WHEN faced with a problem, where do you seek counsel? You might turn to a trusted friend or an experienced counselor. Checking for sources of information, such as at a library, may help. Or you might look to “Grandma’s wisdom,” as some Orientals call it, to draw on years of experience. Whatever process you prefer, it is good to consider concise words of wisdom that give valuable tips for solving the problem. Here is a sampling of sound advice that you will find helpful.
2 Family Life: Many parents are worried about raising their children in a world filled with unwholesome influences. Considering the following advice can help: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.”1 As children grow older, they need “the way,” a set of standards to meet. More and more specialists have come to realize the importance of providing beneficial rules for children. Wise parental standards give children a feeling of security. In addition: “The rod and reproof are what give wisdom; but a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.”2 “The rod” refers to parental authority that must be applied lovingly to prevent children from going astray. Wielding such authority does not involve abusing the child in any way. The counsel to parents is: “Do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.”3
3 A fine relationship between a husband and wife is the basis for a happy family. What is needed for such a relationship? “Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.”4 Love and respect work as lubricants in the family mechanism. To make this counsel work, communication is vital because “there is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk.”5 To promote heart-to-heart communication, we should seek to gain insight into our mate’s feelings, drawing out how he or she really feels. It is wise to keep in mind that “a [person’s] mind may lie deep as water in a well, but a clever man [or, woman] will draw it from him.”6
4 Many elderly people feel very lonesome in their later years, being left alone by their offspring, even in countries where filial respect was once the norm. Yet, their offspring do well to consider these wise sayings: “Honor your father and your mother.”7 “Do not despise your mother just because she has grown old.”8 “He that is maltreating a father and that chases a mother away is a son acting shamefully and disgracefully.”9 Elderly parents, on the other hand, need to have a positive outlook and take the initiative to seek heartwarming relationships. “One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.”10
5 Use of Alcohol: It is true that “wine itself makes life rejoice,”11 and that drinking alcoholic beverages may let “one remember [his] own trouble no more.”12 But remember: “Wine is a ridiculer, intoxicating liquor is boisterous, and everyone going astray by it is not wise.”13 Think of the effects of overdrinking: “At its end [wine] bites just like a serpent, and it secretes poison just like a viper. Your own eyes will see strange things, and your own heart will speak perverse things. . . . ‘When shall I wake up? I shall seek it yet some more.’”14 The moderate use of alcoholic beverages may be beneficial, but abuse of them must always be shunned.
6 Money Management: In some cases, money problems can be prevented by managing funds wisely. Listen to this counsel: “Do not come to be among heavy drinkers of wine, among those who are gluttonous eaters of flesh. For a drunkard and a glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with mere rags.”15 By avoiding alcohol and drug abuse as well as such habits as gambling, we can use our money to provide for our family in a wholesome way. Still, many fail to live within their means and end up working hard just to pay off their debts. Some even obtain a loan to repay the interest on another loan. Keeping in mind the following words of wisdom will help: “He that is pursuing valueless things will have his sufficiency of poverty.”16 We might ask ourselves: ‘Do I really need the things that I may want to buy? How many things end up in the closet after being used just a few times?’ A columnist wrote: “Man’s necessities are few—his wants, infinite.” Take note of these words of wisdom: “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. . . . The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some . . . have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”17
7 Diligence goes a long way in solving money problems. “Go to the ant, you lazy one; see its ways and become wise. . . . A little more sleep, a little more slumbering, a little more folding of the hands in lying down, and your poverty will certainly come just like some rover.”18 Careful planning and a realistic budget can also help: “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it?”19
8 What, though, if we experience poverty through no fault of our own? For instance, because of an economic upheaval, we may end up unemployed even though we are willing to work hard. Or we may dwell in a land where most people live below the poverty line. What then? “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.”20 Moreover, consider this advice: “Have you beheld a man skillful in his work? Before kings is where he will station himself.”21 Can we learn skills that will help us in finding work?
