Scripture Gen: 39:1-6, 19-23
I remember growing up in my early years, our family was a full enterprise of activities. I remember various routines like every school evening brushing our shoes, ironing our shirts, cleaning and mending torn uniforms, home work.
Over the weekends we had a few hours of watching TV, and even then TV was a privilege and was very controlled. We had various chores and responsibilities – One weekend cleaning the compound, on another cleaning the house, on another, constructing the chicken house. My dad led us in many tasks around the house, occasionally the whole family was in the farm ploughing.
My dad also had his tasks cut out- every evening after work, he would ensure trash is empty and burnt out, occasionally he would be fixing stuff around the compound, on some weekends he would personally be the one shaving us and of course we all knew he is the chief disciplinarian.
My mum on the other hand would be cooking those ‘mother meals’, running to the market, selling this and buying that, try out new things.
Somehow all these things would sync in a family of 7 for us to find time and eat together around the family table. As children our discussions around the table was a distribution of the next day’s chores and a celebration of what everyone had achieved that day. It was also time to catch up, receive wisdom and counsel from our parents.
I sense for many of you, this was the pattern. We learnt to cook Ugali, wash clothes, we learnt to be responsible early. As I remember it – the family was not an idle place, but a place to bring your best, explore each other’s best and demand responsibility, discipline and accountability. This had nothing to do with whether you were rich or poor, this was simply the way of life.
Our lives were so intertwined- When Dad does this, Mum is doing the other, Sister is holding on to that and brother makes sure that the other happens…. Every one needed to be at their best, for the others, everyone counted.
Nothing belonged exclusively to you, everything you had was held in trust- if it was a shoe, or a text book, it was to be passed on, if it was a skill it was to serve the rest.
We continue with our series on generous living, this is about expressing the heart of God and finding true freedom as we acknowledge that we have been blessed to be a blessing. Generous Living is living life with Open hands- A sign of Surrender to the Lord- (everything and all that we are belongs to God), A sign of Gratitude- We are grateful stewards of what God has given us, and thirdly a sign of Accountability- Living honestly and sincerely before God and men with the things God has entrusted to us.
Today I suggest that if Generous Living is living life with Open hands then Laziness and Irresponsibility is a passive muscle that makes our hands fold back into a fist. So far we have seen various things that make our hands fold back into a fist, and for these and how to deal with them, see previous sermons.
But perhaps one of the biggest victims of laziness and irresponsibility is our families or in the home space. Laziness and irresponsibility at home is perhaps the one thing that destroys our testimony as believers?
Today my thesis is Excellence Honors God, Inspires people and invites God’s blessing.
And how appropriate to learn from a house help- help who later became a King. This is none other than Joseph.
Read texts: Scripture Gen: 39:1-6, 19-23
Despite his circumstances, whether at home, in prison or by the King’s throne- Because of the fear of God, Joseph exuded excellence in every area of responsibility he was assigned. It is clear that God was with him and because of this God blessed Potiphar’s home.
The same thing happens in prison and even later when the King entrusted the country to Him. While the whole land was starving of famine, this house- help who was now placed in charge of the nation saved the country of famine and starvation.
Because of the fear of the Lord, he practiced excellence everywhere he went and God blessed the work of his hands.
But perhaps the biggest problem today is not that we are lazy and irresponsible in our jobs, business and offices, but because we have dropped this level of excellence in our own homes.
Yet sadly home is the place of nurturing character and Godliness. Our homes are the best expression and witness of our faith. When we allow laziness and irresponsibility to sneak into our homes, they begin to crumble as we fold our hands and refuse to engage. Today I ask ‘is your house a profitable enterprise or a potato couch’?
I have been in homes that you can sense excellent living- even from the look and sound of things, but also in those that are potato couches- You know those embarrassing moments in the house, You can’t find the remote, the bulbs have not been changed, the grass is tall and bushy, The store is stuffed with all sorts of things, rotting food in the cupboards, expired medicine in the shelves, outdated, wrongly dated Calendars, broken toilet seats, yesterday’s dishes are still on the table, unlabeled and un organized books, you have problems finding your socks, Finding gum stuck under a seat….. the list is endless.
These external things reveal internal qualities and characters of those in the home.
What is Excellent living, Going back to Joseph, I propose Excellent living simply as Work hard, Live simply and Give generously.
Joseph worked hard- He did not ‘job hard’. Many of us job hard but we forget to work hard. We are called to work hard in our jobs, and also work hard in our homes. It was the norm as a slave to work reluctantly, but Joseph gave his best in the little tasks.
