The Joys of Walking in Integrity
“The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.”—PROVERBS 10:22.
1, 2. Why should we guard against being overly preoccupied with the future?
“A PREOCCUPATION with the future . . . prevents us from seeing the present as it is,” noted one American philosopher. This is true of children who are so preoccupied with the privileges of adulthood that they overlook the benefits of childhood until it is long gone.
2 Even Jehovah’s worshippers are not immune to this pattern of thinking. Consider what can happen. We long for the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring about a paradise on earth. We eagerly await a life free of sickness, old age, pain, and suffering. While it is good to be in expectation of such things, what if we become so preoccupied with future physical blessings that we are blind to our present-day spiritual blessings? What a shame that would be! We could easily become discouraged and feel ‘sick at heart because our expectations have been postponed’ beyond what we imagined. (Proverbs 13:12) Problems and difficulties in life might throw us into the trap of despondency or self-pity. Instead of coping with bad situations, we could develop a complaining attitude. All of this can be avoided by appreciatively meditating on our present blessings.
3. On what will we focus our attention in this article?
3 “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it,” states Proverbs 10:22. Is not the spiritually prosperous condition of the modern-day servants of Jehovah a blessing to rejoice over? Let us consider some aspects of our spiritual prosperity and see what they mean to us personally. Taking time to reflect on the favors that Jehovah has showered upon ‘the righteous one walking in his integrity’ will indeed strengthen our resolve to continue serving our heavenly Father joyfully.—Proverbs 20:7.
‘Blessings That Make Us Rich’ Now
4, 5. Which Bible teaching do you especially appreciate, and why?
4 An accurate knowledge of Bible teachings. The religions of Christendom generally claim to believe the Bible. However, they fail to agree on what it teaches. Even members of the same religious group often differ in their views of what the Scriptures really teach. How different their condition is from that of Jehovah’s servants! Regardless of our national, cultural, or ethnic background, we worship the God we know by name. He is not some mysterious triune god. (Deuteronomy 6:4; Psalm 83:18; Mark 12:29) We are also aware that the paramount issue of God’s universal sovereignty is due for settlement and that by maintaining our integrity to him, each one of us is personally involved in that issue. We know the truth about the dead and are free of the morbid fear of a God who is said to torment humans in hellfire or consign them to purgatory.—Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10.
5 Moreover, what a joy it is to know that we are not an accidental product of blind evolution! Rather, we are God’s creation, made in his own image. (Genesis 1:26; Malachi 2:10) “I shall laud you because in a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made,” sang the psalmist to his God. “Your works are wonderful, as my soul is very well aware.”—Psalm 139:14.
6, 7. What changes in your life or in the life of others you know have proved to be a blessing?
6 Release from detrimental habits and practices. Warnings about the dangers of smoking, excessive drinking, and sexual promiscuity abound in the media. For the most part, these warnings go unheeded. What happens, though, when a sincere person learns that the true God condemns such things and is saddened by those who practice them? Why, that person is moved to exclude such practices from his life! (Isaiah 63:10; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:30) While he does this primarily to please Jehovah God, he also receives additional benefits—better health and peace of mind.
7 Breaking bad habits is very difficult for many. Still, each year tens of thousands are doing so. They dedicate themselves to Jehovah and submit to water baptism, thus making it public that they have eliminated from their lives the practices that displease God. What an encouragement that is to all of us! Our determination to remain free from enslavement to sinful and hurtful conduct is reinforced.
8. What Bible-based counsel contributes to family happiness?
8 Happy family life. In numerous countries family life is faltering. Many marriages end in divorce, often leaving behind painfully scarred children. In some European countries, one-parent families make up close to 20 percent of all households. How has Jehovah helped us walk in the way of integrity in this regard? Please read Ephesians 5:22–6:4, and note the fine counsel that God’s Word gives to husbands, wives, and children. Applying what is stated there and elsewhere in the Scriptures certainly strengthens the marriage bond, helps parents to bring up children properly, and contributes to a happy family life. Is that not a blessing to rejoice over?
9, 10. How does our outlook for the future differ from that of the world?
9 Assurance that world problems will soon be solved. Despite scientific and technological know-how and the sincere efforts of certain leaders, serious problems of present-day life remain unsolved. Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, recently noted that “the list of challenges facing the world grows ever longer and the time to address them grows shorter.” He spoke of “dangers that transcend national boundaries like terrorism, environmental degradation and financial instability.” Schwab concluded: “Now, more than ever, the world is faced with realities that call for collective and decisive action.” As the 21st century moves forward, the overall outlook for mankind’s future remains bleak.
10 How gratifying to know that Jehovah has instituted an arrangement that is capable of solving all of mankind’s problems—the Messianic Kingdom of God! By means of it, the true God will ‘make wars to cease’ and bring about ‘abundant peace.’ (Psalm 46:9; 72:7) The anointed King, Jesus Christ, ‘will deliver the poor one, the afflicted one, and the lowly one from oppression and from violence.’ (Psalm 72:12-14) Under Kingdom rule, there will be no food shortage. (Psalm 72:16) Jehovah “will wipe out every tear from [our] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) The Kingdom has already been established in heaven and will shortly take the necessary action to affect every affair on the earth.—Daniel 2:44; Revelation 11:15.
11, 12. (a) Does pursuit of pleasure bring lasting happiness? Explain. (b) What brings true happiness?
11 Knowing what brings true happiness. What does bring true happiness? One psychologist said that happiness has three components—pleasure, engagement (involvement in such activities as work and family), and meaning (working toward a larger end or goal than self). Of the three, he listed pleasure as the least consequential and observed: “This is newsworthy because so many people build their lives around pursuing pleasure.” What is the Bible’s view in this regard?
