Watch Yourself, for You Are Being Watched!
“Keep testing whether you are in the faith, keep proving what you yourselves are.”—2 Cor. 13:5.
1. How important is your personal conduct within the family circle?
IMPORTANT as it is to “maintain your conduct right among the nations,” that important it is for you to see that your conduct is right within the privacy of your own home. For the one who does not practice what is right at home will not conduct himself properly abroad. It is no secret, either, the way members of a family treat one another, for personal conduct has a way of radiating far beyond the walls of the dwelling. Depending on their conduct within the family circle, outsiders either bless or reproach the family and their relatives, associates and friends, as well as the organizations to which the family belong.
2, 3. What advice and counsel does the Bible give individual members of the family?
2 God’s Word the Bible, the complete library of divinely inspired Scriptures, gives some very good counsel to all the members of the family concerning proper conduct. Over and over again husbands, wives, parents and children are explicitly told how they are to act toward one another. For example, the apostle Paul writes: “You wives, be in subjection to your husbands. . . . You husbands, keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them. You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord. You fathers, do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.”—Col. 3:18-21.
3 Furthermore, it is written: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with [your wives] according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.” (1 Pet. 3:7) “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies.” “Let each one of you [husbands] individually so love his wife as he does himself.” (Eph. 5:28, 33) Wives, on the other hand, are commanded to have “deep respect” for and to be ‘in subjection to their husbands in everything.’ (Eph. 5:24, 33) Parents are also told how to conduct themselves toward their children. “You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.” (Eph. 6:4) And children too have a heavy responsibility, for it is commanded: “Children, 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.”—Eph. 6:1-3.
4. What responsibilities does a dedicated husband have toward a nondedicated wife?
4 Where the whole family are dedicated witnesses of Jehovah, it is not too difficult for them to dwell together in peace and unity according to the above Scriptural advice. But in a household where some are not in the truth, still this does not excuse or release the dedicated members of the family from carrying out the righteous commands of Jehovah. Dedicated husbands must lovingly provide for their households even if some are not believers, for “certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” The dedicated husband must give a reasonable amount of time and attention to his wife’s needs, whether she is a dedicated Christian or not. He must use the spirit of a sound mind, balancing his time and energy between his employment, his home and the worship and service of his God Jehovah.—1 Tim. 5:8.
5. How may a dedicated wife win a nondedicated husband to the truth?
5 In a similar way dedicated wives must be respectful of their husbands, even if such are unbelievers. “You wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.” Such a wife must balance her time and activity between her home work, the needs of her husband and family, and her service to Jehovah. Her husband may want her to accompany him on business trips or on social calls, and she may do so as long as she does not imperil her covenant obligations to Jehovah. Why so? In order that the husband may be won without a word through the conduct of the wife. Certainly a wife’s behavior and activity are more convincing than her oratory!—1 Pet. 3:1-4.
6. If an unbeliever is not won to the truth, is this grounds for separation or divorce? Explain.
6 Many times, however, the unbelieving marriage mate is not won by the good conduct of the dedicated one. Under such circumstances what should the Christian husband or wife do? If the unbelieving one is opposed to the religious beliefs of the mate, yet tolerates living together, let the matter rest as it is. But if the unbeliever is so violent in opposition that he or she seeks to break up the home through separation or divorce, then, as the apostle says, let the unbeliever depart, but never should the dedicated servant of Jehovah take the initiative in this respect. “For, wife, how do you know but that you will save your husband? Or, husband, how do you know but that you will save your wife?”—1 Cor. 7:12-16, 24, 27.
