Walking with God
“He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?”—Mic. 6:8.
1. To what may our walking with God be likened, and why?
COULD you imagine an elephant and an ant marching side by side in a circus parade? Or a kangaroo and a flea hopping along together across the Australian outbush? Preposterous? Of course! Yet the thought that we, puny, weak, imperfect humans, mere specks on a speck, can and may walk with Jehovah, the Almighty, the Most High God, the Sovereign of the whole universe, would be infinitely more preposterous were it not for the fact that he himself is responsible for the thought.
2, 3. Who have walked with God, and what must God be to us for us to walk with him?
2 Thus God’s Word tells us that “Enoch went on walking with the true God,” that “Noah walked with the true God,” and that Levi, that is, the Levitical priesthood, walked with God. In fact, walking with God is what he expects of all his servants, even as we read: “What is Jehovah asking back from you but . . . to be modest in walking with your God?”—Gen. 5:22; 6:9; Mal. 2:4, 6; Mic. 6:8.
3 For us to walk with God, Jehovah must be very real to us, even more real to us than our fellow human creatures are. As we read of Moses: “He continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” We must be able to say as did the psalmist David: “My eyes are constantly toward Jehovah.” “I have placed Jehovah in front of me constantly.”—Heb. 11:27; Ps. 25:15; 16:8.
4, 5. Why does God command us to walk with him?
4 Why does God command us to walk with him? For the sake of his sovereignty and our happiness. We owe it to God to walk with him. As our Creator and Supreme Sovereign he has the right to command how we should walk. It is the only way in which his purposes can be realized, the only way by which there can be peace and harmony in his domains, by all walking with him. If, because we are free moral agents, we refuse to walk with him, Jehovah would be obligated to destroy us as rebels.
5 In commanding us to walk with him Jehovah has our highest and best interests at heart. When we are walking with God we are certain to be going in the right direction, for God is omniscient, all-knowing, and he never makes a mistake. More than that, walking with God is the safest way to walk, as under his shadow there is complete protection.—Prov. 2:6-9; Ps. 91:1.
6. For what other reasons should we walk with God?
6 Walking with God is not only the right and wise thing to do but also the loving thing for us to do, the thing that will make us the most happy. It even makes God happy to see us take a wise course, that of walking with him. Certainly in view of all he has done for us we should want to show love and appreciation by trying to please him. Further, even as we like to walk with one whom we love, we enjoy being in that one’s presence, so if we love our heavenly Father Jehovah God we will want to be in his presence, ever walking with him.—Prov. 27:11.
7. What powerful invisible opposition do we encounter as we walk with God?
7 Walking with God is not following the lines of least resistance. Far from it. Rather, in walking with God we meet up with opposition from three quarters. First, there is the opposition of Satan and his demons. But you may say, ‘I do not believe there is a Devil!’ Peter and Paul did, and Peter wrote this: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” Paul wrote this: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a fight, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” The Bible leaves no doubt as to these being real entities, invisible personalities, powerful and wicked, and determined to swerve us from walking with God, in order to prove Satan’s boast that no man can keep integrity.—1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 6:11, 12.
8. Why does the world oppose our walking with God?
8 In our walking with God we also have the opposition of the world to encounter, even as did Enoch, Noah, Jesus and his apostles. The world resents our walking with God because, among other things, our very course of action rebukes it: “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 . . . 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.”—1 Pet. 4:3, 4.
9. Opposition from what source has repeatedly brought grief to those walking with God?
9 We also have our inherited fallen tendencies to oppose our walking with God. What grief these have brought to such faithful servants of Jehovah as Daniel, David and Peter! How truly Paul speaks for us when he says: “When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. Miserable man that I am!” Still at the same time he could say: “I browbeat my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” In this we must follow Paul’s example. Until Armageddon we can expect these three forces to oppose our walking with God.—Rom. 7:21, 24; 1 Cor. 9:27; Dan. 9:4-13.
10. Obedience to what counsel given Israel’s kings will aid us in walking with God?
10 To assist us in meeting this threefold opposition to our walking with God, Jehovah has provided us with three powerful instruments. First of all, we have God’s Word. What a valuable help it is! It guides, strengthens and motivates us in our walking with God. In it alone does Jehovah God speak directly to us. There is no substitute for it and so we should make it a habit to “read in it all the days” of our lives; even as the kings of Israel were required to do.—Deut. 17:19.
