Christian Families—Follow Jesus’ Example!
“Christ . . . [left] you a model for you to follow his steps closely.”—1 PET. 2:21.
1. (a) What role did God’s Son have in creation? (b) How does Jesus feel toward mankind?
WHEN God made the heavens and the earth, his firstborn Son was beside him “as a master worker.” The Son of God also cooperated with his Father when Jehovah designed and created the huge variety of animal and plant life here on earth and when He prepared the Paradise that would be home to creatures made in Jehovah’s image and likeness. God’s Son, who later became known as Jesus, had a great love for mankind. “The things [he] was fond of were with the sons of men.”—Prov. 8:27-31; Gen. 1:26, 27.
2. (a) How has Jehovah provided for imperfect mankind? (b) What is one area of life in which the Bible provides direction?
2 After the first human pair sinned, the redemption of sinful mankind became an important part of Jehovah’s purpose. Jehovah provided Christ’s ransom sacrifice to make that redemption possible. (Rom. 5:8) Furthermore, Jehovah provided his Word, the Bible, which gives guidance to man on how best to cope with inherited imperfection. (Ps. 119:105) In his Word, Jehovah provides direction to help people maintain strong, happy families. Regarding marriage, the book of Genesis states that a man must “stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.”—Gen. 2:24.
3. (a) What did Jesus teach about marriage? (b) What will we consider in this article?
3 During his earthly ministry, Jesus emphasized that marriage was intended to be permanent. He taught principles that when applied would help family members to avoid attitudes and conduct that threatened their marriage or the happiness of their family. (Matt. 5:27-37; 7:12) This article will discuss how Jesus’ teachings and the example he set while on earth can help husbands, wives, parents, and children to live happy, fulfilling lives.
How a Christian Husband Honors His Wife
4. What parallel exists between the role of Jesus and that of Christian husbands?
4 God appointed the husband as head of the family, just as Jesus is Head of the congregation. The apostle Paul stated: “A husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation, he being a savior of this body. Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it.” (Eph. 5:23, 25) Indeed, Jesus’ treatment of his followers sets the standard for how Christian men need to treat their wives. Let us consider some of the ways in which Jesus exercised his God-given authority.
5. How did Jesus exercise his authority over his disciples?
5 Jesus was “mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” (Matt. 11:29) He was also a man of action. Never did he abdicate his responsibilities. (Mark 6:34; John 2:14-17) He kindly gave counsel to his disciples, even repeatedly when necessary. (Matt. 20:21-28; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 22:24-27) Still, Jesus did not berate or humiliate them, nor did he make them feel unloved or incapable of carrying out what he was teaching them to do. Instead, he praised and encouraged his disciples. (Luke 10:17-21) No wonder Jesus gained the respect of his disciples by his loving and compassionate treatment of them!
6. (a) What can a husband learn from the way that Jesus treated his disciples? (b) What encouragement does Peter give to husbands?
6 Jesus’ example teaches husbands that Christian headship is not a position of harsh domination. Rather, it is one marked by respect and self-sacrificing love. The apostle Peter encouraged husbands to imitate Jesus’ loving ways by “dwelling in like manner” with their wives, “assigning them honor.” (Read 1 Peter 3:7.) How, then, can a husband exercise his authority and at the same time treat his wife as someone worthy of honor?
7. In what way can a husband honor his wife? Illustrate.
7 One way a husband can honor his wife is by carefully considering her point of view and her feelings before he makes decisions that affect the family. Perhaps a decision has to be made regarding a move or a change of job or regarding everyday matters, such as where to take a vacation or how to adjust the family budget so as to cope with the rising cost of living. Because the family will be affected, it would be beneficial and kind for the husband to consider his wife’s opinion, as it may help him to arrive at a balanced, more considerate decision, and it will be easier for her to support him. (Prov. 15:22) Christian husbands who honor their wives gain not only the love and respect of their wives but, more important, the approval of Jehovah.—Eph. 5:28, 29.
How a Wife Shows Deep Respect for Her Husband
8. Why is Eve’s example one to be avoided?
8 In Jesus, Christian wives have a perfect model of submission to authority. What a difference there is between his view of authority and the attitude displayed by the first human wife! Eve failed to provide a good model for wives to follow. She had a divinely commissioned head through whom Jehovah communicated instruction. Yet, Eve did not respect this arrangement. She failed to accept the instruction that Adam conveyed to her. (Gen. 2:16, 17; 3:3; 1 Cor. 11:3) Granted, Eve was deceived; yet she should have consulted her husband as to the propriety of heeding the voice that claimed to tell her what “God knows.” Instead, she presumed to direct her husband.—Gen. 3:5, 6; 1 Tim. 2:14.
9. What example in being submissive does Jesus set?
9 Jesus, by contrast, provided the perfect model of submission to his Head. His attitude and life course show that he “gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God.” On the contrary, “he emptied himself and took a slave’s form.” (Phil. 2:5-7) Today, as ruling King, Jesus maintains the same attitude. He humbly submits to his Father in all things and supports His headship.—Matt. 20:23; John 5:30; 1 Cor. 15:28.
