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Lesson 10: Little Times of Trouble *

Introduction: Are you harsh to those you love? My wife, a retired church school teacher, used to tell me that parents would report how well-behaved and kind their child was at school, but was something quite different at home. Are members of your family more polite, kind and longsuffering towards strangers than those they love? Why is that? Is that the way things should be? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what it teaches about kindness to others!

  1. The Dam

    1. Read Proverbs 17:14. Have you seen a video of a dam breaking? If so, how does it start? (It starts out with a small leak.)

      1. What happens at the end of the dam break? (Complete destruction.)

      2. Can you control a dam break? (This is the point of this proverb, stop your dispute before it gets out of control.)

    2. Consider those in your family. Do you know what starts trouble with specific family members? If so, can you avoid those discussions?

      1. Is there a reason not to avoid those discussions?

  2. The Pagan Life

    1. Read Ephesians 4:17. Should Christians live differently than the world? (Yes.)

      1. Why does this text say we should be different? (Our thinking is better. Pagans have "futile" thinking.)

        1. What does it mean to have "futile" thinking? (Let's continue reading.)

    2. Read Ephesians 4:18-19. Now tell me how you understand "futile thinking?" (They don't understand God's will. They are ignorant and this makes their hearts hard. Instead of being sensitive, they are sensual. They are impure and greedy.)

      1. How would futile thinking cause conflicts with co-workers and family members?

  3. The Christian Life

    1. Read Ephesians 4:20-21. Why does this refer to us "learn[ing]" a new way of life? (I teach Bible-based emotional intelligence in my classes. Emotional intelligence is something that can be learned, unlike native intelligence. This improvement in your life as a Christian is a matter of learning. It is available to everyone.)

      1. What role does the Holy Spirit play in this learning? (Read John 14:26. The Holy Spirit not only teaches us how we should live, but He reminds us about what we have learned.)

    2. Read Ephesians 4:22-24. What is central to this new way of thinking? (You have a new attitude.)

      1. Look again at Ephesians 4:22. What part of our old self is working against us? ("Deceitful desires." We will desire to do the things that we should not. These desires are deceitful in that we think they will give us joy, but they will not.)

    3. Read Ephesians 4:25. How does dishonesty create problems for us? (If we are dishonest, we give bad information. This text tells us that we are "members of one body." Our family cannot help us if we give them bad information. Our family might be harmed by bad information.)

    4. Read Ephesians 4:26. How long are you normally angry? Do you hold a grudge against family members for days?

      1. Why does this give us a limited time for anger?

      2. What does it mean to be angry, but "not sin?" (Apparently being annoyed is fine. We just cannot let it get out of control.)

    5. Read Ephesians 4:27. Why does the Bible refer to giving "the devil a foothold" right after it warns us about anger? (Anger makes us do things that we later regret. This is a reason why we need to learn to control our anger.)

    6. Read Ephesians 4:28. Just recently I was talking to someone who mentioned that some people need to steal to be able to eat. What does the Bible say about this? (We need to work and not steal.)

      1. Why is work a blessing? (It gives us something useful to do with our hands. We should not underestimate the value of work.)

      2. What else does work allow us to do? (To share with others who are in need.)

    7. Let's review the characteristics that the Bible says we should learn: a positive attitude, honesty, anger under control, and industry. How would these attitudes improve the life of your family? How would they improve the lives of your children?

      1. Do you model these characteristics to your children?

      2. Just recently I was speaking to my son and telling him what a blessing it is to be intelligent. I suggested to him that diligence might also be something that you inherit. He thought diligence was passed down by children observing industrious parents. What do you think? (The Bible teaches us that, at least in part, it is learned behavior.)

    8. Read Ephesians 4:29. The NIV translates the word as "unwholesome" and the KJV translates it as "corrupt." What does the rest of the verse suggest is the best meaning? (Our talk should "build up" others "according to their needs." Our speech should "benefit" or "edify" those who hear it. Thus, "corrupt" seems to be the best fit for the rest of the verse.)

      1. How would you apply this to speaking to your children?

      2. Children, how would you apply this in speaking to your parents? (Historically, I've thought this verse had to do with sexually impure talk. But, I think it refers to speech intended to lift up those around us. Do not demoralize those you love.)

    9. Read Ephesians 4:30. How can we "grieve" the Holy Spirit? (Doing the wrong thing no doubt makes the Holy Spirit feel bad. However, I think this is talking about not listening to the Holy Spirit. Ignoring the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is central to us learning the lessons we have been discussing.)

    10. Read Ephesians 4:31-32. How does this frame the issues for our family life? For our work life?

      1. When the text says "get rid of," does this suggest that we have a part to play in this change?

      2. Look at all of the characteristics listed, both good and bad. How would you describe them? (They are generally attitudes.)

        1. Can you change your attitude? (If it was not obvious before, it should be now. The Holy Spirit plays a critical role in this change. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to intervene to change our attitudes.)

  4. Thinking Slow

    1. Read James 1:19. These sound more like actions, or rather, reactions. Can you slow yourself down and consciously react in this way?

    2. Read Proverbs 19:11. How do you react to insults?

      1. Do you think that you are protecting your "honor" by reacting to every insult?

      2. Should you begin the habit of not immediately responding to insults?

    3. Read Philippians 2:3-7. Will doing this be difficult for you?

      1. How will it change those around you?

    4. Read Philippians 2:9-11. Are you permanently consigned to being a servant? (Jesus shows us that this attitude is rewarded with honor and authority.)

    5. Friend, if you desire improved relationships in your family and at work, why not put these Biblical principles to the test? Why not, through the power of the Holy Spirit, learn to make them a part of your life?

  5. Next week: Families of Faith.
* Copr. 2019, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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