Is My Home Wholesome?
“The overseer should therefore be . . . a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner.”—1 Tim. 3:2-4.
1. In man’s quest for happiness, what is often his plight, raising what question?
MAN’S quest for happiness is all in vain if he does not enjoy peace and contentment within his immediate family circle. For what satisfaction is there in the pursuit of happiness on the outside, if, upon returning to that very personal and intimate abode called home, one is plunged into a seething caldron of discontent? What kind of atmosphere prevails in your home?
2. What conditions in the home would help to make it happy from a child’s viewpoint?
2 How would you children answer that question? Do your parents agreeably live together in peace and unity? Do father’s counsel and mother’s understanding come to your assistance in trialsome times? If so, then, indeed, you have a happy life, the memories of which you can treasure up for years to come. On the other hand, if your parents are constantly badgering each other or are engaged in open warfare, or if you live in a household divided by communications barriers between you and your parents, then childhood must be a nightmare you hope soon to forget.
3. What may parents feel is influencing their family life?
3 And what is the opinion of you parents? How wholesome is your home? Do you find that the pressures of the times and the deteriorating influences all around are permeating your family? Do you find that in this modern world former guidelines have vanished and along with them the peaceful norms of the past? Do you feel that there is a need for improvement in the home, but you cannot put your finger on the cause of the trouble or find a cure?
4. What is meant by “wholesome” especially as pertaining to family life?
4 “Wholesome” means being healthy, entire, complete; not sickly, morbid or diseased. Especially is this important in the spiritual and moral senses. The family that is vigorous and sound morally and spiritually is able to cope with other problems that may arise, such as poor physical health and financial difficulties. It is able to resist all the divisive forces that beset so many families today.
IMPORTANCE OF THE BIBLE IN THE HOME
5. How important is the Bible in the home?
5 How, then, can a family reach that desirable high plateau of moral and spiritual wholesomeness? It is not too difficult. The family that makes the Bible its most read book, the family that applies the Bible’s principles in daily life is the family that is wholesome and happy. Only by means of God’s Word can moral fiber and spiritual strength be built into each member of the family.
6. What is one of the two principal reasons for family disunity?
6 There are basically two reasons why households have a constant struggle to maintain a wholesome atmosphere. First, there is inborn imperfection and weakness in every one of us. As the Scriptures say: “‘There is not a righteous man, not even one; . . . all men have deflected,’ . . . all have sinned.” (Rom. 3:10-12, 23; Ps. 14:3) “If we make the statement: ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us.”—1 John 1:8, 10.
7. (a) What correction can be effected in the hereditary traits of a child? (b) By discipline and training, can inborn imperfections be completely removed? Explain.
7 The baby when born, though helpless and blameless, is hereditarily imperfect and sinful. As David said, “With error I was brought forth . . . and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Ps. 51:5) And yet with proper training the child can grow up to be much more than a wild, unruly offshoot. “Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy,” the proverb says; “the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him.” (Prov. 22:6, 15; 23:13, 14) This does not mean that inborn traits to do what is bad are completely removed by discipline. No, the tendency to do bad is ever present from the cradle to the grave, even in individuals as devoted to righteousness as the apostle Paul, who confessed: “I really delight in the law of God . . . but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members.”—Rom. 7:22, 23.
8. What is another important reason for family disunity?
8 The second reason why a constant struggle is necessary to maintain a peaceful household is the presence of Satan the Devil and his demons. These are very real, powerful and ever-present forces that must be reckoned with. It is their wicked purpose not only to cultivate in men wrong desires but to capitalize on man’s imperfection and sinful tendencies, in an effort to plunge men deeper into the pit of despair. Hence the warning: “Stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against . . . the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.”—Eph. 6:11, 12.
APPLYING BIBLE PRINCIPLES TO THE PROBLEMS
9. What suggestion is here given as to a solution for family problems?
9 It is not intangible, impractical theory to say that Bible principles, if applied, can solve everyday problems in the home. The practicality and usefulness of the Bible’s counsel in the everyday and personal affairs of the family can be easily demonstrated.
