Building as a Family for an Eternal Future
1. In promoting family happiness, why is it good to think about the future?
TIME keeps on moving. The past may hold many fond memories for us, but we cannot live in the past. We can learn from the past, including past mistakes, but we can live only in the present. And yet, even though a family may be getting along well at present, the fact must be faced that the present is only momentary; today soon becomes yesterday, and the present quickly becomes the past. So, it is vital to family happiness that we keep looking to the future, preparing for it, planning for it. What it will be like, for us and those close to us, will depend to a large extent on the decisions we make now.
2. (a) Why do many persons not want to think about the future? (b) If we desire a happy future, to whom should we listen?
2 What are the prospects? For the majority of mankind, what thoughts they have for the future often extend only a few short years. Many prefer not to look very far toward the future because all they can foresee is an unpleasant ending, with the family circle being broken by death. For many, their moments of happiness are quickly overshadowed by the anxieties of life. But by listening to the One “to whom every family in heaven and on earth owes its name,” there can be much, much more to life.—Ephesians 3:14, 15.
3. (a) What prospects did God put before the first humans? (b) Why did things turn out differently?
3 When the first human pair were created, it was not God’s purpose that they or their future children would live for just a few troubled years and then die. He gave them a paradise home and set before them the prospect of unending life. (Genesis 2:7-9, 15-17) But they forfeited that prospect for themselves and their offspring by deliberately violating the law of God, the One on whom their lives depended. The Bible explains it this way: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Romans 5:12.
4. What arrangement has Jehovah God made so that his original purpose regarding humankind will be realized?
4 God, however, lovingly made provision to redeem the human family. His own Son, Jesus Christ, laid down his perfect human life in behalf of all the offspring of Adam. (1 Timothy 2:5, 6) Jesus thus purchased back or redeemed what Adam had lost for us, and the way was opened for those who would exercise faith in this provision to have the same opportunity for life that God had set before the first human pair. Today, if not overtaken by serious illness or accident earlier in life, a person may live for 70 or 80 years, and a few live a little longer. “But the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Romans 6:23.
5-7. (a) If we do God’s will now, to what can we look forward in the future? (b) What question might you raise about helping your family?
5 What can this mean for your family? For persons who listen to and obey God’s commandments it can mean an eternal future. (John 3:36) In his unfailing Word, God promises that he will remove the present oppressive system of things and cause all the affairs of mankind to be administered by a perfect and righteous government that he himself provides. (Daniel 2:44) Showing this, his Word tells us that he purposed “to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.” (Ephesians 1:10) Yes, then there will be universal harmony, and the human family will be united earth wide, free from racial strife, political division, heartless crime and the violence of war. Families will dwell in security, “and there will be no one making them tremble.” (Psalm 37:29, 34; Micah 4:3, 4) This will be because all those then living will be persons who have “become imitators of God, as beloved children,” and they will “go on walking in love.”—Ephesians 5:1, 2.
6 Under the direction of God’s Kingdom rule, the human family will then work unitedly in the joyful project of bringing the earth to the paradise state that the Creator purposed, a garden home providing an abundance of food for all mankind. All earth’s immense variety of bird, fish and animal life will come under the kind dominion of humans and serve to their pleasure, for this is God’s stated purpose. (Genesis 2:9; 1:26-28) No more will disease, pain, the debilitating effects of old age, or the fear of death mar the human family’s enjoyment of life. Even those “in the memorial tombs” will return to share in the grand opportunities that life will then afford.—John 5:28, 29; Revelation 21:1-5.
7 What can you do to help your family realize the fulfillment of these prospects?
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO?
8. To gain God’s approval, what is required of us?
8 None of us should mistakenly conclude that simply by living what we view as a “good life” we will be among those who gain life in God’s new system of things. It is not for us to decide what the requirements are; God rightly does that. One day when Jesus was teaching in Judea, a man asked: “By doing what shall I inherit everlasting life?” The answer was: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole strength and with your whole mind,’ and, ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:25-28) Clearly, much more is involved than just saying that we believe in God, or periodically going to meetings where the Bible is discussed, or occasionally doing kind things for certain persons. Rather, the faith that we profess should deeply influence our thoughts and desires and actions every day, all day long.
9. What Scriptural principles can help us to be balanced in our view of the common affairs of life?
9 Keeping in mind and treasuring our relationship with God will help us to act with wisdom and will assure his approval and help. (Proverbs 4:10) By viewing all the affairs of life as they relate to him and his purposes, we will be able to keep good balance in the way we use our lives. We must work to care for our physical needs. But God’s Son reminds us that anxious concern and eager pursuit of material things will not lengthen our lives in the slightest; seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness will lengthen them unendingly. (Matthew 6:25-33; 1 Timothy 6:7-12; Hebrews 13:5) God purposes that we thoroughly enjoy our family life. Yet to become so wrapped up in family affairs that we fail to show genuine love for those outside the family circle would be self-defeating, would give our family a narrow outlook on life and would rob us of God’s blessing. Family fun and recreation bring the greatest enjoyment when they are kept in their place, never being allowed to crowd love for God into the background. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31; 2 Timothy 3:4, 5) By doing all things, as a family or as individuals, in harmony with the sound principles of God’s Word, our lives will be deeply satisfying, with a sense of genuine accomplishment, and we will be laying a sound foundation for an eternal future. So, “whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah . . . for you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the due reward of the inheritance.”—Colossians 3:18-24.
