The Non-Negotiable First Step to Build a Happy Home

The Non-Negotiable First Step to Build a Happy Home

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A happy home does not just happen. Like all good things, you must have a plan and be willing to execute hard work (Luke 14:27). The good news is that Christians have the schematic for happiness, which begins with confession and moves into forgiveness. The crucial concern centers on whether we’ll do the hard work of confessing our transgressions and forgiving each other. The couple that understands this path to reconciliation and practices it will not stop until they become the beneficiaries of a happy home.

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Confession and Happiness

Confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation are elements that lead you down the path to happiness (Deuteronomy 33:29). If you want a happy home, you must know how to clean up your messes and practice it daily. During the first five years of our marriage, I never asked my wife to forgive me for any sins I committed against her. Think about it. What I just said is staggering. Let me state the obvious: My view of God, humanity, and the doctrine of sin was dysfunctional. My gospel understanding and practices suffered from a failure to thrive (Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:2-3). Yikes! I’m not going to rationalize or provide a weak attempt to minimize the contradiction of my life back then.

But I have observed through counseling many Christians that after I ask them about their forgiveness practices in the home, nearly all of them have said they do not regularly do it. They do not pursue each other in humility, which their lack of reciprocal ownership of sin, mutual confession, and selfless forgiveness affirms. The oddity of this unchristian behavior is stunning when viewed through the lens of our imitate-able gospel (1 Corinthians 11:1). The Lord’s gospel loudly proclaims a not guilty verdict to all regenerated people (John 3:7). Sadly, I could not perceive and apply the benefits of His grace (Psalm 103:1-2) during the early part of our marriage (James 4:6). Perhaps you can do a quick temperature check of your home and closest relationships.

  • How often do you ask your family members to forgive you for things you’ve done wrong?
  • Would you characterize your home as a place where confession and forgiveness regularly happen?
  • Are all the members of your home committed to practicing confession and forgiveness?
  • Are you more aware of what you do wrong or what other family members do wrong (Matthew 7:3-5)?

Your answers to my questions will direct you to what you should do next.

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Forgiveness and Happiness

The most radical, life-changing, relationship-building question you will ever ask another person is, “Will you forgive me?” That is how our revolutionary, life-changing, relationship-building experience with God began. The process is no different for His image bearers (Genesis 1:27; Ephesians 5:1). A Christian who does not regularly ask for forgiveness is like the son of a millionaire unaware of his daddy’s fortune. Or even worse, he knows of his daddy’s fortune but refuses to benefit from those riches (1 Peter 1:4). Forgiveness is a free and unlimited mercy from the Lord.

Still, it requires humility to access it, whether asking or granting. “Will you forgive me?” is not a complex question, but it is not one of the common questions asked within the Christian community—especially in our homes and local churches. The person not regularly asking for forgiveness is either self-deceived, a pretender, or in denial of the doctrine of sin. A forgiven person—authentically living in the grace of that forgiveness—is ready, willing, and able to ask for forgiveness and grant it—attitudinally or transactionally.

As you think about your life and home in the context of this book, I hope these final thoughts will give you the encouragement you need to begin building a confessional home that takes sin seriously, the gospel practically, your relationships deeper, and God’s fame as your primary motivation.

Seven Simple Steps

  1. Be Honest: You know when you sin (1 John 1:7-10; Romans 2:14-15; Hebrews 4:7-8). Don’t fall for the traps of justification, rationalization, alleviation, or blaming. Name it; claim it; confess your sins to God and all others in the sphere of offense.
  2. Spirit-walking: Step into the reality of what you did when you sense God’s illumination; don’t run from it. Pray for heightened sensitivity to the Spirit of God and obey Him in all things. Practice a life of honesty and integrity. When He speaks, listen and act.
  3. Practice Forgiveness: Don’t say I’m sorry or apologize when talking about a transgression. Push the biblical envelope by pursuing radical reconciliation. Ask for forgiveness, and don’t settle for anything less.
  4. God First: Don’t ask others to forgive you while not asking God first. All sin is a sin against the Lord. Sometimes we sin against others too. If you sin against others, you must ask both for forgiveness.
  5. Be Specific: “Will you forgive me for [this specific thing]?” Let them know that you know how you have sinned. Convince them that you have sinned. Do not let them let you off the hook. Convince them to forgive you as you bring a compelling argument against yourself. Be convincing, persuasive, and unrelenting in your pursuit of forgiveness.
  6. Tap Out: Give up your rights by submitting yourself to the authority of God and His Word. Choose brokenness until you find release from your sins and restoration to those you offended. (Read Psalm 51.) Do not settle for anything less.
  7. Don’t Forget: There is power in forgiveness. After the Father executed His Son on the cross (Isaiah 53:10) for your sin and mine, He made it possible for any person to experience release from the guilt and punishment that all sin deserves (Romans 6:23).

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As a Christian, you and I have the grace-empowered privilege to live daily in a guilt-free environment if we choose to be honest with ourselves, God, and others. After Lucia and I began to see the gospel with more practical clarity, we started to live in the restored sanctification sweet spot that radically changed our home. We replaced the guilt, burden, shame, unresolved conflict, and proverbial pink elephants flying around the room with love, joy, peace, hope, and the mercy Christ offers through His gospel. Do not be like the rich kid who is clueless about or resistant to what his daddy possesses. Step up to your inheritance by asking your family to forgive you whenever you sin against them. Be radical. Step into the enjoyment of your Christian experience with others.

Call to Action

  1. Describe your family’s sin plan. Some elements should be conviction, confession, pre-forgiveness, forgiveness, post-forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. What are a few other features that you incorporate into your sin plan?
  2. Do you have a confessional home? What does that mean? Think through the rhythm of confession in your home. There should be a steady and comfortable beat of confession, something you’re so used to doing that it’s not odd but welcomed.
  3. Why is asking for forgiveness better than saying, “I’m sorry?”
  4. Do you have a happy home? Is there relational warmth wafting from room to room? If not, what is one thing you will do to cooperate with the Lord to build a happy home?

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