How Will You React to Pressure?
EACH year tens of thousands of individuals learn about Jehovah God and begin to worship him along with his organized people. Often they experience opposition or pressure to compromise right from the start of their association with Jehovah’s witnesses.
Has this been your experience? If so, it should come as no surprise. Jesus himself was opposed for his loyalty to God’s truth and he warned his followers: “A slave is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”—John 15:20.
How will you react to this pressure to turn you aside from true worship? Will you become discouraged? Or will it be true of you as with Christians of the first century that “when being persecuted, we bear up”?—1 Cor. 4:12.
Before answering that question consider the one chiefly responsible for the pressure. First Peter 5:8 urges: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” As “the ruler of the world” of mankind, “the god of this system of things” and “the ruler of the demons,” Satan can maneuver people and circumstances to strike at one’s weakest point. (John 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4; Matt. 12:24) He can even direct one’s family, friends or close associates into an all-out effort to force one to quit associating with Jehovah’s witnesses.
Often Satan’s tactic is verbal abuse. Have your workmates, schoolmates or other associates begun to ridicule or insult you? Do not be surprised. Keep in mind that you have begun to turn away from popular customs and practices that are unscriptural. The effect this would have on some of your associates is outlined at 1 Peter 4:4: “Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you.”
Be careful, though, not to “return evil for evil.” (Rom. 12:17) Jesus, who himself “endured . . . contrary talk by sinners,” advised: “Continue . . . to bless those cursing you, to pray for those who are insulting you.” (Heb. 12:3; Luke 6:27, 28) Such a reaction to verbal abuse has often led to a change of heart on the part of opposers.
OPPOSITION FROM ONE’S FAMILY
Another pressure tactic is family opposition. Jesus forewarned his followers to expect this. (Matt. 10:35, 36) Members of your family may complain that your studying the Bible has caused tension in the household and that if you ‘really loved them’ you would give it up. Some have given in to this type of pressure, reasoning that it would be best to stop studying the Bible for a while in hopes that things would ‘straighten out’ later.
But is that reasoning sound? Can anything ever be straightened out by abandoning the study of the Bible, which is the very thing “inspired of God and beneficial . . . for setting things straight”? (2 Tim. 3:16) Better to heed the advice at Galatians 6:9: “Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.” And what you “reap” could well be the joy of seeing members of your family accept the truth because of your steadfast example. A witness of Jehovah relates how this proved true in her case:
“Almost from the beginning my husband opposed my attending the congregation Bible studies . . . I tried many times to reason with him, and even invited him to the meetings to see for himself the importance of the things discussed there, but to no avail.” His opposition increased from verbal threats to physical blows. “But even that did not change my mind,” she explained. What was the result of this woman’s ‘not giving up’ Jehovah’s worship? Her husband began attending meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses to “investigate.” He liked what he heard, talked with his sister about it and she, too, started to go to the Kingdom Hall. Shortly thereafter both the husband and his sister were baptized at the same assembly. What a marvelous outcome! And all because a Christian wife refused to succumb to the pressure of family opposition.
How will you react if pressure to compromise comes from an economic direction? Perhaps just at the time that you are about to make up your mind to devote your life to Jehovah a promotion at your secular job comes along. It may include a tempting salary increase and/or other material benefits. Of course, there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. But will it involve additional responsibilities or extra hours at work? Will it interfere with time set aside for personal Bible study, Christian meeting attendance and Kingdom-preaching activities?
Ask yourself, Why is such an offer coming right at this time? Who is it that would really take delight in my selling to secular interests time I have already ‘bought out’ for the worship of Jehovah God? (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5) Keep in mind that the Devil claims you are more interested in your own economic security than in God’s worship, and that if the going gets rough you will abandon Jehovah. He made that claim in connection with God’s servant Job. But, in spite of being deprived of family, friends and possessions, Job refused to bend to such a pressure tactic. He thus proved Satan’s charge to be false. For faithful perseverance under pressure Jehovah “blessed the end of Job afterward more than his beginning.” Will your reaction to economic pressure be the same as Job’s? If so you can be assured of a comparable reward.—Job chapters 1 and 2; Job 42:12.
BREAKING FREE FROM AN IMMORAL WAY OF LIFE
Today’s so-called “new morality” constitutes another area of pressure for people who desire to harmonize their lives with Bible teachings. For example, in some places it is common for couples to take up living together, even raising families, though unmarried.
When such people accept a Bible study with Jehovah’s witnesses they learn that God classifies such consensual relationship as fornication. Jehovah’s Word counsels: “Flee from fornication.” (1 Cor. 6:18) Humble individuals throughout the world are obeying that command and are receiving bountiful blessings for doing so.
When Bible truth touched the heart of a woman in Surinam she decided to leave her consensual partner with whom she had lived for five years, bearing him several children. He became enraged, beat her physically, even threatened to kill her if she left him. She did so anyway. The outcome? She says: “I must confess that the present happiness enjoyed by myself and my children far outweighs the difficulties through which we have come.”
Indeed, remaining faithful to Jehovah under pressure is the only reasonable thing to do. It shows love for God and neighbor, proves the Devil a liar, ensures Jehovah’s protection and blessing and can even help those close to you to investigate the truth seriously. In view of this, how will you react to pressure?