A Higher Source of Wisdom
“How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.” (Psalm 104:24) Yes, from the magnificence of the vast universe to the delicate beauty of a flower, creation testifies to the matchless wisdom of its Creator. The technology of this 20th century pales into insignificance when compared with God’s works. If the Bible is God’s Word, we would also expect it to give evidence of wisdom that is beyond human capabilities. Does it?
1. (Include introduction.) (a) Where do we see evidence of God’s matchless wisdom? (b) What counsel does the Bible give regarding wisdom?
THE Bible stresses the importance of wisdom. It says: “Wisdom is the prime thing. Acquire wisdom; and with all that you acquire, acquire understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7) It also acknowledges that we humans often lack wisdom, and it encourages us: “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all.”—James 1:5.
2. How can a person increase his wisdom?
2 How does God ‘give wisdom generously’? One way is by encouraging us to read the Bible and learn from it. The Bible book of Proverbs urges: “My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom . . . you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God. For Jehovah himself gives wisdom.” (Proverbs 2:1, 2, 5, 6) When we apply the counsel in the Bible and see how effective it is, we realize that it truly represents divine wisdom.
3, 4. (a) What does the Bible say as to the vanity of the love of money? (b) What fine balance does the Bible display in counseling us on the value of money?
3 To appreciate this better, let us look at a few Bible verses. Consider this wise saying: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires . . . For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things.” (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Compare this with the modern viewpoint—at least in Western society—that encourages people to pursue money as their prime goal. Unhappily, many gain the wealth they seek and still have a feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction. A clinical psychologist noted: “Becoming No. 1 and rich does not make you feel fulfilled, satisfied, authentically respected or loved.”1
4 Not that a practical person can completely turn his back on money. The Bible shows a finely balanced wisdom when it says: “Wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12) Thus, the Bible helps us to see that money, while important, is not all-important. It is only a means to an end, and it is of limited value if we do not have the wisdom to use it properly.
5, 6. (a) Why is the Bible counsel to avoid bad associations wise? (b) How do we benefit from “walking with wise persons”?
5 This Bible statement is also true: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) Have you ever noticed what a powerful effect our associates have on us? Peer pressure has led young people into drunkenness, drug abuse, and immorality. If we mix with those who use foul language, we eventually find ourselves using foul language. Keeping company with dishonest individuals tends to make us dishonest. Truly, as the Bible also says, “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Corinthians 15:33.
6 On the other hand, good associations can improve us. By “walking with wise persons,” we will become wiser ourselves. Good habits rub off, just as bad ones do. Once again, the Bible shows wisdom in encouraging us to choose our associates carefully.
7. What makes the Bible unique as a source of advice?
7 The Bible has many such precepts to help us guide our lives. As a source of advice, it is unique. Its counsel is always beneficial. It is never merely theoretical, and it never works to our harm. The wide range of Bible counsel is unequaled. Those who apply it in their lives, and see how it always works out for their good, come to appreciate the Bible as a unique source of wisdom.
8. How can the Bible help us even when we face a situation not specifically mentioned in it?
8 What, though, if we face a situation that is not specifically mentioned in the Bible? Often, we find broad principles to guide us. For example, many at some time in their lives face a decision regarding the habit of smoking tobacco. Since tobacco was unknown in the Middle East in Jesus’ days, the Bible does not mention it. Nevertheless, there are appropriate Bible principles to help us make a wise decision in this matter.
9-11. In what way do Bible principles help us to come to a wise decision in the matter of using tobacco, and how do we benefit by following these principles?
9 Smoking tobacco, while reportedly pleasurable, actually involves inhaling concentrated pollutants into the lungs. A smoker pollutes his body, as well as his clothes and the air around him. In addition, smoking is an addiction. People who want to stop often find it very difficult. With this in mind, we can look to the Bible for help in reaching a wise conclusion about smoking tobacco.
10 First, consider the problem of addiction. Paul, when speaking about foods, said: “I will not let myself be brought under authority by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12) Paul was free to eat any kind of food, but he knew that some people back there had sensitive consciences. So he said he was not so “addicted” to certain foods that he could not give them up if he had to in order to keep from stumbling others. If a person cannot stop smoking—or chewing—tobacco, he is definitely ‘under its authority.’ So Paul’s statement on the matter of food is a good guideline for tobacco use. We should not allow ourselves to become enslaved by a habit.
11 Second, consider the matter of pollution. The Bible says: “Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) Smoking is without doubt a defilement, or a pollution, of the flesh. The seriousness of this pollution is seen in the fact that, according to the World Health Organization, it causes more than a million people to die prematurely each year. If we follow the Bible principle about staying clean from defilements of the flesh, we will be protected from the serious health hazards of smoking, as well as drugs and other defilements.
