Jehovah’s Standards Help Us
“May he give to you according to your heart, and all your counsel may he fulfill.”—PSALM 20:4.
1. What sort of standards are common? (Deuteronomy 25:15)
IN 1266 King Henry III of England decreed that a penny should be the weight of 32 wheat grains. He thus set a standard. Countless things around us similarly involve standards. We dial our radio or television to a set point (channel) for a broadcast on a standard frequency. Other standards show proficiency; a student’s reading skill may be measured by a standard test.
2. Standards of what other sort are rare, and why?
2 Of greater importance, however, are standards in the sense of moral values and conduct. Without these, standards of the first type are pointless. For example, a council on higher education found that of 25,000 students almost 50 percent said that their peers got passing grades not by studying but by dishonesty. What about the standards of people in public office? Can today’s youth learn standards of moral values from most leaders? Historian Barbara Tuchman commented: “There is an abdication of moral leadership in the sense of a general unwillingness to state standards.”
3. Why should we expect Jehovah to have moral standards?
3 What, though, of Jehovah God? He has standards, even as a human father may have values and requirements as to behavior at home and in dealing with others. Jehovah, the universal Judge, Statute-Giver and King, provides in the Bible laws, rules or clearly stated principles that indicate his moral standards and what he expects of humans—guidelines on how we should walk.—Psalm 25:4, 5; 86:10, 11; Isaiah 33:22.
4. Why should we be interested in reasons for accepting God’s standards?
4 Who among us would deny the value of Jehovah’s standards? Yet we might chafe at them when they conflict with some personal desire. We might minimize or take exception to his standards, feeling that our situation is an exception or demands a bending of the rules. Thus, let us review some reasons why we should accept God’s moral standards and how we can benefit from them.
God’s Standards Compared to Man’s
5, 6. We can learn what from Jehovah’s accomplishments during the first six creative days?
5 Following six creative days, God declared his work to be “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) Everything had been created in logical order, with nothing defective. The plants and animals filled their niche, reproducing after their kind, not needing to evolve into new kinds. (Genesis 1:25) Ask yourself, Whom or what did Jehovah have to consult for directions in this creative work? Obviously he contained within himself the knowledge and wisdom to do it all. Not just to do it but to do it perfectly, in a way that set physical standards. (Isaiah 40:12-14) Because of God’s standards we can classify and recognize the multitudinous kinds of plants, fish, birds and land animals.
6 Jehovah once posed some questions that can help us to compare his knowledge, abilities and standards to those of man. God asked Job: “Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you do know understanding?” Scientists can offer only estimates of the age of the universe. Obviously, humans were not around to know when God created the earth or how. “Was it,” God inquired, “from your days onward that you commanded the morning? Did you cause the dawn to know its place?” Physicists study the earth’s rotation, try to imitate the fusion by which our sun produces life-sustaining energy, and labor with complicated formulas to explain the nature of something as common as light. How do their achievements compare with God’s? Jehovah continued: ‘Have you come to know the statutes of the heavens? Can you raise your voice even to the cloud, so that a heaving mass of water may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings?’ Finally Job admitted: “Look! I have become of little account. What shall I reply to you?” “I have come to know that you are able to do all things, and there is no idea that is unattainable for you.” Do you personally feel the same way?—Job 38:4, 12, 33-35; 40:4; 42:2.
7, 8. How do you as a human creature offer testimony about God’s accomplishments?
7 God’s crowning earthly creation was man. The best modern camera is an inferior imitation of a higher standard, your eye. Your digestive system and metabolism excel anything that chemical engineers and biologists have ever produced. While we see variety among us, our marvelous bodies give evidence of vital standards. If a surgeon needed to operate on your appendix, would you have to worry about his finding in your abdomen your tonsils or brain? No, standardization (in God’s creation) makes it possible for the surgeon to study anatomy so he can perform needed surgery.
