Do Not Be Afraid
“Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”—Heb. 13:6.
1. (a) For centuries, what fear has dominated the lives of many people? (b) What effect can yielding to this fear have on true Christians?
THE possibility of being unable to provide for oneself and one’s family is a fear that for centuries has dominated the lives of many people. As it can lead to spiritual ruin, this fear is something to be resisted by servants of Jehovah God. Doing so, however, is not always easy. Besides experiencing the same problems in making a living as other people do, true Christians may be subjected to additional pressures from the world because of their faithful adherence to God’s Word.
2. How might the demands of an employer create problems for a Christian?
2 The servant of Jehovah knows that the Bible condemns lying and commands separateness from the world and its ways. (Col. 3:9; Jas. 4:4) Yet his employer may want him to lie for him, misrepresent facts, promote a worldly holiday spirit, become involved in politics, or the like. The individual may be threatened with the loss of his job if he does not comply with his employer’s wishes.
3. What temptations may face a Christian who is running a business?
3 A Christian may be running a business and find it increasingly more difficult to make a living. He may be tempted to engage in shady business practices or to misrepresent his income to gain tax advantages. While others may be doing these things, the person who is seeking to please Jehovah knows that yielding to temptation would be wrong. The Bible says: “You must not commit injustice . . . in weighing or in measuring. . . . You should prove to have accurate scales, accurate weights.” (Lev. 19:35, 36) “Render to all their dues, to him who calls for the tax, the tax; to him who calls for the tribute, the tribute.”—Rom. 13:7.
4. What might a person learn about his job after studying the Bible for a while?
4 Through study of the Bible with one of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, a person may come to recognize that what he does for a living violates Scriptural principles. This presents a real problem. It may be very hard for him to find other work. Giving up his employment and then taking on another job may result in lower wages and in the forfeiting of insurance, health and retirement benefits.
5. How might governmental action threaten a Christian’s economic security?
5 At times, on account of governmental bans, true Christians may be faced with forcible loss of employment. The governmental authority may demand unqualified allegiance and support of the political party in power. In effect, it may demand that the state be idolized. That there would be such developments in the world is shown at Revelation 13:16, 17, where we read regarding the “wild beast,” or the world’s political system, that all people would be put under compulsion, “the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, that they should give these a mark in their right hand or upon their forehead, and that nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name.”
HOW TO RESIST THE PRESSURE
6. What view of material things will enable one to resist temptation to compromise in the hope of securing one’s livelihood?
6 One aid in resisting the pressure to compromise in the hope of securing one’s livelihood is a proper evaluation of material things. At Hebrews 13:5, this encouragement is given: “Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things.” A person’s being content with “sustenance and covering” will make him less concerned about any losses that he might experience if he has to get another job. (1 Tim. 6:8) Also, his being content with necessities will give him a wider field of work from which to choose. Even if only low-paying employment is available to him, he should not refuse to take on such work simply because of feeling that this would be beneath his dignity. He should even be willing to try forms of self-employment that may appear very menial in the eyes of others.
7. What is the greatest aid in avoiding compromise when one is faced with economic pressure?
7 However, the most valuable aid in resisting the temptation to compromise when facing economic pressure is unshakable faith in Jehovah’s ability to provide for those who love him. After stressing the right attitude toward material things, Hebrews 13:5, 6 continues: “[God] has said: ‘I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.’ So that we may be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
8. Why should loss of a job for the Kingdom’s sake not be viewed as loss of one’s livelihood?
8 While men may cause a person to lose a job, they cannot prevent Jehovah God from answering the petition, “Give us today our bread for this day.” (Matt. 6:11) The loss of certain material advantages does not have to mean the loss of one’s livelihood. Jesus Christ, in effect, obligated his Father to care for those who put spiritual interests first and faithfully adhere to God’s standard of what is right. He said: “Never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. So, never be anxious about the next day.”—Matt. 6:31-34.