7. In contrast with members of Christendom, how do Jehovah’s witnesses prove they are true disciples of Christ?
7 Godly conduct practiced within the home must be carried outside and far beyond. Dedicated Christians must watch how they behave themselves toward their spiritual brothers and sisters in the congregation of God, for this also is something that outsiders are watching very closely. For instance, all the world knows that during World Wars I and II Catholics killed Catholics and Protestants killed Protestants by the hundreds of thousands. But no one ever heard of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses killing their brothers on the open battlefield. For that matter, bereaved widows who lost husbands and sons, or saddened orphans who lost fathers and brothers during those terrible wars can take comfort in the knowledge that none of their loved ones were killed by Jehovah’s faithful witnesses. These true Christians would rather lose their own lives than break the divine command, “You must not murder.” (Ex. 20:13) Jesus’ command to Jehovah’s witnesses is: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”—John 13:34, 35; Matt. 22:39.
8. What accounts for the fact that the Witnesses enjoy great peace and unity?
8 Instead of fighting and warring among themselves or with others, the Witnesses are told to “seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Pet. 3:11) Abundant peace belongs to those loving Jehovah’s law, says the psalmist. “Moreover, the fruit of righteousness has its seed sown under peaceful conditions for those who are making peace.” (Ps. 119:165; Jas. 3:18) As Jesus said: “Keep peace between one another,” for, “happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’” (Mark 9:50; Matt. 5:9) One therefore finds no rebellion or disputes, but only peace and unity among the Lord’s people.—Phil. 2:14; 1 Pet. 3:9.
TRUE CHRISTIAN CONDUCT WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION
9, 10. How does the Bible say true Christians should conduct themselves toward one another within the congregation?
9 This Christlike love that all the world sees demonstrated only by and among the witnesses of Jehovah is not a mere expression of the lips. It is displayed in their active conduct toward others. Mature Witnesses are long-suffering and obliging. Boasting and bragging and selfish pride are not found among them. Instead of looking for their personal advantage, they do what is in the best interests of others. (1 Cor. 13:4, 5; 10:24) They cover over and clothe the imperfections of the fallen flesh with the beautiful garments of “tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.” They “continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely.” Their intense love for one another is certainly a strong and perfect cement or bond that holds the whole organization together.—Col. 3:12-14; 1 Pet. 4:8; Prov. 10:12.
10 True, as the apostle said, so it is that one finds among the Witnesses today that “all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech” have been removed, and they are “kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another.” (Eph. 4:31, 32) They practice genuine hospitality. There is a bearing or carrying of one another’s burdens or “troublesome things.” (1 Pet. 3:9; Gal. 6:2, footnote) Here one finds a condition where the healthy and strong ones help the sickly and weaker ones, where the young show consideration for the elderly, and the older ones are tolerant of the youngsters, where each one attempts to please his brothers and sisters rather than himself. “We exhort you, brothers,” adds the apostle, “speak comfortingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all. See that no one renders injury for injury to anyone else, but always pursue what is good toward one another and to all others.”—Rom. 15:1, 2; 1 Thess. 5:14, 15.
11. In what other ways must Christians guard against injuring their brothers and sisters?
11 Even in points of conduct like eating and drinking, this unselfish group of Christians must ever be on the watch to refrain from those things that might stumble their brothers. “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory. Keep from becoming causes for stumbling . . . to the congregation of God, even as I am pleasing all people in all things, not seeking my own advantage but that of the many, in order that they might get saved.”—Rom. 14:21; 1 Cor. 8:13; 10:31-33.
12. Instead of producing the “works of the flesh,” what kind of fruitage do witnesses of Jehovah bear?
12 So it is, by observing the conduct of Jehovah’s witnesses, people see that here is a good, upright and godly organization. They also see that here is a clean and virtuous organization whose members have “put off the works belonging to darkness,” who are not walking “in revelries and drunken bouts, not in illicit intercourse and loose conduct, not in strife and jealousy,” and who are not “planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.” The Witnesses are recognized as “those who belong to Christ Jesus,” because they “impale the flesh together with its passions and desires.” They must and do keep themselves from every form of wickedness. (Rom. 13:12-14; Gal. 5:24; 1 Thess. 5:22) They loathe “the works of the flesh,” which are “fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, hatreds, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these,” for, indeed, “those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” In contrast, Jehovah’s witnesses openly display to the view of all people the glorious fruitage of God’s spirit, namely, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.”—Gal. 5:19-23.
