Salvation for Your Family as Well as Your Neighbor
“Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.”—1 Tim. 5:8.
1, 2. How do conditions on earth today compare with those prior to the Flood?
HOW many people on this earth today stop to realize that they stand before Jehovah God the Creator in the same position that Noah stood immediately prior to God’s great destruction and cleansing work known as the Flood? Concerning this generation in which we live today, Jesus said: “For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as people were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matt. 24:37-39.
2 The record of Noah’s time states: “Jehovah saw that the badness of man had become great in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time . . . and the earth became filled with violence.” (Gen. 6:5, 11) The evil done by men contrary to the divine purpose made it necessary for Him to remove them from the earth, and this He did. So today the world is filled with badness, violence, and again Jehovah is about to take action against the evildoers. Just as the great God of love saved righteous Noah and his family from destruction, so today the opportunity for salvation is available to individuals and families inclined toward righteousness.
3. What message must be delivered to the nations, and by whom?
3 To a world faced with the universal destruction of God’s war of Armageddon the good news of salvation must be made known. “How handsome upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, the one making peace to be heard, the one bringing good news of something better, the one making salvation to be heard, the one saying to Zion: ‘Your God has become king!’” (Isa. 52:7) Joyfully Jehovah’s faithful people are fulfilling this prophecy, and the good news of salvation and peace is now being published in all the world. Great sacrifices are being made to see that the warning of impending destruction and the way of salvation is proclaimed so that millions of mankind are furnished with the knowledge necessary to save them from God’s execution at Armageddon. Among the nations, in the cities, in small villages and rural areas, this message is being preached, as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:14: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.”
4. In zeal to reach his neighbors what primary consideration may be overlooked by the minister?
4 Zealous ministers of Jehovah put forth utmost effort to reach their neighbors with this life-giving Word. Preaching and teaching among those who have a hearing ear are time-and energy-consuming activities. Sometimes we become so absorbed with taking salvation to our neighbors that we do not give adequate care and attention to the salvation of our own families. But, in fact, each should give his own household first consideration. This rule is laid down by the apostle Paul: “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.”—1 Tim. 5:8.
5. (a) Whose ways must be followed, and why? (b) What obligation of teaching is placed upon the heads of families?
5 Family care is therefore a principle of Jehovah, and everyone must conform to His righteous ways. Jehovah says: “For the thoughts of you people are not my thoughts, nor are my ways your ways . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8, 9) The ways of this world with respect to families are at variance with Jehovah’s ways. A Christian cannot follow this world. How does Jehovah instruct his people to care for the family? To the fathers he says: “And these words that I am commanding you today must prove to be on your heart, and you must inculcate them in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:6, 7) “Apply your hearts to all the words that I am speaking in warning to you today, that you may command your sons to take care to do all the words of this law. For it is no valueless word for you, but it means your life, and by this word you may lengthen your days.” (Deut. 32:46, 47) These words mean life. They are addressed specifically to the heads of families to place upon them by divine command the duty of teaching their children the ways of Jehovah, which will lead to salvation. Failure to heed this instruction will lead to disaster.
6, 7. What is the duty of the husband to the female members of the family, and how do the Scriptures prove this?
6 This instruction to God’s chosen people establishes a continuing principle of his law equally applicable to Christians today. Christian husbands have as their primary God-given responsibility the care and salvation of their families. This applies to all members of the household, including wife, mother, grandmother and children—both boys and girls. All have equal right to salvation Because of the very inferior position in which women are held in many countries, it is most vital that Christians keep before themselves the godly principle and not the worldly principle.
7 The apostle Peter, himself a married man, writing under inspiration of God’s holy spirit, said concerning wives: “Husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with them according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one, since you are also heirs with them of the undeserved favor of life, in order for your prayers not to be hindered.” (1 Pet. 3:7) Christian husbands are therefore under a divine obligation to show due honor to the weaker vessel. In some nations and territories women are not held in honor but are ignored; they are treated as inferior, as if they were so much property, in some cases even dealt with as slaves. The men think: “I am the male, she is merely the female,” or, “I am the husband, the head, and the wife must obey me. Her place is serving me.” She is not recognized as a personality, an individual. But this is not the Christian way. It is not ‘assigning honor to the weaker vessel,’ who, before God, has an equal right to salvation. Those who would gain Jehovah’s approval must walk in his ways.
