that he and his household would be saved, if he believed in Jesus?” “Does it mean that it’s God’s intention to save a man’s household, once he gives his life to Jesus Christ?” “How does a man save his household by his own salvation?” “How can a man make his household to accept Jesus, especially since he can’t force them to accept Jesus Christ?”
What the verse does not mean
First, let me explain what the verse means by explaining what it does not mean. This verse is not saying that a man’s salvation covers his household; and his family doesn’t have to do anything to be saved. Just as a father’s salvation is not automatically the son’s, neither is the son’s salvation automatically the father’s. Every person that has reached an age of accountability, (knows good from evil, right from wrong) must elect to be a child of God. “The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” Ezekiel 18:20
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:27
Rather, what the verse means is that a man must command the respect of his household (even while a sinner) so that when he gives his life to Jesus, his household ought to follow in his footsteps, not only because of the respect they have for him, but because of the consistency in his godly lifestyle.
Who is the Man of the House?
Often times we men mistake machismo for manhood. We think that just providing for our family and bossing them around makes us men. So, when things go wrong in the house, we are quick to say to our wives and children (and anyone that cares to listen), “Look I’m the man of this house, and you’ll do what I say!”
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t provide for our families. It’s good that a man provides for his family, but that’s not what makes him the man of the house. According to the passage above and the story of Cornelius, it seems to me that a true man of the house is, “One who commands the respect of his household, so much so, that he’s able to lead them to Christ.” Therefore, before a man can become a man of the house, he must first command the respect of his household – saved or unsaved!
What is a household?
Webster dictionary defines a household as “those who dwell under the same roof and compose a family.” Even though God’s definition of a household is kind of similar, it’s a little bit broader than Webster’s. A biblical definition of household will include, “every person or relative within a man’s sphere of influence, within or outside his roof.” For instance, Abraham was able to save (from pending destruction) his nephew, Lot and his household, when God was ready to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Even though Abraham and Lot were relatives, they were not living “under the same roof”, or city!
I believe it is God’s desire that every man be a Man of the House – whether married or single!
Even more so, every Born-Again man should be a man of the house – i.e. lead his household to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In other words, a man’s household should benefit from his righteousness. For instance Noah’s household was a beneficiary of his righteousness, when God was ready to destroy the earth with a flood.
So, if it is God’s desire that every man be a man of the house, how does one become a man of the house?
How to Become a Man of the House
If a man has to command the respect of his household before he can become the man of the house, how does a man command the respect of his house? By being a godly example – through honesty, integrity and discipline. By honesty I mean, being truthful, letting your yes be yes and your no, no. By integrity I mean, an uprightness of character or actions. By discipline I mean, a diligent and consistent godly lifestyle.
I believe that the reason the jailer’s household was able to follow in his footsteps and give their life to Christ was because he commanded the respect of his household, even as a sinner. He must have been a man of honesty, integrity and discipline. You don’t have to be a Christian to be an honest, disciplined person with integrity. Even though a man’s honesty, integrity and discipline won’t get him to heaven without Jesus – a man needs Jesus Christ in order to be saved.
For instance, Cornelius also was able to save his household when he gave his life to Jesus in Acts 10. Cornelius was said to be a devout man. The word devout means pious or dutiful. One can replace the word devout with disciplined and it still won’t change the meaning of the verse.
Why does the verse say “You and your household?” Perhaps, as far as God is concerned it’s a done deal when man gives his life to Christ to save his entire household. God expects the man to lead his household to Christ. After all a seed reproduces after its kind!
Now, like me, you may say, “I’m born-again, and as much as in me lie, I’m a godly example to my family, yet not my entire household is born-again, what else can I do?” I say don’t despair. You’ve got to hang in there and continue to live righteously, “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58. In due time your whole household will come to a saving knowledge; even long after you may have slept in the Lord. You have to believe and hold fast to what David said in Psalm 37:25: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his descendants begging bread.”
If you are yet to give your life to Christ, your first step to manhood – being the man of the house is having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If you have not yet taken that first step, God is waiting and counting on you to save you and your household. Amen?
P.S. If you are a woman reading this, know that you don’t have to be a male to be a head of household, especially if you don’t have a man in the house or a single parent. God will work with whatever, whoever is available. Even though it is God’s best that a man leads his household to Christ, if a woman takes charge and leads her household to Christ, it’s all well and good.
Case in point, Rahab the harlot. By Rahab’s act of kindness to the two spies, she was able to save her entire family from being destroyed by the Israelites. The Bible says, And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Joshua 6:25