Goodness Is to Be Manifested
“The true God himself will bring every sort of work into the judgment in relation to every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.”—Eccl. 12:14.
1. (a) Whose standard of conduct is to be met, according to Deuteronomy 12:28, and how does this harmonize with Ecclesiastes 12:14 first above? (b) What does this require in order for goodness to be manifested? (c) How does Philippians 4:9 verify this?
AMONG the commandments that Jehovah God communicated to his people in days of old are these words: “Watch, and you must obey all these words that I am commanding you, in order that it may go well with you and your sons after you to time indefinite, because you will do what is good and right in the eyes of Jehovah your God.” (Deut. 12:28) Does this require actually doing the things pleasing to God? Obviously, it does mean not merely talking about what is right but rather the doing of what is right. From the standpoint of the application of the principles mentioned in the foregoing article, it means actually producing the fruit of goodness. A Christian servant of God made the same point in this way: “The things that you learned as well as accepted and heard and saw in connection with me, practice these; and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9) It is by the practicing of these things, the putting of them into specific application, that goodness is actually manifested. Otherwise, goodness is not manifested; it is hidden.
2. What problems and contrasts are to be considered next?
2 Some problems of life confronting all persons in various ways and to varying degrees receive consideration here in line with the foregoing. As goodness is in contrast with badness, so in each of the following problems there is contrast between two courses of action. The good course honors Jehovah, advances his Kingdom interests, works for the welfare of other persons and establishes more firmly our good relationship to Jehovah.
CHRISTIANS TELL THE TRUTH
3. What is one of the evidences that a person is a Christian?
3 The contrast here is between truth and untruth. Real Christians tell the truth. Truthfulness is one of the evidences that a person is a Christian.
4. (a) State various views of lies and lying. (b) What is the view of Jehovah and of the Bible? (c) How necessary is honesty?
4 It must be admitted that among men in general lying is not viewed as being particularly reprehensible and something to be avoided. Some persons even say that it is necessary to lie in order to be successful and to make their relations with other persons pleasant or even bearable. Some tell lies to protect themselves from punishment for things they have done that are wrong or to avoid difficulty, inconvenience or reproach. Lying goes with compromise and lack of integrity. Lying is a mark of a coward and of one lacking loving-kindness. Lies and liars are hated by Jehovah God. (Prov. 6:16-19) The Bible teaches that the upright, honest person fears Jehovah and the dishonest lying persons despise Almighty God. (Prov. 14:2) Honesty is necessary for the good fruitage of the spirit to be produced and also, as we have previously seen, “the fruitage of the light consists of every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth.”—Eph. 5:9.
5. What failure of educational systems is brought to our attention?
5 In your country, does the educational system teach people to tell the truth? This question is justified in view of the following published comment concerning colleges in the United States: “Part of the problem [of dishonest employees] stems from the fact that our colleges and universities have failed to instill in their students reliable, ethical standards and appropriate moral values. Too many graduates enter industry with the objective of achieving prestige and instant financial success, with little or no regard for moral and ethical considerations. These people participate in the majority of transactions involving conflicts of interest, inventory irregularities, theft of company secrets, kickbacks, price fixing and falsification of records and financial reports.”—Advance, July-August, 1963.
6. What encouragement is there for the person who loves truth?
6 If you abhor lies and lying you may be assured that you have the right point of view. It is not necessary to lie. Christians realize it is necessary to tell the truth. Although one has practiced lying, he can change. It is possible for him to atone for having been a liar, because in his great love Jehovah informs us: “By loving-kindness and trueness error is atoned for, and in the fear of Jehovah one turns away from bad.” (Prov. 16:6) So be completely encouraged to be truthful regardless of what course others may take. Truthfulness is the right way, the way to life and blessings, the loving and beneficial way. It is the Christian way that the Bible teaches, and requires in remembrance of our grand Creator.
CHRISTIANS DO NOT STEAL
7-9. Review the points made in the published comment on stealing.
