Children, Do You Obey Jehovah?
“Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.”—Eccl. 12:1.
1. What is a child in this world faced with, and how can he be morally strengthened?
CHILDREN born into this degenerate world are surrounded by an unwholesome influence that can ruin them. Because they are impressionable like clay, it can mold them to be like it, unless they are dominated by a good influence and guided to respect high moral standards. Loving parents have no desire for their children to become like the disobedient, arrogant delinquents whose unlawful acts are constantly appearing in the newspapers. They do not want them to become social sores in the community. They can prevent it by teaching their children God’s Word and love for his righteous principles.
2. What do children that obey Jehovah allow to influence them?
2 While it is important for children to obey their parents, they cannot successfully resist the world’s bad influence unless they obey Jehovah. Obedience to his instructions is vital to their welfare and to their life. Children that do obey him are not the kind that get involved in gang fights, in destruction of property, in immoral activities or in anything else that is contrary to Christian conduct. They allow God’s Word and organization to influence them rather than the corrupt world into which they were born.
3. Why do children having real Christian parents have an advantage over other children?
3 Children born to real Christian parents have a great advantage over those born of parents who are Christians in name only, for they are privileged to have as parents a mother and a father that love Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. Because of this they are reared in an atmosphere of godly devotion and service to God. From their earliest years they are guided in a way that leads to Jehovah’s approval and to eternal life. As they grow older their continuance in this way of righteousness depends less and less upon their parents’ influence and more and more upon themselves. Those children who appreciate this favored position of theirs will resist the world’s bad influence and will continue in the good way in which their parents started them.
4. What should children having real Christian parents avoid, and to whom should they look as an example?
4 The attitude you children of real Christian parents have toward your favored position has a direct relationship to the course of life you choose and to your gaining Jehovah God’s approval. If you take for granted the good influence of the Christian congregation and the favored position you have, you are in danger of losing what you have. You may become like the nation of Israel, which lost God’s approval because the people failed to appreciate the favored position they were in. If Jehovah means as much to you as he did to Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Jesus and Timothy when they were young, you will desire with all your heart to do what is right in God’s eyes. Look to Jesus as your example and not to the singers and movie actors of this old world. Jesus had that keen desire to obey Jehovah. When only twelve years old he said: “Did you not know that I must be in the house of my Father?”—Luke 2:49.
5. What tendency will dedicated children avoid?
5 The natural tendency of youths is to take lightly the things that should concern them the most. Since life is new to them, they are inclined to become so engrossed in the new things to see, the new things to do, the new experiences to be had and the pleasures to be enjoyed that they may fail to take seriously their responsibility before God. They may fail to keep uppermost in their minds the need to be obedient to him. You young people who follow Christ Jesus should avoid this youthful tendency by continually seeking to increase your knowledge and appreciation of Scriptural truths. If you do, your loving parents will not have to prod you to direct your youthful energies in the service of God.
GOOD REASONS TO OBEY HIM
6, 7. (a) Why should children let God direct their lives? (b) What advice does he give them, and by whose judgment should they abide? Why?
6 You can never go wrong by obeying Jehovah. What he tells you through his Word and organization is for your best interests and for the prolonging of your life. Do not be like some young people that get an inflated opinion of their own wisdom when they gain a little knowledge. Do not foolishly think you are wiser than God and can direct your lives better than he can. He has lived much longer than you have, and is much wiser. Although the world may foolishly reject his wisdom, you should not follow in its folly. The bad state the world is in today is evidence of what that course of foolishness leads to. Recognize the fact that you have lived only a short time and that you have much to learn. Your best teacher is Jehovah; so respect his wisdom. “My son, to my words do pay attention. To my sayings incline your ear. May they not get away from your eyes. Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those finding them and health to all their flesh.”—Prov. 4:20-22.
7 When Jehovah’s sayings are kept close to your heart, you will not trust in your own judgment of what is right and what is wrong. You will, instead, be guided by his judgment as it is expressed in the Scriptures. The very fact that your parents have had to discipline you at times for doing things you may have thought to be all right but which were actually wrong shows that you cannot rely on your own judgment. Even adults cannot rightfully and safely decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong but must rely upon God’s laws. The wise course is to follow this advice: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.”—Prov. 3:5, 6.
