Why Living a Godly Life Brings Happiness
1. Why can we say that Jehovah’s way brings happiness?
JEHOVAH is “the happy God,” and he wants you to enjoy life. (1 Timothy 1:11) By walking in his way, you can benefit yourself and experience tranquillity that is deep and lasting, like an ever-flowing river. Walking in God’s way also moves one to perform continuous acts of righteousness, “like the waves of the sea.” This brings true happiness.—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
2. How can Christians be happy though they are sometimes treated badly?
2 Some may object, ‘People sometimes suffer for doing what is right.’ True, and that is what happened to Jesus’ apostles. Although persecuted, however, they rejoiced and went on “declaring the good news about the Christ.” (Acts 5:40-42) We can learn important lessons from this. One is that our living a godly life does not guarantee that we will always be treated well. “In fact,” wrote the apostle Paul, “all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12) The reason for this is that Satan and his world are opposed to those who live in a godly way. (John 15:18, 19; 1 Peter 5:8) But genuine happiness is not dependent on external things. Rather, it comes from a conviction that we are doing what is right and therefore have God’s smile of approval.—Matthew 5:10-12; James 1:2, 3; 1 Peter 4:13, 14.
3. How should the worship of Jehovah affect a person’s life?
3 There are people who feel that they can earn God’s favor through occasional acts of devotion but can forget about him at other times. True worship of Jehovah God is not like that. It affects a person’s conduct throughout all his waking hours, from day to day, year after year. That is why it is also called “The Way.” (Acts 19:9; Isaiah 30:21) It is a godly way of living that calls upon us to speak and act in harmony with God’s Word.
4. Why is it beneficial to make changes so as to live according to God’s ways?
4 When new students of the Bible see that they need to make some changes in order to please Jehovah, they may wonder, ‘Is a godly life really worth living?’ You can be sure that it is. Why? Because “God is love,” and his ways are therefore meant to benefit us. (1 John 4:8) God is also wise and knows what is best for us. Since Jehovah God is almighty, he is able to strengthen us to fulfill our desire to please him by breaking a bad habit. (Philippians 4:13) Let us consider some principles involved in godly living and see how applying them brings happiness.
HONESTY RESULTS IN HAPPINESS
5. What does the Bible say about lying and theft?
5 Jehovah is “the God of truth.” (Psalm 31:5) No doubt, you desire to follow his example and be known as a truthful person. Honesty leads to self-respect and a feeling of well-being. Because dishonesty is so common in this sinful world, however, Christians need this reminder: “Speak truth each one of you with his neighbor . . . Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work . . . that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.” (Ephesians 4:25, 28) Christian employees do an honest day’s work. Unless their employer gives permission, they do not take things that belong to him. Whether at work, in school, or at home, a worshiper of Jehovah must be ‘honest in all things.’ (Hebrews 13:18) Anyone who makes it a practice to lie or steal cannot have God’s favor.—Deuteronomy 5:19; Revelation 21:8.
6. How might a godly person’s honesty bring glory to Jehovah?
6 Being honest results in many blessings. Selina is a needy African widow who loves Jehovah God and his righteous principles. One day, she found a bag containing a bankbook and a large sum of money. Using a telephone directory, she was able to find the owner—a storekeeper who had been robbed. The man could not believe his eyes when Selina, though quite sick, visited him and returned the full contents of the bag. “Such honesty must be rewarded,” he said and handed her a sum of money. More important, this man praised Selina’s religion. Yes, honest deeds adorn Bible teaching, glorify Jehovah God, and bring happiness to his honest worshipers.—Titus 2:10; 1 Peter 2:12.
GENEROSITY BRINGS HAPPINESS
7. What is wrong with gambling?
7 There is happiness in being generous, whereas greedy persons will not “inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Corinthians 6:10) A common form of greed is gambling, which is an attempt to make money through the losses of others. Jehovah does not approve of those who are “greedy of dishonest gain.” (1 Timothy 3:8) Even where gambling is legal and a person gambles for fun, he could become addicted and be promoting a practice that has ruined many lives. Gambling often brings hardship to the gambler’s family, who may be left with little money to buy such necessities as food and clothing.—1 Timothy 6:10.
