AS God’s dedicated servants, we are under obligation to reflect Jehovah’s glory in all that we say and do. The apostle Paul offered a guiding principle when he wrote: “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.” (1 Cor. 10:31) This involves our holding to Jehovah’s righteous standards, which are a reflection of his own perfect personality. (Col. 3:10) We must become imitators of God, as a holy people.—Eph. 5:1, 2.
2 Calling this to the attention of Christians, the apostle Peter wrote: “As obedient children, stop being molded by the desires you formerly had in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all your conduct, for it is written: ‘You must be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Pet. 1:14-16) As in Israel of old, members of the Christian congregation are required to maintain holiness. This means that they are to remain untarnished, clean from sinful contamination and worldliness. They are thus set apart for sacred service.—Ex. 20:5.
3 Holiness is maintained by adhering to Jehovah’s laws and principles, which are clearly set out in the Holy Scriptures. (2 Tim. 3:16) Through a study of the Bible, we were taught about Jehovah and his ways, and we were drawn to him. Our study convinced us of the need to seek first God’s Kingdom and to make the doing of Jehovah’s will paramount in our life. (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 12:2) This required that we put on the new personality.—Eph. 4:22-24.
SPIRITUAL AND MORAL CLEANNESS
4 Holding to Jehovah’s righteous standards is not always easy. Our adversary, Satan the Devil, seeks to turn us aside from the truth. This world’s wicked influences and our own sinful tendencies make things difficult at times. Living up to our dedication requires a spiritual fight on our part. The Scriptures tell us not to be surprised when we encounter opposition or trials. We will have to suffer for the sake of righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:12) We can be happy when undergoing trials, knowing that such trials are proof that we are doing God’s will.—1 Pet. 3:14-16; 4:12, 14-16.
5 Though Jesus was perfect, he learned obedience by the things he suffered. At no time did he yield to Satan’s temptations or develop worldly aspirations. (Matt. 4:1-11; John 6:15) Not once did Jesus even give thought to a compromise. Although his faithful course incurred the world’s hatred, he held to Jehovah’s righteous standards. Shortly before his death, Jesus warned his disciples that the world would hate them too. From that time forward, Jesus’ followers have experienced tribulation, but they have taken courage in knowing that the Son of God conquered the world.—John 15:19; 16:33; 17:16.
6 In order to be no part of the world, we need to uphold Jehovah’s righteous standards, as our Master did. In addition to avoiding involvement with the world’s political and social issues, we must resist its degraded moral climate. We take seriously the counsel found at James 1:21: “Put away all filthiness and every trace of badness, and accept with mildness the implanting of the word that is able to save you.” Through study and meeting attendance, we can experience “the implanting of the word” of truth in our mind and heart, and we will not even begin to desire what the world offers. The disciple James wrote: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is making himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4) For this reason, the Bible contains strong admonition that we hold to Jehovah’s righteous standards and remain separate from the world.
7 God’s Word warns us against sharing in shameful and immoral conduct. It tells us: “Let sexual immorality and every sort of uncleanness or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as is proper for holy people.” (Eph. 5:3) So we must refuse to allow our mind to dwell on things that are obscene, shameful, or base, and we would certainly not allow such things to creep into our conversation. Thereby we give proof of wanting to hold to Jehovah’s clean and righteous standards of morality.
8 Along with spiritual and moral cleanness, Christians recognize the importance of being physically clean. In ancient Israel, the God of holiness required that the camp be kept clean. We too must be clean so that Jehovah “does not see anything indecent” in us.—Deut. 23:14.
9 Holiness and physical cleanliness are closely linked in the Bible. For example, Paul wrote: “Beloved ones, let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1) Christian men and women, therefore, should strive to keep their bodies clean by regularly bathing and by washing their clothes. While conditions vary from country to country, we can generally find enough soap and water to keep our bodies clean and to make sure that our children are kept clean.
