“Your Reminders Are What I Am Fond Of”
“All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction.”—ROMANS 15:4.
1. How does Jehovah give us reminders, and why do we need them?
JEHOVAH provides his people with reminders in order to help them deal with the pressures of these difficult times. Some of these reminders come to the fore during personal Bible reading, while others take the form of information or comments presented at Christian meetings. Much of what we read or hear on these occasions is not new to us. Likely, we have considered similar information before. Since we are inclined to forget, though, we continually need to refresh our memories with regard to Jehovah’s purposes, laws, and instructions. We should appreciate God’s reminders. They renew our spirit by helping us to keep in focus the reasons that motivated us to adopt a godly life course. Thus, the psalmist sang to Jehovah: “Your reminders are what I am fond of.”—Psalm 119:24.
2, 3. (a) Why did Jehovah preserve down to our day the life stories of Bible characters? (b) Which episodes from the Scriptures will be considered in this article?
2 Though penned many centuries ago, God’s Word is dynamic. (Hebrews 4:12) It presents us with true accounts of the lives of Bible characters. While customs and points of view have changed much since Bible times, the challenges we have to face are often similar to those faced back then. Many stories preserved for our benefit in the Bible offer us touching examples of people who loved Jehovah and served him faithfully despite adverse circumstances. Other accounts call attention to the kind of conduct that God hates. Jehovah had all these personal histories, good and bad, included in the Bible as reminders. It is as the apostle Paul wrote: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.”—Romans 15:4.
3 Let us focus on three episodes from the Scriptures: the account of David’s dealings with Saul, that of Ananias and Sapphira, and that of Joseph’s conduct with Potiphar’s wife. Each of these teaches us valuable lessons.
Loyalty to God’s Arrangements
4, 5. (a) What situation existed involving King Saul and David? (b) How did David react to Saul’s animosity?
4 King Saul proved unfaithful to Jehovah and unworthy to rule over His people. So God rejected him and directed the prophet Samuel to anoint David as the future king of Israel. When David showed prowess as a warrior and received acclaim from the people, Saul began to view David as a rival. Saul repeatedly tried to do away with him. David survived on each occasion because Jehovah was with him.—1 Samuel 18:6-12, 25; 19:10, 11.
5 For years, David was forced to live as a fugitive. When the opportunity arose to kill Saul, David’s companions urged him to do so, saying that Jehovah was giving David’s enemy into his hand. Yet, David refused. His loyalty to Jehovah and his respect for Saul’s position as anointed king of God’s people moved him to act this way. Jehovah had appointed Saul as king of Israel, had he not? Jehovah would also remove him when he saw fit to do so. David reasoned that it was not his business to intervene. After doing all that he could under the circumstances to soften Saul’s antagonism toward him, David concluded: “Jehovah himself will deal him a blow; or his day will come and he will have to die, or down into battle he will go, and he will certainly be swept away. It is unthinkable, on my part, from Jehovah’s standpoint, to thrust my hand out against the anointed of Jehovah!”—1 Samuel 24:3-15; 26:7-20.
6. Why is the story of David and Saul of interest to us?
6 This account contains a vital lesson. Have you ever found yourself asking why certain problems arise in the Christian congregation? It could be that an individual is acting in a way that is not appropriate. His conduct may not amount to gross wrongdoing, but it disturbs you. How should you react? Out of Christian interest in that person and out of loyalty to Jehovah, you may choose to speak with him in a kindly way, with the aim of winning him over. What, though, if the problem persists? After you have done all that you reasonably can, you may want to leave the matter in Jehovah’s hands. That is what David did.
7. In imitation of David, how should we react if we experience injustice or prejudice?
7 Or you might be facing problems of social injustice or religious prejudice. Possibly there is little or nothing you can do about them at this time. Such a situation can be very difficult to endure, but David’s reaction to injustice teaches us a lesson. The psalms David wrote are a poignant record not only of his heartfelt prayers for God to keep him out of Saul’s clutches but also of his loyalty to Jehovah and his concern for the glorification of God’s name. (Psalm 18:1-6, 25-27, 30-32, 48-50; 57:1-11) David remained loyal to Jehovah even though Saul continued to act in an unjust way for years. We too should remain faithful to Jehovah and to his organization regardless of injustices we suffer and regardless of what others do. We can rest assured that Jehovah is fully aware of the situation.—Psalm 86:2.
8. How did Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mozambique react when their loyalty to Jehovah was put to the test?
8 Christians in Mozambique provide a modern-day example of some who loyally stuck to Jehovah in a time of testing. In 1984 their villages were repeatedly raided by armed members of a resistance movement, who robbed, burned houses, and killed. There seemed little that these true Christians could do to defend themselves. The inhabitants of the area were subjected to efforts to recruit them into a militarized movement or to force them to support it in other ways. Jehovah’s Witnesses considered doing so to be incompatible with their position of Christian neutrality. Their refusal was met with rage. As many as 30 Witnesses were killed in that turbulent period, but not even the threat of death could break the loyalty of God’s people.a Like David, they endured injustices but eventually came off victorious.
A Warning Reminder
9, 10. (a) How can we benefit from certain Scriptural examples? (b) What was wrong with Ananias and Sapphira’s actions?
9 Some of the individuals mentioned in the Scriptures provide warning reminders about conduct to be avoided. Indeed, the Bible contains many accounts of people, even among God’s servants, who did wrong and suffered the consequences. (1 Corinthians 10:11) One such account is that of Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple who were members of the first-century Christian congregation in Jerusalem.
