Are You Willing to Face the Truth in Your Life?
1, 2. (a) How can truth benefit us? (b) What do you personally believe to be the real source from which true peace and security will come?
TRUTH is very desirable. If acted upon, it can protect you from harm or loss and thus contribute to your happiness, security and welfare. This is especially the case respecting the truth about what is ahead for this generation.
2 In the light of the facts presented earlier in this book, you may well agree that man cannot bring true peace and security. You may realize that what the Bible says is the truth—that only God can solve the problems facing mankind, and that he will do so by means of the kingdom that he has entrusted to his Son. If so, would it not be wisdom on your part to act in harmony with what you now know to be the truth? (James 1:22) What does this involve?
3. How important are the changes that a person must make in his life if he wants to be preserved by God into His new order?
3 The Bible sets out standards to be met by those whom God will preserve into his righteous new order. These standards require changes in the life of everyone who wants to become a servant of God. It is true that not everyone has lived a life that, from a human standpoint, is considered to be bad. Nevertheless, the changes one must make are of no little consequence; they involve a completely new outlook on life. That is why Romans 12:2 says: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
4. If we are really going to ‘walk in the way of the truth,’ on what basis must we determine what is right and what is wrong?
4 Such a transformation will affect the basis on which we determine what is right and what is wrong. In the past we may have relied on the imperfect opinions of fellowmen or tried to set our own standards of conduct. But now we realize that it was by setting their own standard as to good and bad that Adam and Eve rejected God as their Ruler, with disastrous consequences. If we want God’s approval, we must look to him for direction, determining what is right and what is wrong on the basis of what is in the Bible. In choosing to submit to God’s will, we are in no danger of being misled. As Psalm 119:151 [118:151, Dy] says, ‘All his commandments are truth,’ and, therefore, conforming to them means ‘walking in the way of truth.’ (Psalm 86:11 [85:11, Dy]) Is that not really what you want to do?
THE NEED FOR COUNSEL AND DISCIPLINE
5. (a) If we are going to make changes in our lives, what truth about ourselves must we be willing to face? (b) What often prevents a person from admitting a mistake, and with what results?
5 If a person is going to make changes in his life, he must be willing to acknowledge wrong and see the need for making improvement. Do we not all make mistakes and therefore need correction? “There is no man that does not sin,” says the Bible. (1 Kings 8:46 [3 Kings 8:46, Dy]) Yet many people are unwilling to admit mistakes. Why? Pride stands in their way. Instead of humbly acknowledging their wrong, they often blame others. This only worsens the problem.
6. To what source should we look for counsel and discipline, and why?
6 Equally great a problem is that, being imperfect, we do not always discern the proper course to take. We can even be deceived into thinking that a harmful course is quite all right. (Proverbs 16:25) So we need counsel and discipline from a source higher than man in order to act wisely, in a way that will be in our best interests and in the best interests of fellow humans. The Source of this discipline is Jehovah God. Therefore Proverbs 3:11 counsels: “The discipline of Jehovah, O my son, do not reject.”
7. (a) How does the discipline from Jehovah reach us? (b) Our accepting and applying such discipline shows what about us?
7 How does Jehovah provide this discipline? He does this by means of his Word, the Holy Bible. So when we read the Bible or have what it says drawn to our attention by a fellow believer and come to appreciate that we are in some way not measuring up to divine requirements, we are receiving God’s discipline. By accepting that discipline as right and applying it, we prove that we are facing up to the truth. We acknowledge God’s right to give us direction and show that we are the kind of people he desires in his new order. Our life depends upon heeding divine discipline.—Proverbs 4:13.
8. (a) Why would we actually be hurting ourselves if we put on a pretense of accepting discipline but did not really change our ways? (b) Why is it comforting to know that Jehovah sees us wherever we are?
8 Surely if we are going to benefit from God’s discipline, we must be honest with ourselves. It would do us little good to put on a pretense when observed by others, only to go back to our former ways when out of their view. For us to play the role of hypocrites would not help us to change from our wrong ways; it would only dull our consciences. Then, too, though men may look upon us with admiration, we cannot deceive the Creator. What we do does not escape his notice. Proverbs 15:3 tells us: “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones.” Knowing that Jehovah God is watching should hold us back from doing wrong. At the same time we can find comfort in the assurance that he looks favorably ‘upon the good ones’ and will support them in time of trial. Who are “the good ones” whom God thus favors?
“SPEAK TRUTHFULLY WITH ONE ANOTHER”
9. (a) When it comes to speaking the truth, what is accepted as normal in the world? Why? (b) So, if a person is going to “quit being fashioned after this system of things,” what change is required?
9 Though not claiming to adhere strictly to God’s Word, most people today do not consider themselves to be dishonest. But how many are there who consistently speak the truth? Instead, is it not the case that many persons are willing to conceal truth or speak only what they believe will further their own ends? While this is viewed as normal in the world, this does not make it right, does it? The world of mankind alienated from God “is lying in the power of the wicked one.” That “wicked one,” Satan the Devil, is “the father of the lie.” Lying originated with him. (1 John 5:19; John 8:44) So it should not surprise a person if he finds that he needs to make quite a change in his view as to truthfulness if he is going to “quit being fashioned after this system of things.”
10. How does the vicious cycle of dishonesty work against true peace and security?
10 There is good reason for wanting to be honest. Nothing undermines peace and security more than a failure to be honest at all times and everywhere—at home, in work or business, in recreation and social relations. When people do not keep their word, when they break promises, deceive or cheat, no one gains. The victims of dishonesty are disappointed and often become bitter and angry. Aside from emotional and mental pressures, dishonesty is also responsible for physical injury and even death. This has been the case when, for example, poor workmanship, inferior materials and deceptive claims contributed to serious accidents. The person who thinks he is gaining through his dishonesty is at the same time losing through the dishonesty of others. He, too, pays higher prices for goods and services because both employees and customers steal. Dishonesty thus brings about a vicious cycle. As more people take advantage of others, frustrations, disappointments, violence, injuries and deaths multiply.
