“Keep Your Senses Completely”

“Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.”​—PROVERBS 14:15.

1, 2. (a) What does Lot’s experience in Sodom teach us? (b) What does the expression “keep your senses” mean?

WHEN Abraham offered Lot the first choice of the land, Lot’s eyes were drawn to a well-watered region that was “like the garden of Jehovah.” It must have seemed to be the perfect place to settle his family, since “Lot chose for himself the whole District of the Jordan” and set up camp near Sodom. However, outward appearances were deceptive, for nearby lived “the men of Sodom [who] were bad and were gross sinners against Jehovah.” (Genesis 13:7-13) As events unfolded, Lot and his family suffered terrible losses. Eventually, he and his daughters were reduced to living in a cave. (Genesis 19:17, 23-26, 30) What had looked so good to him at the outset turned out to be just the opposite.

2 The account of what befell Lot provides a lesson for servants of God today. When we face decisions, we must be alert to possible dangers and guard against being deceived by first impressions. It is fitting, then, that God’s Word urges us: “Keep your senses completely.” (1 Peter 1:13) The Greek word here rendered “keep your senses” literally means “be sober.” According to Bible scholar R.C.H. Lenski, that soberness is “a calm, steady state of mind which weighs and estimates things aright and thus enables us to make the right decision.” Let us consider some situations that call for us to be sober-minded.

Weighing a Business Opportunity

3. Why is there a need for caution if we are approached with a business opportunity?

3 Suppose you are offered a business opportunity by a respected person, perhaps a fellow worshipper of Jehovah. He is enthusiastic about the prospects for success and encourages you to act quickly so as not to miss out. You may begin to envision a better life for you and your family, perhaps even reasoning that this would enable you to devote more time to spiritual pursuits. However, Proverbs 14:15 cautions: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” In the excitement that often accompanies starting a new business, risks may be underestimated, dangers overlooked, and the uncertainties of being in business not fully considered. (James 4:13, 14) In such a situation, how necessary it would be to keep your senses completely!

4. How can we ‘consider our steps’ when evaluating a business proposal?

4 A prudent person carefully examines a business proposal before making a decision. (Proverbs 21:5) Such an examination often reveals hidden dangers. Consider the following scenario: A person is seeking to borrow money in connection with his business plans and offers you a large profit if you lend him funds. The offer may sound tempting, but what are the risks? Does the borrower agree to repay the money regardless of how the business fares, or does repayment depend  on the success of the business? In other words, could you lose your money if the business fails? You might also ask: “Why is money being sought from individuals? Do banks view the venture as too risky?” Taking time to consider the risks will help you to evaluate the proposal realistically.​—Proverbs 13:16; 22:3.

5. (a) What wise step did Jeremiah take when he bought a field? (b) Why is it beneficial to document all business arrangements in a formal written agreement?

5 When the prophet Jeremiah bought a field from his cousin, who was a fellow worshipper of Jehovah, he made a written record of the transaction before witnesses. (Jeremiah 32:9-12) A wise person today will make sure that all business arrangements he enters, including those with relatives and fellow believers, are documented in a formal written agreement. * Having a clear, well-prepared written agreement helps to prevent misunderstandings and preserve unity. On the other hand, failure to have a written agreement is often a contributing factor when business problems arise between servants of Jehovah. Sadly, such problems can result in heartache, bitterness, and even loss of spirituality.

6. Why do we need to guard against greed?

6 We must also guard against greed. (Luke 12:15) The promise of huge profits can blind one to the risks of an unsound business venture. Even some who have enjoyed fine privileges in Jehovah’s service have become entangled in this snare. God’s Word cautions us: “Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things.” (Hebrews 13:5) When contemplating a business opportunity, a Christian should consider, ‘Is it really necessary to get involved?’ Leading a simple life centered on our worship of Jehovah will protect us from “all sorts of injurious things.”​—1 Timothy 6:6-10.

Challenges Facing Single Christians

7. (a) What challenges do many single Christians face? (b) How does our choice of a marriage mate involve loyalty to God?

