Careful Living Helps Avoid Life’s Pitfalls
1. What questions arise relative to cultivating good habits for children?
MANY parents argue that they have tried everything to apply the admonition of Jehovah in training their children to understand their proper place in the New World society, but to no avail. Have you? Have you tried habit, for instance? How about the good habit of discussing the daily Bible text each morning? Can you picture what a firm groove that would imbed in the child’s mind and how it would help to keep before the child the purposes of God? Then, too, how about having a regular Bible study right in the home for the benefit of the entire family? Does your family study The Watchtower together some evening before the meeting? This also can become a good habit for children and parents alike, resulting in much joy to all. How about the regular habit of meeting attendance? Being present at every Watchtower study can become such a strong habit that it will not be jeopardized by light excuses for staying away from this important meeting. Other congregation meetings also are important and should be included in the weekly budget of time and become good habits. Humans are habit-forming; so why not cultivate good habits very early in life?
2. (a) What is required of children while attending meetings? (b) What example do we have illustrating proper discipline at meetings on the part of parents, and what is the reaction on the part of the child when given chastisement?
2 Just having our children with us at the meetings, however, is not adequate. Here they will be expected to pay attention and not play, draw pictures or have side attractions. They should be taught that there is a time for things other than play. It may require the rod of correction to impress the necessity for being quiet and paying attention, but, when properly applied, such measures need not be repeated often. Sometimes a young boy of five or six will begin to get restless in the meeting and start fussing, disturbing many. His father, sitting beside him, will try to quiet him. He continues fussing and the father starts to get up to take the boy out. The boy does not want to go—he has been outside with his daddy before and has lost every round. So now junior becomes quiet for the rest of the meeting. Thus we see that when discipline is firmly and kindly applied so as to be remembered, it will be beneficial. Kind application may not always be soft application. Such discipline is not an indication of hatred on the part of parents, because an obedient child is generally very fond of a father and mother who mete out discipline in the proper way. Most of us have observed how children respect parents who enforce their words—with penalties, if necessary—and do not let their words die as mere idle threats. Most persons have respect for one who makes his word good, and that includes children. Children, be admonished therefore: “Be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous: ‘Honor your father and mother’; which is the first command with a promise.” And, too, you parents who love your children, reprove the children for their good even as ‘those whom Jehovah loves he disciplines, as in fact he scourges everyone whom he receives as a son.’ Discipline is not pleasant at the time, but corrects for righteousness.—Eph. 6:1, 2; Heb. 12:6, 11, NW.
3. How may good manners be included in the cultivation of good habits?
3 Good habits include good manners. Christians should have the best of manners. Parents who display good manners in their daily contact with their children and fellow man will have children who display the same good manners. We are admonished: “Maintain your conduct right among the nations, that, in the thing in which they are speaking against you as evildoers, they may as a result of your right works of which they are eyewitnesses glorify God in the day for his inspection. For the Lord’s sake subject yourselves to every human creation.” This good conduct is, in essence, good manners. It is a politeness that stems from a love of God and neighbor.—1 Pet. 2:12, 13, NW.
4, 5. (a) How is Christ Jesus the proper example of good manners? (b) How should good manners be exercised?
4 Parents and children alike can benefit by following the perfect example set by the perfect gentleman, Christ Jesus. He practiced the rule of good manners: ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ However, his good manners did not come from some rule book written by men, but sprang from a sincere heart and by his cultivating good habits and putting into practice from youth the righteous principles of Almighty God, especially His law of love.—Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31, NW.
5 Well-mannered parents set the proper example by being courteous to all, under all conditions. They are respectful to their inferiors (children, the mentally ill, less fortunate ones, etc.), as well as to their equals (their brothers) and those regarded as superiors (servants in special capacity, rulers, kings and governors). Some think good manners are a coat that you put on when you go out to visit people. But a truly well-mannered person is one who behaves properly all the time. The place to teach and to learn the best of manners is in the Christian home.
6, 7. (a) What pitfalls confront youth that may be detrimental if youth is not curbed? (b) What Scriptural counsel is given as to right conduct?