9. Why is it unreasonable for one to worry unduly about the next day?
9 In harmony with Jesus’ words, we do well to keep in mind that each day has its own problems. So one should not add to these problems by undue worry about the next day. Why, a person cannot be absolutely sure that he will even live to see the next day! Nothing in the present human sphere has any real permanence. Sickness, accident and death can quickly bring about changes that can alter one’s whole routine of life. The world of mankind is indeed much like a stage, on which scenes change in rapid succession. It is just as the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “The scene of this world is changing.” (1 Cor. 7:31) Of course, in most cases, a person will be alive the next day. Nevertheless, his needlessly worrying about what the next day may bring will not improve matters. If he is a servant of Jehovah, he can be certain that his God will enable him to face life’s problems successfully.
10. What should we think about in the event that our existence is threatened?
10 But what if the pressure becomes so great as to threaten one’s very existence? In that case, the admonition of Jesus Christ, found at Matthew 10:28, would apply: “Do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” Should ban or persecution put a Christian’s livelihood in jeopardy, he would still lose out on life were he to compromise. He might get temporary relief from an extreme situation. But he could lose his title to life and go into everlasting destruction. Were he to perish at the time divine judgment is executed or should he die before then as one disloyal to God and Christ, he would forfeit the prospect of a resurrection from the dead, with eternal life in view. On the other hand, the person who dies as an integrity-keeper is assured of a resurrection from the dead. No man can stop God from restoring that individual to life. Regardless of how severe things may appear to be, the hand of Jehovah is not cut short. His record as a Provider for his people guarantees that.
GOD’S RECORD AS A PROVIDER
11. What situation did David face upon incurring King Saul’s hatred?
11 Take the case of Jehovah’s faithful servant David. King Saul became extremely jealous of David’s popularity and schemed to have him put to death. Though Saul’s attempts to get rid of David failed time and again, David, nevertheless, was forced to flee for his life, later being joined by some four hundred men. (1 Sam. 22:1, 2) For any Israelite to aid David and his men put him in disfavor with King Saul, since these were in the position of outlaws. Just how Saul felt about any supporters of David is evident from what happened to High Priest Ahimelech and his household. Ahimelech, thinking that David was in the service of King Saul, gave him bread and a sword. For this gesture, Saul commanded that Ahimelech and his household be killed. Only one son, Abiathar, escaped.—1 Sam. 22:9-20.
12. Did the attitude of King Saul prevent Jehovah from using individual Israelites to help David and his men? Illustrate.
12 The bitter attitude of Saul and of other Israelites, however, did not prevent Jehovah from using individuals to help his servants. This is well illustrated in an incident involving the rich man Nabal and his wife Abigail. David and his men had protected Nabal’s flock and shepherds so that they experienced no losses. For this service, David and his associates were entitled to some consideration. Yet, when David sent messengers to Nabal, requesting whatever supplies he might be willing to give, Nabal screamed rebukes at them. But Abigail courageously threw in her lot with David, recognizing him to be God’s choice for the kingship. She acted quickly in getting together abundant supplies for him and his men. Thus, through Abigail, Jehovah provided what they needed.—1 Sam. 25:9-19, 23-31.
13. How did David experience Jehovah’s help in Philistine territory?
13 Even more remarkable is the fact that outright enemies of the Israelites showed favor to David and his men. David had been an outstanding warrior in campaigns against the Philistines. On meeting the returning victors, the Israelite women sang: “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (1 Sam. 18:7) A person might think, therefore, that Philistine territory would be one of the last places where David and his men could find security. And yet they did find refuge there. Philistine King Achish was favorably impressed with David and his men, giving them the city of Ziklag for their residence. He was never able to discover that David and his men continued to be loyal Israelites. (1 Sam. 27:1-6) Achish even defended them before fellow Philistine lords and princes. Thereafter he told David: “As Jehovah is living, you are upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the camp has been good in my eyes.” (1 Sam. 29:2-6) Hence, unknown to himself, Achish served as Jehovah’s instrument in helping David.
14. In view of his experiences, how did David feel about Jehovah as a helper?
14 On many other occasions Jehovah God made the way out for David, providing just what his servant needed. Because of the marvelous way in which Jehovah had aided him, David was confident that he would never be forsaken. “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me,” said David, “even Jehovah himself would take me up.”—Ps. 27:10.