8. In what way does Jehovah God treat males and females as equals?
8 The same Christian course of conduct is required of both sexes. The right of salvation is equally open not only to the wife, but also to the mother, sister, daughter and other females of the household. The apostle Paul shows us the proper position: “There is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) The benefits of the undeserved kindness of Jehovah based upon the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ apply equally to male and female. He pours out His spirit upon both male and female. The same commands from Jehovah apply. The same hope of everlasting life is held out.
9. What serious question should be asked of each family head, and what will be the results of his neglect?
9 In the light of these principles, let each Christian family head ask himself, “Are the women of my household so burdened down with domestic duties that they are drudges, deprived of spiritual nourishment?” If this is the case, they will get spiritually weak and be in danger of losing their inheritance. This is very serious indeed for husbands, as they must bear the responsibility for these dangers. Suppose that a wife, mother, sister or daughter, through neglect, did not receive food for her natural body, and grew weak and sickly, while the husband was in good health. It would be a disgrace. The husband might even be punished by the law of the land! How much more will the law of Jehovah God hold responsible a husband who, through neglect, has caused spiritual sickness or death to those under his charge. Paul showed that the proper Christian attitude is to provide equally for the wife in all things: “Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself.”—Eph. 5:33.
10. How has the partnership of husband and wife been described, and how are the best results obtained?
10 One of the responsibilities of the father is to arrange for all to share in the necessary household duties. When all in the family participate, the load is shared. This course is much better than that of the head who says: “Let the women look after those household problems. That is women’s work.” The Lord Jesus described husbands and wives as being yoked together. A yoke or team of oxen pull together. That is why they get results. Christian husbands and wives, being yoked together, must unitedly pull the load of household and ministerial responsibilities. This does not permit the husband to run ahead in study, field service or meetings. His faithful wife must be kept parallel with him in theocratic progress, for both are yoke-mates, pulling side by side. Husbands, are your wives advancing to theocratic maturity at the same pace as you yourselves? If not, is it due to neglect on your part? Remember, the strong must help the weak. As the apostle Peter states: “Assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.”—1 Pet. 3:7.
PRESIDING WELL OVER THE HOUSEHOLD
11. (a) In what manner should the head of the family instruct? (b) How is a family like a small congregation?
11 The father, as the head of the house, must provide for equal opportunity in spiritual matters. This will require good organization, a well-directed, orderly household. The first essential is to make provision for teaching the truth to the family. Only in this way can they walk in the course of salvation. To hold the family in this right way the form of instruction is designated in God’s Word as to “inculcate.” (Deut. 6:7) In the Hebrew to “inculcate” means to repeat, to say again and again, to teach by frequent repetition. It comes from the root meaning to do again, so as to make a deep impression. The father as teacher must repeat, diligently and earnestly keeping the knowledge of Jehovah God and Christ Jesus ever before the household. Time, patience and care are required. The father who is deeply concerned for the welfare and the salvation of his family will give careful attention to all the details of good theocratic organization in the home, just as the servant of a congregation attends to each small item essential to its health. In a congregation, provision is made for study, for reading, prayer, meetings, field service, visiting the sick and aged ones, and so on. So it should be in the home. The responsibility is on the head of the family. A family is like a small congregation. Good families make good congregations. A well-directed Christian home is the basis for healthy Christian activity. Time must be available for all its members to study, to read, to attend meetings and to pray. A good and wise father will provide for these things, thus presiding well over his household.
12. How will a schedule help?
12 To this end a schedule will be required for the family. The father should be the first one to keep to it. His example of self-discipline will set a proper lead for the lest of the family. This schedule must provide for full family participation in a rounded-out theocratic program. It must include family study, family reading, attendance at meetings, participation in the field ministry, personal study, and especially meeting for united prayer. The family head who arranges a schedule for all these activities will certainly be helping to save his family.
