Obedience the Desired Course
“Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.”—Matt. 11:29, 30.
1. How could a person, in his attitude toward obedience, be like the ocean waves?
HAVE you ever watched the powerful ocean waves beating relentlessly on the seashore? Have you discerned any mercy? Any softness or warmth on their part toward the rocks or sand? Rather, these waves have worn away the sand; they have rubbed the rocks together as with a giant hand until they have become smooth and round. They have worked away at hard stone and chiseled out caverns and holes. Yet the sea has been obedient to many of God’s laws, one of which is mentioned at Job 38:8-11. There God says: “Who barricaded the sea with doors, which began to go forth as when it burst out from the womb; when I put the cloud as its garment and thick gloom as its swaddling band, and I proceeded to break up my regulation upon it and to set a bar and doors, and I went on to say, ‘This far you may come, and no farther; and here your proud waves are limited’?” But in being obedient or exacting obedience from others should we be like the sea—cold, hard, exacting, relentless and with never-ending drive, wearing away at one another and ultimately getting our way?
2. Describe a balanced view toward the giving of counsel on faults.
2 Sometimes we hear immature people conclude that if someone points out a fault or error he is a complainer or faultfinder, and they quote the faultfinding course of the Israelites. But there are times to speak up and to make known wrongs that are being carried out, even by your brothers. Proverbs 21:13 speaks up: “As for anyone stopping up his ear from the complaining cry of the lowly one, he himself also will call and not be answered.” We do not all have the same wisdom or ability to make a wrong known in the proper places and not incur the disfavor of that one. Instead of being like Nathan before David, we may be blunt, dogmatic and not at all tactful; but a wrong may be there, small or great, and it affects at least one individual. (2 Sam. 12:1-14) Husbands, fathers, and overseers need not be hard about the matter, whether the wrong be insignificant or really a well-founded problem. Being like the sea will in time, with its abrasive power, wear down even the most devoted servant of God and produce a discouraged person that will just go along from day to day, year to year, being indifferent to what is going on and saying, “What’s the use anyway?” He may keep on going, having in mind what Psalm 34:15 assures: “The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help.” (See also Ps 34 verses 16-20.)
3. How does a person’s background affect his attitude toward obedience?
3 Many things affect the obedient attitude of those dedicated to serving Jehovah. One may have been raised in a home that was lawless to the extent that it was a life of constant friction. (Matt. 24:12) Another may have lived in a family atmosphere where Father’s word was a rigid law and he was as approachable as the cold, deep, powerful sea. Others have the unhappy background in which every move was surrounded by “Don’t do that!” “Stop that!”—just a never-ending barrage without any backing of a reason for obedience. Yet some are fortunate to have grown up in a home where parents and children were interested in one another, and it was easy to discuss problems with Father, knowing that help was given with love.
4, 5. (a) What common attitude can adversely affect children and their relations with their parents? (b) How can this be avoided?
4 In this present generation parents often look upon their children as being perfect and frankly are not aware that the bent of every child is toward bad, as Psalm 51:5 describes all those born into the earth until now, saying: “Look! With error I was brought forth with birth pains, and in sin my mother conceived me.” That puts the young in a difficult position at times. Especially so with parents’ high expectations often bolstered by public proclamation of their child’s accomplishment.
5 But can children keep measuring up to your expectations day after day without your understanding help and recognition of frail flesh? Lack of understanding may build a wall between parents and children. It may keep sons and daughters from freely discussing their problems, feeling that they have fallen down on the job. So they may bottle the problems up inside and build a frustrated outlook on life. How pleasant and reassuring, then, to talk things over! Just a few minutes makes everything look different somehow, and gives one a fresh grip on the course of obedience. This kind of encouragement is needed for one to remain in the faith even as it was in early times in the case of Paul and Barnabas, who went “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to remain in the faith.”—Acts 14:22.
