Jehovah Is Not to Blame
“As a father shows mercy to his sons, Jehovah has shown mercy to those fearing him. For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.”—PSALM 103:13, 14.
1, 2. Who was Abraham, and how did his nephew Lot come to dwell in the wicked city of Sodom?
JEHOVAH is not responsible for hardships we may experience because of our mistakes. In this regard consider what happened some 3,900 years ago. God’s friend Abraham (Abram) and his nephew Lot had become very prosperous. (James 2:23) In fact, their possessions and livestock were so plentiful that ‘the land did not allow them to dwell together.’ Moreover, a quarrel arose between the herders of the two men. (Genesis 13:5-7) What could be done about this?
2 To end the quarreling, Abraham suggested that a separation take place, and he let Lot have the first choice. Though Abraham was the older man and it would have been appropriate for his nephew to let him take the best area, Lot selected the choicest region—the whole well-watered district of the Lower Jordan. Outward appearances were deceptive, for nearby were the morally decadent cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot and his family eventually moved into Sodom, and this put them in spiritual peril. Furthermore, they were taken captive when King Chedorlaomer and his allies defeated the ruler of Sodom. Abraham and his men rescued them, but Lot and his family returned to Sodom.—Genesis 13:8-13; 14:4-16.
3, 4. What happened to Lot and members of his family when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah?
3 Because of the sexual perversion and moral degradation of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jehovah decided to destroy those cities. He mercifully sent two angels who led Lot, his wife, and their two daughters out of Sodom. They were not to look back, but Lot’s wife did so, perhaps longing for the material things left behind. At that, she became a pillar of salt.—Genesis 19:1-26.
4 What losses Lot and his daughters sustained! The girls had to leave behind men they were going to marry. Lot was now without his wife and his material wealth. In fact, he was eventually reduced to living in a cave with his daughters. (Genesis 19:30-38) What had looked so good to him had turned out to be just the opposite. Even though he had obviously made some serious mistakes, he was later called “righteous Lot.” (2 Peter 2:7, 8) And surely Jehovah God was not to blame for Lot’s mistakes.
“Mistakes—Who Can Discern?”
5. How did David feel about mistakes and presumptuousness?
5 Being imperfect and sinful, all of us make mistakes. (Romans 5:12; James 3:2) Like Lot, we may be deceived by outward appearances and may err in judgment. Thus, the psalmist David pleaded: “Mistakes—who can discern? From concealed sins pronounce me innocent. Also from presumptuous acts hold your servant back; do not let them dominate me. In that case I shall be complete, and I shall have remained innocent from much transgression.” (Psalm 19:12, 13) David knew that he might commit sins of which he was not even aware. Hence, he asked to be forgiven the transgressions that might have been hidden even from him. When he made a serious mistake because his imperfect flesh prodded him to take a wrong course, he greatly desired Jehovah’s help. He wanted God to restrain him from presumptuous deeds. David did not want presumptuousness to become his dominant attitude. Rather, he desired to be complete in his devotion to Jehovah God.
6. What comfort can be drawn from Psalm 103:10-14?
6 As Jehovah’s present-day dedicated servants, we also are imperfect and therefore make mistakes. Like Lot, for instance, we may make a bad choice as to our place of residence. Perhaps we pass up an opportunity to expand our sacred service to God. Though Jehovah sees such mistakes, he knows those who have a heart inclined toward righteousness. Even if we sin seriously but are repentant, Jehovah provides forgiveness and help and continues to view us as godly individuals. “He has not done to us even according to our sins; nor according to our errors has he brought upon us what we deserve,” declared David. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, his loving-kindness is superior toward those fearing him. As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, so far off from us he has put our transgressions. As a father shows mercy to his sons, Jehovah has shown mercy to those fearing him. For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:10-14) Our merciful heavenly Father may also enable us to make amends for our error or may grant us another opportunity to expand our sacred service, to his praise.
The Error of Blaming God
7. Why do we suffer adversities?
7 When things go wrong, it is a human tendency to blame someone or something for what has happened. Some even blame God. But Jehovah does not bring such hardships on people. He does good, not harmful things. Why, “he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous”! (Matthew 5:45) A foremost reason why we suffer adversities is that we live in a world that functions on selfish principles and that rests in the power of Satan the Devil.—1 John 5:19.
