“Jesus went on progressing in wisdom and in physical growth and in favor with God and men.”—LUKE 2:52.
SONG 134 Children Are a Trust From God
1. What is the best decision that anyone could make?
OFTEN, the choices that parents make affect their children for a long time. If parents make poor choices, they can cause problems for their children. But if they make wise choices, they give their children the best chance of having a happy, satisfying life. Of course, children must also make good decisions. The best decision anyone can make is to serve our loving heavenly Father, Jehovah.—Ps. 73:28.
2. What good choices did Jesus and his parents make?
2 Jesus’ parents were determined to help their children to serve Jehovah, and the choices the parents made proved that this was their main goal in life. (Luke 2:40, 41, 52) Jesus likewise made good choices that helped him to fulfill his role in Jehovah’s purpose. (Matt. 4:1-10) Jesus grew up to be a kind, loyal, and courageous man—the type of son who would bring pride and joy to the heart of any God-fearing parent.
3. What questions will we answer in this article?
3 In this article, we will examine the following questions: What good choices did Jehovah make regarding Jesus? What can Christian parents learn from the choices that Jesus’ human parents made? And what can Christian youths learn from the choices that Jesus made?
LEARN FROM JEHOVAH
4. What important choice did Jehovah make regarding his Son?
4 Jehovah chose excellent parents for Jesus. (Matt. 1: 18-23; Luke 1:26-38) Mary’s heartfelt expressions recorded in the Bible reveal her deep love for Jehovah and his Word. (Luke 1:46-55) And the way that Joseph reacted to Jehovah’s direction shows that he feared God and wanted to please him.—Matt. 1:24.
5-6. What did Jehovah allow his Son to experience?
5 Note that Jehovah did not choose wealthy parents for Jesus. The sacrifice Joseph and Mary offered after Jesus’ birth shows that they were poor. (Luke 2:24) Joseph may have had a small shop next to his home in Nazareth where he worked as a carpenter. Their way of living must have been simple, especially as the family grew in size to include at least seven children.—Matt. 13:55, 56.
6 Jehovah protected Jesus from certain dangers, but He did not shield His Son from all challenges. (Matt. 2:13-15) For example, Jesus had to deal with unbelieving relatives. Imagine how disappointing it must have been for Jesus to have members of his own family who did not initially accept him as the Messiah. (Mark 3:21; John 7:5) Likely, Jesus also had to cope with the death of his adoptive father, Joseph. Such a loss may have meant that Jesus, the oldest son, had to take over the family business. (Mark 6:3) As he grew up, Jesus learned to be responsible for the welfare of his family. He likely had to work hard to support them. So he knew firsthand how it felt to be physically tired at the end of the day.
7. (a) What questions will help married couples in parenting their children? (b) How can Proverbs 2:1-6 be helpful in training one’s children?
7 If you are a married couple and would like to have children, ask yourselves: ‘Are we the kind of humble, spiritually-minded people whom Jehovah would choose to care for a precious new life?’ (Ps. 127:3, 4) If you are already a parent, ask yourself: ‘Am I teaching my children the value of hard work?’ (Eccl. 3:12, 13) ‘Do I do my best to protect my children from the physical and moral dangers that they may encounter in Satan’s world?’ (Prov. 22:3) You cannot shield your children from all the challenges they may face. That is an impossible task. But you can progressively and lovingly prepare them for the realities of life by teaching them how to turn to God’s Word for advice. (Read Proverbs 2:1-6.) For example, if a relative chooses to reject true worship, help your children to learn from God’s Word why it is so important to remain loyal to Jehovah. (Ps. 31:23) Or if death claims a loved one, show your children how to use God’s Word to cope with grief and to find peace.—2 Cor. 1:3, 4; 2 Tim. 3:16.
LEARN FROM JOSEPH AND MARY
8. According to Deuteronomy 6:6, 7, what did Joseph and Mary have to do?
8 Jesus’ earthly parents helped Jesus to grow up to have God’s favor; they followed Jehovah’s directions to parents. (Read Deuteronomy 6:6, 7.) Joseph and Mary had a deep love for Jehovah, and their priority was to encourage their children to develop that same kind of love.
9. What important choices did Joseph and Mary make?
9 Joseph and Mary chose to maintain a good spiritual routine as a family. No doubt, they attended weekly meetings at the synagogue in Nazareth, as well as the annual Passover in Jerusalem. (Luke 2:41; 4:16) They may have used those family trips to Jerusalem to teach Jesus and his siblings about the history of Jehovah’s people, possibly along the way visiting locations that are mentioned in the Scriptures. As their family grew in number, it must not have been easy for Joseph and Mary to keep a good spiritual routine. But look at the benefits they enjoyed! Because they put worship of Jehovah first, their family was well cared for spiritually.
10. What lessons can Christian parents learn from Joseph and Mary?
10 What can God-fearing parents learn from Joseph and Mary? Most important, teach your children in word and action that you love Jehovah deeply. Realize that the greatest gift that you can give them is the opportunity to love Jehovah. And one of the most valuable lessons that you can teach them is how to keep a good spiritual routine of study, prayer, meetings, and participation in the ministry. (1 Tim. 6:6) Of course, you must give your children the material things they need. (1 Tim. 5:8) But remember that it will be your children’s close relationship with Jehovah, not their material possessions, that will help them to survive the end of this old system and make it into God’s new world. *—Ezek. 7:19; 1 Tim. 4:8.
