Displaying Practical Wisdom as Sons of Light
1. What are we obligated to display for the sake of sheeplike people, and what course does this mean for us in this space age?
IT IS our obligation to display practical wisdom for the sake of the sheeplike people who need faithful shepherds. We dare not be like Bildad the Shuhite in the prophetic drama of Job. This Bildad did not help to solve afflicted Job’s problem. Rather, he cast doubts upon Job’s integrity and urged another course of action for Job. So Job said to Bildad: “O how much help you have been to one without power! O how you have saved an arm that is without strength! How much you have advised one that is without wisdom, and you have made practical wisdom itself known to the multitude!” May such a word not need to be said reproachfully to us in this space age. If we desire to prove ourselves real friends and sincere comforters, and not “physicians of no value” to the sheeplike ones in their affliction today, we have to make known the course of practical wisdom to them. (Job 26:1-3; 13:4) That course is for us to interest them, not in outer space, but in the heavens where they can lay up bomb-proof treasure with Jehovah God and his Christ.
2. On the impracticalness of modern worldly programs what did a manager of space programs recently say to a conference of scientists?
2 On the impracticalness of modern worldly programs, Dr. A. R. J. Grosch caused an uproar at the conference of scientists at California Institute of Technology when he, as manager of space programs for the International Business Machines Corporation, shouted: “Our missile program is the swan song of a dying civilization. We don’t need better missiles to destroy each other—the ones we have now will do the job adequately. And there isn’t any point in zooming off into outer space. We could spend the money better solving problems here at home—taking care of our overcrowded, underfed millions. If we did that, we wouldn’t need to find new worlds to colonize.” He added: “We are in a bad way, I’m afraid, when we try to solve our problem by mass killing—or by paddling off to a bigger island in space.”—New York Times, page 2, March 21, 1959.
3. (a) How do we take care of the need that needs to be taken care of now before Armageddon? (b) What will surpass in sight-seeing the proposed space travel?
3 Now, when the universal war of Armageddon, which will break forth from beyond outer space, is impending, the need of the people here on earth is the thing to take care of, at once. The course of practical wisdom is for us to show from the Holy Bible how lovers of peace and happiness may sue for peace with Jehovah of armies rather than to get in touch electronically with the moon, or Venus or some other planet to which it is hoped to send space ships. It is more important to know Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ than to know about the moon and the planets, which God created, for such knowledge of the Creator and of his Son, our Savior, means everlasting life. (John 17:1-3) If one really wanted to get around and see things safely and conveniently in outer space, it would be wiser to follow Jesus’ counsel and keep seeking first God’s kingdom rather than to plan on becoming a space traveler in outer space ships. Those who inherit the heavenly kingdom will see far more than the things in outer space. They will get around with greater speed, angelic speed, and with more ease and convenience. Space travel can never bring anyone the vision of God himself that the Kingdom heirs will gain.—Matt. 6:33; 5:8; Ex. 33:20.
4. In what way does practical wisdom view the future, and hence why dare we not have God and Christ as enemies now?
4 Practical wisdom considers the future sensibly, which means according to what God has told us in his Holy Bible. It is his will and purpose that there must be a righteous new world. He will be the one God to be worshiped in that new world, and his glorified Son Jesus Christ will be the one King ruling by the grace of God, over all the earth and its outer space. Will Jehovah God and his reigning King want us and permit us to live in that perfect new world and enjoy it forever? We cannot be enemies of God and Christ and expect to do so. We must therefore have God and his King as our everlasting friends, and not this short-lived, doomed world.
