All of us are looking to build something in life that will bring satisfaction, meaning, and peace. Our default setting, however, is to put all our energy into things that weren't meant to last—careers, houses, cars, vacations, and the latest fashions and devices. Nothing is wrong with those things in and of themselves—and yet, nothing that wasn't built to last can bring us the fulfillment we crave. We tend to build houses when what we really want is a home.
Solomon knew the difference between the two and described that difference in Psalm 127: "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it" (v. 1). Solomon also knew that God wasn't really concerned about houses: "Who can really build him a worthy home? Not even the highest heavens can contain him!" (2 Chronicles 2:6, NLT).
What matters to God most? Relationships. He wants us to love Him first and foremost and to love others as ourselves. And that's how we turn a house into a home: by building relationships. We can't just put a shelter over our heads and expect healthy relationships to happen. We have to make relationships a priority, otherwise where we live won't matter in the long run.
How do you cultivate relational priorities? Start with God. Notice how Solomon put the emphasis on working with God to build a good life: "Unless the Lord builds the house...[and] unless the Lord guards the city," all our labor is in vain (Psalm 127:1). It's God who gives us peaceful rest (see v. 2), God who blesses us with children (see v. 3), and God who makes us and our families fruitful and productive citizens (see vv. 4-5). When we view our lives through God's eyes, we can create a home built on value rather than a house built on vanity.
If you boil life down to its irreducible minimum, relationships are at the foundation. God created you to be connected with other people. You're designed to be interdependent. The first time God said that something about His creation was not good was when He considered Adam's isolation. And not only did He provide Adam a counterpart in Eve, but He Himself used to walk with the two of them in the cool of the day. That tells us that God wants a relationship with us. Once that vertical relationship is in place, that should affect our horizontal relationships with others.
Now, prioritizing and cultivating those horizontal relationships takes discipline and commitment. If you're wondering how to get going in your own family, start simply: listen more, ask better questions when settling a dispute, encourage your family members regularly, let them know you're on their side, and pray and read Scripture together.
Home is where life makes up its mind, and you can be part of aligning the minds of those in your house with God's will. Remember, building your life apart from God is vanity, but if you're building upward to God and outward to people, you're creating a valuable commodity.