Living Up to Your Decisions
1. Why is living up to one’s decision of dedication so essential, and what effect will this have on other decisions in one’s life?
THE most important decision that any human creature can make is to dedicate his life to Jehovah God and symbolize that decision by being baptized in water as Christ Jesus set the example. Once this all-important decision is made, living up to that decision is essential for sharing in the vindication of Jehovah’s name, and for the peace of mind, joy and satisfaction that it brings to the one making such a decision. The hundreds of thousands of dedicated witnesses of Jehovah today in all parts of the earth strongly recommend that those who know about Jehovah God, understand the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus, and appreciate the workings of his holy spirit, make this important decision as soon as possible. Living up to this decision will guide and affect for good every other decision necessary to life.
2, 3. What other decision are all people faced with, and of what importance is living up to it?
2 A second very important decision that all human creatures are faced with is the decision as to whether to marry or to remain in a single state. If one has decided to marry, then the way he lives up to that decision can greatly affect his relationship to Jehovah. If one’s decision is to remain single, then how he lives up to that decision can greatly affect his service to Jehovah. His living up to these decisions is an integral part of living up to his decision to do Jehovah’s will.
3 If you are a husband or wife, have problems arisen in your marriage that have affected your service to Jehovah? If you are one who decided to remain single, are you firm in your decision, or do you find a conflict in your mind that affects your worship of Jehovah? Since fulfilling this decision to marry or to remain single holds such an important place in living up to one’s dedication to Jehovah, we will give it Scriptural consideration in the following paragraphs.
LIVING UP TO YOUR MARRIAGE DECISION
4. (a) Define marriage. (b) What do we learn from the first marriage?
4 Are you married? A decision to marry is honorable and pleasing to Jehovah. But marriage is not just a decision—it is a life of togetherness, it is a living up to that decision. Living up to this decision means recognizing and fulfilling the responsibilities that go along with marriage. The saying that “marriages are made in heaven” is not a Scriptural thought, but it is true that marriage is an arrangement instituted by our heavenly Father Jehovah God. This can be seen by the introduction of Eve to Adam for the purpose of marriage. “Jehovah God proceeded to build the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman and to bring her to the man.”—Gen. 2:22.
5. (a) What form of vow is recommended for the man in the marriage ceremony? (b) What vow is recommended for the woman? (c) What do we learn from these vows, and with what Scriptural principle is this in harmony?
5 The vow in the marriage ceremony that is recommended by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society for the man may be worded like this: “I take you to be my wedded wife, to love and to cherish in accordance with the divine law as set forth in the Holy Scriptures for Christian husbands, for as long as we both shall live together on earth according to God’s marital arrangement.” The vow made by the prospective wife states: “I take you to be my wedded husband, to love and to cherish and deeply respect, in accordance with the divine law as set forth in the Holy Scriptures for Christian wives, for as long as we both shall live together on earth according to God’s marital arrangement.” Clearly, then, marriage is not to be selfishly viewed in terms of what can be had from the other mate in the way of gratification, pleasure, money or security; but, rather, what one can contribute to the happiness and pleasure of the other. In other words, the marriage vows are to give, not to take, in harmony with the Bible principle, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
6, 7. What responsibilities does each marriage mate have, and how may these be cared for?
6 The marriage vow involves certain responsibilities that the man and woman must live up to in this newly formed marriage yoke. As an example, it is the man, the head of the family organization, that is primarily to work, earning money to provide the necessary things in food, clothing and shelter for his wife. The head of the house must fully recognize that these responsibilities are part of living up to the marriage vow to love and cherish his wife. The same principle applies to the woman. Before she ever entered the marriage agreement she knew there would be certain wifely responsibilities that it would be necessary to live up to. It is a Scriptural thought that when a man and woman get married they leave their father and mother and have their own home. When Jehovah God instituted marriage he said, “That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife.” (Gen. 2:24) So with the home comes cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing, shopping, washing dishes and many other household duties. These responsibilities involve the carrying out of her personal vow to love, cherish and deeply respect her husband.—1 Tim. 5:8.
7 These are necessary responsibilities that are required of a husband and a wife in order to contribute to the peace, happiness and unity of the marriage union. But it is good to note that these responsibilities can be taken care of separately. The man can go to work and earn money to provide the necessary things for his wife while the wife remains at home cleaning, cooking, performing her household responsibilities. And this is good, for this leaves time for the things that must be done together in the marriage relationship.—Prov. 31:10-27.
8. (a) Are material things alone the key to a happy marriage? (b) When problems arise, what is often the cause?
8 There is more to married life than working and providing the necessary things for each other in a material way. There are married couples who have plenty of food to eat, money to spend for essentials and relaxation, a comfortable home in which to live and friends with whom to associate, who find themselves unhappy and just tolerating each other, hoping that something will change their unhappy state or waiting for it to work out after Armageddon. What has happened between this husband and wife who vowed to love, cherish and deeply respect their mates for the rest of their lives? They are not living and acting together as “one flesh”! It is as simple as that!
