Watching Ourselves to Do Right Works
A LONE missionary was speeding to his foreign assignment on a transatlantic liner. One day an officer of the ship’s crew accosted him and said: “Sir, you stand out as different from all the rest of the passengers on the ship. What makes you so different?”
Why did the officer ask that question? Was it because of his physical appearance or because of his attire? Neither, for in these respects the missionary was no different from the rest of the passengers. Then what was it? It was because of his obeying the apostolic injunction: “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.”—1 Pet. 2:12.a
If you had been on that ship, would the officer have accosted you and asked you that question? That is something for each dedicated Christian reading these lines to ponder over. In fact, our course of action in our everyday conduct should be such as to make us outstanding so that persons who do not know that we are witnesses of Jehovah would likewise wonder what makes us so different.
This is as it should be. Did not Jesus say of his followers: “They are no part of the world just as I am no part of the world”? Not that we must leave this old world, for that is neither possible nor desirable. Not even desirable? No, for then how could we fulfill our commission to preach this good news of the Kingdom? How could we make known Jehovah’s name? How could we warn the wicked, or how help men of good will to get on the road that leads to life? Yes, how could others observe our right works and then glorify God if we became hermits or isolationists?—John 17:16.
What in all is included in watching ourselves to do right works? For one thing, it means that in our everyday relationships we live according to the rule that Jesus gave: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them; this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.” So as we come in touch with others in shopping, traveling, and so forth, we want to be careful not to cause any reproach, but on the contrary seek to do them good by telling them the good news of the Kingdom.—Matt. 7:12
Do we engage in secular work? Most of us, except housewives and children, do. Then we must exercise twofold care. On the one hand we want to be careful that we are honest in our relations with our employer, giving him full value for the wages he pays us. And on the other hand we want to be exemplary in our conduct. We may not let fellow employees pull us down from our high principles.—Eph. 5:3, 4; 1 Pet. 4:3.
We also want to watch ourselves so that we always pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar. That requires not only that we conscientiously pay our taxes but that we obey all his laws that do not directly conflict with God’s laws, such as laws regarding hunting season and speed limits when driving automobiles.—Matt. 22:21.
Of course, we also want to watch ourselves to do right works in our own intimate family circle. The Scriptures make clear how husbands and wives, parents and children should conduct themselves toward one another, which commands we must follow for our mutual upbuilding. More than that, how we conduct ourselves toward one another in the privacy of our homes will sooner or later become known to outsiders.—Eph. 5:21 to 6:4.
Especially do we need to guard our conduct if we belong to a “mixed” family, some of whose members are dedicated to Jehovah God and some not, and perhaps even strongly opposed. Then in particular we have need of being kind, loving, long-suffering and exercising self-control.—Gal. 5:22, 23; 1 Pet. 3:1-4.
Nor may we overlook the need to watch ourselves to do right works within the Christian congregation. Let us not thoughtlessly ignore others, but let us ‘make straight paths for our feet’ lest we stumble the weak. And in our field ministry watching ourselves includes, not only watching that we manifest integrity, skill and zeal, but also that we have a neat, clean, presentable appearance and display fine Christian manners.—Heb. 12:13.
Truly many are the ways in which we want to watch ourselves in doing right works so that the words of the apostle Peter may prove true in our lives.—1 Pet. 2:12.
a For details see The Watchtower, August 15, 1960.