You Find What You Seek!
ONE of the reasons why the Bible enjoys such a wide distribution, being the best seller year after year, no doubt is the basic wisdom of its counsel. Among the many examples that might be given are the words of Jesus Christ found at Matthew 7:7: “Keep on seeking, and you will find.”
While these words stress the need to persevere in seeking good things, implicit also in them is the thought that we will usually find that which we persistently seek. Thus if it is our nature to seek or expect to find admirable qualities in others we will most likely find them. On the other hand, if we are unduly suspicious, seeking or expecting to find bad traits in others, we will most likely find such. All of which, let it be noted, is in line with the inspired words of the apostle Paul: “All things are clean to clean persons. But to persons defiled and faithless nothing is clean, but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.”—Titus 1:15.
Jehovah God sets us a fine example in this regard, for he is not critically watching us so as to find as much fault with us as possible. He is not unduly suspicious. Thus the inspired psalmist wrote: “If errors were what you watch, O Jah, O Jehovah, who could stand? For there is the true forgiveness with you, in order that you may be feared.”—Ps. 130:3, 4.
An instance recorded in the Bible of Jehovah God’s proceeding in this way is found in his dealings with King Jehoshaphat, an upright, God-fearing king of Judah. On one occasion this king foolishly entered into a military alliance with wicked King Ahab of Israel. God reproved him, saying through his prophet Jehu: “Is it to the wicked that help is to be given, and is it for those hating Jehovah that you should have love? And for this there is indignation against you from the person of Jehovah.” But because of King Jehoshaphat’s good previous record, God went on to say: “Nevertheless, there are good things that have been found with you, because you have cleared out the sacred [phallic] poles from the land and you have prepared your heart to search for the true God.” True, King Jehoshaphat had erred, but still Jehovah God found good in him and showed him mercy because of it.—2 Chron. 19:2, 3.
The loving thing is to seek good in others. Not that we are to be gullible. Selfish men, especially in the commercial businesses of life, are ready to take advantage of others; so the Bible proverb wisely observes: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” (Prov. 14:15) Likewise, we would err seriously if we endeavored to find good in practices and organizations that God condemns. (Gen. 3:1-5; 1 Tim. 2:14; Rom. 1:24-32; 2 Cor. 6:14-18) But in our everyday relations with associates, friends and relatives, to be seeking or expecting to find bad in others surely betrays a negative mental attitude or disposition. Is such a course wise? By no means, for as a poet once aptly observed in regard to things meant to please by reason of their beauty: “It is the best rule for happiness in life as well as for soundness of judgment . . . to try to find out why a thing is good, rather than why it is bad.” After all, no one is perfect.
The antidote for the disposition to keep looking for bad in others is unselfishness or love. Love is trusting; that is why it builds up. It is ready to believe good things of others and to give them the benefit of the doubt unless they prove themselves unworthy of our trust. In particular should Christians in their dealings with fellow Christians take to heart and act upon the principles enunciated by the apostle Paul in his description of how love works: “Love . . . believes all things, hopes all things.” (1 Cor. 13:4, 7) This is what causes the witnesses of Jehovah to keep on going from house to house. In spite of all the skepticism and materialism in this world, they look for and hope to find some persons who long to learn more about God and the Bible. And these Witnesses do find what they are seeking!—Ezek. 9:4.
This principle not only applies to a person’s attitude in dealing with other persons, but also applies to a person’s attitude toward the Book of books, the Bible. Here also people most generally are likely to find what they are seeking: fine literature, interesting history, noble principles or, above all else, the inspired Word of God. But some persons approach the Bible with an extremely critical attitude, one of “mistake hunting,” as it has been termed. These also usually find, or at least appear to find, what they were seeking: apparent errors, contradictions or inconsistencies. True, due to errors by copyists or by translators, or because of changes in language, problems have arisen. But more often than not such problems are caused by a superficial reading of the Bible.
Thus an elderly Christian woman of African extraction and of limited education who was going from house to house in the Boston area, witnessing to her faith, met a Harvard University student who told her that he did not believe in the Bible because it contradicted itself. As proof he stated that in one place the Bible shows that Jesus and John the Baptist are two distinct persons, but in another place it tells that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead. But this elderly Christian woman was able to show the student that it was not the Bible writer Matthew that was saying that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead, but that Matthew was merely recording the fact that King Herod had this mistaken notion.—Matt. 14:1, 2.
How many blessings and joys are denied those who keep looking for the wrong things, who look for, expect or hope to find mistakes in the Bible or weaknesses and shortcomings in their neighbors, relatives or fellow Christians! How much wiser, not to say anything about how much more loving, it is to keep looking for truth and wisdom in God’s Word and to expect to find admirable qualities in others!
That is also the right, the just course, for is not that the attitude we want others to display toward us? Surely! So here again the rule of Jesus Christ applies: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.”—Luke 6:31.