We Need to Practice Godly Devotion at Home
1. (a) After learning Jehovah’s standards for marriage, what changes have many persons made? (b) But what more is involved in Christian family life?
AMONG the heartwarming truths that we learned during our earlier Bible study were those that relate to marriage and family life. We came to recognize Jehovah as the Originator of marriage and saw that in the Bible he had provided the very best guidance for families. As a result of that guidance, many persons commendably have abandoned a life of sexual immorality and had their marriage properly registered. But there is much more to Christian family life than that. It also involves our attitude as to the permanence of the marriage union, fulfillment of our responsibilities in the family, and how we deal with other family members.—Eph. 5:33–6:4.
2. (a) Does everyone apply at home what he knows from the Bible? (b) How do Jesus and Paul emphasize the importance of doing so?
2 Millions of persons know what the Bible says about these matters. But when faced with problems in their own home, they do not apply it. What about ourselves? Certainly none of us want to be like those whom Jesus condemned because they sidestepped God’s commandment requiring children to honor their parents by reasoning that a pretense of religious devotion was enough. (Matt. 15:4-9) We do not want to be persons who have a form of godly devotion but who fail to practice it “in their own household.” Rather, we should want to display true godly devotion, which is “a means of great gain.”—1 Tim. 5:4; 6:6; 2 Tim. 3:5.
How Long Will the Marriage Last?
3. (a) What is happening to many marriages, but what should our determination be? (b) Use your Bible to answer the questions listed above regarding the permanence of marriage.
3 With increasing frequency, marriage bonds are proving to be very fragile. Some mates that have been together for 20, 30 or 40 years are now deciding to start a “new life” with someone else. Also it is no longer unusual to hear that young couples have separated after only a few months of marriage. Regardless of what others are doing, as worshipers of Jehovah we should have the desire to please God. What does his Word say about this?
How strongly does Jehovah feel about divorces that are not authorized by his Word? (Mal. 2:13-16)
Does the Bible advocate separation as a means to solve marital problems? (1 Cor. 7:10-13)
4. In spite of the modern trend, why do some marriages endure?
4 Why do some marriages endure, while others—even among professed Christians—are breaking up? Waiting to marry until both parties are mature is often a key factor. Finding a mate who shares one’s interests and with whom one can discuss matters openly is also important. But of greater importance is one’s being a person who practices genuine godly devotion. If a person truly loves Jehovah and is convinced that His ways are right, then there will be a sound basis for handling problems that arise. (Ps. 119:97, 104; Prov. 22:19) The marriage of such a person will not be undermined by the attitude that, if it does not work out, he can always get a separation or a divorce. He will not seize on his mate’s shortcomings as an excuse for sidestepping his own responsibilities. Instead, he will learn to face up to problems of life and find workable solutions.
5. (a) How is loyalty to Jehovah involved? (b) Even when severe hardship is encountered, what benefits can come from holding firmly to Jehovah’s standards?
5 We are well aware that the Devil contends that when we experience personal suffering we will ignore Jehovah’s ways and will conclude that it is better to decide for ourselves what is good and what is bad. But persons who are loyal to Jehovah are not like that. (Job 2:4, 5; Prov. 27:11) The vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have experienced persecution from unbelieving mates have not renounced their marriage vows. (Matt. 5:37) Some, after a period of years, have even had the joy of being joined by their mates in serving Jehovah. (1 Cor. 7:16; 1 Pet. 3:1, 2) As for others, whose mates show no signs of change or whose mates abandoned them because they held firm to their faith—these too know that they have been richly blessed by holding to Jehovah’s standards. In what way? Their circumstances have taught them to draw closer to Jehovah. They have learned to reflect godly qualities even under adversity. They are persons whose lives give evidence of the power of godly devotion.—Ps. 55:22; Jas. 1:2-4; 2 Pet. 1:5, 6.
Each One Doing His Part
6. To have a successful marriage, what arrangement must be respected?
6 Of course, more than just staying together is required in order to have a truly successful marriage. A basic need is respect on the part of each family member for Jehovah’s arrangement of headship. This contributes to good order and a feeling of security in the home.—1 Cor. 11:3; Titus 2:4, 5; Prov. 1:8, 9; 31:10, 28.
