A Way of Life That Leads to Happiness
MANY people take the attitude, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.” However, the apostle Paul warns us against having “associations” with such persons. (1 Corinthians 15:32, 33) On the other hand, there are some people who try to achieve some useful goal in life, but always they face the eventuality that everything will be cut short after a brief seventy or eighty years. How wonderful it would be to pursue a worthwhile purpose in life through hundreds, and even thousands, of years! Would that not bring us real happiness? Certainly it would!
2 And—joy of joys!—that is exactly what God purposes for humankind. “Even time indefinite he has put in their heart,” and this he would not do if their lives were to be cut off without opportunity to search out in a satisfying way “the work that the true God has made.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Yes, an eternity of purposeful life and happiness lies ahead for those who will be privileged to live in the earthly paradise of God.
3 As we learn of the way to life, we should come to look at things positively and with confidence. There may be some merit in negative statements, such as that of Confucius: “Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.” But of how much greater value is Jesus’ positive statement of the Golden Rule: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them”! (Matthew 7:12) And in indicating what the entire law of Moses pointed forward to, Jesus recommends much more than a passive way of life:
“The first [commandment] is, ‘Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.’ The second is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”—Mark 12:29-31.
4. What “new” commandment did Jesus give? (1 John 3:16)
4 Truly, this calls for an active, meaningful life, demonstrating that we truly love our God and Creator and that we really care for our neighbor. In this connection, Jesus also says:
“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:34, 35)
In what way is this commandment “new”? In that it calls for a unique quality of self-sacrificing love. A person having this love would go even to the extent of ‘surrendering his soul in behalf of his friends,’ just as Jesus did.—John 15:12, 13.
5. How may you share in fulfilling prophecy? (Mark 13:10)
5 Recognizing that we are now living at “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jehovah’s Witnesses also show love of God and neighbor by sharing in the fulfillment of Jesus’ great prophecy that “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:3, 14) You can share in this, too, by telling your neighbors of the grand hope of God’s kingdom and its rule over the earth. However, being a witness to the true God is not just a matter of talking Bible truths to others. It is also a matter of living the truth, applying Bible principles in all of one’s way of life.
6. (a) What kind of life does God require us to live? (Colossians 1:9, 10) (b) So, what kind of counsel did the “faithful and discreet slave” class give to non-Jewish Christians?
6 This does not mean your having to follow a lot of rules or “don’ts.” It means your living a normal, wholesome life, giving of yourself on behalf of others and showing respect for the counsel provided by “the faithful and discreet slave” class of anointed Christians whom the “master,” Jesus, has appointed to provide spiritual “food at the proper time.” (Matthew 24:45) In the first century, this “slave” class did not lay down a lot of rules to control the lives of non-Jewish Christians. But they did mention a number of things to avoid, which include the following:
“The holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!” (Acts 15:28, 29)
What is involved in “these necessary things”?
‘ABSTAIN FROM IDOLS’
7. Why is it important to refrain from idolatry? (1 Corinthians 10:20, 21)
7 In the second of the Ten Commandments, Jehovah God strongly forbade idolatry. The apostle Paul also gave clear instruction, at 1 Corinthians 10:14:
“My beloved ones, flee from idolatry.”
But why? Because the magnificent personality of the living God can never be represented in lifeless images formed from wood, stone or metal. These degrade the true and living God. The martyrs of early Christian times could have saved themselves from being torn to pieces by wild beasts in the arena by offering just one pinch of incense before the statue of the Roman emperor, but they refused thus to dishonor God. Likewise, those who desire to please the living God today must take a firm stand against offering incense at funerals, and food or drink at family or public shrines, as well as against other kinds of idolatry.
‘ABSTAIN FROM BLOOD’
8. Why is the command to ‘abstain from blood’ binding on all mankind? (Acts 15:19, 20)
8 This prohibition had been made in the law of Moses, and even earlier when Jehovah commanded Noah, the forefather of all of us today: “Blood—you must not eat.” (Genesis 9:4) We should respect blood as sacred. The reason, as stated at Leviticus 17:14, is that “the soul [or, life] of every sort of flesh is its blood,” and life is precious in the sight of the Life-Giver, Jehovah God. Hence the Bible shows that we should avoid meats, such as strangled fowl, that have not been drained of the blood—for spiritual reasons.
9. Would it be proper for you to receive a blood transfusion, and does this put you at any disadvantage? (Acts 21:25)
9 This “abstaining” logically extends to our not taking human blood into our bodies through transfusions. In this way we not only obey God’s law, but also find protection against infectious diseases such as syphilis, malaria and hepatitis, which have even brought death to many transfused patients. Those who wish to respect God’s law on blood do well to search out a doctor who will honor their conscientious stand and use plasma volume expanders if the need should arise. There have been rare occasions when a person who has conscientiously refused blood has died, but integrity kept to God’s law assures such a one of a resurrection in the paradise of God.