6. What can make obedience more difficult?
6 Association with those not devoted to serving Jehovah will make obedience more difficult. Generally those outside of true worship are inclined to a life free from restrictions and have the tendency to back away from obedience to any kind of laws or principles from God. (1 Pet. 4:3, 4) To keep strong in the faith requires study of God’s Word, and this, of course, takes time. Can we continually take time out of our study program to associate with those not obedient to Jehovah and avoid problems? Paul put it very bluntly: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) On the other hand, if we are diligent in maintaining our faith and have developed the strong desire to serve Jehovah, a desire that is evidenced by our balanced devotion to our heavenly Father, we can work alongside those in this old system. We can preach to them in the ministry, and we can help our unbelieving relatives to learn the truth. And during all of this kind of association we can avoid being swayed from the desirable course of obedience.
7. (a) What do the Scriptures warn Christians to avoid? (b) How did the Israelites get into trouble?
7 Notice the line of balance pointed out for us in the Scriptures: “You are no part of the world.” (John 15:19) “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world.” (1 John 2:15-17) “You do not continue running with them.” (1 Pet. 4:4, 5) “Do not become partakers with them.” “Quit sharing with them.” (Eph. 5:7-11) But as to the Israelites we read: “They went mingling with the nations and took up learning their works. And they kept serving their idols, and these came to be a snare to them.” (Ps. 106:35, 36) Notice how this step-by-step action led the Israelites away from obeying God. “The sons of Israel dwelt in among the Canaanites, the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. And they proceeded to take their daughters as wives for themselves, and their own daughters they gave to their sons, and they took up serving their gods.” (Judg. 3:5, 6, 8) We do not need to take the course of living with those of this present system or loving them or serving their idols in order to preach the good news of the Kingdom to them.
8. What can result from having too high an expectation of ourselves or others?
8 Too high expectations of us from others can take the joy out of obedience. As examples of this, take parents looking for above-average performance from their children, and children expecting parents to do everything for them; husbands forgetting that their wives cannot keep up to the strong determined course of a man; wives failing to realize that men are not so mindful of the little, finer things of life; overseers being so exacting because of their desire for an efficient, producing organization. There are many who are setting a frustrating goal for themselves that does not allow for happiness that comes from contented service.
9. Explain how Jesus actually demonstrated to the apostle Thomas the qualities described at Matthew 11:28-30.
9 Take a moment to examine John chapter twenty. The apostle Thomas had missed a very important meeting and as a result did not readily believe the disciples’ statement: “We have seen the Lord!” (John 20:25) Well, a week later at a meeting with Jesus he did see and hear the evidence and acknowledged Jesus: “My Lord.” Did Jesus deal with him in a stern way, reprimanding him because he missed being with the other disciples and Jesus? Did Jesus refuse to explain the matter again? Did he object to complying with Thomas’ desire to see and feel the marks of the nails before he believed? Did he ask Thomas where he was last week? Did Jesus give him a sermon on the value of right association or the importance of being at the meetings with the other disciples? Rather, he was willing to build up his faith and help him. He was the same Jesus who had said: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) It certainly was upbuilding to Brother Thomas, and afterward he continued his faithful service.—Acts 1:13.
10. What should husbands recognize about their wives?
10 How easy submission is when husbands set a firm but loving example. There is not a perfect wife in the earth anywhere. They have many faults. They are different from men. It takes them longer to get adjusted in many matters or on different occasions. Sentimental emotions pull on them stronger. Family ties are very important to them. Religious feelings are near the surface. Empathy comes readily to the fore. This generally delicately constructed creature takes on what may appear to men to be a tedious and monotonous job and works at it month in and month out without complaining. Men will complain of monotony before women will. There are many more qualities in your wife that you can identify, but these few suffice to show that women are different from men.
