1, 2. What question must you ask yourself, and why is this important?
THROUGH your study of the Bible, you have learned that many people who claim to worship God actually teach or practice things that God hates. (2 Corinthians 6:17) That is why Jehovah commands us to get out of false religion, “Babylon the Great.” (Revelation 18:2, 4) What will you do? Each of us has a choice to make, and we must ask ourselves, ‘Do I want to worship God in the way that he wants me to, or do I want to worship him the way I always have?’
2 If you have already left or resigned from a false religion, that is good. But deep inside there may be some practices and customs of false religion that you still enjoy. Let us discuss some of those practices and customs and see why it is so important that we view them the way Jehovah views them.
IMAGES AND ANCESTOR WORSHIP
3. (a) Why might some find it difficult to stop using images in their worship? (b) What does the Bible say about using images to worship God?
3 Some people have used images or shrines in their home to worship God for many years. If that is true of you, it may feel strange or even wrong to worship God without them. But remember, Jehovah teaches us how to worship him. And the Bible clearly tells us that Jehovah does not want us to use images in our worship.
4. (a) Why should we not worship our ancestors? (b) Why did Jehovah tell his people not to try to speak with the dead?
4 Some people may spend a lot of time and energy trying to please their dead ancestors. They may even worship them. But we have learned that those who have died cannot help us or hurt us. They are not living somewhere else. Actually, it is dangerous to try to communicate with them because any message that appears to come from a dead relative would in fact be from the demons. That is why Jehovah commanded the Israelites not to try to talk with the dead or get involved in any other sort of demonism.
5. What can help you to stop using images to worship God and to stop worshipping your ancestors?
5 What can help you to stop using images to worship God or to stop worshipping your ancestors? You need to read the Bible and think carefully about how Jehovah views those things. He views them as “detestable,” or disgusting. (Deuteronomy 27:15) Pray to Jehovah every day for help to view things as he does and for help to worship him in the way that he wants. (Isaiah 55:9) You can be sure that Jehovah will give you the strength you need to remove from your life anything related to false worship.
SHOULD WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS?
6. Why was December 25 chosen as the day to celebrate Jesus’ birth?
6 Around the world, Christmas is one of the most popular holidays, and most people think that it is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. But Christmas is actually connected with false worship. One encyclopedia explains that Roman pagans celebrated the birthday of the sun on December 25. Church leaders wanted more pagans to become Christians, so even though Jesus was not born on December 25, they decided to celebrate Jesus’ birth on that date. (Luke 2:8-12) Jesus’ disciples did not celebrate Christmas. One reference book explains that in the 200 years after Jesus’ birth, “no one knew, and few people cared, exactly when he was born.” (Sacred Origins of Profound Things) Christmas celebrations started several hundred years after Jesus lived on earth.
7. Why do true Christians not celebrate Christmas?
7 Many people know about the pagan origins of Christmas and its traditions, such as partying and gift-giving. For example, in England and parts of America, there was a time when celebrating Christmas was forbidden because of its pagan origins. Anyone who celebrated it was punished. But eventually people began to celebrate Christmas again. Why do true Christians not celebrate Christmas? Because they want to please God in everything they do.
SHOULD WE CELEBRATE BIRTHDAYS?
8, 9. Why didn’t early Christians celebrate birthdays?
8 Another popular celebration for many people is their birthday. Should Christians celebrate birthdays? The only birthday celebrations mentioned in the Bible were held by those who did not worship Jehovah. (Genesis 40:20; Mark 6:21) Birthday celebrations were used to honor false gods. That is why the early Christians “considered the celebration of anyone’s birth to be a pagan custom.”
9 The ancient Romans and Greeks believed that a spirit was present at each person’s birth and that this spirit would protect the person during his life. “This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born,” explains the book The Lore of Birthdays.
10. Why should Christians today not celebrate birthdays?
10 Do you think that Jehovah approves of celebrations that are connected with false religion? (Isaiah 65:11, 12) No, he does not. That is why we do not celebrate birthdays or any holiday connected with false religion.
DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
11. Why do some people celebrate holidays? What should be most important to you?
11 Some people know the pagan origins of Christmas and other holidays, but they continue to celebrate them. They feel that holidays are just a good opportunity to spend time with their family. Is that how you feel? It is not wrong to want to spend time with your family. Jehovah created the family, and he wants us to have a good relationship with them. (Ephesians 3:14, 15) However, we need to focus on having a good relationship with Jehovah rather than on pleasing our relatives by celebrating false religious holidays. That is why the apostle Paul said: “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.”
12. What would make a holiday unacceptable to Jehovah?
12 Many people feel that where a holiday comes from doesn’t really matter, but Jehovah doesn’t feel that way. He does not approve of holidays that come from false worship or that exalt humans or national symbols. For example, the Egyptians had many celebrations for their false gods. After the Israelites escaped from Egypt, they copied one of their pagan celebrations and called it “a festival to Jehovah.” But Jehovah punished them for doing that. (Exodus 32:2-10) As the prophet Isaiah said, we should “touch nothing unclean!”
BE KIND WHEN DEALING WITH OTHERS
13. What questions may you have when you decide to stop celebrating holidays?
13 When you decide to stop celebrating holidays, you may have many questions. For example: What should I do if my workmates ask why I do not celebrate Christmas with them? What should I do if someone gives me a Christmas gift? What should I do if my marriage mate expects me to celebrate a holiday? How can I help my children not to feel sad because of not celebrating a holiday or their birthday?
14, 15. What can you do if someone wishes you a happy holiday or gives you a gift?
14 It is important to use common sense when you decide what to say and do in each situation. For example, if people wish you a happy holiday, you don’t need to ignore them. You can simply say, “Thank you.” But in situations where someone would like to know more, you might choose to explain why you don’t celebrate a holiday. However, always be kind, tactful, and respectful. The Bible says: “Let your words always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6) Perhaps you could explain that you do enjoy spending time with others and giving gifts but that you just choose not to do so in connection with these holidays.
15 What should you do if someone gives you a gift? The Bible does not give a list of rules, but it does say that we should keep a good conscience. (1 Timothy 1:18, 19) Maybe the person giving you the gift doesn’t know that you don’t celebrate a holiday. Or he might say, “I know that you don’t celebrate the holiday, but I still want to give you this.” In either case, you can decide if you will accept the gift or not. But whatever decision you make, be sure to keep a good conscience. We would not want to do anything that would affect our relationship with Jehovah in a bad way.
YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
16. What should you do if your family wants to celebrate holidays?
16 What should you do if your family wants to celebrate a holiday? You don’t have to fight with them. Remember, they have the right to decide what they want to do. Be kind and respect their choices just as you want them to respect yours. (Read Matthew 7:12.) But if your family wants you to spend time with them during the holiday, what should you do? Before you decide what to do, pray to Jehovah for help to make the right decision. Think about the situation, and do research about it. Remember, you always want to please Jehovah.
17. What can you do to help your children avoid feeling that they are missing out when others are celebrating holidays?
17 What can you do to help your children when they see others celebrating holidays? Well, from time to time, you can organize something special for them. You can also surprise them with gifts. And one of the best gifts you can give your children is your time and your love.
PRACTICE TRUE WORSHIP
18. Why should we attend Christian meetings?
18 To please Jehovah, we need to abandon false religion as well as customs and holidays related to it. But we also need to practice true worship. How? One way is by regularly attending Christian meetings. (Read Hebrews 10:24, 25.) The meetings are a very important part of true worship. (Psalm 22:22; 122:1) We can encourage one another when we meet together.
19. Why is it important to tell others about Bible truths you’ve learned?
19 Another part of choosing true worship is speaking to others about what you have learned from the Bible. Many people feel distressed about the wicked things happening on the earth. Maybe you know some who feel that way. Tell them about your wonderful hope for the future. As you attend Christian meetings and tell others about Bible truth, you will discover that you no longer feel the desire to be part of false religion and its customs. You can be sure that you will be happy and that Jehovah will greatly bless your efforts as you choose to worship him in the right way.
“KEEP YOURSELVES IN GOD’S LOVE”
Some celebrations and holidays that might appear to honor God actually offend him.