Make Your Life Successful!
1. (a) How do many youths in the world view success? (b) How does the Bible describe a successful person?
SUCCESS—what does that word mean to you? “My most important goal is to be a business success,” said a young man. A young woman said: “My main dream is to have a happy family.” But says another young woman: “My dream is just to have a nice condo, a nice car . . . I’m out for myself.” The problem is that neither money, nor family, nor even a lucrative career is the measure of true success. At Psalm 1:1-3, we read: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked ones . . . His delight is in the law of Jehovah . . . Everything he does will succeed.”
2. Where is real success found, and what is the only way to attain it?
2 Here the Bible promises something no human can offer—genuine success! But it is not talking about financial gain. The Bible itself warns: “The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things.” (1 Timothy 6:10) Real success is found in pleasing God—including following the law of Jehovah. Only this can bring real satisfaction and genuine happiness! Perhaps the idea of being under Jehovah’s law and being told what to do does not sound appealing. Yet, Jesus said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matthew 5:3) Whether you realize it or not, you were created with spiritual needs—including a deep-seated need to know God and to understand his purposes. Therefore, you can experience true happiness only if you fill those needs and follow “the law of Jehovah.”
Why We Need God’s Laws
3. Why should we be happy to let Jehovah ‘direct our steps’?
3 The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) This is true of all humans, young and old. Not only do we lack the wisdom, experience, and knowledge to direct our own steps; we simply do not have the right to do so. At Revelation 4:11, the Bible says: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.” As our Creator, Jehovah is “the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9) As such, he knows better than anyone else how we should use our lives. So he made laws, not to rob us of enjoyment, but to help us benefit ourselves. (Isaiah 48:17) Ignore God’s law, and you doom yourself to failure.
4. Why do so many young ones ruin their lives?
4 For example, have you ever wondered why so many young people ruin their lives through drugs, promiscuity, and other vices? Psalm 36:1, 2 explains: “The utterance of transgression to the wicked one is in the midst of his heart; there is no dread of God in front of his eyes. For he has acted too smoothly to himself in his own eyes to find out his error so as to hate it.” Because they lack a healthy “dread of God,” many young ones fool themselves into believing that there are no consequences to risky behavior. Eventually, though, they have to face up to this unchanging principle: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit.”—Galatians 6:7, 8.
‘Counting the Days’
5, 6. (a) Why should youths ‘count their days,’ and what does it mean to do so? (b) What does it mean to ‘remember our Grand Creator’?
5 How can you make your life a success and “reap everlasting life”? Moses wrote: “The days of our years are seventy years; and if because of special mightiness they are eighty years . . . It must quickly pass by, and away we fly.” (Psalm 90:10) You may rarely, if ever, think about death. In fact, many youths behave as if they were indestructible. But Moses brings us face-to-face with the painful reality that life is short. There is not even a guarantee that we will live to be 70 or 80. “Time and unforeseen occurrence” can cut down even those who are young and healthy. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) How, then, will you use the precious life that you now enjoy? Moses prayed: “Show us just how to count our days in such a way that we may bring a heart of wisdom in.”—Psalm 90:12.
6 What does it mean to count your days? It does not mean that you should become obsessed with how long you might live. Moses was praying that Jehovah teach His people how to use their remaining days in a way that brings honor to Him. Are you counting the days of your life—viewing each day as a precious resource to be used to bring praise to God? The Bible gives young people this encouragement: “Remove vexation from your heart, and ward off calamity from your flesh; for youth and the prime of life are vanity. Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.” (Ecclesiastes 11:10–12:1) Remembering our Creator means more than just not forgetting that he exists. When the criminal implored Jesus, “Remember me when you get into your kingdom,” he wanted Jesus to do more than recall his name. He wanted Jesus to act, to resurrect him! (Luke 23:42; compare Genesis 40:14, 23; Job 14:13.) In a similar way, to remember Jehovah involves action, doing what pleases him. Can it be said that you are remembering Jehovah?
