“Soundness of Mind” as the End Draws Close
“The end of all things has drawn close. Be sound in mind, therefore.”—1 PETER 4:7.
1. What is involved in being “sound in mind”?
THE above words of the apostle Peter should have a profound effect upon the way Christians live their lives. However, Peter did not tell his readers to retreat from the mundane responsibilities and cares of life; nor did he encourage a sense of hysteria over the impending destruction. Rather, he urged: “Be sound in mind.” To be “sound in mind” involves showing good judgment, being sensible, discreet, rational in our speech and actions. It means letting God’s Word rule our thinking and actions. (Romans 12:2) Since we live “among a crooked and twisted generation,” a sound mind is needed to avert problems and difficulties.—Philippians 2:15.
2. How does Jehovah’s patience benefit Christians today?
2 “Soundness of mind” also helps us to have a sober, realistic view of ourselves. (Titus 2:12; Romans 12:3) This is essential in view of the words recorded at 2 Peter 3:9: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” Note that Jehovah is being patient, not only with unbelievers, but also “with you”—members of the Christian congregation. Why? Because “he does not desire any to be destroyed.” Perhaps some still need to make changes and adjustments in order to qualify for the gift of everlasting life. Let us therefore look at areas where some adjustments might be needed.
“Soundness of Mind” in Our Personal Relationships
3. What questions might parents ask themselves regarding their children?
3 The home should be a haven of peace. But with some it is “a house full of . . . quarreling.” (Proverbs 17:1) How about your family? Is your home free of “wrath and screaming and abusive speech”? (Ephesians 4:31) What about your children? Do they feel loved and appreciated? (Compare Luke 3:22.) Are you taking the time to instruct and train them? Do you ‘discipline in righteousness’ instead of in rage and anger? (2 Timothy 3:16) Since children are “an inheritance from Jehovah,” he is intensely interested in how they are treated.—Psalm 127:3.
4. (a) What can result if a husband treats his wife in a harsh manner? (b) How can wives promote peace with God and happiness in the entire family?
4 What about our marriage mate? “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) An abusive, domineering, or unreasonable man not only jeopardizes the tranquillity of his home but undermines his relationship with God. (1 Peter 3:7) What about wives? They likewise should “be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22) Thinking in terms of pleasing God can help a wife overlook her husband’s shortcomings and be subject to him without resentment. At times, a wife may feel obliged to speak her mind. Proverbs 31:26 says of the capable wife: “Her mouth she has opened in wisdom, and the law of loving-kindness is upon her tongue.” By treating her husband in a kind, respectful way, she maintains peace with God, and she promotes the happiness of the whole family.—Proverbs 14:1.
5. Why should youths follow the Bible’s counsel regarding the treatment of their parents?
5 Young ones, how do you treat your parents? Do you use the sarcastic, disrespectful speech that is often tolerated by the world? Or are you obeying the Bible’s command: “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous: ‘Honor your father and your mother’; which is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth’”?—Ephesians 6:1-3.
6. How can we seek peace with fellow worshipers?
6 We also demonstrate “soundness of mind” when we “seek peace and pursue it” with fellow worshipers. (1 Peter 3:11) Disagreements and misunderstandings arise from time to time. (James 3:2) If animosities are allowed to fester, the peace of the whole congregation can be put at risk. (Galatians 5:15) So settle disputes quickly; seek peaceful solutions.—Matthew 5:23-25; Ephesians 4:26; Colossians 3:13, 14.
“Soundness of Mind” and Family Responsibilities
7. (a) How did Paul encourage showing “soundness of mind” in mundane matters? (b) What attitude should Christian husbands and wives have toward domestic responsibilities?
7 The apostle Paul advised Christians “to live with soundness of mind.” (Titus 2:12) It is of interest that, in the context, Paul exhorts women “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sound in mind, chaste, workers at home.” (Titus 2:4, 5) Paul wrote that in the years 61-64 C.E., a few years before the end of the Jewish system of things. Yet, mundane matters, such as housework, were still important. Both husbands and wives should therefore maintain a healthy, positive view of their domestic responsibilities so that “the word of God may not be spoken of abusively.” One family head apologized to a visitor for the embarrassing appearance of his home. He explained that it was in disrepair “because he was pioneering.” It is commendable when we make sacrifices in behalf of the Kingdom, but care must be taken not to sacrifice the welfare of our families.
