Gladden Jehovah’s Heart by Keeping Integrity!
“Both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah.”—ROMANS 14:8.
1, 2. (a) Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses determined to maintain their integrity to God? (b) But what questions arise?
HOW well those words of the apostle Paul express the sentiments of the only true integrity keepers of this 20th century! If we are privileged to live on and see the present wicked system crumble before our very eyes, how delighted we will be! But if we must meet death in God’s service, so be it. In either case, we are determined to be loyal witnesses of our God, Jehovah. We will maintain our integrity to him. Why? Because live or die, we do indeed belong to Jehovah!
2 What, though, is integrity? What demands does it make of us? And does our keeping integrity really make any difference to God?
Integrity and Its Demands
3. According to the Bible, keeping integrity means what?
3 In God’s Word, integrity denotes moral soundness and completeness, blamelessness and faultlessness. It means unswerving devotion to righteousness. In fact, integrity calls for unbreakable devotion to a person—to Jehovah God. Yes, integrity keeping means continuing to do Jehovah’s sovereign will.
4. Who was the first integrity breaker, and what did he induce the original human pair to do?
4 The first integrity breaker was the spirit creature who led the original human pair into a rebellious course against their Creator. Adam and Eve had the opportunity to manifest their integrity to Jehovah by respecting God’s restriction regarding the tree of knowledge. But under the pressure of the Adversary’s appeal to selfishness, they gave way to disobedience. Their hearts did not prove faultless in Jehovah’s regulations, and they did not maintain integrity to him.—Psalm 119:1, 80.
5. Satan’s rebellion raised what issue, and how is this proved by upright Job’s experiences?
5 Satan’s rebellion raised the issue of the rightness of God’s sovereignty over all His creatures, of Jehovah’s right to require their full obedience. Thus the question of man’s integrity to God’s sovereign will became a vital part of the issue of universal sovereignty. Proof of this is seen in the case of Jehovah’s servant Job, a blameless, upright, and God-fearing man. (Job 1:1) Job did not deviate from God’s proper way. Sexual immorality had no hold on him. He was never unjust in judgment or ungenerous toward the widow, the fatherless, or the poor. Instead of making material riches his confidence, Job trusted implicitly in the Most High. (Job 31:7-40) Yet the Devil alleged that Job served God for selfish reasons. Although Jehovah permitted Satan to divest Job of his possessions and even of his children, the Archdeceiver failed to crack that upright man’s integrity. Even painful disease and disparaging criticism from false comforters were unavailing, for Job proved to be an integrity keeper.—Job 1:6–2:13; 27:5, 6; 31:6; 42:8, 9.
6. What is required of those who “belong to Jehovah”?
6 Humans thus have the inestimable privilege of contributing to the sanctification of God’s holy name. How? By maintaining integrity, showing that they loyally support Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. What, then, is required of those who “belong to Jehovah”? We must serve God with complete devotion, never forgetting that Jehovah is “a God exacting exclusive devotion.”—Exodus 20:5.
We Can Gladden Jehovah’s Heart
7, 8. (a) Since we are imperfect, how can we maintain our integrity to God? (b) If we are integrity keepers, how will Proverbs 27:11 apply to us?
7 Since all of us are imperfect, we are unable to measure up perfectly to God’s righteous standards. Hence, our integrity keeping does not mean perfection of action or speech. Rather, it means wholeheartedness, or completeness of heart devotion. Thus, although David committed serious sins, he ‘walked with integrity of heart.’ (1 Kings 9:4) Accepting reproof, he corrected his way and thereby proved that his heart was filled with genuine love for Jehovah. (Psalm 26:1-12) We, too, can display such love, acting ‘according to integrity of heart.’—Psalm 78:72.
8 An integrity-keeping course is possible because we have deep faith in Jehovah God and trust implicitly in him and in his power to save us. (Psalm 25:21; 41:12) It is not easy to maintain our integrity, for Satan the Devil—Jehovah’s greatest enemy, and ours—is blinding the minds of unbelievers and is “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4) But, like Job, we can be integrity keepers. Imperfect though we are, we can thus gladden the heart of our loving God. As Proverbs 27:11 puts it: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.” Happily, as Jehovah’s loyal servants, we can provide him with an effective reply to his taunting Adversary. So our integrity keeping really does make a difference. As those who maintain integrity, we can gladden the heart of Jehovah. And what joy this brings us!