13. Why must Christians watch their personal appearance and hygiene?
13 God’s people must not only be morally, spiritually and mentally clean, they must carefully see to it that they are physically clean. Jehovah’s law was that those serving Him at his tent of worship were to be clean in body. (Ex. 29:4; 30:17-20; Lev. 5:2, 3; Num. 19:11-14; Isa. 52:11; Ezek. 44:23) Therefore, if you are a dedicated servant of Jehovah, it is important for you to see that you are washed and bathed, that you are neatly dressed in clean clothing, that you look respectable and presentable before you engage in the witness work or before you go to the Kingdom Hall. Thus onlookers who are watching will recognize even by your personal appearance that this is God’s clean organization.—2 Cor. 7:1.
14. (a) How is God’s organization kept clean of all moral badness? (b) Do the Scriptures warrant such drastic action?
14 Jehovah’s people must also be watchful and alert to see that their congregations remain organically clean from all those who are morally bad. “Let fornication and uncleanness of every kind or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people, neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting, things which are not becoming. . . . For you know this, recognizing it for yourselves, that no fornicator or unclean person or greedy person—which means being an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God.” (Eph. 5:3-5) So if anyone in the organization after being washed clean would, as the proverbial dog, return to his own vomit, or, as a bathed sow, again roll in the mire, then it is necessary for the organization to disfellowship and cut off from its midst such a filthy person. (1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Pet. 2:22) “Quit mixing in company” with this kind, “not even eating with such a man,” but, rather, “remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Cor. 5:9-13) “Now we are giving you orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly.” “For we hear certain ones are walking disorderly among you.” “If anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed.” (2 Thess. 3:6, 11, 14) Furthermore, “if anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say farewell [a greeting] to him. For he that says farewell to him is a sharer in his wicked works.” Thus by following this clear Scriptural procedure as regards unclean and rebellious ones, Jehovah’s witnesses certainly distinguish themselves from all the religious sects of Christendom. People of good will also see this tremendous difference and they are attracted to this clean organization, recognizing that here Jehovah’s spirit is dwelling.—2 John 10, 11.
DISTINGUISHED BY YOUR CHANGE IN CONDUCT
15, 16. (a) Why must ministers of God watch their conduct when engaged in secular employment? (b) If one is called upon to defend one’s change in living habits, how should this be done?
15 Jehovah’s ordained ministers, after devoting much of their time associating with their own families and with their brothers and sisters in the congregation, additionally spend a good deal of their lives engaged in secular employment and in the very company of men and women of the old world. Here, then, they must especially watch their conduct. At one time these same Witnesses were a part of the old world, living and acting as the rest. “Among them we all at one time conducted ourselves in harmony with the desires of our flesh . . . even as the rest,” confesses Paul the apostle. Peter too speaks of this transformation that takes place in the lives of those who come out of this present sordid system when he writes: “As obedient children, quit being fashioned according to the desires you formerly had in your ignorance, but, in accordance with the holy one who called you, do you also become holy yourselves in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘You must be holy, because I am holy.’”—Eph. 2:3; 1 Pet. 1:14-16.
16 So because of your change in conduct fellow employees and associates must be able to recognize that you are now a true minister of Jehovah. At times you may be called upon to explain this change in your living habits, or to defend your new-found faith and the Bible upon which it is based. Be ever ready and willing to do so, speaking the truth, when the time is appropriate, with boldness and fearlessness, yet with mildness and tactfulness belonging to Christ, never in a cocky manner or in an overbearing or sarcastic way. “Always [be] ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.”—1 Pet. 3:15.
17. How else do people distinguish themselves as belonging to the New World society?
17 In your secular employment, as far as possible avoid all compromising situations, such as Christmas parties, business conventions and union outings, which are so notorious for their moral laxity. Have no part in the gambling and drinking matches of employees or business associates. You must be clean from immorality and loose conduct. You must be clean from drunkenness and excesses. You must be clean in speech and mouth, free from vulgar oaths and obscene profanity. “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth.” (Eph. 4:29) You must be clean from the stain and stench of the tobacco weed. You must be free from slavery to narcotics and addicting dopes. If you are of the New World society you most certainly must distinguish yourself by your clean living in every respect.
