Let us stay awake and keep our senses.
REFERRING to “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah,” the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica: “Brothers, you are not in darkness, so that that day should overtake you as it would thieves, for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We belong neither to night nor to darkness.” Paul added: “So, then, let us not sleep on as the rest do, but let us stay awake and keep our senses.”—Joel 2:31; 1 Thess. 5:4-6.
2 Paul’s counsel to the Thessalonians is especially fitting for Christians living in “the time of the end.” (Dan. 12:4) As the end of his wicked system of things nears, Satan is bent on turning as many true worshippers as he can away from serving God. We are therefore wise to take to heart Paul’s admonition to remain spiritually vigilant. If a Christian family is to succeed in staying awake, it is important that each member shoulder his or her Scriptural responsibility. What role, then, do husbands, wives, and young ones play in helping their families to “stay awake”?
Husbands—Imitate “the Fine Shepherd”
3 “The head of a woman is the man,” states the Bible. (1 Cor. 11:3) What does a man’s responsibility as the head of a household involve? Outlining one aspect of headship, the Scriptures say: “If anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” (1 Tim. 5:8) Indeed, a man should provide materially for his family. If he is to help his family to stay awake spiritually, though, he must prove to be more than just a breadwinner. He needs to build up his household spiritually, helping all in the family to strengthen their relationship with God. (Prov. 24:3, 4) How can he do so?
4 Since “a husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation,” a married man should examine and imitate the type of headship that Jesus provides for the congregation. (Eph. 5:23) Consider how Jesus described his relationship with his followers. (Read John 10:14, 15.) What is the key to success for a man who wants to build up his household spiritually? It is this: Study what Jesus said and did as “the fine shepherd,” and “follow his steps closely.”—1 Pet. 2:21.
5 Figuratively speaking, the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep is based on knowledge and trust. The shepherd knows all about his sheep, and the sheep know and trust the shepherd. They recognize and obey his voice. “I know my sheep and my sheep know me,” said Jesus. He does not have mere surface knowledge of the congregation. The Greek word here rendered “know” denotes “personal, intimate knowledge.” Yes, the Fine Shepherd knows his sheep personally. He knows their individual needs, their weaknesses, and their strengths. Nothing about his sheep escapes the notice of our Exemplar. And the sheep fully know the shepherd and trust his leadership.
6 To exercise his headship in imitation of Christ, a husband must learn to think of himself as a shepherd and of those under his care as sheep. He should strive to have an intimate knowledge of his family. Can a husband really have such knowledge? Yes, if he communicates well with all members of his family, listens to their concerns, takes the lead in family activities, and is conscientious about making good decisions involving such matters as family worship, meeting attendance, field service, recreation, and entertainment. When a Christian husband takes the lead with knowledge not only of God’s Word but also of those entrusted to him, it is more likely that his family members will have confidence in his headship and that he will have the satisfaction of seeing them remain united in true worship.
7 A good shepherd also has affection for his sheep. When we study the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, our heart is moved with appreciation for the affection Jesus showed for his disciples. He even ‘surrendered his soul in behalf of the sheep.’ Husbands should imitate Jesus in showing affection for those under their care. Rather than harshly dominating his wife, a husband who desires God’s approval continues loving her “just as the Christ also loved the congregation.” (Eph. 5:25) His words should be kind and considerate, for she is worthy of honor.—1 Pet. 3:7.
8 In training young ones, the family head should firmly uphold godly principles. However, he must not fail to show affection for his children. Needed discipline should be administered lovingly. Some young ones may take longer than others to get the sense of what is expected of them. In that case, a father should show them greater patience. When men consistently follow the example of Jesus, they create a home environment that is safe and secure. Their families enjoy the type of spiritual security that the psalmist sang about.—Read Psalm 23:1-6.
9 The patriarch Noah lived in the time of the end of the world of his day. But Jehovah kept him “safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.” (2 Pet. 2:5) Noah had the responsibility of helping his family to survive the Flood. Christian family heads are in a similar position in these last days. (Matt. 24:37) How vital it is that they study the example of “the fine shepherd” and strive to imitate him!
Wives—‘Build Up Your Household’
10 “Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Eph. 5:22) This statement in no way suggests an undignified position. Prior to creating the first woman, Eve, the true God declared: “It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.” (Gen. 2:18) The role of “helper” and “complement”—that of being supportive of her husband as he cares for his family responsibilities—is an honorable one indeed.
