Why Effective Ministry Starts at Home

Sometimes things in life are hard to understand. Like why a small pack of candy is called “fun size.” (What’s so fun about getting less candy?) Why the time of day with the slowest traffic is called rush hour. Why the guy we invest money with is called a broker. Why we call it a hamburger when there’s clearly no ham. And why the toilets in my house flush on the right side. (Go check yours and tell me the flusher isn’t on the left???)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 4:18-26
Key Verse: “For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” 1 Timothy 3:5


Scripture has some hard to understand things as well. One of those being the section of verses before us today. After finishing his conversation with the LORD at the burning bush, Moses went back to his father-in-law, Jethro, and out of respect, asked permission to go to Egypt to see if his brothers were still alive.

Which may have been partly true. It had been forty years and under the hand of harsh treatment, Moses probably wondered who had passed and who was still living. But God had made it clear his people were still alive. Which leads us to think Moses wasn’t completely honest with Jethro. Leaving out a few key details. Like the fact that God had already commanded him to go.

No matter, Jethro said yes. “Go in peace” (v.18). So with one last push from the LORD, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead” (v. 19), Moses set his wife and sons on a donkey and with “the staff of God in his hand” set out for Egypt.

All well and good until we get to verse 24. And our eye brows furl. And our head cocks to the side. And we think, “Well that doesn’t make any sense.” It reads, “At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death.” Say what?

After all that conversation. After all that coaxing. After all that reassuring and instructing – the LORD meets his chosen man on a path of newly trodden obedience to put him to death. (And I thought right side flushing toilets were hard to understand.)

To save her husband’s life, Zipporah “took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses feet with it.” In other words, she circumcised her boy. I’m guessing the youngest (since it’s singular). And let’s just say she wasn’t happy about it, calling Moses “a bridegroom of blood.” (Them’s fightin’ words if you ask me.)

Anyway, somehow, they figured out Moses’ life hung in the balance because they hadn’t circumcised their son. A requirement for every male in a Hebrew household, whether born in the house or bought. It began with Abraham back in Genesis 17. It was the sign of the covenant. The very covenant God was now faithfully fulfilling through Moses.

But for whatever reason Zipporah didn’t want it done. Maybe the circumcision of their first born hadn’t gone well. Or maybe it felt wrong. Maybe it was just too much for her to watch or she just plain didn’t want to. (I’ve been there a time or two.)

Nonetheless, obedience to God’s commands came first. Before feelings and opinions and wants and don’t-want-tos.

Before Moses could answer the call. Before ministry could begin. Before God could use him outside his home, obedience had to take place right there with the people he loved most.

“For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Tim. 3:5)

No level of ministry or calling or job outside the home, excuses us from living within the parameters God sets inside the home. If anything, ministry outside the home, heightens the need of ministry inside the home.

Yet sometimes, it feels like a lesser calling. The loving of our spouses. The teaching of Scripture to our children. The endless instructing. The talk of God’s sovereignty in a sunrise or the reminder of godly obedience in a reprimand. It feels small and repetitive.

And it’s easy to set it aside. For something of greater importance. Something with more immediate results or praise.

Or to simply let things slip. Because we’re tired. Because we’re comfortable. Because we’ll get to it later.

But how can we say it in public, if we don’t do it in private? How can we speak the Word to others, when we don’t believe it enough to live it ourselves? Though we can’t always control the outcome, of those inside (or outside) our barn wood clad decorated walls, we can, if we want to, be the example.

So important was this to God he was willing to put Moses to death. To start over. To find someone else to do the job if Moses didn’t adhere to the command of circumcising his sons.

For it was only a matter of time before he’d be reminding the Israelite’s to do the same. Passing along the LORD’s requirement of anyone, whether foreigner, slave, visitor, stranger, or relative, to be circumcised prior to eating the Passover meal. “But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it” (Ex. 12:48).

You see it wasn’t just the Israelite’s who fled the land of Egypt. There were likely Egyptians and other foreigners who tagged along in awe of the powerful God of the Hebrews. Which the LORD welcomed, but to take part in the celebration of God’s deliverance, they first had to identify themselves as one of God’s people. And that was done by circumcision. A command Moses had to live, before he could give.

If we want to be used by God, it starts at home. Faithfully, daily, adhering, to the instructions we’ve already been given. No matter how small or unimportant or tedious or hard it may seem, none of it is optional for a servant of God.

And when we obey. When we take the time to adhere to the seemingly lesser instructions. Abiding by the word of God, serving Jesus, in the spaces only those closest to us see, God will use us in the bigger, more wide open places.

But it starts in the quiet, not often viewed, seemingly unimportant, little things, of home.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Why do you think ministry outside the home, heightens the need for ministry inside the home?
Are there areas of obedience in your personal and home life, that you’ve set aside to answer the call of ministry elsewhere? What steps can you take to fix that today?

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