“Keep perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.”—EPHESIANS 5:17.
1. What are some examples of Bible laws, and how does obeying them benefit us?
IN THE Bible, Jehovah has given us laws that clearly tell us what he wants us to do. For example, he tells us that we must not worship idols, steal, get drunk, or do things that are sexually immoral. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) And Jehovah’s Son, Jesus, gave this specific command to his followers: “Make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) Everything that Jehovah and Jesus tell us to do is for our own good. Jehovah’s laws teach us how to look after ourselves and our families and help us to have better health and to be happy. More important, when we obey Jehovah’s commands, including the command to preach, he is pleased with us and he blesses us.
2, 3. (a) Why does the Bible not give us rules for every situation in life? (b) What questions will be considered in this article? (See opening picture.)
2 At the same time, the Bible does not give us rules about every situation in life. For example, we do not find specific instructions in the Bible on what we should wear. This shows how wise Jehovah is. Even though fashion keeps changing over time and people around the world wear different styles of clothes, the Bible is never out-of-date. Also, it does not contain a lot of rules about what jobs or entertainment we should choose or exactly what we should do to stay healthy. Jehovah allows individuals and family heads to make decisions about these things.
3 So when we have to make an important decision that will affect our life and we find no law about it in the Bible, we might wonder: ‘Is Jehovah interested in the decision I make? Will he be pleased with whatever I choose to do as long as I do not break a law in the Bible? How can I be sure that he will be happy with the choices I make?’
OUR DECISIONS AFFECT US AND OTHERS
4, 5. How could our decisions affect us and others?
4 Some people feel that they can do whatever they want to do. But we want to do what makes Jehovah happy. So before we make a decision, we need to think about what the Bible says and then obey it. For example, the Bible tells us how God feels about the use of blood, so we follow what it says. (Genesis 9:4; Acts 15:28, 29) We can pray to Jehovah to help us make decisions that will please him.
5 Our decisions affect us. A good decision can help us draw closer to Jehovah. A bad decision could damage our friendship with him. Our decisions can also affect other people. We do not want to do anything that might upset our brothers or weaken their faith. We also do not want to cause problems between brothers in the congregation. So it is important for us to make good decisions.—Read Romans 14:19; Galatians 6:7.
6. What should guide our decisions?
6 When the Bible does not tell us exactly what we should do, how can we make good decisions? Instead of just doing what we prefer, we must think carefully about our own situation and make a decision that will please Jehovah. Then we can be sure that he will help us to have good results.—Read Psalm 37:5.
WHAT DOES JEHOVAH WANT ME TO DO?
7. Where there is no Bible law, how can we find out what Jehovah would want us to do in a certain situation?
7 But how can we know what will please Jehovah? Ephesians 5:17 tells us: “Keep perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.” When there is no specific law in the Bible, we need to perceive, or understand, what Jehovah wants us to do in our situation. How can we do that? We need to pray to him and allow his holy spirit to guide us.
8. How did Jesus perceive what Jehovah wanted him to do? Give an example.
8 Jesus always perceived what Jehovah wanted him to do. For example, twice when the crowds were hungry, Jesus prayed and then fed them by means of a miracle. (Matthew 14:17-20; 15:34-37) But when he got hungry in the wilderness and the Devil wanted him to change stones into bread, Jesus refused. (Read Matthew 4:2-4.) He knew his Father very well, so he knew that Jehovah would not want him to use holy spirit for his own needs. He was sure that his Father would guide him and give him food when he needed it.
9, 10. What will help us make wise decisions? Illustrate.
9 Like Jesus, we can make good decisions if we rely on Jehovah to guide us. The Bible says: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.” (Proverbs 3:5-7) When we study the Bible and learn about the way Jehovah thinks, we will understand what he wants us to do in a specific situation. And the more we learn about the way Jehovah thinks, the easier it will be for us to make decisions that will please him. In this way, we become more “sensitive to God’s guidance.”—Ezekiel 11:19, footnote.
10 Imagine that a married woman is shopping and sees a lovely pair of shoes. But they are very expensive. Although her husband is not with her, she knows what he would think if she spent that much money. How does she know? She has been married to him for some time, so she knows how he wants them to use the money they have. In a similar way, when we learn about the way Jehovah thinks and what he has done in the past, we will know what he would want us to do in different situations.
HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT WHAT JEHOVAH THINKS?
11. What questions can we ask ourselves when we read or study the Bible? (See the box “When You Study the Bible, Ask Yourself.”)
11 How can we find out what Jehovah thinks? The most important thing we can do is to read and study the Bible regularly. While we are doing this, we could ask ourselves: ‘What does this teach me about Jehovah? Why did he act this way?’ And like David, we also need to ask Jehovah to help us know him better. David wrote: “Make me know your ways, O Jehovah; teach me your paths. Cause me to walk in your truth and teach me, for you are my God of salvation. In you I hope all day long.” (Psalm 25:4, 5) When we learn something about Jehovah, we can think of situations where we can use that information. Could we use it in the family, at work, at school, or in the ministry? When we think of a specific situation, it will be easier to know how Jehovah would want us to use the information.