8. What did Adam do when things did not go right for him?
8 Blaming Jehovah God for the hardships that our mistakes bring upon us is unwise and dangerous. Doing so can even cost us our very life. The first man, Adam, should have given God credit for all the good things he received. Yes, Adam should have been deeply grateful to Jehovah for life itself and for the blessings he enjoyed in a parklike home, the garden of Eden. (Genesis 2:7-9) What did Adam do when things did not go right because he disobeyed Jehovah and ate the forbidden fruit? Adam complained to God: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree and so I ate.” (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-12) Surely, we should not blame Jehovah, as Adam did.
9. (a) If we encounter hardships because of our unwise actions, from what can we draw comfort? (b) According to Proverbs 19:3, what do some do when they bring difficulties upon themselves?
9 If we encounter hardships because our actions are unwise, we can draw comfort from the knowledge that Jehovah understands our weaknesses better than we do and will deliver us from our plight if we give him exclusive devotion. We should appreciate the divine help we receive, never blaming God for the predicaments and difficulties we bring upon ourselves. In this regard a wise proverb states: “It is the foolishness of an earthling man that distorts his way, and so his heart becomes enraged against Jehovah himself.” (Proverbs 19:3) Another rendering says: “Some people ruin themselves by their own stupid actions and then blame the LORD.” (Today’s English Version) Still another translation states: “A man’s ignorance muddles his affairs and he flies out against Jehovah.”—Byington.
10. How did Adam’s foolishness ‘distort his way’?
10 In keeping with the principle of this proverb, Adam acted selfishly and his foolish thinking ‘distorted his way.’ His heart turned from Jehovah God, and he set out on his own selfish, independent course. Why, Adam became such an ingrate that he blamed his Creator and thus made himself an enemy of the Most High! Adam’s sin brought his own way and that of his family to ruin. What a warning there is in this! Those inclined to blame Jehovah for undesirable conditions might well ask themselves: Do I give God credit for the good things I enjoy? Am I thankful that I have life as one of his creations? Could it be that my own errors have brought hardship upon me? Do I merit Jehovah’s favor or help because of following his guidance, as set forth in his inspired Word, the Bible?
A Danger Even for God’s Servants
11. As regards God, of what were first-century Jewish religious leaders guilty?
11 The Jewish religious leaders of the first century C.E. claimed to serve God but neglected his word of truth and leaned on their own understanding. (Matthew 15:8, 9) Because Jesus Christ exposed their wrong thinking, they put him to death. Later, they displayed great rage against his disciples. (Acts 7:54-60) So distorted was the way of those men that they actually became enraged against Jehovah himself.—Compare Acts 5:34, 38, 39.
12. What example shows that even some individuals associated with the Christian congregation try to blame Jehovah for their difficulties?
12 Even some individuals in the Christian congregation have developed dangerous thinking, trying to hold God responsible for the difficulties they have encountered. For example, appointed elders in a certain congregation found it necessary to give one young married woman kind but firm Scriptural counsel against associating with a worldly man. During one discussion, she blamed God for not helping her to withstand the temptation that her continued association with the man brought upon her. She actually said that she was mad at God! Scriptural reasoning and repeated efforts to help her were of no avail, and an immoral course later led to her expulsion from the Christian congregation.
13. Why avoid a complaining attitude?
13 A complaining spirit can lead a person to blame Jehovah. “Ungodly men” who slipped into the first-century congregation had a bad spirit of that kind, and it was accompanied by other types of spiritually corrupt thinking. As the disciple Jude said, these men were “turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude also stated: “These men are murmurers, complainers about their lot in life.” (Jude 3, 4, 16) Loyal servants of Jehovah will wisely pray that they have an appreciative spirit, not a complaining attitude that might eventually embitter them to the point that they lose faith in God and jeopardize their relationship with him.
