Meeting Today’s Problems with Courage
1. How can it be said that this world is going through a period of swift and far-reaching upheavals?
THIS world is living through a period of swift and far-reaching upheavals. Standards and institutions that have remained unchanged for centuries are breaking down. Millions who have passively endured their place in life up till now are clamoring for a new and more worthy existence. On the international scene, Western Europe has lost its dominance in world affairs, according to some. Across the great land mass of Eurasia and on the continent of Africa new nations have risen in the place of colonial empires.
2. (a) What do some believe regarding man’s aspirations for peace? (b) What problems face man in this regard? (c) How do Christians view these momentous times?
2 Some believe that mankind is yearning to realize its aspirations in peace. But it seems to be faced by at least two somber threats. As far as man himself is concerned these are: (1) the Communist thrust to achieve world domination, which seeks to exploit all dissatisfactions and magnify all tensions, and (2) the new weapons of technology capable of obliterating civilization. To add to these two factors, studious Christians view these momentous troublesome times as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy proving we are in the critical days before the great battle of Armageddon, the war to end all wars.—2 Tim. 3:1-5; Rev. 16:14, 16.
3, 4. Describe the impact fear has made in this generation. Define “fear.”
3 As a result of the impact that this civilization has made upon humanity, fear, dread and apprehension have been multiplied. Everywhere around this earth and at every level people are afraid. People fear hunger. They fear disease. They fear old age. They fear war. They fear knowledge. They fear pain. They fear the future with its atomic possibilities. Indeed, fear seems to be contagious. Do you not agree? But you might well ask, What is fear, and how can we individually dispel it?
4 Fear, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “painful emotion marked by alarm; dread; disquiet. State or habit of fearing; anxious concern.” It is also defined as: “Awe; profound reverence, especially for the Supreme Being.”
5. Was the climate of fear today foretold in the Bible? Elaborate.
5 Fear, therefore, can be a dreaded enemy. Indeed, it takes courage to overcome it. Moreover, the very climate of fear that we live in today was foretold in a prediction of Christ Jesus the Son of God himself. He said: “On the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out . . . while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”—Luke 21:25, 26.
6. Describe the real source of worldly fear according to the Bible.
6 It is one thing to recognize the causes of fear, such as international communism, crooked politicians, disease and even death. But it is another thing to recognize and understand the source or instigator of fear. According to the Bible, the real source of fear and of mankind’s momentous problems today is Satan the Devil, who challenged the supremacy of Almighty God, Jehovah. He is condemned to death by God, but has been allowed to remain temporarily to show that his challenge against God has failed, proving once and for all eternity that Jehovah, the Almighty Creator, is the Supreme Sovereign.—Job 1:9-12; Ex. 9:16.
7. Give reasons to prove Satan is an actual creature and not just the personification of evil.
7 To many persons, however, Satan’s existence is just legendary. Even in the minds of many who profess to believe the Bible he simply does not exist. Some believe Satan to be merely the personification of evil. It may be that some of you have felt that way about it. In any event we invite you to consider what the apostle Paul said on this matter: “The god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” Peter tells us who that “god” is, saying: “Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” And, please, note now the account of Jesus’ temptations: “The Tempter came and said to him: ‘ . . . tell these stones to become loaves of bread.’ . . . Then the Devil took him along into the holy city . . . Again the Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain . . . and he [the Devil] said to him [Jesus]: ‘All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.’ Then Jesus said to him: ‘Go away, Satan!’” Jesus knew Satan ruled this system of things! It is because of Satan’s wicked rule over the earth that Jesus said: “My kingdom is no part of this world.” Thus the Scriptures give adequate testimony that Satan is an actual creature and in his efforts to turn men away from God he is promoting wickedness and multiplying the fear that exists today.—2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Pet. 5:8; Matt. 4:1-11; John 18:36.
8, 9. (a) What hope exists for deliverance from such fear? (b) Prove from the Scriptures that the source of such fear will soon be completely eliminated.
8 True Christians recognize, however, that Satan, who is truly the source of slavish fear, will not rule forever. The Bible assures us that this is so—and is this not a comforting thought? Jesus himself showed that just before Satan’s rule would end, fear and perplexity would increase and that all these troubles would be “a beginning of pangs of distress.” Their increase is at Satan’s instigation: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” Should this add to one’s fear? No. “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” Deliverance? Yes, for just as the fig tree’s putting forth leaves indicates summer is near, so the fearful conditions Jesus described at Matthew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 21 indicate Satan’s destruction is at hand and that this generation that sees the present woes will by no means pass away until all these things, including the end of Satan’s system, occur.—Matt. 24:8; Rev. 12:12; Luke 21:28; Matt. 24:3, 34.