5. In order to teach us to provide wisely for the future, what parable or illustration did Jesus give us?
5 We need to provide for the future with practical wisdom. Jesus gave us a parable or illustration to teach us to do so. An Oriental steward was threatened with discharge by his master because of handling the master’s goods wastefully. “Then the steward said to himself: ‘What am I to do, seeing that my master will take the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, I am ashamed to beg. Ah! I know what I shall do, so that, when I am put out of the stewardship, people will receive me into their homes.’” So he called those who were heavily in debt to his master, one after another, and had them change their bills of debt to a lower amount, in one case down to 50 percent, in another case down to 80 percent of the owed amount. When the master learned of this friend-winning action of his steward, at the expense of his master, what did this master do? Of course, he discharged the steward. Jesus left that unsaid; but Jesus did say this to make clear the point of the illustration: “And his master commended the steward, though unrighteous, because he acted with practical wisdom; because the sons of this system of things are wiser in a practical way toward their own generation than the sons of the light are.”—Luke 16:1-8.
6. What is the best way to apply the point of Jesus’ illustration?
6 Practical wisdom is to be commended because it brings results that are of advantage and benefit to the one exercising it. Hence Jesus told us the best way in which to apply the point of the illustration, by imitating, not the steward’s injustice, but his practical wisdom. Jesus did not want the sons of light to be less wise in a practical way than the sons of this worldly system of things are to their present-day generation. Jesus wants us to be wise in a practical way toward God and his anointed King.
7. What did Jesus tell us to do with the unrighteous riches and the slavery toward riches?
7 Accordingly Jesus said to the sons of the light of truth: “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. The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much. Therefore, if you have not proved yourselves faithful in connection with the unrighteous riches, who will entrust you with what is true? And if you have not proved yourselves faithful in connection with what is another’s, who will give you what is for yourselves? No house servant can be a slave to two masters; for, either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves to God and to riches.”—Luke 16:9-13.
8. Who are the absolutely sure friends with whom to get on the good side, and why?
8 We cannot dedicate ourselves to God through Christ and still stay slaves to riches, unrighteous riches, material riches. We must prove ourselves masters of unrighteous riches and make them serve our ends while we serve as God’s slaves. Such unrighteous riches are not the treasures that we lay up in heaven with God, but it is wise to use them for gaining friends. We cannot have this world as our friend always. It is certain to perish in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” In the face of all the uncertainties of this present life, the only friends that we can be absolutely sure of are Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. They are the only ones that can receive us “into the everlasting dwelling-places,” for they are immortal, everlasting themselves. So they can give us perfect dwelling-places in the everlasting new world, whether these be in the heavenly kingdom with Jesus Christ or on the paradise earth with all the resurrected faithful holy men of those ancient times before Christ. Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, then, are the absolutely necessary ones to make our friends, who will really have something into which to receive us gladly after this “space age” world is destroyed at Armageddon and we are discharged from whatever connections we shall have had with this world.
9. After our dedication, how must we prove ourselves in connection with the unrighteous riches, and how will doing so be rewarded?
9 Although material riches of this world are not the things we need at all in order to dedicate ourselves to God to become his slaves under our Leader Jesus Christ, still we can use material riches in a way to continue the friendship into which our dedication to God through Christ brings us. We certainly must watch that we do not use our unrighteous riches in such a way after our dedication as to turn God and Christ into our enemies. Judas Iscariot, the unfaithful one of Jesus’ original twelve apostles, did that. We want to prove ourselves “faithful in connection with the unrighteous riches,” and that is by using what material riches we now own, not to enrich this world or its slaves of Mammon (Riches), but to serve the interests of God’s kingdom. We shall use them to see to it that the good news of God’s established kingdom is more widely preached, in all the inhabited earth, for the purpose of a final witness to all the nations before their complete end comes. Since the dedication of ourselves and of our all to our Greatest Friend, Jehovah God, we really only hold in trust what material wealth we possess in the midst of this world. Hence we must prove faithful in using such earthly riches just as we must do in using all the priceless spiritual wealth that God has given us through Christ. Then after Armageddon God and Christ will take us into everlasting dwellings, because we used practical wisdom toward them as Friends.
MAKING WISDOM SUCCEED
10. What illustration did Solomon use concerning the making of wisdom succeed, and to what degree of advantage are we taught to use practical wisdom successfully?