8. How did Jesus set a fine example of generosity, and how can we be generous?
8 Because of their loving generosity, Christians find joy in assisting others, especially needy fellow believers. (James 2:15, 16) Before Jesus came to earth, he observed God’s generosity toward mankind. (Acts 14:16, 17) Jesus himself gave his time, his talents, and even his life in behalf of humankind. Hence, he was well qualified to say: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) Jesus also spoke well of the poor widow who generously put two small coins in the temple treasure chest, for she gave “her whole living.” (Mark 12:41-44) The ancient Israelites and the first-century Christians provide examples of joyful generosity in giving material support to the congregation and the Kingdom work. (1 Chronicles 29:9; 2 Corinthians 9:11-14) In addition to making material contributions for these purposes, present-day Christians happily offer praise to God and use their lives in his service. (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15) Jehovah blesses them for using their time, energy, and other resources, including their funds, to support true worship and promote the worldwide work of preaching the good news of the Kingdom.—Proverbs 3:9, 10.
OTHER FACTORS PROMOTING HAPPINESS
9. What is wrong with excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages?
9 To be happy, Christians must also ‘guard their thinking abilities.’ (Proverbs 5:1, 2) This requires that they read and meditate on God’s Word and wholesome Bible literature. But there are things to avoid. For instance, excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages can make a person lose control of his thinking. In such a state, many people get involved in immoral behavior, act violently, and cause deadly accidents. No wonder the Bible says that drunkards will not inherit God’s Kingdom! (1 Corinthians 6:10) Determined to stay “sound in mind,” true Christians avoid drunkenness, and this helps to promote happiness among them.—Titus 2:2-6.
10. (a) Why do Christians not use tobacco? (b) What benefits come from breaking addictive habits?
10 A clean body contributes to happiness. Yet, many become addicted to harmful substances. For example, consider the use of tobacco. The World Health Organization reports that smoking “kills three million people each year.” Breaking the tobacco habit can be difficult because of temporary withdrawal symptoms. On the other hand, many ex-smokers find that they have better health and more money for household needs. Yes, overcoming the tobacco habit or addiction to other harmful substances will contribute to a clean body, a clear conscience, and true happiness.—2 Corinthians 7:1.
HAPPINESS IN MARRIAGE
11. What is required to have a legal and lasting honorable marriage?
11 Those living together as husband and wife should make sure that their marriage has been properly registered with the civil authorities. (Mark 12:17) They also need to view wedlock as a serious responsibility. True, separation might become necessary in cases of willful nonsupport, extreme abuse, or the absolute endangerment of spirituality. (1 Timothy 5:8; Galatians 5:19-21) But the apostle Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 7:10-17 encourage marriage mates to stay together. For true happiness, of course, they must be faithful to each other. Paul wrote: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4) The term “marriage bed” denotes sexual intercourse between a man and woman legally married to each other. No other sexual relationship, such as marriage to more than one wife, can be described as “honorable among all.” Moreover, the Bible condemns premarital intercourse and homosexuality.—Romans 1:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:18.
12. What are some of the bad fruits of fornication?
12 Fornication may bring a few moments of physical pleasure, but it does not result in true happiness. It displeases God and can scar the person’s conscience. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) The sad consequences of illegitimate sex may be AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. “It has been estimated that more than 250 million people worldwide are infected annually with gonorrhoea, and about 50 million with syphilis,” states one medical report. There is also the problem of unwanted pregnancies. The International Planned Parenthood Federation reports that, around the world, more than 15 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 become pregnant each year, and a third of them have abortions. A study showed that in one African country, abortion complications result in 72 percent of all deaths among teenage girls. Some fornicators may escape disease and pregnancy but not emotional damage. Many lose their self-respect and even hate themselves.
13. What additional problems are caused by adultery, and what lies ahead for those who continue to be fornicators and adulterers?
13 Although adultery may be forgiven, it is a valid Scriptural basis for divorce on the part of the innocent mate. (Matthew 5:32; compare Hosea 3:1-5.) When such immorality results in the breakup of a marriage, this may leave deep emotional scars on the innocent mate and on the children. For the good of the human family, God’s Word points out that his adverse judgment will come upon unrepentant fornicators and adulterers. Moreover, it clearly shows that those who practice sexual immorality “will not inherit God’s kingdom.”—Galatians 5:19, 21.