10. Where proper headship in the home is lacking, what conditions result?
10 Take, for instance, the home where there is improper headship or where headship is lacking altogether. Results? Confusion and disorder. Members of the family act independently. There is an absence of rules and regulations. Homelife soon disintegrates. The house then in reality is no more than a “service station,” a shelter from the rain in which to eat and sleep. And once these needs are satisfied, each one hurries off to associate with other companions more to his liking. As wise King Solomon observed, ‘Better to live in the attic than downstairs with a contentious wife.’ The other side of the coin might read, ‘Better to live in a shelter in the yard than to share a house with a domineering, alcoholic husband.’—Prov. 21:9, 19.
11. In contrast, what may be expected if the Bible’s laws on headship are followed?
11 But what a difference if the Bible’s laws regarding headship are followed! There is then a basis upon which peace and unity can be built. ‘I want you to know,’ the apostle Paul says, ‘that the man is the head of the house.’ Proper male headship carries with it the responsibility of looking to Jehovah God and Christ Jesus for direction. This means that the husband will treat his wife with the same tender affection that he shows toward his own body. He will be a good provider for both the family’s material and spiritual needs.—1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 3:1-7.
12, 13. (a) Describe Jehovah as a Model Head of his household. (b) In imitating Jehovah, how should fathers treat their families?
12 In this regard you fathers find a wonderful example in the great Father of the universe, Jehovah God, whom you do well to emulate. He constantly provides not only for the material and spiritual needs, but also counsel and encouragement for everyone in his household. He abhors rebellion and administers punishment to lawbreakers without partiality.—Prov. 6:16-19; Deut. 10:17, 18.
13 But at the same time, O how loving and compassionate and merciful Jehovah is! Yes, to a degree far beyond description or measure. (Ps. 103:8; Jas. 5:11) Similarly, you fathers can provide a wholesome atmosphere in your households by lovingly and tenderly caring for your families’ needs with understanding. Dwell with your wives according to knowledge and bring up your children in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah. Do not be irritating them.—1 Pet. 3:7; Eph. 6:4.
14. When it comes to controlling anger, what practical counsel does the Bible give?
14 Are bitter words and explosions of emotional temper common occurrences in your home? Not if the Bible’s counsel is followed. There may seem to be ever so many situations that justify angry words. But when all is said and done, prevention of anger is largely a matter of guarding one’s tongue and controlling one’s spirit. (Ps. 34:13; Prov. 25:28) This is the wise course to follow. “All his spirit is what a stupid one lets out, but he that is wise keeps it calm to the last.” (Prov. 29:11) “Let anger alone and leave rage,” for “he that is slow to anger is abundant in discernment.” (Ps. 37:8; Prov. 14:29) ‘A mild answer turns away rage.’ Use “wholesome speech which cannot be condemned” if you want peace and unity in your home.—Prov. 15:1; Titus 2:8.
15. How should individual likes and personal traits be viewed so as not to allow them to disturb the family’s peace and unity?
15 There may be petty likes and dislikes among members of the family due to differences in temperament and personality, but these need not be a source of contention and strife. If everyone were exactly alike in these characteristics, what a dull world this would be! Rather, individual traits add spice, color, variety and life to the family circle. They enhance the joy of living together without the boring monotony of sameness.
16. What may be some of the reasons why children in the home are unruly?
16 What about the home where the children are unruly and disobedient? Is it because parents have completely given up trying to maintain authority over their rebellious offspring? Or is it a case where the rules are not clearly defined or understood? Perhaps the root of the trouble lies with parents who have forgotten what the Bible says: “Just let your word Yes mean Yes, your No, No.” (Matt. 5:37; Jas. 5:12) As parents, do you unwisely violate the rules you expect your children to keep? Do you in substance preach, ‘Do as I say but not as I do’? Children are quick to detect hypocrisy in their parents. (Matt. 23:3) Parents therefore can give forceful meaning to the rules of the home, and at the same time win the respect of their children, if they keep the rules themselves, thus setting a good example for their offspring to copy.
