Whose Standards Can You Trust?

A first-time visitor to Africa was intrigued by the sight of a man standing bolt upright at the side of the road. He noticed that every few minutes, the man shuffled his feet and moved ever so slightly to one side while still standing erect. Only later did the visitor realize why the man moved as he did. He was, in fact, trying to keep in the shade of a telegraph pole. The shadow was moving slowly as the afternoon sun shifted position.

LIKE that shadow cast by the sun, human affairs and standards are ever shifting and changing. By contrast, Jehovah God, “the Father of the celestial lights,” is unchangeable. “With him,” wrote the disciple James, “there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow.” (James 1:17) The Hebrew prophet Malachi recorded God’s own declaration: “I am Jehovah; I have not changed.” (Malachi 3:6) To the nation of Israel in the days of Isaiah, God said: “Even to one’s old age I am the same One; and to one’s gray-headedness I myself shall keep bearing up. I myself shall certainly act.” (Isaiah 46:4) Hence, the passage of time does not alter the confidence we can have in the Almighty’s promises.

A Lesson From the Law

Just as Jehovah’s promises are reliable and unchangeable, so are his standards of right and wrong. Would you trust a merchant who uses two sets of weights, only one of which is accurate? Certainly not. Likewise, “a  cheating pair of scales is something detestable to Jehovah, but a complete stone-weight is a pleasure to him.” (Proverbs 11:1; 20:10) In the Law that he gave the Israelites, Jehovah included this command: “You must not commit injustice in judging, in measuring, in weighing or in measuring liquids. You should prove to have accurate scales, accurate weights, an accurate ephah and an accurate hin. Jehovah your God I am, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt.”​—Leviticus 19:35, 36.

Obeying that command brought the Israelites God’s favor as well as many material benefits. Similarly, adherence to Jehovah’s unchanging standards, not only in weights and measures but in all areas of life, results in blessings for the worshiper who trusts in him. God declares: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk.”​—Isaiah 48:17.

Why Today’s Falling Standards?

The Bible points out the reason for today’s falling standards. The last book of the Bible, Revelation, describes a war in heaven, the outcome of which has affected all humans down to this day. The apostle John wrote: “War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.”​—Revelation 12:7-9.

What was the immediate effect of that war? John continued: “On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”​—Revelation 12:12.

“Woe for the earth” came when World War I broke out in 1914 and brought to an end an era of standards very different from those of today. “The Great War of 1914-18 lies like a band of scorched earth dividing that time from ours,” observes historian Barbara Tuchman. “In wiping out so many lives which would have been operative on the years that followed, in destroying beliefs, changing ideas, and leaving incurable wounds of disillusion, it created a physical as well as psychological gulf between two epochs.” Fellow historian Eric Hobsbawm agrees: “There has, since 1914, been a marked regression from the standards then regarded as normal in the developed countries . . . It is not easy to grasp the extent of the, unfortunately accelerating, return to what our nineteenth-century ancestors would have called the standards of barbarism.”

 In his book Humanity​—A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, author Jonathan Glover notes: “One feature of our time is the fading of the moral law.” Although he is skeptical of a moral law from an external source because of the decline of religion in the Western world, he cautions: “Those of us who do not believe in a religious moral law should still be troubled by its fading.”

The present-day betrayal of trust​—whether in commerce, politics, or religion or even in personal and family relationships—​and the dire consequences are part of the Devil’s wicked scheme to bring woe on earth’s inhabitants. Satan is bent on waging his war to the finish and on bringing down with him all those who endeavor to live by God’s standards.​—Revelation 12:17.

Is there a way out, a solution to the preponderant betrayal of trust? The apostle Peter answers: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to [God’s] promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Peter 3:13) That promise we can trust because not only does God have the power to accomplish his purpose but he also guarantees its fulfillment. Regarding any ‘word that goes forth from his mouth’ Jehovah declares: “It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.” A trustworthy promise indeed!​—Isaiah 55:11; Revelation 21:4, 5.

Living by God’s Standards

In a world of wavering and deteriorating standards, Jehovah’s Witnesses endeavor to live by the standards of conduct that the Bible offers. As a result, they stand apart from the majority, and this has often attracted the attention​—and scorn—​of others.

At a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in London, a spokesman was asked by a TV reporter whether Jehovah’s Witnesses are really Christians. He answered: “Yes, very much so because Jesus is our model. There’s a lot of selfishness in the world, and we focus on Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life. We believe that he is the Son of God, not a part of a Trinity, so our understanding of the Bible is different from that of standard religion.”

When the interview was aired on BBC television, the reporter concluded the program by saying: “I’ve learned a lot more about why Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking on our door. And I don’t think I’ve seen 25,000 people so well dressed and so well behaved all together in one place at the same time.” Fine testimony indeed from an outside observer to the wisdom of abiding by God’s unchangeable standards!

While some may be put off by the idea of living by standards not of their own making, we encourage you to look into your Bible and learn what God’s standards are. But do not be satisfied by a surface examination. Follow the admonition of the apostle Paul: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) Visit the Kingdom Hall in your community, and get to know the Witnesses there. You will find that they are ordinary folk who put their trust in the Bible’s promises and who demonstrate their confidence in God by trying to live by his standards.

Adhering to God’s unchanging and trustworthy standards in your personal life will assuredly bring you blessings. Heed God’s own invitation: “O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”​—Isaiah 48:18.

[Pictures on page 5]

Today, there is a betrayal of trust in commerce, politics, religion, and family relationships