10. How might a wife support her husband’s headship?
10 A Christian wife does well to imitate Jesus by supporting her husband’s headship. (Read 1 Peter 2:21; 3:1, 2.) Consider a situation in which she has an opportunity to do this. Her son is seeking permission to engage in an activity for which parental permission is needed. Because the matter has not previously been discussed by the parents, it would be appropriate for the mother to inquire, “Did you ask your father?” If the son has not, she should discuss the matter with her husband before anything is decided. Moreover, a Christian wife would certainly want to avoid contradicting her husband or challenging his opinion in front of their children. If she disagrees with her husband about something, she would talk with him in private.—Eph. 6:4.
Jesus’ Example for Parents
11. What example did Jesus set for parents?
11 Even though Jesus did not marry or father children, he is an excellent model for Christian parents. How so? He lovingly and patiently taught his disciples by word and example. He showed them how to carry out the commission that he gave them. (Luke 8:1) Jesus’ disposition and conduct toward his disciples taught them how they were to treat one another.—Read John 13:14-17.
12, 13. What is required if parents are to raise God-fearing children?
12 Children tend to imitate their parents, either for good or for bad. So, parents, ask yourselves: ‘What message are we sending to our children when it comes to the amount of time that we dedicate to TV and entertainment on the one hand and Bible study and participation in the field service on the other? What really are our family’s priorities? Are we setting a good example by centering our lives and our decisions on true worship?’ God’s law must first be in the parents’ own hearts if they are to rear God-fearing children.—Deut. 6:6.
13 If parents strive to apply Bible principles in everyday matters, this will not escape their children’s notice. The parents’ words and teachings will carry weight. However, if children perceive a double standard, they might draw the conclusion that Bible principles are not really important or practical. As a result, the children may be more inclined to weaken in the face of worldly pressure.
14, 15. What values should parents cultivate in their children, and what is one way that they can do this?
14 Christian parents realize that a child’s upbringing entails more than providing for his material needs. Therefore, it would be extremely shortsighted to teach a child to pursue goals that would serve only for his material advantage. (Eccl. 7:12) Jesus taught his disciples to make spiritual values and pursuits their priority. (Matt. 6:33) Therefore, in imitation of Jesus, Christian parents should also strive to cultivate in their children a desire to pursue spiritual goals.
15 One way that parents can do this is by making the most of opportunities for their children to associate with those who are in the full-time service. Consider how encouraging it can be for teenagers to become acquainted with pioneers or with the circuit overseer and his wife. Visiting missionaries, Bethelites, and those doing international construction work can speak with enthusiasm about the joys of serving Jehovah. No doubt such visitors will have interesting experiences to relate. Their example of self-sacrificing service may greatly help your children to make wise decisions, set praiseworthy goals, and get the appropriate schooling to be able to support themselves in the full-time service.
Children—What Will Help You to Follow Jesus’ Example?
16. How did Jesus honor his earthly parents and his heavenly Father?
16 Children, Jesus provides an excellent example for you too. Jesus was given into the care of Joseph and Mary, and he obeyed them. (Read Luke 2:51.) He recognized that, despite their imperfections, they were entrusted with the God-given responsibility of looking after him. That being the case, they were to be honored. (Deut. 5:16; Matt. 15:4) As a grown-up, Jesus always did the things pleasing to his heavenly Father. That meant resisting temptation. (Matt. 4:1-10) You youngsters may at times be tempted to disobey your parents. So, what can help you to follow Jesus’ example?
17, 18. (a) What kind of pressure do youngsters face at school? (b) Remembering what can help youths to meet tests?
17 Likely, most of your schoolmates have little or no regard for Bible standards. They might try to get you to participate in questionable activities and make fun of you when you refuse. Do your schoolmates ever call you names because you refuse to participate in certain activities with them? If so, how do you react? You know that if you allow yourself to be intimidated and go along with the crowd, you will disappoint your parents and Jehovah. Where would you wind up if you followed your schoolmates? Perhaps you have set certain goals for yourself, such as becoming a pioneer or a ministerial servant, serving in a territory where there is a greater need for Kingdom publishers, or becoming a Bethelite. Will associating with your schoolmates help you reach your goals?
18 Do you youths in the Christian congregation ever find yourselves in situations where your faith is put to the test? How do you respond? Think of your model, Jesus. He refused to give in to temptation and stood firm for what he knew to be right. Remembering this will help to give you the strength to tell your schoolmates clearly that you do not want to join them in doing something that you know to be wrong. Like Jesus, keep focused on the prospects of a lifetime of joyful service and obedience to Jehovah.—Heb. 12:2.
The Key to Happy Family Life
19. What course in life brings true happiness?
19 Jehovah God and Jesus Christ want the very best for mankind. Even in our imperfect state, it is possible for us to enjoy a measure of happiness. (Isa. 48:17, 18; Matt. 5:3) Jesus taught religious truths that form a basis for mankind’s happiness, but that was not all that he conveyed to his disciples. Jesus also taught the very best way of living. More than that, he left a practical example of a balanced life and a balanced attitude. All of us, whatever our role in the family, can benefit from following his example. So, husbands, wives, parents, and children, follow Jesus’ example! Embracing Jesus’ teachings and imitating his example is truly the key to enjoying a satisfying and happy family life.
How Would You Answer?
• How should husbands exercise their God-given authority?
• How can a wife imitate Jesus’ example?
• What can parents learn from the way Jesus treated his disciples?
• What can young people learn from Jesus’ example?
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Before making a decision that affects the family, what will a loving husband do?
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What situation provides a wife an opportunity to support her husband’s headship?
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Children imitate the good habits of their parents