12. Why is Bible counsel always linked to our physical and emotional well-being?
12 We should not be surprised that following Bible counsel benefits us in a physical way. Bible counsel comes from God. As our Creator, he has an intimate knowledge of how we are made and what we need. (Psalm 139:14-16) His counsel is always linked to our physical and emotional well-being.
13, 14. Why is it the course of wisdom to follow the Bible counsel not to tell lies?
13 This is seen in the counsel not to tell lies. Lies are listed among the seven things that Jehovah hates, and the book of Revelation lists liars among those who will have no place in God’s new world. (Proverbs 6:19; Revelation 21:8) In spite of this, lying is widespread. One business magazine notes: “The U.S. is experiencing the worst outbreak of fraud, deception and related abuses in its history.”2
14 Common as it is, though, lying is bad for society and bad for the individual. Columnist Clifford Longley correctly notes: “Lies hurt the liar and the lied-to, at the profoundest level of their being, by severing that essential contact between mind and reality.”3 The American Journal of Psychiatry states: “The psychological impact on persons on the receiving end of lies can be devastating. Major life decisions may be based on false information believed to be correct. Lies may also have adverse effects on liars themselves.”4 How much better to tell the truth, as the Bible wisely counsels!
15, 16. In what ways is it to our benefit to follow the Bible counsel to show love to others?
15 In a more positive vein, the Bible tells us that we should be concerned for others, show love for them, and be helpful to them. Jesus’ words are well known: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.”—Matthew 7:12.
16 How much better the world would be if everyone followed this rule! Moreover, according to a psychological study conducted in the United States, individuals would feel better. The 1,700 people studied reported that helping others gave them a sense of calmness and relief from stress-related disorders such as headaches and voice loss. The report concludes: “It appears, then, that caring about others is as much a part of human nature as caring about ourselves.”5 This reminds us of the Bible command: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39; compare John 13:34, 35.) It is natural to love ourselves. But for us to be emotionally healthy, the Bible says we have to balance that love for self with a love for others.
Marriage and Morality
17. Why does Bible counsel sometimes appear old-fashioned?
17 While Bible counsel gives evidence of deep wisdom, it does not always say the things people want to hear. Often, it is accused of being old-fashioned. Why is this? Because while the Bible’s counsel is for our long-term good, applying it often takes discipline and self-denial; and these qualities are not popular today.
18, 19. What are the Bible standards for marriage and morality?
18 Take the matter of marriage and morality. The Bible’s standards here are very strict. It specifies monogamy, one husband for one wife. And while it mentions extreme cases where divorce or separation might be possible, in general it says that the marriage bond is for life. “Did you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart.”—Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:12-15.
19 Moreover, the Bible says that the only place for sexual intimacy is within the marriage bond. It forbids all such intimacy outside marriage. We read: “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.”—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
20. In what ways are Bible standards of morality being widely ignored today?
20 Today, these standards are widely ignored. Professor of sociology David Mace notes: “During the present century our culture has undergone extensive changes, and many ancient customs and institutions have been shaken to their foundations. Marriage has been no exception.”6 Loose moral practices are common. Sexual relations between teenage dating couples are often viewed as normal. Living together before marriage—‘just to make sure’—is frequent. And once couples get married, illicit sexual affairs are not uncommon.
21. What has resulted from a widespread ignoring of Bible standards of marriage and morality?
21 Has this looser moral climate brought happiness? No, it has brought nothing but turmoil—and expensive turmoil at that—resulting in unhappiness and broken homes. There is also a pandemic of sexually transmitted diseases directly traceable to loose morality. The spread of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia, among others, is out of control. In recent years, prostitution and homosexual practices have accelerated the spread of AIDS. There is an epidemic of young single girls having babies when they are hardly out of childhood themselves. Ladies’ Home Journal noted: “The emphasis upon sex that typified the sixties and seventies has brought not infinite human happiness but some serious human misery.”7
22. In the matter of morality, what brings the greatest happiness?
22 Hence, we now hear comments like the following by professor of sociology Carlfred B. Broderick: “Perhaps we are grown up enough to consider whether it would not serve us all better to promote premarital abstinence as a policy that is the most responsive to the needs of our citizens and their right to freedom: freedom from disease, freedom from unwanted pregnancy.”8 Truly, the Bible’s standard of morality has proved, in the long run, to bring the greatest happiness.
Principles That Really Work
23. (a) If a marriage is unhappy, is divorce the only possible solution? (b) What are two of the keys to a happy, stable marriage?
