It was a plain house. The walls were off-white and the furniture was mismatched and worn. Not much insulation, and no indoor plumbing. The outside was no better. It certainly needed repairs and painting. And then there was the landscaping, or should I say lack thereof. Dirt, gravel and a few shrubs made up most of what would be considered landscaping.
But it’s strange. As plain and worn as the house looked, there was something about it—something that was warm and friendly, inviting and comfortable. But why? What would make such a plain, worn, and dilapidated house seem so hopeful, encouraging, and downright delightful?
Well, as I thought about it, it became clear. A house is a house. It’s a foundation, walls, roofing, insulation, finishing, etc., and those things are certainly fundamentally important to any structure. But this house was more than that. This was a home. A home is a place where a structure becomes a dwelling. A home is made up of people and relationships. A home is a place where more than brick and mortar, wiring and plumbing exist. A home is a place where living and loving and learning and growing can happen.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. A beautifully decorated house complete with all the necessities and then some is a wonderful thing. But even with those blessings, a house doesn’t become a home until relationships are allowed to take root, grow, develop, and bloom.
Just as it takes an architect, a plan, and craftsmanship to build a house, the building of a home has its own blueprint. And as I reflect on that plain, worn, seemingly unattractive house and consider what made it a home, the following characteristics stand out:
1) Acceptance – Without conditions, you are accepted at home.
2) Commitment – Without question, there is total security within relationships at home.
3) Forgiveness – This is the oil that keeps the relationship engine running smoothly.
4) Love – Love is a verb. It is action. Love in thought, word, and deed. Love is without conditions at home.
5) Grace – One type of grace is a disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill, having mercy; clemency. But we also need God’s grace to enjoy full, complete, peaceful relationships. God’s saving grace is unmerited favor given as a free gift and offered to all through Jesus Christ. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). We are also reminded in Romans 5:20 that “…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Oh, do we ever need grace for our relationships to be real and for us to genuinely dwell in more than just a house. Grace abounds in homes.
I’m sure you, like me, have seen a lot of houses but not so many homes. Many have a house, but it takes acceptance, commitment, forgiveness, love, and grace to have a home. This summer is a perfect time to begin construction on your new home.
Article by Greg Joyner Associate Pastor | Valley Forge Baptist