Christian Families—“Keep Ready”
“Keep ready, because at an hour that you do not think likely the Son of man is coming.”—LUKE 12:40.
1, 2. Why should we take to heart Jesus’ admonition to “keep ready”?
“WHEN the Son of man arrives in his glory” and separates “people one from another,” how will you and your family fare? (Matt. 25:31, 32) Since this is to take place at an hour that we do not think likely, how vital that we take to heart Jesus’ admonition to “keep ready”!—Luke 12:40.
2 The preceding article discussed how each member of the family can help the entire family to keep spiritually awake by taking his or her responsibility seriously. Let us consider other ways that we can contribute to the spiritual well-being of our family.
Keep Your Eye “Simple”
3, 4. (a) Christian families should be on guard against what? (b) What does it mean to keep our eye “simple”?
3 To be in a state of readiness for Christ’s coming, families must be careful not to get sidetracked from matters pertaining to true worship. They need to be on guard against being turned aside by distractions. Since materialism is a snare that has entrapped not a few families, consider what Jesus said about keeping our eye “simple.” (Read Matthew 6:22, 23.) Just as a lamp can illuminate our path and allow us to walk without falling, what we take in through our figurative ‘eyes of the heart’ can enlighten us, helping us to conduct ourselves without stumbling.—Eph. 1:18.
4 For a literal eye to see clearly, it must function properly and be able to focus on what it is looking at. It is no different with the eyes of the heart. Having a simple figurative eye means that we are single-minded in purpose. Rather than leading a life that is centered on material things and being consumed with taking care of only the physical needs of the family, we keep our eye focused on spiritual matters. (Matt. 6:33) This means that we remain content with our material provisions and give God’s service the first place in our life.—Heb. 13:5.
5. How did a certain teenage girl demonstrate that her “eye” was set on serving God?
5 What good results there can be when children are trained to keep a simple eye! Consider the example of a teenage girl in the country of Ethiopia. She did so well in her schoolwork that upon completing her basic education, she was offered a scholarship for further education. Having her eye focused on serving Jehovah, however, she turned down the scholarship. Soon thereafter, she received a job offer that would pay her 3,000 euros a month—a high amount in comparison with the average wages in her country. But the girl’s “eye” was set on pioneer service. She did not need to consult her parents to turn down the job. How did her parents feel on learning what their daughter had done? Why, they rejoiced with her and told her how proud they were of her!
6, 7. To what danger should we ‘keep our eyes open’?
6 Implicit in the words of Jesus recorded at Matthew 6:22, 23 is a warning about greed. Jesus did not contrast “simple” with its antonym “complex” but with the term “wicked.” A ‘wicked eye’ is “bad; envious,” that is, covetous or greedy. (Matt. 6:23; ftn.) How does Jehovah feel about covetousness or greed? “Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness [or, “covetousness”] not even be mentioned among you,” states the Bible.—Eph. 5:3; ftn.
7 While greed may be easy to detect in others, it is not so easy to detect in ourselves. Hence, we are wise to heed Jesus’ advice: “Keep your eyes open and guard against every sort of covetousness.” (Luke 12:15) Doing so calls for examining ourselves to see what we have set our hearts on. Christian families should think seriously about the time and money they spend on entertainment, recreation, and the acquisition of material things.
8. When it comes to making purchases, how can we ‘keep our eyes open’?
8 Making a purchase is more involved than simply deciding whether an item is affordable or not. Take into consideration factors such as these: ‘Will I have the time to use the item regularly and care for its upkeep? How long will it take to learn to operate it properly?’ You young ones, do not believe all the world’s advertising about consumer goods and thus make unreasonable demands for expensive brands of clothing or for other items. Exercise restraint. Also, think of how acquiring something will affect your family’s preparedness for the coming of the Son of man. Have faith in Jehovah’s promise: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.”—Heb. 13:5.
Pursue Spiritual Goals
9. What can the pursuit of spiritual goals do for a family?
9 Another way for family members to strengthen their faith and contribute to the spiritual well-being of the entire family is for them to set spiritual goals and pursue them. Doing so can help families gauge how well they are progressing in their objective of pleasing Jehovah and can enable them to evaluate the relative importance of any activity.—Read Philippians 1:10.
10, 11. As a family, what spiritual goals are you pursuing, and what goals would you like to set for the future?
10 Even setting small realistic goals that are within reach of nearly every family member can yield rich dividends. Take, for example, the goal of discussing the day’s text every day. The comments given by family members can help the head of the household to discern the degree of their spirituality. The goal of regularly reading the Bible together as a family provides an excellent opportunity for children to improve their reading skills as well as their comprehension of the Bible’s message. (Ps. 1:1, 2) And should we not want to make it our goal to improve the quality of our prayers? Cultivating aspects of the fruitage of the spirit to a greater degree can also be an excellent goal to pursue. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Or what about looking for ways to show fellow feeling for people we meet in the ministry? Striving to do that as a family can help children learn to be compassionate, and they will be more likely to develop a desire to serve as regular pioneers or missionaries.
11 Why not consider some goals that you and your family can pursue? Can your family set a goal of spending more time in the ministry? Could you work toward overcoming apprehension about witnessing over the telephone, on the street, or at places of business? What about working where there is a greater need for Kingdom publishers? Could a family member learn a new language in order to share the good news with those of other nationalities?
