“Draw Close to God, and He Will Draw Close to You”
Before and After—Murky Past, Bright Future
“THE word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword . . . and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) So said the apostle Paul about the penetrating power of God’s message. Its ability to reach the heart was especially evident during the first century C.E. Despite the unwholesome influence of the time, those who became Christians put on the new personality.—Romans 1:28, 29; Colossians 3:8-10.
The transforming power of God’s word, as recorded in the Bible, is no less apparent today. For example, consider the case of a tall, strong man named Richard. Being hot-tempered, Richard would fight at the slightest provocation. His life was marred by violence. Richard even joined a boxing club. He trained hard and became heavyweight boxing champion of Westphalia, Germany. Richard also drank heavily and often got into brawls. On one such occasion, someone was killed, and Richard almost ended up in prison.
What about Richard’s marriage? “Before Heike and I studied the Bible,” recalls Richard, “we each went our own way. Heike spent a lot of time with her girlfriends, while I enjoyed my hobbies—chiefly boxing, surfing, and diving.”
When Richard and Heike started studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Richard was overwhelmed by the thought of having to make seemingly impossible changes in order to conform his life to the high standards set out in God’s Word. As he came to know Jehovah God better, however, Richard developed a strong desire to please him. Richard realized that God does not approve of lovers of violence or of those who exploit it for entertainment. “Anyone loving violence [Jehovah’s] soul certainly hates,” Richard learned.—Psalm 11:5.
Moreover, the hope of living forever in a paradise on earth fascinated both Richard and Heike. They wanted to be there together! (Isaiah 65:21-23) The invitation “draw close to God, and he will draw close to you” deeply touched Richard. (James 4:8) He saw the value of heeding this inspired counsel: “Do not become envious of the man of violence, nor choose any of his ways. For the devious person is a detestable thing to Jehovah, but His intimacy is with the upright ones.”—Proverbs 3:31, 32.
Despite having a strong desire to change his ways, Richard realized that he could not do so in his own strength. He came to see the need to seek God’s help in prayer. He thus acted in harmony with Jesus’ words to His apostles: “Pray continually, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.”—Matthew 26:41.
After learning how God views violence and fits of anger, there was no doubt in Richard’s mind that boxing was an unacceptable sport. With help from Jehovah and encouragement from those who studied the Bible with him, Richard broke away from violence. He gave up boxing and brawling and decided to improve his family life. “Learning the truth from the Bible has helped me to stop and think before I act,” says Richard, who is now a mild-tempered overseer in one of the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He adds: “The principles of love and respect now guide me in my relationship with my wife and children. As a result, our family has drawn together.”
Misinformed people have at times accused Jehovah’s Witnesses of destroying families. However, examples of individuals such as Richard refute their claim. In reality, Bible truth can result in domestic stability and a bright future for those who have had a murky past.—Jeremiah 29:11.
[Blurb on page 9]
“The hope of a paradise earth gave me the motivation to change”
[Box on page 9]
Bible Principles at Work
The Bible can exert a powerful influence in people’s lives. Here are some Scriptural principles that have helped violent individuals to change:
“He that is slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and he that is controlling his spirit than the one capturing a city.” (Proverbs 16:32) Uncontrolled anger is a sign of weakness, not of strength.
“The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger.” (Proverbs 19:11) Having insight and understanding of a situation helps one see beneath the apparent reasons for confrontation and can prevent anger from flaring up.
‘Do not have companionship with anyone given to rage that you may not get familiar with his ways.’ (Proverbs 22:24, 25) Christians wisely avoid association with those who are prone to rage.