Practice Godly Devotion at Home
1. How has applying the guidance from God’s Word affected marriages?
JEHOVAH is the Originator of marriage, and his Word provides the very best guidance for families. As a result of applying that guidance, many people have built successful marriages. Commendably, some who had merely lived together have been moved to register their marriage legally. Others have ceased having relationships outside of marriage. Violent men who were abusive to their wives and children have learned to show kindness and tenderness.
2. What is involved in Christian family life?
2 Christian family life involves many things, such as how we view the permanence of marriage, what we do to fulfill our responsibilities in the family, and how we deal with family members. (Ephesians 5:33–6:4) While we may know what the Bible says about family life, it is quite another thing to apply the Bible’s counsel. None of us want to be like those whom Jesus condemned for sidestepping God’s commandments. They falsely reasoned that mere religious devotion was enough. (Matthew 15:4-9) We do not want to have a form of godly devotion but fail to practice it in our own household. Rather, we want to display true godly devotion, which is “a means of great gain.”—1 Timothy 5:4; 6:6; 2 Timothy 3:5.
How Long Will the Marriage Last?
3. (a) What is happening to many marriages, but what should our determination be? (b) Using your Bible, answer the questions listed below this paragraph.
3 Increasingly, marriage bonds are proving to be fragile. Some couples who have been together for years decide to divorce and marry someone else. Also it is no longer unusual to hear that young couples have separated after being married for only a short time. Regardless of what others do, we should want to please Jehovah. So let us consider the following questions and scriptures to see what God’s Word says about the permanence of marriage.
How does Jehovah feel about divorces that are not authorized by his Word? (Malachi 2:13-16)
Does the Bible advocate separation as a means to solve marital problems? (1 Corinthians 7:10-13)
4. Why do some marriages endure?
4 Some marriages are successful, lasting. Why? Waiting to marry until both parties are mature is a factor, but finding a mate who shares one’s interests and can discuss matters openly is also important. Of greater importance, though, is finding a mate who loves Jehovah and respects his Word as the basis for handling problems. (Psalm 119:97, 104; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Such a person will not have the attitude that if things do not work out, he can always get a separation or a divorce. He will not use his mate’s shortcomings as an excuse to sidestep his own responsibilities. Instead, he will face up to problems and find workable solutions.
5. (a) How is loyalty to Jehovah involved in marriage? (b) Even when opposition is encountered, what benefits can come from holding to Jehovah’s standards?
5 Satan contends that when we suffer, we will abandon Jehovah’s ways. (Job 2:4, 5; Proverbs 27:11) But the vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have suffered because of having an opposing mate have not renounced their marriage vows. They continue to be loyal to Jehovah and his commandments. (Matthew 5:37) Some who have persevered have had the joy of being joined by their mate in serving Jehovah—even after years of opposition! (1 Peter 3:1, 2) As for Christians whose mates show no signs of change or whose mates abandoned them because they serve Jehovah, these too know that they will be blessed for their giving evidence of godly devotion at home.—Psalm 55:22; 145:16.
Each One Doing His Part
6. To have a successful marriage, what arrangement must be respected?
6 Of course, having a successful marriage requires more than just staying together. A basic need on the part of each mate is respect for Jehovah’s arrangement of headship. This contributes to good order and a feeling of security in the home. At 1 Corinthians 11:3, we read: “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.”
7. How should headship in the family be exercised?
7 Did you note what that verse mentioned first? Yes, every man has a Head, Christ, to whom he should submit. This means that the husband should exercise headship in a way that reflects the qualities of Jesus. Christ submits to Jehovah, deeply loves the congregation, and provides for it. (1 Timothy 3:15) He even “delivered up himself for it.” Jesus is, not proud and inconsiderate, but “mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” Those who come under his headship “find refreshment for [their] souls.” When a husband deals with his family in this way, he shows that he is subjecting himself to Christ. A Christian wife should then find it beneficial and refreshing to cooperate with her husband and submit to his headship.—Ephesians 5:25-33; Matthew 11:28, 29; Proverbs 31:10, 28.
8. (a) Why may it seem that Christian methods do not get the desired results in some homes? (b) What should we do if faced with such a situation?
8 However, problems will arise. A measure of resentment at being directed by others may already have become deeply ingrained 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.” (Ephesians 4:31) But if some do not seem to understand anything else, what should be done? Well, Jesus did not imitate those who threatened and reviled, but he relied on his Father. (1 Peter 2:22, 23) So when trying situations arise in the home, give evidence of godly devotion by praying to Jehovah for his help instead of adopting the ways of the world.—Proverbs 3:5-7.
9. Rather than finding fault, what have many Christian husbands learned to do?
9 Changes do not always come quickly, but Bible counsel really does work when applied patiently and diligently. Many husbands have found that the marriage began to improve when they came to appreciate Christ’s dealings with the congregation. That congregation is not made up of perfect humans. Yet, Jesus loves it, sets the right example for it, and uses the Scriptures to help it improve. He gave up his life in behalf of the congregation. (1 Peter 2:21) His example has encouraged many Christian husbands to provide good headship and offer loving help toward improvement. This yields much better results than does faultfinding or refusing to talk.
10. (a) In what ways might a husband or a wife—even one who professes to be a Christian—make life hard for others in the home? (b) What might be done to improve the situation?
10 What if a husband is not sensitive to the emotional needs of his family or does not take the initiative to arrange for family discussion of the Bible and for other activities? Or what if a wife does not cooperate and show godly submissiveness? Some get good results by having respectful family discussions regarding problems. (Genesis 21:10-12; Proverbs 15:22) But even if the results are not all that were hoped for, each of us can contribute to an improved home atmosphere by making room for the fruitage of God’s spirit in our life, showing loving consideration for other family members. (Galatians 5:22, 23) Progress will come, not by waiting for the other person to do something, but by doing our own part, thus showing that we practice godly devotion.—Colossians 3:18-21.
Where to Get Answers
11, 12. What has Jehovah provided to help us make a success of family life?
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, God helps us to apply it. Are you fully benefiting from that help?—Psalm 119:129, 130; Micah 4:2.
12 In addition to attending congregation meetings, have you set aside regular times for family Bible study? Families that do so can work toward being united in their worship. Their family life is enriched as they apply God’s Word to their own circumstances.—Deuteronomy 11:18-21.
13. (a) If we have questions on family matters, where can we often find the needed help? (b) What should be reflected in all decisions we make?
13 You may have questions on family matters. For example, what about birth control? Is abortion ever justified? If a child shows little interest in spiritual matters, to what extent should he be required to share in family worship? Many such questions have been discussed in the literature published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Learn to use Bible study aids, including indexes, to find the answers. If you do not have the publications referred to in an index, check the library at the Kingdom Hall. Or you may have access to these publications on your computer. You can also discuss your questions with mature Christian men and women. But do not always expect a yes or no answer to every question. Often you must decide, individually or as a married couple. Then make decisions that show that you practice godly devotion not only in public but also at home.—Romans 14:19; Ephesians 5:10.
• How is loyalty to Jehovah involved in faithfulness to one’s marriage mate?
• When under pressure because of family problems, what will help us do what is pleasing to God?
• Even if others in the family fall short, what can we do to improve the situation?
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A husband’s headship should reflect the qualities of Jesus
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Having a regular Bible study with the family helps to unite it