18. If ridiculed and persecuted because of upright conduct, how can one have and hold a good conscience before God?
18 Secular associates may ridicule and abuse you for maintaining such an upright and godly course of conduct, but do not the Scriptures say they would do this very thing? It is therefore no strange thing if they do. “For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and idolatries that are without legal restraint. Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you. But these people will render an account to the one ready to judge those living and those dead.” (1 Pet. 4:3-5) So follow the good counsel of Paul: “When being reviled, we bless; when being persecuted, we bear up; when being defamed, we entreat.” (1 Cor. 4:12, 13) Never give way to wrath; never become embroiled in a brawl. “Return evil for evil to no one. . . . If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says Jehovah.’” (Rom. 12:17-19) In this way you will have a good conscience before God as one of his integrity-keeping witnesses. “Hold a good conscience, so that in the particular in which you are spoken against they may get ashamed who are speaking slightingly of your good conduct in connection with Christ. For it is better to suffer because you are doing good, if the will of God wishes it, than because you are doing evil.”—1 Pet. 3:16, 17.
19. (a) Must only the adults among Jehovah’s witnesses watch their conduct, and why? (b) How are the school systems used by Satan to pervert the minds of youth?
19 Now, you young children and you teen-agers, if your parents are Jehovah’s witnesses, then you too must watch your conduct, for you also are being watched! You are being watched by others not only while you are around your home and at the Kingdom Hall but especially when you attend school. Depending on your behavior, teachers and others will either bless or curse your God Jehovah. You must therefore be respectful, honest and diligent in your studies. You must be clean and neat in your dress and habits. Never forget it, the public schools are part of this present evil world, and the god of this wicked world Satan the Devil is using very subtle schemes to mold the minds of youth to his perverted way of thinking. He uses image worship, hero worship, competition and bad associations to accomplish his wicked intent. You must therefore be as faithful to Jehovah as were the three Hebrews who were thrown into a fiery furnace for not saluting and worshiping an image of the state.—Dan. 3:8-30; 1 John 5:21.
20. In what ways can those attending school avoid bad association?
20 Another thing you young witnesses of Jehovah must be on guard against is delinquency; otherwise you will never live through Armageddon, for in the paradise earth there will be no juvenile delinquents. For your protection, then, avoid getting entangled in the school gangs, in the social affairs, the after-school athletics, cultural endeavors, or the various activities sponsored by the fraternities and sororities. Such bad associations are bound to spoil useful habits. (1 Cor. 15:33) There is one sure way of preventing yourself from being lost in the darkness that engrosses the school systems, and that is by letting “your light shine.” Talk the truth to your teachers and schoolmates and you will have many good companions with whom to associate.—Matt. 5:16.
21. Why is it so important at the present time for every one of Jehovah’s witnesses and their companions to watch his conduct closely?
21 Never was there a time when it was more important than now for Jehovah’s people everywhere to watch their personal conduct. In the home, in the congregation, in the community, before ruled and rulers, inside and outside prison bars and iron curtains the Witnesses must put up a hard fight for the faith and conduct themselves according to Jehovah’s righteous principles of truth and justice. We are at the very threshold of Armageddon when Jehovah is about to destroy this satanic old world and everyone conducting himself according to its wicked standards. Warns the apostle Peter: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt! But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Pet. 3:11-13) Ah yes! A new world of righteousness is at the very portals! A world wherein only those right and righteous in their conduct will live. For “outside are the dogs and those who practice spiritism and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone liking and carrying on a lie.” (Rev. 22:15) Make sure, then, that you walk worthily of living in Jehovah’s new world. “Keep testing whether you are in the faith, keep proving what you yourselves are.” Keep watching yourself, “for Jehovah’s eyes are upon the righteous.”—2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Pet. 3:12.