Do You Stand Up for What Is Right?
ON EVERY hand there are pressures on God-fearing persons to do what they know is wrong. For instance, it may be the common business practice to cheat one’s customers by misrepresenting the products one sells, or to promise certain services and then fail to give what is promised. If you are in business, do you have the courage and integrity to deal honestly, even though it may not be as profitable financially?
Youths know that it is wrong to cheat in school, but despite knowing this many of them do cheat. In fact, in a recent survey in which 5,000 students from ninety-nine colleges were questioned, nearly half admitted that they had engaged in some form of cheating. As a student, do you have the fortitude to stand up against pressures to such wrongdoing?
A Christian realizes that he owes worship and allegiance to God, regardless of what others may require. “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service,” Jesus Christ said. (Matt. 4:10) The apostles of Jesus appreciated the importance of obeying this command to worship God, and so on one occasion told a Jewish court: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) Do you, too, have the courage to put the worship of God first even in the face of bitter persecution?
What would you do if the authorities commanded you, as they did early Christians, not “to make any utterance or to teach upon the basis of the name of Jesus”? Would you stand up for what you knew to be right? The apostles Peter and John did. They fearlessly replied: “Whether it is righteous in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves. But as for us, we cannot stop speaking about the things we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20) Would you have had the courage to say the same?
Right down through history men and women have been faced with the challenge of whether they would stand up for what was right, or would succumb to pressures designed to break down their integrity. In the days of the aged prophet Daniel, for instance, a law was passed making it a crime to ‘petition any god or man except Darius the Persian king.’ (Dan. 6:7) The penalty for disobedience was death at the mouths of the lions. What would Daniel do when he heard about this law? What would you have done?
The Bible record says: “But Daniel, as soon as he knew that the writing had been signed, entered into his house, and . . . three times in a day he was kneeling on his knees and praying and offering praise before his God, as he had been regularly doing prior to this.” Daniel knew it was right and proper to pray to his Creator, and he had the courage to stand up for what he believed!—Dan. 6:10-28.
Such examples of faithfulness are not confined to times past. Many servants of God have also stood up for what is right in our day. For example, in Nazi Germany where citizens were required to heil Hitler and give unquestioning allegiance to the State. A well-planned propaganda scheme duped the majority of the nation into believing that it was right to be obedient to such requirements. But how could true Christians give worshipful honors to a man? How could they give their lives in support of the State’s quest for domination? They could not do so and at the same time worship God properly. This resulted in a severe test for them.
Consider the case of young Herbert Walter, who lived with his family on a large farm in Schlesien, then a part of eastern Germany. He had become an earnest student of the Scriptures, and looked forward to the blessings God’s kingdom would bring to earth. His father, on the other hand, was a proud, patriotic German, who, along with his other children, was an ardent supporter of Hitler. In time Herbert’s father disowned him, saying: “I have no son who does not show interest in his fatherland.” So Herbert and his wife were forced to leave the farm.
Then, in 1939, the blitzkrieg, or lightning war, overran Poland, and in the early part of 1941 Herbert was ordered to report to the Luebeck, Germany, training center. There, amid patriotic ceremonies, trainees marched forward, put their hand on the flag, and swore to give their life for fatherland and führer. The moment had come. Herbert knew that it would. What would he do? His family and friends had time and again urged him to give up his “crazy religion.” Would their requests now sway him? When demanded the reason for his refusal to swear allegiance, he replied: “My life belongs to Jehovah God, and it is not mine to give to another. My allegiance I have already pledged to God’s king, Christ Jesus, who is my Lord.”
Action was immediately taken. A quick trial was held, and a death sentence given. Waiting in his cell on May 8, 1941, Herbert spent his last moments writing to those he was leaving behind. Briefly, he told them that he would be beheaded before sunup, and endeavored to explain to them why he had to stand up for what he believed. Afterward, public announcement of the execution was made in his home community.
“How did you feel about your brother’s being beheaded?” Herbert’s sister was recently asked. “I and my family were deeply ashamed. It was a disgrace that he was convicted as a traitor to his country,” she replied. “But how do you feel now?” “I am very proud of him. I am so happy that he did the right thing and did not compromise.” These were Herbert’s sister’s words to a Christian audience in the mid-western United States, where she had moved with her family. After all these years she had accepted a Bible study, and, following the example of her now beloved brother, at this assembly was being baptized in symbol of her dedication to serve Jehovah God, the One who rewards those who earnestly seek him, even raising them from the dead.
It is not always easy to stand up for what is right. It may even occur that you will be threatened with torture and death. Keep in mind God’s promise of a resurrection. Take courage! You can stand up for what is right.