11. How can a husband help his wife to fulfill her role in marriage?
11 It would be very difficult to establish what a Christian wife is worth. In a never-ending manner she will care for the needs of the family and face mountain-like problems with courage second to none. What a blessing, then, to assist such a companion to maturity and to recognize the greater value of a quiet and mild spirit above that of the external braiding of the hair or putting on of gold ornaments! (1 Pet. 3:3, 4) How wise the Christian husband is to help his wife cultivate the qualities she may have that are described at Proverbs chapter 31. You probably have noticed that the wife mentioned in Proverbs 31 is tied in very closely to a home. Wives are generally homebodies. This is their field. A Christian husband may be limited in funds and time, but he can make submission a happy lot if he provides a home that gives his wife pleasure, as well as equipment to care for the tremendous job of feeding, housing and clothing a busy, active family. The Bible book of Proverbs recognizes the wife’s ability to accomplish many things. If given the opportunity, she can make the bare walls of a humble home come to life and radiate the warm cheerfulness of a Christian home. There are certain things they as human creatures would like to have, and husbands should see to it that they have the opportunity to enjoy them. Granting their wish to manage some activity in the home or with the family does not violate Bible principles of submission.
12, 13. (a) Why is homelife so important? (b) How can the husband contribute to a happy homelife?
12 So a full, continuous understanding between husband and wife makes for contentment, ease of mind and enjoyable obedience to God’s Word in this vital realm of submission. The home plays such an important place in man’s life. He needs it every day. It is his base of operations. It is the meeting place, the most important meeting place for the family. It shelters and protects. It is his own little world. It is where he lives. And to think that for this essential place Jehovah has designed and given to man as his helper the homekeeper. “She is watching over the goings on of her household.” (Prov. 31:27) And even if man does not pay her or say “thank you” for all that she does, it may well be that the rich reward that Ruth could look forward to would be hers too, as expressed in these words: “May Jehovah reward the way you act, and may there come to be a perfect wage for you from Jehovah.”—Ruth 2:12.
13 Not all husbands bring gifts or remember important anniversary dates, but each one can express appreciation in some way and give needed encouragement to this one who works so hard. The course of the submissive wife should be a happy one. One reason is that she gives so much; daily and continuously she is giving. Acts 20:35 declares: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” If husbands keep the family spiritually strong, they will have another reason for happiness, as stated at Isaiah 65:14: “My own servants will cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart.” According to Proverbs, the entire family readily recognize the value of a happy wife: “Her sons have risen up and proceeded to pronounce her happy; her owner rises up, and he praises her. There are many daughters that have shown capableness, but you—you have ascended above them all.” (Prov. 31:28, 29) It can readily be seen that the desirable course is submission as outlined in the Bible, and how full of happiness this course is when the husband makes it easy by using love all the way. “In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives.”—Eph. 5:28.
14, 15. (a) Is the difference in men when compared to women a hindrance to the family? (b) How can other family members, especially the wife, contribute to making obedience to God a course that the husband will desire?
14 “This is what love means, that we go on walking according to his commandments.” (2 John 6) Husbands devoted to Jehovah God have the desire to walk in obedience to Jehovah’s Word. Wives have much to do with the happiness that should always be found in a Christian husband’s life. All husbands are imperfect; a flawless husband cannot be found in the earth anywhere. (Rom. 3:12) They have many faults. For the most part they, unlike women, are concerned with the weightier matters. They can adjust quite readily. They are not so emotional or moved with sentiment. They may even at times appear to be indifferent. While mother worries about her son climbing trees and would like to stop it for fear of injury, father realizes he is going to climb sometime anyway, and may get hurt doing so, but he will also learn something by it. In men calculation comes before empathy. Men usually rely on the wife to keep in touch with the relatives.