10 Because of our witnessing activity, we are usually well-known in the community where we live. Keeping a neat, clean, and orderly home, inside and out, is in itself a witness to the neighbors. This is something in which the whole family can be involved. Brothers should take particular interest in the home and its surroundings, knowing that a tidy yard and well-kept home make a favorable impression on others. This, along with their taking the lead in spiritual matters, is an indication that family heads are presiding well over their own household. (1 Tim. 3:4, 12) Sisters too have a responsibility to care for things, especially inside the home. (Titus 2:4, 5) Well-trained children do their part in keeping themselves as well as their rooms neat and clean. Thus the family works together in developing patterns of cleanliness that will fit in with the new world under God’s Kingdom.
11 Many of Jehovah’s people today use automobiles for transportation to meetings. In some areas, a car is practically indispensable for the ministry. The car should be kept clean and in good repair. Our homes and automobiles should testify that we are part of Jehovah’s clean and holy people. The same principle applies to our witnessing case and Bible.
12 Our dress and grooming should be in keeping with godly principles. We would not think of appearing before a prominent person if we were slovenly dressed or our clothes were too casual. How much more concerned we should be when representing Jehovah in the field ministry or on the platform! Our grooming and clothing styles can influence how others view the worship of Jehovah. It would certainly not be fitting to be immodest or inconsiderate of others. (Mic. 6:8; 1 Cor. 10:31-33; 1 Tim. 2:9, 10) Hence, when we are getting ready to go in service or to go to congregation meetings, circuit assemblies, or larger conventions, we should have in mind what the Scriptures say about physical cleanliness and modest appearance. We always want to honor and glorify Jehovah.
As God’s dedicated servants, we are under obligation to reflect Jehovah’s glory in all that we say and do
13 The same would apply when we visit world headquarters or a branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Remember, the name Bethel means “House of God.” Therefore, we should dress and conduct ourselves as we would when we attend meetings at the Kingdom Hall.
14 Even when engaging in leisure activities, we want to give attention to our dress and grooming. We might ask ourselves, ‘Would I be embarrassed to witness informally because of the way I am dressed?’
WHOLESOME RECREATION AND ENTERTAINMENT
15 Rest and recreation are necessary for staying balanced and healthy. Once Jesus invited his disciples to come with him to a lonely place to “rest up a little.” (Mark 6:31) Rest as well as wholesome recreation or entertainment can provide some pleasant diversion. It can refresh us so that we can press ahead with our normal work.
16 With so many forms of recreation available today, Christians need to be selective, exercising godly wisdom in what they do. While recreation has its place, it is not the big thing in life. We are warned that in “the last days,” men would be “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Tim. 3:1, 4) Much of what is called recreation and entertainment is objectionable to those who desire to hold to Jehovah’s righteous standards.
17 The early Christians had to resist the unwholesome environment in the pleasure-seeking world around them. At the Roman circus, spectators were entertained by viewing the sufferings of others. Violence, bloodshed, and sexual immorality were staged for the amusement of the populace, but the early Christians stayed away from such things. Today, much of the world’s entertainment features similar elements and caters to base human appetites. We need to “keep strict watch” on how we walk, turning away from demoralizing entertainment. (Eph. 5:15, 16; Ps. 11:5) And even if the entertainment itself may not be objectionable, the general atmosphere may be unacceptable.—1 Pet. 4:1-4.
18 There are wholesome forms of recreation and entertainment that Christians can enjoy. Many have benefited from following the Scriptural counsel and balanced suggestions that can be found in our publications.
19 At times, several families may be invited to a home for Christian fellowship. Or brothers and sisters may be invited to attend a wedding reception or a similar social occasion. (John 2:2) The hosts should feel personally responsible for what takes place. Clearly, there is need for caution when large groups get together. The relaxed atmosphere at such gatherings has led some to go beyond the limits of proper Christian conduct, becoming involved in excessive eating and drinking and even other serious wrongdoing. With this in mind, discerning Christians have seen the wisdom of limiting the size and duration of such gatherings. If alcoholic beverages are served, they should be used in moderation. (Phil. 4:5) If every effort is made to ensure that get-togethers are wholesome and spiritually refreshing, food and drink will not be the most important consideration.
20 It is a fine thing to be hospitable. (1 Pet. 4:9) When inviting other Christians to our home for a meal, refreshments, relaxation, and fellowship, we want to keep in mind those who may be disadvantaged. (Luke 14:12-14) If we are guests on such occasions, our conduct should be in line with the counsel found at Mark 12:31. It is always good to show appreciation for the kindness of others.
