“Abhor what is wicked, cling to what is good.”—ROMANS 12:9.
1, 2. (a) What helped you to make your decision to serve God? (b) What questions about our inheritance from Jehovah will this article answer?
MILLIONS have made the wise choice to serve Jehovah God and imitate the example of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 16:24; 1 Peter 2:21) Our dedication to God is a serious decision. We did not make this decision after learning only the basic truths from a few scriptures. Instead, we studied the Bible carefully and strengthened our faith in the inheritance Jehovah has promised. He will give this inheritance to all who keep learning about him and about Jesus Christ.—John 17:3; Romans 12:2.
2 If we want to keep our good relationship with Jehovah, we must keep making wise choices that please him. This article answers these important questions: What is our inheritance? How important should it be to us? How can we make sure that we receive our inheritance? What will help us to make wise choices?
WHAT IS OUR INHERITANCE?
3. (a) What inheritance will the anointed receive? (b) What inheritance will the “other sheep” receive?
3 A small number of Christians hope to receive immortal life in heaven as their inheritance. They will have the very special privilege of ruling with Christ in his Kingdom. (1 Peter 1:3, 4) The ones who will receive that inheritance have been “born again.” (John 3:1-3) What about the millions of Jesus’ “other sheep,” who work with the anointed in preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom? (John 10:16) The other sheep will receive what Adam and Eve did not receive, that is, everlasting life on a paradise earth with no suffering, death, or mourning. (Revelation 21:1-4) When Jesus was on the torture stake, he promised another man that he would receive this inheritance. Jesus said: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:43.
Our inheritance includes some blessings that we have even now
4. What blessings do we already have?
4 But our inheritance also includes some blessings that we have even now. Because we have faith in “the ransom paid by Christ Jesus,” we feel peaceful and have a close relationship with God. (Romans 3:23-25) We have a good understanding of what the Bible promises for the future. The love our brothers and sisters around the world show for one another makes us very happy. And it is an honor to be able to witness about Jehovah. We have good reasons to be grateful for our inheritance!
5. What has Satan tried to do to God’s people? What can help us to avoid Satan’s traps?
5 To make sure that we do not lose our inheritance, we must be careful to avoid Satan’s traps. Satan has always tried to tempt God’s people to make bad choices so that they lose their inheritance. (Numbers 25:1-3, 9) Satan knows that he will soon be destroyed, so he is trying very hard to tempt us to do wrong. (Read Revelation 12:12, 17.) If we want “to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil,” we must always appreciate our inheritance. (Ephesians 6:11) We can learn important lessons from the way Isaac’s firstborn son, Esau, viewed his inheritance.
DO NOT BE LIKE ESAU
6, 7. Who was Esau? What inheritance was he supposed to receive?
6 About 4,000 years ago, Rebekah gave birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. These twins grew to be very different. “Esau became a man knowing how to hunt, a man of the field,” but Jacob was “a blameless man, dwelling in tents.” (Genesis 25:27) Jacob was called blameless because he had integrity and did not practice sin.
7 When Esau and Jacob were 15 years old, their grandfather Abraham died. But Jehovah remembered the promise he had made to Abraham. Later, Jehovah repeated to Isaac what he had promised. God said that all the nations of the earth would bless themselves by means of Abraham’s “seed,” or descendants. (Read Genesis 26:3-5.) In this way, God revealed that one of Abraham’s descendants would be the faithful “seed” of Genesis 3:15, that is, the Messiah. Because Esau was Isaac’s firstborn son, he had the right to share in the promise that God made to Abraham. So the Messiah should have been one of Esau’s descendants. This was a wonderful inheritance for Esau. But did he appreciate it?
8, 9. (a) What choice did Esau make about his inheritance? (b) Years later, what did Esau realize about his choice? How did he react?
8 One day when Esau came in from the field, he saw Jacob “boiling up some stew.” Esau asked for some, saying: “Quick, please, give me a swallow of the red—the red there, for I am tired!” Jacob said: “Sell me, first of all, your right as firstborn!” What choice did Esau make? He said that the birthright was of no benefit to him and chose a bowl of stew over his right as firstborn! Jacob wanted to make sure that Esau really was selling the birthright, so he asked him to make an oath. Jacob said: “Swear to me first of all!” Without even taking time to think, Esau sold his birthright. After that, “Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he went to eating and drinking. Then he got up and went his way.” Esau showed that he thought that his birthright was worthless and not important.—Genesis 25:29-34.
9 Years later, when Isaac thought that he would soon die, Rebekah made sure that Jacob would receive the birthright that Esau had sold to him. When Esau realized that he had made a foolish choice by selling his birthright, he begged Isaac: “Bless me, even me too, my father! . . . Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” When Isaac told Esau that he could not change the blessing he had already given to Jacob, Esau cried bitterly.—Genesis 27:30-38.
10. What did Jehovah think about Esau and Jacob, and why?
10 What can we learn about Esau’s attitude from this account? He showed that his fleshly desires were more important to him than receiving the blessings that Jehovah had promised as part of his inheritance. Esau did not appreciate his birthright and did not really love God. And Esau did not think about how his choice would affect his descendants. But Jacob was different. He truly appreciated his inheritance and made good choices to protect it. For example, although it was not easy for him, Jacob was willing to follow the counsel his parents gave about choosing a wife. (Genesis 27:46–28:3) Jehovah blessed his obedience by having the Messiah be one of Jacob’s descendants. What did God think about Esau and Jacob? Jehovah said: “I loved Jacob, and Esau I have hated.”—Malachi 1:2, 3.
