Trust in God, Not Your Own Understanding
PERSONS who render exclusive devotion to Jehovah God realize that all final judgments of mankind are in his hands. King David, in his parting counsel to his son and successor Solomon, said: “All hearts Jehovah is searching, and every inclination of the thoughts he is discerning.”—1 Chron. 28:9; 1 Sam. 16:7.
For these reasons we should not feel anxiety about what judgment certain persons or groups receive. However, Jehovah does give us guidelines so that we may take the course that will bring favorable judgment to ourselves and also work toward the proper standing of others in God’s sight.
Because of the very tender relationship and feelings that exist with regard to young children, and in view of God’s principle of family merit, discussed in previous articles, some related questions arise that deserve discussion.
Some have asked, ‘What about young children who are adopted? Are they not part of the family unit into which they are adopted, and would not their status with God be governed by the status of their adoptive parents?’ Apparently so. If the foster parents are true Christians, they will teach the truth of God’s Word to the child. If the child is obedient to his foster parents and to the laws of God that he is able to understand, then, what the apostle Paul said at 1 Corinthians 7:14 would evidently apply in this circumstance.
On the other hand, the child may be reared by non-Christian foster parents. It seems that he would be considered as sharing the foster parents’ judgment before God. Of course, if the child is old enough to discern right and wrong and he does so, showing a definite love for righteousness, earnestly seeking to know and follow the truth even though his foster parents do not, then he could receive God’s favor.—Ezek. 18:14-18; 33:18, 19.
In cases where a couple have legally adopted a child and have therefore assumed responsibility for him, they have a large share in either a good way or a bad way in determining the child’s status. But persons or couples who merely keep a child in the home for a relative, or persons being paid for taking care of a child, could not expect the child to come under God’s favor merely because of their being his caretakers. They are not the ones responsible for the child, and the principle of family merit would not here apply. However, if, while they have the child in their care, they teach the child from God’s Word to the extent that they are able, this will, of course, be for the child’s welfare if he listens and follows the good things he learns.
Those who are servants of God should do all they can to teach others the truth, but those who do not have the direct responsibility for a child should not feel that they must interfere with the rights of the parents. If one has relatives that are unbelievers, it is the responsibility of the parents in such unbelieving families to train the children, and God allows them to do so as they please. Of course, if opportunity is given to tell such children the truth, this may be done. But to go beyond this, for example, trying to get legal control of the children, would be meddling in the affairs of others. (1 Pet. 4:15) God does not do this; why should we? Leave matters to God, who cares for those with right hearts.
DANGER OF MARRYING AN UNBELIEVER
It should be noted that, even though God blesses the family unit where only one is a believer, it is a very unwise thing for a Christian to marry an unbeliever. For, while God views the marriage relationship as holy, it does not mean that very distressing problems may not arise. It is much harder to teach children God’s way in a religiously divided household. The unbeliever may try to counteract the teaching the children receive, or may even try to prevent the teaching being done. This would have detrimental effects on the children. They may not show themselves obedient to the things taught by the believing parent, and, if so, these children would share God’s judgment upon the unbelieving parent.
A very difficult situation may arise if the unbeliever decides to separate from the believer because of religious differences. If the unbelieving one insists on separation, the believer may let him (or her) depart. The apostle Paul points out that “a brother or a sister is not in servitude under such circumstances, but God has called you to peace.” (1 Cor. 7:15) But what if there are children? The unbeliever may try to take the children. He or she may even get custody granted by the court. Then what little opportunity the believing mate has of seeing the children and talking to them about God’s way may not be sufficient to mold the children in the right way. Even if the unbeliever departs, leaving the children to the believer, what a hardship that works on the believer! It puts added burdens on the Christian mate, having to support the children, at the same time seeing to their spiritual welfare in a proper manner.
Yes, single persons should not disobey the apostle’s counsel on behalf of their own spiritual welfare and that of children that may be born to a union with an unbeliever. The apostle follows the Bible’s counsel to the Israelites, not to make marriage alliances with unbelievers, when he counsels widows to marry “only in the Lord.”—1 Cor. 7:39; Deut. 7:3, 4.
On the other hand, to those who may already be involved in marriage to an unbeliever, or in other binding situations that would pose some problems in connection with service to God, the apostle says: “In whatever condition each one was called, brothers, let him remain in it associated with God.” (1 Cor. 7:24) If a person is married at the time that he comes to a knowledge of the truth, and the mate does not become a believer, nonetheless, God counts the relationship holy. But a single person who marries an unbeliever is not putting first his association with God. He is gravely risking his spirituality and is putting an extra strain on his integrity.
CONFIDENT IN GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS
There are other questions that arise in connection with the principle of family merit. The Bible does not answer them all. It leaves the judgment of each individual case to Jehovah and his Son, whom he has appointed to judge the world in righteousness.—Acts 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:1.
Should we worry and speculate as to who will survive the “great tribulation,” or who will be resurrected? If we live according to God’s commands now and proclaim the good news to the best of our ability, we will be doing God’s will.
As to Jehovah’s judgments, if we come to know God we will trust in him, and we will be like Abraham, who, knowing God’s justice and mercy, used these as the basis for a plea in behalf of persons living in the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, saying: “Suppose there are fifty righteous men in the midst of the city. Will you, then, sweep them away and not pardon the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are inside it? It is unthinkable of you that you are acting in this manner to put to death the righteous man with the wicked one so that it has to occur with the righteous man as it does with the wicked! It is unthinkable of you. Is the Judge of all the earth not going to do what is right?” Jehovah’s matchless mercy was shown in his listening to Abraham’s plea to the point that if only ten righteous men were found in the district, God would completely spare the cities.—Gen. 18:22-33.
So, rather than be overly concerned, it is better to wait upon Jehovah, at the same time continuing to do his will with the confidence expressed by the psalmist, who said: “I well know, O Jehovah, that your judicial decisions are righteousness.”—Ps. 119:75.