What Kind of Life Do You Want?
IF SOMEONE asked you, ‘How can I find happiness today?’ what would be your answer? You might say with conviction: ‘For a full, happy and enduring life, do things God’s way!’
2 In previous chapters we have considered that the Creator truly does exist, that he offers through the Bible information and guidance that we all need, and that applying his Word is practical today. Living as true Christians can help us to cope with problems such as stress and loneliness. Looking to the Bible for guidance can safeguard us against painful problems caused by drunkenness, immorality, dishonesty and other vices. (Proverbs 4:11-13) Adopting the Bible’s outlook on money enables us to be more content and to “get a firm hold on the real life.”—1 Timothy 6:19.
3 When we take heed to what the Creator says, our life gains meaning and direction. We understand why God has permitted wickedness and suffering. And as we discern the fulfillment of Bible prophecies in the events of our day, we realize that we are living in the “last days” of the present wicked system of things. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) That means that soon God will eliminate all human kingdoms with their history of political corruption and armed forces maintained by crushing tax burdens. (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 16:14, 16) Thus God will end the succession of human efforts to rule the earth and will direct surviving mankind by means of his heavenly kingdom.—Revelation 11:17, 18; 21:1-4.
IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?
4 Most of us would say: ‘It would be wonderful to live among loving, God-fearing persons in paradise.’ (Isaiah 11:9) But to do so our love of righteousness and our desire to conform to God’s standards must be strong enough to determine the overall pattern of our life now. (Matthew 12:34; 15:19) Is that what you truly want? In this regard, the disciple James was inspired to write Christians:
“Do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, WANTS to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”—James 4:4.
5 James also stressed that “the form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God” involves ‘keeping oneself without spot from the world.’ (James 1:27) We should strive to do that. Of course, since Christians are living among the world’s violence and corruption, its immoral schemes, politics and nationalism, it is not easy to remain 100 percent unaffected. Even the most devoted Christian may slip or make mistakes while trying to avoid being stained by the world’s way. That is why Christians need to continue working to improve. (Colossians 3:5-10) But the point is, what do we want?
6 As an illustration, we might imagine two men who are eating dinner. One man accidentally gets a spot of gravy on his tie. The other takes his tie and deliberately dips it into the gravy; he wants it that way. Which one are we like? By what we allow to influence us and what we choose to do, are we showing that we want to be a friend of the world? or a friend of God?
7 Friendship with the world can be reflected in many ways. Some persons are so strongly attached to their family or neighbors that they go along with, even sharing in, things they know God disapproves of, such as unscriptural celebrations, heavy drinking, obscene jesting or showing racial prejudice. (1 Peter 4:3, 4; Ephesians 5:3-5; Acts 10:34, 35) If we want to please God, then having his approval will mean more to us than even that of our relatives.—Luke 14:26, 27; 11:23.
8 Similarly, our choice of entertainment may give indication of whether we want to be a friend of the world. The early Christians would not attend brutal gladiatorial fights or watch plays highlighting immorality. What about us today? We ought to think about our preferences as to sports, television programs, motion pictures or reading matter. If we discern that we are being conditioned to want what God counsels against, we need to work at reshaping our preferences. The allurement of the world can affect even young persons who have grown up in Christian families and Christians who have long studied the Bible.
9 This matter of friendship with God or friendship with the world means life or death. (1 John 2:15-17) We can no more keep a foot on both sides than a person at a fork in the road can walk down two diverging paths.
10 During the days of Elijah, some Hebrews were affected by the Baal worship of surrounding nations. Even though having some connection with the true God, Jehovah, they did not hold to him completely. Elijah said that they were “limping upon two different opinions.” They had to decide whether they would adhere to Jehovah and his ways or not. It was a choice meaning life or death.—1 Kings 18:21-40; Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.
11 We cannot postpone deciding what we really want. In the first century C.E., the apostle Peter urged Christians to ‘keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah’ in which wickedness on earth will be destroyed. Their sense of urgency was to be reflected by “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion,” including the enthusiastic declaring of the Christian message. (2 Peter 3:11, 12) While some Christians lived exemplary married lives, others chose to remain unmarried so that they could give ‘constant attention to the Lord without distraction.’—1 Corinthians 7:29-35.
12 If the kind of life Christians wanted to live was important in the first century, how much more vital a matter it is now! We can see that God’s kingdom is already ruling in heaven and that there is but “a short period of time” left before God through Christ will crush the nations and bind Satan the Devil. (Revelation 12:12; 19:11–20:2) So now is the time to decide what kind of life we want.