10 As the royal congregator of Jehovah’s people, wise King Solomon wrote: “If an iron tool has become blunt and someone has not whetted its edge, then he will exert his own vital energies. And the making of wisdom succeed means advantage.” (Eccl. 10:10) How true this saying! If a man has a work to perform that needs a sharp-edged tool, then it is to his advantage to have the tool he uses sharp in its cutting edge. If the tool has become blunt and he does not discern the bluntness and sharpen up the edge, then when he works with the still-blunt tool he will have to work harder. He will have to expend more of his own physical energy and time, and the job done will not be as neat when it is finally completed with much labor, sweat and extra effort. This spells inefficiency and a waste. It is not practical wisdom on the tool worker’s part. Likewise with practical wisdom on the part of God’s sons of light. They must make it succeed. That is, they must use practical wisdom to success or in such a way that it results in success. If they do this, then their practical wisdom when put to use will be an advantage to them. The way that the unrighteous steward applied his practical wisdom was only to his immediate and temporary advantage. The way we sons of light are taught to use practical wisdom that comes from God is to our eternal advantage.
11. (a) Why is it not sensible to make things hard for us? (b) Why was Timothy told to handle the word of the truth aright?
11 There is no sense in making things hard for us and vexing ourselves with unsatisfactory results or workmanship. In that regard the Christian overseer Timothy was given the following instructions concerning the flock of God’s people in his charge: “Keep reminding them of these things, charging them before God as witness, not to fight about words, a thing of no usefulness at all because it overturns those listening. Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright. But shun empty speeches that violate what is holy; for [such speeches] will advance to more and more ungodliness, and their word will spread like gangrene.” (2 Tim. 2:14-17) The “word of the truth,” the Holy Scriptures, is the tool with which we are authorized and commanded to work, not words or teachings outside God’s Word that provoke a fight about the meaning, a fight that brings no useful outcome but really harms those listening to the dispute. The speeches of this world that are profane because of violating what is holy to God are just empty sayings that have no real content, no real solidness, and they lead people into ungodliness and cause cankerlike corruption that eats away until death ensues. It is not practical wisdom to handle and deal with such words, teachings, and empty, profane speeches or sayings.
12. (a) What tool, then, should we use, and how do we handle it aright? (b) How do we keep it sharp for our use, and with what benefit?
12 Use the tool that accomplishes God’s work, namely, his holy Word. When handling it, be sure that it is handled aright, not only so that God’s Word is made to harmonize with itself but also that it is handled with the right motive in one’s heart and for the right purpose. Our motive should be love to God and his dear sheep. Our purpose should be to exalt God and gather together all his sheep into the one fold under his Right Shepherd, Jesus Christ. This work requires also preaching God’s “word of the truth.” We should be careful to see that our tool is sharp-edged, keen. God’s Word actually is that in itself; but we have to keep our understanding of it sharp and our ability to preach and teach it keen, incisive, piercing, penetrating, not dull, blunt, unconvincing, and so needing extra time and effort to get at the point and drive it home. Due to failure to use it, our instrument or tool will seem to get like that. The pressing need for the ingathering and the upbuilding of the sheep now before Armageddon requires of us to do our utmost in handling the Word of the truth aright. We must prepare ourselves in advance to the highest degree of sharpness. This will really save effort while we are at work and will get the best results.
13. Why will we workmen then have nothing of which to be ashamed?
13 In that case we shall make practical wisdom succeed. We will be using practical wisdom to success, and this will be to our everlasting advantage. As workmen we shall have nothing of which to be ashamed and shall show ourselves approved to God.
THE PRACTICAL FOUNDATION
14. How do Christendom’s religionists not handle the Word of the truth aright, and why does not the name taken make one’s course right?