9, 10. (a) What does becoming “one flesh” mean? (b) How can a husband be head while remaining “one flesh” with his wife? Illustrate your answer.
9 The Creator’s purpose in the marriage arrangement was to have the man and the woman become so harmonious that their thinking and conduct would be as one, for he said, “They must become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) This “one flesh” does not rule out the man as being the head of the family as clearly set out at Ephesians 5:22, 23: “Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of his wife.” It does, however, preclude the husband from making the final decisions that involve both parties before talking matters over with the other and considering them together. To illustrate, we might take the matter of their yearly vacation. Year after year he may decide where they are going to go and what they are going to do, and he may be successful in talking his wife into his choice for their vacation. The wife may go along for the sake of subjection and keeping peace in the family, and she may seemingly enjoy herself. But does she? Could she be thinking, “I am going just to keep peace,” or, “I can hardly wait until this vacation is over”?
10 When a husband insists on having his own way, always talking his wife into what he wants, not giving any consideration to her feelings, what happens? The submissive mate may give in, it is true, to keep family peace, but over a period of time these irritations keep building up until they cause a strain in their relationship because of not doing things unselfishly, out of love. How much better it would be to talk over matters they share in common. Then the husband may make the final decision for their mutual benefit, carefully taking into consideration the feelings and desires of his wife. As to the example of where they will spend their vacation, perhaps each has a different choice. The loving and considerate husband may decide to go one place this year for vacation, and then next year go where the other would like to go. This way both mates can be fully satisfied and be able to find enjoyment during their time of relaxation. So, being “one flesh,” as Jehovah God purposed married couples to be, means doing things in complete harmony and to the full satisfaction of both mates.
11. According to 1 Corinthians 7:8, 9, what is one purpose of marriage, and why?
11 An intimate, personal matter between marriage partners that contributes much to their happiness and satisfaction is their sexual relationship. This is one of the purposes of marriage, for Paul said: “Now I say to the unmarried persons and the widows, it is well for them that they remain even as I am. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to be inflamed with passion.” (1 Cor. 7:8, 9) So marriage serves as a safeguard and protection from wrongdoing, as Paul warned: “Because of prevalence of fornication, let each man have his own wife and each woman have her own husband.”—1 Cor. 7:2.
12. (a) What is the Scriptural principle that governs the intimate relationship of the marriage partners? (b) What is the only exception to this?
12 Paul stated the principle that should govern the intimate relationship of husband and wife when he said: “Let the husband render to his wife her due; but let the wife also do likewise to her husband. The wife does not exercise authority over her own body, but her husband does; likewise, also, the husband does not exercise authority over his own body, but his wife does.” (1 Cor. 7:3, 4) Marriage partners should not selfishly do as it individually suits them or satisfies them, but should be pleasing and satisfying to each other. They should not deprive each other of the marriage due unless both parties agree to refrain for a period of time in the interest of spiritual matters. Paul wrote: “Do not be depriving each other of it, except by mutual consent for an appointed time, that you may devote time to prayer and may come together again, that Satan may not keep tempting you for your lack of self-regulation.”—1 Cor. 7:5.
13. (a) What is often a source of unhappiness in the marriage relationship? (b) What is the marriage “due,” and why is this so important?
13 Reports indicate that the lack, or excess, of sexual relations between married couples is responsible for many unhappy conditions and a great amount of trouble in the marriage. So the question comes up, “What is due the marriage partner?” Reflect back on what Paul said, that the husband should render his wife her due and let the wife also do likewise to her husband. That which is due the marriage partner is what would be necessary to satisfy one’s passionate desire. This may vary greatly in different individuals. But the result should be that neither one would look on someone else of the opposite sex with a passionate desire. Each should be satisfied within the marriage union, for, as Jesus said, “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.”—Matt. 5:28.
14. (a) What attitude should the Christian husband take toward the marriage due? (b) Under what circumstances would the Christian husband especially need to cultivate self-control, and how is this done?
14 A Christian husband should not be harsh or demanding in this matter. This would surely cause unhappiness and could lead to separation. Remember the joy experienced when both the man and his wife entered wedlock. Why not work to preserve that feeling? Why should a God-fearing husband follow the ways of some worldly men who thoughtlessly dominate their wives and subject them to cruel and harsh mistreatment or, perhaps, even expect them to indulge in sexual perversions? The unselfish and loving husband should always cherish the health and happiness of his wife. So he should not expect his due to be beyond her physical strength and well-being. Just as passion can be cultivated, so it can be controlled, and if the Christian husband finds that he is asking for more than his wife can reasonably give, then it would be good to cultivate self-control. One way of doing this is by keeping the mind more on spiritual matters. Keeping busy in the ministry, personal Bible study, meeting preparation and participation, along with other congregational responsibilities, will contribute to self-control.—Song of Sol. chapter 4.