11 An exemplary wife works for the good of her household. (Read Proverbs 14:1.) In contrast with a foolish woman, who shows disrespect for the headship arrangement, a wise woman has deep respect for this provision. Rather than manifesting the attitude of disobedience and independence that characterizes the world, she is in submission to her mate. (Eph. 2:2) A wife who is foolish does not hesitate to speak unfavorably of her husband, whereas a wise woman works to increase the respect that her children and others have for him. Such a wife is careful not to undermine her husband’s headship by nagging him or arguing with him. There is also the matter of being economical. A foolish woman likely squanders her family’s hard-earned resources. A supportive wife is not like that. She cooperates with her husband in financial matters. Her way of doing things is marked by prudence and economy. She does not pressure her husband to work overtime.
12 An exemplary wife helps the family to “stay awake” by assisting her husband in the spiritual education of the children. (Prov. 1:8) She actively supports the Family Worship program. Moreover, she is supportive of her husband when he gives counsel and discipline to their children. How different she is from an uncooperative wife, whose children suffer physically and spiritually!
13 How does a supportive wife feel about seeing her husband play an active role in the Christian congregation? Why, she is joyful! Whether her husband is a ministerial servant, an elder, or perhaps a member of a Hospital Liaison Committee or a Regional Building Committee, she is happy about his privilege. Actively supporting her husband with words and actions will surely involve sacrifices on her part. But she is aware that her husband’s involvement in theocratic activities helps the entire family to keep awake spiritually.
14 Being exemplary in a supportive role may be a challenge for a wife when her husband makes a decision she disagrees with. Even then, she manifests a “quiet and mild spirit” and cooperates with him to make his decision work. (1 Pet. 3:4) A good wife tries to follow the fine examples of godly women of former times, such as Sarah, Ruth, Abigail, and Jesus’ mother, Mary. (1 Pet. 3:5, 6) She also imitates present-day older women who are “reverent in behavior.” (Titus 2:3, 4) By showing love and respect for her husband, an exemplary wife contributes much to the marital partnership and to the well-being of the entire family. Her home is a place of comfort and safety. To a spiritual man, a supportive wife is priceless!—Prov. 18:22.
Youths—‘Keep Your Eyes on the Things Unseen’
15 How can you young ones work along with your parents so that your family will “stay awake” spiritually? Consider the prize that Jehovah has set before you. Perhaps from your childhood, your parents showed you illustrations depicting life in Paradise. As you grew older, they likely used the Bible and Christian publications to help you visualize what everlasting life would be like in the new world. Keeping your eyes focused on service to Jehovah and planning your life accordingly will help you to “stay awake.”
16 Take to heart the apostle Paul’s words found at 1 Corinthians 9:24. (Read.) Run the race for life with the full intention of winning. Choose a course that will result in attaining the prize of everlasting life. Many have allowed the pursuit of material things to distract them from keeping their eyes on the prize. How foolish that is! Planning a life around gaining riches does not lead to true happiness. The things money can buy are temporary. You, though, keep your eyes on “the things unseen.” Why? Because “the things unseen are everlasting.”—2 Cor. 4:18.
17 “The things unseen” include Kingdom blessings. Plan to live your life in such a way as to attain them. Real happiness comes from using your life in Jehovah’s service. Serving the true God provides opportunities to reach out for short-range as well as long-range goals.* Setting realistic spiritual goals can help you to stay focused on serving God with a view to attaining the prize of everlasting life.—1 John 2:17.
18 Young ones, the first step on the road to life is to make the truth your own. Have you taken that step? Ask yourself: ‘Am I a spiritual person, or is my participation in spiritual activities dependent on my parents? Do I cultivate qualities that make me pleasing to God? Do I make an effort to maintain a consistent routine of sharing in activities related to true worship, such as regular prayer, study, meeting attendance, and field service? Am I drawing close to God by nurturing a personal relationship with him?’—Jas. 4:8.
19 Reflect on Moses’ example. Despite having been subjected to a foreign culture, he chose to be identified as a worshiper of Jehovah rather than a son of the daughter of Pharaoh. (Read Hebrews 11:24-27.) Christian youths, you too need to be determined to serve Jehovah faithfully. By doing that, you will gain true happiness, the best quality of life now, and the hope of getting “a firm hold on the real life.”—1 Tim. 6:19.
20 In the ancient games, only one runner won the race. That is not so in the race for life. It is God’s will “that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3, 4) Many have run successfully before you, and many are running alongside you. (Heb. 12:1, 2) The prize will go to all those who do not give up. So be determined to win!
21 “The coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah” is inevitable. (Mal. 4:5) That day should not catch Christian families unawares. It is vital for all in the family to shoulder their Scriptural responsibility. What else can you do to remain spiritually alert and strengthen your relationship with God?