6 Often young people are quick to belittle or mock parents or other grown-up men and women, shunning their sound counsel. This is true when they take as their standards the dealings of this world. In following such a course often gossip is resorted to, to undermine and belittle the older and more mature servants of Jehovah. Do you use the malicious instrument of gossip? If you refrain from this practice early in life, it is not likely that you will adopt it later in life. Failing to show proper respect, therefore, is nothing more than a brazen display of rebellion, and it must be avoided by every youthful minister as well as those older and mature in Jehovah’s service. The Scriptural admonition given by the apostle Paul is appropriate for youth and, of course, not to be overlooked by parents: “Only behave in a manner worthy of the good news about the Christ, . . . fighting side by side for the faith of the good news.” “In harmony with that you well know how, as a father does his children, we kept exhorting each one of you, and consoling and bearing witness to you, to the end that you should go on walking worthily of God who is calling you to his kingdom and glory.”—Phil. 1:27; 1 Thess. 2:11, 12, NW.
7 By following such a course Christian children will avoid the pitfalls common to undisciplined youth. One who fails to take sound counsel is likened to one who is void of understanding and easily overreached and enticed. The Preacher, Solomon, illustrated how succumbing to temptation leads to a disastrous end: “I looked . . . and I beheld among the simple ones, . . . a young man void of understanding.” He continues, “And he is enticed to follow her, like an ox moving to the slaughter, like a dog cajoled to the muzzle, like a bird fluttering straight into the net—never dreaming its life is in danger, till its heart is pierced by an arrow.” “Now, my son, listen to me, attend to what I say: never let yourself swerve to her ways, never wander on her paths; her house is the road to the grave, it leads down to the chambers of death.” Rather than this, allow your path to be lighted by God’s Word and thus avoid the snares of the Devil. In earnest prayer petition Jehovah: “Oh rescue me, save me, . . . for thou art my hope, O Lord, I have trusted thee from youth, . . . Thou hast been teaching it from my youth. . . . My lips shall ring with joy and praise, even the life which thou hast saved.”—Prov. 7:6, 7, AS; Prov. 7:21-25, 27, Mo; Ps. 71:2, 5, 17, 23, Mo.
WARNING OF IDOLATROUS PRACTICES
8. What happens when idolatrous schemes are not recognized and shunned?
8 All Jehovah’s servants today must be alert to the wiles of the Devil. All should be aware and have the ability to recognize the subtle schemes of idolatry and concealed snares that may deliver one into the clutches of the adversary. Lack of heed to God’s Word victimized the children of Israel. Bad associations corrupt good morals, of youth and adults alike. That is why the Israelites were exhorted by Jehovah, who said concerning violent reproachers: “They should not dwell in your land, that they may not cause you to sin against me. In case you should serve their gods, it would become a snare to you.”—Ex. 23:33; Deut. 7:16, NW.
9, 10. Why should children be alerted to snares of idolatry?
9 Christian children of the King would consider it unimaginable to follow the course of false religion. But what about the many other shrouded contrivances of false worship that call for us to be equally vigilant? Satan is the god of this system of things and is therefore the god of false worship of any kind, and there are many varieties. ‘You are servants of the one you obey.’—Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13; Rom. 6:16, NW.
10 For instance, we often see grown-up men and women glorifying science and medicine. We observe them turning to every form of creature worship. Children too idolize, just as their parents do. Even eighteen-year-old boys and girls glory and revel in senseless entertainment many hours and when left to themselves become worshipers of self-satisfying pleasures, just as the pleasure-mad parents, whose example they witness. This is as the apostle Paul foretold: They will be “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” Some merely glorify movie stars and kings of jazz. Others, taught to revel in deeper sins, glorify crime and sex and become intoxicated with these idol practices of this corrupt world. Deadly bait are all such injurious practices when permitted to seep into the heart and mind of youth, weakening the strong and ensnaring the weak, breaking down the walls of protection provided by the sure Word of God. Death is the penalty for worshiping false gods of any kind. This would include the serving of creatures in a worshipful way; loving pleasure to the extreme and setting one’s affections on those things that would turn us from the true worship of Almighty God. So, then, can even those who are still under twenty-one ignore the sound advice, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols”?—2 Tim. 3:1-4; 1 John 5:21, NW.
LOVE AND DESIRE FOR WEALTH ENSNARE
11. What are some forms of idolatry that are extremely subtle in overreaching youth? What penalty would result?
11 Money, too, has become an idol of this age. Those of this present system of things have become money-mad, and are at a point where they will stoop to any unscrupulous means to attain it. This insatiable desire has become responsible for much of the thievery and many of the other crimes of the twentieth century. Resorting to these crimes is in violation of Jehovah’s right principles as given in his Word, and is not compatible with Christian living. Any person guilty of such crimes would have no place in the New World society. In fact, if one persisted in continuing to share in these wrongdoings it could lead to disfellowshiping from the Christian congregation, regardless of age.