8. How can family heads care for the needs of their families in a balanced way?
8 The Bible urges fathers to give their families priority, saying that one who fails to provide for his family “has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” (1 Timothy 5:8) Standards of living vary throughout the world, and it is good to keep material expectations modest. “Give me neither poverty nor riches,” prayed the writer of Proverbs 30:8. However, parents should not ignore the material needs of their children. Would it be wise, for example, deliberately to leave one’s family without the basic necessities of life in order to pursue theocratic privileges? Could this not embitter one’s children? On the other hand, Proverbs 24:27 says: “Prepare your work out of doors, and make it ready for yourself in the field. Afterward you must also build up your household.” Yes, while concern for material things has its place, ‘building up one’s household’—spiritually and emotionally—is vital.
9. Why is it wise for family heads to consider the possibility of their death or illness?
9 Have you made provisions to care for your family in case you suffer an untimely death? Proverbs 13:22 says: “One who is good will leave an inheritance to sons of sons.” In addition to an inheritance of knowledge of Jehovah and a relationship with him, parents would be interested in providing materially for their children. In many lands responsible family heads will try to have some savings, a legal will, and insurance. After all, God’s people are not immune to “time and unforeseen occurrence.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Money is “for a protection,” and careful planning can often avert hardship. (Ecclesiastes 7:12) In lands where medical care is not paid for by the government, some may choose to set aside funds for health needs or arrange for some type of health coverage.*
10. How might Christian parents “lay up” for their children?
10 The Scriptures also say: “Children ought not to lay up for their parents, but the parents for their children.” (2 Corinthians 12:14) In the world it is common for parents to lay up money for their children’s future education and marriage so as to give them a good start in life. Have you given thought to laying up for your child’s spiritual future? Suppose, for example, that a grown child is pursuing the full-time ministry. While full-time servants should neither demand nor expect outside support, loving parents might choose to ‘share with him according to his needs’ in order to help him remain in full-time service.—Romans 12:13; 1 Samuel 2:18, 19; Philippians 4:14-18.
11. Does having a realistic view of money indicate a lack of faith? Explain.
11 Having a realistic view of money does not indicate a lack of faith that Satan’s wicked system is near its end. It is simply a matter of showing “practical wisdom” and sound judgment. (Proverbs 2:7; 3:21) Jesus once said that “the sons of this system of things are wiser in a practical way . . . than the sons of the light are” in their use of money. (Luke 16:8) No wonder, then, that some have seen the need to make adjustments in the way they use their assets, so that they can better care for the needs of their families.
“Soundness of Mind” in Our View of Education
12. How did Jesus teach his disciples to adapt to new circumstances?
12 “The scene of this world is changing,” and sweeping economic changes and technological developments are rapidly taking place. (1 Corinthians 7:31) However, Jesus taught his disciples to be adaptable. He told them when he sent them out on their first preaching campaign: “Do not procure gold or silver or copper for your girdle purses, or a food pouch for the trip, or two undergarments, or sandals or a staff; for the worker deserves his food.” (Matthew 10:9, 10) On a later occasion, though, Jesus said: “Let the one that has a purse take it up, likewise also a food pouch.” (Luke 22:36) What had changed? The circumstances. The religious environment had become more hostile, and now they had to make provisions for themselves.
13. What is the main purpose of education, and how can parents be supportive of their children in this regard?
13 Likewise today, parents may need to take into account today’s economic realities. For example, are you seeing to it that your children are receiving adequate schooling? The main purpose of education should be to equip a youth to be an effective minister of Jehovah. And the most important education of all is a spiritual education. (Isaiah 54:13) Parents are also concerned about the ability of their children to support themselves financially. So give your children guidance, help them to choose appropriate school subjects, and discuss with them whether it is wise to pursue any supplementary education or not. Such decisions are a family responsibility, and others should not criticize the course taken. (Proverbs 22:6) What about those who have chosen to educate their children at home?* While many have done a commendable job, some have found the task more difficult than they imagined, and their children have suffered. So if you are considering home schooling, be sure to count the cost, realistically assessing if you have both the skills and the self-discipline needed to follow through.—Luke 14:28.
‘Do Not Seek Great Things’
14, 15. (a) How did Baruch lose his spiritual balance? (b) Why was it foolish for him to ‘seek great things’?
14 Since the end of this system has not yet come, some might be inclined to seek what the world has to offer—prestigious careers, lucrative jobs, and wealth. Consider Jeremiah’s secretary, Baruch. He lamented: “Woe, now, to me, for Jehovah has added grief to my pain! I have grown weary because of my sighing, and no resting-place have I found.” (Jeremiah 45:3) Baruch was tired. Serving as Jeremiah’s secretary was a difficult, stressful job. (Jeremiah 36:14-26) And no end to the stress was in sight. It would be 18 years before Jerusalem was destroyed.
