Limping upon Two Opinions
MANY are the persons who are afflicted by a physical limp, often through no fault of their own, perhaps through some accident or defect at birth. Can it be rectified? Sometimes yes, but most often they have to make the best of the situation and let positive thinking offset the physical handicap. But did you know that there is a mental limping that constitutes a graver handicap to progress and happiness? May it never be your misfortune to become its victim.
But just what is this mental limping? How does it affect one? Can those affected throw it off? How can they be assisted to do so? And is it possible that one may suffer from this handicap without discerning the source of his difficulty? These are a few of the inquiries we might ponder, with benefit to ourselves and possibly also to others we may be able to aid.
First, consider the symptoms of this ailment. An almost continual state of hesitancy is one of the indications of mental limping. The person never seems to be able to make up his mind on any matter, be it ever so simple. Even when it is a question of deciding between two courses, and one of them is definitely proved to be undesirable, the irresolute person still seems to find a strong attraction toward going against his own better judgment. Strange, is it not?
Many and varied are the thoughts upon this subject that thinkers of all ages have come up with. Says one: “Irresolution is a worse vice than rashness. He that shoots best may sometimes miss the mark; but he that shoots not at all can never hit it.” And another: “A man without decision can never be said to belong to himself; he is as a wave of the sea, or a feather in the air which every breeze blows about as it listeth.” Indeed, several have concluded that irresoluteness, under circumstances that demand decision, is a sign of cowardliness.
Here is how another writer analyzes this mental weakness: “In matters of great concern, and which must be done, there is no surer argument of a weak mind than irresolution—to be undetermined where the case is plain, and the necessity urgent. To be always intending to live a new life, but never to find time to set about it.”
GOD’S WORD ON THE SUBJECT
The Bible, for its part, offers powerful instruction on the subject by way of illustration from real-life experience. Picture in your mind that crowd of Israelites assembled on Mount Carmel during the reign of wicked King Ahab. They were a badly confused people. For many years now, in spite of Jehovah’s law against image worship, they had been persuaded to worship calf idols set up at Dan and Bethel under the pretense that those idols stood for Jehovah, their deliverer from Egyptian slavery.—1 Ki. 12:28, 29.
As though this were not bad enough, King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, had now introduced Baal worship into the kingdom in a big way. By coercion and persuasion she had induced most of the people to adopt this Canaanite cult, and to mingle its rites with those of their calf worship. Scores of priests of Jehovah had been slaughtered. The spirit of compromise was abroad in the land. Doubtless many reasoned that, since Baal signifies “owner” or “lord,” they could outwardly comply with the rites demanded by Jezebel, while mentally transferring devotion to the true God. They were willing to purchase a false peace at the price of truth and honesty.
Are we not reminded of people today who take refuge in the assumption that all religions are right as long as the adherents live up to them? Thus they feel they are saved the irksome responsibility of measuring their respective merits and determining which religion most nearly conforms to the requirements of true religion as set out in the Holy Bible. They think they are relieved from having to make a decision.
However, back there God’s prophet Elijah and seven thousand other Israelites had not succumbed to such crippled thinking. They knew their God and they refused to bow the knee to Baal or participate in any other form of false worship. (1 Ki. 19:18) And the prophet fearlessly challenged the compromising Israelites and their king: “How long will you be limping upon two different opinions? If Jehovah is the true God, go following him; but if Baal is, go following him.” (1 Ki. 18:21) Yes, he put his finger right at the root of the trouble—two opinions!
Jehu, an anointed executioner of Jehovah’s judgment, was another who despised the wavering course of the mental limpers. When confronted by the peace overtures of King Jehoram, son of Ahab and Jezebel, he stoutly declared: “What peace could there be as long as there are the fornications of Jezebel your mother and her many sorceries?” (2 Ki. 9:22) He knew that, as long as Jezebel lived, the murderous campaign against true worshipers of Jehovah would be maintained. Either she and her progeny must be executed or else all loyal servants of Jehovah would be marked for slaughter. There could be neither truce nor delay.
Doubtless Jehu called to mind the choice of religion offered by Joshua to his forefathers some years after they entered the land of their inheritance. He would vividly recall Joshua’s own unequivocal stand as he announced: “As for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah.” (Josh. 24:15) There was no quibbling, no attempt to accommodate conflicting opinions, no giving place to interfaith ideas. His God was no God of confused religious cults. No, he was the God of truth, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and he would never share his glory with false deities.—Isa. 42:8.
IN THE FIRST CENTURY C.E.
At the time Jesus Christ was on earth the spirit of compromise, of limping between two opinions, was very much in evidence. Religious leaders showed their preference for Oriental philosophy and Babylonish rites, yet still maintained an outward semblance of subjection to the Mosaic law. To them Jesus applied the scathing words: “You also, outwardly indeed, appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matt. 23:28) To the people in general he said: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other.”—Matt. 6:24.