8 In your skull, not in your abdomen, you have a computer that is vastly superior in versatility and capacity to the most advanced electronic computer. Your brain allows you to wonder and marvel at God’s creation, including the billions of suns in the millions of galaxies in the heavens. God established laws for the orderly, precise movement of the heavenly bodies so that we can use them as standards in our count of time, for day and night, for seasons and years.—Genesis 1:14; Psalm 8:3, 4.
9. By comparing God’s accomplishments and standards with man’s, what can we conclude?
9 Compare God’s accomplishments with what man has done. Despite governments establishing regulatory standards of all sorts, humans have polluted water and air, exterminated numerous kinds of wildlife, divided peoples politically, religiously and racially, and left mankind with cause to worry about whether war, pollution or starvation might completely wipe out human life on earth. Clearly, God was not exaggerating when he said of man: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) Is it not fitting, then, that rather than relying on human views as to what standards should be met, we should be interested in Jehovah’s directions or standards?—Proverbs 16:25; Isaiah 30:21.
10. Material creation indicates what about looking to God for moral standards?
10 Material creation confirms that God is “perfect [in all] his activity.” Yet Deuteronomy 32:4 goes on to mention Jehovah’s moral attributes. In view of his accomplishments and standards in the physical realm—from the stars to atomic particles, from microorganisms to our human bodies—should we not look to him with confidence as to his moral standards? The fact is that he has provided excellent moral standards by which we can guide our relations with him and with fellow humans.—Micah 6:6-8.
11. In what areas might God’s standards benefit you?
11 Jehovah does not limit his counsel to a narrow aspect of our life, such as certain doctrinal beliefs or ceremonial rites. His moral standards cover all aspects of life, including family affairs, business dealings, view and conduct respecting persons of the opposite sex, attitude toward fellow Christians and participation in worship. (Isaiah 48:17; James 1:25) At Isaiah 55:11 Jehovah said that ‘the word that goes forth from his mouth will have certain success.’ Just as surely, when we earnestly strive to apply his standards, we will have more success, accomplish more good and find more happiness.
Help From God’s Safe and Sure Guidelines
12, 13. How does a recent health development bear on God’s standards of sexual morality?
12 We can receive help from God’s standards in many direct, physical ways. For example, The New York Times Magazine (February 6, 1983) reported on a new disease that ‘medical detectives are calling the century’s most virulent epidemic.’ It is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (acronym: AIDS). This disease brings on the collapse of a person’s immune system, leaving him prey to rare forms of cancer (Kaposi’s sarcoma), pneumonia and other bizarre illnesses. How deadly is AIDS? The two-year death rate is said to be over 65 percent.
13 Scientists believe that AIDS is spread through bodily secretions (particularly semen) and blood. So far mostly homosexuals have contracted it by their promiscuous immorality, though it has spread to heterosexual partners. One “gay” confessed: “It’s like being in wartime. We don’t know when the bomb is going to fall. I’ve had 18 friends die in the last year and a half from AIDS. Another 12 are now seriously ill.” The article said: “As they waste away, many AIDS patients begin to reflect on their lives, sometimes feeling they are being punished for their reckless, hedonistic ways.” Unquestionably, God’s moral standards, such as those mentioned at 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, help us. They protect us!
14. In what other ways does the AIDS problem underscore God’s standards? (Deuteronomy 12:23-25)
14 There is more to it. AIDS has been found in many persons from the Caribbean. Dr. Sheldon Landesman explained: ‘We know that our patients often are involved in voodoo and spiritualism.’ Apparently AIDS is transmitted in their rituals. The disease is also linked to blood transfusions and blood products. “AIDS has become the second leading cause of death—after uncontrollable bleeding—in hemophiliacs, and, most recently, a number of surgical patients who have received blood transfusions have contracted AIDS, raising fears among some observers about the nation’s blood supply.” The incubation period seems to range from six months to two years. So by the time some realize that they have AIDS they “might have unknowingly infected hundreds more individuals—through sexual contact, through blood donations, or through some yet unimagined route.” God’s standards regarding sexual morality, avoiding spiritism and ‘abstaining from blood’ help us keep free of this and other diseases.—Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Proverbs 5:18-23; Acts 15:29; 21:25.