17. (a) Why are parents sometimes alienated from their children? (b) How may grudges be prevented from creating a barrier between parents and a child?
17 Are domestic friction and heated arguments due to misunderstanding and a lack of communication? Parents sometimes seem to be at a loss to understand their children. So often this is due to a lack of intimate association between parents and children, a condition that may begin even when the children are small. In other instances the communication breaks down during the teen-age stage of the child’s development when the child and parents stop speaking to one another because of hurt feelings. However, the bearing of grudges is condemned by the Bible. To avoid this, “let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil.”—Eph. 4:26, 27; Lev. 19:18.
18. How does the function of the human body furnish a fitting example that members of a household do well to copy?
18 A wholesome family can well be compared to the human body in which every member functions according to its created purpose. In the human body if one member fails to do its part the entire body suffers. However, when this occurs the healthy members do not chastise, beat and ill-treat the member that fails in its function. Rather, the rest of the body comes to the rescue to give aid, assistance and support to the ailing member by taking over part of the work load until the sick member is able to recover its strength. So too it should be in a family that is wholesomely strong.—1 Cor. 12:19-26.
19. From what other area may a household expect disturbance if not watched?
19 In addition to the internal causes of friction, there are a multitude of outside influences that may disturb the tranquillity of the home if they are not closely watched and kept in check.
PRESSURES FROM WITHOUT
20. (a) Name some of the common sources of pressure in our times. (b) How can the Bible be of aid under present conditions?
20 The sources of pressure in our times seem legion—fear of thieves and immoral persons bent on doing harm, dangers of fearsome diseases, skyrocketing costs of living, shrunken purchasing power of savings, the seemingly endless stream of crises one atop another due to strikes, riots, wars, revolutions—just to enumerate a few. While such things are far beyond a person’s control, yet with the aid of the Bible one is able to prevent such pressures from disturbing the tranquillity of the family circle.
21, 22. How may the right viewpoint of religious opposition and persecution help to prevent these from disturbing a household?
21 Severe opposition from relatives, or physical abuse from neighbors, may be the source of pressure on the family. Understanding the reason for this may not eliminate the pressure, but it will greatly strengthen the family to endure it. Does not the Bible say that one’s closest relatives may violently oppose those devoted to Jehovah God and Christ Jesus?—Matt. 10:21, 22.
22 Parents who are compelled by economic circumstances to work in association with worldlings are often under great pressure to conform to this system, the god of which is the Devil. If you do not join with them in the same low sink of debauchery, consisting of “deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries,” your workmates may speak abusively of you. (1 Pet. 4:3-5) Sometimes one is persecuted because of remaining neutral toward political issues or for refusing to compromise Bible principles in matters of honesty, chaste conduct or the use of blood. But here again such experiences should never disturb the family’s peace of mind. “Happy are you,” Jesus said, “when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake.” “In fact,” the apostle Paul adds, “all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.”—Matt. 5:11, 12; 2 Tim. 3:12.
23. What pressures are many children under when going to school nowadays?
23 Children going to school are much of the time in close association with others who use bad language and display all sorts of immodest conduct. More and more, schoolchildren are the victims of dope addiction, rowdyism, physical assault and rape inflicted by roving gangs of hoodlums who threaten, coerce, beat and in other ways intimidate both teachers and pupils. It is in the schools also where the seeds of discord and rebellion are planted and cultivated, which, if allowed to develop, will eventually replace the wholesome training instilled by parents at home. These things are all part of the troubled times in which we live, the “critical times hard to deal with” that make up the sign of the “last days” of this system of things.—2 Tim. 3:1-5.
YOUR ONLY PROTECTION
24. What four aids are available to strengthen the family bond of unity in this “time of the end”?
24 Make no mistake about it, only by remaining spiritually strong can one hope to resist the tidal wave of corruption sweeping over the world. You cannot turn this tide back but you can improve your spiritual strength to resist it, and this you can do with the aid of God’s Word, his spirit, his organization and by prayer. Consider briefly the importance of these four aids.