11, 12. How can we benefit most from Bible reading?
11 In reading God’s Word let us make certain that we get the sense of what we are reading, if not of every word, at least the general sense, at the same time reading with the thought of applying it to ourselves, to our conduct and to our ministry. We should identify ourselves with or see ourselves in the ones who walked with God and resolve to follow their example. In these days of great wickedness the book of Proverbs is of particular value, helping us to walk uprightly. Even when reading the Psalms let us not be content with merely enjoying their beautiful strains of praise to Jehovah, but let us note how much admonition they contain, both implied and direct. Thus the very first psalm, by telling us of the happiness of the man that keeps integrity, admonishes us to imitate him.
12 Included in the psalms’ direct admonition are, of course, the appeals to praise Jehovah. But that is not all. Note the commands given to the rulers of the world at Psalm 2:10-12, and that given to God’s people at Psalm 4:4: “Be agitated, but do not sin. Have your say in your heart, upon your bed, and keep silent.” Such kind of Bible reading will truly enlighten, strengthen and motivate us as we keep on walking with God.
13, 14. What further aid has God provided, and for it to help us to walk with God what must we do?
13 To help us walk with him God has also provided a visible earthly organization, “the faithful and discreet slave,” or “remnant,” whom Jesus Christ has placed in charge of all his goods, even as he foretold. This “slave” provides leadership and spiritual food by means of appointed servants, meetings of various kinds and printed publications. The servants in the congregation as well as all serving as overseers provide help by means of counsel and exemplary action: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.”—Matt. 24:45-47; Heb. 13:7.
14 Therefore take advantage of the help they can give you. Respect them and cooperate with them. That, of course, requires our “not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together.” How often have we had this admonition called to our attention! And still what happens to meeting attendance when the weather suddenly turns bad? And that even in large cities with adequate transportation. Think of our brothers behind the Iron Curtain who risk their freedom and the support of their families every time they come together. And yet some stay away because of snow or rain. Truly, brothers, these things ought not to be!—Heb. 10:25.
15, 16. To what extent should we appreciate the Watch Tower publications?
15 Walking with God also requires us to be organization-minded in our reading habits. God’s visible channel provides us with ever so much reading matter, all of which should be a MUST for Christians. Some imagine they do not have time to read through each issue of The Watchtower, yet the president and vice-president of the Watch Tower Society do. Are you busier or do you have more important work than they do? Or is it a matter of selectivity? Are we wasting time reading other things or watching television when we could be buying out the opportune time reading The Watchtower? Much valuable information and admonition is contained in the so-called “secondary” articles of The Watchtower that help the Christian to walk in the right way and to “be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”—2 Tim. 3:17.
16 The same also applies to the Awake! magazine. Reading each issue from cover to cover will not only broaden your mental horizon but also help you to view all things from God’s standpoint. And what about the Yearbook? Do you take time each day to consider the daily text? Are you reading its stimulating and encouraging reports? Doing so will help you in your walking with God.
17, 18. What can be said about the value and the working of the holy spirit in our walking with God?
17 In addition to his Word and his visible organization, Jehovah God has also provided us with his holy spirit or active force. While today its operation is not as obvious to the natural eye as it was in the days of ancient Israel and in apostolic times, its operation can be clearly seen by the eye of faith. In fact, the great change it works in persons and the great work accomplished in the world today by reason of it can be seen by all even though they do not recognize the cause, the holy spirit. This spirit, however, we do not receive apart from God’s Word, association with his organization and prayer; apart from “a hearing by faith.”—Gal. 3:2.
18 Clearly, not all dedicated and even mature Christians possess the holy spirit to the same measure. There is no doubt that unselfishness, depth of devotion, self-control, humility, mildness of spirit, studiousness as regards God’s Word and zeal in God’s service have a bearing on how much of the holy spirit we have. It also appears that inherited qualities have no small bearing on the extent to which we permit the holy spirit to have a free flow in our lives or tend to obstruct its activity. Thus the more colorful the personality the more difficult for the holy spirit to saturate it fully. The colorful personality has more need of self-control and must in particular guard against the snare of creature worship. Richness of personality seems to work against spiritual-mindedness, as the colorful person tends to lean more on himself, even as those who are rich in material things tend to put their trust in them instead of Jehovah God.—Ps. 52:7.