11. (a) How will the admonition found at 1 Timothy 6:17-19 help parents to make good choices when they are raising their children? (b) What goals might your family consider, and what blessings could result? (See the box “What Goals Will You Pursue?”)
11 How heartwarming it is to see so many Christian parents who are making good spiritual choices for their families! They consistently worship together. They attend congregation meetings and conventions. And they share in the field ministry. Some families are even able to preach in seldom-worked territory. Others visit a Bethel home or support theocratic construction projects. Families who choose these activities must make financial sacrifices, and they will likely face some challenges. But the benefits they receive truly make them spiritually rich. (Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19.) Children who are raised in such families often continue with the good habits they learned, and they have no regrets! *—Prov. 10:22.
LEARN FROM JESUS
12. What did Jesus have to do as he grew up?
12 Jesus’ heavenly Father always makes good choices, and his earthly parents also made wise decisions. However, as Jesus grew up, he had to make his own choices. (Gal. 6:5) Like all of us, he had the gift of free will. He could have chosen to seek his own interests first. Instead, he chose to maintain a good relationship with Jehovah. (John 8:29) How might his example help young ones today?
13. What important choice did Jesus make while still young?
13 Early in his human life, Jesus chose to be submissive to his parents. He never rejected his parents’ direction, reasoning that he knew more than they did. Rather, “he continued subject to them.” (Luke 2:51) Jesus no doubt took his responsibility as the oldest son seriously. He surely worked hard to learn a trade from his adoptive father so that he could help support his family.
14. How do we know that Jesus was a good student of God’s Word?
14 Jesus’ parents likely told him about his miraculous birth and what God’s messengers had said about him. (Luke 2:8-19, 25-38) Jesus was not satisfied with what he was told; he also studied the Scriptures for himself. How do we know that Jesus was a good student of God’s Word? Because while he was still a boy, the teachers in Jerusalem were “in constant amazement at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:46, 47) And at only 12 years of age, Jesus had already proved to himself that Jehovah was his Father.—Luke 2:42, 43, 49.
15. How did Jesus show that he chose to do Jehovah’s will?
15 As Jesus learned about his role in Jehovah’s purpose, he chose to accept his assignment. (John 6:38) He knew that he would be hated by many, and that thought must have been sobering for him to contemplate. Yet, he chose to submit himself to Jehovah. When Jesus got baptized in 29 C.E., his main focus in life was that of doing what Jehovah required of him. (Heb. 10:5-7) Even when he was dying on the torture stake, Jesus never wavered in doing his Father’s will.—John 19:30.
16. What is one lesson that children can learn from Jesus?
16 Obey your parents. Like Joseph and Mary, your parents are not perfect. However, your parents have been assigned by Jehovah to protect, train, and guide you. If you value their advice and respect their authority, it will “go well with you.”—Eph. 6:1-4.
17. According to Joshua 24:15, what decision do young ones have to make for themselves?
17 Decide whom you will serve. You have to prove to yourself who Jehovah is, what his purpose involves, and how his will relates to your life. (Rom. 12:2) Then you will be able to make the most important decision of your life, the decision to serve Jehovah. (Read Joshua 24:15; Eccl. 12:1) If you keep a regular schedule of Bible reading and study, your love for Jehovah will continue to grow and your faith in him will become stronger.
18. What is a choice that young ones must make, and in what will it result?
18 Choose to put Jehovah’s will first in your life. Satan’s world promises that if you use your talents for your own benefit, you will be happy. In truth, those who focus on material goals stab themselves “all over with many pains.” (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) On the other hand, if you listen to Jehovah and choose to put his will first in your life, you will be successful and “you will act wisely.”—Josh. 1:8.
WHAT WILL YOU CHOOSE TO DO?
19. What must parents remember?
19 Parents, do your best to help your family serve Jehovah. Rely on him, and he will help you to make wise choices. (Prov. 3:5, 6) Remember that your children will be influenced more by what you do than by what you say. So make decisions that give them the best chance possible of gaining Jehovah’s favor.
20. What blessings will young ones receive if they choose to serve Jehovah?
20 Young ones, your parents can help you make wise choices in life. But it is up to you to win God’s favor. So imitate Jesus and choose to serve your loving heavenly Father. If you do, you will have a busy, rewarding, exciting life now. (1 Tim. 4:16) And in the future, you will enjoy the most satisfying life possible!
SONG 133 Worship Jehovah During Youth
^ par. 5 Christian parents want their children to grow up to be happy servants of Jehovah. What choices can parents make that will help their children to reach that goal? What choices do Christian youths need to make to find real success in life? This article will answer those questions.
^ par. 66 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Mary must have instilled deep love for Jehovah in young Jesus. Mothers today can likewise instill love for Jehovah in their children.
^ par. 68 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Joseph must have valued attending the synagogue with his family. Fathers today can value attending congregation meetings with their family.
^ par. 70 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Jesus learned practical skills from his father. Youths today can learn skills from their father.