15 There are still more qualities in your husband that you can see in operation every day, but these few are enough to show he is different from the wife in some respects. While men receive salaries in their secular jobs, it would be difficult to determine their worth as family heads, namely, as to having someone to take the responsibility of making the final decision, to take the brunt of troubles, to find a way through problems and difficulties facing the family, to guide the family calmly in a way that brings happiness to each member. However, other members of the family have so much to do with the joy of the family head as he bends his life in obedience to Jehovah. How it contributes to the breadwinner’s contentment to return each day to a home that reflects mildness, quietness and love, to a wife who overlooks his many shortcomings and does not keep a list of faults, who does not give constant reminders that he has not improved but keeps doing the same things over and over again. It brings a great deal of happiness to a man when his wife takes hold of her responsibility as a homekeeper, when she keeps the home clean and orderly, when she prepares wholesome meals, and when she produces things with her own hands, just as the scripture said: “She is watching over the goings on of her household.” (Prov. 31:27) A wife can do little things that mean so much, as little as sewing a button on a shirt.
16, 17. What other consideration can the wife show her husband? (b) Should shortcuts be taken that would tend to diminish love or the intake of spiritual food?
16 A very upbuilding attitude to display toward a husband is the positive one. See the good things in his idea first. Be careful not to bring unnecessary financial burdens upon him, so causing longer hours at an exasperating job. Contentment with the less expensive things, absence of envy, and appreciation for a contented husband will erase the desire to push him to the top rung on the financial ladder of success. It is said, ‘There is room at the top,’ but is there happiness there? A man, even the Christian man, is surrounded by competition, other men vying for higher positions of prestige, more pay, less work and a ‘good time.’ A person has to keep up his guard constantly in most of these places, in order to protect his faith.
17 Just being constantly alert all day long at the job can be very tiring and so a loving wife can increase joy in the home with an atmosphere and an attitude that allow her husband to relax from this strain. No matter how many problems he faces, how great the enemy, the Scriptures urge the use of love: “Stay awake, stand firm in the faith, carry on as men, grow mighty. Let all your affairs take place with love.” (1 Cor. 16:13, 14) In the congregation’s activity, brothers retain their happiness if they use love in all their dealings with others. When conventions come along, with their short time of preparation and with immaturity urging shortcuts, it is no time to put love on the shelf. If we are being crowded by one thing after another until there is little time left for maintaining faith, it is time to examine our lives. Obedience to God’s Word comes first, and in order to find happiness in it, a man has to keep feeding on Jehovah’s Word. That feeding cannot be temporarily set aside with the excuse that we have some urgent matter to care for and later we will get back to our studies. Jesus emphatically said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.”—Matt. 4:4.
18. Why is the difference in children so enjoyable?
18 There are many blessings in raising a family, and with this life there comes the vital matter of obedience. From the first breath and onward children have need for loving guidance. Children are different from adults. They depend on the parents for so many things. They mold easily in their tender years. They are more natural than adults—curious, anxious to see what’s going on and figuring out what makes things work. The whole world lies before them as something to investigate, and they usually display great interest in the part that is near them. Children enjoy the company of others and readily group together. If not persuaded otherwise by adults, they adjust easily to differences in race, social standing or any other background affecting families. Children of the same family are different in temperament, and rarely do you find two close to being alike. This is why you find parents handling them differently and giving discipline in a different way. Children desire firm and, loving parents. They enjoy a simple life free of complexities. They are quick to ask, Why? They respond readily to fairness. They thrive on love. And there are many other interesting qualities you can find in your children that set them apart from adults.
19, 20. (a) Illustrate the course many persons follow in rearing families. (b) How do present-day facts prove that there is need for family training?