THE KIND OF LIFE GOD WILL PROVIDE
13 The kind of life we choose now will determine whether we will be allowed to enjoy the kind of life God will provide in the coming new order.
14 It is easy to think first of the many physical blessings of the restored paradise. In the original paradise, Adam and Eve had ample nutritious food. (Genesis 2:9, 16) Thus, in the new order there will be good, healthful food in abundance.—Psalm 72:16; 67:6.
15 Adam and Eve had good health, for God created them perfect. That underscores the Bible’s assurance that in the new order sickness, disease-caused pain and tears of sorrow will be things of the past. (Revelation 21:1-4) Mankind will grow to physical perfection.
16 No longer hindered by problems and then death after 70 years, men and women will have the thrill of being able to investigate many fields of learning and experience. You will be able to enjoy the full expression of your talents, even developing some that you never guessed you had. Cooking, home building, cabinet-making, decorating, gardening, playing musical instruments, tailoring, studying the vast fields of knowledge—You could go on and on listing the challenging and beneficial things you will be able to do. Jehovah once said: “The work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full.”—Isaiah 65:22.
17 Also, the Bible says that in the garden of Eden the diet of the animals was vegetation. (Genesis 1:30) Hence, you can look forward to God’s arranging matters so that the animals will no longer be ferocious and dangerous; they will be at peace with one another and with humans. Both children and grown-ups will enjoy their companionship to the full.—Compare Isaiah 11:6-8; 65:25; Hosea 2:18.
18 But the Bible does not begin to describe in detail all the material blessings of the new order. Jehovah, our Creator, knows our needs. The Bible assures us about God: “You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.”—Psalm 145:16.
19 The Scriptures properly emphasize, not the material prosperity or blessings, but the spiritual and mental things that will make for happiness in the restored paradise. For example, we can look forward to conditions as described this way:
“The work of the true righteousness must become peace; and the service of the true righteousness, quietness and security to time indefinite. And my people must dwell in a peaceful abiding place and in residences of full confidence and in undisturbed resting-places.”—Isaiah 32:17, 18.
20 We can appreciate that even if we had good health, a fine home and abundant food, we would not be truly contented if we were surrounded by conflict, tension, jealousy and wrath. (Proverbs 15:17; 21:9) However, the persons God permits to live in the coming paradise will be those who have conscientiously worked at overcoming such human failings. They will form a worldwide family of Christians who cultivate the fruits of God’s spirit, including love, peace, kindness and self-control. (Galatians 5:19-23) They will sincerely strive to have personalities that harmonize with Jehovah’s personality.—Ephesians 4:22-24.
LIVING TO PLEASE AND PRAISE JEHOVAH
21 The foretold material and spiritual blessings give us reason to look forward to the new order. However, if we let those be the primary reasons for worshiping God and living a Christian life, to some extent we would be like the present me-first generation who are concerned foremost about what they want and can get.
22 Rather, we should cultivate a desire to live a Christian life—now and in the future—because God wants us to do so. He should come first, not we. Jesus showed the view we need, saying: “I am come . . . to do your will, O God,” and, “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (Hebrews 10:7; John 4:34) Appreciation for what God has done should move us to put him first.—Romans 5:8.
23 Appropriately, the Bible does not stress as of foremost importance our salvation and the blessings we can receive. Rather, it emphasizes the vindication of God’s name and the rightness of our praising God for what he is and what he has done. David wrote:
“I will exalt you, O my God the King, and I will bless your name to time indefinite, even forever. Jehovah is great and very much to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. The glorious splendor of your dignity and the matters of your wonderful works I will make my concern.”—Psalm 145:1, 3, 5.
24 Putting God first in life and actively praising him was fitting for Jesus and for David. It is also very fitting for us. When we combine this with the practical Christian way of life, we will have found happiness—now and into the lasting future.
Why is doing things God’s way the best means of finding happiness? (1-3)
Why must we decide whether we want to be a friend of the world or of God? (4-6)
In what ways might a person manifest whether he wants friendship with the world? (7, 8)
How important is it for us to determine what we really want? (9-12)
What kind of life will God provide in the new order? (13-18)
What are the more important blessings promised for the restored paradise? (19, 20)
How may we find real happiness? (21-24)
[Picture on page 189]
Time to develop and use your talents to the full