Let God’s Word Guide Your Steps
“Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.”—PSALM 119:105.
1, 2. Why have most humans not succeeded in finding true peace and happiness?
CAN you recall an occasion when you had to ask someone for directions? Perhaps you were close to your destination but were unsure of the last few turns. Or it may be that you were completely lost and needed to change your course altogether. In either case, would it not be wise to follow the direction of someone who knew the area? Such a person could help you reach your destination.
2 For thousands of years, mankind in general has tried to navigate its way through life without divine help. Left on their own, however, imperfect humans are completely lost. They simply cannot find the road to true peace and happiness. Why have they been unable to reach that destination? More than 2,500 years ago, the prophet Jeremiah stated: “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Anyone who tries to direct his own step without accepting qualified help inevitably faces frustration. Truly, mankind needs direction!
3. Why is Jehovah God supremely qualified to provide direction for mankind, and what does he promise?
3 Jehovah God is supremely qualified to provide such direction. Why? Because he understands better than anyone else the makeup of humans. And he is fully aware of how the human race got sidetracked and became lost. He also knows what is required for them to get back on course. Furthermore, as the Creator, Jehovah always knows what is best for us. (Isaiah 48:17) Thus, we can fully trust his promise as recorded at Psalm 32:8: “I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go. I will give advice with my eye upon you.” There is no doubt about it: Jehovah provides the best direction. But just how does he guide us?
4, 5. How can God’s utterances direct us?
4 A psalmist said in prayer to Jehovah: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.” (Psalm 119:105) God’s statements and reminders are found in the Bible, and they can help us to overcome obstacles that we may encounter on our path. Indeed, when we read the Bible and let it guide us, we are experiencing firsthand what is described at Isaiah 30:21: “Your own ears will hear a word behind you saying: ‘This is the way. Walk in it, you people.’”
5 Note, though, that Psalm 119:105 points to two related functions of God’s Word. First, it serves as a lamp to our foot. When we face day-to-day challenges, principles found in the Bible should guide our steps so that we make wise decisions and avoid the traps and pitfalls of this world. Second, God’s reminders light our roadway, helping us to make choices that are consistent with our hope of living forever in God’s promised Paradise. With the road ahead well-lit, we will be able to discern the consequences—good or bad—of a particular course. (Romans 14:21; 1 Timothy 6:9; Revelation 22: 12) Let us see in greater detail how God’s utterances as found in the Bible can be a lamp to our foot and a light to our roadway.
“A Lamp to My Foot”
6. Under what circumstances can God’s utterances be a lamp to our foot?
6 Every day, we make decisions. Some decisions may seem relatively minor, but we may at times be confronted with a situation that challenges our morality, our honesty, or our neutral stand. To face such trials successfully, we must have our “perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:14) By obtaining accurate knowledge of God’s Word and developing an understanding of its principles, we train our conscience so that we will make decisions that please Jehovah.—Proverbs 3:21.
7. Describe a situation in which a Christian may be inclined to associate with unbelieving workmates.
7 Consider an example. Are you an adult who is sincerely trying to make Jehovah’s heart rejoice? (Proverbs 27:11) If so, you are to be commended. But imagine for a moment that some workmates offer you a ticket to accompany them to a sporting event. They enjoy your companionship at work and would like to socialize with you outside the work environment. You might have the strong impression that these individuals are not bad people. They might even have some good principles. What will you do? Would there be any danger in accepting the invitation? How can God’s Word help you to make a good decision in this matter?
8. What Scriptural principles help us to reason on the matter of associations?
8 Consider a few Scriptural principles. The first one that may come to mind is found at 1 Corinthians 15:33, which says: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” Does adhering to this principle require that you shun unbelievers entirely? The Scriptural answer to that question is no. After all, the apostle Paul himself showed loving consideration for “people of all sorts,” including unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 9:22) The very nature of Christianity demands that we show an interest in others—including those who do not share our beliefs. (Romans 10:13-15) Indeed, how can we follow the counsel to “work what is good toward all” if we isolate ourselves from people who might need our help?—Galatians 6:10.
9. What Bible counsel helps us to be balanced in our relationship with our workmates?
9 However, there is a clear difference between being friendly toward a workmate and being that one’s close companion. Here is where another Scriptural principle enters the picture. The apostle Paul warned Christians: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” (2 Corinthians 6:14) What is the meaning of the phrase “do not become unevenly yoked”? Some Bible translations render those words “do not team up,” “do not try to work together as equals,” or “stop forming inappropriate relationships.” At what point does a relationship with a workmate become inappropriate? When does it cross the line and become an uneven yoking? God’s Word, the Bible, can direct your step in this situation.
10. (a) How did Jesus choose companions? (b) What questions can help a person to make good decisions about associations?
10 Consider the example of Jesus, who from creation onward had a love for humans. (Proverbs 8:31) While on earth, he forged a close bond with his followers. (John 13:1) He even “felt love” for a man who was religiously misguided. (Mark 10:17-22) But Jesus also set clear boundaries regarding his choice of close companions. He formed no close ties with people who were not sincerely interested in doing his Father’s will. On one occasion, Jesus stated: “You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you.” (John 15:14) True, you may get along well with a particular workmate. But ask yourself: ‘Is this person willing to do what Jesus commands? Does he or she want to learn about Jehovah, the one whom Jesus instructed us to worship? Does he or she have the same moral standards that I as a Christian have?’ (Matthew 4:10) As you talk with your workmates and insist on applying Bible standards, the answers to these questions will be evident.