19 It would be hard to find a subject with more ideas, ranging from hints to hard, rigid rules, than the one in the field of rearing children. Everyone has something to say. Probably the well-known cycle can be illustrated in this way: Years ago a young boy grew up in a family that had to work from dawn to dark on the farm and usually seven days a week. There was no time to pursue play or investigate interesting items in the earth around him. Work and responsibility day after day. Essentials of schooling were often postponed to keep the farm obligations up. He vowed that, should he grow up and have a family, his children would have the full opportunity to enjoy life as youths free of grinding work and taxing responsibility. Time passed and his family became a reality. As a father he worked harder, longer hours to spare his children. They went to school, returning home each day to lunch prepared by mother, free thereafter for hurried homework, television, ball games or other play. No work, no responsibility. Then restlessness and monotony filtered in. Idle hands and brain directed feet to trouble. Senses lost their keenness with overstress on play. The young man in this family made a vow too! Should he grow up and have a family, his children would work, be trained to accomplish things and shoulder responsibility. And so the cycle has been completed many times. Families are reared by past bitter experience of parents.
20 Another flaw that started with a minor fracture, but has grown to a wide gulf is that where parents farm their children’s training out to other people. Sometimes there is total reliance on teachers, schools, baby-sitters, summer camps, child-training organizations and relatives to care for the very needed work of molding the thinking and personality of the adult-to-be. Since the child is away from parental influence so long during the day at public schools, some have tried to overcome this with private tutors. Some religious organizations try to eliminate association with those of other faiths by running their own schools. But all of these ideas have not been the things that have brought happiness to parents as they watch their children grow; rather, problems and many tragedies have marred the family circle.
21. (a) Have all of God’s sons turned out good? (b) Discuss the work and attitude of Jehovah’s faithful Son.
21 Not all children turn out the same way or for good. Jehovah’s heavenly family had two outstanding sons that are brought to our attention in the Bible—one turned out bad. He made himself Satan the Devil. (Job 1:6; 2 Cor. 11:3, 14; John 8:44; 1 John 3:8; Rev. 12:9) The other one, Jesus, remained a faithful loving son, and his course resulted in untold blessings for mankind. His course in association with his heavenly Father is described in Colossians 1:15: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”; Philippians 2:5-8: “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake”; John 5:19: “Jesus went on to say to them: ‘Most truly I say to you, The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner’”; Ephesians 1:7: “By means of him we have the release by ransom through the blood of that one, yes, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his undeserved kindness”; John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life”; 1 John 4:9, 10: “By this the love of God was made manifest in our case, because God sent forth his only-begotten Son into the world that we might gain life through him. The love is in this respect, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent forth his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins”; and Revelation 7:9, 10, 14-17: “After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ . . . ‘These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the one seated on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will hunger no more nor thirst any more, neither will the sun beat down upon them nor any scorching heat, because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.’” Both sons had opportunity to serve Jehovah faithfully, bringing honor to their Father and his house for countless ages of time. Notice the result of training and obedience in the case of Jesus. He was used by Jehovah in creation, according to Colossians 1:16, 17 and John 1:1-3, 10: “Because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all other things and by means of him all other things were made to exist.” “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence. . . . He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him, but the world did not know him.” He stuck to telling the truth, even when it was not popular. (Matt. 23:13, 16, 23; 15:1-9) Even though he could and did perform miracles, he never became heady or high-minded. (Luke 5:17-25; John 5:19; Matt. 11:28, 29; 21:5) He went to the people and talked to them. (Matt. 19:14; 9:35-38) A real benefit to the people then and a blessing to us now.
22. (a) How can we apply this example to human families? (b) What questions might fathers beneficially consider?
22 Here, then, is a very powerful example of a loving Father and an obedient son and the blessings it brings to others. This example can encourage fathers now, and it can help them to appreciate the good there is in store for those who follow the only safe way to rear a family, and that is to make Jehovah’s Word the basis for family operation. Proverbs 1:33 makes this point: “As for the one listening to me, he will reside in security and be undisturbed from dread of calamity.” How much is it worth to have a son turn out good? How much time are you as a parent willing to invest? How much time can you spare to give the training and discipline? Can you instill in your young ones a useful goal? Have you found the way to make the course of obedience a happy one? Do your children find serving Jehovah the desirable way, the way they want to go to time indefinite?