Avoid Envying Wrongdoers
7. Why do some youths choose to forget their Creator? Give an example.
7 Many young ones choose to forget Jehovah because they feel that being a Witness is too restrictive. A brother in Spain recalls how he felt as a teenager: “I was attracted to the world because the truth seemed difficult and rigid. It meant sitting, studying, going to meetings, putting on a tie, and those were not things I enjoyed doing.” Do you sometimes feel that you are missing out because you serve God? Perhaps it will surprise you to know that one of the writers of the Bible experienced those very feelings. Please open your Bible and read Psalm 73.
8. Why was Asaph “envious of the boasters”?
8 Let us examine this psalm in some detail. Ps 73 Verses 2 and 3 say: “As for me, my feet had almost turned aside, my steps had nearly been made to slip. For I became envious of the boasters, when I would see the very peace of wicked people.” According to the superscription, this psalm was written by Asaph. He was a Levite musician and a contemporary of King David. (1 Chronicles 25:1, 2; 2 Chronicles 29:30) Although he had the fine privilege of serving in God’s temple, he “became envious” of men who boasted about their lawlessness. Things appeared to go well for them; they apparently enjoyed peace and security. In fact, their seeming successes ‘exceeded the imaginations of their hearts.’ (Ps 73 Verses 5, 7) They would talk about their exploits “in an elevated style,” that is, in an arrogant manner. (Ps 73 Verse 8) ‘They would put their mouths in the heavens and their tongue would walk about in the earth,’ showing regard for no one—either in heaven or on earth.—Ps 73 Verse 9.
9. How might some Christian youths today come to feel like Asaph?
9 Perhaps the same can be said about your peers at school. You may hear them shamelessly boast of their sexual escapades, their wild parties, and their indulgence in alcohol and drugs. When you contrast their life of so-called pleasure with the narrow way you must walk as a Christian, you might sometimes feel “envious of the boasters.” (Matthew 7:13, 14) Asaph himself got to the point where he exclaimed: “Surely it is in vain that I have cleansed my heart and that I wash my hands in innocence itself. And I came to be plagued all day long.” (Ps 73 Verses 13, 14) Yes, he began to question the value of serving God and leading an upright life.
10, 11. (a) What caused Asaph to have a change of heart? (b) How are wrongdoers “on slippery ground”? Give an example.
10 Fortunately, Asaph did not stay in this state of despair for long. He quickly came to realize that the seeming peace of the wicked was nothing but an illusion—and a temporary one at that! He exclaimed: “Surely on slippery ground is where you place them. You have made them fall to ruins. O how they have become an object of astonishment as in a moment! How they have reached their end, have been brought to their finish through sudden terrors!” (Ps 73 Verses 18, 19) Many of your peers are likewise “on slippery ground.” Sooner or later their ungodly behavior will catch up with them, resulting perhaps in an unwanted pregnancy, a sexually transmitted disease, even imprisonment or death! Worse yet, they suffer alienation from God.—James 4:4.
11 A young Witness in Spain observed this truth firsthand. As a youth, she led a double life, being deeply involved with a group of godless youths. Before long, she fell in love with one of them—a drug addict. Though she abstained from using drugs herself, she purchased drugs for him. “I even helped him insert the needle,” she admits. Fortunately, this sister was brought to her senses and restored to spiritual health. But how shocked she was to learn some time later that her drug-using boyfriend had died of AIDS. Yes, just as the psalmist said, godless people are “on slippery ground.” Some may die unexpectedly as a result of their loose life-style. As for the rest, unless they change their ways, they will in the near future face “the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.”—2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8.
12. How did a youth in Japan come to see the folly of envying wrongdoers?
12 How foolish it is, then, to envy “those who do not know God”! Really, it is those who know Jehovah and who have the hope of living forever that are to be envied. A young brother in Japan came to that realization. As a youth, he too “wanted more freedom.” He explains: “I thought I was missing out on something. Then I realized what my life would be without the truth. I could see myself living 70 or 80 years and then dying. But Jehovah holds out the hope of everlasting life! Realizing this helped me to appreciate what I really had.” Even so, remaining faithful when surrounded by people who do not follow God’s laws is anything but easy. What are some things you can do to resist those pressures?
