Bible Study – Making our Homes Places of Safety

In the book, The Battered Wife, Nancy Nason-Clark notes that although “the family is sacred…it‘s not always safe.”  This Bible study focuses on ways to make our families safe places for all.

Scripture:   Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2

  • OPENNESS.  Verse 25 focuses on the importance of honesty and openness in our relationships.  Christians are to remember the extent of our connectedness to one another (“we are all members of one body”).  That understanding of honesty and connectedness provides the kind of atmosphere in our homes where we can be safe in knowing that we are loved as God intends. 

How can truthfulness and a sense of openness help the family be a safe environment for everyone?

  • ANGER.  Verse 26 talks specifically about anger.  Anger is not wrong in itself—the Bible says, “in your anger, do not sin.”  It is not the feeling of anger that is the problem; it is the way that we deal with or express that anger.  In a world where many things are unfair, and in times when we feel stress, it can be quite normal to become angry at times.  The key, according to the Bible, is to be angry without sinning.  Some Bible verses tell us specifically to be slow to become angry (1 Corinthians 13:5, James 1:19).  The book of Proverbs even tells us not to associate with someone who gets easily angered (Proverbs 22:24).  When we look at Jesus’ earthly life, we learn that it is quite normal to be angered by injustice, but it is not right to be angry at people.  Though he was angered by hypocrisy and legalism and meaningless religion, Jesus loved even the Pharisees and those who wanted him crucified and he treated them with dignity. 

When we become angry, how should we deal with that anger?

How can we keep from becoming angry at people when we face the stresses of life?

When we become angry, how can we keep from striking out in physical or verbal abuse?

Verse 26 also says, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”  In other words, we must always deal with our anger quickly before it begins to affect our character and our attitudes toward other people.  It is one thing to be angry.  It is another thing to be an angry person. 

What happens when people remain angry at someone for days or even longer? 

What are some constructive ways for families to deal with feelings of anger quickly?

Verse 27 says that when we are angry, we must not give the devil a foothold.  In those moments when so much of our energy is focussed on our anger, we can be more easily tempted to blame or hurt someone else instead of dealing with the problem. 

Why does anger make us more spiritually vulnerable to temptation?  How does the devil take advantage of us when we are angry?   

How is becoming violent an evil response to anger?  How is it giving in to Satan‘s destructive scheme for our lives and our family?

  • GIVING.  Verse 28 pointedly reminds us of our responsibility to one another.  We are not to be taking from one another, but instead giving to meet the needs of one another.  In families, our concern must be for how we can help one another instead of thinking of our own selfish desires. 

How does violence show selfishness and a sinful lack of care for the needs of our family? 

  • CONVERSATION.  Verbal abuse is also a form of violence that can be devastating to a home.  In verse 29, God sets a very high standard for our conversation, commanding that we are not to let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths.   

How can our words damage other people?

How are angry or demeaning words a form of abuse?

How important is it that there be no unwholesome talk in our homes?

  • SAY WHAT IS HELPFUL TO OTHERS.  Verse 29 goes on to say that we should make sure that we say what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Why is “the silent treatment” so damaging for a family?

How do begin a pattern of speaking lovingly at all times to our family?

  • THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.  Verse 30 reminds us that when our character is not loving, we are grieving the very Spirit of God who desires that we express such qualities as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  Attitudes such as bitterness, rage and anger, bawling and slander, and malice (verse 31) all grieve the Holy Spirit.  It is not enough to be outwardly religious or devout at church or respected in the community.  Our inner attitudes and our behaviour when we are in private are also essential to our Christian character and to or relationship with God. 

Why should a Christian want to be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God?

How do we develop the “fruit of the Spirit”?     

  • FORGIVENESS.  Verse 32 tells us to be kind and compassionate, and to forgive each other in the same way that God has forgiven us.  Obviously violence is neither kind nor compassionate, so it is absolutely forbidden in our relationships with others, including our families.  In the context of violence, it is especially important not to misunderstand what the Bible means by forgiveness.  Forgiveness is one of the most powerful aspects of the Christian life.  Knowing that our sins have been forgiven because of Christ, and that we can confess our sins to God who has promised to forgive us, is the source of much peace and hope as we live our Christian lives.  It is also very liberating to forgive those who have wronged us.  However, some abusive and violent people seek forgiveness from those whom they have harmed as a means of being able to continue the abuse without any consequences for their actions.  That could not be further from the Bible’s teaching about forgiveness.  Forgiveness does not mean that there was nothing wrong with the sin, and forgiving an abuser does not mean that the abused person is obligated to stay in harms way or to excuse or overlook the abuse.  If you have been harmed by another person, you need to remove yourself from the danger of being harmed again. 

Why would an abuser try to justify being violent toward family members, or say they are sorry when they haven’t really changed?

Why must we not put ourselves in a position where we could be victimized again by a violent person who claims to be sorry?

  • A LIFE OF LOVE.  The ultimate example and pattern for our lives is the life of Christ himself, who “loved us and gave himself up for us.”  Therefore we are commanded to “live a life of live” (5:2). 

Can a violent, abusive person ever learn to love?  What would have to change?  When could they be trusted?

Steve McMullin,  MATS
Rave Fredericton Team