“Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”—JAS. 4:8.
1, 2. (a) What are Satan’s “designs”? (b) What will help us to draw close to God?
JEHOVAH GOD created humans with the need for drawing close to him. Yet, Satan wants us to think as he does—that we do not need Jehovah. That is a lie that Satan has promoted ever since Eve was deceived by it in the garden of Eden. (Gen. 3:4-6) Down through history, much of mankind has repeated that mistake.
2 Happily, we do not need to fall into Satan’s trap. “We are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Cor. 2:11) Satan tries to distance us from Jehovah by moving us to make wrong choices. But as the preceding article showed, we can make right choices regarding career, entertainment, and family concerns. This article will show how keeping technology, health, money, and pride in their proper place can help us to “draw close to God.”—Jas. 4:8.
3. Illustrate how technology can be used for good or for bad.
3 Around the world, advanced electronic devices are now commonplace. Used properly, such inventions can be useful tools. Used improperly, they can come between us and our heavenly Father. Consider computers. The magazine you are reading was written and published with the aid of computers. A computer can be an effective research and communication tool and at times a source of refreshing entertainment. We can, however, also become obsessed with computer technology. Marketers cleverly convince people that they must have the latest products. One young man so passionately desired a particular tablet computer that he secretly sold one of his kidneys to buy it. What a shortsighted sacrifice!
4. How did one Christian deal with his excessive computer use?
4 It is even more tragic to sacrifice your intimacy with Jehovah through misuse or overuse of technology. “I know that the Bible says that we should ‘buy out the opportune time’ for spiritual matters,” says Jon, a Christian in his late 20’s.* “But when it comes to computers, I’m my own worst enemy.” Jon often found himself still online late into the night. “The more tired I was, the harder it was to quit chatting or watching short videos—and not always wholesome ones,” he relates. To help himself break this bad habit, Jon set his computer to shut itself down when it was time for him to go to bed.—Read Ephesians 5:15, 16.
5, 6. (a) What responsibilities do parents have toward their children? (b) How can parents make sure that their children have good association?
5 Parents, you need not control your children’s every move, but you do need to monitor their computer use. Do not abandon them to online immorality, violent games, spiritism, and bad association just to keep them busy and out of your way. If you do, they may conclude, ‘Since Dad and Mom don’t care, it must be all right.’ As parents, it is your job to shield your children—including teenagers—from anything that could distance them from Jehovah. Even animals protect their young from danger. Imagine what a mother bear would do if someone threatened her cubs!—Compare Hosea 13:8.
6 Help your children to arrange wholesome association with other exemplary Christians, young and old. And remember, your children need you to spend time with them! So make time to laugh, play, work, and “draw close to God” together.*
7. Why do we all want to stay healthy?
7 “How are you feeling?” This common expression betrays a grim reality. Because our first parents allowed Satan to distance them from Jehovah, we are all subject to illness. Sickness serves Satan’s purpose, for when we are sick, it is harder for us to serve Jehovah. And if we die, we cannot serve him at all. (Ps. 115:17) Naturally, then, we want to do what we can to stay healthy.* And we should be concerned about our brothers’ health and welfare.
8, 9. (a) How can we avoid going to extremes in regard to health? (b) What are the benefits of cultivating joy?
8 It is important, however, to avoid going to extremes. Some have zealously promoted certain diets, treatments, or products—even more zealously than the good news of God’s Kingdom. They may sincerely believe that they are helping others. Even so, it is not appropriate to promote health or beauty products and practices before or after meetings at the Kingdom Hall or at assemblies or conventions. Why not?
9 We meet together to discuss spiritual matters and to increase our joy, a product of God’s holy spirit. (Gal. 5:22) On such occasions, offering health advice or products—solicited or unsolicited—can detract from our spiritual purpose and rob others of their joy. (Rom. 14:17) How a person addresses health concerns must be his or her own decision. Further, no one has a solution to all illness. Even the finest doctors get old and sick, and eventually they die. And worrying excessively about our health cannot extend our life. (Luke 12:25) On the other hand, “a heart that is joyful does good as a curer.”—Prov. 17:22.
10. (a) What qualities are beautiful to Jehovah? (b) How can we enjoy the best possible health?
10 Similarly, it is appropriate to be concerned about our appearance. But we need not try too hard to erase all signs of aging. Those signs can be evidence of maturity, dignity, and inner beauty. For example, the Bible says: “Gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Prov. 16:31) That is how Jehovah views us, and we should try to view ourselves as he does. (Read 1 Peter 3:3, 4.) Is it wise, therefore, to risk unnecessary and potentially dangerous surgical procedures or medical treatments merely to make oneself more physically attractive? “The joy of Jehovah” is a source of true beauty that radiates from the inside, regardless of age or health. (Neh. 8:10) Only in the new world will we be completely healthy and regain youthful beauty. (Job 33:25; Isa. 33:24) Until then, showing practical wisdom and faith will help us to stay close to Jehovah while we make the best of our present circumstances.—1 Tim. 4:8.
11. How can money become a snare?
11 Money is not evil, nor is it wrong to engage in honest business. (Eccl. 7:12; Luke 19:12, 13) However, nurturing a “love of money” will unavoidably distance us from Jehovah. (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) “The anxiety of this system,” extreme concern about obtaining life’s necessities, can choke us spiritually. So can “the deceptive power of riches,” the mistaken belief that riches bring lasting happiness and security. (Matt. 13:22) Jesus made it clear that “no one” can successfully serve both God and riches.—Matt. 6:24.
