Pursue Godly Peace in Family Life
“Ascribe to Jehovah, O you families of the peoples, ascribe to Jehovah glory and strength.”—PSALM 96:7.
1. Jehovah got family life off to what kind of start?
JEHOVAH got family life off to a peaceful and happy start when he united the first man and the first woman in marriage. In fact, Adam was so happy that he expressed his joy in the earliest recorded poetry: “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, because from man this one was taken.”—Genesis 2:23.
2. What did God have in mind for marriage in addition to bringing his human children happiness?
2 When God instituted marriage and the family arrangement, he had more in mind than just bringing happiness to his human children. He wanted them to do his will. God told the first pair: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) A rewarding assignment indeed. How happy Adam, Eve, and their future children would have been if the first married couple had obediently done Jehovah’s will!
3. What is required for families to live with godly devotion?
3 Even today, though, families are happiest when they work together to do God’s will. And what splendid prospects such obedient families have! The apostle Paul wrote: “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) Families living with true godly devotion follow the principles of Jehovah’s Word and do his will. They pursue godly peace and thus find happiness in “the life now.”
Family Life Imperiled
4, 5. Why can it be said that family life is now imperiled worldwide?
4 Naturally, we do not find peace and happiness in every family. Citing a study made by a demography institute called the Population Council, The New York Times states: “In rich and poor countries alike, the structure of family life is undergoing profound changes.” An author of this study was quoted as saying: “The idea that the family is a stable and cohesive unit in which father serves as economic provider and mother serves as emotional care giver is a myth. The reality is that trends like unwed motherhood, rising divorce rates, [and] smaller households . . . are occurring worldwide.” Because of such trends, millions of families lack stability, peace, and happiness, and many are breaking up. In Spain the divorce rate rose to 1 out of 8 marriages by the start of the last decade of the 20th century—a big jump from 1 out of 100 just 25 years earlier. England is reported to have one of the highest divorce rates in Europe—4 out of 10 marriages fail. That country has also seen a surge in the number of single-parent families.
5 It seems that some people can hardly wait to get a divorce. Many flock to the “Tie Severing Shrine” near Tokyo, Japan. This Shinto temple accepts petitions for divorce and for the breakup of other undesired relationships. Each worshiper writes his or her plea on a thin wooden board, hangs it in the shrine’s precincts, and prays for an answer. A Tokyo newspaper says that when the shrine was founded about a century ago, “the wives of rich local merchants wrote prayers asking that their husbands leave their lovers and come back to them.” Today, however, most pleas are for divorce, not for reconciliation. Without question, family life is imperiled around the world. Should this surprise Christians? No, because the Bible gives us insight into the present family crisis.
Why the Family Crisis?
6. What bearing does 1 John 5:19 have on today’s family crisis?
6 One reason for today’s family crisis is this: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) What can we expect of the wicked one, Satan the Devil? He is an evil, immoral liar. (John 8:44) No wonder his world wallows in deceit and immorality, so devastating to family life! Outside of God’s organization, satanic influence threatens to destroy Jehovah’s institution of marriage and bring an end to peaceful family life.
7. How can families be affected by the traits that many people in these last days manifest?
7 Another reason for the family problems that now plague mankind is indicated at 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul’s prophetic words recorded there show that we are living in “the last days.” Families cannot be peaceful and happy if their members are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” A family cannot be completely happy if even one of its members lacks natural affection or is disloyal. How peaceful can family life be if someone in the household is fierce and not open to any agreement? Worse still, how can there be peace and happiness when family members are lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God? These are the traits of people in this world ruled by Satan. No wonder family happiness is elusive in these last days!
8, 9. What effect can the behavior of children have on family happiness?
8 Still another reason why many families lack peace and happiness is the bad conduct of children. When Paul foretold conditions in the last days, he prophesied that many children would be disobedient to parents. If you are a young person, does your behavior help to make your family peaceful and happy?
9 Some children are not exemplary in behavior. For instance, one young boy wrote his father this nasty letter: “If you won’t take me to Alexandria I won’t write you a letter, or speak to you, or say goodbye to you, and if you go to Alexandria I won’t hold your hand or ever greet you again. This is what will happen if you won’t take me . . . But send me a [harp], I beg you. If you don’t, I won’t eat and I won’t drink. So there!” Does that sound rather up-to-date? Well, that letter from a boy to his father was written in ancient Egypt over 2,000 years ago.
10. How can younger ones help their families to pursue godly peace?
10 That Egyptian youngster’s attitude did not promote family peace. Of course, far more serious things take place within families in these last days. Yet, you younger ones can help your family to pursue godly peace. How? By obeying this Bible counsel: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.”—Colossians 3:20.
11. How can parents help their children to become faithful servants of Jehovah?
11 What about you parents? Lovingly help your children to become faithful servants of Jehovah. “Train up a boy according to the way for him,” says Proverbs 22:6. “Even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” With fine Scriptural teaching and good parental examples, many boys and girls do not turn aside from the proper way when they get older. But much depends on the quality and extent of Bible training and on the heart of the young one.
12. Why should a Christian home be peaceful?
12 If all members of our family are trying to do Jehovah’s will, we ought to be enjoying godly peace. A Christian home should be filled with ‘friends of peace.’ Luke 10:1-6 shows that Jesus had such people in mind when he sent 70 disciples out as ministers and told them: “Wherever you enter into a house say first, ‘May this house have peace.’ And if a friend of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him.” As Jehovah’s servants peacefully go from house to house with “the good news of peace,” they seek friends of peace. (Acts 10:34-36; Ephesians 2:13-18) Surely, a Christian household made up of friends of peace should be peaceful.
13, 14. (a) What did Naomi desire for Ruth and Orpah? (b) A Christian home should be a resting-place of what kind?