9 What a valid cause for courage this is and therefore how important it is for all Christians to study God’s Word and learn of the time, shortly to come, when the real source of worldly fear will be eliminated for all time! How do we know this? Pick up your Bible and read Psalm 37:10 and Revelation 20:1-3 and see what it says. Here it is: “And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be.” “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, that he might not mislead the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.”
SUCCESSFULLY OVERCOMING TODAY’S FEARS
10. What, then, is the only way to conquer fear successfully?
10 What, then, is the only way to conquer fear successfully? It is by individually studying the Bible and taking courage from God’s Word. This will give one assurance that the end of wickedness and of the multiplier of fears is at hand. There has not been enough personal study of God’s Word by mankind. If man studied the Bible, he would have the answers to our everyday problems, fears and anxieties. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) Learn for yourself how the Bible can be a light to your roadway in these difficult times. (Ps. 119:105) Moreover, it is by obeying God’s laws and principles that great peace of mind and heart comes to the Christian. David stated: “Seven times in the day I have praised you because of your righteous judicial decisions. Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law, and for them there is no stumbling block.” (Ps. 119:164, 165) Do you personally want this peaceful, assuring outlook? Then study further into God’s Word and profit from the splendid examples of courage in times past. Learn from the course of action exemplified by such men as David, Isaac and others.—Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11.
11-13. (a) How did David indicate courage could be gained? (b) What does it mean to “wait for Jehovah”? (c) What benefits come to those who “wait for Jehovah”?
11 Now we shall consider what a man of great personal courage had to say about gaining courage, that quality of the mind that enables one to meet danger and difficulties with firmness. David once said: “In you, O Jehovah, have I taken refuge. O may I never be ashamed. In your righteousness provide escape for me.” (Ps. 31:1) Thus, the opening verse of Psalm 31 provides some helpful direction on gaining courage, for it shows that a Christian must take refuge in Jehovah and never be ashamed to call on him for help, recognizing his complete dependence on Jehovah. We invite you now to read the whole thirty-first Psalm 31. In it you will discover that David completely relied on Jehovah in all that he said and did. As you come to the end of this Psalm you will note the key to the whole matter, for the real basis for courage is “waiting for Jehovah.”—Ps. 31:24.
12 What does it mean to “wait for Jehovah”? The word “wait” here is the Hebrew verb Yahhál, and by implication this word means to be patient, to hope, to expect, to trust. Even when David was outlawed by the king of the very nation of Israel, his own people, he did not try to take matters into his own hand but waited on Jehovah for the outcome, and he was indeed blessed by him. And what about Isaac? For 180 years this faithful man did not see the land of promise in his possession, and yet he, like David, waited on Jehovah. They had this in common. This was the basis of their sticking to the work that Jehovah had given them. It was their source of courage. It kept them moving ahead, enduring, happy in their privileges and responsibilities before Jehovah.—Ps. 146:5.
13 Christians today do well to learn from these ancient examples and “wait for Jehovah,” completely relying on him and following his principles at all times. Why? Even though Christians are in the world they can be no part of it. Hence, dedicated Christians are urged: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:15-17.
14. Enumerate some of the things true Christians must courageously resist.
14 Yes, like a magnet with a powerfully attractive force, this world draws more and more into its orbit. Truly it takes great courage to resist the corruption, dishonesty, immorality, materialism, lack of faith and the many other pressures constantly operating against the Christian who is in the world but not a part of it.—John 15:19.
15. Outline the steps necessary to resist encroachments on pure worship.
15 Have you ever thought how you might personally resist being drawn into the orbit of this world and in reality take your stand for truth and righteousness? To resist any encroachments on his way of worship before God, a dedicated Christian must guard against wrong association, pray constantly and stand firm in the faith.—1 Cor. 15:33; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Cor. 16:13.
