Beware of Desiring Injurious Things!
DO YOU want to take the wise course and do what is right? “Of course,” you reply. Then you cannot afford to ignore the counsel of God’s Word, the Holy Bible. Far from its being an old-fashioned book, without any relevance to our day, it is as pertinent and germane to living in this latter part of the twentieth century as when it first began to be put down in writing nearly 3,500 years ago.
For example, there are the wise warning words of the apostle Paul, calling our attention to the follies of the Israelites in the time of the prophet Moses: “Now these things became our examples, for us not to be persons desiring injurious things, even as they desired them.” No question about it, today there is more desiring of injurious things than ever before in man’s history.—1 Cor. 10:6-10.
Among many such that might be mentioned is the cigarette habit. According to Dr. Hollis S. Ingraham, health commissioner of New York State, the cigarette is the “most serious known lethal agent today . . . There is no other agent, whether it is bullets or germs or viruses, that is killing anything like as many Americans as the cigarette is.” No wonder that such countries as Great Britain and Italy forbid the advertising of cigarettes on TV and that the United States government requires each pack sold within its borders to contain the warning: “Caution: Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to health.” And yet in 1966 cigarette shipments in the United States rose 2.2 percent over the previous year, for a total of 522.5 thousand million cigarettes, or an average of 4,296 per year for each American over eighteen years of age.—New York Times, February 28, 1967.
Another injurious thing in which people are indulging ever more and more are drugs that cause hallucinations, called “hallucinogens.” Concerning them, Dr. Dana L. Farnsworth reports: “Our accumulating day by day experience with patients suffering the consequences of hallucinogens demonstrates beyond question that these drugs have the power to damage the individuals’ psyche [personality], indeed, cripple it for life.” Bearing him out is the report that appeared in the new York Daily News, April 27, 1967, about two young men who took LSD. One of these, a handsome nineteen-year-old, said: “When I see my face in the mirror, I see it turn into a thousand faces.” He was semiconscious and strapped to a bed when a judge directed that he be committed to a state mental hospital. The other was a twenty-one-year-old brilliant University of Texas student, whom a judge committed to a mental hospital for ninety days.
And then there is that injurious thing, promiscuous sex relations. Indulgence may seem to hold out promise of intense pleasure, but what frustration, grief and venereal disease are often associated with it! Thus Sweden, where premarital sex relations are no longer frowned upon, has the world’s fastest-rising venereal disease rate, almost tripling in the past ten years, with 52 percent of the cases involving youths fifteen to nineteen years of age. Its illegitimacy rate is 12 percent, three times that of such other lands as Canada; and 92 percent of the brides under twenty are pregnant when they marry.
Not that youth alone errs in this regard. Promiscuity is becoming so prevalent that recently one of England’s archdeacons dared to ask an assembly of Anglican bishops and archbishops: “Which of you has never in his life desired a strange woman?” Yet one who toys with infatuation by flirting risks becoming deeply involved in an illicit affair that may well bring harm to himself, to his loved ones and to the other person.
Then, again, a desired possession such as an automobile can be an injurious thing when given to an immature youth, as can be seen from the fact that teen-agers are involved in twice as many fatal auto accidents, proportionately, as are drivers over twenty-five years of age. Typical were the five teen-agers, all boys from five different homes, that were killed outside New York city shortly before midnight on April 9, 1967, as they tried to race a railroad train to a crossing, even to the extent of driving around the lowered gates. Using a car for excitement and thrills is making it an injurious thing.
Since desiring injurious things might be said to be playing a game that is not worth the risk, why do so many do it? Why? Because of the sin of our first parents, for which reason “the inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up,” even as the Creator, Jehovah God, himself stated right after the flood of Noah’s day. Due to this inheritance we are prone selfishly to desire pleasures without due regard for God’s laws governing them. The Creator gave us life with a purpose in mind, not merely to pursue pleasure. The desiring of injurious things is therefore as wrong as it is unwise, especially as we cannot harm ourselves without also affecting others.—Gen. 8:21; Mark 12:31.
What will help us to beware of desiring injurious things? A study of God’s Word will, and that in three ways. First, believe it when it warns us that to desire injurious things incurs God’s anger; and “we are not stronger than he is, are we?”—1 Cor. 10:22, 5.
Secondly, God’s Word shows us just what things are injurious, harmful, and therefore to be avoided as unwise, if not also morally bad. By its laws and principles and historical record it educates us. As the inspired psalmist long ago wrote: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.”—Ps. 119:105.
And thirdly, the Bible helps us to beware of injurious things by impressing on our minds the value of good, true and wholesome things such as honest toil, wholesome family life and the worship of God, which bring a good conscience and hope of everlasting life for doing what is right. It shows that “godly devotion along with self-sufficiency” is great gain even now. Surely all such are reasons, as well as aids, for us not to be desiring injurious things.—1 Tim. 6:6; Eccl. 9:7-9; Rom. 6:23.