“With you is the source of life.”—PSALM 36:9.
1, 2. What precious gift did Jehovah give us?
JEHOVAH has given every one of us a wonderful gift. It is the gift of life. (Genesis 1:27) He wants us to have the best life possible. So he has provided principles that teach us how we can make good decisions. We should use these principles to help us to “distinguish” between “right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:14) When we do so, we are allowing Jehovah to train us to think clearly. As we live by God’s principles and see how they make our life better, we come to understand just how precious they truly are.
2 Life can be very complicated. Situations often come up that are not covered by a direct law in the Bible. For example, we may need to make decisions about medical treatments that involve the use of blood. How can we make decisions that will please Jehovah? The Bible contains principles that teach us how Jehovah views life and blood. If we understand these principles, we will be able to make wise decisions and keep a good conscience. (Proverbs 2:6-11) Now, let’s examine some of those principles.
HOW DOES GOD VIEW LIFE AND BLOOD?
3, 4. (a) How did God reveal his view of blood? (b) What does blood represent?
3 The Bible teaches us that blood is sacred because it represents life. And life is precious to Jehovah. After Cain murdered his brother, Jehovah told him: “Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10) Abel’s blood represented his life; when Cain killed Abel, he took his life away.
4 After the Flood of Noah’s day, God told humans that they could eat meat. But he specifically said: “Flesh with its life—its blood—you must not eat.” (Genesis 9:4) This command applies to all of Noah’s descendants, including us. Plainly, to Jehovah, blood represents life. And we need to view blood the same way.—Psalm 36:9.
5, 6. How did the Law of Moses show how Jehovah views life and blood?
5 In the Law Jehovah gave to Moses, He stated: “If any man . . . eats any sort of blood, I will certainly set my face against the one who is eating the blood, and I will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood.”—Leviticus 17:10, 11.
6 The Law of Moses said that when someone killed an animal for food, he had to pour its blood onto the ground. This showed that the animal’s life was given back to its Creator, Jehovah. (Deuteronomy 12:16; Ezekiel 18:4) But Jehovah did not expect the Israelites to go to extremes when they bled an animal. As long as they did all they reasonably could to remove the blood, they could eat the meat with a clean conscience. By showing respect for the animal’s blood, they showed that they respected the Giver of life, Jehovah. The Law also commanded the Israelites to offer animals as sacrifices to cover sins.—See Endnotes 19 and 20.
7. How did David show respect for blood?
7 We can see the value of blood from something that David did when he was fighting the Philistines. David’s men saw that he was very thirsty, so they went into dangerous enemy territory and risked their lives to get him water. But when they brought it to David, he refused to drink it and “poured it out to Jehovah.” David said: “It is unthinkable on my part, O Jehovah, that I should do this! Should I drink the blood of the men going at the risk of their lives?” David understood how precious life and blood are to God.—2 Samuel 23:15-17.
8, 9. How should Christians today view blood?
8 By the time of the early Christians, God’s people no longer had to offer animal sacrifices. But they still needed to have the correct view of blood. “Abstaining from . . . blood” was one of the few parts of the Law that Jehovah required Christians to keep. This was as important as avoiding immorality or idolatry.—Acts 15:28, 29.
9 It is similar today. As Christians, we know that Jehovah is the Source of life and that all life belongs to him. We also realize that blood is sacred and represents life. So we make sure to consider Bible principles when we make any decisions about medical treatment involving the use of blood.
THE MEDICAL USE OF BLOOD
10, 11. (a) How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view the transfusion of either whole blood or the four main parts of blood? (b) What personal decisions does each Christian need to make?
10 Jehovah’s Witnesses understand that “abstaining from . . . blood” involves more than not eating or drinking it. It means not accepting blood transfusions, not donating blood, and not storing our own blood for transfusion. It also means not accepting transfusions of any of the four main parts of blood—red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma.
