As men, we want to reflect Christ to our families. We do this through the Munis Triplex, the threefold office of Christ. As the last and ultimate Chief Priest, Jesus represents us fully to the Father as the supreme atoning sacrifice (Himself) serving as our propitiation. Jesus is our satisfaction—His life and death satisfied the wrath of God against our sin and against us.
To image Christ is to serve as priest of your home. In the Old Testament, a priest was a person able to perform certain religious rites. The priest stood between God and man and administered ceremonial rites on behalf of the people as an offering to God.
In the New Covenant, all Christians are priests. 1 Pet. 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood…” Christians are priests in that they “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). In his letter to Rome, Paul drives home this theme; “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship,” (Ro. 12:1). With priesthood in mind, Paul is talking about living in holy service to God, conforming our lives to Jesus, the final and Great High Priest.
As priest in your home, you are a priestly administrator. Though you cannot save your family or appease God’s wrath (only Christ can do that), you can lead in the day-to-day service and worship of God. In this way, you have a few priestly responsibilities:
You Sacrifice Yourself for Your Wife and Family
Paul says in Ephesians 5:25-26, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water by the word.”
William Gouge wrote in 1622 that all the duties of a husband and father are summed up under one Word: love. When we love with a Christlike love, we serve as spiritual priests, offering a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord. We know this is true because Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:2, “Walk in love as Christ has loved us and has given himself for us as an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma…”
As Dallas Willard said, “to love someone is to have their best interest at heart.” What does acting in another’s best interest look like? Consider what Paul says later in Ephesians 5:28-29, “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh…”
Paul rightly assumes that men, in the interest of self-preservation and comfort, will look out for their best interests. We intuitively know this to be true and see it all around us. Though it’s natural and often appropriate to act in our self-interest, the gospel teaches us that Christ is our model, especially when it comes to loving our families;
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…
King Jesus “gave himself up” for his bride, the church. He is our standard regarding operating in the best interests of another. Jesus is our example, and he did not mince words when he commanded us to love and declared what it looked like:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13-14).”
Simply put, love means sacrifice. As priest of your home, you are daily sacrificing for your family; as men, we point our families toward Jesus with sacrifice, not selfishness. Scripture teaches us that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb being led to the slaughter. In the ultimate act of sacrifice, Jesus died for our sins, humbling himself to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:6–8). Jesus gave up his life so that we might have life.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring [you] to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
In the same way, you reflect the sacrificial love of Jesus by dying to yourself. A “self-centered family man” is a contradiction of terms. By God’s design and decree, a man sacrifices for his family.
You Sacrifice Your Time.
Studies and surveys repeatedly rank “time with my spouse” as a woman’s top emotional need. The same is true of your children. At the end of his life, a reporter asked Billy Graham if he could do it all again, what would he do differently? Billy said, “I would have traveled and preached less and spent more time with my family…”
Sacrificing time for your family does not happen organically. You don’t accidentally spend more time with those you love. This time must be thought out, planned for, and guarded. Consistency is key. Making time for your family should be second nature; the more you do it, the more it becomes your default habit.
The key to this is when you’re home, be home. Be present and attuned to your family’s needs. Practice active listening;
“A study from the University of Missouri shows that 45% of communication is listening, yet the average person remembers only 25% of the information they hear. Imagine being in a relationship and failing to hear 75% of what’s said to you.”
Active listening is making a conscious effort to hear, understand, and retain the information being relayed to you. It is a deep understanding of what you hear as you pick up on the speaker’s intent, content, and emotion. Active listening requires paying attention. If you’re watching NetFlix or scrolling through TikTok on your phone while someone is talking, you’re not actively listening.
You Sacrifice Your Wants.
As priest of your home, you must elevate the needs and preferences of those in your household above your own. In this act of sacrifice, your family will see Jesus when they look at you. The result will be trust. Your family will trust you because they know you value their needs above your own. Sacrificing your wants is what I call the Philippian Prescription:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4
You Sacrifice Your Feelings.
Sacrificial love acts before it feels. God’s Word commands us to love one another as Christ has loved us. When we refuse to love someone because we do not feel like it, we are disobeying this command. As priest, you must remember that how you feel cannot determine who you love. If God has given you a wife and kids, you are to love them, good days and bad days. The great prophet David Ramirez once said,
“And I hope the years that we come up short… Are swallowed by the years that we make it work. And I pray the times that our love is sweet… Outweigh the days that you hate me. But hold on strong, and don’t let go. We’ll carry on, I know we can find a way… ‘Cause you’re still my girl in the bad days.”
Lastly, as Priest of Your Home, You Intercede for Your Children.
A significant part of Christ’s work as our Great High Priest is His intercession for us. Sitting at God’s right hand, Jesus is our advocate. Not only is this the way that Christ saves us, but ultimately, it is the way He keeps us.
Though our prayers cannot compare to His, as fathers, we can and do share in Jesus’ priestly work by praying for children. We see this priestly work in the way Job ministered before the Lord for his family [Job 1:1; 4:5] :
“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil…. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.”
Job is a veteran priest and has much to teach us. First, Job consecrated his children. The Word consecrate means “to set apart to something.” Not knowing if his children had “cursed God in their hearts” (vs.5), Job pleaded with God. Job “set apart” his children to God.
If your children are unbelieving, plead with God and talk to Him about their salvation. Ask God to set them apart for Himself. Plead with God to remove their heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh that desires Him. Often, I pray God would give my kids new hearts. I do this in their hearing so that they will realize their need for salvation.
Second, we see that Job rose early in the morning and regularly prayed for his kids. Job interceded daily and offered burnt offerings for each of his children.
Since Christ has offered Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice, there’s no longer a need to offer animal sacrifices. Still, we’re to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (1 Peter 2:4-5). Those spiritual sacrifices are the fruit of our lips, spiritual offerings of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15). At the very least, we should offer praise to God for our children.
Lastly, we regularly pray for our kids because they are sinners in need of grace. Job understood human depravity and his children’s potential to sin. Thus Job continually interceded before God for his children. Job knew his kids were sinners, and Job wanted to intercede on their behalf so that they might avoid God’s judgment. Let’s not underestimate our children’s capacity to sin, especially in their hearts (a place we can’t look into).
It’s a BIG Job
Being priest of your home is no easy task. The Levites were God’s chosen clan to serve as priest. Being part of the Levitical order was a BIG job and a high calling. If prophets bring God’s Word to the people, priests bring the people to God. By sacrificing and interceding for your family, you are bringing your family into the very presence of God. It is a huge responsibility, and you’re just the priest for the job.
Chris Harper is the Executive Director of BetterMan.