Why the Bible Is Practical for Our Day
“All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used . . . for guiding people’s lives.”—2 TIMOTHY 3:16, The Jerusalem Bible.
THROUGHOUT the centuries, the Bible has moved people of many cultures to change their way of life for the better. The scripture quoted above explains why the Bible is effective in this way—its wisdom comes from God. Though written by men, the Bible communicates God’s thoughts to us. The Bible explains: “Men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.”—2 Peter 1:21.
The Bible is a practical guide in at least two ways. First, it offers a realistic view of what constitutes a better way of life. Second, it has the power to motivate people to make the necessary changes to attain that better way of life. Let us consider these two aspects.
Insight Into Practical Goals
In the Bible, God made this promise: “I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go. I will give advice with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8) Note that God offers not only advice but also insight, which is the ability to see into or below the surface of a situation. Having insight to discern what goals are truly beneficial can protect us from wasting our life on worthless pursuits.
For example, many people make prominence or prosperity their goal in life. Self-help books abound on how to outsmart others to gain prestige or to become rich. The Bible, on the other hand, tells us: “The rivalry of one toward another . . . is vanity and a striving after the wind.” “A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver.” (Ecclesiastes 4:4; 5:10) Is that practical advice for us today?
To illustrate how practical the counsel from the Bible is, let us consider the case of Akinori, in Japan. Overcoming fierce competition, Akinori achieved his goal of graduating from a leading university and landing a job with a prestigious firm. Everything seemed to be going his way. Yet, his success did not lead to the happiness he had hoped for. Instead, stress and fatigue ruined his health. His friends at work were of little comfort to him. Depressed, he became an alcoholic and even considered taking his own life. Then he began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. What he learned changed his view of what is important in life. Soon, his stress-induced ailments began to disappear. Rather than being driven by pride and ambition, Akinori came to experience firsthand what the Bible proverb says: “A heart at peace gives life to the body.”—Proverbs 14:30, The Holy Bible—New International Version.
What do you consider to be the most practical goal in life? What achievement would make you genuinely happy? Would it be having a successful marriage? Or giving your children a fine start in life? Making many friends? Finding joy in living? All of these are worthwhile goals. In fact, the Bible encourages them, though not as our main purpose in life. With practical insight, the Bible points to a fundamental requirement for a satisfying way of life when it says: “Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) When we neglect to carry out this obligation, life becomes aimless, frustrating, and ultimately disappointing. On the other hand, the Bible assures us: “Happy is he that is trusting in Jehovah.”—Proverbs 16:20.
How the Bible Moves People to Change
“The word of God is alive and exerts power,” wrote the apostle Paul. Like a sharp, two-edged sword, it can penetrate a person’s deepest thoughts and intentions. (Hebrews 4:12) The Bible has the power to change the way people live because it helps them to see themselves as they really are and not just as they think they are. Those with the right heart condition, then, will come to realize that they may need to make changes. For example, concerning those in the Christian congregation in ancient Corinth who had once been thieves, drunkards, adulterers, and the like, Paul said: “That is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean . . . with the spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Jehovah’s holy spirit is just as active and powerful today, and it can move people to make the necessary changes.
Mario, who lives in Europe, was a violent man who smoked and sold marijuana. On one occasion, when a policeman confiscated his drugs, he became so enraged that he assaulted the officer and destroyed his car. In addition, Mario was unemployed and deep in debt. Realizing that he could not solve his problems himself, he agreed to have a Bible study. As he made progress, Mario cleaned up his appearance, quit using and selling drugs, and stopped resorting to violence. Many who knew his former ways were astonished. They stopped him and asked, “Mario, is it really you?”
What motivates individuals like Akinori and Mario to turn their life around and find true satisfaction and joy in living? Clearly, it is their newfound knowledge of God acquired through a study of the Bible. Only God can provide the practical instruction that we need to make a success of life now and to have the prospect of everlasting life in the future. Like a Father, Jehovah God speaks to us through the Bible: “Hear, my son, and accept my sayings. Then for you the years of life will become many. . . . When you walk, your pace will not be cramped; and if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold on discipline; do not let go. Safeguard it, for it itself is your life.” (Proverbs 4:10-13) What advice could be more practical than for us to seek the guidance of our Creator?
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Practical Advice for Today
The Bible provides basic but practical principles that can guide us in every aspect of modern life. Here are some examples:
• Enjoying good relationships with others
“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.”—Matthew 7:12.
“He that conducts himself as a lesser one among all of you is the one that is great.”—Luke 9:48.
“Follow the course of hospitality.”—Romans 12:13.
• Overcoming destructive habits
“He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.”—Proverbs 13:20.
“Do not come to be among heavy drinkers of wine.”—Proverbs 23:20.
“Do not have companionship with anyone given to anger.”—Proverbs 22:24.
• Building a stable marriage
“Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.”—Ephesians 5:33.
“Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely.”—Colossians 3:12, 13.
• Helping children
“Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.”—Proverbs 22:6.
“You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Ephesians 6:4.
• Avoiding quarrels
“An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.”—Proverbs 15:1.
“In showing honor to one another take the lead.”—Romans 12:10.
Even among friends, business disputes are often avoided by making written agreements. Thus, God’s servant Jeremiah wrote: “I wrote in a deed and affixed the seal and took witnesses as I went weighing the money in the scales.”—Jeremiah 32:10.
• Cultivating a positive attitude
“Whatever things are true, . . . lovable, . . . well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.”—Philippians 4:8.
Applying these fine principles will not only enable us to enjoy peace and contentment now but also help us to measure up to God’s requirements and receive his blessing. The Bible says: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:29.
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Akinori when he was a businessman (left) and with his wife happily sharing Bible truth today