Watch Your Associations!
13, 14. Why is it important to be selective when it comes to associations?
13 Let us look again at the description of the successful man, recorded at Psalm 1:1-3: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked ones, and in the way of sinners has not stood, and in the seat of ridiculers has not sat. But his delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night. And he will certainly become like a tree planted by streams of water, that gives its own fruit in its season and the foliage of which does not wither, and everything he does will succeed.”
14 Notice first of all that your associations play a big part. Proverbs 13:20 says: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” This does not mean being cold, unfriendly, or rude to youths who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Bible urges us to love our neighbors and to “be peaceable with all men.” (Romans 12:18; Matthew 22:39) However, you may find yourself ‘walking in the counsel’ of those who do not follow Bible standards if you associate too closely with them.
The Benefits of Bible Reading
15. How can youths cultivate a longing for Bible reading?
15 The psalmist also observed that the successful man takes delight in reading God’s law “in an undertone day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2) Granted, the Bible is not light reading, and in it are “some things hard to understand.” (2 Peter 3:16) But Bible reading need not be drudgery. It is possible to “form a longing for the unadulterated milk” of God’s Word. (1 Peter 2:2) Try reading just a little each day. If there are points that you do not understand, do some research. Afterward, think about what you have read. (Psalm 77:11, 12) If you have trouble concentrating, try reading out loud “in an undertone.” In time, your love of Bible reading is sure to grow. One young sister in Brazil recalls: “Jehovah always seemed distant to me. But for some months now, I have been improving my personal study and Bible reading. Now I feel that my relationship with Jehovah is stronger. He is more real to me.”
16. How can we get more out of congregation meetings?
16 Attending congregation meetings is also vital to your spiritual growth. If you “pay attention to how you listen,” you can receive much encouragement. (Luke 8:18) Do you sometimes feel that the meetings are not very interesting? Well, ask yourself, ‘What do I do to make the meetings interesting? Do I pay attention? Do I prepare? Do I offer comments?’ After all, the Bible tells us to “consider one another to incite to love and fine works, . . . encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25) To do this you must participate! Of course, to participate you must study in advance. A young sister admits: “It really is easier to participate in the meetings when you prepare.”
Following God’s Way Leads to Success
17. How is a diligent reader of the Bible “like a tree planted by streams of water”?
17 The psalmist further describes the successful man as being “like a tree planted by streams of water.” The streams of water may have referred to irrigation ditches that were used to water trees in orchards. (Isaiah 44:4) Daily reading of the Bible is like being attached to such an unfailing source of sustenance and refreshment. (Jeremiah 17:8) You will daily receive the strength you need to bear up under trials and difficulties. Having learned Jehovah’s thinking, you will have the wisdom you need to make wise decisions.
18. What can ensure a young person’s success in serving Jehovah?
18 At times, serving Jehovah may seem difficult. But never feel that it is too difficult to handle. (Deuteronomy 30:11) The Bible promises you that ‘everything you do will succeed’ in the long run, as long as your main objective is to please Jehovah and make his heart rejoice! (Proverbs 27:11) And remember, you do not have to go it alone. You have the support of Jehovah and Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5) They know the pressures you face, and they will never abandon you. (Psalm 55:22) You also have the backing of “the whole association of brothers” and of your parents if they are God fearing. (1 Peter 2:17) With such backing, along with your determination and effort, you can enjoy a successful life not only now but eternally!
Questions for Review
□ What is real success?
□ Why do we need Jehovah to direct our steps?
□ How can youths ‘count their days’?
□ Why is it foolish to envy wrongdoers?
□ How can daily Bible reading and regular meeting attendance help youths enjoy a successful life?
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Because they lack a healthy “dread of God,” many youths engage in destructive behavior
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Youths often forget that their actions have consequences
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Cultivate a love of Bible reading
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You will enjoy the meetings more if you participate