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

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

    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

      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

      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

    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

      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

    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

      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.