12. What can family heads do to help their families grow spiritually?
12 As a family head, identify areas in which your family could grow spiritually. Then set specific goals to achieve that aim. The goals you set as a family should be realistic and within reach according to your circumstances and abilities. (Prov. 13:12) Of course, working to attain a worthwhile goal takes time. So buy out time spent watching television and use it for spiritual pursuits. (Eph. 5:15, 16) Work hard to reach the goals you set for your family. (Gal. 6:9) A family that pursues spiritual goals will make its advancement “manifest to all persons.”—1 Tim. 4:15.
Maintain a Family Worship Evening
13. What change was introduced in the weekly schedule of congregation meetings, and what questions should we reflect on?
13 An excellent aid in helping families to “keep ready” for the coming of the Son of man is the significant change in the weekly meeting schedule that went into effect on January 1, 2009. The need to meet together on a separate day for what was then called the Congregation Book Study was eliminated by combining that meeting with the Theocratic Ministry School and Service Meeting. This adjustment was made to provide Christian families an opportunity to fortify their spirituality by scheduling a specific evening each week for family worship. Now that some time has elapsed since that change was introduced, we can ask ourselves: ‘Am I using the time made available to have a Family Worship evening or to engage in personal study? Have I been successful in meeting the objective of that arrangement?’
14. (a) What is the primary purpose of maintaining an evening for Family Worship or personal study? (b) Why is setting aside an evening for study essential?
14 The primary purpose of maintaining a Family Worship evening or a time for personal study is to draw closer to God. (Jas. 4:8) When we spend time studying the Bible on a regular basis and grow in knowledge of the Creator, our relationship with him is strengthened. The closer we draw to Jehovah, the greater our motivation is to love him ‘with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and our whole strength.’ (Mark 12:30) Surely, we are eager to obey God and become imitators of him. (Eph. 5:1) Maintaining a regular Family Worship evening, then, is a key ingredient to help all the members of our family “keep ready” spiritually as we await the foretold “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:21) It is vital to survival.
15. What effect can the Family Worship evening have on how family members feel toward one another?
15 The Family Worship arrangement also has another objective—that of helping family members draw closer to one another. Spending time together discussing spiritual matters every week has a marked effect on how family members feel toward one another. What closeness marriage mates experience when they hear each other express joy over a spiritual gem they discover together! (Read Ecclesiastes 4:12.) Parents and children who worship together are likely to become united in love, the “perfect bond of union.”—Col. 3:14.
16. Relate how three spiritual sisters are benefiting from an evening set aside for Bible study.
16 Consider how three spiritual sisters have benefited from the arrangement of setting aside an evening for Bible study. Though not related to one another, these three elderly widows live in the same city and have been good friends for several years. Desiring to have more association together and at the same time wanting it to be of spiritual value rather than only of a social nature, they decided to set aside an evening to meet and study the Bible. They started doing this using the book “Bearing Thorough Witness” About God’s Kingdom. “We enjoy our time so much that our study usually lasts longer than an hour,” says one of them. “We try to visualize the situations that our first-century brothers were in and discuss what we would do under similar circumstances. Then we try to apply in the ministry the points learned from our discussion. This has made our Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work more enjoyable and productive than ever before.” In addition to edifying them spiritually, the arrangement has brought these three good friends even closer to one another. “We cherish this arrangement,” they say.
17. What factors contribute to the success of the Family Worship evening?
17 What about you? How are you benefiting from an evening set aside for family worship or personal study? If done on a hit-or-miss basis, the arrangement is not going to achieve its desired objectives. Each member of the family should be ready to study at the designated time. Minor matters should not be allowed to interfere with the evening. Moreover, the study material should be selected in such a way that the sessions are practical for your family. What can you do to make these study periods enjoyable? Employ effective teaching methods, and keep the atmosphere respectful and tranquil.—Jas. 3:18.*
“Stay Awake” and “Keep Ready”
18, 19. How should knowing that the coming of the Son of man is near affect you and your family?
18 The deteriorating world conditions that mark our day leave no doubt that since 1914, Satan’s wicked world has entered its last days. The storm clouds of Armageddon cannot be far-off. Soon it will be time for the Son of man to come to execute Jehovah’s judgment on the ungodly. (Ps. 37:10; Prov. 2:21, 22) Should not that awareness affect you and your family?
19 Are you heeding Jesus’ advice to keep your eye “simple”? While the people of this world may reach out for riches, fame, or power, is your family pursuing spiritual goals? Is the arrangement for a Family Worship evening or a time for personal study working for you? Are you achieving the intended objectives? As discussed in the preceding article, are you shouldering your Scriptural responsibility as a husband, a wife, or a child, thus helping the entire family to “stay awake”? (1 Thess. 5:6) If so, you will “keep ready” for the coming of the Son of man.
For ideas on what to study and how to make Family Worship evenings practical and enjoyable, see the October 15, 2009, issue of The Watchtower, pages 29-31.
What Did You Learn?
• Explain how Christian families can “keep ready” by . . .
having a “simple” eye.
setting and pursuing spiritual goals.
maintaining a Family Worship evening.
[Picture on page 13]
A “simple” eye will move us to resist worldly distractions