7 Stealing goes hand in hand with lying. In the same publication from which is taken the above quotation regarding the failure of educational institutions there appears this comment: “Bonding company statistics indicate that 25 per cent of all employees steal to some degree whenever they feel they can get away with it. Another 50 per cent are influenced by the good and bad examples put before them. . . . supervisory and executive [employees] are stealing more than four million dollars in cash and property from their employers each working day. This year such thefts will reach the astronomical figure of substantially more than one billion dollars. . . .
8 “Theft of merchandise is seven times greater than that of cash. Frauds drive more than 250 firms out of business each year. . . . Kickbacks, conflicts of interest, and thefts of company secrets are widespread. Cheating on the incentive plan to pad earnings is a common occurrence.
9 “In addition to the losses just described, even larger sums go down the drain as a result of malingering on the job, falsification of labor vouchers, improper disposition of scrap and damaged material, job time standards that have unwarranted built-in delay factors, and the failure to enforce established standards. These losses are hidden in the cost of doing business. They are losses books don’t show.”
10. (a) What honors Jehovah? (b) How does Romans 2:19-21 put the issue to each one professing honesty?
10 Stealing or knowingly buying stolen property does not honor Jehovah, but the recognition of the property rights of others is the good course a Christian must follow. The Bible puts the question to Christians this way: “And you are persuaded that you are a guide of the blind, a light for those in darkness, a corrector of the unreasonable ones, a teacher of babes, and having the framework of the knowledge and of the truth in the Law—do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching ‘Do not steal,’ do you steal?”—Rom. 2:19-21.
CHRISTIANS ARE LAW-ABIDING
11. (a) To what must Christians render primary obedience? (b) What additional obedience is required of them? (c) How is Christian law-abiding conduct good?
11 Obedience is required by the Bible of Christians of all ages and under all circumstances. Subject to primary obedience to Jehovah God and his Word and law, obedience must be rendered by Christians in the home, in the school and to governmental authorities, in contrast to the spirit of lawlessness that is prevalent throughout the world among all peoples. Lawfulness produces good fruitage and honors Jehovah God. As to children, the Bible states: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” In this same connection the fathers are told: “You fathers, do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.” (Col. 3:20, 21) The best citizens obey God, put his commandments first, are law-abiding and are genuine Christians. They refuse to take part in uprisings against governments, mob action, looting, personal injury or violence in any form. Their weapons are spiritual ones and are wielded for the good of all and for the praise of the God whom they remember.—Eph. 6:10-18.
CHRISTIANS ARE RESPECTFUL
12. (a) Contrast respectfulness with insolence. (b) Which is necessary for good fruitage?
12 Respect is closely related to obedience and lawfulness. It is important that you understand the Christian position in regard to this because there is so much insolence manifested in the world. Respectfulness is contrasted with insolence. An insolent “smart-alecky” person is haughty and contemptuous, often brutal in behavior or language. He is overbearing and grossly disrespectful toward his fellowman and, above all, toward Jehovah God. Insolence is really a form of false religion; demon worship in contrast to the worship of the great Creator. “For rebelliousness is the same as the sin of divination, and pushing ahead presumptuously the same as using uncanny power and teraphim. Since you have rejected the word of Jehovah, he accordingly rejects you from being king.” (1 Sam. 15:23) Insolence is one of the things Jehovah hates, “things detestable to his soul: lofty eyes.” (Prov. 6:16, 17) Respect and respectfulness and respectableness are manifestations of the good fruitage of God’s light and spirit and are suitable, in fact, necessary for Christians. How fine it is to be in the company of respectful persons!
CLEANLINESS MANIFESTS GOODNESS
13. In what ways does cleanliness manifest goodness?
13 Christians manifest cleanness or cleanliness in all the different ways that this good quality can be demonstrated. The Holy Scriptures, which guide the Christian, require them to so do. Cleanliness is necessary in speech, in the person, in the house or dwelling place and, of course, in conduct. In all these ways cleanliness is in contrast to uncleanness. “Touch nothing unclean . . . keep yourselves clean, you who are carrying the utensils of Jehovah.” (Isa. 52:11) It is good that the Bible makes the requirement of cleanliness plain, because uncleanness of all sorts is prevalent and is part of the sign of the time in which we are living.
