The wedding day; the birthday; they go by so fast. Little could I grasp the magnitude of the vocation that I entered into on those days. God was calling to me on those days to embrace greater selflessness, greater responsibility, and greater obedience. Overall, a faithfulness in husbandry and fatherhood. When I vowed “I do” to my wife or when I held my newly born daughter for the first time in my hands, I embarked on a labor of love that would not end until my last breath.
I’ve been in it for three years. I got married to my lovely wife, Eunice, in 2015, and our daughter, Rosemary, was born in August last year. It was difficult to grasp how marriage and parenthood would shape my responsibilities as a steward. I found myself having to be the leader of the home, the head of my wife, and the father to my daughter in quick succession. The task has not been easy.
I Fall Short of Faithful
I want to be faithful, but it is an attribute that I struggle with. By faithful, I mean a commitment to God and to Kingdom fruitfulness. As a child, I often rebelled against authority when they weren’t looking, I was quick to make light of responsibilities, and I fell short of keeping many of my words. Today, these sinful habits of weakness that were cultivated in my youth still pursue me in my redeemed but not yet perfected body. It’s hard to shake them. My heart is regularly “prone to leave the God I love”, as the hymn says. Many times a week, I see just how bad of a steward I’ve been with my time, possessions, opportunities, skills, relationships, or money. I say with Paul, “O wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”, as the Accuser holds up the Law before my face. Certainly not him. Instead, I continue with Paul’s reasoning in Romans 7:25, “thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
With the Gospel, Change is Possible
Lately the Lord has impressed upon me this wonderful truth: with the Gospel, lasting change is possible. If I trust Jesus for my justification, how much more should I trust him for my sanctification? So I have hope that my unfaithfulness will slowly starve as God continues to shine the powerful light of his word upon my life. This is the hope that constantly motivates me to be faithful in all things. Change is possible. This hope also reassures and comforts me when I indulge in my past folly.
And because of my gospel hope, I take my responsibilities seriously. I cling tightly to three things that I believe will help my family be faithful: my own sanctification, church dedication, and hospitality.
My Own Sanctification
I knew for sure that my family would not thrive if my own relationship with the Lord was not thriving. Being focused in this way ensured that my desires, interactions, and resources were under God’s rule. I believe that my own growth is the key to encouraging my wife’s growth. She becomes much more thankful to God and motivated to pursue Him in her daily life when she sees me lead in this area. In fact, our relationship suffers when I am not faithful in this area.
Being an active member of a local church was modeled to me by wonderfully faithful families in my congregation. They taught me the importance of committing and participating in church even when newly married or newly parenting. This spirit has stuck with me as both Eunice and I make ourselves available to our brothers and sisters. We recognize that true faithfulness means blessing and discipling others outside of our relationship. We now desire to see fruit in others’ lives as we journey in faith with younger and older siblings.
As stewards of bank accounts, grocery budgets, refrigerators, and a home, Eunice and I have both been convicted in our marriage to open our doors to friends inside and outside of church. Again, this desire was planted in us by our church family. Food brings people together, our Lord knew this best; it’s a joyful experience to see this happen. We’ve stuffed our dining room with teenage boys, brought out the fancy tableware for a double date, or ate comfort food with a single.
These are the three responsibilities that I have prioritized as husband and father. Because of the hope I have in the gospel, I will fight the inner battle for my commitment to the Lord. As I continue to follow Jesus Christ, my faithfulness will grow as I learn more about His faithfulness that produced so much good. I thank Christ that ultimately my citizenship is not based on my faithfulness but His, but I press on “toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).