“NO PART OF THE WORLD”
14. (a) What are some forms of idolatry that are avoided by a godly person? (b) What guidance is provided at John 17:14 and Isaiah 2:4?
14 Those desiring to please Jehovah and enjoy Kingdom blessings avoid idolatry in any form. The Bible shows that it is wrong to make and worship images, including those of Christ, or of Jesus’ mother, Mary. (Exodus 20:4, 5; 1 John 5:21) So, true Christians do not venerate icons, crosses, and images. They also avoid more subtle forms of idolatry, such as acts of devotion to flags and the singing of songs that glorify nations. When pressured to perform such acts, they recall Jesus’ words to Satan: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Matthew 4:8-10) Jesus said that his followers are “no part of the world.” (John 17:14) This means being neutral in political affairs and living peacefully in harmony with Isaiah 2:4, which says: “He [Jehovah God] will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”
15. What is Babylon the Great, and what do many new Bible students do to get out of her?
15 Being “no part of the world” also means breaking off all association with “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion. Unclean worship spread from ancient Babylon until it held harmful spiritual dominion over people earth wide. “Babylon the Great” embraces all religions whose doctrines and practices are out of harmony with the knowledge of God. (Revelation 17:1, 5, 15) No faithful worshiper of Jehovah will engage in interfaith activities by sharing in worship with different religions or by having spiritual fellowship with any part of Babylon the Great. (Numbers 25:1-9; 2 Corinthians 6:14) Consequently, many new Bible students send a letter of resignation to the religious organization to which they belong. This has brought them closer to the true God, as promised: “‘Get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing’; ‘and I will take you in.’” (2 Corinthians 6:17; Revelation 18:4, 5) Is not such acceptance by our heavenly Father what you keenly desire?
WEIGHING ANNUAL OBSERVANCES
16. Why do true Christians not celebrate Christmas?
16 A godly life frees us from the often burdensome celebrating of worldly holidays. For instance, the Bible does not reveal the exact day of Jesus’ birth. ‘I thought Jesus was born on December 25!’ some may exclaim. This is not possible because he died in the spring of 33 C.E. at 33 1/2 years of age. Moreover, at the time of his birth, shepherds were “living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks.” (Luke 2:8) In the land of Israel, late December is a cold, rainy season during which sheep would be kept in shelters overnight to protect them from the winter weather. Actually, December 25 was set aside by the Romans as the birthday of their sun god. Centuries after Jesus was on earth, apostate Christians adopted this date for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Consequently, true Christians do not celebrate Christmas or any other holiday based on false religious beliefs. Because they give Jehovah exclusive devotion, they also do not observe holidays that idolize sinful humans or nations.
17. Why do godly people not hold birthday parties, and why are Christian children happy anyway?
17 The Bible specifically mentions only two birthday observances, both involving men who did not serve God. (Genesis 40:20-22; Matthew 14:6-11) Since the Scriptures do not reveal the birth date of the perfect man Jesus Christ, why should we give special attention to the birthdays of imperfect humans? (Ecclesiastes 7:1) Of course, godly parents do not await a special day to show their children love. A 13-year-old Christian girl remarked: “My family and I have lots of fun. . . . I’m very close to my parents, and when other kids ask why I don’t celebrate holidays, I tell them that I celebrate every day.” Said a Christian youth aged 17: “In our house, gift-giving is all year long.” Greater happiness results when gifts are given spontaneously.
18. What one annual observance did Jesus command his followers to keep, and of what does it remind us?
18 For those pursuing a godly life, there is one day each year to be specially observed. It is the Lord’s Evening Meal, often called the Memorial of Christ’s death. Concerning it, Jesus commanded his followers: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25) When Jesus instituted this meal on the night of Nisan 14, 33 C.E., he used unleavened bread and red wine, representing his sinless human body and his perfect blood. (Matthew 26:26-29) These emblems are partaken of by Christians anointed with God’s holy spirit. They have been taken into the new covenant and the covenant for the Kingdom, and they have a heavenly hope. (Luke 12:32; 22:20, 28-30; Romans 8:16, 17; Revelation 14:1-5) Nevertheless, benefits are experienced by all those present on the evening that corresponds with Nisan 14 on the ancient Jewish calendar. They are reminded of the love shown by Jehovah God and Jesus Christ in the sin-atoning ransom sacrifice that makes eternal life possible for those having divine favor.—Matthew 20:28; John 3:16.