12. (a) How and why has the “love of money” become such a snare to people? (b) How should Christians evaluate the proper position of money and its use in their lives? In their children’s lives?
12 Inasmuch as the gaining of wealth is the main objective of many grownups of this system of things, children undoubtedly will show the same passion for accumulating money or its equivalent. Hence, again, we see the importance of the proper molding of the minds of the youths in the New World society. While it is true that money is a defense and a convenient commodity to possess, yet the Christian parents should instill in the minds of children true values as emphasized in the Scriptures, namely: ‘Knowledge does more good than money, it safeguards a man’s life.’ Since children will be of the same understanding in this respect as the parents, theocratic parents will have the proper perspective in accumulating wealth, being sure that it is always in subjection to the important thing in one’s life, the ministry. Money should be a means to an end, rather than an objective in life. We can readily observe from this that parents can do severe injury to children if they are too liberal with allowances, giving them too much to spend. Children need to be restrained in this regard for their own good. It may be advantageous for the schoolboy to have a part-time job, earning his own money and thereby learning its actual evaluation and how to handle it judiciously.
13. How valuable are true riches? What sober thought should all have of monetary wealth?
13 How much more important are the riches that one lays up for himself in heaven! The Scriptures emphasize in Proverbs: “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” In contrast, Paul wrote to Timothy: “The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” It is not the possession of money that is necessarily evil, but the relative concern and esteem one places upon its possession as an achievement.—Prov. 3:18, AS; 1 Tim. 6:10, NW.
14. Why should extreme care and thoughtfulness be exercised relative to an individual’s deciding whether to seek education beyond high school or not?
14 Since the love of money and the advent of materialism have a strong influence on young and old alike, they play an influential part in the decisions made by youth as to their future course of life. Many Christian children see their contemporary graduating classmates planning to enter college, usually with the intent of becoming successful by obtaining either a good position in life or some degree of prominence, which are both measures of success today. But can this be viewed as a course of wisdom directed from a theocratic viewpoint? Frequently the question arises in the mind of youth: “Would it be proper for me to enter college? Will the broadening of my education enhance my capabilities later as a theocratic minister?” Whether a person should or should not seek such higher education is dependent on the individual and what he desires to gain from life, present and future. Up to this point he has been successfully guided by theocratic parents in harmony with godly principles—he is a successful young minister. Now, again, as many times before, he comes to a point in life where he must make a decision, and here too the parents can come to the fore as counselors. Being a sincere young Christian minister, he wants to make a right decision. He must decide whether his ambitions are toward the popular trend of materialism or not—whether he desires to get ahead in the world, to attain a high position and honor and esteem of men which a college education subsequently leads to. In making his decision he must bear in mind the question: How will this affect my position in the New World society and my relationship toward Jehovah God? College is too often a tool of the old world and is shaped so as to be used later in accomplishing its ideologies and to enhance success according to old-world standards. It follows, too, then, that such a course could turn one’s mind away from theocratic education and principles. It would therefore be necessary for one to consider whether he is strong enough to practically divorce himself from theocratic association for at least four years while filling the mind with old-world thoughts and principles.
15. Is the acquiring of scientific knowledge or other courses detrimental? What is liable to bend thinking in the wrong direction?
15 It is not the acquiring of true scientific knowledge or that on many other subjects, which is in full accord with the Word of God, that is detrimental, but rather the vehicle in which it is conveyed is often saturated with the ideas of men conflicting with God’s thoughts, such as the evolution theory as to the origin of man and other theories and hypotheses that are not compatible with the Bible. Taking in knowledge of pure mathematical science, physics, chemistry, engineering, history, etc., is very commendable and necessary for advancing and improving standards for people to enjoy in this the twentieth century, and this may well continue into the new world when done in harmony with God’s right standards. However, as transmitted to the students through modern unprincipled political ideologies, and therefore questionable, through the unscrupulous commercial methods, and through the allied doctrines of modern Christendom, it may have an adverse effect on the student’s mind.
16. What should students particularly avoid?
16 One of the greatest risks would be the temptation to share in the many and varied campus activities, including wild parties and the like that could easily lead to weakening the moral standards required of Christians. The same would also be true of so many other extracurricular attractions that would jeopardize the integrity of God-fearing youth. No one is to submit himself to unnecessary circumstances that would lead one into the snares of the ever wily foe, Satan.
17. (a) Why is the contamination of school courses with philosophies of men dangerous? (b) What further questions confront the person contemplating the pursuit of higher education?
