Thursday, June 05, 2008

How Should a Christian Buy a Home?

A few weeks ago an opportunity arose for Kim, Rachel, and I to acquire a home—our first home. It is a “lease with option to buy” deal, and it’s being offered to us by a man we know and trust. We think we’ll be ready to buy a house on our own in a year or so, but this would allow us to get into something now while the market is at, or near, the bottom.

Thus, we’ve been looking at several homes and working through lots of details. Along the way, I’ve tried to keep our family’s hearts focused on the right things and this entry is a brief summary of some of those things. To put it in the form of a question, How should a Christian go about buying a home?

1. Guard your heart by remembering that your hope is in Christ alone. Paul writes, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4). And Peter adds, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).

Christians must die to the American dream and be born to the Kingdom of God dream. We must fix our eyes and Christ and set our hope fully on the day when we will see Jesus Christ face-to-face and commune with him and worship him forever! We must inflame affections in our hearts for that day when we, together with people from every tribe and tongue and nation, will shout from the depths of our hearts, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12) This leads to the second thing.

2. Guard your heart by remembering that this world is not your home and that Christ is preparing your true home even now. Just before he went to the cross Jesus said to his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going” (John 14:1-4).

Why would I give my heart to an earthly home that will one day be destroyed or otherwise fade away, when Christ is preparing for me an eternal home that can neither be destroyed nor fade away? As the writer of Hebrews said, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). Reason being, this “city” will not last but that “city” will. And the wise put their hope in that which lasts.

3. Guard your heart by remembering that your resources have been entrusted to you by Christ and that he wants you to be a good steward. To be very honest with you, owning a house in and of itself means nothing to me because my hope truly is in Christ. But at the same time, I’m building wealth for my landlord even as I write when I could be building wealth that at least has a good chance of being invested in the Kingdom of God. As a steward of God’s resources, I would like to deliberately glorify him with the resources he gives me. This doesn’t mean that every Christian should buy a house, but it does mean that Christians have good reason for doing so if the Lord so leads.

At the same time, another part of stewardship is committing not to stretch resources too far. It is all to easy in the process of buying a house to reach for the little more than you can afford, but the good steward will guard his or her heart and discipline the flesh away from this. After all, the point of stewardship is the glory of God not the comfort of the flesh. This leads to the next point.

4. Guard your heart by remembering that the purpose of life is the glory of God, and therefore Christians should want their homes, as well as the process of buying those homes, to bring glory to him. How does one glorify God in buying and owning a home? Here a few thoughts: (a) Have integrity throughout the process and be absolutely honest with everyone. (b) Be open about the fact that this world is not your home, and that you’re looking for another lasting city. Look for opportunities to share the gospel along the way and so help others acquire an eternal home. (c) Strive for simplicity. Display the fact that Christ is your hope and heaven is your home by buying only what you need for your family and the outworking of your life in Christ. (d) Assess your home for its usefulness in ministering to others. In other words, don’t just look for the home that will meet your needs but the one that will help you be who you are in Christ. (e) Everyone’s situation is different and thus I don’t want to mentions specifics here, but pray that God will allow you to avoid even the appearance of evil. Ask questions like this: What about this house makes God look glorious? What about this house makes God look ugly? Can the latter things be changed so that he looks as he is?

5. Guard your heart by remembering the warnings of Scripture against trusting in wealth. Consider, for example, Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 6:17-19: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

We must take great pains to ensure that we are not feeding the vanity of our flesh, to ensure that we are not subtly living for ourselves in the guise of living for the “glory of God.” At the same time it is true that God, our Father, gives us all things to enjoy and it’s not a sin to like living in your home. I suppose the point is, why do you like it? And if part of the answer is, “Because it meets my needs,” does the meeting of your “needs” bring glory to God?

Well, I have to go to a meeting now so I better stop writing. But I hope these few thoughts bless you as you consider buying a home or living in the one you’ve already bought.

3 comments:

  1. yisin.yisin@gmail.com9:40 PM

    Dear Pastor Charlie,

    This morning I google "christian buying a house" and I found your blog.
    I want to thank you for writing this article.
    It really helps me a lot! really! I had been looking for house more than half years, the process is not smooth and a bit heart broken.
    This article is so good! It make my heart feel peaceful, and finally i know what i should be looking for.
    Thank you so much pastor!
    May God bless you abundantly!

    I'm Yisin from malaysia :D

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  2. God loves you - so why would God tell you not to buy a home when it will provide stability, security and maybe even financial gains. God is not a big meanie saying suffer - for suffering is my will. Geesh so over this kind of preaching. The truth is God loves you and wants the best for you. If God opens the door for you to buy a home - then why close it?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment, but I think you're missing my point. We did not end up buying that house for circumstantial reasons but if the Lord did indeed open the door I would have been glad to do so. The key is this: was God actually opening the door? The answer turned out to be "no," and that's just fine with me. God loves me, true, but he had much better things that that particular house for my family.

      It's easy for us to pursue things in the name of God but not with the blessing of God. Much more important than owning a house or amassing wealth which will only fade away, is being in the center of God's will. The Bible is filled with examples of people who forsook the things of this world for the greater treasure of God, and with examples of people who put God first and yet acquired wealth. Wealth itself, or home ownership itself, is not the issue. Being in the will of God and keeping our hearts focused on the right things is the issue.

      It's always best when making a major purchase like a home to do a heart-check to make sure that we are seeking first God's kingdom and loving him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, for he is the one and only Treasure that will never fade away.

      Thanks again for the comment, and God bless your day.

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