14 In this space age Christendom is full of religionists who do many things in the name of the Lord Jesus. However, they do not handle the Word of the truth aright. They make themselves a part of this world; they constitute themselves friends of this world, and then undertake to do many things in harmony with the purposes of this world, so as to keep on good terms with it, never running into conflict with it. Then to these works that they have undertaken according to this world’s standards and aims they attach the name of Christ. They call such works Christian and claim that Christ set an example for them to do such works. For instance, did not Christ and his apostles perform works of healing? And so why should they not become medical missionaries? However, the name in which one presumes to do the work is not what makes the work right. Besides the name, the work’s product must be right.
15. In proof of this, what did Jesus say, and hence why do lawless workers act without practical wisdom?
15 Said Jesus: “Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men. Not everyone saying to me, ‘Master, Master,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day: ‘Master, Master, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you at all. Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:20-23) Jesus Christ always did the will of his Father who is in the heavens. He never worked at any lawlessness toward God. His name is not to be associated with what is not God’s will, lawlessness. To apply Jesus’ name to lawlessness is wrong, no matter whether such lawlessness may seem to accomplish wonderful works. Jesus has no familiarity with workers of lawlessness who hypocritically use his name to misrepresent their works and make a deceptive impression. Consequently such lawless workers act without practical wisdom.
16. How does chapter eight of the Proverbs show that Jesus Christ is associated with heavenly, practical wisdom?
16 Jesus Christ is associated with heavenly wisdom and practical wisdom. He has always displayed these successful qualities. As God’s firstborn Son in the heavens before his becoming a perfect man on earth he is personified in chapter eight of King Solomon’s Proverbs. There he is represented as divine wisdom personified. As such, he says: “I, wisdom, I have resided with shrewdness and I find even the knowledge of thinking abilities. The fear of Jehovah means the hating of bad. Self-exaltation and pride and the bad way and the perverse mouth I have hated. I have counsel and practical wisdom. I—understanding; I have mightiness.”—Prov. 8:12-14.
17. How did making practical wisdom succeed work advantageously to Jesus, and what illustration did he give against falling into the trap of lawlessness?
17 Making practical wisdom succeed when he was on earth meant advantage to Jesus to gaining everlasting heavenly glory. Hear, now, his words of practical wisdom to us who do not want to fall into the trap of lawlessness: “Therefore everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them will be likened to a discreet man [a man of practical wisdom], who built his house upon the rock-mass. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and lashed against that house, but it did not cave in, for it had been founded upon the rock-mass. Furthermore, everyone hearing these sayings of mine and not doing them will be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and struck against that house and it caved in, and its collapse was great.”—Matt. 7:24-27.
18. On what does the foolish Christian build, and with what final result?
18 Both the foolish Christian and the discreet Christian hear Jesus’ sayings, just as the foolish virgin class and the discreet virgin class do. (Matt. 25:1-13) But the foolish Christian does not take heed to Jesus’ sayings and put them in practice. He is careless, thoughtless, shortsighted and disobedient. Hence his religious structure he builds upon disobedience to the sayings of Jesus as a basis. Disobedience as a basis supplies the builder no foundation. It is like the sand. In the great flood of judgment at Armageddon the religious structure of the foolishly disobedient Christian will cave in. Its collapse will be great. It will mean everlasting destruction for the one who inhabits it.
19. (a) What kind of person is the successful Christian? (b) On what does he build, and of what advantage will this be to him?
19 The successful Christian is a person of heavenly practical wisdom, a person discreet, thoughtful, exercising forethought and working for something permanent, enduring, proof against destructive forces. He is obedient to authoritative sayings. His Christian structure he founds upon obedience to the sayings of God’s wise Son as a basis. Obedience to these sayings serves as a rock-mass for a foundation, a rock-mass the roots of which go down deep so that it cannot be washed away or be undermined or toppled over. Amid the storm of divine judgment at Armageddon the Christian structure in which this discreet disciple dwells during this space age will not be destroyed. He will dwell forever, because he will have shown practical wisdom in harmony with the perfect will of God. His making practical wisdom succeed, his using practical wisdom to success, will be to his everlasting advantage in Jehovah’s endless new world.