Individual Human Interests
“Keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.”—Phil. 2:4, NW.
1. How does man differ from the lower creation as to undertaking interests?
INTERESTS of feeding, mating, building of nests and raising offspring have been granted by God to the lower creation of land creatures, flying creatures and sea creatures. By instinct they fulfill these interests over a limited but satisfying life span. They feed on the provisions God has given them the right to partake of. “Observe intently the birds of heaven, because they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses; still your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matt. 6:26, NW) But, unlike these of the lower creation, which are guided by involuntary laws of instinct, man has been created with a high degree of intelligence. He has been entrusted with the amazing gift of a free will. Using these faculties, man was originally made to undertake, develop and appreciate a wide range of interests or concerns in an unending life span of happiness to the praise of his Creator.
2. Why do man’s basic interests not vary from one part of the earth to the other?
2 The seeds of certain basic interests have been implanted in every man and woman by reason of their human nature as designed by their Creator. According to man’s free will these seeds can be developed wisely or unwisely. No matter where man is located on this globe, the same basic interests are found in natural man because all have descended from the same common ancestor, Adam. Such interests set there by God in a fundamental form carry with them divine legal recognition as rights delegated by God. Rights delegated to man are less than God’s own inherent rights, which fact, therefore, gives pre-eminence to the divine interests and their execution.
3, 4. What do law authorities describe as the “law of nature”?
3 For this reason some law authorities refer to these natural rights in man as the law of nature. “As man depends absolutely upon his Maker for every thing, it is necessary that he should, in all points, conform to his Maker’s will. This will of his Maker is called the law of nature. For as God when he created man, and endowed him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.”a
4 Another law authority defines the law of nature as: “That law which God, the sovereign of the universe, has prescribed to all men, not by any formal promulgation, but by the internal dictate of reason alone. . . . The primitive laws of nature may be reduced to six, namely: (1) comparative sagacity, or reason; (2) self-love; (3) the attraction of the sexes to each other; (4) the tenderness of parents towards their children; (5) the religious sentiment; (6) sociability.”b
5. Man by nature being made sagacious and reasoning, what individual interests result?
5 What human interests are disclosed to view by the first of the above laws of nature? Unlike the animals, man is a highly sagacious or intelligent creature. He can reason things out. He is able to distinguish moral good from moral bad. He also may be held accountable for his actions and how he uses his interests. Man is affected by happiness and unhappiness. Hence natural man has inborn interests to be informed, to gain knowledge, to dig out the facts, to reason upon the evidence and to make decisions. When unperverted, man has a natural tendency to use these interests in a good way, thus building up a record of merit that brings him rewards of happiness.
6, 7. What do Jehovah’s witnesses do about man’s natural interests to know the truth?
6 Jehovah God started man with a wholesome natural interest in knowing the truth. This natural urge has been deflected to some extent, whereby the cleverness of man has been turned in the way of badness. Such badness produces a record of fault that brings unhappiness. However dull these interests have become under Satan’s long misrule, there still remain today natural interests of considerable degree together with their attendant natural rights.
7 For this reason Jehovah’s witnesses try continually to stimulate these natural interests. First, with respect to themselves they try to keep theocratically informed and built up intellectually in the truth of God’s Word. Secondly, as friendly neighbors they try to visit personally as many men and women as possible to lay before them intelligently for their fair consideration the truth concerning Jehovah’s revealed purposes in this time of the end. Jehovah’s witnesses follow the pattern set by Jesus and his apostles, who made house-to-house calls in harmony with this natural field of human interests.
8. What individual interests arise from “self-love”?
8 The second law in nature involves the matter of self-love. The Bible confirms the existence of this basic principle in human nature put there by God. It is written: “You must love your fellow as yourself. I am Jehovah.” (Lev. 19:18, NW) These strong rights of self-love impel each one of mankind toward his own preservation, to defend his life and body from injuries, to avoid what may be hurtful and to provide all things needful to continue his existence. These self-interests cover a wide field and spark many other fields of human interests.
9, 10. Are self-interests wrong? To what extent may they be developed?
