“Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve.”—JOSH. 24:15.
1-3. (a) Why is Joshua a good example of one who made the right choice in life? (b) What should we keep in mind when faced with decisions?
“CHOOSE” is a powerful word. A person with a choice has options and a degree of control over the direction his or her life will take. To illustrate: Imagine that a man who is walking on a road suddenly finds that it becomes two diverging paths. Which will he choose to follow? If the man has a destination in mind, then one path will likely bring him closer to his goal while the other will take him farther away from it.
2 The Bible contains numerous examples of people who faced a similar situation. For example, Cain had to decide whether to act on his anger or to control it. (Gen. 4:6, 7) Joshua had to choose between serving the true God or worshipping false gods. (Josh. 24:15) Joshua’s goal was to stay close to Jehovah; hence, he chose a path that took him in that direction. Cain had no such goal, and he chose the path that took him farther away from Jehovah.
3 At times, we may face a fork-in-the-road decision. If that happens, keep in mind your destination, or goal—to bring glory to Jehovah in all that you do and to avoid anything that would cause you to draw away from him. (Read Hebrews 3:12.) In this article and in the next, we will examine seven areas of life in which we should let nothing distance us from Jehovah.
EMPLOYMENT AND CAREER
4. Why is making a living important?
4 Christians are obligated to support themselves and their families. The Bible indicates that if anyone does not want to provide for his household, he is worse than an unbeliever. (2 Thess. 3:10; 1 Tim. 5:8, ftn.) Clearly, secular employment is an important part of life, but if you are not careful, employment and career could distance you from Jehovah. How?
5. What factors are important when we consider a job offer?
5 Suppose you are looking for a job. If you live in a land where work is scarce, you might be tempted to accept the first job offer—any offer—that comes along. What, though, if the nature of the work conflicts with Bible principles? What if the schedule or traveling involved will impede your Christian activity or take you away from your family? Should you accept the offer anyway, thinking that an unsuitable job is better than no job? Remember, choosing the wrong path could distance you from Jehovah. (Heb. 2:1) Whether you are looking for work or you are reevaluating your current employment, how can you make wise decisions?
6, 7. (a) What goals might a person have with regard to secular work? (b) Which goal will bring you closer to Jehovah, and why?
6 As stated earlier, keep in mind your destination. Ask yourself, ‘Where do I want a job or career to take me?’ If you view secular work as a means to an end—to support yourself and your family in Jehovah’s service—Jehovah will bless your efforts. (Matt. 6:33) Jehovah is not stumped when you face a job loss or an unexpected economic downturn. (Isa. 59:1) He “knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.”—2 Pet. 2:9.
7 On the other hand, what if your aim is merely to become wealthy? Perhaps you will succeed. Even if you do, however, remember that such “success” will come at a price—one that you cannot afford. (Read 1 Timothy 6:9, 10.) Overemphasis on wealth and career will only distance you from Jehovah.
8, 9. What should parents consider when it comes to their attitude toward secular work? Explain.
8 If you are a parent, think about how your example affects your children. What do they see as being most important to you—your career or your friendship with Jehovah? If they see that status, prestige, and wealth have first place in your life, might they follow you on such a disastrous path? Could they lose a measure of respect for you as a parent? One young Christian states: “As far back as I can remember, my father has been preoccupied with his job. At first, it seemed that he worked so hard because he wanted our family to have the very best. He wanted us to be well cared for. But in recent years, something has changed. He works and works, and then he brings home luxuries rather than necessities. As a result, we’re known as the family that has a lot of money rather than as the family that encourages others in spiritual pursuits. I would take my father’s spiritual support over his money any day.”
9 Parents, do not distance yourself from Jehovah by putting too much emphasis on your career. By your example, show your children that you truly believe that the greatest wealth we can possess is spiritual, not material.—Matt. 5:3.
10. What might a young person consider when choosing a career?
10 If you are a young person who is contemplating a career, how can you choose the right path? As already discussed, you need to know where your life is headed. Would training and employment in the field that you are considering allow you to pursue Kingdom interests more fully, or would it distance you from Jehovah? (2 Tim. 4:10) Is your goal to imitate the lifestyle of people whose happiness rises and falls depending on the size of their bank account or stock portfolio? Or will you choose to reflect the confidence of David, who wrote: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread”? (Ps. 37:25) Remember, one path will distance you from Jehovah, while the other path will lead you to the best life ever. (Read Proverbs 10:22; Malachi 3:10.) Which path will you choose? *
RECREATION AND ENTERTAINMENT
11. What does the Bible acknowledge about recreation and entertainment, but what should we keep in mind?
11 The Bible is not anti-fun, nor does it depict recreation and entertainment as a waste of time. “Bodily training is beneficial for a little,” wrote Paul to Timothy. (1 Tim. 4:8) The Bible even says that there is “a time to laugh” and “a time to skip about,” and it encourages a healthy amount of rest. (Eccl. 3:4; 4:6) If you are not careful, however, recreation and entertainment could distance you from Jehovah. How? Much of the danger centers on two aspects—what type you choose and how much time you spend on it.