19. What are the very first steps in our walking with God?
19 Before we can even begin to walk with God we need faith. We must believe that he exists and that he will reward those who do walk with him. We prove that we do have faith when we dedicate ourselves to do God’s will and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, thereby taking the very first step of walking with our God. As we read: “Will two walk together unless they have met by appointment?” For us to walk with God we must first meet him by appointment, by dedicating ourselves to him and being baptized in water, thus making public confession of our dedication to Jehovah. As has been stressed time and again in this publication, our dedication is not to an impersonal cause, nor even to a society of people, but to a person, the supreme Person of the universe, Jehovah God.—Amos 3:3.
20. What goal of Jehovah must be our goal for us to walk with him?
20 From now on we must follow God’s leadership, we must go in the same direction as he is going, his goal must be our goal. And what is his goal? The vindication of himself and his name and his word by means of his kingdom, of course. “Jehovah is exclusively devoted to his name. He is a God exacting [the same] exclusive devotion [of others].” “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.” That is why Jesus commanded his followers: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.”—Ex. 34:14 (edition of 1953); Mark 12:30; Matt. 6:33.
21. What does exclusive devotion require of us?
21 Even as Jesus walked with God by putting first in his life God’s name and kingdom, so must we. We must obey the prophetic commands recorded at Isaiah 43:10-12 and Matthew 24:14. As opportunity affords we must go from house to house and stand on street corners advertising Jehovah’s name and kingdom, making return visits and conducting Bible studies with those conscious of their spiritual need. Exclusive devotion requires us to be alert to opportunities of witnessing wherever we may happen to be.
22. What does the principle stated at Luke 12:48 require of us?
22 Is Jehovah’s service indeed the most important thing in our lives? If so, then we will not content ourselves with merely token witnessing but will strive to reach at least the minimum requirements of the congregation quotas. We want the consuming zeal that Jesus had and so will do all we possibly can. Remember, “everyone to whom much was given, much will be demanded of him; and the one whom people put in charge of much, they will demand more than usual of him.” So let us not content ourselves with doing as little as possible to be a Christian.—Luke 12:48.
23, 24. What are some of the snares we must guard against if we would give Jehovah exclusive devotion?
23 As time goes on we should be increasing in zeal. If that is not true in our case, could it be that materialism or something else is making inroads? Some may have become television addicts. If one’s television set is causing one to stumble as regards one’s worship of Jehovah; if watching it is making inroads on one’s personal study, one’s meeting attendance and one’s field ministry, then let one get rid of it. Better to enter the new world without a television set than risking missing out on the new world because of watching television!—Mark 9:45.
24 The same must also be said of other forms of entertainment. Have we got in such a rut of craving pleasure that moving pictures, parties or dancing are a “must” on Saturday nights? How can we do justice to Sunday’s field ministry, public talk and Watchtower study if we fail to get a good night’s rest? True, relaxation is necessary, but let us control it, not let it control us! Walking with God, giving him exclusive devotion, putting first his kingdom, demands of us that we do!
25. To be guided by Jehovah’s righteous principles, what scriptures must we obey?
25 To be walking with God further means for us to be guided by his righteous principles. “What is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice.” “You must be holy, because I am holy.” “You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Just as the tiny atom obeys the same divine laws that govern the mighty stellar galaxies of the universe, so, regardless of how insignificant and finite we are as compared with Jehovah God, we can and must be guided by his righteous principles, we must “exercise justice.”—Mic. 6:8; 1 Pet. 1:16; Matt. 5:48.
26-28. Besides loving righteousness what else is commanded, and why?
26 To exercise justice we must not only love what is just and right but hate, abhor, what is bad. Jehovah does: “I, Jehovah, am loving justice, hating . . . unrighteousness.” And of Jesus it was written: “You have loved righteousness and you hate wickedness.” So we are commanded: “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.” “Abhor what is wicked, cling to what is good.”—Isa. 61:8; Ps. 45:7; 97:10; Rom. 12:9.