A Long Line of Integrity Keepers
9. Who were some of the great “cloud” of integrity-keeping witnesses of Jehovah, and what tests of integrity did they endure?
9 Actually, Jehovah’s Witnesses today are part of a long line of integrity keepers. It stretches all the way back to faithful Abel and includes such men and women as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel. The integrity keepers Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refused to worship the image set up by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and were cast into a superheated furnace, apparently were alluded to as those who “stayed the force of fire.” Other pre-Christian witnesses of Jehovah were ‘mocked, beaten, imprisoned, stoned, tried, sawn asunder, slaughtered with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, while suffering tribulation and ill-treatment.’ Surely we agree with Paul, who declared: “The world was not worthy of them.” How thrilling it is to be surrounded by such a great “cloud” of integrity-keeping witnesses!—Hebrews 11:1–12:1; see also Daniel, chapter 3.
10. How did the apostle Paul gladden Jehovah’s heart?
10 With God-given courage and strength, the apostle Paul endured imprisonment, beatings, shipwreck, many dangers, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness, and “near-deaths often.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) He underwent such hardships for the sake of the ministry, and in all of this he gladdened Jehovah’s heart as a valiant integrity keeper. So can we.
11. As to integrity, what example did Jesus Christ set?
11 Outstanding among integrity keepers is “the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith,” Jesus Christ. When tempted in the wilderness by the Devil, Jesus clung to his integrity, finally declaring: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’” Clearly powerless in the face of such God-given determination, the Devil left Jesus. That was not Satan’s last assault upon Jesus, but the Devil was powerless to break the integrity of God’s Son. ‘For the joy set before him Jesus endured a torture stake,’ never becoming an integrity breaker. May we ever follow his sterling example and gladden Jehovah’s heart as integrity keepers.—Hebrews 12:2, 3; Matthew 4:1-11.
12, 13. What tests of integrity were early Christians able to face successfully?
12 Jesus told his disciples: “You will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name.” (Matthew 10:22) How true that has always been for genuine Christians! In his book Christianity and the Roman Government, E. G. Hardy wrote: “It appears conclusively, both from the letter of Pliny and the rescript of Trajan, that the Christians could be punished for the nomen [name] alone, or the mere profession of Christianity, apart from the specification or proof of definite crimes.”
13 What tests of integrity those early Christians were able to face successfully with God-given strength! For example, concerning them it has been stated: “Sometimes they were tortured and thrown to hungry wild beasts in the arena to amuse the populace.” Despite such sufferings, however, it has been noted that “persecution served only to strengthen their faith and to bring many converts to their cause.” (From the Old World to the New, by Eugene A. Colligan and Maxwell F. Littwin, 1932, pages 90-1) It is the same with Jehovah’s integrity-keeping witnesses in this 20th century. The Devil’s agents have proved to be no match for them.
14, 15. Who are the “two witnesses,” and what did they experience in 1918 and 1919?
14 Consider what Jehovah’s anointed servants, the figurative “two witnesses,” experienced in 1918 and 1919, when their enemies ‘framed trouble by decree.’ (Revelation 11:3, 7-10; Psalm 94:20) J. F. Rutherford (then president of the Watch Tower Society) and seven associates were unjustly imprisoned. At that time, the “two witnesses” were killed as far as their prophesying was concerned, and their foes rejoiced. In his book Preachers Present Arms, Ray H. Abrams observed: “An analysis of the whole case [involving Rutherford and his associates] leads to the conclusion that the churches and the clergy were originally behind the movement to stamp out [the Bible Students]. . . . When the news of the twenty-year sentences reached the editors of the religious press, practically every one of these publications, great and small, rejoiced over the event. I have been unable to discover any words of sympathy in any of the orthodox religious journals.”
15 In time, however, the eight imprisoned Bible Students were released and completely exonerated, much to the chagrin of Satan and his dupes. Enlivened by God’s spirit, the “two witnesses,” that little army of anointed ones, stood upon their feet once again as Kingdom proclaimers. (Revelation 11:11) And Jehovah’s enemies have been fighting a losing battle against such integrity keepers ever since.
