In our modern world, all those Bible stories we were taught as children in Sunday School can seem quaint. What do tales about Noah, Moses or Jonah have to do with our technology-laden world?
Too bad so many family Bibles sit gathering dust on bookshelves. Few teachings are, in fact, so timeless and applicable. The Bible is crammed with stories, quotations and teachings to uplift and strengthen our families today. Eight of these teachings include:
1. Avoid pornography
King David was a faithful, influential leader when he fell from God's favor. Gazing upon the woman Bathsheba, he became obsessed with her. His impure thoughts led to adultery and other serious sins.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that lusting over someone is akin to committing adultery in our hearts. Today, pornography plagues society, affecting children and families.
Religious leader Linda S. Reeves urges parents to teach children "to know the dangers of pornography and how it overtakes lives, causing loss of the Spirit (of God), distorted feelings, deceit, damaged relationships, loss of self-control, and nearly total consumption of time, thought, and energy." Don't ignore the pornography issue. Address it with your kids, often. "Pornography is more vile, evil, and graphic than ever before," Reeves adds.
2. Trust God's way
When David approached Goliath, many doubted that he could slay the giant. However, with a simple sling and a stone, David triumphed. And the first stone worked.
When we do things God's way, they work out. Sure, it's easy to become cynical about life's challenges. Problems such as wars, natural disasters, disease and crime can hit close to home and affect our faith. But remember that God is in charge. He knows our struggles, and he won't allow us to suffer more than we can handle. When we do things his way, he walks with us.
3. Look outward
The apostle Paul foresaw men becoming "lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud," and all kinds of other delightful attributes. (King James Version 2 Timothy 3:2)
Our "selfie" culture prompts us to ask, "How can I be happier?" and "What's in it for me?" But the antidote to selfishness is service. Teaching our kids to put down their phones and reach out to others in a personal, meaningful way will help them see past themselves.
4. Stand up for right
Our kids don't have to pursue the whims of the world. They can keep their minds, mouths, bodies and activities clean as they follow Biblical doctrine. Paul teaches, "be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (KJV 1 Timothy 3:12)
God needs us to stand on his side. We can be his disciples, or followers, through our words and behavior.
5. Strengthen your marriage and family
Sadly, many families today are falling apart. Some married couples don't respect their vows, couples opt to not marry at all, and children fail to honor and obey their parents. Many view the traditional family unit as old-fashioned and unnecessary.
God wants husbands and wives to cherish one another. For a marriage to succeed, there must be trust, mutual respect and sacrifice involved. For kids to grow into kind, principled adults, they should be taught to honor their parents as God commanded.
6. Be patient
Remember Joseph of Egypt? After experiencing several, arduous setbacks, he rose to become Pharaoh's trusted advisor. Being sold into slavery by his brothers and thrown into prison for several years could have made Joseph a bitter man. Instead, he did the best he could in each circumstance.
The prophet Job suffered through the loss of his extensive property, death of his family, and terrible disease. He never doubted God, though, and was richly blessed for his faith.
7. Build on a firm foundation
In the Sermon on the Mount, God compares the obedient follower to a wise man who builds his house on a rock. The disobedient is as a foolish man who builds his house on a sandy foundation and loses it when the storms come.
This lesson can be applied to both our spiritual lives (keeping the commandments) and physical lives (living within our means and staying healthy).
8. Love God
The greatest commandment of all is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (KJV Matthew 22:37) When we worship God and put him first, everything else falls into place.
The Bible is for our benefit. We can teach our kids to tie its stories and teachings into their lives in today's world.