14. How might one react if offended by a fellow Christian, but why would this not be the proper course?
14 You may feel that this would not happen to you. Yet, things that go wrong because of our mistakes or those of others might ultimately cause us to blame God. For instance, a person may be offended by what a fellow believer says or does. The offended individual—perhaps one who has served Jehovah loyally for many years—may then say: ‘If that person is in the congregation, I will not attend meetings.’ An individual might become so upset that he says in his heart: ‘If things like this go on, I do not want to be part of the congregation.’ But should a Christian have that attitude? If offended by another imperfect human, why take it out on an entire congregation of people acceptable to God and serving him loyally? Why should anyone who has made a dedication to Jehovah stop doing the divine will and thus take it out on God? How wise is it to let an individual or a set of circumstances destroy one’s good relationship with Jehovah? Surely, it would be foolish and sinful to stop worshiping Jehovah God for any reason.—James 4:17.
15, 16. Of what was Diotrephes guilty, but how did Gaius conduct himself?
15 Imagine that you were in the same congregation as the loving Christian Gaius. He was “doing a faithful work” in extending hospitality to visiting fellow worshipers—and strangers at that! But evidently in the same congregation, there was the proud man Diotrephes. He would accept nothing with respect from John, one of Jesus Christ’s apostles. In fact, Diotrephes even chattered about John with wicked words. The apostle said: “Not being content with these things, neither does [Diotrephes] himself receive the brothers with respect, and those who are wanting to receive them he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation.”—3 John 1, 5-10.
16 If John came to the congregation, he intended to call to remembrance what Diotrephes was doing. Meanwhile, how did Gaius and other hospitable Christians in that congregation react? There is no Scriptural indication that any of them said: ‘As long as Diotrephes is in the congregation, I do not want to be a part of it. You will not see me at the meetings.’ Doubtless Gaius and others like him stood firm. They let nothing cause them to stop doing the divine will, and they certainly did not become enraged against Jehovah. No, indeed, and they did not succumb to the crafty devices of Satan the Devil, who would have rejoiced if they had become unfaithful to Jehovah and had blamed God.—Ephesians 6:10-18.
Never Become Enraged Against Jehovah!
17. How should we act if some individual or situation offends or displeases us?
17 Even if some individual or situation in a congregation displeased or offended a servant of God, the one taking offense would really be distorting his own way if he stopped associating with Jehovah’s people. Such a person would not be putting his perceptive powers to proper use. (Hebrews 5:14) So be determined to face all adversities as an integrity keeper. Maintain loyalty to Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, and the Christian congregation. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) The truth that leads to eternal life can be found nowhere else.
18. Though we do not always understand divine dealings, of what can we be sure regarding Jehovah God?
18 Remember, too, that Jehovah never tries anyone with evil things. (James 1:13) God, who is the very epitome of love, does good, especially for those loving him. (1 John 4:8) Though we do not always understand divine dealings, we can be confident that Jehovah God will never fail to do what is best for his servants. As Peter said: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; while you throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6, 7) Yes, Jehovah really cares for his people.—Psalm 94:14.
19, 20. How should we act, even if our trials sometimes depress us?
19 Therefore, do not let anything or anybody stumble you. As the psalmist so well said, “abundant peace belongs to those loving [Jehovah God’s] law, and for them there is no stumbling block.” (Psalm 119:165) All of us experience trials, and these may cause us to become somewhat depressed and disheartened at times. But never let bitterness develop in your heart, especially against Jehovah. (Proverbs 4:23) With his help and on a Scriptural basis, handle the problems you can solve and endure those that persist.—Matthew 18:15-17; Ephesians 4:26, 27.
20 Never let your emotions cause you to react foolishly and thus distort your way. Speak and act in a manner that will make God’s heart rejoice. (Proverbs 27:11) Call upon Jehovah in fervent prayer, knowing that he really cares for you as one of his servants and will give you the understanding needed to remain on the path of life with his people. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) Above all, do not become enraged against God. When things go wrong, always remember that Jehovah is not to blame.
How Would You Answer?
□ What mistake did Lot make, but how did God view him?
□ How did David feel about mistakes and presumptuousness?
□ When things go wrong, why should we not blame God?
□ What will help us to avoid becoming enraged against Jehovah?
[Picture on page 15]
When separating from Abraham, Lot made a poor choice as to his place of residence