11 These four main parts of blood may be broken down into smaller parts called blood fractions. Each Christian must decide whether or not he will accept blood fractions. The same applies to medical procedures that make use of a patient’s own blood. Each one must decide how his own blood will be handled in the course of a surgical procedure, medical test, or current therapy.—See Endnote 21.
12. (a) Why are our decisions in matters of conscience important to Jehovah? (b) How can we make wise decisions regarding medical procedures?
12 Does Jehovah really care about our decisions in matters of conscience? Yes, he does. Jehovah is interested in our thoughts and motives. (Read Proverbs 17:3; 24:12.) Since that is the case, when we are making a decision involving medical treatment, we need to pray for Jehovah’s guidance and then research the treatment. After that, we use our Bible-trained conscience to make our decision. We should not ask others what they would do if they were in our situation, nor should others try to influence our decision. Each Christian will “carry his own load.”—Galatians 6:5; Romans 14:12.
JEHOVAH’S LAWS REVEAL HIS LOVE FOR US
13. What do we learn about Jehovah from his laws and principles about blood?
13 Anything Jehovah asks us to do is for our own good and shows his love for us. (Psalm 19:7-11) But we do not obey him just because his commands benefit us. We obey him because we love him. Our love for Jehovah moves us to avoid blood transfusions. (Acts 15:20) This also protects our health. Most people today know about some of the risks of blood transfusions, and many doctors believe that operating without blood is better for their patients’ health. It is clear that Jehovah’s ways are wise and loving.—Read Isaiah 55:9; John 14:21, 23.
14, 15. (a) What laws did Jehovah give his people to protect them? (b) How can you apply the principles behind those laws?
14 God’s laws have always been for the good of his people. Jehovah gave the ancient Israelites laws to protect them from serious accidents. For example, one law said that a homeowner should build a low wall around his flat roof so that no one would fall off. (Deuteronomy 22:8) Another law had to do with animals. If someone owned a violent bull, he was responsible for keeping it under control so that it would not attack or kill anyone. (Exodus 21:28, 29) If an Israelite did not obey these laws, it was his fault if someone died as a result.
15 From these laws we can see that life is precious to Jehovah. How should knowing this affect us? We should show that we respect life by the way we care for our home and vehicle, the way we drive, and the way we choose our recreation. Some people, especially young people, feel that nothing bad can happen to them, so they take risks and ignore potential dangers. But that is not how Jehovah wants us to behave. He wants us to treat all life as important—both our own life and the lives of others.—Ecclesiastes 11:9, 10.
16. How does Jehovah view abortion?
16 Every human life is important to Jehovah. Even an unborn baby is precious to him. Under the Law of Moses, if a person accidentally hurt a pregnant woman and either she or her baby died, Jehovah held that person guilty of manslaughter. This meant that even though it was an accident, someone had been killed and the life had to be compensated for. (Read Exodus 21:22, 23.) To God, an unborn baby is a living person. Knowing that, how do you think he feels about abortion? How do you think he feels when he sees millions of unborn babies killed every year?
17. What can comfort a woman who had an abortion before knowing Jehovah?
17 What if a woman had an abortion before she learned how Jehovah views it? She can be sure that Jehovah can forgive her on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice. (Luke 5:32; Ephesians 1:7) A woman who made such a mistake in the past does not need to keep feeling guilty if she is sincerely sorry. “Jehovah is merciful and compassionate . . . As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, so far off from us he has put our transgressions.”—Psalm 103:8-14.
AVOID HATEFUL THOUGHTS
18. Why should we do all we can to get rid of hateful thoughts?
18 Respect for God’s gift of life begins deep in our heart. It involves how we feel about others. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,” wrote the apostle John. (1 John 3:15) Before we realize it, dislike of another person can grow into hatred. Hatred can cause someone to disrespect others, make false accusations about them, or even wish that they were dead. Jehovah knows how we feel about other people. (Leviticus 19:16; Deuteronomy 19:18-21; Matthew 5:22) If we find that we have hateful thoughts about someone, we need to work hard to get rid of these thoughts.—James 1:14, 15; 4:1-3.
