Our first duty before God is the governance of our own selves. Our first duty is repentance of personal sins and to live holy in our daily lives. No amount of good parenting, discipling others in your local fellowship, or social activism makes up for secret personal sin, nor can we reasonably expect God to bless even our good efforts if we’re in sin.
Our second duty before God is the governance of our families. Our second duty is to righteously protect and provide for our families. It is at times good to charitably give the cloak off of our own back to others in need, but to give your wife or children’s cloak away is despicable sin. One qualification of being an elder is being able to manage his household.
“for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” – 1 Timothy 3:5
This does not merely mean being nice to your wife and disciplining your children, but also the general economic care of your family. No amount of church work or even the best Kingdom activism makes up for a husband that does not provide for his family.
Our third duty before God is the governance of His Church. Our third duty is to correct, disciple, rebuke, exhort, and teach those who are in the household of God. The Bride of Christ is the ordinary means that God has sovereignly ordained to bring His Gospel and Kingdom to all the world. Judgement comes to the house of God first. Revival in the world springs up from a Church that has undergone reformation. No amount of activism in the world or evangelism to the lost makes up for a man that does not love the Church enough to call her to repentance and teach her all of Christ’s commandments.
Our fourth duty before God is the governance of the civil sphere. Our fourth duty is to call the civil magistrates to repentance and to call on society to establish justice throughout all the land according to the perfect Law of God. The abolition of abortion, humanist education, no fault divorce, socialism, etc. is a duty of the Church.
It is vital to understand that these duties do not intrinsically work against one another. In our unrighteousness we pit one against another as if we serve our families or fellowships in spite of the world or we strive for social change in spite of our families or fellowships. Furthermore, we should understand that we can be faithful to our obligations to build the Kingdom of God while also being faithful personally and to our families and fellowships. The goal, the end, is the transformation of all the world for the Glory of God, but that END has prescribed MEANS, and our efforts will not be blessed by God if we take a shortcut and skip over more foundational responsibilities.
We are not to be exclusively laying the foundations. Personal holiness is not an excuse to not care for your family, your family is no excuse to not love the Church, and the Church is no excuse to not seek the Kingdom of God. Lay the foundation SO THAT you can be faithful in ALL things. The foundation is meant for the frame, brick, and roof, but the structure of the house will not stand without a foundation. A pile of lumber that has fallen over without a foundation is no good, and no one wants to live on a bare slab without any building. A home builder that lays a good foundation and then believes he is finished is no home builder at all. Likewise, a homebuilder that attempts to frame on a dirt pad is a fool. The goal is a home, the goal is the Kingdom, but one does not build the Kingdom with shortcuts.
We’re worse than fools if we think we can change the world if we don’t repent of personal sin, provide for and protect our families, and love the Church. The foundations and first obligations we have before God are not distractions from abolitionism and the building of the Kingdom of God, but rather the means in which we will be effective in those good efforts.
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” – Luke 16:10