Do Not Resist Jehovah’s Counsel
“Listen to counsel and accept discipline, in order that you may become wise in your future.”—Prov. 19:20.
1, 2. (a) Why can adults be viewed as children in God’s eyes? (b) Why is Jehovah able to give us wise counsel?
HOW old are you? Are you in your teens, your twenties? Are you middle-aged or are you approaching a century of living? No matter how many years you have lived, you are still a child in the eyes of the eternal God. From Jehovah’s viewpoint of 1,000 years being as one day a man of 100 years has lived only two hours and twenty-four minutes. (2 Pet 3:8) Can he become so wise in this short period of time that he does not need counsel from his eternal Father? Is he so astute that he can pass judgment on that counsel and resist or reject what he does not like?
2 As children need counsel from a wise human father, so we must recognize our need for counsel from Jehovah our heavenly Father. He has a much better understanding of life and its problems than we do. Has he not lived much longer than we have? Has he not seen generation after generation from the time of Adam do foolish things that were against their best interests? Being our Creator, he knows our hearts. He knows how our bent of thinking can get wrong. He knows our weaknesses and the foolish mistakes we are prone to make. He knows to what a course of action can lead and forewarns us of it. Since he knows these things, is he not in the best position to give us wise counsel that is good for us physically, emotionally and spiritually? It is with good reason that his written Word says: “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, in order that you may become wise in your future.” (Prov. 19:20) Jehovah’s counsel is the very best counsel to which we could listen.
3. Why is man not able to direct his own steps wisely?
3 Like children, we are not able to direct wisely our own steps on the road of life. We are too emotionally wrapped up in our daily living and in our desires, to see the path of life objectively. Counsel from our heavenly Father is needed to point out the way that is for our best interests. As was mentioned in the previous article, Jeremiah pointed out our need for this divine direction, saying: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jer. 10:23) Our way through life does not belong to us to direct as we please, as if we possessed absolute freedom. Jehovah has given us a relative freedom within the bounds of his just laws and Scriptural principles. By going beyond those bounds we do injury to ourselves and to our relationship with him. By staying within those bounds and by permitting Jehovah to direct our steps through his Word and advancing organization, we will be ‘wise in our future.’ The future will bring great blessings to us.
4, 5. When is Jehovah’s counsel especially important to us? Give an example of one who turned to Jehovah at such a time of need.
4 In times of distress Jehovah shows us what is the correct decision to make if we turn to him for counsel. He points out the right thing to do, just as a loving father does for his inexperienced and immature children. Our heavenly Father is a source of strength for us at such times. When we do not know what we ought to do, his counsel directs us. “For you have become a stronghold to the lowly one, a stronghold to the poor one in the distress that he has, a refuge from the rainstorm, a shade from the heat.”—Isa. 25:4.
5 King Jehoshaphat of Jerusalem turned to Jehovah as a stronghold when he was in distress. While threatened by an overwhelming enemy force he turned to Jehovah and said: “O our God, will you not execute judgment upon them? For in us there is no power before this large crowd that is coming against us; and we ourselves do not know what we ought to do, but our eyes are toward you.” (2 Chron. 20:12) So in our distresses today our eyes should be toward our heavenly Father and our ears toward his counsel.
6, 7. (a) To whom was the need for heeding Jehovah’s counsel stressed, and what were they told? (b) What would happen if they resisted his counsel, and how is that a warning to us?
6 The need for heeding Jehovah’s counsel and not resisting it was stressed to the nation of Israel in the days of Moses. When they were gathered about the base of Mount Sinai, Jehovah said to them: “If you will strictly obey my voice and will indeed keep my covenant, then you will certainly become my special property out of all other peoples.” (Ex. 19:5) By obeying his voice, which would mean to heed his counsel and follow his instructions, they would enjoy a special relationship with Jehovah God. They would be a blessed people, benefiting from his loving generosity.
