“No one can slave for two masters . . . You cannot slave for God and for Riches.”
1-3. (a) What problems do many families have with money, and how do some try to solve them? (See opening picture.) (b) When parents think about moving away from their family, what concerns do they have about raising their children?
EVERY day Marilyn’s husband, James, returned home from work exhausted. * (See footnote.) He barely earned enough money to pay for their daily needs. Marilyn wanted to make life easier for her husband and wanted their son, Jimmy, to have some of the nice things his schoolmates had. She wanted to help their extended family and also save some money for the future. Many of her friends had moved to other countries so that they could earn more money. But when Marilyn thought about moving away from her family, she was not sure what she should do. Why?
2 It upset Marilyn to think about what could happen if she left her precious family. Worshipping Jehovah together was a regular part of their family life. How would they continue to do this if she was far away? At the same time, she thought about others who had moved away from their families, and they still seemed to be serving Jehovah. Could she really raise her son over the Internet and teach him to serve Jehovah?
3 Marilyn asked for advice. Her husband did not want her to leave, but he said that he would not try to stop her if she wanted to go. The elders and some others in her congregation warned her not to leave, but some sisters told her: “If you love your family, you’ll go. You can still serve Jehovah.” Even though she had doubts, Marilyn said good-bye to James and Jimmy and left for a job in another country. “I won’t be gone for long,” she promised.
FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES AND BIBLE PRINCIPLES
4. Why do many people move far away from their family? Who often raise the children of parents who move away?
4 Jehovah does not want his servants to starve. (Psalm 37:25; Proverbs 30:8) Throughout history, Jehovah’s people have moved to get out of poverty. To avoid starvation, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food. * (See footnote.) (Genesis 42:1, 2) In contrast, most who move today are not starving, so why do they move? Many are deeply in debt. Others may live in an area that has a poor economy. Because they want to have nicer things and live a more comfortable life, they may move away from their family to an area where it is easier to earn money. Parents who move away from home often leave their children to be raised by others, such as another parent, an older child, grandparents, other relatives, or friends. Even though it is painful to leave their family, many who move to work far away from home feel that they have no choice.
5, 6. (a) What did Jesus teach about happiness and security? (b) What material things did Jesus teach his followers to pray for? (c) How does Jehovah bless us?
5 In Jesus’ day, many people were poor. They may have felt that if they had more money, they would be happier and more secure. (Mark 14:7) But Jesus did not want them to trust in temporary things. He wanted them to trust in Jehovah, whose blessings last forever. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that real happiness and security come from our friendship with Jehovah, not from the things we have or from our own efforts.
Real happiness and security do not come from the things we have
6 In his model prayer, Jesus did not teach us to pray for a comfortable life. Instead, he taught us to pray for “our bread for this day.” Jesus clearly taught his listeners: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures on the earth.” He added: “Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9, 11, 19, 20) We can trust that Jehovah will bless us as he promises. God’s blessing includes more than his approval. It is a guarantee that he will give us everything we really need. The only way to have real happiness and security is to trust in our loving Father, Jehovah, instead of money.
7. (a) To whom has Jehovah given the responsibility to raise children? (b) Why do both parents need to help raise their children?
7 Doing God’s will includes taking care of our family responsibilities the way Jehovah wants us to. For example, the Law of Moses commanded parents to train their own children to serve Jehovah. Christians who want to please Jehovah must also do this. (Read Deuteronomy 6:6, 7.) God has given this responsibility to parents, not to grandparents or anyone else. King Solomon said: “Listen, my son, to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the instruction of your mother.” (Proverbs 1:8) Jehovah wants families to live together so that both parents can teach and guide their children. (Proverbs 31:10, 27, 28) When children hear their parents talk about Jehovah and see how they serve him every day, children can learn to do the same.
8, 9. (a) What changes often occur when a parent lives apart from the family? (b) When parents and children do not live together, how can this damage a family?
8 Many who are thinking of leaving their family realize that their decision may create some problems. But it is impossible to know exactly how such a decision will affect your family. (Proverbs 22:3) * (See footnote.) As soon as Marilyn left, she began to suffer the emotional pain of being away from her family. Her husband and son suffered too. Young Jimmy kept asking her, “Why did you leave me?” Marilyn planned to be away for only a few months, but as years went by, it scared her to see how her family was changing. Jimmy was not the same boy she used to know. He talked to her less and less and was not willing to share his feelings anymore. Marilyn says, “His love for me went away.”
9 When parents and children do not live together as a family, their emotions and even their standards of right and wrong can be affected. * (See footnote.) The younger the children and the longer they are away from their parents, the more damage can be done. Marilyn explained to Jimmy that she was making a sacrifice to help him, but to Jimmy it seemed as if his mother had stopped loving him. In the beginning, he resented her absence. But later, when she visited him, he resented her presence. Similar to many children who are separated from their parents, Jimmy believed that his mother no longer had the right to be loved and obeyed.