THE VALUE REPRESENTED IN REARING CHILDREN
23-25. (a) How can parents work to avoid raising children that will cause them shame? (b) What was done with rebellious children in ancient Israel, but how could it be avoided? (c) What reminder does Matthew 11:29, 30 bring to our attention?
23 Time spent in training a family, in providing material and spiritual food, is like putting money in the bank. It is an investment that should pay dividends even at an early time. But teaching children cannot be as mechanical as putting money in the bank. Each child is different and responds to various kinds of discipline. There were years in the past when mankind believed parents had been too strict, both at home and in school. So restrictions were eased. The young were allowed more liberties, to be more on their own, to develop, so the educators said. Do we need to talk about the results or print facts or proof as to the outcome? Everywhere the harvest proves the scripture at Proverbs 29:15 to be true: “The rod and reproof are what give wisdom, but a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.” How hard it would be to take one’s disobedient child to the older men of the city for execution by stoning as they did in the days of Israel, according to Deuteronomy 21:18-21, where we read:
24 “In case a man happens to have a son who is stubborn and rebellious, he not listening to the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and they have corrected him but he will not listen to them, his father and his mother must also take hold of him and bring him out to the older men of his city and to the gate of his place, and they must say to the older men of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he is not listening to our voice, being a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city must pelt him with stones, and he must die. So you must clear away what is bad from your midst, and all Israel will hear and indeed become afraid.”
25 It would be a difficult move for parents to make in order to follow through on this matter. Yet it could be avoided by loving discipline. It would be difficult to imagine a mother threatening her child: ‘If you don’t obey, we will deliver you to the older men of the city.’ We can readily understand what the wise writer of Proverbs 19:18 had in mind then when he advises how parents could avoid this drastic course. This same advice comes to us in time as we train our children too: “Chastise your son while there exists hope.” The best of wisdom came from Jesus in dealing with others, and surely this includes the family circle. As to his own manner of dealing he said: “I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” (Matt. 11:29, 30) Jesus was seeking obedience from all mankind, so if it draws thousands to Jesus in loving obedience, this same manner can draw a family ever closer to a loving head.
26, 27. (a) How much has been involved in bringing you who are young people up to where you are now in the stream of time? (b) What should young persons show toward their parents?
26 Explore and weigh all the facts now, those of you youths who are from the age where reasoning begins, those of you who are still dependent upon your father’s direction. How valuable are you? Your parents may even try to determine your worth. They did not keep track of the hours of patient care or the amount of material things needed to bring you this far. It has been a huge investment. Now as you think on the matter, are you bringing some kind of benefits to your parents and the other members of your family? Dividends are paid as a result of a wise investment. Are you a wise investment?
27 A small newspaper clipping was found in a Bible over one hundred years old. There was no author or source of information named, just these few lines that, over the years, have even taken on more meaning and that make this point: “At ten years of age a boy thinks his father knows a great deal, at fifteen he knows as much as his father, at twenty he knows twice as much, at thirty he is willing to take his advice, at forty he begins to think his father knows something after all, at fifty he begins to seek his advice and at sixty—after his father is dead—he thinks his father was the smartest man that ever lived.” It took so many years to gain appreciation for the one that had so much to do with their getting into this world and having life. Your parents could have ignored you at birth and turned you over to someone else to feed, house and teach. Some children do have institutions as their guardians, but even in the best of such institutions the love of father and mother is missing.
28. How might young folks increase their appreciation for the guidance and care that their parents provide?
28 There may be times when you youths feel dissatisfied with your homelife and you can see so many flaws in the way things are being run. Do you have better ideas? Are you just thinking and not working to help improve matters? Chances are that if you were directing the family it would have the same flaws, since you are a product of your father and mother. You may feel improved methods of education equip you to do better, but wait a minute! The brainy men of this world cannot iron out the problems they face. Higher education and complicated computers have not been the tools to direct the human family to peace and contentment. Whenever you doubt the value of your parents, ask a friend how much he would charge to take on the responsibility of feeding, clothing, housing, nursing, educating, disciplining, entertaining, and helping a small baby from its first breath to when it reaches the adult age. The cost for such an operation would be tremendous, and, keep in mind, this has not included this other quality that you cannot buy—love.