7. How should headship in the family be exercised?
7 How is that headship to be exercised? In a manner that reflects the qualities of Jesus Christ. Jesus is firm in upholding Jehovah’s ways; he loves righteousness and hates lawlessness. (Heb. 1:8, 9) He also deeply loves his congregation, provides it needed direction and cares for it. He is not proud and inconsiderate but, rather, “mild-tempered and lowly in heart,” and those who come under his headship ‘find refreshment for their souls.’ (Matt. 11:28, 29; Eph. 5:25-33) When a husband and father deals with his household in that manner, it is clear that he is subjecting himself to Christ, who set the perfect example in godly devotion. Christian mothers should, of course, reflect those same qualities in dealing with their children.
8. (a) In some homes, why may it seem that Christian methods do not get the desired results? (b) What should we do if faced with such a situation?
8 However, because of human imperfection, problems may arise. A measure of resentment toward direction from others may already have become deeply ingrained in some before anyone in the family began to apply Bible principles. Kind requests and a loving manner may not seem to get results. We know that the Bible says to put away “anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech.” (Eph. 4:31) But if some people do not seem to understand anything else, what should be done? Well, how did Jesus react when under severe pressure? He did not imitate those who threatened and reviled. Instead, he committed himself to his Father, relying on him. (1 Pet. 2:22, 23) Likewise, if trying situations arise in the home, we give evidence of godly devotion if we turn to Jehovah, praying for his help, instead of adopting the ways of the world.—Prov. 3:5-7.
9. Instead of faultfinding, what methods have many Christian husbands learned to use?
9 Changes do not always come quickly, but Bible counsel really does work. Many husbands who used to complain bitterly about their wives’ faults found that improvement began when they themselves came to appreciate more fully Christ’s dealings with his congregation. That congregation is not made up of perfect humans. Yet Jesus loves the congregation, set the right example for it, even gave his life on its behalf, and uses the Scriptures as a means to help it to improve so that it might be altogether pleasing to him. (Eph. 5:25-27; 1 Pet. 2:21) His example has encouraged many Christian husbands to work at providing a fine example and offering loving personal help toward improvement. Such methods yield much better results than does bitter faultfinding or simply refusing to talk.
10. (a) In what ways might a husband and father—even one who professes to be a Christian—be making life hard for others in his home? (b) What might be done to improve the situation?
10 Of course, it may be the husband and father whose shortcomings give rise to problems in the home. What if he is not sensitive to the emotional needs of his family or does not really take the lead by arranging for family discussion of the Bible and other activities? Some households have seen good results after frank, respectful discussions of the problem. (Prov. 15:22; 16:23; 31:26) But even if the results are not all that was hoped for, each one can make a valuable contribution to an improved home atmosphere by personally cultivating the fruits of the spirit and showing loving concern and consideration for other family members. Progress will come, not by waiting for the other person to do something, but by doing our own part well, thus showing that we personally practice godly devotion at home.—Col. 3:18-20, 23, 24.
Where to Get Answers
11, 12. (a) What provisions has Jehovah made to help us with problems in family life? (b) To benefit fully, what is it recommended that we do?
11 There are many sources to which people turn for counsel on their family affairs. But we know that God’s Word contains the very best advice, and we are grateful that through his visible organization he helps us to apply it. Are you fully benefiting from that help?—Ps. 119:129, 130; Mic. 4:2.
12 In addition to attending congregation meetings, do you have regular times set aside for family Bible study? Families that do this regularly each week become united in their worship. Their family life is enriched as they discuss application of God’s Word to their own circumstances.—Compare Deuteronomy 11:18-21.
13. (a) If we have questions on specific marital or family matters, where can we often find the needed help? (b) What should be reflected in all decisions that we make?
13 Perhaps there are questions about specific marital or family matters that concern you. For example, what about birth control? Is sterilization proper for Christians? Is an abortion justified if it seems likely that a baby will be born malformed? Are there any limitations on the kind of sex relations that are proper between husband and wife? If a youth in his teens shows little interest in spiritual matters, to what extent should he be required to share with the family in worship? You no doubt have an opinion on each of these. But can you answer on the basis of Bible principles? Each of these questions has been discussed in The Watchtower. Learn to use available indexes to find such material. If you do not have older publications to which an index refers, check the library at the Kingdom Hall. Do not expect a Yes or a No to every question. Sometimes you must decide—individually or as a married couple. But learn to make decisions that reflect your love for Jehovah and for the members of your family. Make decisions that give evidence of your earnest desire to be well pleasing to God. If you do so, it will be evident both to Jehovah and to others who know you well that you truly do practice godly devotion not only in public but also in your own home.—Eph. 5:10; Rom. 14:19.
● How is loyalty to Jehovah involved in faithfulness to one’s marriage vow?
● When under pressure from family problems, what will help us to do what is pleasing to God?
● Even if others in the family fall short, what can we do to improve the situation?