13. What questions should a family head ask himself? What is required? To what end?
13 Let each Christian family head pause for a moment and ask himself: “Where is my theocratic family schedule? When did I, as the husband, last bring my family together for Bible study? Is the Bible regularly read in this home by my family? Do we regularly unite in exercising the precious privilege of appealing in prayer to the throne of undeserved kindness for wisdom and strength to perform theocratic service, to work out our salvation together?” Christian families whose schedules already provide for these services well know the blessings that result. Those who have not done so would do well to give attention to these godly practices. The family head who presides well, knows that having the family’s activities scheduled is a desirable condition; but to get it into effective operation requires discipline both for himself and for the family. Jehovah God teaches and disciplines his sons for their good. So the earthly father must teach and discipline his sons: “For what son is he that a father does not discipline? But if you are without the discipline of which all have become partakers, you are really illegitimate children, and not sons. . . . True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.” (Heb. 12:7, 8, 11) Jehovah keeps his children in the way of salvation by instruction and discipline because of his love; so the human parent teaches and disciplines his children to keep them in the way of salvation.
14, 15. (a) When and by whom should instruction begin? (b) What are the right and wrong ways of exercising discipline?
14 Instruction and training of the child should begin at a very early age. Remember, education from the mother ranks high in the life-training program. She instills right principles into the young child’s mind. The age of childhood is the learning age; so teach the children when young to have reverence for Jehovah God and his Word. This requires full co-operation of both mother and father to train the child in the ways of righteousness.—2 Tim. 1:5.
15 Discipline must be exercised in love. Harshness, domineering, dictatorial attitude, shouting, impatience, heavy-handedness—these things have no place in the discipline of a godly household. Rather use reason, kindness, patience, understanding, happiness, firmness and love. Bear in mind, Jehovah has taken valuable time to teach and explain things to us because of his love. In like manner let the family be dealt with in love.
16. Why is it not sufficient just to be born in a Christian home? What else is required?
16 There are some who do not appreciate the necessity of careful Biblical training for children. The thought seems to be that it is enough to be born into a Christian home, as is sometimes said: “My son was born in the truth.” No one has been born in the truth, for a newborn child’s mind is a blank. Even King David said: “In sin my mother conceived me.” (Ps. 51:5) Not only is it necessary to be born in a Christian home, but training must be given, because the young child of a dedicated Christian is considered “holy.” (1 Cor. 7:14) The successful education of the young minister Timothy was begun in his infancy. “You, however, continue in the things you learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing from what persons you learned them and that from infancy you have known the holy writings which are able to make you wise for salvation.” (2 Tim. 3:14, 15) Only by training, discipline and instruction in righteousness can the young mind be led to the point of attaining personal relationship with Jehovah God.
17. Who are the best associates of the family, and how can useful habits be spoiled?
17 All these useful habits that will lead to the salvation of your family can, however, be lost through bad association. “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) Avoid wrong association by filling the family life with good and wholesome association. Parents, take the time to be the companions and associates of your own family. Husbands, remember that you are the proper associate of your own wife and children. Wholesome recreation, too, must be provided for the family, otherwise wrong forms of amusement may be found.
18. What goal in life should Christian parents hold before children for their salvation?
18 Is the life pattern to which you parents are directing your children one that leads to their salvation? What is the hope or ambition being inculcated in the minds of your children? Are they being filled with the thought that it is an admirable thing to fill or occupy an important position in this old world, or are they imbued with the better hope of fulfilling an important function in the new world? Are you teaching them to invest themselves in the bankrupt institution that is the old world, or are they being trained to live for truth and righteousness as grateful praisers of the great Creator of heaven and earth? Which is more important for children today: to have a good account in the bank reckoned in dollars saved, or a good account with Jehovah reckoned in lives saved? What are your children being trained for? Is the full-time missionary service held before them as a great privilege, a gift from the Most High God himself? Is it being impressed on their minds that salvation comes by preaching to others? Children so instructed will become life savers, to the blessing of themselves and others. Parents giving proper care and thought to these points will be saving their families as well as their neighbors.