29. What proper attitude does Proverbs 23:22 urge all sons and daughters to have?
29 You youths can easily see why the Bible says what it does at Proverbs 23:22: “Listen to your father who caused your birth, and do not despise your mother just because she has grown old.”
30. Why should a person not regard life as being all play?
30 Some are saying that life is a game, and to keep it from being monotonous they want to make it all fun. But life is serious business; at best you have only a few years to enjoy. A mature man once told others: “Whatever things are of serious concern . . . continue considering these things.” (Phil. 4:8) “Women should likewise be serious.” (1 Tim. 3:11) “Let the aged men be . . . serious.” (Titus 2:2) It is not strange, then, that Jehovah expects mature fathers to train you children “with all seriousness.” (1 Tim. 3:4) Life is not all play. You have many excellent qualities hidden in your mind and physical body, and it is not wise to allow them to lie undeveloped and miss out on many enjoyable years with happiness as a result. Discipline, training, work and love bring these qualities out, to your good and enjoyment.
31, 32. Why should we be interested in training for various skills?
31 What a pleasure to accomplish things! After receiving instruction and supervision you may have the pleasure of building a piece of furniture for the family’s enjoyment. As a result of mother’s training, you may have the opportunity to make drapes or curtains for the home. You may cultivate ability as a cook, to be an economical shopper, a painter, a musician, mechanic, builder, gardener, landscape architect, dressmaker, and to have many other very useful as well as enjoyable accomplishments. Not only can you enjoy these activities, but they prove to be useful to the family. Actually in their application you are paying back to your parents dividends on the investment they have in you.
32 Of course, you can appreciate how much happiness this brings your parents. How satisfying it was to three daughters, eight, nine, and ten years old, who prepared and cooked an entire meal for the family and a large group of visitors. The parents were so pleased with the work of their hands. A teen-ager did such a fine job in painting the family house that it was rated far above average, as quality work. Two young boys raised enough vegetables in their backyard garden to supply the family all summer. They had watched it grow from tiny seeds to edible products. You can hold a job where others fail if you strive for quality, to do it right and produce good work. Nowadays it stands out above the generally ‘just-get-by’ work being done everywhere, and really reflects back on you, your family and your interest in life. Keep in mind that in every respect the principles made known at Proverbs 13:20 apply to our lives, namely: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.”
HOW IS OBEDIENCE VIEWED?
33. How should discipline be viewed?
33 There is another matter to give thought to. How do you view this matter of obedience? Are you finding yourself resentful toward discipline from your parents? 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. 12:11) Yet we have to have someone taking the lead, giving instruction and setting an example. Were you left on your own, you would be still sucking milk from a bottle. Do you get disturbed when you discern your parents giving discipline differently to your brother or sister? But you are the first to declare that you are not the same as they are, and in this you are right. Then why object to different treatment. Your parents are trying to teach each one according to his ability. This, then, is the place where you can make obedience the desired course for yourself, and so cause it to be pleasant for the other members of your family.
34. How can initiative and trustworthiness be shown?
34 Take, for example, those chores you have been assigned to take care of around the home. If you do them readily, without having to be told each time, it is far more pleasant. If you care for them with the idea of improving the operation, you will be developing the quality that is known as initiative. Day after day you handle these matters to the point where everyone in the family recognizes it, and that is what is called dependability. It is a strong indication that you are growing up. If you break something, or do something wrong, recognize the damage yourself and be the first to go directly to your parents and tell them. This is identified as honesty, as being trustworthy. There are many other qualities that you are cultivating, and these find their start early in your life as part of your family circle. You will find some of these listed in the Bible at Galatians, chapter five, verses twenty-two and twenty-three, where we read: “On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
