1 Peter, chapters 3-5

“Assign [wives] honor […], in order for your prayers not to be hindered.”
~1 Peter 3:7

What does the word honor convey in this passage? How can wives expect to be treated by their Christian husbands?
A similar form of the Greek word “timé” (honor, precious) is used to denote the appreciation we should have towards our faith in Christ. (1 Pet. 2:7)
It is also used to describe the praise Jesus received from his heavenly father. (2 Pet. 1:17)
We can understand, then, that Peter’s advice to husbands is to proactively cherish their wives in private and in public.
God’s Word encourages us to take the lead in showing honor towards others. (Rom. 12:10) Therefore, if a wife has to ask her husband for respect, consideration or praise, the honor has already lost part of its value.
Moreover, depending on upbringing and cultural expectations, she may need courage to make her opinions known to him.
A man who honors his wife values her opinions and consults with her about daily activities and more serious decisions. (Prov. 15:22)
It is an honor that is due to her because of her role as wife, and is not granted as a favor to her.
A man who thus elevates his wife finds favor in Jehovah’s eyes. (Eph. 5:28-33)

James, chapters 3-5

“But no human can tame the tongue. It is unruly and injurious, full of deadly poison.”
~James 3:8

If speech were the only way I could show my spouse that I love him, what would the quality of my speech be like?
The power to communicate can be used to stab or to heal. (Prov. 12:18)
But I am imperfect, and I inevitably say things I regret. (Jas. 3:2)
It can be especially difficult to establish new, positive communication patterns for those whose parents argued critically on a regular basis. (Eph. 4:31; 1 Pet. 2:1)
If I give free rein to my tongue, I can quickly make a delicate situation irreparably worse. (Jas. 1:26; 3:5)
Sometimes it makes more sense to step away for a little while, until tensions cool. (Prov. 17:14; Eccl. 3:7)
Eventually, it is important to discuss matters and not neglect their resolution. (Prov. 15:22) The silent treatment can lead to harboring resentment.
In order to communicate lovingly, I will need to keep a positive attitude with the goal of building my mate up, not bringing him down in the process. (Eph. 4:29)

Luke, chapters 2 & 3

“Jesus went on progressing in wisdom […].”
~Luke 2:52

At the young age of twelve, Jesus appears to have had a clear idea of the direction his life was heading in. (Luke 2:49)
But for most children, the proverb that states their heart is full of foolishness holds true. (Prov. 22:15)
How can parents, Bible teachers, or mentors help their kids progress in wisdom?
Past suggestions from Watchtower articles include:

  • Take the time to teach him/her how to distinguish right from wrong
  • Teach them the value of will power
  • Be consistent
  • Teach them to manage money
  • Teach them how to act appropriately/respectfully toward different people
  • Do not withhold discipline
  • Give reasons for rules
  • Give reasons for the way you do certain things
  • Be kind, warm and understanding
  • Try to make chores fun for them
  • Gradually help them take on responsibilities outside of home
  • Encourage them every chance you get
  • Only rebuke when absolutely necessary, but include something positive
  • Listen to him/her patiently

If there is an important child in your life, would he/she say you need to work on any of these things?

Though neither we nor the children we teach are perfect, Jehovah’s counsel is.

(Deut. 6:4-9; Prov. 17:10; 22:6; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim 2:24,25)

Jeremiah, chapters 1-4

“Why have these, my people, said, ‘We roam freely.
We will come to you no more’?”
~Jeremiah 2:31(b)

God was asking his People why they had forsaken him and turned to worshipping material idols. (Jer. 2:11)
Although God gives us freedom of choice, to assert that freedom to pursue “what is useless” would be to waste the precious gifts of life, time and energy he has given us.
Today’s equivalent of useless idols may not necessarily be a stone, ceramic or wood sculpture one kneels to.
It may be selfish conduct that is in direct conflict with God’s norms, or maybe even a vain hobby that consumes valuable time we could otherwise be using to help others. (Eph. 5:15,16,18; Php. 3:19)
Or perhaps we are obsessed with achieving something like a social status that is beyond our means of living and which forces us to spend so much time at work, we end up neglecting family life, sacrificing Bible study or meditation time. (1 Tim. 6:9,10)
Whatever internal or external “god” may be rivaling our one True God, if we let our worship be derailed, we will reap the bitter consequences of that choice. (Jer. 2:19)

Isaiah, chapters 52-57

“[…] All your sons will be taught by Jehovah,
And the peace of your sons will be abundant.”
~Isaiah 54:13

One of the identifying markers of true worship is the peacefulness of those who practice it.
Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35)
Isaiah himself prophesied that in the last days, God’s people would be made up of peace-lovers from different ends of the earth. (Is. 2:2,4)
But is an international brotherhood of peace really something attainable in these divided times we are living?
Jesus also stated: “The things impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
If we love God and want to follow in Christ’s footsteps, we will not only practice a form of worship free of promoting hatred or war, but will ‘clothe ourselves’ with love in the manner in which we speak and treat those around us on a daily basis. (Col. 3:12-15)

1 Samuel, chapters 1-4

“Then Elkanah went to his house in Ramah, but the boy became a minister of Jehovah before Eli the priest.”
~1 Samuel 2:11

A few years prior, when Elkanah’s sterile wife Hannah came before Jehovah to pray for a son, the high priest Eli had mistakenly made offensive comments to her, misjudging her for a drunkard (1 Sam. 1:10-14).

Her reply to him reflected a quiet and mild spirit (1 Sam. 1:15-18; 1 Pet. 3:4).

When Hannah’s prayer was answered and her child was ready to be weaned, neither her nor her husband held resentment against the house of Jehovah nor toward his appointed servants.

They understood that the center for pure worship was the tabernacle at Shiloh and did not restrain from taking their son to serve there (1 Sam. 1:21-25).

They had faith in Jehovah that he would look after their son and that it was the best place for him despite the imperfections of those serving there.

Likewise, we should not let the imperfections of others in the congregation deter us from offering ourselves up for greater service.

We may witness personality defects that could work as stumbling blocks, but we should continue to recognize Jehovah’s congregation for what it really is: the center for pure worship (Isa. 2:2,3).

If we do our part and leave the rest in God’s hands, we will surely be blessed, like in the case of Hannah and Elkanah (1 Sam. 2:20, 21; Mal. 3:10).

 

Judges, chapters 1-4

“They would take their daughters as wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons, and they began serving their gods.”

~Judges 3:6

Strict as God’s commandment on inter-religious marrying may seem, the truth is the person who can most influence our worship and spirituality is our spouse, whether for good or bad.

A person who has an unbelieving spouse lives divided, always trying to find the balance between two sacred priorities.

If both partners hold strong values, this can lead to countless unnecessary arguments that can leave emotional scars on either of them or their children.

Growing up, my father was agnostic and my mother, a zealous evangelizer of God’s word.

In recent years, my father has changed his opinion of the Bible and now participates in bi-weekly Christian meetings alongside my mother.

In effect, they get along a lot better now and are overall more happy than when they each held separate belief systems.

It is as easy now as it was in ancient Israel to underestimate the degree of influence a potential spouse will play in one’s relationship with God, especially because we tend to think of spirituality as an individual soul-searching process.

Sadly, throughout my adult life I have had the experience of witnessing the exact opposite of my parents’ experience.

I have had several friends leave their God-fearing spouses for unbelieving new partners.

This course of action has led these friends to spiritual ruin, and has undone the reputation of their faithful spouses.

It is just as essential, then, to heed God’s advice and seek an intimate relationship with someone of the opposite sex “only in the Lord,” (1 Cor. 7:39).