17 When one realizes that the doctrine of evolution and other philosophies of men contrary to the Word of God are a part of higher education, he must consider whether he possesses adequate resistance to withstand the influence of erroneous teachings. Would it not be true that such information would be replacing the good and healthful information of God’s Word that one had gained earlier in life under the direction of theocratic parents? It is highly improbable that one would be strong enough to separate himself from theocratic association and service to Almighty God for such a period of time and still expect to remain in the truth. Finally, and extremely important, what would one select for a profession that would tend to enhance one’s ministry?
18. What type of wisdom is likely to be gained, and what may be its effect?
18 In pursuing a course of higher education, one would acquire wisdom. But after what fashion? Bear in mind that the institutions of this system of things promulgate their ideas and may easily lead one into submission and cause one to measure success according to their standards, since “the sons of this system of things are wiser in a practical way . . . than the sons of the light are.” Today they pride themselves on being very ‘practical-minded.’ And the lesson for us? “Also I say to you, Make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous riches, so that, when such fail, they may receive you into the everlasting dwelling-places.”—Luke 16:8, 9, NW.
19, 20. (a) For the young Christian minister who seeks higher education, what risks are involved? (b) Why would we not expect it to have God’s approval?
19 We are admonished to ‘remain separate from the world,’ and yet we would be filling our minds with the principles of this world. We are counseled not to miss meetings, yet this would unquestionably result. We are strongly urged to ‘study to show ourselves approved unto God’; in the old world we would be studying to gain ‘wisdom’ and approval of men. ‘Be doers of the Word and not hearers only,’ we are taught; but by following the course of higher education we would have little time to be hearers or doers of the Word of God.
20 God’s approval is upon no part of the old world, and that includes its institutions of learning that promulgate its philosophies. Such ‘wisdom’ adds nothing to the stature of an individual as a minister of Jehovah, because that is not its intended purpose, nor is it designed with this objective.
21. What constitutes constructive Christian education, and of what value is it?
21 Constructive education and training are spoken of by Paul in his words addressed to the Ephesians, including assignments for this purpose: “And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as missionaries, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the training of the holy ones for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ, until we all attain to the oneness in the faith and in the accurate knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of growth that belongs to the fullness of the Christ.” Why this? “In order that we should no longer be babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of craftiness in contriving error. But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things . . . that you no longer go on walking just as the nations also walk in the unprofitableness of their minds.” “Go on walking as children of light, . . . and quit sharing with them in the unfruitful works which belong to the darkness.” Is present higher education under old-world standards compatible with these words of the apostle? The two are no more miscible than oil and water.—Eph. 4:11-17; 5:8, 11, NW.
22. (a) What is the vocation of a dedicated young man or woman? (b) What must be the relative position of other interests in life? What may be his most cherished goal?
22 When a person dedicates his life to Jehovah, his lifetime vocation is that of being a minister and everything else not only gives way to it but is molded to accomplish the requirements laid upon a minister by Jehovah. He will not permit his attentions to be divided by any other pursuits or desires. This being the case, how much more profitably could the young man or woman spend the corresponding or equivalent four years or more in the full-time preaching; perhaps even going to Gilead and then participating in the missionary service or other special assignments, or even sharing in Bethel service. Then full heed would be given to the expert advice: “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:16, NW.
23. What common error of judgment is frequently made by youth today?
23 Today many young people are of the frame of mind that they are to judge as to what is right and what is wrong. Often we hear the expression, “I am doing what is right”; “I am doing good, I am not hurting anyone.” Appropriately, then, the question might be proposed, According to what standards? Seemingly it is a course that is right in their own eyes, just as it was in the days of Israel when there was no king. This accounts for much of the confusion of today, and here again we find youth has adopted the same pattern. Even in the immature state of youth, they are making up their minds as to what is right or not, and the results are obvious.
MORAL STANDARDS AND CONTEMPLATION OF MARRIAGE
24. (a) What other subjects of instruction come within the scope of parental duty? Why? (b) What is so important regarding eligibility for a marriage partner?