16. What should Christians be doing in these critical times? Why is their conduct of great importance?
16 As dedicated Christians “wait for Jehovah” and look forward to the time when his kingdom will bring in everlasting life and all the attendant blessings of the Kingdom, what should they be doing? They should be establishing their faith in Jehovah by fine works. They should be preaching and teaching the good news of the Kingdom (Matt. 24:14), that other persons of sheeplike disposition may take courage and do God’s will with them. But as these dedicated Christians do this vital work, they must remember that their conduct is like a theatrical spectacle both to men and to angels. (1 Cor. 4:9) True Christians cannot afford to say one thing and do another. They have no double set of standards, but must be wholehearted for Jehovah’s kingdom 24 hours each day, 365 days each year, leap years 366! Indeed, to do anything less would be hypocritical, displeasing to Jehovah.—Prov. 20:23; Matt. 23:28.
RESISTING CORRUPTION AT EVERY LEVEL
17. (a) How can it be said we live in “the twilight of honesty”? (b) What stand for honesty should all Christians take?
17 Christians daily face the dishonesty and corruption of the business world. It has been said we live in the twilight of honesty. To a great extent, honesty and hard work have been replaced by cheating and loafing. Why? Undoubtedly faulty training and example have a lot to do with the decline of honesty. But what can we individually do to resist what is dishonest and corrupt? For example, there are persons who would not think of stealing from individuals but who adopt a different policy toward big organizations or corporations because they feel these big companies “won’t miss it.” Regardless of why people lie, steal, cheat and embezzle and gamble, these things are wrong for Christians, or anyone else for that matter. Popularity or frequency does not make bad things right. It takes courage to be responsible and upright. It takes courage to be different but right. It takes courage to be a Christian whose standards do not allow vice for virtue.—Heb. 13:18; Prov. 6:16-19; 11:1.
18. (a) To resist enticements to dishonesty and corruption, what must be guarded? (b) What counsel did James give in this connection?
18 To gain that courage so vitally necessary to resist everyday enticements to dishonesty and corruption, we must guard our heart or seat of motive. Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21) And how well James puts the finger on sin and how it starts, when he says: “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ No; for with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone. But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.” (Jas. 1:13-15) Yes, if we allow our thinking to be contaminated, our standards to be lowered and lust to replace love for right principles, then we have a fertile area for the power of wrong desire! Resist this by thinking on things that are right and honest, and God’s blessing will be your portion.—Phil. 4:8, 9.
19. What thought-provoking comments were recently made by a newspaper editor?
19 Christians also face the lowering moral fiber of this generation. Have you noticed this in your own community? Recently the editor of the Rocky Mountain News, Jack Foster, provided some straightforward and provocative comments in his speech to a number of newspaper editors in Indiana. In his article entitled “Do We Know Right from Wrong?” he stated: “As I look around I find many things that disturb me. I find indifference, slothfulness toward doing things as well as possible. I find a shrugging of shoulders when one has been caught doing something just a little bit wrong. I find an unwillingness to stand up and be counted. I find youngsters in early marriages trying to be adults and adults trying to be youngsters in their efforts to escape responsibility. I find a reluctance to face up to matters, merely because they are troublesome. I have seen the rate of juvenile delinquency soar, the number of broken homes exceed that of homes in which family responsibility still lingers. I have seen spiritual bankruptcy in the gutter and a jug of poisonous wine in the hands that should be holding a textbook. I have seen high school graduates who do not even know how to compose a single paragraph.” Thought provoking, isn’t it? Yes, and it is certainly impossible to deny the deterioration of the moral fiber of this generation.
20. How should Christian parents be answering this challenge?
20 Certainly true Christians should be doing everything within their power to train their children to assume responsibility rather than shun it. Christian parents would fail to show love for their children if they did not discipline them and constantly direct them in the way that leads to life. (Prov. 6:23; 15:33; 22:15; Heb. 12:5-11) If you are a parent, are you facing the issues of life courageously? Will you let the excellent counsel of God’s Word, written by the foremost parent and father in the universe, Jehovah God, guide you? You will be blessed if you do.
21, 22. (a) What problems has the breakdown in morals precipitated? (b) How may Christians meet these problems with courage and determination? (c) What role do parents play in this respect?
21 To carry this a step farther, please consider what the Indianapolis Times of Wednesday, September 5, 1962, in an article entitled “Moral Lag Blamed for More VD” stated: “A moral breakdown especially among teen-agers was blamed today for an ‘alarming increase’ in syphilis throughout the world. A British physician charged the rise in venereal disease stems chiefly from a loosening of moral codes ‘which has encouraged sexual promiscuity.’” The problem with which we are faced today is not directly related to medicine at all, Dr. Claude S. Nichols said. It is the problem of a change in our moral values. Dr. Nichols blamed the moral breakdown on substitution of science for religion, commercial exploitations of sex, the weakening of family ties and the threat of atomic war. Because of this, he said, today’s beat generation lacks security of mind, faith in the future, the ability to plan ahead. “These modern epicureans live for kicks,” Dr. Nichols said. “They must experience everything in life before it is too late, sex, of course, included.”