13 A home should be a place of peace and rest. The elderly widow Naomi hoped that God would grant her young, widowed daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, the rest and comfort that result from having a good husband and home. Naomi said: “May Jehovah make a gift to you, and do you find a resting-place each one in the house of her husband.” (Ruth 1:9) Concerning Naomi’s wish, one scholar wrote that in such homes Ruth and Orpah “would find deliverance from unrest and anxiety. They would find rest. It would be a position in which they could abide, and in which their tenderest feelings and most honourable desires would find satisfaction and repose. The peculiar force of the Hebrew . . . is finely displayed by the texture of the associated expressions in [Isaiah 32:17, 18].”
14 Please note this reference to Isaiah 32:17, 18. There we read: “The work of the true righteousness must become peace; and the service of the true righteousness, quietness and security to time indefinite. And my people must dwell in a peaceful abiding place and in residences of full confidence and in undisturbed resting-places.” A Christian home should be a resting-place of righteousness, quietness, security, and godly peace. But what if trials, differences, or other problems arise? Then we especially need to know the secret of family happiness.
Four Vital Principles
15. How would you define the secret of family happiness?
15 Every family on earth owes its name to Jehovah God, the Creator of families. (Ephesians 3:14, 15) So those desiring family happiness should seek his guidance and praise him, as did the psalmist: “Ascribe to Jehovah, O you families of the peoples, ascribe to Jehovah glory and strength.” (Psalm 96:7) The secret of family happiness lies in the pages of God’s Word, the Bible, and in the application of its principles. A family that applies these principles will be happy and will enjoy godly peace. Let us therefore look at four of these important principles.
16. What role should self-control play in family life?
16 One of these principles centers on this: Self-control is vital to godly peace in family life. King Solomon said: “As a city broken through, without a wall, is the man that has no restraint for his spirit.” (Proverbs 25:28) Restraining our spirit—exercising self-control—is vital if we desire to have a peaceful and happy family. Though we are imperfect, we need to exercise self-control, which is a fruit of God’s holy spirit. (Romans 7:21, 22; Galatians 5:22, 23) The spirit will produce self-control in us if we pray for this quality, apply Bible counsel about it, and associate with others who manifest it. This course will help us to “flee from fornication.” (1 Corinthians 6:18) Self-control will also help us to reject violence, avoid or overcome alcoholism, and deal more calmly with difficult situations.
17, 18. (a) How does 1 Corinthians 11:3 apply to Christian family life? (b) How does recognition of headship promote godly peace in a family?
17 Another essential principle can be stated in this way: Recognition of headship will help us to pursue godly peace in our families. Paul wrote: “I want you to know that 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.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) This means that a man takes the lead in the family, that his wife is loyally supportive, and that the children are obedient. (Ephesians 5:22-25, 28-33; 6:1-4) Such conduct will promote godly peace in family life.
18 A Christian husband needs to remember that Scriptural headship is not dictatorship. He must imitate Jesus, his Head. Although he was to be “head over all things,” Jesus “came, not to be ministered to, but to minister.” (Ephesians 1:22; Matthew 20:28) In a similar way, a Christian man exercises headship in a loving manner that enables him to care well for the interests of his family. And surely a Christian wife wants to cooperate with her husband. As his “helper” and “a complement,” she supplies qualities that her husband lacks and thus gives him needed support. (Genesis 2:20; Proverbs 31:10-31) The proper exercise of headship helps husbands and wives to treat each other with respect and moves children to be obedient. Yes, recognition of headship promotes godly peace in family life.
19. Why is good communication essential for family peace and happiness?
19 A third important principle can be expressed in these words: Good communication is vital for family peace and happiness. James 1:19 tells us: “Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.” Family members need to listen and talk to one another because family communication is a two-way street. Even when what we say is true, however, it is likely to do more harm than good if it is said in a cruel, proud, or insensitive manner. Our speech should be tasteful, “seasoned with salt.” (Colossians 4:6) Families that follow Scriptural principles and communicate well are pursuing godly peace.
20. Why would you say that love is essential to family peace?
20 A fourth principle is this: Love is essential to family peace and happiness. Romantic love may play an important part in marriage, and deep affection can develop among members of a family. Even more important, though, is the love denoted by the Greek word a·gaʹpe. This is the love that we cultivate for Jehovah, for Jesus, and for our neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-39) God showed this love for mankind by giving “his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) How wonderful it is that we can display the same kind of love for our family members! This elevated love is “a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) It binds a married couple together and motivates them to do what is best for each other and for their children. When difficulties develop, love helps them to handle matters unitedly. We can be certain of this because “love . . . does not look for its own interests . . . It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Happy indeed are families in which love for one another is cemented by love for Jehovah!
Keep On Pursuing Godly Peace
21. What is likely to increase the peace and happiness of your family?
21 The foregoing principles and others drawn from the Bible are outlined in publications that Jehovah has kindly provided through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) For example, such information is found in the 192-page book The Secret of Family Happiness, released at “Messengers of Godly Peace” District Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses held around the world in 1996/97. Personal and family study of the Scriptures with the aid of such a publication can result in many benefits. (Isaiah 48:17, 18) Yes, applying Scriptural counsel is likely to increase the peace and happiness of your family.
22. On what should we center our family life?
22 Jehovah has wonderful things in store for families doing his will, and he deserves our praise and service. (Revelation 21:1-4) May your family therefore center its life on the worship of the true God. And may our loving heavenly Father, Jehovah, bless you with happiness as you pursue godly peace in your family life!
How Would You Answer?
◻ What is required if families are to live with godly devotion?
◻ Why is there a family crisis today?
◻ What is the secret of family happiness?
◻ What are some principles that will help us to promote peace and happiness in family life?
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Good communication helps us to pursue godly peace in family life