BUILDING AS A FAMILY
10. How important is regular Bible discussion in the home?
10 If the members of a family are to continue to work toward the same goals, home discussions of God’s Word are very valuable, really essential. Each day offers many opportunities for a person to relate to the purposes of the Creator things that are seen and done. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) It is good to set aside regular times for all to join in reading and discussing the Bible together, perhaps with the help of publications that explain the Bible. Doing this has a unifying effect on the family. Family members can then use God’s Word to help one another to cope with problems that may come up. When parents set a good example, not letting such periods of family Bible discussion be easily infringed upon by other interests, this impresses upon the children the vital importance of deep respect and appreciation for God’s Word. His Son said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.”—Matthew 4:4.
11. When it comes to spiritual progress, what tendency should be avoided in the family?
11 In a body, “there should be no division,” but “its members should have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12:25) That should be true of a family body. One mate should not be so preoccupied with his own spiritual progress in knowledge and understanding that he fails to show sincere concern for that of his marriage partner. If, for example, a husband does not give sufficient attention to his wife’s spiritual needs, in time she may no longer cherish the same goals that he does. If parents do not take enough personal interest in the spiritual growth of their children, helping them to see how the principles of God’s Word apply and can bring the greatest happiness in life, they may find that the hearts and minds of their children will be drawn away by the materialistic spirit of the world around them. For the everlasting good of your whole family, keep the taking in of knowledge from God’s Word as a regular, vital part of your family life.
12. With whom should we not neglect to associate?
12 If, indeed, ‘love begins at home,’ it should not end there. God’s Word foretold that his true servants would become, even during the present system of things, a global family of brothers and sisters. He tells us that “as long as we have time favorable for it,” we should “work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith,” those in the “entire association of [our] brothers in the world.” (Galatians 6:10; 1 Peter 5:9) As a family, meeting together regularly with those of that bigger “family” should be a joy, one not easily forfeited in favor of other interests.—Hebrews 10:23-25; Luke 21:34-36.
13. What responsibility do we have toward persons outside the Christian congregation?
13 But our love should not be limited just to those already within “God’s household,” his congregation. (1 Timothy 3:15) As God’s Son said, if we love only those loving us, our brothers only, ‘what extraordinary thing have we done?’ To be like our heavenly Father, we must reach out wholeheartedly to all persons and show kindness and helpfulness to any and all, seeking ever to share the good news of God’s kingdom with them, taking the initiative. When we express godly love in this way as a family, our life takes on real meaning and purpose. All of us, parents and children alike, experience what it means to show love to its full extent, in the way that God shows it. (Matthew 5:43-48; 24:14) We also share in the full happiness that only such wholehearted giving can bring.—Acts 20:35.
14. The application of what counsel promotes happy family life?
14 What grand prospects are ahead for families who manifest such love! They have learned that the way to make their family life happy is to apply the counsel of God’s Word. Despite the problems and pressures of life that affect all persons, such families experience right now many fine results from doing so. But they are looking beyond the present, and they are not thinking in terms of just a few years of life before death ends it all. With confidence in the reliability of the promises of God, each member of the family will happily build for an eternal future.
15. What questions might you ask yourself about the benefits of the Scriptural guidelines set forth in this book?
15 This book has shown from the Bible that God’s purpose in creating the earth is to have it inhabited. He established the family to accomplish this. Jehovah God also gave guidelines for fathers, mothers and children, and these have been considered. Have you been able to apply some of these principles in your family? Have they helped you to make your family life happier? We hope so. But what does the future hold for you and your family?
16-18. What grand conditions has Jehovah God purposed for this earth?
16 Would you like to help in caring for the earth, in making its fields produce bumper crops and its deserts to blossom? Would you like to see thorns and thistles give way to orchards and majestic forests? Would you and your family be pleased to exercise dominion over animals, not with guns, whips and steel bars, but through love and mutual trust?
17 If your heart yearns for the time when swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning shears, when there will be no more makers of bombs or fomenters of war, then you would rejoice in Jehovah’s new system of things. Oppressive political rule, commercial greed and religious hypocrisy will be things of the past. Every family will dwell in peace under its own vine and fig tree. The earth will ring with the happy cries of resurrected children and with the stirring songs of many birds. And the air will be exhilarating with fragrance of flowers instead of stifling with industrial pollution.—Micah 4:1-4.
18 If it is your heartfelt hope to see the lame leap like the stag, to hear the tongue of the mute sing, to watch the eyes of the blind open, to learn that the ears of the deaf are unstopped, to witness sighing and crying give way to smiles, and tears and mourning give way to laughter, and pain and death give way to health and eternal life, then do your utmost to aid yourself and your family to take the action needed to live forever in Jehovah’s new system where such conditions will exist forever.—Revelation 21:1-4.
19. How may you and your family be among those who will enjoy the blessings of God’s new system?
19 Will your family be among the happy throngs who will fill the earth at that time? It is up to you. Follow Jehovah’s instructions for family life now. Work as a family to prove now that you would fit into the life-style of that new system. Study God’s Word, apply it in your lives, tell others of the hope ahead. By so doing, you as a family will be making “a good name” with God. “A good name is to be chosen rather than abundant riches; favor is better than even silver and gold.” Such a name Jehovah will not forget: “The remembrance of the righteous one is due for a blessing.” (Proverbs 22:1, margin; Pr 10:7) By Jehovah’s undeserved kindness you and your family may be blessed with an eternal future of supreme happiness.
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