22 It certainly takes great courage to withstand the impact that the lowered moral fiber has made upon this generation. When faced with situations suggestive of fornication or adultery or other moral wrongs, Christians, young and old alike, must flee, as Joseph did from Potiphar’s wife. (Gen. 39:10-12) Better yet, parental training and personal as well as congregational study and application of God’s Word protectively help us to keep from getting into such situations in the first place. Paul said: “Flee from the desires incidental to youth, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.” (2 Tim. 2:22) Parents, have you trained your children to understand the proper relations between the sexes? Have you given them kindly counsel from God’s Word regarding their physical organism and what a wonderful instrument it is? Have you endeavored to set the very best example in your conduct, speech and attitude in general? This is the most practical way to help your children face the problems of everyday living with success. Moreover, isn’t it a fact that we all feel inadequate at times? Nonetheless, draw courage from the apostle’s statement: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Phil. 4:13) Christians, young and old alike, therefore, have an illimitable source of strength and power and can constantly receive courage from their study and application of God’s Word.
COURAGEOUSLY EXPELLING WRONGDOERS
23. What kind of persons will have the favor and blessing of Jehovah? Why do you answer so?
23 True Christians recognize that only clean persons will have the favor and approval of Jehovah and gain entrance into his new order. Paul once said: “What! Do you not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom. And yet that is what some of you were.”—1 Cor. 6:9-11.
24. (a) How is removal of wickedness from the Christian congregation effected? (b) Is this arrangement lacking in love?
24 Earlier in this same letter to the Corinthians, Paul stated to the Christian congregation: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Cor. 5:13) This removal is effected by the disfellowshiping or expulsion of dedicated servants of God who practice sin, those who are unrepentant and hardened in their wrongdoing. “Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. He that does remain in this teaching is the one that has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For he that says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.” (2 John 9-11) Does this seem to you like a harsh, unnecessary arrangement, lacking in love? If so, look at it through God’s eyes. He is the one who commands that the wicked one be expelled, that the purity of the congregation may be maintained, because he loves the faithful congregation. And yet it takes courage on the part of the Christian congregation to expel those who otherwise would have a contaminating effect on the organization and who would thereby spread the leaven of immorality, weakening the structure of the clean, moral climate of the theocratic society. Yes, what great moral courage it calls for on the part of judicial committees of the congregations of the theocratic society to expel wrongdoers, rather than tolerate them! This courage Christendom does not have.—1 Cor. 5:5, 9-11.
25. Does Christendom have the courage to keep its organizations clean? State your reasons for answering so.
25 In an article entitled “Purging of Church Lists Again Issue” the following was stated: “Should churches take off the membership rolls people whose lives flagrantly contradict the teachings of Christ? That question is under serious debate in church circles for the first time in more than a generation. One of the church leaders who raised the question is Professor Franklin H. Lattel of Chicago Theological Seminary. He told a recent church conference that major Protestant denominations have virtually abandoned membership standards and are incapable of maintaining the most elementary, internal discipline.” Actually there seems to be even a distaste for discipline for, as the article further states: “Professor Glen Hinson of the Southern Baptist Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky, observed recently that churches are not even cracking down on such blatant acts of immorality as adultery and drunkenness . . . ”
26. What questions are left for the succeeding article to answer?
26 Christendom thus lacks the courage to keep its own organizations clean from contaminating, corruptive influences. How different from the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses, where moral and spiritual cleanness is scrupulously maintained and where the highest respect for God’s Holy Word the Bible is constantly cultivated! Surely, since we live in a world full of fear and apprehension and since we are nearing the time of its destructive end at Armageddon, we should be vitally concerned with our own future. What can we do to safeguard our future and the future of our families? In a time when many fears dominate man’s thinking, what comfort does the Bible hold for the future? Indeed, once Bible knowledge is gained and one is directed into the way of life, how can one faithfully endure in it? These and many other questions we will leave for the following article to answer.
[Picture on page 430]
Joseph flees from Potiphar’s wife