24 When it comes to making decisions perhaps the most trying years of youth are the teens, when girls enter womanhood and boys begin taking on the characteristics of manhood. This opens up an entirely new view of life to them. So far the parents should have had the complete confidence of the children, and this should continue. Young men and women should be able to continue to bring to father and mother their questions about life and the meaning of the changes they are experiencing. They expect correct answers. Youth is entitled to learn more than just the casual explanations of life by listening to stories about the birds and bees and flowers! Now they are entitled to continue receiving instructions in the fundamentals of life too. Parents are the God-appointed ones to give this vital information. Youth expects it and is entitled to it from you, fathers and mothers. This includes proper conduct toward the opposite sex. Likewise, it includes respect for the moral code established, not by man, but by Jehovah God. When children reach these years of life and subsequently think of marriage, the parents should again properly fill the role of instructor so the son or the daughter will understand what is required in the proper selection of a mate. Jehovah’s rules on this matter are clear, beginning with what constitutes eligibility for marriage. Parents should be just as concerned as was Abraham when he selected a marriage partner for his son Isaac. On this matter Isaac had respect for his God-fearing father. Although he lived among Canaanites and their young women, none of these could be considered for Isaac, because they were not in covenant relationship with Jehovah. Paul passes the same wholesome information on to Christians, saying: ‘Marry only in the Lord.’ How can separation from the world be maintained when one selects a mate from the world and then lives so intimately as husband and wife?—Gen. 24:3, 4, 37; 1 Cor. 7:39, NW.
25. (a) Why is singleness so highly regarded in the Scriptures? Under what conditions? (b) What practices must be avoided?
25 Since the Bible stresses the importance of singleness, that is even a better course. Paul explains: “The single man is anxious for the things of the Lord, how he may gain the Lord’s approval. But the married man is anxious for the things of the world, how he may gain the approval of his wife, and he is divided.” One who chooses this better course of singleness must bear in mind that along with it chastity is required. If it is impossible for a young man or a woman to live a continent life, Paul advises: “But if they do not have self-control [gift of singleness], let them marry, for it is better to marry than to be inflamed with passion.” (1 Cor. 7:32-34, 9, NW) Such young people in their teens or older are prospective Christian children of the King, Christ Jesus, and their behavior toward the opposite sex must be clean and above reproach. Just because those in the world revel in drinking sprees, heavy necking and petting, this is no reason for any of Jehovah’s servants, young or old, to let their guard down and fall into a similar course of degradation. The end of such conduct should be kept in mind. Excessive drinking and overeating leads to dulled senses and a lack of resistance to temptation. Petting arouses the sex impulses. Such desires improperly carried too far lead to gross immorality. God-fearing persons cannot carry on as the godless world does. Certainly parents have a solemn obligation to bring up their children with a clear understanding of these fundamentals of life as well as to warn them of the pitfalls.
26. How should a young Christian view marriage?
26 By the time of majority youth should have a clear understanding of marriage and what it means. The fact that one third of the marriages today end up in divorce on every kind of grounds should not mean that marriage should be taken lightly, as observed in this modern age. Divorcing mates on grounds other than adultery and marrying another still constitutes a violation of God’s covenant on marriage and could not have God’s approval. “No fornicator or unclean person . . . has any inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God.” It is important that young men and women be acquainted with these facts of life in order to share in marriage in conformity with God’s will. They will realize that married Christians stay married and have proper respect for the Scriptural arrangement: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”—Eph. 5:5; 1 Cor. 6:9, 13; Heb. 13:4, NW.
27. What opportunities are set before parents that bring joy to their hearts?
27 Parents have wonderful opportunities today to rear children that meet God’s standards and have his approval. No heritage can be greater than this. Nothing could possibly bring greater happiness to a successful parent than to witness children growing to manhood and womanhood sharing in the service of Almighty God.
28. What will be the cherished ambition or goal of the young minister, and what may be his position in the New World society?
28 Youths properly instructed, trained and disciplined truly have a place in the New World society at this time. They are indeed a glory to parents, to the congregation and, above all, to Jehovah and His obedient and faithful King-Son, Christ Jesus. Young ministers will shun all practices and instructions tending to attract their attention to old-world materialism, earthly successes and desires, which are nothing more than ensnaring pitfalls of the adversary. Instead, the most cherished ambition of young people either single or married could be that of Bethel service in Brooklyn or at one of the Watch Tower branches, the full-time service as a Gilead graduate in missionary or other assignments or in the full-time pioneer ministry ranks. Being a Christian minister of Jehovah is the grandest position that today’s youth can occupy or be trained for. It is the course that leads to endless life, can be a channel through which others will receive such life and, best of all, wins the blessings of the living God, Jehovah. You young ministers of today, then, do become tomorrow’s mature, loyal, faithful servants and representatives of Jehovah’s New World society, to his praise!
Strip off the old personality with its practices.—Col. 3:9, NW.