9 The following advice may sound contradictory, but it is really effective: “Practice giving, and people will give to you . . . , for with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.”22 This does not mean giving with the expectation of receiving favors in return. Rather, the counsel is to cultivate a generous spirit: “The generous soul will itself be made fat, and the one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.”23 By sharing things in times of need, we promote a spirit of giving that may eventually benefit us.
10 Human relationships: A wise king observed: “I myself have seen all the hard work and all the proficiency in work, that it means the rivalry of one toward another; this also is vanity and a striving after the wind.”24 Rivalry has driven many people to act unwisely. A person sees his neighbor getting a 32-inch (80 cm) television set, and off he goes to buy a 36-inch (90 cm) set, even though his 27-inch (70 cm) set works perfectly. Such rivalry is indeed vanity, just like striving after the wind—a lot of running around for nothing. Don’t you agree?
11 We may be offended by what others have said to us. But consider this advice: “Do not hurry yourself in your spirit to become offended, for the taking of offense is what rests in the bosom of the stupid ones.”25 True, there are instances where becoming indignant can be justified. “Be wrathful,” concedes an ancient writer, “and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state.”26 How, though, can we deal with the strong emotion of anger? “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression.”27 Insight is what is needed. We might ask ourselves: ‘Why did he act that way? Were there extenuating circumstances?’ In addition to insight, there are qualities that can be cultivated to deal with anger. “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. . . . But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.”28 Yes, love irons out many a problem in human relationships.
12 Still, there is “a little member” that stands in the way of maintaining peaceful human relationships—the tongue. How true these words are: “The tongue, not one of mankind can get it tamed. An unruly injurious thing, it is full of death-dealing poison.”29 And noteworthy indeed is this advice: “Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.”30 In the use of the tongue, however, we need to be careful not to resort to half-truths in order to maintain a superficial peace. “Just let your word ‘Yes’ mean Yes, your ‘No,’ No; for what is in excess of these is from the wicked one.”31
13 How can we maintain wholesome relationships with others? Note this guiding principle: ‘Keep an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.’32 Thus we will be living up to what many call the Golden Rule: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.”33
14 Stress: How can we maintain emotional balance in this world full of stress? “A joyful heart has a good effect on the countenance, but because of the pain of the heart there is a stricken spirit.”34 We may easily lose “a joyful heart” when we see others ignore what seems right in our eyes. Yet, we do well to remember these words: “Do not become righteous overmuch, nor show yourself excessively wise. Why should you cause desolation to yourself?”35 On the other hand, anxieties of life may constantly afflict us. Then what? Let us remember: “Anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down, but the good word is what makes it rejoice.”36 We might ponder over “the good word,” the kind word that encourages us. Having a positive attitude despite depressing circumstances may even have a healthful effect: “A heart that is joyful does good as a curer.”37 When we become depressed because others do not seem to care about us, we could try practicing this formula: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”38 By having a positive attitude, we can cope with the stress we face each day.
15 Do you think that the aforementioned words of wisdom can work for you living in the 21st century? In fact, they are found in an ancient book—the Bible. But why look to the Bible instead of to other sources of wisdom? Because, among other reasons, the principles found in the Bible have time-tested value. Take, for example, Yasuhiro and Kayoko, who were involved in the women’s liberation movement. They got married only because Kayoko was pregnant with Yasuhiro’s baby. On account of financial problems and a sense of incompatibility, however, they soon got a divorce. Later, unknown to each other, both of them started to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Each of them observed significant changes in the other’s life. Yasuhiro and Kayoko decided to remarry. Although their life is not problem-free, they now have Bible principles to live by, and both are making concessions to solve their problems. Among Jehovah’s Witnesses, you will see the fine results of applying Bible principles in life. How about attending one of their meetings to get acquainted with people who are trying to live by the Bible?
16 The advice quoted above is merely a sampling of the inexhaustible supply of practical wisdom you can find in this gold mine of enlightenment, the Bible. There are reasons why Jehovah’s Witnesses willingly apply Bible principles in their lives. Why not find out the reasons behind that willingness and learn some basic facts about the Bible?