In the previous lessons, we considered the roles, responsibilities and relationships of the various members of the family. In this lesson the emphasis shifts to those pressures upon family members which have come to be known as stress.
Stress can be defined as a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Anyone raising a family knows that this definition describes what the family is facing today. Stress can come in many ways and from many forces, both from within the family and from forces outside the family, but God has the answer for stressed out families. God is our Helper and we should allow Him to minister to our needs. Our objective is to survey the pressures society places on families and seek to deal effectively with the resulting stress.
Peer pressure can be a major source of stress to the family. Such pressure operates on the principle of compromise. Peer pressure forces people to be what they are not, do things they would not normally do, and go where they really do not want to go. Nearly all human beings have a fear of rejection or of not fitting in with those around them. This basic fear makes us susceptible to pressure by those around us.
A firm set of convictions based on God’s Word will help us overcome the temptation to compromises. Paul recognized that the world will try to pressure us into conforming to its mold.
Paul declared that believers are not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. In Deuteronomy 22:10, the Jews were prohibited from even plowing with mixed breed of animals.
Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.
Paul realized that there were sufficient opportunities to enter into as alliance with unbelievers in the city of Corinth. It was the largest and most important city in Greece in Paul’s time. It had a population of more than half a million people.
It was a great commercial metropolis, lying on the direct route between Ephesus and Rome. It was a wealthy city, but it was also the center of an immoral, pagan worship. Its people lived in luxury, but many people there were corrupt.
There were some Christians there, but Paul was trying to teach them to not have any part with them in their heathenism, unbelief, idolatry and infidelity. They were not to be united with them in any way, where it would necessarily be understood that they were partakers with them in those things.
Righteousness and unrighteousness have nothing in common and thus are incompatible. The same is true of light and darkness, and of the Temple of God and idols. God demands that His people live differently from the ways and desires of the world.
If family members will focus their attention on holy living and the promises of God, negative peer pressure will not have the devastating effect it could have. When we cease trying to be like the world and strive to become more like God, we find contentment that all the things in the world can never provide.
The family unit is very important to God. God designed the family to be a place in which Godly values are taught. A family, that is not living as God intended, cannot pass on the Christian character and values necessary to ensure future generations of dedicated Christians. If the family unit breaks apart because of the stresses of everyday living, many important things are left unattended. Be reminded from God’s Word in:
4Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. 5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Another reminder from God’s Word is:
31Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.32At the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder. 33Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 34Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 35They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
The power of wine is twofold in its appeal and its effect. King Solomon explains its appeal in verse 31 and its effect in verse 32. A part of the power of wine is in its attractiveness; on the surface it looks beautiful and harmless. The second aspect of the power of wine is the effect it has on those who are unwise enough to drink it. The wine itself is like a serpent. Its effect is compared to the bite or sting of a serpent.
Few things put more stress on a family than a member who is addicted to something. Addicts believe that one day they will find the satisfaction they desire and that satisfaction is just one more experience away.
It is impossible to measure the negative effects this and other addictions can have on a family. Be sure these addictions take their toll, but help is available if one desires it, but he or she must first be willing to admit the need.
One of Satan’s most deceptive lies is the belief that as long as you do something in moderation, it will not hurt you. An alcoholic may have at one time been a moderate drinker until he became addicted and lost control of his life.
There are many forms of addictions: gambling, drinking, drugs, pornography, violence and eating. The addicted person can make life miserable for everyone. God’s Word provides warnings to help avoid being caught in the trap of addictive habits.
14Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.15See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. 16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Paul appeared to be saying, “Wake up! Open your eyes! Make the most of the day.” It is sad to see so many professing Christians drift through life, who never really make the most of opportunities to live for Christ and serve Him.
Paul presented several reasons why we should be accurate and careful in our walk.
- It is a mark of wisdom. Yet, how many Christians plan their days so that they use their opportunities wisely? True, we cannot know what a day may bring forth, but it is also true that a planned life can better deal with unexpected events.
- Life is short; then, that’s why we must make each day count. Seize each opportunity. Take advantage of each new day. “When one door closes, a window will open; a Christian will not be left out in the cold.”
- The days are evil. If the days were evil when Paul wrote this letter, what must be the condition of today? This! Opportunities that we even have now to work for the Lord might be taken away from us by the advances of sin in society.
Most of us have more time to call our own than we’ve ever had. God has a great deal to say about time, because “time is the stuff of which life is made up of.” If we are to be the person God wants us to be, then we have to bring certain areas of our lives under His discipline.
Two of those areas are our thought life and our time, because the days are evil. If we aren’t careful, our time will be taken up or crowded with the things that have no eternal value, things that will not elevate or edify us spiritually, or by things that will drag us down or cause us to drift.
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
We have opportunities, a span of time. God is saying, “Make the most of it; make it count for good.”
My times are in Thy hand…
It is easy to waste time, easy to drift in life, easy to allow minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years to go by and then look back and ask ourselves the question: What happened, not only to yesterday, but last month or last year?
God created the very thing that we call time and He has placed all of us in the framework of time. All of us have an allotted time and in that allotted time, we will waste, use or invest our life.
No one knows what span of time God has given anyone. God is in control of time. Some may have 40, 50, 70, 80 or 100 years to live, but when that time is up, not one person, not one doctor, no scientist, no new invention, no pills can keep us alive one second longer than God has set in His time limit for you and me.
What we have to deal with is, what are we going to do with this span of time that God has given us? It is our responsibility to utilize, to fill up the time that fits God’s purpose and plan for our lives.
The way we use our time reveals where our values are in life and where our priorities are. When we waste time, we’re wasting the only thing that we have to use that cannot be added to. Time!!
There is a precious commodity God has given to us, such a beautiful gift that not anyone can use: OUR time. No one can add to our TIME or take away from OUR TIME.
We must REDEEM our time, the time given to each of us!