16. How did one young integrity keeper express himself?
16 To illustrate: Consider the courageous words one young man penned to his family as he awaited death at the hands of Nazi persecutors. He wrote: “It is already past midnight. I still have time to change my mind. Ah! could I be happy again in this world after I had denied our Lord? Surely not! But now you have the assurance that I leave this world in happiness and peace.” Does that sound like a weak, cowardly, whipped integrity breaker? Of course not!
17. Arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Soviet Union had what effect on their Kingdom-preaching activities?
17 Attempts to break the integrity of Jehovah’s servants have continued. For example, in his book Religion in the Soviet Union, journalist Walter Kolarz told of mass arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses early in 1951 and stated: “The Witnesses themselves estimate that 7,000 persons altogether were deported, to the Urals, Siberia, the Far North (Vorkuta) and Kazakhstan.” He added: “This was not the end of the ‘Witnesses’ in Russia, but only the beginning of a new chapter in their proselytising activities. They even tried to propagate their faith when they stopped at stations on their way into exile. In deporting them the Soviet Government could have done nothing better for the dissemination of their faith. Out of their village isolation the ‘Witnesses’ were brought into a wider world, even if this was only the terrible world of the concentration and slave labour camps.” There Jehovah’s servants found many who joyfully accepted the heartening Kingdom message.—Compare Acts 11:19-21.
Like a Triumphant Army
18, 19. How is it possible to triumph as integrity keepers?
18 Persecution of God’s people continues to this day. So how is it possible for Jehovah’s Witnesses to triumph as integrity keepers? We can do so because we obey God’s Word, and we ‘have our perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.’ As loyal witnesses of Jehovah, we are ‘not fashioned after this system of things but have been transformed by making our minds over.’ We joyfully do what is pleasing to Jehovah, and he gives us victory over our foes, demon and human.—Hebrews 5:12-14; Romans 12:1, 2.
19 We who “belong to Jehovah” may be likened to a triumphant army. Of course, ours is spiritual warfare, and we “go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength.” We have on the complete suit of spiritual armor from God, and his holy spirit backs us up. That is why we are “able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-20; 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4) Yes, and that is why we will continue to triumph as integrity keepers.
20. What help and assurance do we have as we work to maintain our integrity?
20 We surely are an unusual military force. Why, among us even “the women telling the good news are a large army”! (Psalm 68:11) Although we face formidable foes, ‘there are many more with us than there are with them.’ (2 Kings 6:16) The angels are with us as we declare the good news to earth’s inhabitants. (Revelation 14:6) And as integrity keepers, we have the confidence that ‘no weapon formed against us will succeed.’—Isaiah 54:17.
21. Despite the persecution we experience, what continues?
21 Unquestionably, the battle lines have been drawn. The forces of Satan are determined to stop our witness work. Therefore, it remains for us to “go on waging the fine warfare.” (1 Timothy 1:18) With the glorified Jesus Christ as our Commander and Leader, let each one of us serve “as a fine soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:3, 4) Although we are buffeted on every side, we must—and will, by God’s undeserved kindness—stand firm as integrity keepers. Our faces are radiant as we see increase after increase. Greater and greater numbers of the ‘desirable things of the nations’ are coming in and filling Jehovah’s house with glory. (Haggai 2:7) Despite persecution, imprisonments, beatings, the banning of our work in various lands, and intense efforts to still our lips, the grand disciple-making work continues and gains momentum.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
22. As those belonging to Jehovah, what should we do?
22 As the volume of praise to Jehovah goes on increasing, this is a time of decision for everyone on earth. How privileged we are to spread the good news and teach those who are embracing true worship! Therefore, as the “great crowd” swells, may we carry on as valiant servants of the Most High God. (Revelation 7:9) ‘Live or die, we belong to Jehovah.’ So let us pursue down toward the goal of life, ever thankful for our grand privilege of gladdening Jehovah’s heart by keeping integrity!
Can You Answer?
□ What is integrity?
□ What demands does integrity keeping place upon Jehovah’s people?
□ How can it be shown that our keeping integrity makes a difference to God?
□ In what ways did some in the past show themselves to be integrity keepers?
□ How is it possible for Jehovah’s Witnesses to be integrity keepers today?
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Jehovah’s servants today are part of a long line of his integrity-keeping witnesses. Are you among them?