Questions From Readers
● Can a dedicated and baptized Christian take up professional boxing and still remain in good standing with his congregation?
If a Christian were to become a professional boxer, this would put him in conflict with God’s counsel. Let us consider some of that Biblical advice.
The Scriptures clearly show that dedicated Christians are to produce the fruitage of God’s holy spirit, which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Professional boxing flies in the face of all such fruitage. The Bible counsels us to be “peaceable with all men” and not to fight but to be “gentle toward all.” (Rom. 12:18; 2 Tim. 2:24) Similarly, at James 3:18 we read that “the fruit of righteousness has its seed sown under peaceful conditions for those who are making peace.” Moreover, we are told to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves’ and that love works no “evil,” and therefore no harm or hurt, to one’s neighbor.—Rom. 13:9, 10.
Professional boxing cannot be considered simply an innocent sport. It is a well-known fact that boxers go into the ring with a strong urge to hurt their opponents. For the time being, they may even have a murderous feeling toward them. This spirit may be sensed by observers, as can often be seen from the way spectators react at a boxing match. Time and again they are heard shouting, “Kill him! Kill him!”
So it is no wonder that from time to time the press reports that a boxer has been mortally injured in the boxing ring. In boxing there is always the risk that one of the fighters might become a manslayer, and, as the apostle John states, “you know that no manslayer has everlasting life.” (1 John 3:15) Bearing on this is the opinion of one veteran boxing official that boxing is “legalized murder” and should be prohibited by law. It has also been described as “assault with malicious intent.” And still another sordid aspect of professional boxing is the kind of people involved in running the sport. Often it is in the control of the underworld criminal element.
In view of these facts, what should be the attitude of the congregation elders toward a dedicated and baptized Christian who takes up professional boxing? First, they would want to counsel such a brother in keeping with the Scriptural principles enunciated above. (Gal. 6:1) They should kindly, yet firmly, present the reasons why such boxing is not compatible with being a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, the “Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6) They could show him that a Christian is to “do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work.” Earning money as a professional boxer by battering a opponent in a boxing ring can hardly be termed “good work.”—Eph. 4:28.
The individual should also be reminded that while professional boxing might provide him with a comfortable livelihood, Christians do not need to stoop to such means, for God’s Word assures us, at Hebrews 13:5, 6: “Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For he 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?’”
Therefore, such a person should be given a reasonable period of time to discontinue his unchristian profession or occupation. His failure to do so would mean that the elders would have no alternative but to exclude him from the congregation.—1 Cor. 5:11-13.
● At Matthew 4:1 it is said that “Jesus was led by the spirit up into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” Does this refer to God’s holy spirit?
It was Jehovah’s holy spirit that directed Jesus into the wilderness, following his baptism. Jesus fasted, and this would be a time for prayer and meditation. (Compare Matthew 4:2; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16.) Likely Jehovah used this time to communicate with his only-begotten Son, to give instructions, further enlightenment and warm assurance, preparing him for what lay ahead.
Jehovah could foreknow that the leading of his Son into the wilderness in connection with His own purpose would also eventuate in a test from the Devil. Yet the temptation that came at the close of Jesus’ 40-day stay in the wilderness was not something that God arranged. Rather, it was merely allowed.
It is significant that Jesus’ experience paralleled that of Moses. That prophet was on the mountain for 40 days when receiving the Law covenant and instructions pertaining to his role as mediator. (Ex. 24:18; 34:28) Jesus, the prophet greater than Moses, must have received instructions in the wilderness regarding the new covenant into which his followers would be taken as spiritual Israelites and of which he would serve as mediator. (Deut. 18:18, 19; Luke 22:20, 28-30) And just as Moses faced a crucial test of his loyalty and integrity on coming down and seeing the Israelites worshiping a golden calf and wanting to go back to Egypt, Jesus also was put to a severe test at the close of his 40-day experience.—Ex. 32:15-35.