Essential House Guest Etiquette
Everyone has certain expectations for etiquette when someone enters their house as a guest. For some, their house rules are quite strict. They expect everyone to remove their shoes at the door, and guests had better not put their feet up on any furniture. On the other hand, others enjoy a home environment where guests can “crash” anywhere they can find a spot that’s not covered in their dirty laundry. After all, since it’s their house they alone are in position to make the rules. As far as they’re concerned, if you don’t like it you can leave. House rules can vary greatly from culture to culture. For instance in America we’re very time-oriented. If someone shows up late for dinner at our house, it comes across as inconsiderate. However if you’re invited to dinner in India, you’d better show up at least 15 to 30 minutes late. If you show up on time, your gesture is considered quite rude. We may not understand, or even like the rules of other people’s houses, but that’s irrelevant. As guests we don’t get to pick and choose which rules we want to follow. Otherwise, we won’t be welcome to stay in their house.
Paul writes to the young evangelist Timothy concerning the issues facing the church at Ephesus where Timothy preaches. His entire purpose for this letter is to instruct Timothy on how God requires people to behave in His house, the church (1 Timothy 3:15). However there’s a huge obstacle in Timothy’s way: false teachers.
Paul writes, “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith,” (1 Timothy 1:3–4 emph. added). This word “administration” is translated in a variety of ways in different English versions. However, this is actually a compound word formed by combining both the Greek words for “house” and “law.” Paul is telling Timothy that these men may be advocating all sorts of teaching, but they’re not “furthering God’s house-law.” Just like your home, God owns this house and if we want to be a part of it, then we have to follow His “house-laws.” If we don’t like His rules of the house, then we can get out as far as He’s concerned (an example of this is 1 Tim 1:20).
Too often people think that the church must conform to meet their needs, expectations, and desires. As a result they treat churches like grocery shopping. They pick exactly what appeals to them and disregard anything in Scripture that doesn’t harmonize with “their” ideal church. Essentially many people walk into God’s house and say, “You had good intentions God, but if you don’t mind me I’m just going to do a little renovating.” WRONG! Since this is God’s house, we have to follow His house-laws or we won’t be welcome to stay.
Paul says that God’s house-law is “by faith” (1 Timothy 1:4). This means that if we want to be in His house, then we just have to trust that God knows what He’s doing. We have to trust that God knows what He’s doing with how He wants us to worship Him in His house. We have to trust He knows what He’s doing in the different gender roles He’s established in His house. We have to trust He knows what He’s doing in the daily conduct He expects us to display in His house. We have to trust that God knows what He’s doing in His expectations of how our marriages function. Don’t like God’s house-laws? You don’t have to stay, but you don’t have the option of changing them. Remember…it’s not your house.