15. How does Jehovah’s standard regarding alcohol prove helpful?
15 As another evidence of Jehovah’s helpful standards, recall that he condemns drunkenness. He even disapproves of ‘giving oneself to a lot of wine.’ (1 Timothy 3:3, 8; Romans 13:13) Many who ignore God’s standard suffer diseases caused or aggravated by overdrinking. Ignoring Paul’s advice to use only “a little wine,” some Christians have got into a pattern of turning to heavy drinking to ‘help them relax.’ (1 Timothy 5:23) Gradually the habitual disorder of alcoholism (with physical, emotional and moral aspects) can develop. The resulting problems are many, including loss of respect, family strains (if not breakup), wasted income and loss of work. Are not God’s standards regarding the use of alcohol a protection in this area?
16. God’s standards have provided what economic help for Jehovah’s Witnesses?
16 In economic matters, too, God’s standards have proved to be practical. He urges Christians to be honest and to work hard. (Ephesians 4:28; Colossians 3:23; compare Luke 16:10-12.) Reports from around the earth show that many of Jehovah’s Witnesses have kept their jobs when others were laid off, or have even been promoted because of being honest and diligent. Do you know of examples of this? Of course, if a person is employed he has less difficulty during hard times. Financial benefits come also from a person’s avoiding unscriptural habits and addictions. More information on this is found in the chapter “Money Problems—What Help?” of the book Happiness—How to Find It.a No doubt you can think of other examples of the economic practicality of God’s standards.
17. What direction does God give about disfellowshipping, and why is this wise?
17 Jehovah’s standards with respect to the Christian congregation also prove wise and helpful. For instance, God directs that a Christian who practices sin and will not repent is to be expelled from the congregation. Others are “to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.” While according to some persons’ standards this might seem unloving, God knows better. It lovingly protects the clean congregation, for “a little leaven ferments the whole lump.” (1 Corinthians 5:11, 6) A comment by Dr. A. L. McGinnis, author of The Friendship Factor, illustrates the wisdom of what God says about not eating with disfellowshipped persons:
“One of the best ways to deepen a friendship is by eating together. There is something almost sacramental about breaking bread with another. Have you ever noticed, for instance, how difficult it is to have dinner with an enemy and remain enemies?”
18. How may God’s standard prove beneficial with regard to apostates?
18 Adhering to God’s standard also helps to prevent the spreading of false teachings and views. In the first century, Hymenaeus and Philetus turned apostate and tried to subvert the faith of others. God’s standard was: ‘Shun such empty speeches that violate what is holy.’ (2 Timothy 2:16-19) Christians holding to that standard would not have been interested in listening to apostates, nor in obtaining any poisonous writings that these might distribute “for the sake of dishonest gain.” Why finance their wickedness by buying their literature? (Titus 1:11) As loyal Christians let us hold to God’s standards, feeding our minds on what is true and righteous, and holding appreciatively and loyally to the channel from which we first learned Bible truth.—Compare 1 Timothy 4:16.
19. In what other area might Jehovah’s standards provide help?
19 God’s standards help Jehovah’s Witnesses in ever so many other ways. In marriage they encourage love, respect and unity at a time when moral laxity and calls for liberation are leading to high divorce rates. Jehovah’s standards help Christian children to accept parental direction, not being quick to rebel as is the case with many of their schoolmates. Rather than showing resentment for parental authority and leaving home early, youths who appreciate God’s standards are pleased to benefit from the Bible-based counsel and help that Christian parents can provide.—Colossians 3:18-21.
Obediently Accept Jehovah’s Standards
20-22. What do you need to bear in mind as respects God’s standards?