9 Wholesome self-love or self-interest developed to a moderate degree is a good and proper thing and leads to a course of merit that produces rewards of happiness. But where the degree of self-love or self-interests develops to the exclusion of one’s neighbor or fellow man, then a course of badness has been embarked upon. In such cases self-love turns into extreme selfishness. This leads to troubles or faults for which one has to be responsible. He must pay in the form of adversity, a punishment that brings unhappiness.—2 Tim. 3:2-5, NW.
10 There is nothing wrong for a human to be interested in his own physical and spiritual welfare. False religious doctrines such as “self-naughting” or character development to the extent where one becomes self-effacing by deadening all desire as taught by Buddhism and some false Christian sects are things advocating error. Such are teachings contrary to human nature, doctrines that stand in conflict with this basic trait of self-love that God originally and rightly planted within perfect man. It is the wise balance of love for God and love for self that prompts one to seek righteousness, that impels one to serve Jehovah with all one’s heart so that he may ultimately receive Jehovah’s smile of approval for everlasting life. “Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”—Phil. 2:12, NW.
11. What individual interests arise from the natural principle of the attraction of the sexes to each other?
11 Another basic principle in human nature is the attraction of the sexes to each other. God created man that way, male and female. They exist as counterparts to each other. (Gen. 1:27; 2:20-22, NW) This has been provided to carry out God’s divine interest to populate the earth. (Gen. 1:28; Isa. 45:18) The attraction of the sexes gives rise to a wide variety of individual human interests. Some of such basic interests and their attendant delegated rights are to marry, to have a family of children, to have a home, and to earn a livelihood. This also means that husband and wife have a mutual and exclusive right over each other. (1 Cor. 7:2-5, NW) Where these individual human interests are pursued in a way of goodness a record of merit is established and a reward of genuine happiness is achieved. If a contrary course is followed, unhappiness is the end thereof. No outsiders may invade the field of man’s private interests in connection with his proper marriage. However, according to Jesus’ counsel man must confine his sex interests to the one mate.—Matt. 19:4-9.
12. What interests arise from the principle of tenderness of parents toward their children?
12 The tenderness of parents toward their children is likewise a basic principle in human nature. Children from their birth are wholly unable to provide for the least of their necessities. But the paternal and maternal love of the parents supplies for this weakness. This parental interest and care of the young is one of the most powerful laws in nature. This field of interest requires the parents to supply protection, food, clothing, education and discipline and to use coercive means for the child’s good when the situation so requires.c Particularly mothers, in discharging this field of interest wisely in the way of goodness, are heavily occupied and find it almost a full-time undertaking. But it yields its blessings and joys too.—Prov. 17:6.
RELIGIOUS SENTIMENT AND SOCIABILITY
13. What is the “religious sentiment,” and how has Satan sought to exploit this?
13 The desire to venerate, praise, look up to or seek counsel for problems from a true or fancied higher power sparks another set of natural interests put in man by his Creator. “The religious sentiment which leads us naturally towards the Supreme Being is one of the attributes which belong to humanity alone; and its importance gives it the rank of the moral law of nature.”d Hence it is this very principle in man’s nature that Satan sought to exploit from the beginning in causing Adam and Eve to embrace false religion and thus rebel against their God. Ever since then Satan has produced religions of many different varieties to capture these religious interests and fancies of most men. In this way he has kept their minds and devotion away from the true God.—1 Cor. 8:5, 6, NW.
14. How have a minority of men used this basic “religious sentiment”?
14 But in all ages there have been the minority of men who have used this basic “religious sentiment” to lead them toward the true God and to maintain their active faithful worship of him. Today Jehovah’s witnesses are of that unperverted minority who visit the people in their homes not only to give them accurate knowledge from the Bible but also to make a direct appeal to the peoples’ natural desire to venerate a higher power by urging them to accept the true religion and thus come into active worship of Jehovah, their true God and Creator. (John 4:23, 24, NW) No matter where man lives on this earth he has a fundamental right from his Creator granting him religious freedom to serve the true God Jehovah and gain happiness and life, or serve any false religious delusions of his choosing that lead their devotees to unhappiness and death. Like Joshua of old Jehovah’s witnesses say to the people today: ‘Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve, whether the pagan gods of your forefathers or Jehovah. But as for ourselves, we shall serve Jehovah.’—Josh. 24:15, NW.
15, 16. (a) What interests come from man’s natural desire of “sociability”? (b) How do these interests affect Jehovah’s witnesses?
