1. What was Jehovah’s purpose for the family arrangement?
WHEN Jehovah united Adam and Eve in marriage, Adam expressed his joy by speaking the earliest recorded Hebrew poetry. (Genesis 2:22, 23) However, the Creator had more in mind than merely bringing pleasure to his human children. He wanted married couples and families to do his will. He told the first pair: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) What a grand, rewarding assignment that was! How happy they and their future children would have been if Adam and Eve had done Jehovah’s will in full obedience!
2, 3. How can families find the greatest happiness today?
2 Today, too, families are happiest when they work together to do God’s will. The apostle Paul wrote: “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) A family that lives with godly devotion and that follows Jehovah’s guidance as contained in the Bible will find happiness in “the life now.” (Psalm 1:1-3; 119:105; 2 Timothy 3:16) Even if only one member of a family applies Bible principles, things are better than if no one does.
3 This book has discussed many Bible principles that contribute to family happiness. Likely you have noticed that some of them appear repeatedly throughout the book. Why? Because they represent powerful truths that work for the good of all in various aspects of family life. A family that strives to apply these Bible principles finds that godly devotion really does ‘hold promise of the life now.’ Let us look again at four of those important principles.
THE VALUE OF SELF-CONTROL
4. Why is self-control vital in a marriage?
4 King Solomon said: “As a city broken through, without a wall, is the man that has no restraint for his spirit.” (Proverbs 25:28; 29:11) ‘Restraining one’s spirit,’ exercising self-control, is vital for those who want a happy marriage. Surrendering to destructive emotions, such as rage or immoral lust, will cause damage that takes years to repair—if it can be repaired at all.
5. How can an imperfect human cultivate self-control, and with what benefits?
5 Of course, no descendant of Adam can fully control his imperfect flesh. (Romans 7:21, 22) Still, self-control is a fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) Hence, God’s spirit will produce self-control in us if we pray for this quality, if we apply the appropriate counsel that is found in the Scriptures, and if we associate with others who manifest it and avoid those who do not. (Psalm 119:100, 101, 130; Proverbs 13:20; 1 Peter 4:7) Such a course will help us to “flee from fornication,” even when we are tempted. (1 Corinthians 6:18) We will reject violence and will avoid or conquer alcoholism. And we will deal more calmly with provocations and difficult situations. May all—including children—learn to cultivate this vital fruit of the spirit.—Psalm 119:1, 2.
A PROPER VIEW OF HEADSHIP
6. (a) What is the divinely established order of headship? (b) What must a man remember if his headship is to bring happiness to his family?
6 The second important principle is recognition of headship. Paul described the proper order of things when he said: “I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) This means that a man takes the lead in the family, his wife is loyally supportive, and the children are obedient to their parents. (Ephesians 5:22-25, 28-33; 6:1-4) Notice, though, that headship leads to happiness only when it is handled in a proper way. Husbands who live with godly devotion know that headship is not dictatorship. They imitate Jesus, their Head. Although Jesus was to be “head over all things,” he “came, not to be ministered to, but to minister.” (Ephesians 1:22; Matthew 20:28) In a similar way, a Christian man exercises headship, not to benefit himself, but to care for the interests of his wife and children.—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.
7. What Scriptural principles will help a wife fulfill her God-ordained role in the family?
7 For her part, the wife who lives with godly devotion does not compete with or seek to dominate her husband. She is happy to be supportive of him and to work with him. The Bible sometimes speaks of the wife as being “owned” by her husband, leaving no doubt that he is her head. (Genesis 20:3) Through marriage she comes under “the law of her husband.” (Romans 7:2) At the same time, the Bible calls her a “helper” and a “complement.” (Genesis 2:20) She supplies qualities and abilities that her husband lacks, and she gives him needed support. (Proverbs 31:10-31) The Bible also says that a wife is a “partner,” one who works side by side with her mate. (Malachi 2:14) These Scriptural principles help a husband and a wife to appreciate each other’s position and to treat each other with proper respect and dignity.
“BE SWIFT ABOUT HEARING”
8, 9. Explain some principles that will help all in the family to improve their communication skills.
8 In this book the need for communication is frequently highlighted. Why? Because things work better when people talk to and really listen to each other. It was repeatedly emphasized that communication is a two-way street. The disciple James expressed it this way: “Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking.”—James 1:19.
9 It is also important to be careful about how we speak. Rash, contentious, or severely critical words do not constitute successful communication. (Proverbs 15:1; 21:9; 29:11, 20) Even when what we say is correct, if it is expressed in a cruel, proud, or insensitive manner, it is likely to do more harm than good. Our speech should be tasteful, “seasoned with salt.” (Colossians 4:6) Our words should be like “apples of gold in silver carvings.” (Proverbs 25:11) Families that learn to communicate well have taken a major stride toward achieving happiness.
