An Open Mind Wins God’s Approval
THE importance of having an open mind so as to win God’s approval is shown in the words recorded at Ephesians 5:10, 17. There we read: “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord. On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.”
But is it not a fact that many people have closed minds when it comes to religion? Some even reject the idea of a Supreme Being and are unwilling to listen to the evidence of his existence presented by believers. For them religion is a closed subject.
Even some religious people have closed minds. They are interested only in “their” religion, showing no willingness to as much as listen to the views of others. And even though they may not have chosen their religion but simply have inherited it from their parents, still they feel that their religion must be right. But not every inheritance is necessarily good. A quick temper, a selfish attitude or a deceitful spirit can also be parental hand-me-downs, but they are definitely undesirable.
What makes a religion right is its total adherence to God’s Word. Whether our religion meets this criterion or not can only be determined by open-mindedly comparing it with the Bible. Certainly such an important matter as our worship of God should not be determined for us by the coincidence of where we were born. After all, the child born to Catholic parents has had no more control over this fact than the child born to Muslim parents controls that.
Avoid Religious Prejudice
When people are approached with a religious message, they may react in one of several ways. Some will say: “Absolute truth is impossible to find”; “all religions are only out for your money”; “science has disproved religion”; “religion is just a crutch for weak people.” These views, and others like them, tend to close the mind and cut off investigation before it has begun. It is prejudice at work.
Why, some people have even been known to doubt the truthfulness of a message simply on the basis of where the message bearer came from. Take, for example, an event from the first century C.E. John 1:45, 46 tells us: “Philip found Nathanael and said to him: ‘We have found the one of whom Moses, in the Law, and the Prophets wrote, Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ But Nathanael said to him: ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him: ‘Come and see.’” Philip was clearly admonishing Nathanael to keep an open mind.
Similar things happen today. When missionaries of Jehovah’s Witnesses preach in foreign countries, they may experience rejection, even though their message is based on the Bible, simply because of their nationality. Following the example of Nathanael of old, some people may ask: “Can anything good come out of America?”
Others may tend to reject a message because it is presented in a simple way by a person of simple background. But is this wise? About members of the early Christian congregation, we read: “When the Council [Jewish Sanhedrin] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and could see that they were obviously uneducated non-professionals, they were amazed and realized what being with Jesus had done for them!”—Acts 4:13, The Living Bible.
Yes, “uneducated non-professionals” can do amazing things when trained in the sayings of God. So do not allow their lack of formal theological training or professionalism to close your mind; leave it open to investigate the message they bring.
How to Find Religious Truth
An open mind is willing to do what 1 John 4:1 recommends. It says: “Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.” But in view of the thousands of different religious groups and sects now in existence, is it possible to test what is true? Yes, not only possible but also not nearly as difficult as you might think. For example:
Some religions teach that in time our literal earth will be burned up. They may quote 2 Peter 3:7 in support: “But by the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.”
But does this text really say that the literal earth will be burned up? Actually, it only speaks of the “destruction of the ungodly men.” In the preceding verses, 2Pe 3:5 and 6, it likens this to the time of Noah’s flood when “the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.”
Now what actually perished in the Flood? Genesis 7:23 answers: “Thus he wiped out every existing thing that was on the surface of the ground, from man to beast, . . . and they were wiped off the earth.” Logically, when wicked people were “wiped off the earth,” the literal earth must have remained standing.
This is in harmony with Ecclesiastes 1:4, which informs us that “a generation is going, and a generation is coming; but the earth is standing even to time indefinite.” Psalm 104:5 is even more emphatic: “He has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.”
After comparing these scriptures, an open mind will conclude that any religion teaching the literal destruction of the earth is teaching an untruth. Could it then be the true religion, representing Jehovah God, the God of truth? Or what if it teaches other doctrines equally false?* By the process of elimination, we can weed out false religions quickly.
“Be Sound in Mind”
The apostle Peter’s admonition “be sound in mind” includes, of necessity, having an open mind, for only an open mind can reach sound conclusions and make sound judgments. Some of the inhabitants of Beroea had such an open mind, because of them we read that “they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.”—1 Peter 4:7; Acts 17:11.
An open mind, free of prejudice, will enable us to go on “carefully examining the Scriptures daily” and then to act upon what we learn. This is in harmony with the Bible counsel to “become doers of the word, and not hearers only.” The Beroeans were more than just hearers, because Acts 17:12 informs us that “many of them became believers.”—James 1:22; see also Matthew 7:21.
Yes, having an open mind will pay in many ways. Using it to help us find the true religion will enrich our present life, improve our spiritual health and assist us in solving life’s problems. But, most importantly, it will also help us win God’s approval, thus putting us in the way of receiving everlasting life in his new system.—See Mark 10:29, 30.
Literally hundreds of thousands of people living around the globe are happy that they were open-minded enough to investigate the Bible message. By having an open mind toward religion they have seen the marvelous prospect of everlasting life on a paradise earth opened up to them. Would you enjoy such a prospect for your future?
Are you open-minded enough to investigate? It will be to your everlasting benefit if you are.
For additional examples, see chapters 8 and 9 of the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, published in 1982 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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Do you reject a message because of preconceived ideas? Or do you investigate?
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An open mind can put you on the way to everlasting life in Paradise