10. (a) When parents give gifts instead of their time and attention, what can happen to their children? (b) What does a family miss when a parent is far away?
10 Because she was far away from Jimmy, Marilyn tried to make things better by sending him money and gifts. But she realized that she was pushing her son away. She was teaching him to love money more than his family or even Jehovah. (Proverbs 22:6) Sadly, Jimmy told her not to come back but to keep sending gifts. Marilyn finally decided that she could not raise her son through letters, phone calls, or video chats. She explains, “You cannot hug your child or kiss him good-night over the Internet.”
11. (a) How does living apart for work affect a marriage? (b) When did Marilyn realize that she needed to be with her family?
11 Marilyn’s relationship with Jehovah also suffered. She spent time with her congregation only one day a week or less. Her relationship with her husband suffered too. She had to fight off her boss who wanted to have sex with her. And because James and Marilyn could not talk about their problems with each other, they talked to others about their feelings and almost committed adultery. Marilyn realized that even though they did not commit adultery, their marriage was in danger. The Bible instructs married couples to care for each other’s emotional and sexual needs. Because Marilyn and James were so far apart, they could not give each other the private time and attention that a married couple should enjoy. (Song of Solomon 1:2; 1 Corinthians 7:3, 5) And they could not worship Jehovah together with their son. Marilyn says, “When I learned at a convention that regular family worship is vital for us to survive Jehovah’s great day, I understood that I needed to go home.” She had to rebuild her relationship with her family and with Jehovah.
She was teaching her son to love money more than his family or even Jehovah
GOOD ADVICE AND BAD ADVICE
12. What advice from the Bible can help those who are living apart from their family?
12 When Marilyn decided to return home, some gave her good advice and others gave her bad advice. The elders in her congregation commended her. Others tried to convince her to stay and told her that she could not earn enough money back home. “You’ll be back here in a short time,” they said. Instead of making such discouraging comments, Christians should “advise the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children,” and to be “working at home,” or taking care of their own family. In this way, Christians will not bring shame on God’s name.
A Christian needs strong faith to go against his family’s wishes
13, 14. Why do we need faith to go against family wishes? Give an example.
13 Many who leave their family to work far away have grown up in cultures that honor traditions and relatives, especially parents, more than all else. A Christian needs strong faith to go against his family’s wishes when these wishes do not please Jehovah.
14 Consider Carin’s story: “When my son Don was born, my husband and I were working abroad, and I had recently begun to study the Bible.” Everyone in the family expected Carin to send Don to her parents until she and her husband could earn more money. When Carin said that she was going to raise Don herself, her relatives, including her husband, called her lazy and laughed at her. Carin said: “At the time, I could not fully understand what was wrong with leaving Don with my parents for a few years. But I knew that Jehovah gave the job of raising our son to us
15, 16. (a) How was Vicky raised as a child? (b) Why did she choose not to raise her daughter in the same way?
15 A Witness named Vicky says: “For a few years, I was raised by my grandmother, while my parents kept my younger sister with them. By the time I rejoined my parents, my feelings for them had changed. My sister felt free to express herself to them, to hug them, and to enjoy a close relationship with them. I felt distant from my parents, and even into adulthood, I found it hard to show them my true feelings. My sister and I have assured our parents that we will take care of them in their old age. But I will do so more out of duty, while my sister will care for them more out of love.
We always have a choice
16 “Now my mother wants me to send my daughter to her for her to raise, just as she sent me back to her mother.” Vicky kindly refused. She and her husband want to raise their own child to love Jehovah. “I do not want to damage my future relationship with my daughter,” says Vicky. She has learned that the only way to be successful is to love Jehovah and his principles more than things and even family. Jesus plainly said: “No one can slave for two masters,” for God and for Riches.
JEHOVAH CAN MAKE OUR EFFORTS “SUCCESSFUL”
17, 18. (a) What choice do Christians always have? (b) What questions will we consider in the next article?
17 Our Father, Jehovah, has promised to give us everything we really need if we put the Kingdom and his righteousness first in our lives. (Matthew 6:33) Because of this promise, true Christians always have a choice. Even when we face the most difficult problems, there is always a way to please Jehovah and follow Bible principles. Jehovah promises to give us a “way out.” (Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.) Our prayers and obedience show Jehovah that we are trusting in him. (Psalm 37:5, 7) Jehovah will see our efforts and give us everything we need. He will make our lives “successful.”
18 But what can we do to repair the damage caused by separation? How can we take care of our family’s material needs without living far away from them? And how can we lovingly help others to stay with their families? The following article will consider these questions.
^ par. 1 Names have been changed.
^ par. 4 Each time Jacob’s sons went to Egypt, they were away from their families for three weeks or less. Later, when Jacob and his sons moved to Egypt, they brought their wives and children with them.
^ par. 9 Reports from many countries show that living apart from a mate or children has led to serious problems. These include adultery, homosexuality, or incest. Children may have problems at school. They may be angry, anxious, depressed, or even suicidal.