THE VITAL ROLE OF LOVE
10. What kind of love is vital in marriage?
10 The word “love” appears repeatedly throughout this book. Do you remember the kind of love primarily referred to? It is true that romantic love (Greek, eʹros) plays an important part in marriage, and in successful marriages, deep affection and friendship (Greek, phi·liʹa) grow between a husband and a wife. But even more important is the love represented by the Greek word a·gaʹpe. This is the love that we cultivate for Jehovah, for Jesus, and for our neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-39) It is the love Jehovah expresses toward mankind. (John 3:16) How wonderful that we can show the same kind of love for our marriage mate and children!—1 John 4:19.
11. How does love work for the good of a marriage?
11 In marriage this elevated love is truly “a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) It binds a couple together and makes them want to do what is best for each other and for their children. When families face difficult situations, love helps them to handle things unitedly. As a couple get older, love helps them to support and continue appreciating each other. “Love . . . does not look for its own interests. . . . It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”—1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
12. Why does love for God on the part of a married couple strengthen their marriage?
12 The marriage union is especially strong when it is sealed not just by love between marriage mates but primarily by love for Jehovah. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) Why? Well, the apostle John wrote: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.” (1 John 5:3) Thus, a couple should train their children in godly devotion not simply because they love their children deeply but because this is Jehovah’s command. (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7) They should shun immorality not only because they love each other but chiefly because they love Jehovah, who “will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4) Even if one partner causes severe problems in a marriage, love for Jehovah will move the other to continue following Bible principles. Happy, indeed, are those families in which love for one another is cemented by love for Jehovah!
THE FAMILY THAT DOES GOD’S WILL
13. How will a determination to do God’s will help individuals to keep their eyes on the truly important things?
13 A Christian’s whole life is centered on doing the will of God. (Psalm 143:10) This is what godly devotion really means. Doing God’s will helps families to keep their eyes on the truly important things. (Philippians 1:9, 10) For example, Jesus warned: “I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household.” (Matthew 10:35, 36) True to Jesus’ warning, many of his followers have been persecuted by family members. What a sad, painful situation! Still, family ties should not outweigh our love for Jehovah God and for Jesus Christ. (Matthew 10:37-39) If one endures despite family opposition, the opposers may change when they see the good effects of godly devotion. (1 Corinthians 7:12-16; 1 Peter 3:1, 2) Even if that does not happen, no lasting good is gained by ceasing to serve God because of opposition.
14. How will a desire to do God’s will help parents act in the best interests of their children?
14 Doing God’s will helps parents to make right decisions. For example, in some communities parents tend to view children as an investment, and they count on their children to care for them in their old age. While it is right and proper for grown children to care for their aging parents, such a consideration should not make parents direct their children to a materialistic way of life. Parents do their children no favor if they bring them up to value material possessions more than spiritual things.—1 Timothy 6:9.
15. How was Timothy’s mother, Eunice, an excellent example of a parent who did God’s will?
15 A fine example in this regard is Eunice, the mother of Paul’s young friend Timothy. (2 Timothy 1:5) Although she was married to an unbeliever, Eunice, along with Timothy’s grandmother Lois, successfully raised Timothy to pursue godly devotion. (2 Timothy 3:14, 15) When Timothy was old enough, Eunice allowed him to leave home and take up the Kingdom-preaching work as Paul’s missionary companion. (Acts 16:1-5) How thrilled she must have been when her son became an outstanding missionary! His godly devotion as an adult reflected well on his early training. Surely, Eunice found satisfaction and joy in hearing reports of Timothy’s faithful ministry, even though she probably missed having him with her.—Philippians 2:19, 20.
THE FAMILY AND YOUR FUTURE
16. As a son, what proper concern did Jesus show, but what was his prime objective?
16 Jesus was raised in a godly family and, as an adult, showed a son’s proper concern for his mother. (Luke 2:51, 52; John 19:26) However, Jesus’ prime objective was to fulfill God’s will, and for him this included opening up the way for humans to enjoy everlasting life. This he did when he offered his perfect human life as a ransom for sinful mankind.—Mark 10:45; John 5:28, 29.
17. What glorious prospects did Jesus’ faithful course open up for those who do God’s will?
17 After Jesus’ death, Jehovah raised him to heavenly life and gave him great authority, eventually installing him as King in the heavenly Kingdom. (Matthew 28:18; Romans 14:9; Revelation 11:15) Jesus’ sacrifice made it possible for some humans to be selected to rule with him in that Kingdom. It also opened the way for the rest of righthearted humankind to enjoy perfect life on an earth restored to paradisaic conditions. (Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1, 4; 21:3-5; 22:1-4) One of the greatest privileges we have today is to tell this glorious good news to our neighbors.—Matthew 24:14.
18. What reminder and what encouragement are given both to families and to individuals?
18 As the apostle Paul showed, living a life of godly devotion holds the promise that people can inherit those blessings in the life “which is to come.” Surely, this is the very best way to find happiness! Remember, “the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) Hence, whether you are a child or a parent, a husband or a wife, or a single adult with or without children, strive to do God’s will. Even when you are under pressure or are faced with extreme difficulties, never forget that you are a servant of the living God. Thus, may your actions bring joy to Jehovah. (Proverbs 27:11) And may your conduct result in happiness for you now and everlasting life in the new world to come!