Applying Bible Principles in an Ungodly World
MAN is faced with problems that constantly seem to grow more critical instead of being solved: broken marriages, delinquency and crime, friction between employers and employees, loneliness, and fear of nuclear war—and these things on such a scale that they seem to engulf all mankind. But is it necessary for your life to be marred by these woes simply because they are characteristic of our times? Happily, the Bible points out a better way, not only directing attention to life in God’s righteous new world, but showing us how to live right now in the midst of this ungodly world in such a way as to enjoy security, contentment and happiness.
It is evident that the problems to be met are great. For example, notwithstanding all her Bibles and churches, America is called “the most divorced and most delinquent country in the world.” It has been estimated that some 10,000,000 living Americans have been divorced. One in every four marriages ends in divorce. Something is obviously wrong. The Bible contains the answer to the situation, but for you to benefit you must do more than possess a Bible; you must apply its counsel.
For success in marriage it is essential to recognize that it is a divine institution. When husband and wife accept this fact they reinforce the marriage bond, because they realize that they are accountable to someone higher than themselves. Their marriage bond becomes a responsibility before God. With this view of marriage, husbands and wives, if dedicated to this God, respond to the command: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Heb. 13:4) They are drawn together in love. Guided by Bible principles, Christian husbands ‘love their wives as their own bodies,’ and Christian wives are “in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord.” This makes for mutual cooperation and security in the marriage relationship.—Eph. 5:21-28.
But what if one mate does not abide by Christian principles? Admittedly, the situation can be difficult. Yet application of Bible principles on the part of the believer will have a bettering effect. It will bring inner peace to the believer and may even win the unbeliever over to seeing the benefit of doing things God’s way. So believing wives are admonished: “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.”—1 Pet. 3:1-6.
Praying together, too, which is a practice in Christian homes, has a healing effect when misunderstandings arise. When husbands and wives pray together and ask God to forgive them as they forgive each other, they are drawn together into a closer bond of union. Wrote the disciple James: “A righteous man’s supplication, when it is at work, has much force.”—Jas. 5:16.
According to Professor Lewis M. Terman’s exhaustive study of 792 couples, wives complained most seriously when their husbands were “selfish and inconsiderate, unsuccessful in business, untruthful, complaining, not affectionate and harsh with the children.” Husbands placed “nagging” first on their bill of complaints against wives, then listed, in order: “not affectionate, selfish and inconsiderate, complaining, slovenly, quick-tempered, given to interfering with hobbies.” Yet all of these problems will respond to the application of Bible principles, because the Bible helps even imperfect persons to manifest the godly fruitage of “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) It is true that the application of Bible principles on your part is not going to erase all the marital unhappiness in the world, but it can make your marriage a happy one and one that is an honor to Jehovah God, the Author of marriage.
DEALING WITH DELINQUENCY AND CRIME
When worldly persons fail to apply Bible principles and so fail to make a success of marriage, they are not the only ones that are hurt. Their children suffer too. There are two to four million children of divorce, separation and annulment in the United States today. And each year another 300,000 youngsters under eighteen are added to the total. Many of these become delinquents and resort to crime. Other children from apparently “good” homes have also picked up the rebellious spirit of our times. During the years between 1950 and 1960 serious crimes increased 98 percent, while population in the United States rose only 18 percent in the same period.
If this matter of child delinquency is one with which you are confronted, Bible principles can help. You may have a rebellious child that worries you. One mother says: “I have lost control of my daughter, not quite sixteen. She is impudent to her father, and listens to me only when she wants to. . . . She’s not bad or vicious, but so unruly and rebellious I can’t do anything with her. Is there any way I can bring her under control?” Another mother complained to police that she was unable to control her ten-year-old son who was out to become a burglar. Child psychologists differ on how to handle children, but God, who made man, knows what is best and he tells us in his Word the Bible.
He tells parents to take the time to teach their children the Word of God. “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) This is the best way to mold the child’s thinking in godly channels and to protect it from corrupting influences of the world in which he lives. By teaching the child godliness, that it is wrong to lie, steal or covet, and by coupling such instruction with their own good example, parents create a desire in the child to resist temptations. It learns self-control. Then, too, by emphasizing that these are God’s principles, that God says: You must not murder, steal, lie or covet; that God says: You must “honor your father and your mother” and be “obedient to your parents,” the child learns that it must obey under all circumstances, because, even when the parents are not watching, God is.—Ex. 20:13-17; Eph. 6:1, 2; 1 Pet. 3:12.
Discipline, too, is a necessary part of child training, and it is recommended in the Scriptures. “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.” (Prov. 13:24) Discipline administered in harmony with that Bible principle is not out of irritation or in anger but motivated by love, and “love builds up.” It builds up right patterns of conduct and warm relations between parents and children. It is a strong factor in curbing delinquency in homes where it rules.—1 Cor. 8:1; Heb. 12:7-9.