15 The last of the six natural principles in man that affect his individual human interests is that of “sociability.” “The need which man feels to live in society is one of the primitive laws of nature whence flow our duties and rights; and the existence of society depends upon the condition that the rights of all shall be respected.”e No normal human creature desires to live a life of a hermit, alone by himself in a secluded spot. Rather, the warm friendship and the active association of our like-minded fellow men are keenly desired. Where developed in a wholesome way, such social interests bring joy and contentment. Only criminals and those not mentally responsible are put away from social contact.
16 In harmony with these natural interests of sociability Jehovah’s witnesses today are being gathered together into ever-wider circles of congregations taking a personal interest in their brothers as they form a remarkable New World society today in 160 different lands. “Keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.” (Phil. 2:4, NW) All righteously disposed sheeplike persons are being aided to see that it is to their best individual interests of present safety and future life to flee now to Jehovah God’s New World society, the one true fold of sheep under Christ Jesus’ shepherdship.—John 10:14-16, NW.
17, 18. (a) What other individual interests exist? (b) What should be done with them and why? (c) How should we look upon another’s interests?
17 In addition to these basic individual human interests revealed by the law in nature, numerous others exist, such as sports, recreation, the cinema and theater, photography, motoring, travel, music, nature study, watching the TV, games, the many sciences, the numerous other arts and a host of additional ones as knowledge and inventions of man uncover new fields of interests. But time is too short for any one person to share individually in all these interests now. There are not enough hours in a day to do everything. So the individual must be selective in choosing his interests aside from those nature imposes upon him as heretofore examined.
18 The dedicated Christian must sacrifice many worldly interests, so called, in order to balance his individual interests with the divine interests and his newly acquired community (congregational) interests discussed in the next article. The Christian can wisely retain only those individual interests that keep building him merit with Jehovah God that he may reach the happy goal of everlasting life in the new world. Each Christian minds his own business as to his individual interests and lives quietly with his fellow Christians by not criticizing others as to their individual affairs. They follow the apostle Paul’s advice as to private matters: “Make it your aim to live quietly and to mind your own business.”—1 Thess. 4:11, NW.
19. Can any amount of merit be built to save this old world? What Bible example illustrates this?
19 We have come to the point of time where Satan’s old-world society lies wholly condemned to destruction. No amount of merit built up by single righteous persons or by a group of religious reformers can save it. The present situation is exactly like the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jehovah said to Abraham that if He could find fifty righteous inhabitants of Sodom the merit of such would be of value sufficient in God’s sight for the cities of the plain with their wicked to be spared from divine destruction. Abraham, having doubts that such a large number as fifty righteous persons could be found with a meritorious record, finally pleaded with Jehovah to settle eventually for just ten righteous persons. But even ten persons of merit could not be found.—Gen. 18:22-33.
20. How is the sort of individual action now important illustrated? Why take such action?
20 So angels were sent to warn righteous Lot, his wife and their two daughters, four persons in all, to flee together as a family for safety. These four were put on individual notice and it was to their individual interest to take action. They did take action, but Lot’s wife turned back and lost her life because of weakening in faith. Thus only three under individual merit received the reward of being saved from fiery destruction. (Gen. 19:15-26) Today God puts on notice all righteously inclined individuals to exercise individual interest so as to obtain accurate Bible knowledge showing them how to flee from the Babylonish old-world society now doomed to extinction. “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Rev. 18:4, NW.
21. How do the Scriptures describe individual accountability today?
21 Each of us individually now can make the right decisions that will build for us a record of merit with Jehovah God as righteous ones. If we make wrong decisions that bring us disability, fault or sin, our standing will become that of a wicked one before God. Note the individual responsibility or accountability described in the Scriptures: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness [merit] of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness [fault] of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”—Ezek. 18:20, 21, AS. See also Deuteronomy 24:16; Jeremiah 31:29, 30.
Prove yourself faithful even with the danger of death, and I will give you the crown of life.—Rev. 2:10, NW.
a Commentaries on the Laws of England, by Wm. Blackstone, Vol. I, p. 26.
b Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1934, p. 671.
c Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1934, p. 671.
d Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1934, p. 671.
e Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1934, p. 671.