19. How should Jehovah’s view of violence affect us?
19 There’s another way we can show that we value life. At Psalm 11:5, we learn that Jehovah “hates anyone who loves violence.” If we choose violent entertainment, we might be showing that we love violence. Why would we want to put violent words, ideas, and pictures into our mind? Instead, we want to fill our mind with clean and peaceful thoughts.—Read Philippians 4:8, 9.
BE NO PART OF ORGANIZATIONS THAT DO NOT RESPECT LIFE
20-22. (a) How does Jehovah view Satan’s world? (b) How can God’s people show that they are “no part of the world”?
20 Satan’s world does not respect life, and Jehovah views it as bloodguilty, that is, guilty of murder. Over the centuries, political powers have caused millions of people to die, including many of Jehovah’s servants. In the Bible, these powers, or governments, are described as fierce and violent beasts. (Daniel 8:3, 4, 20-22; Revelation 13:1, 2, 7, 8) In today’s world, the sale of weapons is big business. People make huge profits selling such deadly weapons. Clearly, “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”—1 John 5:19.
21 But true Christians are “no part of the world.” Jehovah’s people are neutral in politics and in war. Just as they do not kill, they do not support any organization that kills people. (John 15:19; 17:16) When Christians are persecuted, they do not respond with violence. Jesus taught that we should love even our enemies.—Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:17-21.
22 Religion too has been behind the deaths of millions of people. When speaking of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, the Bible says: “In her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” Can you understand why Jehovah commands us: “Get out of her, my people”? Those who worship Jehovah are no part of false religion.—Revelation 17:6; 18:2, 4, 24.
23. What is involved in ‘getting out of’ Babylon the Great?
23 To “get out of” Babylon the Great involves making it very clear that we are no longer part of any false religion. For example, we may need to make sure that our name has been removed from a religion’s membership list. But more is involved. We also need to hate and reject the bad things false religion does. False religion allows and promotes immorality, politics, and greed. (Read Psalm 97:10; Revelation 18:7, 9, 11-17) Over the years, millions of lives have been lost as a result.
24, 25. How can knowing Jehovah bring us peace and a good conscience?
24 Before coming to know Jehovah, each of us in some way supported the bad things that Satan’s world does. But now we have changed. We have accepted the ransom and dedicated our lives to God. We experience “seasons of refreshing . . . from Jehovah himself.” We have peace and a good conscience, knowing that we are pleasing God.—Acts 3:19; Isaiah 1:18.
25 Even if we were once part of an organization that does not respect life, Jehovah can forgive us on the basis of the ransom. We truly appreciate Jehovah’s gift of life. We show our appreciation by doing all we can to help others to learn about Jehovah, leave Satan’s world, and enjoy a close friendship with God.—2 Corinthians 6:1, 2.
TELL OTHERS ABOUT THE KINGDOM
26-28. (a) What special work did Jehovah give Ezekiel? (b) What does Jehovah ask us to do today?
26 In ancient Israel, Jehovah told the prophet Ezekiel to warn people that Jerusalem would soon be destroyed and to teach them what they needed to do to survive. If Ezekiel did not warn the people, Jehovah would hold him responsible for their lives. (Ezekiel 33:7-9) Ezekiel showed that he valued life by doing all he could to share that important message.
27 Jehovah has given us the assignment to warn people that Satan’s world will soon be destroyed and to help them come to know Jehovah and survive into the new world. (Isaiah 61:2; Matthew 24:14) We want to do all we can to share that message with others. We hope to say as Paul did: “I am clean from the blood of all men, for I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God.”—Acts 20:26, 27.
28 There are other areas in life where we need to be clean. Let’s examine some of these in the next chapter.