23 Since marriage is meant to last for life, we need to know how to make a success of it. Some have argued that it is better to get out of an unhappy marriage than to stay in it and be miserable. But there is another alternative: to work at solving the problems that are causing the unhappiness. This is another area where the Bible helps. We have already seen how it counsels us to be faithful to our marriage partner, and this is one key to a happy, stable marriage. Another is to recognize that there can be only one head in a marriage, and the Bible says it has to be the husband. The wife is counseled to be supportive of her husband and not challenge his position. The man, on the other hand, is told to use his position for the good of his wife and not be selfish.—1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:11-14.
24, 25. How does the Bible encourage husbands and wives to fulfill their proper roles in marriage?
24 To the husband, the Bible says: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh.” (Ephesians 5:28, 29) The loving husband exercises his authority in a considerate way. He remembers that although he is the head, his wife should be considered and consulted. Marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship.
25 Bible counsel for wives includes these words: “The wife should have deep respect for her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) She respects her husband because of his position, and her respect will be evidenced by her being supportive of him, just as her husband’s love will be evidenced by his being concerned for her. To many modern-thinking individuals, advice such as this is unacceptable. But partnerships that base their relationships on love and respect—as the Bible counsels—are always happy.
26. Do the Scriptural standards for marriage really work? Illustrate.
26 The fact that Bible counsel in this area really works is seen in an experience from the South Seas. A couple there, after ten years together, were convinced that their marriage was a failure. So they started planning to separate. Then the wife spoke with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Together, she and the Witness studied the Bible’s advice for married couples. The husband reports: “As my wife was learning the Bible principles, she made efforts to apply them in her life. In a few weeks’ time, I started to notice some changes.” Intrigued, he agreed to join his wife’s study of the Bible and learned the Bible’s counsel for married men. The result? He says: “Now we have found the basis for a really happy family life.”
27. The application of which Bible principles can help Christians who suffer economic poverty?
27 Coping with poverty is yet another area where the Bible’s counsel has proved helpful. For example, smoking and drunkenness, which are both contrary to Bible principles, waste limited resources. (Proverbs 23:19-21) Further, the Bible recommends industriousness, as a hardworking person can more often find a way to feed his family than can a lazy one or one who gives in to despair. (Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:26) Moreover, heeding the advice against being “envious of those doing unrighteousness” keeps a person from resorting to such things as crime or gambling as ways to alleviate poverty. (Psalm 37:1) Such practices may seem to offer a quick solution to financial difficulties, but their long-term fruitage is very bitter.
28-30. (a) How did applying Bible principles help one Christian woman to deal with poverty? (b) To what do the experiences of thousands of Christians in economically poor circumstances testify?
28 Does this counsel really help those who are very poor, or is it just idealistic theory? The answer is, The advice works, as many experiences around the world show. To take just one example, a Christian woman in Asia found herself widowed, without any income, and with a young son to take care of. How did the Bible help her and her son?
29 She was industrious, as the Bible counsels, and started making clothes and selling them. Because she was honest and reliable, as the Bible also counsels, she soon had regular customers. (Colossians 3:23) Then, she converted a small room in her house into a small eating place and rose about four o’clock each morning to prepare food to sell, and this added to her income. “Even so,” she says, “we have to live simply.” But she remembers the Bible advice: “Having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.”—1 Timothy 6:8.
30 She adds: “Although I live near the poverty line, I am not resentful or bitter. Bible truth fills me with a positive outlook.” In addition, she has found that a notable promise that Jesus gave has really worked in her case. He said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things [material necessities] will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Her experience has been that by putting her service to God first in her life, she always receives, in one way or another, the material necessities. The experiences of this Christian lady, taken with those of countless other economically poor Christians, add to the testimony that the Bible’s counsel really works.
31. What happens when we follow Bible counsel, and to what does this fact bear witness?
31 In this chapter, we have merely touched on the vast wealth of counsel and advice that the Bible contains, and we have seen just a few cases where this counsel has worked. The experiences mentioned could be multiplied a thousandfold. Time and again, when people follow the Bible, they benefit. When they ignore it, they suffer. No other body of counsel, ancient or modern, is so consistently beneficial and applies to people of all races. Wise counsel such as this cannot be merely folk wisdom. The fact that the Bible is a rich repository of such wisdom is powerful evidence that it is the Word of God.
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A helping attitude benefits everyone
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Walking with wise persons makes us wise, but associating with stupid persons will affect us badly
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Smoking tobacco is to be avoided because it is against Bible principles
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Those who follow Bible counsel in marriage have a solid basis for happiness
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Applying Bible counsel helps people to cope with the severe problems of poverty