To find out what Jehovah thinks, we should read and study the Bible regularly
12. How can our publications and meetings help us to get to know what Jehovah thinks about various matters?
12 Another way to get to know the way Jehovah thinks is to pay close attention to what his organization teaches us from the Bible. For example, when we have a decision to make, the Watch Tower Publications Index and the Research Guide for Jehovah’s Witnesses can help us find out what Jehovah thinks. We can also benefit from our Christian meetings when we listen carefully and comment and when we meditate on what is being taught. This will help us learn to think the way Jehovah does. As a result, we will be able to make decisions that will please him and that he will bless.
MEDITATE ON WHAT JEHOVAH THINKS BEFORE YOU MAKE A DECISION
13. Give an example of how we can make a wise decision when we consider what Jehovah thinks.
13 Let us take a look at an example of how we can make a wise decision when we consider what Jehovah thinks. Perhaps you would like to pioneer. You have made some changes in your life so that you can spend more time in the ministry. But you are still not sure whether you will really be happy with less money and fewer things. Of course, the Bible does not say that we have to pioneer to serve Jehovah. We could continue to serve him faithfully as publishers. But on the other hand, Jesus said that Jehovah blesses those who make sacrifices for the Kingdom. (Read Luke 18:29, 30.) The Bible also says that Jehovah is pleased when we do all we can to praise him, and he wants us to be happy serving him. (Psalm 119:108; 2 Corinthians 9:7) By praying about these things and meditating on them, we can make a decision that is practical in our situation and one that Jehovah will bless.
14. How can you determine if a certain style of clothing is pleasing to Jehovah?
14 Here is another example: You really like a certain style of clothing, but you know that some in the congregation might be offended if you wear those clothes. The Bible does not say anything about that specific style. So how can you know what Jehovah thinks? The Bible tells us: “The women should adorn themselves in appropriate dress, with modesty and soundness of mind, not with styles of hair braiding and gold or pearls or very expensive clothing, but in the way that is proper for women professing devotion to God, namely, through good works.” (1 Timothy 2:9, 10) Of course, all of Jehovah’s servants, including men, can learn from these words. When we are modest, we think of how others might feel about the clothes we choose to wear. And because we love our brothers, we avoid upsetting or offending them. (1 Corinthians 10:23, 24; Philippians 3:17) If we consider what the Bible says and how Jehovah thinks, we can make decisions that he will be pleased with.
15, 16. (a) How does Jehovah feel if we keep on thinking about sexually immoral things? (b) When we are choosing entertainment, how can we know what is pleasing to Jehovah? (c) How should weighty decisions be made?
15 From the Bible, we learn that Jehovah feels deeply hurt and sad when people do wicked things and when they think about bad things. (Read Genesis 6:5, 6.) It is clear that Jehovah does not want us to daydream about sexually immoral things. In fact, if we keep thinking about these things, we may actually do them. Instead, Jehovah wants us to think about pure and good things. The disciple James wrote that Jehovah’s wisdom “is first of all pure, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, not hypocritical.” (James 3:17) So the Bible teaches us that we must avoid any entertainment that could cause us to imagine or desire unclean and bad things. And if we understand clearly what Jehovah loves and what he hates, it will be easy for us to know which books, movies, or games to choose. We will not need to ask others what we should do.
16 When we have a decision to make, there are often several options we can choose from that would all please Jehovah. But when we need to make a very important decision, it may be good to ask an elder or another experienced brother or sister to give us some advice. (Titus 2:3-5; James 5:13-15) Of course, we should not ask that person to make a decision for us. Instead, we need to think carefully about what we know from the Bible and then make our own decision. (Hebrews 5:14) The apostle Paul said: “Each one will carry his own load of responsibility.”—Galatians 6:5, footnote.
17. How do we benefit from making decisions that please Jehovah?
17 When we make decisions that please Jehovah, we draw closer to him and have his approval and blessing. (James 4:8) Then our faith in Jehovah becomes stronger. So let us meditate on what we read in the Bible so that we can understand how he thinks. Of course, we will always have something new to learn about Jehovah. (Job 26:14) But if we work hard to learn about him now, we will become wise and will be able to make good decisions. (Proverbs 2:1-5) The ideas and plans of humans change, but Jehovah never changes. The psalmist said: “The decisions of Jehovah will stand forever; the thoughts of his heart are from generation to generation.” (Psalm 33:11) Clearly, we can make the best decisions when we learn to think the way Jehovah thinks and then do what is pleasing to him.