7 Many servants of Jehovah long to be married but have not yet found a suitable mate. In some lands, there is strong social pressure to marry. Yet, opportunities to meet a potential mate among fellow believers may be few. (Proverbs 13:12) Christians recognize, though, that heeding the Biblical injunction to marry “only in the Lord” is a matter of loyalty to Jehovah. (1 Corinthians 7:39) To stand firm against the pressures and temptations that they face, single Christians must keep their senses completely.

8. What pressure did a Shulammite girl come under, and how might Christian women today face a similar challenge?

8 In the Song of Solomon, a simple country girl called the Shulammite attracts the attention of the king. He woos her with an impressive display of wealth, prestige, and charm, although she is already in love with a young man. (Song of Solomon 1:9-11; 3:7-10;  6:8-10, 13) If you are a Christian woman, you too may find yourself the object of someone’s unwanted attention. A person at your place of employment, perhaps someone in a position of authority, may begin to pay you compliments, do you favors, and seek opportunities to be with you. Be wary of such flattering attention. Although such a person’s intentions are not always romantic or immoral, oftentimes they are. Like the Shulammite maiden, be “a wall.” (Song of Solomon 8:4, 10) Firmly reject unwanted advances. Make it known to your workmates from the very start that you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and take every opportunity to witness to them. That will serve as a protection for you.

9. What are some dangers of entering into a relationship with a stranger on the Internet? (See also the box on page 25.)

9 Internet Web sites designed to help single individuals find a marriage partner are becoming popular. Some view these as a way to get to know people whom they would not otherwise meet. However, blindly entering into a relationship with a stranger involves real dangers. On the Internet, it can be difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. (Psalm 26:4) Not everyone who claims to be a servant of Jehovah really is. Moreover, with online dating, a strong attachment can develop quickly, and that can distort one’s judgment. (Proverbs 28:26) Whether via the Internet or by some other means, it is unwise to cultivate a close relationship with a person whom one knows very little about.​—1 Corinthians 15:33.

10. How can single Christians be encouraged by fellow believers?

10 Jehovah “is very tender in affection” for his servants. (James 5:11) He knows that the challenges facing Christians who are involuntarily single are at times disheartening, and he treasures their loyalty. How can others encourage them? We should regularly commend them for their obedience and self-sacrificing spirit. (Judges 11:39, 40) We can also include them in arrangements for upbuilding association. Have you done that recently? Moreover, we can pray for them, asking Jehovah to help them keep their spiritual balance and find joy in serving him. By our sincere interest, may we show that we appreciate these loyal ones as Jehovah does.​—Psalm 37:28.

 Dealing With Health Problems

11. What challenges do serious health problems present?

11 How distressing it is when we or a loved one faces serious health problems! (Isaiah 38:1-3) While we seek to find effective treatment, it is vital that we adhere to Scriptural principles. For example, Christians are careful to obey the Bible’s command to abstain from blood, and they avoid any diagnostic or therapeutic procedure that involves spiritism. (Acts 15:28, 29; Galatians 5:19-21) For those without medical training, however, evaluating treatment options can be perplexing and intimidating. What can help us to keep our senses completely?

12. How can a Christian keep his balance when considering treatment options?

12 “The shrewd one considers his steps” by doing research in the Bible and Christian publications. (Proverbs 14:15) In parts of the earth where doctors and hospitals are few, traditional medicine, which makes use of herbal remedies, may be the only treatment available. If we are considering such treatment, we can find helpful information in the April 15, 1987, issue of The Watchtower, pages 26-9. It alerts us to potential dangers. For example, we may need to find out the following: Is the traditional healer known to practice spiritism? Is the treatment based on the belief that sickness and death are caused either by offended gods (or ancestral spirits) or by enemies who employ witchcraft? Are sacrifices, incantations, or other spiritistic rituals employed in the preparation or use of the medicine? (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) Such research will help us to heed the inspired counsel: “Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.” * (1 Thessalonians 5:21) It will help us to keep our balance.