EMPLOYMENT AND ENTERTAINMENT
19. What challenge do Christians face in earning a living?
19 True Christians are under obligation to work hard and provide for their needs. Accomplishing this brings family heads a feeling of satisfaction. (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12) Of course, if a Christian’s employment conflicted with the Bible, this would rob him of happiness. Yet, it is sometimes difficult for a Christian to find employment that is in harmony with Bible standards. For instance, some employees are required to deceive customers. On the other hand, many employers will make concessions to accommodate the conscience of an honest worker, not wanting to lose a trustworthy employee. Whatever develops, however, you can be sure that God will bless your efforts to find employment that leaves you with a clean conscience.—2 Corinthians 4:2.
20. Why should we be selective in choosing entertainment?
20 Since God wants his servants to be happy, we need to balance hard work with refreshing periods of recreation and rest. (Mark 6:31; Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13) Satan’s world promotes ungodly entertainment. But to please God, we must be selective about books we read, radio programs and music we listen to, and concerts, films, plays, television programs, and videos we watch. If the entertainment we chose in the past conflicts with the warnings in such scriptures as Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Psalm 11:5, and Ephesians 5:3-5, we will please Jehovah and will be happier if we make adjustments.
RESPECT FOR LIFE AND BLOOD
21. How should respect for life affect our view of abortion, as well as our habits and conduct?
21 For true happiness, we need to view human life as sacred, even as Jehovah does. His Word forbids us to commit murder. (Matthew 19:16-18) In fact, God’s Law to Israel shows that he views the unborn child as a precious life—not something to be destroyed. (Exodus 21:22, 23) For that matter, we must not treat life as something cheap by using tobacco, abusing our body with drugs or alcohol, or taking needless risks. Neither should we engage in any life-threatening pursuits nor should we ignore safety precautions, which might result in bloodguilt.—Deuteronomy 22:8.
22. (a) What is the godly view of blood and its use? (b) Whose blood alone is truly lifesaving?
22 Jehovah told Noah and his family that blood represents the soul, or life. Therefore, God forbade them to eat any blood. (Genesis 9:3, 4) Since we are their descendants, that law is binding upon all of us. Jehovah told the Israelites that blood was to be poured out on the ground and was not to be used for man’s own purposes. (Deuteronomy 12:15, 16) And God’s law on blood was reiterated when first-century Christians were instructed: “Keep abstaining . . . from blood.” (Acts 15:28, 29) Out of respect for the sanctity of life, godly people do not accept blood transfusions, even if others insist that such a procedure would be lifesaving. Many medical alternatives acceptable to Jehovah’s Witnesses have proved to be very effective and do not expose one to the hazards of blood transfusions. Christians know that only Jesus’ shed blood is truly lifesaving. Faith in it brings forgiveness and the prospect of eternal life.—Ephesians 1:7.
23. What are some rewards of a godly way of life?
23 Clearly, living a godly life requires effort. It may result in ridicule from family members or acquaintances. (Matthew 10:32-39; 1 Peter 4:4) But the rewards of living such a life far outweigh any trials. It results in a clean conscience and provides wholesome companionship with fellow worshipers of Jehovah. (Matthew 19:27, 29) Then, too, imagine living forever in God’s righteous new world. (Isaiah 65:17, 18) And what joy there is in complying with Bible counsel and thus making Jehovah’s heart rejoice! (Proverbs 27:11) No wonder that living a godly life brings happiness!—Psalm 128:1, 2.
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE
What are some reasons why living a godly life brings happiness?
Godly living may call for what changes?
Why do you want to live a godly life?
[Picture on page 124, 125]
Spiritual activities balanced with periods of relaxation contribute to the happiness of those living a godly life