Are You Willing to Face the Truth in Your Life?
1, 2. (a) How can truth benefit us? (b) What do you believe is the real source from which true peace and security will come?
KNOWING the truth can be invaluable. Used wisely, it can protect you from harm or loss and contribute to your happiness and security. This is especially so regarding the truth about what is ahead for this generation.
2 In light of what is presented in this book, you may agree that man cannot bring true peace and security. You may realize that what the Bible says is the truth—that only God, by means of his Kingdom, can solve the problems facing mankind. Then would it not be wise to shape your course of life 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 live in God’s New Order?
3 The Bible sets out certain standards that must be met by those whom God will accept as part of his righteous New Order. These standards require changes now in the life of everyone who wants to live then. True, from a human standpoint, not everyone’s present way of life is considered to be bad. Nevertheless, the change to Bible standards involves 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 how we determine right and wrong. In the past we may have relied on the opinions of others or set our own standards. But now we realize that it was this very outlook that caused Adam and Eve to reject God as their Ruler, with disastrous consequences. If we want God’s approval, we must look to him for true standards of what is right and what is wrong. Those standards are readily available in God’s Word, the Bible. As Psalm 119:151 says: ‘All his commandments are truth.’ Therefore, conforming to them means ‘walking in the way of the truth.’ (Psalm 86:11) Is that not 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 result?
5 If a person is going to make changes in his life, he must see that there is a need for this. “There is no man that does not sin,” says the Bible. (1 Kings 8:46) 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 discipline, and why?
6 An equally great problem is that we are imperfect and 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 discipline from a source higher than man if we are consistently to act in our own best interests as well as those of our fellow humans. Proverbs 3:11 identifies that Source: “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 discipline? By means of his Word, the Holy Bible. So when we read the Bible, or have its counsel drawn to our attention by a fellow believer, and learn that in some way we are not measuring up, we are receiving God’s discipline. By accepting that discipline as right and doing something about it, we prove that we are facing up to the truth. We are acknowledging God’s right to give us direction and are showing that we are the kind of people he wants in his New Order. Yes, 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 only dull our consciences. And though men may look upon us with admiration, we cannot deceive the Creator. 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 restrain us from doing wrong. At the same time we can find encouragement in the assurance that he looks favorably ‘upon the good ones.’
“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 follow the Bible strictly, most people today do not consider themselves dishonest. But how many are there who consistently speak the truth? Many persons commonly conceal truth or speak only what they believe will further their own ends. Though this is viewed as normal in the world, that does not make it right. 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 to find that he needs to make quite a change in the matter of truthfulness if he is going to “quit being fashioned after this system of things.”
10. How does the vicious circle of dishonesty work against true peace and security?
10 There is good reason for being honest. Nothing undermines peace and security more than a failure to be honest at all times—at home, at work or business, in recreation, and in social relations. When people do not keep their word, when they deceive or cheat, no one gains. Victims of dishonesty often become bitter and angry. Aside from emotional and mental pressures, dishonesty can cause physical injury and even death. For example, poor workmanship, inferior materials, and deceptive claims have contributed to serious accidents. The person who thinks he is gaining through his own 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 creates a vicious circle. As more people take advantage of others, frustrations, violence, injuries, and even deaths multiply.
11. How does Jehovah feel about dishonesty and lying?
11 In view of such bad fruitage, it is not surprising that among the things “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 to be taken 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) If we want to represent “Jehovah the God of truth,” we must be consistent about speaking truth. (Psalm 31:5) 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.
13 But some may wonder: Can a person be truthful and honest and still survive in this world? Can he ‘make a go of it’ in business without doing what everybody else is doing?
God Cares for Those Applying the Truth
14. How does the Bible help us to appreciate that it is possible to make a living 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. But this is contrary to the experience of God’s servants for thousands of years. (Hebrews 13:5, 6) The psalmist David 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) 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 of true worship is not one of materialistic gain. However, Jesus did teach his followers that it is proper to pray to God for His blessing on their efforts to obtain the “bread for the day.” (Luke 11:2, 3) Acknowledging their need for life’s necessities, 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 these Scriptural principles safeguard us?
16 Following this admonition requires a viewpoint 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 the pursuit of money and material things the main objective in life and from being tempted to take advantage of other persons to get these. (Proverbs 28:20; Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Those who make riches their goal may think that these represent security and happiness. But instead it is as the Bible says, 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 their family life to obtain it. Instead of 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 to apply the principles of honesty in making a living?
17 A person who chases wealth is not facing up to the fact that as Jesus said, “even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) It is far better to put faith in God’s ability to provide for his servants. In over 200 lands among millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is living proof that God does make such provision. Under all forms of government and in every kind of legitimate employment, Witnesses of all races and backgrounds are able to live happy lives, with their needs supplied. Their faith in God’s ability to provide, even when honesty seems to put them at a disadvantage, has been rewarded. They have gained the respect of fellowmen and are often preferred as employees because people still want to deal with those who are trustworthy. But what is more important is that upright ones enjoy a clean conscience because of their honesty.
18, 19. (a) Why have these people changed their lives to conform to God’s standards? (b) What kind of persons is God looking for to preserve into his New Order?
18 Before becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses, they had fitted into the world’s pattern to a greater or lesser degree. But study of the Bible and facing its truth caused them to drop bad practices. Now they are striving hard 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 lives. But love for truth has helped them to act in harmony with it.
19 Do you have a similar love for truth? If you do, you are the kind of person God is looking for to preserve alive into his New Order. To be accepted by God, you “must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) This will mark you as different from the world around you. There are also other ways in which you must differ from the world if you are to please Jehovah. What are these?
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Can a person be truthful and honest and still survive financially in this world?