8, 9. (a) How is obedience to Jehovah associated with your life? (b) What examples are there showing the results of disobedience?
8 You children have just begun to live, but from the taste of life you have had you can see that life is most desirable. It is something to hold on to with all your might. By being obedient to Jehovah it is possible to have life always, for it is written: “This is the promised thing that he himself promised us, the life everlasting.” (1 John 2:25) But he has promised it only to those that love and obey him, not to those that disobey. He can no more be expected to give the gift of life to children that disobey him than can good parents be expected to give a promised gift to disobedient children. Instead of giving a gift the parents would punish disobedient children. Jehovah is not different. “He will render to each one according to his works: everlasting life to those who are seeking glory and honor and incorruptibleness by endurance in work that is good; however, for those who are contentious and who disobey the truth but obey unrighteousness there will be wrath and anger, tribulation and distress.”—Rom. 2:6-9.
9 Look at what happened to Adam and Eve because of their disobedience. They thought they could decide for themselves what was good and bad, with the result that they disobeyed God and brought suffering upon themselves and lost their lives. Think also about the people of Noah’s day, the people in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the rebellious ones in the nation of Israel. Disobedience to Jehovah was their downfall. There are good reasons, therefore, for obeying Jehovah.
OBSTACLES TO OBEDIENCE
10. What attitude toward Scriptural restrictions could be an obstacle to obedience, and why is it wrong?
10 Because you children within the Christian organization see those outside it doing things that are forbidden to you, you may at times feel that the Scriptural restrictions on you are confining. You may be tempted to disregard them when you see that those outside are not struck down by lightning or swallowed up by the earth for doing what is Scripturally wrong. To conclude that you too can do what is wrong without harm to yourselves would be a serious mistake. Because wrongdoing is not punished immediately, that does not mean wrongdoers will not be punished. Notice what God’s Word says: “Because sentence against a bad work has not been executed speedily, that is why the heart of the sons of men has become fully set in them to do bad. But it will not turn out well at all with the wicked one, neither will he prolong his days.” (Eccl. 8:11, 13) Another scripture says: “Do not be envious of those doing unrighteousness. For like grass they will speedily wither, and like green new grass they will fade away.” (Ps. 37:1, 2) The Scriptural restrictions God has placed upon you form certain bounds that it would be detrimental for you to exceed. Since he has given you immense freedom within those bounds or limits, it is a mistake to think they are confining. Such a view is an obstacle to obedience.
11, 12. (a) What force constantly pulls children toward disobedience to God, and how do dedicated parents combat it? (b) Why should companionship with children that do not love God be avoided?
11 Because you must, for the present, live in a wicked world you cannot avoid contact with children and adults that violate God’s laws and thus go beyond the legal bounds he has placed upon mankind. This bad influence is another obstacle to your obedience to Jehovah. It is a force that constantly tugs at you, trying to turn you away from doing what is Scripturally right. The older you become the more frequent will be your contact with bad influence. Since your parents cannot prevent such contacts, they have tried to build up your defenses, not only by teaching you God’s Word and its high moral standards and righteous laws, but by taking you to congregational meetings and by encouraging you to seek companions within the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses.
12 It is with good reason that the Bible says: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) When children seek as companions other children that have no love for God or respect for what is Scripturally right, they are inviting trouble for themselves. That bad influence will not help them to stay within the Scriptural bounds that are a protection to their lives. They need as companions children that want to obey Jehovah, not disobey him.
13. How should opposition from worldly adults and schoolmates be viewed?
13 The way worldly adults and schoolmates treat you because you put obedience to God first may hurt your feelings and your pride, but is it not better to be hurt by ungodly people for doing what is right than to be hurt by God for doing what is wrong? Is it not better to be well spoken of by God than to be well spoken of by persons that he will destroy at Armageddon? Remember what Jesus said: “Woe, whenever all men speak well of you.”—Luke 6:26.
14, 15. (a) Why should children seek humility? (b) Why do they have no reason for feeling superior because of the knowledge they gain at school?