20 We could discuss numerous other ways in which God’s standards can help us. You may have in mind some specific points as to how they have helped you personally. Fine! Those are good and encouraging things to include in your conversation with other Christians.
21 All of us, though, must bear in mind that it is so very easy to be led away from God’s standards. But recall that Jehovah told the Israelites at Mount Sinai: “If you will strictly obey my voice and will indeed keep my covenant, then you will certainly become my special property out of all other peoples.” They enthusiastically responded: “All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do.” Yet how contrary was the course they took in following years!—Exodus 19:5, 8; Numbers 14:1-4, 10.
22 Let us therefore accept and hold to Jehovah’s standards! For truly the course of wisdom and happiness is to stick closely to the incomparable standards that Jehovah has provided to help us guide our lives.—Psalm 19:7-11.
a Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Do You Recall?
□ Material creation provides what evidence as to Jehovah’s being a source of standards?
□ Why should we look to Jehovah for moral standards?
□ What examples could you give to illustrate how Jehovah’s standards could help you?
□ How do you feel about applying God’s standards?
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AIDS—Epidemic of the 1980’s
“Almost three-fourths of the people who first got the disease are dead. Some researchers believe that no one survives it.” The disease is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS.—Science 83, March.
One doctor observed: “It is like a machine. Once it starts, you know there is no stopping it. You can watch the immunity system deteriorating. You’ll just be finishing up with one infection, and another will pop up. The patient will have pneumonia, then herpes, then fungus in the brain, then a virus attacking the colon.” One of his patients was a semiprofessional boxer and tennis player who also lifted weights. This man “had a steady girlfriend and had had only one homosexual encounter six months before he was stricken.” What happened to him? “The man died six weeks after the disease was diagnosed, of a perforated intestine, at the age of 30.”
What is being done to learn the who, what, when and where of AIDS? The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) is located in Atlanta, Georgia. On February 13, 1983, a leading Atlanta newspaper reported: “Never has the CDC assigned more workers—about 100 so far—for so long to a public health problem. The group’s work is one of the most sustained, intense medical detective efforts in history . . . With the idea that they are looking for a virus—and not even that is certain—the CDC scientists are trying to grow the germ in animals or test tubes.” But since AIDS may have an incubation period of from six months to two years, tests run now may not reveal anything before 1985. At present, CDC virologists and microbiologists “feel they are no closer to discovering the agent [causing AIDS] than when they started their search more than a year ago.”
In January the CDC held a conference to discuss AIDS. As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. D. Armstrong of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center told the conference: “I have absolutely no doubt that AIDS is transmitted by sex and blood products.” Science 83 expressed the general view: “Scientists think it is passed by ‘intimate contact’—shared drug needles, for example, or sexual intercourse. Which points to something carried by the bloodstream. Which has a lot of health officials worried about the millions of people who give and receive blood.”
Currently there are no tests to detect persons with AIDS, so blood banks cannot determine which donors have the disease. It has been suggested that donations not be accepted from high-risk groups, particularly homosexuals. But “gays” have reacted with cries of discrimination and violated rights. (Who worries about the rights of the persons given such blood?) Furthermore, a representative of the National Gay Task Force told the CDC meeting: “Many gays don’t self-identify as such and won’t respond to the questionnaire.” Similar protests were heard in South Africa when screening was suggested after the death of two male crew members of South African Airways.
The latest evidence is that women who have had sexual relations with men having AIDS can contract the disease. Another new group of victims are children. Some infants evidently became victims after receiving blood transfusions and fractions given to treat an Rh problem after birth. Other babies may have contracted it in the womb or picked it up from intimate contact with a parent or other AIDS victim.
Since the number of reported cases has been doubling every six months, we surely will be hearing much more about this horrible epidemic of the 1980’s.—Galatians 6:7, 8.
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Creation, from the very small to the extremely large, testifies to Jehovah’s ability in providing standards