25. Who in a family will benefit from a regular study of the Bible?
25 A regular family Bible study is most beneficial to all members of the household, the old as well as the young. Joshua was a very old man when told, “You must in an undertone read in [God’s Word] day and night, in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.” (Josh. 1:8) In a study of the Bible, children learn: “Be obedient to your parents in everything.” In a study of the Bible parents compelled to do undesirable work learn: “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.”—Col. 3:20, 23, 24.
26. What wholesome instruction does the Bible give on moral issues of the times?
26 Bible study will transform your way of thinking in many other ways too so that your mind will no longer be “fashioned after this system of things.” (Rom. 12:2) For example, those who practice the “works of the flesh,” the Bible warns, “will not inherit God’s kingdom.” Such “works” include “fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these.” (Gal. 5:19-21) “Things like these” are enumerated in other letters of the apostle as greediness, foolish talking, obscene jesting (Eph. 5:3-5), and also sexual appetite, hurtful desire, covetousness, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech and obscene talk, all of which should be stripped off as part of the “old personality.” (Col. 3:5-9) Furthermore, “neither . . . men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, . . . nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.”—1 Cor. 6:9, 10.
27. In addition to getting rid of the “old personality,” what does the Bible recommend?
27 Doing away with all these evil practices in itself would certainly make for a much more wholesome home, would it not? But getting rid of the “old personality” is only part of it. The Bible says to put on a “new personality” described as one of “tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.” Also, put up with and forgive one another, and, above all, clothe yourself with love, the “perfect bond of union.”—Col. 3:12-14.
28. Of what aid is God’s holy spirit in the development of a new personality?
28 Here is where the family needs the aid of God’s holy spirit, for without such divine active force it is impossible to develop a new, Christlike personality. This is because “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control” are the fruitage of God’s spirit. Whereas “there is no law” against bearing such fruitage, there is a law, “the kingly law,” that commands, “You must love your neighbor as yourself,” which law is particularly applicable among “neighbors” (meaning “near-dwellers”) within the family circle.—Gal. 5:22, 23; Jas. 2:8.
29. How can good association be an aid to a wholesome home, and where can such association be found?
29 The third important aid to acquiring peace and unity within the family is association with God’s organization of dedicated and devoted people. The truism “Bad associations spoil useful habits” emphasizes how important good association is for a healthy spirituality. Now, where can better association be found than in the company of Jehovah’s witnesses at their Kingdom Halls? It is there that the Witnesses gather together to incite one another “to love and fine works,” and all the more so as they see the end of this system drawing near.—1 Cor. 15:33; Heb. 10:24, 25.
30. What does the Bible say about prayer as an aid in resisting the divisive forces of Satan in this time of the end?
30 Prayer too is a powerful aid in this time of stress, for the family that prays together in God’s way is the family that stays together. “Do not be anxious over anything,” the Scriptures say, “but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.” “Persevere in prayer.” “Pray incessantly.” (Phil. 4:6; Rom. 12:12; 1 Thess. 5:17) Having on “the complete suit of armor,” you are able to stand up against the Devil, only if, in addition, “with every form of prayer and supplication you carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit.” (Eph. 6:11-18) And what should you pray for? Of first concern, Jesus said, is the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and the taking over of earth’s affairs by God’s kingdom; other matters are of secondary importance.—Matt. 6:9-13.
31. What will assure a positive answer to the question, Is my home wholesome?
31 Again ask yourself the question, Is my home wholesome? If you are an overseer in the Christian congregation, surely your answer is “Yes!” For, as the apostle argues, “if indeed any man does not know how to preside over his own household, how will he take care of God’s congregation?” (1 Tim. 3:2-5) On the other hand, if your answer is not in the affirmative, then apply the Bible principles here discussed and you too will begin to enjoy a happy wholesome home.
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A regular family Bible study is one of the most important ways to keep your home wholesome