Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 4, 1961
NUMBER 1, PAGE 2,11b

One Thing Needed --- God-Fearing Homes

James E. Cooper, Clarkson, Ky.

While going through some old papers and notes a few years ago, I ran across the outline of the lesson that I first prepared some fifteen years ago. The title of our lesson is, "One Thing Needed — God Fearing Homes." Our text is found in Luke 10:38-42.

This text points up the subject of the lesson. Our Saviour came to "a certain village." From John 11:1, we learn that this village was Bethany, which was located just fifteen furlongs east of Jerusalem, beyond the Mount of Olives. When he came to Bethany he was received into the house of Martha, and her sister Mary, who also had a brother named Lazarus, all of whom were dear friends of Jesus. On this occasion Martha was the perfect hostess as she busied herself with making her guest comfortable, and preparing a meal for him. Luke describes her as being "cumbered about with much serving," or distracted by much serving. The significance of which statement is observed as we study further.

Mary, on the other hand, "sat at the Lord's feet and heard his word." She was unconcerned about the niceties of social custom, but was greatly concerned about hearing the Lord's teaching. Remember that this is the same Mary "who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair" as described in John 11:2 and 12:3.

Martha came to Jesus and expressed her disappointment in the fact that Mary was listening to Jesus rather than helping in the kitchen. Then we find our Lord's significant statement in verses 41 and 42, "Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: for Mary hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Jesus is here saying that the things about which Martha was most concerned were not the important things. Mary had chosen the "good part." She was concerned about something far more important than providing for his physical comfort. She had chosen to hear his words as he spoke things concerning the kingdom of heaven. Jesus refused to send Mary into the kitchen to help with the chores. The one thing that Martha needed was possessed by Mary, and that was a "hungering and thirsting" after God's truth.

This certainly emphasizes the need for God fearing homes, which are as needed today as then. Many mothers and fathers are still making the same mistake that Martha made. They are greatly concerned about making a living for their families, of providing for their physical needs and wants, but are not enough concerned about their spiritual needs.

We are today in a serious spiritual and moral depression. While we live in the most materially prosperous society in the world, our spiritual condition, nationally and locally, is at a low ebb. There are several conditions which indicate this.

Juvenile delinquency is a national problem. Almost every community has problem children, teenagers who are always getting into trouble. In our nation one million young people are picked up by the police each year, 350,000 are brought to trial, and 100,000 are held in jail, and 40,000 are sent to training schools. The juvenile delinquent of today may become the hardened criminal of tomorrow. In an effort to stop this, government agencies spend millions of dollars trying to combat it.

Another indication of our spiritual and moral depression is the fact that our towns and highways are lined with road houses and taverns, which are frequented by the so-called "best of society," meaning those in the community who are reputed to be somewhat. And, sad to say, some church members are found there too. You won't find the "best members of the church" there, but you will find some of them.

Further, the divorce rate is high. Fifteen years ago, one out of five marriages ended in the divorce courts. A couple of years ago, the ratio ran as high as one out of three. Now the latest figures say that one out of four marriages end in divorce.

Another indication of our spiritual barometer is in the fact that the modern dance seems to be a "must" at nearly every social function. Children are started out in dancing before girls even grow out of pigtails, and boys start wearing long trousers. Almost every high school in the land has to have its "senior prom."

There is also a large sale and circulation of obscene literature, even to the point that you find posters in our post offices urging the people to help stop the circulation of such trash.

And, to top all of this, there is the relatively small attendance at various religious services, especially Sunday evening and Prayer Meeting services.

The result of this spiritual depression is delinquency on the rise. Our young people are not entirely at fault. To a large extent they have become delinquents by the failure of their homes. Their parents have failed in their own responsibility to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They have tried to pass the responsibility off on the public school teachers and Sunday school teachers to do the work they should be doing themselves. They act as though one hour of the 168 hours each week is enough to serve as an antidote of all the evil they encounter during the other 167 hours.

Hence, the young people are not interested in Christianity. The gospel has no appeal to them. Many have come to the point where "they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables." (2 Tim. 4:3-4) Lawlessness, delinquents, criminals, and infidels are produced.

The real responsibility for the spiritual depression of our nation must be laid squarely upon the shoulders of the parents, who have failed in two respects. First, they have failed in daily living to set before their children the proper example. When our Lord was upon earth, he both "did" and "taught." Paul said in Tit. 2:11-12, "For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world." When parents themselves engage in drinking, gambling dancing, and partaking of other things of this world, they cannot rightly expect their children to become interested in spiritual affairs. When fathers lie and steal and cheat, they cannot expect their sons to be any better. When parents are not interested in the truth of God, they cannot expect their sons and daughters to be interested.

Parents have also failed in teaching their children the truths that they need to know to be obedient servants of God. Paul wrote in Eph. 6:4, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." Solomon said, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Prov. 22:6) Instead of believing Solomon's statement, many parents of today try to apologize for their failure by saying, "Well, we did the best we knew how."

To do the best we know how is commendable, if we really do it. However, we may not know enough to do our job well. To say that we did the best we knew how, but still our children are not brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is a confession of failure on our part. In this connection, I am reminded especially of the responsibility of elders in the Lord's church. Paul said, "but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (1 Tim. 3:5) Elders have a double responsibility — to their children, and to the church of God. If they fail with respect to their children, they prove themselves disqualified to take care of the house of God. If they don't know enough to bring their own families up in the way they should go, how can they possibly lead the members of God's family in the way they should go. To do the best they know how is not enough if they don't know how to do the job God laid upon them.

Part of the responsibility for the moral and spiritual depression of our times must be laid upon the churches. Time was when churches fought the encroachment of the world into the lives of their members. But with the passing of time churches themselves began to be so permeated with worldliness that they lost their will to attack. Instead of carrying on a militant attack on the forces of evil, some have evidently decided that the easier course is, "if you can't lick'em, join'em." So, churches have gone in for entertainment, and tried to provide better entertainment than the world does. Some religious organizations even sponsor dances, claiming that they do it so the children will dance under "proper supervision" if they must dance. Some young people who have wound up on the wrong side of the law first learned their lessons in worldliness in the recreation halls of modernistic churches.

Friends, the church of our Lord is a spiritual organism, with a spiritual mission in this world. When it loses its distinctiveness, and joins up with the forces of the world, it rapidly loses its divine characteristics. It becomes nothing more than another social club competing for the favor of men. To combat the spiritual depression of our times, our churches must once again stand firm upon the teaching of God's word. Preachers, elders, deacons, and all other members need to have convictions based upon the revealed truth of God and be willing to stand upon their convictions. When those in places of responsibility allow themselves to be shuttled aside from their God-given tasks by the worldly-minded, they have fallen victim to the spiritual depression. They have then become a part of the problem, instead of part of the answer.

Further, parents must also wake up to the fact that Christian living and Bible teaching must begin in the home. Solomon's statement is still true. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it." Children who are properly brought up by devout parents will not fall into the wiles of the devil. They will not be ensnared by the allurements of worldly pleasures. They will not be swayed from their loyalty to the teachings of Christ. We realize the need in our present society to teach them the three R's of reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic, but we also need to realize our responsibility to teach them to live as Christ would have them live.

Yes, Mary had chosen the "good part." Our Saviour commended her for her interest in things spiritual. It isn't sinful to be concerned about the everyday affairs of life, but we must not be overly concerned about them to the extent that we let our spiritual values drop.