11. Cite situations in which God’s utterances should guide our steps.
11 There are many other situations in which God’s utterances can be like a lamp to our foot. For example, an unemployed Christian may be offered a sorely needed job. However, the schedule is demanding, and if he accepts the job, he will be absent for a number of Christian meetings and will miss out on other activities related to true worship. (Psalm 37:25) Another Christian may be strongly tempted to view entertainment that clearly violates Bible principles. (Ephesians 4:17-19) Still another might be prone to take offense at the imperfections of fellow believers. (Colossians 3:13) In all such situations, we should let God’s Word be a lamp to our foot. Really, by following Bible principles, we can successfully face any challenge in life. God’s Word is “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness.”—2 Timothy 3:16.
“A Light to My Roadway”
12. How are God’s utterances a light to our roadway?
12 Psalm 119:105 also states that God’s utterances can light our roadway, illuminating the path ahead. We are not left in the dark when it comes to the future, for the Bible explains the meaning of distressing world conditions and what the outcome will be. Yes, we realize that we are living in “the last days” of this wicked system of things. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Knowing what lies ahead should have a profound impact on how we live now. The apostle Peter wrote: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah!”—2 Peter 3:11, 12.
13. How should the urgency of our times affect our thinking and our lifestyle?
13 Our thinking and our lifestyle should reflect our firm conviction that “the world is passing away and so is its desire.” (1 John 2:17) Applying Bible guidelines will help us to make wise decisions regarding our future goals. For example, Jesus stated: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) How commendable it is to see many young ones showing faith in Jesus’ words by pursuing the full-time ministry! Others—including entire families—have voluntarily moved to lands where there is a pressing need for Kingdom proclaimers.
14. How did one Christian family expand their ministry?
14 Consider one Christian family of four who moved from the United States to the Dominican Republic to serve with a congregation in a town with a population of 50,000. The congregation is made up of about 130 Kingdom publishers. Yet, on April 12, 2006, some 1,300 attended the Memorial of Christ’s death! The field in that area is so “white for harvesting” that after just five months, this father, mother, son, and daughter were conducting a total of 30 Bible studies. (John 4:35) The father explains: “The congregation has 30 brothers and sisters who have moved here to help out. About 20 are from the United States, while the rest come from the Bahamas, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, and Spain. They arrive eager to engage in the ministry and have had a tremendous impact on the enthusiasm of the local brothers.”
15. What blessings have you enjoyed because of putting Kingdom interests first in your life?
15 Understandably, many are not in a position to move to another land to serve where there is a greater need. But those who are—or who can adjust their circumstances to make themselves available—will surely experience numerous blessings by sharing in this aspect of the ministry. And no matter where you serve, do not miss out on the joy that can be yours when you serve Jehovah with all your strength. If you put Kingdom interests first in your life, Jehovah promises to “empty out upon you a blessing until there is no more want.”—Malachi 3:10.
Benefiting From Jehovah’s Guidance
16. How will we benefit by letting God’s utterances guide us?
16 As we have seen, Jehovah’s utterances guide us in two related ways. They serve as a lamp to our foot, helping us to move forward in the right direction and guiding us when we have to make decisions. And they light our roadway, enabling us to see clearly what lies ahead. That, in turn, helps us to follow Peter’s admonition: “Brace up your minds for activity, keep your senses completely; set your hope upon the undeserved kindness that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”—1 Peter 1:13.
17. How will Bible study help us to follow God’s direction?
17 There is no doubt that Jehovah provides guidance. The question is, Will you submit to it? To understand the direction that Jehovah provides, make it your resolve to read a portion of the Bible each day. Meditate on what you read, try to perceive Jehovah’s will in matters, and think of different ways that the material could apply in your life. (1 Timothy 4:15) Then use your “power of reason” when you make personal decisions.—Romans 12:1.
18. When we let God’s Word guide us, what blessings do we receive?
18 If we allow them to, the principles found in God’s Word will enlighten us and give us the guidance we need when we make decisions about the proper course to follow. We can be confident that Jehovah’s recorded utterances make “the inexperienced one wise.” (Psalm 19:7) When we allow the Bible to guide us, we are blessed with a clean conscience and the satisfaction that comes from pleasing Jehovah. (1 Timothy 1:18, 19) If we let God’s utterances guide our steps each day, Jehovah will reward us with the ultimate blessing of everlasting life.—John 17:3.
Do You Recall?
• Why is it important to let Jehovah God guide our steps?
• In what way can God’s utterances be a lamp to our foot?
• How can God’s utterances be a light to our roadway?
• How will Bible study help us to follow God’s direction?
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When does association with an unbeliever become unwise?
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Jesus’ close companions were those who did Jehovah’s will
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Does our lifestyle demonstrate that we put Kingdom interests first?