11. How does Jehovah feel about dishonesty and lying?
11 In view of such bad fruitage, Jehovah God could never approve of dishonesty and lying. Among the things that “Jehovah does hate” are lying, perjury, false weights and false scales. (Proverbs 6:16-19; 20:23) Habitual liars will not have any share in the blessings that God has in store for those loving him. (Revelation 21:8) Is this not what we would expect from a righteous God? If God were to continue tolerating those desiring to profit by deceit at their neighbor’s expense, how could anyone feel secure in His new order?
12, 13. (a) What does the Bible itself say about truthful speech? (b) What bearing does our honesty have on whether we can serve Jehovah as his witnesses?
12 The Bible is therefore not speaking lightly when it commands: “Speak truthfully with one another.” (Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:25) As to promises or agreements, our “Yes” should mean Yes, and our “No,” No. (James 5:12) It should not take an oath to make our speech more dependable or believable. If we want to represent “Jehovah the God of truth,” we must be consistent about speaking truth. (Psalm 31:5 [30:6, Dy]) If a person does not tell the truth, he cannot gain the respect of God or of his fellowmen, nor can he represent God as one of His witnesses. Said the psalmist: “To the wicked one God will have to say: ‘What right do you have to enumerate my regulations, and that you may bear my covenant in your mouth? Your mouth you have let loose to what is bad, and your tongue you keep attached to deception.’”—Psalm 50:16, 19 [49:16, 19, Dy].
13 But some may wonder, Can a person carry on in this world and be truthful and honest? Can he make a go of it in business without doing what everybody else is doing?
CARES FOR THOSE APPLYING THE TRUTH
14. How does the Bible help us to appreciate that it is possible to make a living in this world without being dishonest?
14 To say that a person cannot make a living without being dishonest would be to say that God does not care about those who love him. This is not true. It is contrary to the experience of God’s servants for thousands of years. (Hebrews 13:5, 6) The psalmist David, for example, observed: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread.” (Psalm 37:25 [36:25, Dy]) This does not mean that righteous persons do not experience difficulties or hard times. David himself had been forced to live for a time as an outcast from society, but he had the necessities of life.
15. What did Jesus say about God’s interest in our obtaining material things to sustain life?
15 The appeal on the part of true worship is not one of materialistic gain; however, Jesus Christ did teach his followers that it is proper to pray to God to bless their efforts to obtain the “bread for the day according to the day’s requirement.” (Luke 11:2, 3) Not minimizing their need for food and covering, he assured his disciples: “Your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.” But he urged them: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-34) Do you believe that? If so, you will not be tempted to discard God’s righteous standards just because other people do. Instead, you will appreciate the wisdom of what is recorded at 1 Timothy 6:6-8, which says: “To be sure, it is a means of great gain, this godly devotion along with self-sufficiency. For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.”
16. How can our applying the truth expressed in those scriptures safeguard us?
16 Following this admonition requires a viewpoint that is quite different from what is common in the world today. This, then, is also involved in ‘making our minds over.’ Contentment with life’s necessities prevents us from making money our god and allowing ourselves to be enslaved in its service. (Matthew 6:24) It safeguards one against making material things the main objective in life and being tempted to cheat and to take advantage of other persons to get these. (Proverbs 28:20; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Those who make riches their goal may think that it represents security and happiness. But is that the case? Is it not rather true, as the Bible says, that a “lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver, neither any lover of wealth with income”? (Ecclesiastes 5:10) Those who have much want more. Often they sacrifice their health and the enjoyment of being with their family to obtain it. Rather than feeling secure, they live in fear of losing what they have.
17. (a) When a person sets his heart on the acquiring of material wealth, what truth is he ignoring? (b) What evidence is there that it is practical in our day to apply the principles of honesty and truthfulness in making a living?
17 When a person gives in to the desire for wealth, he is not facing up to the fact that, as Jesus Christ said, “even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) Far better it is to put faith in God’s ability to provide for his servants. In over two hundred lands among the more than one and a half million witnesses of Jehovah there is living proof that God does provide. Under all forms of government and in every kind of legitimate employment, Witnesses of all races and backgrounds are able to continue to live happy lives, with their needs supplied. True, they experience ridicule and, in some places, physical persecution because of their faith. Nevertheless, their faith in God’s ability to provide even when honesty puts them at a seeming disadvantage has been rewarded. They have gained the respect of fellowmen and are often preferred as employees because of their honesty. Even in this dishonest world, people still want to deal with those who are trustworthy. But, more important, the upright ones enjoy a clean conscience because of their honesty; and, because they do the will of God, they have the prospect of eternal life in his new order.
18, 19. (a) Why have these people changed their lives to conform to these standards? (b) What kind of persons is God looking for to preserve into his new order?
18 In the past, before becoming Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, they followed the ways of the world to a greater or lesser degree. But after studying the Bible and coming to a knowledge of the truth, they dropped bad practices. Now they are striving hard to continue making improvement. They are endeavoring to exhibit “good fidelity to the full, so that they may adorn the teaching of our Savior, God, in all things.” (Titus 2:10) It has not always been easy for them to face up to the truth and make changes in their life. But love for truth has helped them to act in harmony with it.
19 Do you have similar love for truth? If you do, you are the kind of person God is looking for to preserve alive into his new order. Those whom he accepts “must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) This marks them as different from the world around them. There are also other ways in which they must differ from the world if they truly are to be well pleasing to Jehovah. What are these?