14 Lack of humility can also be an obstacle to obedience. Because you may get good grades in school and are praised for your intellectual brightness, you should not get an inflated opinion of yourself. It is dangerous for a person to “think more of himself than it is necessary to think.” (Rom. 12:3) There was an angel that thought too much of himself; so much so that he considered himself wiser than God. He permitted self-admiration to cause him to become a slanderer and an opposer of God. Do not make the mistake that this one, who became Satan the Devil, made. “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving his own mind.”—Gal. 6:3.
15 Keep in mind that all you have learned is nothing compared with what there is to learn. Even aged adults that have studied science and other fields of knowledge all their lives know comparatively little. Despite the fact that man has libraries stuffed with knowledge, he is still very ignorant. Here is what Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, president of the California Institute of Technology, said on the subject, as reported by the Los Angeles Times of November 15, 1959: “Mankind’s ignorance is so colossal, so far-reaching, and extends into so many fields that it actually beggars description. . . . We have reason to be proud of the fact that here and there we have hammered out a little oasis of knowledge; here and there we have lighted a small lamp which illuminates a tiny spot in the vast darkness. But, even if we could stuff into one head all the knowledge that men have accumulated through the ages, the owner of that head would still be an ignorant man. In fact, he would probably be more keenly aware of his ignorance than those of us who know so much less.” Since adults have no grounds for boasting, how can children boast who have learned only a fraction of what adults know? Because Jehovah God knows everything, heed what he says and obey him.—Prov. 3:7.
DESIRE FOR MATERIAL THINGS
16, 17. Why is it dangerous for children to have an unrestrained love for material things and pleasures and what is necessary for them to do?
16 There is a tendency among young people in this modern age to have an unrestrained love for material things and for pleasures. There is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. It is the attitude some have toward them that is bad. The common practice is to magnify them out of proportion to their importance. You must avoid this mistake. Unrestrained love for material things brings sorrow, trouble and ultimately death. Note what the apostle Paul said about materialism: “The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”—1 Tim. 6:10.
17 It is of the utmost importance that you learn to control the natural desire for material things and for pleasures. Do not let them become more important to you than obedience to Jehovah God. If they do, you will be actually sacrificing your life for them. Is not your life worth more than something that will become old, outmoded and useless? Is it not worth more than the few moments of pleasure you may get from a material possession or from satisfying fleshly desires? The wise thing is to exercise control over them rather than to permit them to control you.
18. Why should not children be absorbed in the present and ignore the future?
18 Avoid the tendency of youth to be completely absorbed with the present, having little concern about how one’s actions today may affect one in the future. This tendency can be an obstacle to obeying Jehovah, as obedience or disobedience to him now will reap its results in the future. You cannot ignore the future if you want his approval. You are alive today, but when tomorrow comes you want to be still living, do you not? It will not be possible if you give no thought to your Creator today or to what he requires of you. Be wise, therefore, and heed this admonition: “Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.”—Eccl. 12:1.
SHOW WILLINGNESS TO OBEY
19. (a) What is indicated by reluctant service? (b) How can the right attitude be cultivated?
19 God has no pleasure in the person that serves him reluctantly and has to be prodded continually by others to do the divine will. If you truly love your Creator you will want to obey him. You will have the attitude expressed at Psalm 40, verse 8: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted.” This appreciation must be cultivated by personal study of God’s Word, by taking his instructions to heart and by keeping vividly in mind the great things Jehovah has done and will yet do. Deep appreciation for such things prompts willing obedience. Consider this good counsel: “My son, my law do not forget, and my commandments may your heart observe, because length of days and years of life and peace will be added to you. May loving-kindness and trueness themselves not leave you. Tie them about your throat. Write them upon the tablet of your heart.”—Prov. 3:1-3.
20, 21. (a) What can children do to show their willingness to obey God? (b) What provision is made for children in the New World society to serve their Creator?
20 Your willingness to obey can be shown, not only by living according to Scriptural standards, but by making use of the lifegiving knowledge you learn from God’s Word. It is by using this knowledge to magnify Jehovah and to help others to learn about him and his wonderful purposes that you manifest your desire to do his will. You will then be doing as you are Scripturally commanded: “Give thanks to Jehovah, call upon his name, make known among the peoples his dealings. Sing to him, make melody to him, concern yourselves with all his wonderful works.”—Ps. 105:1, 2.