27 We all must be careful that we keep on walking with God by exercising justice, not only loving what is right, but also hating what is bad, what is wicked. At times what is bad may be very temptingly presented to us, even as was the forbidden fruit to Eve; and so unless we have cultivated a loathing for what is bad, an abhorrence and hatred for it, in a moment of weakness we may succumb to temptation, to our lasting shame and regret. No one may take for granted that because of his many years as a dedicated Christian he has a firm position. Not even the apostle Paul had such confidence in himself!—1 Cor. 9:27; 10:12.
28 We know what our individual weaknesses are. We may not pamper ourselves but must manifest a righteous zeal in opposing them at all times. If love of money is our chief weakness, we dare not indulge in sharp practices, for sooner or later we will go too far and come in for punishment. If we are fond of alcoholic beverages to the extent of not being able to control that fondness, we must exercise a tight rein when in the presence of those indulging in them, preferably staying away from such places, or we may bring dishonor to the Christian congregation and deserve to be chastised. If our weakness is along the lines of sex, whether married or single, then we must wage a strong fight against that weakness, avoiding unclean thoughts, pornographic literature and sensual moving pictures. Remember, “there is nothing . . . secret that will not become known.” We must keep “bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ.” We must ‘keep ourselves clean as carriers of Jehovah’s utensils’ if we would keep on walking with God, ‘exercising justice.’—Matt. 10:26; 2 Cor. 10:5; Isa. 52:11.
29. Why does walking with God also require us to love kindness?
29 To walk with God we must also “love kindness,” as Micah 6:8 goes on to say. The Hebrew word here rendered “kindness” is the same that is elsewhere translated “loving-kindness.” Time and again we read of Jehovah’s loving-kindness. “How precious your loving-kindness is, O God!” “I am Jehovah, the One exercising loving-kindness.” “It is the acts of loving-kindness of Jehovah that we have not come to our finish, because his mercies will certainly not come to an end. They are new each morning. Your faithfulness is abundant.” “Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.”—Ps. 36:7; Jer. 9:24; Lam. 3:22, 23; Jas. 5:11.
30. What does it mean to have empathy, and how did Jehovah manifest it?
30 Kindness is a fruitage of the spirit. Loving-kindness will make us understanding, considerate, gentle and helpful. To be kind we must have empathy. Empathy goes farther than sympathy, for in empathy we put ourselves in the other’s place, we actually feel what he feels. Jehovah God, great as he is, is not beyond exercising empathy regarding his creatures. He not only has pity, compassion, sympathy for us, remembering that we are but dust, but he puts himself in our place so that what hurts us hurts him. Thus we read regarding his nation of Israel: “During all their distress it was distressing to him.” Yes, when they suffered, he suffered.—Isa. 63:9.
31. What examples of empathy did Jesus and Paul give?
31 Jesus Christ also had empathy, not only when upon earth, but also since his return to heaven. When Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the Christians Jesus said to him: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Jesus Christ, now the exact representation of God’s very being, put himself in the place of his followers; what hurt them hurt him. And once becoming a follower of Jesus Christ himself, Paul also imitated his Master in this matter of empathy. He put himself in the others’ place, that he might win them to Christ: To the Jew he became as a Jew, to those under the law, as under the law, to those without the law, as without law. “To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to people of all sorts . . . for the sake of the good news.” And once these had become his brothers Paul continued to manifest empathy: “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is stumbled, and I am not incensed?”—Acts 9:5; 1 Cor. 9:20-23; 2 Cor. 11:29.
32. Empathy will cause us to act how?
32 In going from house to house with the good news of God’s kingdom, empathy will make us considerate, tactful, patient, kind and effective ministers. Empathy will make husbands and wives appreciative, understanding and loving mates. Empathy will enable children to appreciate their parents’ viewpoint and position, even as it will make parents loving and understanding, not irritating their children, appreciating how they look at things, while not surrendering their authority.—Eph. 5:33–6:4.