12. What factors should you consider with regard to the type of recreation and entertainment you choose?
12 First, consider the type. Be assured that you can find healthy forms of recreation and good entertainment. Admittedly, though, much of what is available glorifies things that God hates, including violence, spiritism, and illicit sex. Therefore, you need to scrutinize the type of recreation and entertainment that you engage in. What effect does it have on you? Does it encourage in you a spirit of violence, fierce competition, or nationalism? (Prov. 3:31) Does it drain your financial resources? Could it stumble others? (Rom. 14:21) What type of associates does your choice of recreation and entertainment bring you into contact with? (Prov. 13:20) Does it stimulate in you a desire to commit wrong acts?—Jas. 1:14, 15.
13, 14. What do you need to consider with regard to how much time you spend in leisure activities?
13 Consider, too, the amount of time you spend on recreation and entertainment. Ask yourself, ‘Do I spend so much time in leisure pursuits that I have little time left for spiritual activities?’ If you choose to spend excessive time on recreation and entertainment, you will find that your downtime is not as refreshing as it could be. In fact, those who keep relaxation in its place enjoy it even more. Why? Because they know that they first took care of “the more important things,” so their period of relaxation comes guilt free.—Read Philippians 1:10, 11.
14 Although spending much time in leisure activities may seem appealing, taking that path could distance you from Jehovah. A 20-year-old sister named Kim learned that from experience. “I used to be at all the parties,” she says. “Every weekend something big was happening—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Now, though, I see that there are just so many more important things to do. For example, as a pioneer, I wake up at 6:00 a.m. for field service, so I can’t be socializing until one or two in the morning. I know that social events are not all bad, but they can be a huge distraction. Like anything else, they have to be kept in their place.”
15. How can parents help their children enjoy refreshing recreation?
15 Parents are responsible for providing materially, spiritually, and emotionally for themselves and their children. That includes making provision for refreshment. If you are a parent, do not be a killjoy who treats all leisure activity as bad. At the same time, be on guard against unsavory influences. (1 Cor. 5:6) With adequate forethought, you can find recreation and entertainment that is truly refreshing for your family. * In that way, you and your children will choose a path that will bring you closer to Jehovah.
16, 17. What grievous situation has afflicted many parents, and how do we know that Jehovah understands their pain?
16 The bond between parent and child is so strong that Jehovah used that relationship to illustrate his own love for his people. (Isa. 49:15) It is normal, therefore, to be deeply grieved when a beloved family member leaves Jehovah. “I was devastated,” says one sister whose daughter was disfellowshipped. “I wondered, ‘Why did she leave Jehovah?’ I felt guilty, and I blamed myself.”
17 Jehovah understands your pain. He himself “felt hurt at his heart” when the first member of his human family, and later most people living before the Flood, rebelled. (Gen. 6:5, 6) It may be difficult for those who have never experienced such a loss to appreciate how devastating it can be. Nevertheless, it would be unwise to let the improper course of a disfellowshipped family member distance you from Jehovah. How, then, can you cope with the profound grief that arises when a family member leaves Jehovah?
18. Why should parents not blame themselves if a child leaves Jehovah?
18 Do not blame yourself for what happened. Jehovah has put a choice before humans, and each dedicated and baptized family member must “carry his own load” of responsibility. (Gal. 6:5) Ultimately, Jehovah holds the sinner—not you—responsible for his or her choice. (Ezek. 18:20) Also, do not blame others. Respect Jehovah’s arrangement for discipline. Take your stand against the Devil—not against shepherds who act to protect the congregation.—1 Pet. 5:8, 9.
19, 20. (a) What can parents of disfellowshipped children do to cope with their grief? (b) What hope do such parents rightly entertain?
19 On the other hand, if you choose the path of resentment toward Jehovah, you will distance yourself from him. Really, what your beloved family member needs to see is your resolute stance to put Jehovah above everything else—including the family bond. So to cope with the situation, be sure to maintain your own spirituality. Do not isolate yourself from your faithful Christian brothers and sisters. (Prov. 18:1) Pour out your feelings to Jehovah in prayer. (Ps. 62:7, 8) Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through e-mail. (1 Cor. 5:11) Stay absorbed in spiritual activities. (1 Cor. 15:58) The sister quoted above says, “I know that I must stay busy in Jehovah’s service and keep myself in a spiritually strong condition so that when my daughter does come back to Jehovah, I will be in a position to help her.”
20 The Bible says that love “hopes all things.” (1 Cor. 13:4, 7) It is not wrong for you to entertain the hope that your loved one will return. Each year, many wrongdoers repent and come back to Jehovah’s organization. Jehovah does not begrudge their repentance. On the contrary, he is “ready to forgive.”—Ps. 86:5.
MAKE WISE CHOICES
21, 22. What is your resolve when it comes to your use of free will?
21 Jehovah has endowed his human creation with free will. (Read Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.) But with that freedom comes a sobering responsibility. Each Christian should ask himself: ‘Which path am I on? Have I allowed employment and career, recreation and entertainment, or family relationships to distance me from Jehovah?’
22 Jehovah’s love for his people never wavers. The only way we could become distanced from Jehovah is if we chose to follow a wrong path. (Rom. 8:38, 39) Yet, that does not have to happen! Make it your determination to allow nothing to distance you from Jehovah. The next article will discuss four more areas in which you can demonstrate that resolve.
^ par. 10 For more information on choosing a career, see the May 1, 2004, issue of The Watchtower—On DVD, article 4, paragraphs 15-17.
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