21 Activity in the Christian ministry cannot be confined to adults. It is a privilege of service that you children can Scripturally participate in and should engage in. If you want to obey Jehovah you will engage regularly in the ministerial activities that are arranged by the theocratic organization. Aside from weekly service in the ministry that the organization makes available to you, it gives you the splendid opportunity to serve your Creator every day during vacation periods by being a vacation pioneer out in the witness field. What better way is there to spend the major portion of a vacation? Since the proclamation of Jehovah’s truths and purposes to the people has been commanded by him, do you obey him by zealously engaging in it regularly?
22. How should young people view theocratic assignments?
22 Aside from opportunities to preach from house to house, willingness to obey Jehovah can be shown when you are given theocratic assignments and responsibilities in the congregation. At first the assignments are small, but as you grow older they become bigger, with more responsibility attached to them. Shunning such responsibilities by rejecting the assignments reveals a wrong mental attitude, an unwillingness to use your strength and abilities fully in advancing the interests of God’s kingdom. This is not serving him with delight. It is not showing wholehearted devotion to him. Do not reject theocratic assignments but be grateful that you were found worthy of greater service privileges.
23. Why should children watch their conduct?
23 In your relationship with schoolmates and worldly adults it is most important that you conduct yourself in a manner that is above reproach. You must remember that you are a servant of the Most High at all times, not just when in the field ministry. Improper conduct brings reproach upon his name because you bear that name as one of his witnesses. It is also a bad reflection upon the theocratic organization. If worldly people and schoolmates speak bad about you, let it be because of your devotion to Jehovah and not because of bad conduct. “However, let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a busybody in other people’s matters. But if he suffers as a Christian, let him not feel shame, but let him keep on glorifying God in this name.”—1 Pet. 4:15, 16.
24, 25. (a) How may children be faced with a test of integrity? (b) How can they gain the strength to stand firm?
24 At times your integrity will be put to the test as efforts will be made by worldly persons to make you do things that are against the will of God. Your parents may not be present at the time to help you, but you will be on your own to decide whether to obey God or not. By putting obedience to him first you may become unpopular with your schoolmates and with worldly adults, but which is more important, popularity with worldly people or popularity with God? What they think about you is not as important as what Jehovah, your Creator, thinks about you. If you love him with all your heart and want him to love you, you will stand firm.
25 Jesus set the example for you by faithfully obeying Jehovah at all times, no matter what others said or did to him. The world did not like him, but he was not trying to please the world. He was interested in pleasing Jehovah God. Do you have the same desire? Can you keep your integrity as he did? To do so, it is necessary to keep building up your spiritual strength by personal Bible study, by activity in the ministry and by asking for it in prayer.
26. Why is this a serious time for children?
26 We are living in a momentous time in human history, not from the standpoint of the remarkable inventions man has produced, but from the standpoint of Jehovah’s purposes. It is the long-foretold time of the end for the present wicked world. Shortly Jehovah will terminate its existence in the battle of Armageddon and usher in a new world of righteousness. It is a serious time for children as well as adults, because children that do not obey Jehovah will not be among the survivors of that battle. God will not preserve them into his new world merely because they are children. This is evident from the fact that he did not preserve the young children through the flood of Noah’s day just because they were children. It is also shown in the book of Ezekiel that just because you are young is no reason for God’s keeping you alive. Ezekiel wrote: “Slay utterly the old man, the young man and the virgin, and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark.” (Ezek. 9:6, AS) Your being children who worship and serve Jehovah as he has commanded and who have the mark of protection—ah yes, that will mean preservation and life for you.
27. Why is the question, Do you obey Jehovah? important, and what should be done to give an affirmative answer?
27 The question, Do you obey Jehovah? is so important that your continued existence and eternal welfare depend upon your being able to give an affirmative answer. If you cannot, then take immediate steps so that you can. Gain an extensive knowledge of Jehovah’s written Word and purposes and use that knowledge regularly in the ministry. Do not fail to be at congregational meetings of the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. Be wise by walking the path of obedience to Jehovah before Armageddon, that you may be alive after Armageddon.