SOLVING SOCIAL PROBLEMS
Racial discrimination and mistreatment of persons simply because of their national background are other problems that prevail because of failure to apply Bible principles. The Bible is not a nationalistic book, teaching that people in one land are better than those anywhere else, breeding feelings of national or racial superiority, causing one group to look down on another. Rather, it makes clear that God “made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth,” and it commands all: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Acts 17:26; Matt. 22:39) Application of its principles has made it possible for true Christians out of all nations to be drawn together as members of one large spiritual family. They are able to meet together, work together and live together in peace and harmony. They find contentment, not only among persons of the same race or those of the same nationality, but among their Christian brothers in every part of the world.—Isa. 2:2, 3; Rev. 7:9.
Even toward those who discriminate against them they pursue a course of peace. They follow the counsel of Jesus: “Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you,” and, “Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other also to him.” They know that “an answer, when mild, turns away rage.” Thus they find that applying Bible principles is the most practical course in this ungodly world.—Matt. 5:44, 39; Prov. 15:1.
Another area where the application of Bible principles brings great blessings is in the field of employer and employee relations. Just think of the amount of time lost as a result of employees’ not giving a full and fair day’s work. Consider, too, that, according to John S. Mee, a top insurance executive, American businessmen, organizations and industry are being swindled out of more than $200,000,000 each working day by their employees. But those who apply Bible principles are not a party to any of this dishonesty. They follow the rule: “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work.” (Eph. 4:28) Not only stealing of merchandise and equipment from the shop but also “loafing on the job” is recognized by Christians as thievery, and they are under command not to steal. They know that they are accountable to God for what they do; so they do even their secular work as unto God and not man. They have in mind the Bible counsel to workers: “Be obedient in everything to those who are your masters in a fleshly sense, not with acts of eyeservice, as men pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, with fear of Jehovah. Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men, for you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the due reward.”—Col. 3:22-24.
Employers too have Bible principles to govern them. Advice given to slaveholders in the first century gives food for thought to modern-day employers: “You masters, keep dealing out what is righteous and what is fair to your slaves, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Col. 4:1) Sincere neighbor love on their part and an awareness that they are accountable to God move them to conduct their business affairs in such a way that they have a clear conscience before God and men and they are able to enjoy good relations with their employees. Yes, applying Bible principles bears good fruit even in the midst of an ungodly world.
LONELINESS AND FEAR
Today the problem of loneliness, and of the depressing boredom that often comes with it, seems to be more widespread than ever before. In what way can an application of Bible principles aid people to overcome these problems?
Basic to Christian living is association. Their very way of life is to be useful and helpful to others. They are admonished to ‘consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of themselves together.’ (Heb. 10:24, 25) In regular association at congregation meetings several times a week they enjoy fellowship with others who are interested in them, and even on other days their Christian activity draws them close to their families and keeps them in touch with others in the Christian congregation. The very nature of the work God gives Christians to do fills one with a sense of worth, bringing deep satisfaction. Their bright hope of God’s righteous new world fills them and overflows to others around them. In giving of themselves and sharing with others the good things they have learned from God’s Word, they find happiness. For did not Jesus say: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving”? (Acts 20:35) As persons who apply Bible principles, they are an active, happy people.
Fear is another overwhelming problem—fear of nuclear annihilation in a global war. Your applying Bible principles will not prevent the ungodly from using their weapons, but those with confidence in God do not fear what the nations may do. They know that God will not permit the earth to be ruined for human habitation, because he has promised to destroy the wicked and make this a paradise home for obedient mankind. (Rev. 11:18; Ps. 37:10, 11) Even in the face of death they do not lose their hope. They know that God, the Creator of life, can give them life again by a resurrection from the dead. That is why the apostle Paul said: “We do not . . . sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope. For if our faith is that Jesus died and rose again, so, too, those who have fallen asleep in death through Jesus God will bring with him.”—1 Thess. 4:13, 14; Acts 24:15.
Are there actually people on earth today who believe and live in harmony with these Bible principles? Yes, indeed! The New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. Because of this the Milwaukee Sentinel, for August 24, 1961, in speaking of Jehovah’s witnesses, said: “Their agreement is not on just the trivialities of life, but the vital things—rules of conduct, adherence to principles, worship of God.” Prove it for yourself. Visit the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses in your vicinity. You will find Jehovah witnesses glad to share with you and others the Bible answers to the problems we all face in this ungodly world.
How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern. . . . More insight than all my teachers I have come to have, because your reminders are a concern to me. With more understanding than older men I behave, because I have observed your own orders. . . . Owing to your orders I behave with understanding. That is why I have hated every false path. Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.—Ps. 119:97-105.