12 King Solomon of ancient Israel stated: “I said, even I, in my heart: ‘Do come now, let me try you out with rejoicing. Also, see good.’ And, look! that too was vanity. I said to laughter: ‘Insanity!’ and to rejoicing: ‘What is this doing?’” (Ecclesiastes 2:1, 2) Scripturally, whatever happiness pleasure offers is at best temporary. What about involvement in work? We have the most meaningful work to get involved in—the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) By sharing with others the message of salvation outlined in the Bible, we engage in a work that can result in our own salvation and in that of those who listen to us. (1 Timothy 4:16) As “God’s fellow workers,” we experience that “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (1 Corinthians 3:9; Acts 20:35) This work adds meaning to our life and provides the Creator with an answer for his taunter, Satan the Devil. (Proverbs 27:11) Indeed, Jehovah has shown us that godly devotion brings genuine and lasting happiness.—1 Timothy 4:8.
13. (a) In what way is the Theocratic Ministry School a blessing for us to rejoice over? (b) How have you benefited from the Theocratic Ministry School?
13 An important and effective training program. Gerhard serves as an elder in a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Recalling his youth, he says: “As a young person, I had great problems speaking. When under pressure, I could scarcely articulate and would begin to stutter. I felt inferior and developed a complex. My parents arranged for me to take a speaking course, but their efforts were to no avail. My problem was psychological, not physical. There was, though, a wonderful provision from Jehovah—the Theocratic Ministry School. Enrolling in this school gave me renewed courage. I tried my best to practice what I learned. And it worked! I became freer, lost my complex, and became more courageous in the ministry. Now I even deliver public talks. I am truly grateful to Jehovah, who gave me a new life through this school.” Is not the way Jehovah trains us to do his work a reason to be joyful?
14, 15. In times of distress, what help is readily available? Illustrate.
14 A personal relationship with Jehovah and support from the united international brotherhood. Katrin, who lives in Germany, was greatly dismayed upon hearing reports of a severe earthquake and resultant tsunami in southeast Asia. Her daughter was visiting Thailand when the catastrophe hit. For 32 hours this mother did not know whether her daughter was alive or was among the casualties that mounted hour by hour. How relieved Katrin was finally to receive a telephone call that assured her of her daughter’s safety!
15 What helped Katrin during those hours of anxiety? She writes: “I spent almost all of this time in prayer to Jehovah. I noticed over and over again how much strength and peace of mind this gave me. Moreover, loving spiritual brothers visited me and stood by my side.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) How much worse her situation would have been if she had had to spend those agonizing hours without the benefit of prayer to Jehovah and the comfort of a loving spiritual brotherhood! Our intimate relationship with Jehovah and his Son along with our close association with the Christian brotherhood is a unique blessing, too precious to be taken for granted.
16. Give an experience that illustrates the value of the resurrection hope.
16 The hope of seeing dead loved ones again. (John 5:28, 29) A young man named Matthias was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Unaware of his blessings, however, he drifted away from the Christian congregation when he was a teenager. He now writes: “I never really had deep discussions with my father. Over the years, we had many arguments. Still, my father always wanted the best for me. He loved me dearly, something I failed to realize at the time. In 1996, as I sat at his bedside, holding his hand and crying bitterly, I told him how sorry I was for all that I had done and that I loved him so much. But he could not hear me. After a short illness, he slipped away in death. If I live to see my father in the resurrection, we will make up for the past. And he will surely be happy to hear that I now serve as an elder and that my wife and I are privileged to serve as pioneers.” What a blessing the resurrection hope is to us!
“He Adds No Pain With It”
17. What should meditating on Jehovah’s blessings do for us?
17 Concerning his heavenly Father, Jesus Christ said: “He makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) If Jehovah God bestows blessings upon even the unrighteous and the wicked, how much more so upon those who walk in the way of integrity! “Jehovah himself will not hold back anything good from those walking in faultlessness,” states Psalm 84:11. When we meditate on the special care and concern he has shown for those who love him, how our hearts swell with gratitude and joy!
18. (a) How can it be said that Jehovah adds no pain with his blessing? (b) Why do many of God’s loyal ones suffer?
18 “The blessing of Jehovah”—that is what has given spiritual prosperity to his people. And we are assured that “he adds no pain with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) Why, then, do tests and trials befall many of God’s loyal ones, causing them much pain and suffering? Difficulties and distress come our way for three main reasons. (1) Our own sinful inclination. (Genesis 6:5; 8:21; James 1:14, 15) (2) Satan and his demons. (Ephesians 6:11, 12) (3) The wicked world. (John 15:19) While Jehovah permits bad things to happen to us, he is not the originator of them. In fact, “every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the celestial lights.” (James 1:17) Jehovah’s blessings are without pain.
19. What awaits those who continue to walk in integrity?
19 Experiencing spiritual prosperity always involves drawing close to God. When we develop an intimate relationship with him, we ‘safely treasure up for ourselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that we may get a firm hold on the real life’—everlasting life. (1 Timothy 6:12, 17-19) In the future new world of God’s making, our spiritual riches will be coupled with physical blessings. The real life will then be the lot of all those who “keep listening to the voice of Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 28:2) With strengthened determination, let us joyfully continue walking in integrity.
What Did You Learn?
• Why is it unwise to be overly preoccupied with the future?
• What blessings do we enjoy now?
• Why do God’s faithful servants suffer?