35. In what way can youthful curiosity be beneficially used?
35 Being alert to counsel for improvement makes life a lot easier too. Rather than your parents’ having to impress discipline on your mind with constant going over and over it, and sometimes with strict punishment, why not figure things out and try to improve without drastic measures being used? Young people have an outstanding amount of curiosity about things going on around them. Now, why not ask: ‘What will happen in our family if I don’t do this thing my parents keep insisting on my doing? How do my actions affect others?’ Let us take a look at the situation through an illustration. In any field there are two classes of people, participants and observers. There is more enjoyment, more knowledge of the subject, and more action in participation than in observing. In the family, are you an observer or a participant? It is easy to find people who go through life as observers, and sometimes you wonder if they really enjoy living. Yet, when you look into the Bible, it links life to action. Read one description as found at Acts 17:24, 25, 28: “The God that made the world and all the things in it . . . gives to all persons life and breath and all things. For by him we have life and move and exist.”
36, 37. How does one study and learn from creation?
36 To many young people study sounds like hard work. It is. But it brings rewards, accomplishments, knowledge and happiness. Study is the field of investigation. Under examination you prove things to your own satisfaction. Regarding this, notice Proverbs 18:15: “The heart of the understanding one acquires knowledge, and the ear of wise ones seeks to find knowledge.”
37 It is true that man has progressed in the mechanical, scientific world of knowledge, and many inventions such as telephones, television, radio, computers, telescopes and others help us to gain information. But men are still studying God’s creation and the things in it. Men, before modern advances in machines, had studied these things and were men of learning. You can learn too, and really gain deep appreciation for the things that God created, by investigating them, not just observing them. Pick out an animal, an insect, a bird or a fish and examine its work, its characteristics, its life and its relationship to others, and you will be amazed at your findings. Mankind in general observes earth’s vast array of wisdom on display, but mankind rarely goes to the trouble of becoming a participant and investigating. Paul tells, at Romans 1:20: “His [God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.” You will not be running out of material to investigate for a long while to come, for Ecclesiastes 3:11 reminds us: “Everything he has made pretty in its time. Even time indefinite he has put in their heart, that mankind may never find out the work that the true God has made from the start to the finish.”
38. What benefits come from studying God’s Word?
38 You will find the same thing true of your study of the Bible. Most people are just mild observers and recognize it as a good book, the best seller, a good example, literature, and the book that tells of God. Participants dig into it and find it rich with wisdom, as Proverbs 2:4-6 tells us: “If you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God. For Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment.” Now, as a young person filled with curiosity, that desire to understand, is there not a challenge before you? Really, if you feel that life is monotonous, it is you that are, because you are literally walking on never-ending fields of variety every day.
39. What atmosphere should there be in the home, as illustrated by the sea?
39 So obedience should be the desirable way to go. It should always be closely tied in with happiness. You who are parents, be wise, follow the example of Christ Jesus, who said: “I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” (Matt. 11:29, 30) Do not delay discipline. Apply it with love. Our modern world is filled with mechanical wonders and gadgets that may keep us busy working to meet the payments therefor. Why wind up with a house full of modern machines, and with parents so tired and frustrated that they have no time to clothe the home with love? As you watch the pounding surf on the rocks, and the rollers building up to come in swiftly to crash on the shore, running back out to come in again, you feel the sea is in such a hurry that it cannot draw you close. But somewhere else the same sea is so calm, quietly lapping at the shore in a gentle manner. Its warmth reaches out to you. You feel like staying. Its undisturbed attitude will bring you back to its own contented atmosphere time after time. So will your home be, where obedience is the desirable course because of love.
[Picture on page 434]
When Thomas missed a meeting, Jesus did not take the joy out of obedience by scolding him. He helped Thomas to gain the needed faith