15 Jehovah told Baruch: “Look! What I have built up I am tearing down, and what I have planted I am uprooting, even all the land itself. But as for you, you keep seeking great things for yourself. Do not keep on seeking.” Baruch had lost his balance. He had begun ‘seeking great things for himself,’ perhaps wealth, prominence, or material security. Since Jehovah was “uprooting, even all the land itself,” what sense did it make to seek such things? Jehovah therefore gave Baruch this sobering reminder: “For here I am bringing in a calamity upon all flesh . . . , and I will give you your soul as a spoil in all the places to which you may go.” Material possessions would not survive the destruction of Jerusalem! Jehovah guaranteed only the salvation of his “soul as a spoil.”—Jeremiah 45:4, 5.
16. What lesson can Jehovah’s people today learn from Baruch’s experience?
16 Baruch heeded Jehovah’s correction, and, true to Jehovah’s promise, Baruch escaped with his life. (Jeremiah 43:6, 7) What a powerful lesson for Jehovah’s people today! This is no time to ‘seek great things for ourselves.’ Why? Because “the world is passing away and so is its desire.”—1 John 2:17.
The Best Use of the Remaining Time
17, 18. (a) How did Jonah react when the Ninevites repented? (b) What lesson did Jehovah teach Jonah?
17 How, then, can we best use the remaining time? Learn from the experience of the prophet Jonah. He “went to Nineveh . . . , and he kept proclaiming and saying: ‘Only forty days more, and Nineveh will be overthrown.’” To Jonah’s surprise, the Ninevites responded to his message and repented! Jehovah refrained from destroying the city. Jonah’s reaction? “O Jehovah, take away, please, my soul from me, for my dying is better than my being alive.”—Jonah 3:3, 4; 4:3.
18 Jehovah then taught Jonah an important lesson. He “appointed a bottle-gourd plant, that it should come up over Jonah, in order to become a shade over his head . . . And Jonah began to rejoice greatly over the bottle-gourd plant.” Jonah’s rejoicing was short-lived, however, as the plant quickly dried up. Jonah became “hot with anger” over his discomfort. Jehovah drove home His point, saying: “You, for your part, felt sorry for the bottle-gourd plant . . . Ought I not to feel sorry for Nineveh the great city, in which there exist more than one hundred and twenty thousand men who do not at all know the difference between their right hand and their left, besides many domestic animals?”—Jonah 4:6, 7, 9-11.
19. What self-centered line of thinking would we want to avoid?
19 How self-centered Jonah’s reasoning was! He could feel sorry for a plant, but he felt not a twinge of compassion for the people of Nineveh—people who, spiritually speaking, ‘did not know the difference between their right hand and their left.’ We may likewise yearn for the destruction of this wicked world and rightly so! (2 Thessalonians 1:8) While waiting, however, we have a responsibility to help honesthearted people who, spiritually speaking, do not ‘know their right hand from their left.’ (Matthew 9:36; Romans 10:13-15) Will you use the short time remaining to help as many as possible to gain the precious knowledge of Jehovah? What job could ever match the joy of helping someone to gain life?
Continue Living With “Soundness of Mind”
20, 21. (a) What are some ways in which we can demonstrate “soundness of mind” during the days ahead? (b) What blessings will come from living with “soundness of mind”?
20 As Satan’s system continues its plunge toward destruction, new challenges are sure to face us. Second Timothy 3:13 predicts: “Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse.” But do not “get tired and give out in your souls.” (Hebrews 12:3) Lean upon Jehovah for strength. (Philippians 4:13) Learn to be flexible, to adapt to these worsening circumstances, instead of dwelling on the past. (Ecclesiastes 7:10) Use practical wisdom, keeping up with the direction “the faithful and discreet slave” provides.—Matthew 24:45-47.
21 How much time is left remaining we do not know. Yet, we can say with confidence that “the end of all things has drawn close.” Until that end comes, let us live with “soundness of mind” in our dealings with one another, in the way we care for our families, and in our secular responsibilities. By doing so, we all can have confidence that we will finally be found “spotless and unblemished and in peace”!—2 Peter 3:14.
In the United States, for example, many carry health insurance, although such tends to be expensive. Some Witness families have found that certain doctors are more willing to consider nonblood alternatives when families have medical coverage. Many physicians will accept the amount of payment permitted under limited insurance plans or government health coverage.
Whether one pursues home schooling is a personal decision. See the article “Home Schooling—Is It for You?,” appearing in the April 8, 1993, issue of Awake!
Points for Review
◻ How can we show “soundness of mind” in our personal relationships?
◻ How can we show balance in caring for our family responsibilities?
◻ Why must parents take an interest in the secular education of their children?
◻ What lessons do we learn from Baruch and Jonah?
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When a husband and wife mistreat each other, they undermine their relationship with Jehovah
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Parents should take an interest in the education of their children