14. Why should speech be clean?
14 Often the speech of persons is corrupt, unclean, profane, obscene and slovenly. Christians know that the power of speech is a gift from God, and the ability to make this vocal expression is a great blessing. They wish to honor God with their lips, not dishonor him.—Heb. 13:15.
15. (a) What is good in respect to the person? (b) the home?
15 Christians endeavor to keep their bodies clean and, while the Bible does not require rich garments, clean clothing available to all persons is appropriate to the Christian. The same may be said regarding his house. Very humble homes can be neat and clean and orderly and thereby suitable, not only as dwellings for those who serve God, but for use of groups of persons in regular Bible study. Wealthy persons can be clean or unclean in speech, mind and conduct. Poor persons can be unclean or clean in person, dwelling, speech, mind, conduct and heart. It is the course of cleanliness that the Christian is required by the Bible to pursue. The suitableness and appropriateness of this is readily seen.
HOW ABOUT DRUNKENNESS AND GLUTTONY?
16. (a) Who has provided food and drink? (b) What is their good use? (c) What advice on these is contained in the Bible?
16 Drunkenness is overindulgence in intoxicating drink. Gluttony is overindulgence in food. Is there anything about either that is honoring to the Creator? Both food and drink are provisions of the Creator through the good earth he has made for man’s home, and God has certainly provided earth’s produce in abundance. Men should use these abundant provisions in harmony with the Provider’s will. You will be interested to know that the Bible says: “Do not come to be among heavy drinkers of wine, among those who are gluttonous eaters of flesh. For a drunkard and a glutton will come to poverty.” (Prov. 23:20, 21) There is personal happiness and pleasure in the moderate use of these things. There is no happiness, pleasure, contentment or satisfaction in overindulgence and drunkenness.
17. (a) What is the factual view of drunkenness? (b) What weakens the moral fiber? (c) What strengthens it? (d) These facts provide what encouragement?
17 The Christian must not be misled by the false reasoning to the effect that drunkards are simply physically or mentally sick and drunkenness is just an illness, and, therefore, there is no reproach attached to it. Rather, drunkards are sick morally. The moral strength of mankind is very low. Self-indulgence is weakening to the moral fiber of an individual, and constant failure to accept the discipline of Jehovah God through his Word brings moral breakdown. The fact is that the drunkards and other immoral persons are morally weak and are such because of not being disciplined by God’s Word. A drunkard need not continue as such. Drunkenness can be overcome by conforming to the Bible requirements. To do so is wise. “Wine is a ridiculer, intoxicating liquor is boisterous, and everyone going astray by it is not wise.” (Prov. 20:1) Moral strength can be gained and exercised. The sober person partakes in moderation of food and drink with thanksgiving to the Creator for the loving provisions he makes and remembers the Creator, manifesting goodness.
CHRISTIANS ARE INDUSTRIOUS
18. (a) As to industriousness, what contrast is seen? (b) To what does industriousness extend? (c) What about goodness and gambling?
18 Industriousness is contrasted with laziness, needlessly going into debt, and gambling in an effort to get something for nothing. “The wicked one is making false wages, but the one sowing righteousness, true earnings.” (Prov. 11:18) The Christian gives an honest day’s work in exchange for the wages he has agreed to accept. His industriousness extends to his activity in aiding others to come to a knowledge of the truth of God’s Word, the care of his loved ones, efforts in behalf of his congregation and the Kingdom interests. He does not allow himself to be deceived by the prevalent religious and governmental approval on gambling of various forms but he abstains from gambling, realizing full well that, while it may be a means of stuffing the moneybags of some religious organization, it is not the means of manifesting goodness in remembrance of the Creator.
19. What is better then “innocent social gambling”?
19 Some persons allow their addiction to what they feel to be innocent social gambling to deprive them of the company of their families and of the congregation of God’s people. In this they are making a mistake. As in the case of habitual drunkards, gambling addicts can receive abundantly of the needed moral strength by the disciplining from God’s Word. Honest toil is so much better than gambling. “Two sorts of weights are something detestable to Jehovah, and a cheating pair of scales is not good.”—Prov. 20:23.