12. What sort of financial snares are common today, and how can we avoid them?
12 The wrong view of money can lead to wrong actions. (Prov. 28:20) Promises of quick, easy money have enticed some to purchase lottery tickets or to pursue multilevel marketing schemes, even drawing in other members of the congregation. Others have been fooled by offers of unrealistically high returns on investments. Do not allow greed to cause you to be defrauded. Use good sense. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
13. How does Jehovah’s view of money differ from the world’s?
13 When we put first “the kingdom and his righteousness,” Jehovah blesses our balanced efforts to obtain life’s necessities. (Matt. 6:33; Eph. 4:28) He does not want us to be falling asleep during meetings because of overwork or to be sitting in the Kingdom Hall worrying about money. Yet, many in the world around us believe that only by devoting themselves to making money can they have a secure future and take it easy later in life. They often push their children toward the same materialistic goal. Jesus showed that such thinking is unreasonable. (Read Luke 12:15-21.) This may remind us of Gehazi, who thought he could indulge his greed while still maintaining his good standing with Jehovah.—2 Ki. 5:20-27.
14, 15. Why must we not look to the financial system for security? Give an example.
14 Certain eagles are reported to have drowned when they did not release from their talons a fish that was too heavy to carry off. Could something similar happen to a Christian? “I’m normally very thrifty,” explains an elder named Alex. “If I pour out a little too much shampoo, I put some back in the bottle.” Nevertheless, Alex got caught up in trading in the stock market, thinking he could soon quit his job and enter the pioneer service. He became ever more engrossed in studying various offerings and market reports. Using his savings and money borrowed from brokers, he bought stocks that analysts predicted would quickly rise in value. Instead, they dropped sharply. “I was determined to get my money back,” Alex relates. “I felt that if I just held on, the stocks would come back up.”
15 For months, Alex could think of little else. He found it difficult to focus on spiritual matters, and he lost sleep. But the stocks never rebounded. Alex lost his savings and had to sell his house. “I caused my family great pain,” he admits. But he learned an important lesson. “I now know that anyone who puts his trust in Satan’s system will be profoundly disappointed.” (Prov. 11:28) Indeed, resting our hope on our savings, investments, or ability to earn money in this system amounts to resting our hope on “the god of this system,” Satan. (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Tim. 6:17) Alex has since simplified his life “for the sake of the good news.” He will tell you that doing so has made him and his family happier and has drawn them closer to Jehovah.—Read Mark 10:29, 30.
16. How does pride that is good differ from pride that is bad?
16 Taking pride in the right things can be good. For example, we should always feel proud to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Jer. 9:24) A healthy measure of self-respect helps us to make good decisions and to avoid lowering our moral standards. But placing too high a value on our own views or position can distance us from Jehovah.—Ps. 138:6; Rom. 12:3.
17, 18. (a) Cite Bible examples of humble people as well as of proud people. (b) How did one brother avoid letting pride distance him from Jehovah?
17 The Bible contains examples of proud people as well as of humble people. King David humbly looked to Jehovah for guidance, and Jehovah blessed him. (Ps. 131:1-3) But Jehovah humbled proud Kings Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. (Dan. 4:30-37; 5:22-30) Today, too, situations arise that test our humility. Ryan, a 32-year-old ministerial servant, relocated to a new congregation. “I expected to be recommended as an elder soon,” Ryan relates, “but a year went by without that happening.” Would Ryan become angry or bitter, feeling that the elders had failed to show him due respect? Would he stop attending meetings, letting pride distance him from Jehovah and His people? What would you have done?
18 “I read everything I could find in our publications on postponed expectation,” Ryan recalls. (Prov. 13:12) “I began to realize that I needed to learn patience and humility. I needed to let Jehovah train me.” Ryan directed his attention away from himself and toward serving others—in the congregation and in the field. Soon he was conducting several progressive Bible studies. “When I was appointed as an elder a year and a half later, it came as a surprise,” he says. “I had stopped worrying about it because I was enjoying my ministry so much.”—Read Psalm 37:3, 4.
STAY CLOSE TO JEHOVAH!
19, 20. (a) How can we make sure that none of our daily pursuits will distance us from Jehovah? (b) What examples can we imitate of those who stayed close to Jehovah?
19 All the matters discussed in this article and the preceding one have a proper place in our lives. We take pride in being Jehovah’s servants. A happy family and good health are among Jehovah’s greatest gifts. We understand that secular work and money can help us to care for our needs. We know that recreation can refresh us and that technology can be useful. But pursuing any of these things at the wrong time, to an extreme degree, or in a way that interferes with our worship could distance us from Jehovah.
Let nothing distance you from Jehovah!
20 Satan, of course, would like that to happen. Still, you can prevent such a calamity from befalling you and your family! (Prov. 22:3) Draw close to Jehovah, and stay close to him. We have many Bible examples to instruct us in this regard. Enoch and Noah “walked with the true God.” (Gen. 5:22; 6:9) Moses “continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:27) Jesus had God’s constant support because he always did what was pleasing to his heavenly Father. (John 8:29) Imitate such examples. “Always be rejoicing. Pray incessantly. In connection with everything give thanks.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18) And let nothing distance you from Jehovah!
Names have been changed.
See “How to Raise Responsible Children” in the October 2011 issue of Awake!
See “Five Keys to Better Health” in the March 2011 issue of Awake!