Esau realized that he had made a foolish choice by selling his birthright
11. (a) Why can we as Christians benefit from the account about Esau? (b) When he described what Esau did, why did Paul also talk about fornication?
11 We can benefit from the account about Esau. The apostle Paul warned Christians to be careful that “there may be no fornicator nor anyone not appreciating sacred things, like Esau, who in exchange for one meal gave away his rights as firstborn.” (Hebrews 12:16) We need to learn from that warning. We must always appreciate sacred things so that we will resist temptation and protect our inheritance. When he described what Esau did, why did Paul also talk about fornication? Because if we act like Esau and let our fleshly desires control us, it will be easy for us to commit a sin such as fornication, and as a result we could lose our inheritance.
PREPARE YOUR HEART NOW
12. (a) How does Satan try to tempt each of us? (b) What Scriptural examples can help us when we are tempted to do wrong?
12 As servants of Jehovah, we do everything we can to avoid situations that could tempt us to do something immoral. And if someone does tempt us, we pray that Jehovah God will help us resist the temptation. (Matthew 6:13) We work hard to keep our integrity in this wicked world, but Satan constantly tries to weaken our relationship with Jehovah. (Ephesians 6:12) Satan is the god of this wicked system of things, and he knows how to use temptations to make people give in to their bad desires. (1 Corinthians 10:8, 13) He is trying to do this to each of us. What if you were in a situation where you were tempted to satisfy your desires in a wrong way? What choice would you make? Would you be like Esau, who quickly gave in to the temptation? Or would you resist the temptation and flee from it, as did Jacob’s son Joseph when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife?—Read Genesis 39:10-12.
13. (a) Today, how have many acted like Joseph, but how have some acted like Esau? (b) What must we do so that we do not act like Esau?
13 Many of our brothers and sisters have faced temptations and have had to choose whether to be like Esau or to be like Joseph. Many acted wisely and made Jehovah’s heart rejoice. (Proverbs 27:11) But others have chosen to act like Esau and have failed to protect their inheritance. Many of those who are reproved or disfellowshipped each year are being disciplined because they have committed sexual immorality. It is very important that we prepare our heart now so that we will be strong enough to resist any temptation in the future! (Psalm 78:8) We will discuss two of the things we can do to prepare ourselves to resist temptation and to make wise choices later.
THINK AND PREPARE
14. What questions will help us to hate what is bad and love what is good?
14 The first step is to think about the consequences of sin. The more we love Jehovah, the more we will appreciate our inheritance. When we love someone, we do not want to hurt that person. Instead, we try our best to make him happy. So we should take time to think about the consequences of sin, that is, how we would hurt ourselves and others if we gave in to temptation. We should ask ourselves: ‘How would my selfish conduct affect my relationship with Jehovah? How would the sin affect my family? How would it affect my brothers and sisters in the congregation? Would my conduct offend others?’ (Philippians 1:10) We could also ask ourselves: ‘Are a few moments of immoral pleasure worth the price I will pay afterward? Do I really want to be like Esau, who cried bitterly when he realized the consequences of his sin?’ (Hebrews 12:17) If we think carefully about these questions, we will hate what is bad and love what is good. (Romans 12:9) When we truly love Jehovah, we will work hard to protect our inheritance.—Psalm 73:28.
If we want to be prepared to resist temptation, we have to make an effort to keep ourselves strong
15. What will help us to be ready to resist any temptation and protect our relationship with God?
15 The second step is to prepare ourselves to resist temptation. Jehovah has given us many ways to prepare ourselves to resist temptation from the world and protect our relationship with him. For example, he has shown us how to benefit from Bible study, meetings, the field ministry, and prayer. (1 Corinthians 15:58) Each time we tell Jehovah our true feelings in prayer and every time we work hard in the ministry, we are preparing ourselves to resist temptation. (Read 1 Timothy 6:12, 19.) If we want to succeed, we have to keep making the effort to do these things. (Galatians 6:7) This is discussed in the second chapter of Proverbs.
“KEEP SEEKING FOR IT”
16, 17. What will help us to make wise choices?
16 Proverbs chapter 2 encourages us to work hard to have wisdom and thinking ability. These qualities that Jehovah gives us will help us to choose between right and wrong and will help us to control our desires rather than satisfying them in a wrong way. But we can do this only if we are willing to make the effort. The Bible explains: “My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment; if, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God. For Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment.”—Proverbs 2:1-6.
17 If we do what is described in those verses, we will be able to make wise choices. We can resist temptation only if we allow Jehovah’s sayings to change who we are inside, if we continue to pray for God’s direction, and if we keep searching for God’s knowledge as if we were looking for hidden treasure.
18. What will you keep doing, and why?
18 Jehovah gives knowledge, understanding, discernment, and wisdom to those who make an effort to find them. The more we look for them and use them, the better our relationship with Jehovah God will be. Then our close relationship with him will protect us when we face temptation. If we stay close to Jehovah and fear him, we will work hard to avoid sin. (Psalm 25:14; James 4:8) Our friendship with Jehovah and the wisdom he gives us will help us to make wise choices that make him happy and protect our inheritance.