20. Define modesty and show its Christian appropriateness.
20 Modesty is suitable and appropriate for Christians, while immodesty is not. Modesty means not only a moderate or low estimate on one’s own merits, and therefore not boastful, but also the observance of proprieties and freedom from indecency or lewdness. It follows that modesty includes chasteness in thought and conduct and apparel. There is modesty in dress and there is immodesty in dress. Christians should dress modestly, because that is suitable and appropriate and hence good, avoiding reproach that would accompany immodesty.
21. As to style and manner of dress, state the facts (a) as far as the Bible is concerned, (b) regarding influence and constant change, (c) underlying immodest trends.
21 The Bible does not prescribe the form of dress that people should wear. It is not a style book. It seems that in some parts of the earth the form of dress used by the people has undergone relatively little change through centuries, while in other parts of the earth the change in the apparel of both men and women is constant. From the countries in which there is a constant change in the style of dress a great influence goes out to many other parts of the world, not only in dress but in other things. The countries more advanced technologically have fought the greatest wars, destroyed the most lives with their advanced weapons of war, exert the greatest economic influence over the world and, along with these and other influences, affect the dress of many people. In these countries sex is elevated for commercial reasons and for reasons of self-indulgence. In this overemphasis on sex, changes in the style of dress cause many people to dress more and more immodestly.
22. Of what is exhibitionism as evidence?
22 One of the evidences of perversion and undue preoccupation with sex is the desire on the part of both men and women to exhibit themselves. This exhibitionism is increasing everywhere that the influence of modern style fads reaches. Both males and females who have a self-indulgent preoccupation with sex find unnatural gratification in wearing clothes so tight, short and brief that their bodies are unavoidably before the eyes of others.
23. (a) What is the good view of all this? (b) What is one of the dangers in immodest dress? (c) How does Matthew 5:28 relate to this discussion? (d) How does modest dress assist to make platform presentation beneficial?
23 There is nothing in this that is good or suitable for a Christian. Christians should be clean and neat appearing in dress and at the same time avoid being swept along in the trend to immodest dress. One can be “in style” in dress and still be modest. It is not necessary to go to extremes of dress in order to be presentable and to meet the prevailing local standards of what is acceptable. Immodest dresses would make Christian wearers just like any female of the old system of things. Christian women and girls should know that many, many men may accept their manner of dress as a “promise.” The New York Journal American, in an article giving advice to young women against ‘flaunting low-cut dresses and showing too much of their legs when they sit down,’ said “you’re . . . expected to follow through on what you promise”! Christian women and girls should not deliberately contribute to the situation discussed by Jesus in Matthew 5:28: “I say to you that everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Is not that what the woman is trying to arouse in the man? The good Christian way is best for all. When it is followed, neither the platform participants nor the Kingdom Hall audiences are embarrassed.—1 Pet. 3:3, 4.
24. (a) In these matters, how does the principle of remembering our grand Creator operate? (b) Is it wise to remember Jehovah in all our ways?
24 In the foregoing and other circumstances where a person who loves righteousness can make a decision that is good, the principle of remembering the Creator operates. The good course is a reflection of the love that is shown by Jehovah toward men. “For even we were once senseless, disobedient, being misled, being slaves to various desires and pleasures, carrying on in maliciousness and envy, hateful, hating one another. However, when the kindness and the love for man on the part of our Savior, God, was manifested, owing to no works in righteousness that we had performed, but according to his mercy he saved us through the bath that brought us to life and through the making of us new by holy spirit. This spirit he poured out richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, that, after being declared righteous by virtue of the undeserved kindness of that one, we might become heirs according to a hope of everlasting life.” (Titus 3:3-7) The principle here set out applies to all who would please Jehovah and receive his goodwill and eventually life in his righteous new system of things. Thus we see that the course of manifesting goodness is the course of true wisdom. Such manifestations of goodness are also acts of faith in Jehovah and evidence of proper Christian humility. “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Let not the wise man brag about himself because of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man brag about himself because of his mightiness. Let not the rich man brag about himself because of his riches. But let the one bragging about himself brag about himself because of this very thing, the having of insight and the having of knowledge of me, that I am Jehovah, the One exercising loving-kindness, justice and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I do take delight,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”—Jer. 9:23, 24.