15. In what sense did David not experience fear when surrounded by enemies?
15 This does not mean that David never experienced fear. He most certainly did. But he was never afraid that Jehovah would completely abandon him, leaving him in the lurch. Under inspiration, David wrote: “My foes have kept snapping all day long, for there are many warring against me high-mindedly. Whatever day I get afraid, I, for my part, shall trust even in you. In union with God I shall praise his word. In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”—Ps. 56:2-4.
16. What did Jehovah not allow to happen to Jeremiah during the siege of Jerusalem?
16 Circumstances may appear absolutely hopeless. But these will not hinder Jehovah God from seeing to it that his servants receive what he feels they need. A case in point is the prophet Jeremiah. During the terrible siege of Jerusalem, he found himself in confinement as a prisoner. Food was in short supply. So desperate did the situation become that in time some women ate the flesh of their own children. (Lam. 2:20) But did Jehovah God permit his prophet to starve to death? No. The Bible reports: “There was a giving of a round loaf of bread to him daily from the street of the bakers, until all the bread was exhausted from the city.”—Jer. 37:21.
17. How did Ebed-melech serve as Jehovah’s instrument to help Jeremiah?
17 Then there was the time that it seemed certain that Jeremiah would perish. Judean princes falsely accused him of sedition. Yielding to them, Zedekiah delivered the prophet into their hands. They threw Jeremiah into a miry cistern, to die without food. (Jer. 38:4-6) Despite danger to himself in view of the intense hatred for Jehovah’s prophet, an Ethiopian eunuch, Ebed-melech, publicly approached King Zedekiah to present an appeal in behalf of Jeremiah. Ebed-melech’s appeal was given favorable hearing. With the support of thirty men, Ebed-melech thereafter rescued the prophet. For having served Jehovah’s interests in this way, Ebed-melech was assured: “‘You will not be given into the hand of the men of whom you yourself are scared. For I shall without fail furnish you an escape, and by the sword you will not fall; and you will certainly come to have your soul as a spoil, because you have trusted in me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”—Jer. 39:17, 18.
18. How did many Witnesses in Rhodesia come to experience Jehovah’s loving care?
18 Also, today, persons who place their trust in Jehovah experience his loving care. Hundreds of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses in Rhodesia found this to be true in their case. Coming to appreciate that involvement with tobacco production violated Christian principles, these Witnesses left their jobs. This was not easy, as it meant giving up free clinical treatment, grants of land and other securities. But they were willing to make the sacrifices and have been richly blessed as a result. They found new jobs, quite a number of them with fellow believers. Many moved into areas where the message about God’s kingdom had not been preached before. In this way they not only benefited themselves spiritually but also brought hope to many other people in Rhodesia. Indeed, these Witnesses experienced Jehovah’s care in a very personal way.
MAINTAIN TRUST IN JEHOVAH’S ABILITY TO PROVIDE
19. What will Jehovah never forget, and how should this encourage us when faced with economic pressure?
19 Regardless of what economic pressure you may have to face, keep in mind that Jehovah will sustain and reward his servants today just as he did in the past. He did not forget the generosity of Hebrew Christians toward fellow believers. The apostle Paul reminded them: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.” (Heb. 6:10) Especially the Christianized Jews living in Jerusalem and the rest of Judea experienced God’s loving care when they faced adversity. Moved by God’s spirit, fellow believers, including many non-Jews, shared in organized relief measures in their behalf. (Acts 11:28, 29; Rom. 15:25-27; 1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 9:5, 7) No question about it, those Hebrews had reasons for confidence that Jehovah would not forget them. And he will not forget us either.
20. What should we do when faced with serious problems?
20 With Jehovah as your helper, how can you possibly fail? Make it your determination, therefore, to safeguard your relationship with him as your most valuable possession. Strive to maintain the attitude expressed in the following words of the inspired psalmist: “Whom do I have in the heavens? And besides you I do have no other delight on the earth. My organism and my heart have failed. God is the rock of my heart and my share to time indefinite.” (Ps. 73:25, 26) When faced with problems, look to Jehovah to strengthen you, confident that he will aid you to remain his approved servant.—1 Pet. 5:7.