‘ABSTAIN FROM FORNICATION’
10 The decision of the “faithful and discreet slave” class and also the counsel of individual apostles make it clear that we should “flee from fornication.” (1 Corinthians 6:18) But how different is the world’s viewpoint today! Fornication—which includes adultery and all perverted sex practices, such as sodomy, homosexuality, bestiality and others—is now freely practiced among many classes of society. God’s law protects us against all of that. By holding to God’s viewpoint on sex and marriage, we can not only honor our Grand Creator, but also avoid much suffering and many heartbreaks.
11. What will result from observing these “necessary things”? (2 Timothy 1:13)
11 If you want to please God, you should observe these “necessary things,” for, spiritually, physically and emotionally, they will result in “good health to you!”
BECOMING SLAVES OF THE LOVING GOD
12. What should God’s love motivate us to do with our lives? (Romans 6:17, 18)
12 Speaking of “the love of God,” the apostle John says:
“The love is in this respect, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent forth his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9, 10)
How can you respond to this love of God? You can do so by presenting yourself in dedication to Jehovah, to become his willing “slave.”—Romans 12:11.
13 Another apostle, Peter, indicated what is required in thus dedicating yourself to God, when he said:
“Repent . . . and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the person of Jehovah.” (Acts 3:19)
You must repent of whatever part you have had in the immoralities, the politics and the wars of “the present wicked system of things.” (Galatians 1:3, 4) You must turn around, striving to put on a truly Christian personality, after the pattern of our Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and give wholehearted support to Jehovah’s sovereignty, as represented in Christ’s kingdom. Thus you cease to be a “part of the world.”—John 17:14-16.
14. Illustrate how a stand for right principles may be rewarded. (Psalm 15:1-3)
14 Some of your former associates may be “puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you,” because of your no longer sharing in their “loose conduct, . . . idolatries” and other excesses. (1 Peter 4:3, 4) However, your determination to live honestly and uprightly before God may often result in unexpected rewards, as in the following experience related by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Philippines:
“There was a mass laying off of salesmen in our company, due to dishonest practices. Because I had followed Christian principles I came to be the only salesman that was not fired on that occasion. Not long after this I was promoted to another department, where soon it was found out that many were making out fake job orders for personal gain. Again I was the only one who retained his job, since they found that I was never involved in the dishonest practices. From these two incidents I proved that honesty and faithfulness to Bible principles free one from many heartaches and produce praise to God’s name.”
15 Are you one who wishes to make true Christianity your way of life, with the prospect of everlasting life in the earthly paradise of God? Then, after repenting and turning around, you may dedicate yourself in prayer to Jehovah to become his “slave,” on the basis of your faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, and then symbolize this dedication of yourself by receiving Christian baptism. In doing this, you will become a joyful slave like those in Thessalonica whom Paul commended in these words:
“In every place your faith toward God has spread abroad . . . You turned to God from your idols to slave for a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from the heavens, whom he raised up from the dead, namely, Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath which is coming.”—1 Thessalonians 1:8-10.
16. What example shows that obedience to God is rewarded? (Acts 5:29)
16 In order to become baptized witnesses of Jehovah, some persons have had to triumph over bitter opposition, as in this example:
A Chinese girl in Taiwan began to share in the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and to talk to others about God’s kingdom. But family opposition became extreme. She was beaten many times. Her parents hired local gangsters to go and intimidate the “pioneer” Witnesses who were studying with the girl. Her mail was intercepted and her Bible and Bible literature were destroyed many times. However, kind but firm efforts on the part of the girl gradually brought more freedom. The “pioneer” Witnesses left her town, but as the girl showed Christian understanding and love, her parents’ attitude softened and they allowed her to travel an hour each way to the town where she could attend meetings. After two years of patient effort she was baptized.
17 Baptism is not some kind of “graduation.” It is, instead, the beginning of a most happy relationship with Jehovah. However, in starting on this way of life, you are still a “child” in the truth and must keep ‘pressing on to maturity.’ As you “slave for Jehovah” your joys will increase and your life will become ever more meaningful and satisfying. (2 Timothy 2:1; Hebrews 6:1) True, there will be trials and problems along the way, but you can meet these with the wholehearted conviction expressed by the apostle Paul:
“We are coming off completely victorious through him that loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
Your remaining in God’s love will be your protection.
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Witnesses lovingly tell others of Kingdom blessings
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Baptism starts a happy relationship with God