33. Who in particular need to manifest empathy, and why?
33 Empathy will make for peace and unity in the Christian congregation. It helps us to make allowances for the other’s shortcomings and weaknesses. Empathy will make the theocratic ministry school instructor kind in his counsel, putting himself in the student’s place. Especially do the overseers need empathy for them to do the most good. For you to be truly helpful, you overseers must establish communication by understanding; try to comprehend the other person’s feelings. This requires sensitive mental discernment, patience and slowness to anger. That is why Paul counsels you: “Brothers, even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, . . . try to restore such a man in a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted.”—Gal. 6:1.
34. What requirement in walking with God do we need to have taught us from birth onward?
34 And lastly, God’s prophet, at Micah 6:8, tells us “to be modest in walking with your God.” Jehovah God is willing to so humble himself as to let us walk with him; surely we should be willing to humble ourselves and to walk modestly with our God. To be modest in walking with our God means to be submissive to him, his principles and his agencies. That is a lesson we need to learn from birth onward. Time and again an infant’s or young child’s crying is not due to discomfort or pain but due to anger, hurt pride, frustration, rebellion or rage. Infants and children can be taught to sit quietly at the meetings if sufficient love and firmness are shown in their rearing the rest of the week at home; they can be taught to be submissive.
35, 36. What can be said in favor of being submissive?
35 The same applies to adults. When we have difficulty in submitting we should ask ourselves to what extent it is due to the circumstances and to what extent we are to blame. Modesty keeps us from feeling self-important. Humility helps us to submit to those bearing rule over us, be it a husband, a study conductor, a ministerial assistant or an overseer. Suppose we do have better judgment than the one to whom we are required to submit. Are we as well qualified in other respects? Then, too, we might be mistaken. Besides, time and again what seemed to us to be the wisest course does not work out, while what seemed to be not so wise turns out just fine. Jehovah can and often does direct the outcome so that it is for the best after all. He works in all things for good to those that love him.—Rom. 8:28.
36 Let us never forget that it is far more important that there be peace, unity, harmony and cooperation among us than that everything be done the best possible way. Exercising submissiveness merely puts a premium on wisdom and patience. If we are convinced that we have a suggestion that will be for the improvement of the work, let us not force it but wait for the right time and then in the right manner present it to those who can do something about it. Remember Queen Esther? She did not dare tell her husband what to do and yet she got all her wish.
37. In what other situation is submissiveness the course of wisdom?
37 Perhaps one of the most difficult situations in which to be submissive to theocratic rule is when one falls in love, romantic love, the eros of the Greeks. Suppose some of you young folks or some not so young fall in love with someone not a dedicated Christian or one who is lacking in zeal for Jehovah and his service and therefore would be a hindrance rather than a help. Christlike submission would require us to break off such an attachment instead of cultivating it, regardless of how pleasant the arrangement may seem to be because of the attraction of the sexes and also regardless of what suffering it might cause now. Is it not far better to suffer a little now, by falling out of love again and ending the relationship, than to suffer the rest of your life or until Armageddon relieves you of your onerous burden? Surely!—1 Cor. 7:39.
38. How else can walking with God be illustrated?
38 Truly, much is involved in our walking with God. It might also be likened to a little girl hanging on to the hand of her strong and robust father as they wend their way home in a snowstorm. Were she to let go of her father’s hand because of carelessness or because she disagreed with him as to the course they were taking, she would get lost in the storm and perish. Wisely, therefore, she hangs on for dear life. So if we want to reach “home,” the post-Armageddon new world of righteousness, we dare not let go of our heavenly Father’s hand, but must hang on tightly.
39, 40. How may walking with God be summarized?
39 That means accepting his leadership, being exclusively devoted to him, making his goal, the vindication of his name, our goal. It means endeavoring to imitate him in the exercise of justice, hating what is bad. It means loving kindness, having empathy; it means being modest and humble, submissive, to all his visible arrangements.
40 To walk with God is indeed the wise, the right and the loving thing to do. It is not easy, however, in view of the opposition of Satan and his demons, and Satan’s visible organization and our fallen tendencies. Still it is not too difficult, for Jehovah has wisely and lovingly provided us with three valuable aids, his Word, his visible organization and his holy spirit. Nor would we overlook the precious privilege of prayer, of talking with our God.
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Devil and Demons
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God’s Visible Organization