21 Christians rejoice in God’s bounteous gifts and in knowing that they can “eat and drink and find enjoyment for all [their] hard work.” (Eccl. 3:12, 13) When we “do all things for God’s glory,” hosts as well as guests can look back on social gatherings with the satisfaction of having been spiritually refreshed.
22 Children of Jehovah’s Witnesses benefit from getting a basic secular education. While attending school, they are interested in learning to read and write well. Other subjects taught in school can be of value to young people as they pursue spiritual goals. During their school years, they will want to make a diligent effort to ‘remember their Grand Creator’ by putting spiritual things first.—Eccl. 12:1.
23 If you are a Christian youth attending school, take care not to associate unnecessarily with worldly youths. (2 Tim. 3:1, 2) Because Jehovah has provided the necessary protection, there is much you can do to ward off worldly influences. (Ps. 23:4; 91:1, 2) So to safeguard yourself, take advantage of Jehovah’s provisions.—Ps. 23:5.
24 To keep separate from the world while they are in school, most young Witnesses choose not to participate in extracurricular activities. This may be difficult for classmates and teachers to understand. However, pleasing God is what counts. It means that you will exercise your Bible-trained conscience and be resolved not to become involved in worldly competition or nationalism. (Gal. 5:19, 26) By listening to the Scriptural counsel of godly parents and taking advantage of the good association in the congregation, you young ones can hold to Jehovah’s righteous standards.
SECULAR WORK AND ASSOCIATES
25 Family heads have a Scriptural obligation to provide for their household. (1 Tim. 5:8) Even so, as ministers they recognize that their secular work is secondary to the pursuit of Kingdom interests. (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 11:13) By practicing godly devotion and being content with food and clothing, they avoid the anxieties and snares of a materialistic way of life.—1 Tim. 6:6-10.
26 All dedicated Christians who work secularly should have Scriptural principles in mind. Making honest provision for ourselves means that we refuse to engage in practices that violate God’s law or the law of the land. (Rom. 13:1, 2; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10) We keep in mind the dangers of bad associations. As soldiers of Christ, we refrain from engaging in commercial endeavors that violate godly standards, compromise our Christian neutrality, or jeopardize our spirituality. (Isa. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:4) And we do not have connections with God’s religious enemy, “Babylon the Great.”—Rev. 18:2, 4; 2 Cor. 6:14-17.
27 Adhering to God’s righteous standards will prevent us from using our theocratic association to promote business ventures or other personal interests. The purpose of our association with others at Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions is exclusively to worship Jehovah. We are feeding at his spiritual table and enjoying “an interchange of encouragement.” (Rom. 1:11, 12; Heb. 10:24, 25) Such association should be kept on a spiritual level.
DWELLING IN CHRISTIAN UNITY
28 Jehovah’s righteous standards also require that his people “maintain the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3) Rather than seeking to please himself, each one seeks to pursue what is good toward others. (1 Thess. 5:15) This is no doubt the spirit you have found in your congregation. No matter what our racial, national, social, economic, or educational background may be, all of us are governed by the same righteous standards. Even outsiders have observed this outstanding characteristic of Jehovah’s people.—1 Pet. 2:12.
29 Further emphasizing the basis for unity, the apostle Paul wrote: “One body there is, and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6) This calls for unity in understanding basic Bible doctrines as well as more advanced Bible teachings in recognition of Jehovah’s sovereignty. Truly, Jehovah has given his people the pure language of truth, enabling them to serve shoulder to shoulder.—Zeph. 3:9.
30 The unity and peace of the Christian congregation is a source of refreshment for all who worship Jehovah. We have experienced the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise: “In unity I will place them, like sheep in the pen.” (Mic. 2:12) We want to maintain that peaceful unity by holding to Jehovah’s righteous standards.
31 Happy are those who have been accepted into the clean congregation of Jehovah! To be called by Jehovah’s name is worth every sacrifice we may have to make. As we maintain our precious relationship with Jehovah, we will diligently strive to hold to his righteous standards and to recommend them to others.—2 Cor. 3:18.