15. How should the Christian wife view what is due her husband?
15 An unselfish and loving wife will always be very anxious to give the proper due to her husband, and to do the things that will make him happy and draw him closer to her. Paul said that the husband has charge over his wife; so even though she may not get the satisfaction, or need the satisfaction to the extent of her husband, yet her foremost thoughts should be the satisfaction of his passionate desires. Her delight and satisfaction will come in satisfying her husband.
16. What is the basis for a successful sexual relationship in the marriage union?
16 The overriding principle is that each has vowed to give, not to take. Living up to this mutual decision is very important in the intimate relationship of a husband and wife. It is a matter that should be freely talked over by both the husband and the wife so as to be in complete agreement regarding this God-given right. In all this they will be accomplishing God’s will in their marriage and so living up to their decision of dedication to him.
LIVING UP TO YOUR DECISION OF SINGLENESS
17. For what reasons have many decided to remain single?
17 Many dedicated Christian men and women have made the decision to remain single for a period of time. They have made this decision so that they may have greater freedom to serve Jehovah and may be able to serve him more fully without distraction. Some have decided to remain single through the final troubled years of this old system until after Armageddon. Others have made the decision to remain single for a period of years so that they may enjoy the pioneer work, Bethel service or the missionary field. Some make this decision simply because they recognize they are still young and wish to grow to spiritual and mental maturity before considering the decision to marry.—1 Cor. 7:32-35.
18. Why is living up to your decision of singleness important?
18 Have you made this decision? If so, it is very important that you live up to it. Your joy and happiness in Jehovah’s service as a single person depends greatly on your continuing to be single-minded, not torn in your thinking. As Paul said, one must be ‘settled in heart, having no necessity,’ in order to find joy while serving Jehovah in the single state.—1 Cor. 7:37.
19. How may one live up to this decision? Illustrate.
19 But how can you live up to your decision to remain single? Once a person “has made this decision in his own heart, to keep his own virginity,” then care must be exercised to keep himself mentally and physically in line with this decision so as not to become unsettled in his heart. (1 Cor. 7:37) The importance of this could be illustrated this way: If you had decided to go on a diet to lose weight, would it be reasonable for you to surround yourself at each meal with rich, fattening foods that were not included in your diet? Would it not be reasonable just to have the food before you that was recommended for that meal so that you would not lose the joy of that food by looking at other food that you should not at that time have? The same would be true with the single person who had decided to remain so. If he had made this decision for a certain time period, then within that time he reasonably would refrain from trying to be with one of the opposite sex. He would certainly not be dating or allowing himself continual association of this kind, as this would create desire that he is trying to keep subdued.
20. What part does one’s conversation play in living up to one’s decision?
20 It is a true statement that whatever a person is interested in, this he will talk about. Are you interested in remaining single? Then in your conversations with others do not be discussing the opposite sex at great length, deliberately talking about things that are contrary to your decision. Since your associates will often determine the subject of your conversations, choose as your close associates those who have the same desire and outlook as you—those who have made the same decision.
21. In our thinking, in what two ways can we live up to our decision?
21 One’s thinking plays a big part in living up to one’s decision. It would not be wise for one to allow one’s mind to dwell upon the rights that come with the married state if his decision had been to forgo this for some time in the interests of Jehovah’s service. It would also be important to be satisfied with your decision for the time you had made it, otherwise constantly talking about it or thinking about it in your mind would not be living up to your desire for singleness.
22. How can the single person prevent loneliness?
22 A single life in Jehovah’s service should be a full and busy life. Keep your life full with Jehovah. Be willing to take on extra assignments in his service. Do not allow for idle time. When home by yourself fill that time with prayer, personal study and constructive meditation. You are never alone, as your best associates, Jehovah God and Christ Jesus, are always with you. Make good friends so that when you have time for recreation you may do things with these friends. This, too, will contribute to keeping your life full and satisfying.
23. Give Scriptural examples of serving Jehovah successfully in the single state.
23 It is encouraging to keep before you those who chose a single course in Jehovah’s service and were successful in it. The apostle Paul was a fine example of living up to the decision of singleness for those brothers who have made this decision. For our sisters who have decided upon this course, Jephthah’s daughter is an outstanding example of living up to her decision. She lived at a time when a woman’s success in life was measured by her fruitfulness in having a family. Yet she faithfully lived up to her decision to remain single, in harmony with her father’s promise, for the sake of Jehovah’s service.—1 Cor. 7:8; Judg. 11:36-40.
24. Living up to your decision means what?
24 For those who are married, and for those who have decided to remain single, the advice of Paul is fitting when he says: “Are you bound to a wife? Stop seeking a release. Are you loosed from a wife? Stop seeking a wife.” (1 Cor. 7:27) You who are married, live up to your decision to love, cherish and deeply respect, and do not envy those who are single. You who have decided to remain single, remember this decision in your conduct, your conversation, your thinking and your associates, and do not envy those who are married. Rather, let each one be enjoying his own gift from God by living up to his decision. In so doing, you will be applying the Word of God in your life, and so living up to that most important of all decisions—your dedication to do Jehovah’s will.—1 Cor. 7:7.