7 Later, when the Israelites were at the threshold of the Promised Land, Moses warned them of what would happen if they resisted Jehovah’s counsel by not listening to God’s voice. “It must occur that if you will not listen to the voice of Jehovah your God by taking care to do all his commandments and his statutes that I am commanding you today, all these maledictions must also come upon you and overtake you: Jehovah will strike you with madness and loss of sight and bewilderment of heart. And you will indeed become one who gropes about at midday, just as a blind man gropes about in the gloom, and you will not make your ways successful.” (Deut. 28:15, 28, 29) They were warned that they would lose spiritual sight and would not know which way to go that would be best for them. The same thing can happen today to anyone in Jehovah’s organization who turns a deaf ear to Jehovah’s counsel. He too will have “bewilderment of heart” and will grope about for the way he should walk and will not find it. It is imperative for all who come into Jehovah’s organization to be constantly aware of their need for his guiding instructions so they may continue to walk in the way that leads to a future that brings them the gift of eternal life.
MEANS BY WHICH COUNSEL IS GIVEN
8. (a) What is one means by which Jehovah gives counsel? (b) Why can we say that the counsel given to the Israelites was not intended for them alone?
8 Long ago God inspired faithful men to write his counsel down in the Scriptures. This written Word of his contains his Fatherly counsel to us his children. Although some of his instructions are directed to the nation of Israel, they are for our benefit too. “For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction,” says Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ. (Rom. 15:4) To the nation of Israel God gave practical counsel on worship by telling them that they should give him exclusive devotion and that they should not become defiled by the worship of idols or by pagan religious practices. Following the same counsel will preserve our relationship with Jehovah God so that it is not ruptured and we become an object of his anger.
9, 10. What are some of the ways we can benefit from the counsel given to the nation of Israel?
9 With regard to personal conduct, he gave instructions that were for the best interests of the Israelites as well as for us today. He warned them against murdering their fellowman, against stealing, against immorality, against bearing false witness and many other things. The wisdom of our heeding these instructions given to Israel is evident. We do not have to be under the law covenant of Israel to see that there is benefit to us and to the community in which we live by our obeying these personal injunctions on conduct.
10 God’s Word also instructs us through the personal counsel that was given to individuals mentioned in the Bible. The counsel, “To obey is better than a sacrifice,” that was given to King Saul is counsel that can benefit us. (1 Sam. 15:22) No matter what personal sacrifices we may make in order to serve Jehovah in the Christian ministry, if we do not obey him our sacrifices mean nothing. Disregarding his counsel on morality nullifies such good works as the “sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.” (Heb. 13:15) Thus the personal counsel given to King Saul can benefit us by making us conscious of how very important obedience to God is. We cannot rationalize disobedience by any kind of sacrifice.
11, 12. Give examples of counsel directed to early Christians that is good for us today. Explain why it is good.
11 The counsel that was given to the Christian Timothy about the love of money and about the danger in that love is certainly beneficial for us today who are living in a money-loving world. He was told: “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) Resisting this counsel in God’s Word will bring the pains and loss of faith of which it warns.
12 Good counsel was given to the Ephesians about the proper relationship of husband and wife as well as that of children and parents. By our following this counsel to the Christians of the first century, we can avoid many of the marital storms that wreck marriages in this twentieth century. It points out the way to achieve peace and unity in the marriage relationship. Counsel such as this is what God gave to peoples of ancient times, causing it to be written down in his Word for the benefit of peoples living in other time periods. By going to his Word, we can thus receive wise counsel from our heavenly Father.
13. What is another means by which Jehovah gives counsel?
13 Jehovah also gives us counsel through his earthly organization. With his holy spirit operating upon the governing body of that organization, its counsel is in harmony with his will. Through the publications of the Watch Tower Society good counsel is given on personal conduct, marriage, worship, the keeping of integrity to God, our relationship with worldly political authorities and on many other things. Through the congregation meetings, Jehovah’s organization gives us counsel on our service to God, our mental attitude toward our ministry, on spiritual maturity, and so forth. Then at times the congregation service committee may find it necessary to counsel us about something. Through these means Jehovah’s organization gives counsel that will keep us spiritually healthy and keep our feet in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. It keeps us in harmony with Jehovah. Whether it comes from the Bible or from Jehovah’s organization, it is coming from him and is for our best interests.
HOW JEHOVAH’S COUNSEL IS RESISTED
14, 15. (a) How are some persons today like Korah, Dathan and Abiram in resisting Jehovah’s counsel? (b) What is the really important thing?