10 After Pentecost 33 C.E., the need arose to provide materially for new believers who remained in Jerusalem to benefit from association with the apostles. Some members of the congregation sold property to ensure that no one was in need. (Acts 2:41-45) Ananias and Sapphira sold a field and brought only part of the proceeds to the apostles, claiming that their gift represented all the funds received from the sale. Granted, Ananias and Sapphira were entitled to give as much or as little as they wanted, but their motive was bad, and their actions were dishonest. They wanted to make a good impression and appear to be doing more than they actually were. The apostle Peter, under the inspiration of holy spirit, unmasked their dishonesty and hypocrisy, and Jehovah struck them dead.—Acts 5:1-10.
11, 12. (a) What are some reminders about honesty? (b) What benefits come from being honest?
11 If we are ever tempted to distort the truth in an attempt to make people think well of us, may the story of Ananias and Sapphira stand as a sober reminder. We might be able to deceive fellow humans, but we cannot fool Jehovah. (Hebrews 4:13) Time and again the Scriptures exhort us to be honest with one another, for liars will have no place in an earth swept clean of unrighteousness. (Proverbs 14:2; Revelation 21:8; 22:15) The reason for that should be clear. The promoter of all untruth is none other than Satan the Devil.—John 8:44.
12 Making honesty our way of life brings numerous benefits. Among them are a clean conscience and the satisfaction of being trusted by others. In many cases, because they were honest, Christians have obtained employment or have kept their jobs. The most important benefit, though, is that honesty wins us the friendship of Almighty God.—Psalm 15:1, 2.
13. In what situation did Joseph find himself, and how did he react?
13 Joseph, a son of the patriarch Jacob, was sold into slavery at the age of 17. He eventually found himself in the household of Potiphar, an Egyptian court official, where Joseph caught the attention of his master’s wife. She desired to have sexual intercourse with Joseph, who was a handsome young man, and day after day she kept urging him: “Lie down with me.” Joseph was far from his family in a land where nobody knew him. He may well have been able to have relations with this woman without other people being aware of it. Yet, when Potiphar’s wife finally grabbed hold of him, Joseph fled.—Genesis 37:2, 18-28; 39:1-12.
14, 15. (a) Why is Joseph’s story of interest to us? (b) Why was one Christian woman grateful that she heeded God’s reminders?
14 Joseph was raised in a God-fearing family, and he understood that sexual relations between people who are not husband and wife are wrong. “How could I commit this great badness and actually sin against God?” he asked. His conclusion was likely guided by knowledge of God’s standard for humans as expressed in Eden, that of monogamy. (Genesis 2:24) God’s people today can benefit from reflecting on the way Joseph reacted to that situation. In some areas, attitudes toward sexual relations are so casual that youngsters who refuse to get involved in immorality are derided by their peers. Extramarital relations among adults are common. Hence, Joseph’s story is a timely reminder for us. God’s standard still is that fornication and adultery are sins. (Hebrews 13:4) Many who have succumbed to pressure to engage in illicit sex agree that there is compelling reason not to do so. Among the undesired results may be a sense of degradation, a troubled conscience, jealousies, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease. Just as the Scriptures remind us, a person who practices fornication is “sinning against his own body.”—1 Corinthians 5:9-12; 6:18; Proverbs 6:23-29, 32.
15 Jenny,b a single Witness of Jehovah, has reason to appreciate God’s reminders. At work, a handsome colleague made overtures to her. When Jenny did not reciprocate, he intensified his attentions. “I found myself struggling to remain chaste,” she admits, “because it is flattering when someone of the opposite sex takes notice of you.” Yet, she realized that the man was only trying to add her to the number of women with whom he had had relations. When she felt herself weakening in her resolve to resist, she supplicated Jehovah to help her remain faithful to Him. Jenny found that the things she learned as she did research in the Bible and Christian publications were like reminders that served as a shot in the arm to keep her guard up. One of those reminders was the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. “As long as I keep reminding myself about how much I love Jehovah,” she concludes, “I need not fear that I will commit this great badness and sin against him.”
Heed God’s Reminders!
16. How can we benefit from reviewing and meditating on the lives of individuals mentioned in the Bible?
16 We can all increase our appreciation for Jehovah’s standards by striving to understand why he had certain accounts preserved in the Scriptures for us. What do they teach? What qualities or tendencies exemplified by Bible characters do we need to imitate or to avoid? Literally hundreds of individuals make their appearance in the pages of God’s Word. All who love divine instruction would do well to cultivate an appetite for life-giving wisdom, including lessons we can learn from the examples that Jehovah has carefully preserved. This magazine has often featured articles about such individuals whose stories have something to teach us. Why not spend time reviewing these?
17. How do you feel about Jehovah’s reminders, and why?
17 How grateful we can be for the loving concern that Jehovah manifests for those who are striving to do his will! We are by no means perfect, just as the men and women mentioned in the Bible were not perfect. However, the written record of their actions is an invaluable resource for us. By heeding Jehovah’s reminders, we can avoid making costly mistakes, and we can imitate the fine examples of those who walked in the ways of righteousness. If we do so, we will be able to sing with the psalmist: “Happy are those observing [Jehovah’s] reminders; with all the heart they keep searching for him. My soul has kept your reminders, and I love them exceedingly.”—Psalm 119:2, 167.
b Name has been changed.
How Would You Answer?
• What can we learn from David’s attitude toward Saul?
• The account of Ananias and Sapphira teaches us what?
• Why is Joseph’s life story of particular interest today?
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Why did David refuse to allow Saul to be killed?
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What do we learn from the account of Ananias and Sapphira?
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What caused Joseph to reject immoral advances?