THE DIVIDED HOUSEHOLD
19. What instruction is given by God’s Word to a wife with an opposed husband? How does this apply, and with what hope?
19 There are many households where one marriage mate is dedicated to Jehovah to do his will but the other is not. They are unequally yoked. The dedicated servant will be deeply concerned over the salvation of the marriage partner. The believing wife will certainly try to save her husband. It can prove to be a heartbreaking task. In angry opposition he may even forbid her to speak to him or the children about God’s Word. What will she do? The apostle Peter gave direct instruction. To wives he says: “If any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.” (1 Pet. 3:1, 2) When a wife cannot win the husband by oral preaching she may do it by her own conduct, which can be most powerful. Never lose hope. Remember what the apostle Paul wrote: “For, wife, how do you know but that you will save your husband?”—1 Cor. 7:16.
20. What is the necessary attitude of a husband toward an unbelieving wife? Has his acceptance of the truth altered the marriage relationship?
20 The same considerations apply when the situation is one involving a believing husband and an unbelieving wife. The word of the apostle Paul continues: “Or, husband, how do you know but that you will save your wife?” (1 Cor. 7:16) Great tact and love are necessary. The husband must be patient, gracious and tolerant. Becoming a worshiper of Jehovah does not relieve him of his marital responsibilities but rather adds to them. The wife is entitled, not only to material needs, but also to companionship. The Christian course does not allow a husband to absorb himself so completely in his worship that he virtually ignores his wife.
21. How can a husband apply to his wife the principle followed by the apostle Paul, and what will he not do if he hopes to win his wife? What question will he ask himself?
21 The husband who hopes to win his wife to the way of true worship would do well to pay heed to the principle followed by the apostle Paul toward those he was endeavoring to save. “So to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews . . . To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to people of all kinds, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:20, 22) He entered into their condition. He gave sympathetic consideration to their problems. He was not foolish or weak, but respectful of their convictions, even though he knew them to be wrong. Having himself come out of the Jewish religion, Paul did not mock, despise or act intolerantly toward the Jews he was trying to save. He knew that only by leading their understanding to a better way could he hope to save their lives. In the same way husbands would do well not to mock or be intolerant; if they do they will drive their wives farther away. Let the husband ask himself: “How would I like to be dealt with if I were in the same place?” Having determined this, deal with her in that manner. Love must operate. As Paul states: “Love is long-suffering and obliging . . . does not become provoked. . . . It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”—1 Cor. 13:4-8.
22. What are some of the problems facing ministers, and what must they do?
22 No one wants to fail in love for his family, but there are some who are servants in a congregation and are so busy with congregational activities, committee meetings and field service that they are not able to spend any time with their families. They may easily say: “I appreciate all the care that should be given to ensure the salvation of my family. I love my wife and family and want to see them saved as much as my neighbor, but I am just so busy with my ministerial duties that I hardly find time for my family. However, they are in the truth and do not complain that I cannot be with them.” Really, does it not come down to a matter of balancing all these demands on our time? In this balance let proper weight be given to the interests of your own family. Certainly Jehovah God would not expect a man to use all his time in congregational activity, in helping his brothers and neighbors gain salvation, and yet not look after the salvation of his own household. A man’s wife and children are a primary responsibility, as the apostle Paul states: ‘If anyone does not provide for his own household, he is worse than a person without faith.’—1 Tim. 5:8.
23. What is the primary provision he must make, and what should be aimed at?
23 So then, it is far, far better for a brother to provide first for the salvation of the members of his own household. Material provision alone is not sufficient. To provide things needful we must care first for the spiritual welfare that will lead to their salvation. We all want to live in God’s new world. Draw the family closer together. All members of the family in the fear of Jehovah must help one another to be on the right side. The great battle of Armageddon draws near. Aim at full family survival! As you do these things, great happiness and peace will be the blessed portion of your household.
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