14 When Korah, Dathan and Abiram spoke against Moses, they resisted Jehovah’s arrangement of things. The same can be said of persons today who have become part of Jehovah’s earthly organization, but after a time begin speaking against it. Some become disgruntled because the organization does not adopt their ideas or the way they think it should function. Others get upset over changes in viewpoint, in terminology and in the way the ministry is carried on by Jehovah’s organization. Instead of advancing with the organization by accepting changes, they brood over them. In some instances they permit this resistance to become too great a test for them, and they fall away, going back to the world that is alienated from God.
15 Some persons want to dispute over trifling things such as the privileges God might or might not give to the resurrected dead in his new order or what condition Satan is in while in the abyss, and so on. Such things are not important to us at this time. What is important is our gaining Jehovah’s approval and being among those who will see life in his new order. When that time comes we will be able to see what Jehovah will do about things concerning which we now do not clearly understand. It is better to wait to see what happens then rather than to dispute about guesswork.
16. Why should it not be surprising that some persons today turn from Jehovah’s organization?
16 That there are persons today who turn from Jehovah’s organization and, in some instances, fight against it should not be surprising. This also happened in the first century while some of the apostles were still living. Regarding such persons who resisted Jehovah’s counsel and spirit then, the apostle Paul said: “If any man teaches other doctrine and does not assent to healthful words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor to the teaching that accords with godly devotion, he is puffed up with pride, not understanding anything, but being mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words. From these things spring envy, strife, abusive speeches, wicked suspicions, violent disputes about trifles on the part of men corrupted in mind and despoiled of the truth.”—1 Tim. 6:3-5.
17. (a) What sort of persons does Jehovah want in his new era, and what will they not do? (b) What point does John make about those who go out from us?
17 The sort of persons that Jehovah wants in his new order are those who love him and who strive to obey him. These will not resist the counsel he gives through his Word and organization. They will not endanger their spirituality by trying to retard the advancement of his organization. Speaking about those who become disgruntled at counsel they receive and who turn from the organization or who turn from it because of advancing changes it makes, the apostle John says: “They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us. But they went out that it might be shown up that not all are of our sort.” (1 John 2:19) If they had been real lovers of Jehovah, they would have stayed close to his organization, permitting nothing to separate them from it.
18. (a) Why is it wrong to argue against Jehovah’s counsel? (b) What, instead, should a person do?
18 Another way Jehovah can be resisted is to argue against his counsel. A person may make a mistake or do something that is out of harmony with Jehovah’s Word. When it is brought to his attention and he strives to justify himself instead of admitting the obvious wrong, he is resisting Jehovah’s counsel. He is not humbling himself and acknowledging that he erred. He should confess his wrongdoing, especially when confronted with it by a judicial committee of the congregation that is investigating his conduct. We are told at James 5:16: “Openly confess your sins to one another.” When sins are confessed, a person is not justifying what he did. To do so would be resisting what Jehovah has said is right and wrong.
19, 20. How can a person resist Jehovah’s counsel without openly opposing it? Give examples of how this can be done.
19 A person might not come right out and openly argue against Jehovah’s counsel, but he might resist it in another way, and that is by refusing to act on it. God counsels us on our daily living, for example, telling us to show love by being long-suffering, by not behaving indecently, by not looking out for our own interests, by not keeping account of injury. Do we heed that counsel? Or do we ignore it and thus resist it? His organization counsels us on the disciplining of our children, on our personal Bible study and on our doing secular work that is not compatible with being a pursuer of peace. Do we heed this counsel by applying it in our daily living? That was the reason why it was given. It does not benefit us if we ignore it.
20 At times the organization will give counsel on avoiding wrong associations, on not marrying persons who are undedicated to God, on repeatedly coming late to congregational meetings, on regularity in the Christian ministry, and so on. Ignoring such counsel by not acting on it is just as much a resistance of Jehovah’s counsel as is arguing against it. That is what King Jeroboam did.
21, 22. (a) Explain how Jeroboam resisted Jehovah’s counsel. (b) What was the attitude of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah toward Jehovah’s counsel, and how did Jehovah react to it?
21 Counsel was given to Jeroboam before the nation of Israel was split into northern and southern kingdoms. Because he resisted that counsel by not acting on it, he lost out on Jehovah’s blessing. Jehovah told him: “It must occur that, if you obey all that I shall command you, and you do walk in my ways and actually do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, just as David my servant did, I will also prove to be with you, and I will build you a lasting house.” (1 Ki. 11:38) Instead of being blessed, he was rejected by God because he did the opposite of what God told him. Most of the people in those two Israelite kingdoms proved to be like King Jeroboam. They refused to act upon Jehovah’s counsel. “For they had behaved rebelliously against the sayings of God; and the counsel of the Most High they had disrespected.”—Ps. 107:11.
