Put God First in Your Family Life!
BOB AND JEAN—the married couple introduced in the previous article—did not get a divorce. Instead, they discussed their troubles with a Christian minister. He soon discerned that their difficulties basically resulted from their contrasting backgrounds.
For example, since Bob came from a family of tradesmen and blue-collar workers and performed manual labor himself, he wanted a hearty breakfast every morning. Jean, who came from a family of white-collar workers, served him only coffee and toast. So it was that a quarrel over breakfast escalated into all-out war!
Bob and Jean needed to improve their communication. However, the real cause of their distress went far deeper. “Do you view each other in the light of 1 Corinthians 13:4?” asked the minister. That Bible text reads: “Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up.” The next verse 1Co 13:5 says that love “does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury.” Both Jean and Bob were willing to apply these words to their relationship.
The problems of this married couple required primarily a spiritual solution. Since Bob and Jean desired to maintain a good relationship with God, above all they needed to apply Bible principles and realize that “unless Jehovah himself builds the house, it is to no avail that its builders have worked hard on it.” (Psalm 127:1) Ps 127 Verses 3 to 5 pertain to the building up of a family. And the greatest success in promoting domestic happiness comes from putting God first in family life.—Ephesians 3:14, 15.
What Putting God First Involves
Putting God first in your family life goes far beyond the saying, “The family that prays together stays together.” According to the journal Family Relations, many believe that “religion facilitates positive and healthy family interaction and enhances the life satisfaction of its members.” But just practicing a religion is not the same as putting God first. Many formally adhere to a religion simply because of habit, family tradition, or social advantage. God has little influence in their day-to-day life. More important, not all religion is “the form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God.”—James 1:27.
To put God first in our family life, we and our loved ones must worship Jehovah, “the Most High over all the earth,” according to his requirements. (Psalm 83:18) God’s Son, Jesus Christ, said: “The hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, 24) To worship Jehovah God “with spirit,” our sacred service to him must be prompted by a heart filled with love and faith. (Mark 12:28-31; Galatians 2:16) Worshiping Jehovah with “truth” requires that we reject religious falsehoods and comply fully with his will as revealed in the Bible. We cannot put Jehovah God first unless our religion measures up to his standards.* What are some of these? And how can applying them benefit your family?
Putting God First as a Husband
At 1 Corinthians 11:3, the Bible says: “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.” If you are a husband, you have the God-given responsibility to be the principal decision-maker in your family. But this does not give any husband license to be oppressive or dictatorial.
The Bible encourages husbands to consider the feelings of their wives when making decisions that affect them. (Compare Genesis 21:9-14.) Indeed, the Scriptures urge all of us to ‘keep an eye, not in personal interest upon just our own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.’ (Philippians 2:2-4) Where no Bible principle is involved, a Christian husband will often yield to his wife’s preference. Having personal interest in her, he will also make sure that she is not overburdened with responsibilities. For instance, he may help her with domestic chores, especially if she has a secular job.
The apostle Paul wrote: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation.” (Ephesians 5:28, 29) Jesus Christ deals with members of the congregation in a loving manner.
Noteworthy too is the apostle Peter’s counsel: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with [your wives] 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 Peter 3:7) Is it not sobering to realize that treating one’s wife in an unloving way can hinder a husband’s prayers? Yes, a man must deal with his wife in a loving manner if God is to hear and answer his prayers.
Putting God first also affects a father’s relationship with his children. He should be deeply concerned about their spiritual welfare. Yet, in a major U.S. survey, only half of the men said that “participating in Scripture study or discussion groups” was ‘most important in their family’s spiritual development.’ The rest cited such things as “watching or listening to broadcast religious services” or ‘reflecting on the meaning of life.’
However, the Bible tells fathers: “Do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Ephesians 6:4) Among Jehovah’s Witnesses, fathers are expected to take the lead in family worship. By regularly conducting family Bible studies, attending Christian meetings, and complying with other Scriptural requirements, such men put God first in family life.
Putting God First as a Wife
If you are a wife, you can put God first by supporting your husband in his role as family head. Says the Bible: “You wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18) This may be quite difficult if a man is noncommunicative or is lackadaisical about taking the lead in family worship. In any event, constantly spotlighting his flaws or, worse yet, defying him would only increase family stress.
Proverbs 14:1 says: “The truly wise woman has built up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” One way that a truly wise married woman can put God first and ‘build up her house’ is by being in subjection to her husband. (1 Corinthians 11:3) With ‘the law of loving-kindness upon her tongue,’ she avoids being unnecessarily critical of her husband. (Proverbs 31:26) She also works hard to make his decisions succeed.
Another way for a married woman to put God first is to be an industrious wife. Of course, if she must work secularly, she may have neither the time nor the energy needed to maintain her home as she desires. She can still strive to be like the “capable wife” of whom the Bible says: “She is watching over the goings-on of her household, and the bread of laziness she does not eat.”—Proverbs 31:10, 27.
Above all, a wife needs to keep the worship of God first in her life. Many who visit a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the first time comment on the neat appearance of the children. A wife’s work in this regard is invaluable. But she must also work to maintain her spirituality by prayer, study, and service to God.
Putting God First as Youths
An article in Adolescent Counselor states: “Children have tended to develop attitudes and philosophies that have allowed them to take control of their parents. . . . Having been exposed to a society that emphasizes and glorifies immediate gratification and material wealth, adolescents develop an ‘I want it now’ attitude.” If you are a youth, is that your attitude?
Colossians 3:20 says: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” A young person who views such obedience as a divine requirement will cooperate with his parents. For instance, he will not secretly defy them by associating with schoolmates of whom they disapprove; nor will he deviously try to manipulate either parent to get his own way. (Proverbs 3:32) Rather, any young person who puts God first in life will submit to loving parental guidance.
Keep God First!
No matter what place we have in the family circle, we need to put God first in life and cultivate a close relationship with him. Are you and your family doing that?
In these “last days,” all of us face “critical times.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Nevertheless, it is possible to thrive spiritually and survive the end of this system of things. (Matthew 24:3-14) By acting in harmony with accurate Bible knowledge, you and your family can have the hope of eternal life on a paradise earth. (Luke 23:43; John 17:3; Revelation 21:3, 4) Yes, that can be so if you put God first in your family life.
See chapter 22 of the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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A capable wife is deeply appreciated
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The Bible encourages husbands to take the lead in family worship