Keep Useful Habits by Good Associations
WHAT are “useful habits”? By “useful habits” we do not here mean merely polished manners or nice ways of doing things. Rather, we mean habits that are useful, practical, in keeping us morally sound and spiritually strong, habits that honor Jehovah God and that upbuild others.
The daily reading of God’s Word is a useful habit and so is regularity in prayer. Punctual and regular attendance at the five weekly meetings of the Christian congregation and witnessing about God and his purposes from house to house and on other occasions as we have opportunity are also habits that certainly must be termed useful. Then, again, the practice of marriage mates’ showing thoughtful, loving consideration for each other is a very useful habit and so is the rendering of respectful obedience to parents on the part of their children.—Luke 6:31.
It takes real effort to cultivate these useful habits; they do not come instinctively. And having acquired these habits, we want to keep them, do we not? What will help us to keep them? Good associations. What will tend to spoil them? Bad associations.
No question about it, as God’s Word warns: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33)a The ancient Israelites grew careless regarding their associations, and what happened to them? “They went mingling with the nations and took up learning their [pagan] works. And they kept serving their idols, and these came to be a snare to them.” That is why the apostle Paul, after telling how wicked men would act in these last days, warns us, “from these turn away.” Yes, associating with worldlings will tend to spoil our useful habits.—Ps. 106:35, 36; 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
That is why Christians must ever be on guard to keep their contacts, their associations with worldlings at a minimum. As long as we are in the world we cannot avoid all contact with worldlings in such places as school or places of employment. But we can avoid associating with worldlings voluntarily. They may tempt us to fall, perhaps never to recover.
How wise, therefore, are the Scriptural commands for servants of God to limit themselves to good associations! That is why the Israelites were commanded to assemble regularly with one another, not only to be instructed but to be kept from bad associations. (Deut. 31:12) By telling us that he would be present where two or three met in his name, Jesus Christ was encouraging right association. (Matt. 18:20) And we all certainly are familiar with Paul’s counsel at Hebrews 10:23-25 about the need of our associating together.
Surely only our Christian brothers can provide us with good association that will help us to keep our useful habits. Are we thinking of relaxing? How enjoyable it is to invite some of them for an evening of refreshment and interesting Bible games or to have several Christian families join for a one-day outing, as many missionary groups do in foreign lands!
However, especially at the Kingdom Hall is where we will find the good associations that will help us to keep our useful habits. The same is true of the larger gatherings, such as our circuit assemblies and this summer’s district assemblies. At all these gatherings we are encouraged to cultivate and to keep our useful habits both by what is said on the platform and by our association with those who themselves manifest such useful habits in their everyday lives.
Valuable as these occasions for good association are for keeping our useful habits, it appears that not all of Jehovah’s witnesses appreciate their value. On the average, only 75 percent of those who share in the preaching work attend the congregational meetings. Of course, some miss due to illness. But how is it that in some lands the attendance is 100 percent or more? Perhaps they are not as distracted by material possessions and easy travel, and there are also in attendance those who are old enough physically or spiritually to listen and to learn but who have not started to go from house to house as active associates of Jehovah’s witnesses. So they have more than 100 percent present at their meetings. Could that be true of your home congregation too? Do you individually attend regularly? Could you help others to associate regularly?
Truly, many are our opportunities for cultivating the kind of associations that will help us to keep useful habits!
a For details see The Watchtower, January 15, 1966.