22 How can Jehovah have love for persons who resist his counsel by arguing against it or by refusing to act upon it? He takes delight in those who strive to do what he instructs them. They are the ones he blesses, but stiffnecked persons like the Israelites who closed their ears to his counsel cut themselves off from his help when they need it. “You keep neglecting all my counsel, and my reproof you have not accepted, I also, for my part, shall laugh at your own disaster, I shall mock when what you dread comes. At that time they will keep calling me, but I shall not answer; they will keep looking for me, but they will not find me, for the reason that they hated knowledge and the fear of Jehovah they did not choose. They did not consent to my counsel; they disrespected all my reproof.”—Prov. 1:25, 26, 28-30.
ACCEPT JEHOVAH’S COUNSEL
23. Why do Jehovah and his organization give us counsel?
23 Whether Jehovah’s counsel comes through his written Word or through his organization, it is for your own good. He is interested in your welfare and your eternal future. His righteous new order is for you, and his counsel is given to help you to stay on the path that leads to it. His earthly organization is just as interested in your welfare. It wants you to keep integrity to Jehovah God and to win his approval. It wants you to live a happy, peaceful and productive life now as well as after God’s war of Armageddon. It wants you to receive the gift of eternal life. So all the counsel it gives you is with that end in view.
24, 25. What attitude should we take toward Jehovah’s counsel, and what position should we take toward congregational action taken against a friend?
24 Be receptive to Jehovah’s counsel and loyally uphold it. When it urges you to seek right associations, be diligent to do as it says. Encourage your spiritual brothers and sisters to heed that counsel. If right associations were vital to the spiritual health of the Israelites, are they not to you? When you ignore this counsel you are hurting yourself.
25 At times action must be taken by a judicial committee of a congregation against a person in the congregation. Although that person may be a close friend or a relative, do not resist Jehovah’s arrangement by taking sides with that one against the organization. The action is necessary, and it is taken for the good of all the congregation. Such unpleasant happenings test your love for Jehovah and his organization. You fail to show love and loyalty to Jehovah’s organization when you side with persons against whom it is obliged to act.—1 Cor. 5:9-13.
26. Why is it best always to follow Jehovah’s directions?
26 What may seem wise in your own eyes is not better than what Jehovah says. “Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.” (Prov. 3:7) Realize that selfish interests and friendships can blind you to what is right in Jehovah’s eyes. No matter what you conclude from your own reasoning, follow Jehovah’s directions.
27. What attitude toward Jehovah’s counsel should be cultivated?
27 Do not look for loopholes in his counsel and his laws. When you do that, you are manifesting the attitude of worldly people who do not want to obey laws but want to circumvent them for selfish reasons. This is not the attitude to have toward the wise counsel and just laws of God. If you are one who has dedicated himself to God, you will seek to obey him and not seek ways to get around his counsel and his laws. You will not seek for loopholes through which you can squirm to avoid some penalizing sanctions from his organization. If you want Jehovah’s blessing and his promised gifts, you must have a keen desire to do what is right in his eyes.
28. Explain what some of the advantages are from heeding Jehovah’s counsel.
28 By heeding Jehovah’s counsel in all you do every day, you can avoid life-shattering troubles. You will not be tortured by a guilty conscience but will have peace of mind. You will not suffer ruptured relations with Jehovah and his organization but will know that your relationship with God and his organization is good. You will be able to look forward confidently to preservation through the coming battle of Armageddon when Jehovah will execute his adverse judgment upon the wicked. If you should be faced with death, you will have the confident hope of a resurrection because you have followed Jehovah’s directions.
29. What are we urged to do?
29 Recognize Jehovah’s counsel as the finest to be had. Accept it by applying it to your daily living. Do not resist it by arguing against it, by refusing to heed it and by speaking against God’s organization. Do not follow the footsteps of the Israelites who suffered national disaster because they failed to listen to Jehovah’s counsel. Follow, instead, the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who delighted to do Jehovah’s will. As wise children and grandchildren of the heavenly Father, listen to his voice and heed his good counsel every day of your life. “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.”—Prov. 3:1, 2.
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“To obey is better than a sacrifice”