He frankly announced that the purpose of his coming was not to initiate a peace based on compromise, but, rather, to make clear separation between those who would worship Jehovah with all their heart and those who would not do so. Said he: “I came to put, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother.”—Matt. 10:34-36.
IN OUR OWN DAY
But, now, what of today? Can we observe the same spirit of indecision and compromise? Surely no one can deny that we are living in an era of compromise, when catholicity or ecumenism is in vogue, when interfaith seeks to build up one great conglomerate religion, when being frank and forthright about Bible truth is frowned upon! The “peace at any price” plea is to be heard on all sides. The seeds of compromise are being spread world wide by winds of false doctrine and are finding lodgment in unsettled, irresolute minds.
People who love God need to be on guard. They need to examine themselves and their motives from time to time, to be sure that they are not infected. To his true worshipers Jehovah reveals himself as no vague “Lord,” whose personal name can be forgotten and suppressed in favor of an artificial religion that will please everybody. He is not the God of all the confused sects with their contradictory teachings. He is not the God of those who deny, who add to or take from the words of his holy Book, the Bible. Nor is he the God of those who are halfhearted in their worship. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Daniel and Nehemiah are a few examples of the worshipers Jehovah delights to own as his servants.
What makes the situation today most urgent is that God has made it plain that the time of his execution of judgment upon “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, is at the door. This is no time to be limping upon two different opinions. The warning from heaven for our day is: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4) There is no time for dallying. God will no more spare the organizations of false religion than he spared the glorious temple built by Solomon at Jerusalem.
And it is not only in the larger matters involving active support of Great Babylon’s religions that you must be on guard. Some of the smaller matters are those that appear harmless and yet do much to reveal where your heart is. Lot’s wife probably thought it could do no harm just to look back at Sodom. Yet she perished.—Gen. 19:26; Luke 17:32.
Some parents, though no longer members of a Babylonish church system, feel it is all right to send their children to Sunday school in one of those systems. They imagine that any Bible stories they will hear there will do them no harm. They overlook the danger that the foundation for some false doctrine may well be laid in their young minds and that the youngsters are being exposed to association with those who conform to Babylonish rites and religious duties.
Then, again, there are some who feel they can personally attend Christendom’s religious services from time to time just to keep up with what is going on or to please some worldly relative or acquaintance. Yet, the apostle Paul, following his conversion to the true faith, publicly denounced interfaith attitudes: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what sharing do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light [true Bible teaching] have with darkness [superstition and human tradition]. . . . And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? For we [the apostle and fellow anointed Christians who abide by God’s Word] are a temple of a living God . . . ‘“Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,” says Jehovah, “and quit touching the unclean thing.”’”—2 Cor. 6:14-17.
To still others it may seem a small thing to give time and attention to reading literature put out by Babylon’s false religions. Perhaps they feel strong enough not to be easily moved from their stand for Bible truth. Nevertheless, they will probably wonder why they do not get the same clear-cut understanding and the same positive attitude as others who are zealous in the worship of the true God. The fact is that they lack the wholeheartedness that is pleasing to Jehovah, and so cannot expect to enjoy his fullest blessing. They are in danger of developing a limp in their thinking.
NEED FOR RESOLUTE ACTION
Those who would please Jehovah and gain life cannot afford, in these “last days,” to hesitate long over the choice between light and darkness, truth and error, God’s congregation of servants and the organizations of their opponents. They must avoid the division of allegiance that results in “an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways.” (Jas. 1:8) It takes only a little dabbling in false religious teaching to spoil one’s attitude and capacity for pure worship. (Gal. 5:9; Matt. 16:6, 12) “Keep making straight paths for your feet,” is the urgent counsel of the apostle Paul.—Heb. 12:13.
No longer should there be curiosity about or hankering after the nutritionless diet of Great Babylon’s religions. Especially so since it takes all available time to pursue a diligent study of the Bible and its message in order to get one’s feet fixed firmly on the pathway to life. We can avoid the dangerous limping upon two different opinions if we humbly recognize that lifesaving truth comes to us from Jehovah through the spirit-filled organization over which Christ Jesus presides. (Matt. 24:45-47) Progress and happiness will be the immediate reward for the single-minded ones.
So resolute action is what is called for in this vital time of decision. We dare not stand on the sidelines in this time when Christ Jesus is conducting the great work of dividing “sheep” from “goats.” If we would be gathered to the right side of the King’s favor, we must show ourselves to be “sheep” who refuse to listen to false shepherds or to wander away and depend upon our own meager resources. (Matt. 25:31-40) We must listen to and act upon the earnest counsel implicit in Elijah’s challenging question: “How long will you be limping upon two different opinions?”—1 Ki. 18:21.