Unfortunately, the home has been hit hard by sloth and irresponsibility. Today our homes, we have dropped the ball- tumejiwachilia sana.
Our work in the office takes out the best of us and the dregs is what we bring home. We don’t engage in healthy discussions, we rob each other of best attention, we are sleepy, tired and just don’t care. We even go to extents of bringing office work home, because we think at home there is no work to be done.
A big misunderstanding comes when we adopt secular views and values about the home, we develop unhealthy social trends. We want homes where there is a good life, Freedom and Tolerance and Peace. But what do these mean?
From Scripture and old times, A good life is not a rich spoilt life. A good life is a life of virtue, when we function ideally as God created us to. A good life does not mean a busy, spoilt life.
Another misunderstood value is freedom- This is the power to do what God has created you to do, not the abandonment of that power. The power to be a man or a woman or a brother or a father.
Another bad value is Tolerance- Tolerance does not mean anything goes, it means calling us to own up and be accountable to each other. Peace does not mean being passive. We say we want peace in our homes as an excuse to be passive.
So guess where the enemy strikes us the most? at home. Our homes functioning properly is the best testimony of God and of excellent living.
So as a result it is easy to find a compromise to be away from home- we are not well engaged, we check in late and check out early- because we misunderstand excellent living at home.
Not only so it is easy for certain vices to crop up- Too often behind infidelity, poor parenting, poor marriage and intimacy- is that absence and failure to engage at home.
So how are we called to be Excellent at home?
Is there planning happening at home?- (How often do you sit to forecast, look at finances, plan the year ahead, set targets, evaluate and take stock? Is it time to schedule a frequent family business meeting.
Is there organized allocation of roles, responsibilities that require your presence? How is the HR system, is authority and responsibility well defined?
Are we utilizing the best of each other’s gifts and strength, are you exploring each other’s talents at home- education was not just to get a job, but that you bring your best at home. Demanding the best use of language, do you get away with bad English, course talk, do you express thank you, sorry e.t.c apologies. Are we passing on the trade- (Indian shops)
Do you have important events, days, celebrations that bring out the values of the family, The Lord’s table, The day you moved into your house, Anniversaries and birthdays, Get together
What habits do you need to get rid off- For some it may be go home early, change and go play with your children or Get off your gadgets and newspapers, get your kids off many toys during family times. For the ladies are there days you need to reclaim the kitchen from the house helps, refresh your family with those mother meals?
But also as Joseph, Live Simply- Although he was well blessed and trusted by Potiphar, Joseph Knew his limits. Listen to how he speaks to Potiphar’s wife after her attempts to lure him- (read 8-9)
You are not the savior of the world- Identify your best influences and give your best- You cannot be in all meetings, you will not make every friend happy, you will not make every boss happy.
Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to, You are still prone to temptation, we are not supermen, our tanks need to be refilled often. Sleep well, Eat well, exercise, Rest as a family. The danger is when we seek these things outside the confines of our families- Is there someone else refreshing you? Refresh each other in marriage?
Empty Junk and things that complicate your life (the House)- In the pursuit of convenience we have hoarded so many things that are a mess and chaos in our houses, look through your storage are there clothes, shoes, items you need to give away.
Simplify your routines, (a while ago it was work then home, today its work- school- home, work- school- Chama- home, work- Chama- business deal- catch up with friends- home), no wonder we don’t have time for holistic engagements as families in LIFE groups. May be its time to invest in family timetables, menus, charts that show duties, calendars with highlighted special days e.t.c.
Lastly Give Generously
Later on we see that he had the opportunity to revenge to his brothers for what they did to him, but he instead uses his authority to be a blessing to others. When God vindicates us, we respond with Gratitude and kindness to others.
How do we teach and practice generosity in the house- A well-ordered and excellent life, lends itself to generosity. There is always something to give in a house of excellence. We can easily identify what we do not need, we can easily identify what sacrifices we can make- what we can do more, do less, do without?
This week I send you to go back and order your homes to live in excellence? We have taken the minus one challenge- Think about it, if you were to organize yourself well- How much would you save and bring to God’s house? As the family of God, how would this church look like, how would our LIFE groups look like, how would our fellowships look like- remember Excellence honors God, Inspires people and invites God’s blessings.
Generous Living Prayer
I am blessed of the Lord, to be a blessing to my family, God’s LIFE is my all sufficient Resource. All that I am, all that I have, I give for the extension of God’s Kingdom. With Open hands I give to the Lord and with open hands I receive from the Lord. Be it unto me according to your word. Amen.
In studying scripture, What qualities of excellence can you pick from the life of Joseph, Daniel and Paul?
What areas of your life do you need to audit in order to live excellently?