13, 14. (a) How can we demonstrate reasonableness in caring for our physical health? (b) Why is reasonableness needed when we discuss health and medical matters with others?

13 Reasonableness is needed in all areas of life, including the care of our physical health. (Philippians 4:5) Giving balanced attention to our health shows appreciation for the precious gift of life. When we face health problems, these rightly demand our attention. However, perfect health will not be attainable until God’s time arrives for “the curing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1, 2) We must guard against becoming so preoccupied with physical health that our more important spiritual needs get pushed aside.​—Matthew 5:3; Philippians 1:10.

14 We also need to show balance and reasonableness when discussing health and medical matters with others. These topics should not dominate our conversations when we gather for spiritual fellowship at Christian meetings and assemblies. Furthermore, medical decisions often involve Bible principles, a person’s conscience, and his relationship with Jehovah. Therefore, it would be unloving to impose our views on a fellow believer or pressure him to ignore the dictates of his conscience. While mature ones in  the congregation may be consulted for assistance, each Christian must “carry his own load” of responsibility for making decisions, and “each of us will render an account for himself to God.”​—Galatians 6:5; Romans 14:12, 22, 23.

When We Are Under Stress

15. How can stressful circumstances present a challenge?

15 Stressful circumstances can cause even loyal servants of Jehovah to speak or act unwisely. (Ecclesiastes 7:7) When under severe trial, Job became somewhat unbalanced and had to have his thinking corrected. (Job 35:2, 3; 40:6-8) Although “Moses was by far the meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground,” on one occasion he became provoked and spoke rashly. (Numbers 12:3; 20:7-12; Psalm 106:32, 33) David had shown admirable self-control in not striking down King Saul, but when Nabal insulted him and screamed abuses at his men, David became infuriated and lost his good judgment. Only when Abigail intervened did he regain his senses, narrowly avoiding a calamitous mistake.​—1 Samuel 24:2-7; 25:9-13, 32, 33.

16. What can help us to avoid acting rashly?

16 We too may face stressful situations that could rob us of our good judgment. Carefully weighing the viewpoints of others, as David did, can help us to avoid acting rashly and hastening into sin. (Proverbs 19:2) Further, God’s Word admonishes us: “Be agitated, but do not sin. Have your say in your heart, upon your bed, and keep silent.” (Psalm 4:4) Where possible, it is wise to wait until we are calm before taking action or making decisions. (Proverbs 14:17, 29) We can turn to Jehovah in fervent prayer, “and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard [our] hearts and [our] mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) This God-given calmness will stabilize us and help us to keep our senses completely.

17. Why must we rely upon Jehovah to keep our senses completely?

17 In spite of our best efforts to avoid dangers and act wisely, all of us make mistakes. (James 3:2) We could be about to take a ruinous false step and be completely unaware of it. (Psalm 19:12, 13) More than that, as human creatures, we have neither the ability nor the right to direct our own step apart from Jehovah. (Jeremiah 10:23) How grateful we are that he assures us: “I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go. I will give advice with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8) Yes, with Jehovah’s help, we can keep our senses completely.

[Footnotes]

^ par. 5 For more information on written business agreements, see The Watchtower, August 1, 1997, pages 30-1; November 15, 1986, pages 16-17; and Awake!, February 8, 1983, pages 13-15, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

^ par. 12 This approach will likewise benefit those who are considering controversial alternative forms of treating some ailment.

How Would You Answer?

How can we keep our senses

• if offered a business opportunity?

• when seeking a marriage mate?

• when facing health problems?

• when under stress?

[Study Questions]

[Box on page 25]

Can You Trust It?

The following disclaimers appear on Web sites for singles:

“Even with our best efforts there is no guarantee of an individual’s true identity.”

“We do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information on the service.

“Opinions, advice, statements, offers, or other information or content made available through [this] service are those of their respective authors . . . and should not necessarily be relied upon.”

[Picture on page 23]

“The shrewd one considers his steps”

[Pictures on page 24, 25]

How can Christian women imitate the Shulammite maiden?

[Picture on page 26]

“Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine”