“Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve.”
1-3. (a) Why is Joshua a good example for us? (b) What should we remember when we make decisions?
THE choices we make are very important. They allow us to control how we use our life. This is similar to when a person is walking along a road that splits into two separate roads. He has to choose which way to go. He will likely choose the road that brings him closer to where he wants to go instead of the road that takes him farther away.
2 The Bible tells us about many people who had to make important choices. For example, Cain had to choose whether he would control his anger or not. (Genesis 4:6, 7) Joshua had to choose whether he would worship the true God or false gods. (Joshua 24:15) It was important to Joshua to be on the right road. He wanted to stay close to Jehovah, so he made a choice that would help him to do so. But Cain made a choice that separated him from Jehovah.
3 Sometimes we too have to make important decisions so that we can stay on the right road. We need to remember that our choices can either bring glory to Jehovah and help us to stay close to him or they can separate us from him. (Read Hebrews 3:12.) In this article and in the next, we will talk about seven areas of life where we need to stay on the right road and make sure that our decisions do not separate us from Jehovah.
EMPLOYMENT AND CAREER
4. Why is it important to work?
4 Christians must work to support themselves and their families. The Bible shows that if anyone does not want to provide for his family, he is worse than an unbeliever. (2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 5:8, footnote) So it is important to work. But if you are not careful, your decisions about work can start to separate you from Jehovah. How?
5. What should you think about before accepting a job?
5 What if you need to find a job? If it is difficult to find a job in your country, you might be tempted to accept any job that is offered to you. But what if there are Bible principles that tell you this is not a good kind of work to accept? Or what if the job requires so much of your time that you cannot spend enough time with the congregation or with your family? Should you take the job because you think that it is better to have a bad job than to have no job? Remember, your choice could help you to stay close to Jehovah or separate you from him. (Hebrews 2:1) Whether you need a job or are thinking about changing your job, how can you make a wise decision?
6, 7. (a) What are two reasons a person might accept a job? (b) Which reason shows that he wants to stay close to Jehovah? Why?
6 Your choice will depend on what you want to do with your life. Ask yourself: ‘What do I want a job to do for me?’ If your main reason for having a job is to support yourself and your family so that you can keep serving Jehovah, he will help you. (Matthew 6:33) Jehovah knows how to help you when you suddenly lose your job or when the economy gets bad. (Isaiah 59:1) He “knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.”
Jehovah knows how to help you when you suddenly lose your job or when the economy gets bad
7 What if your main reason for having a job is to make a lot of money? You might be able to do that. But it is dangerous to work only so you can be rich. (Read 1 Timothy 6:9, 10.) If money and your career are the most important things in your life, then you will separate yourself from Jehovah.
8, 9. What questions should parents ask themselves about their job or career? Why?
8 If you are a parent, remember that your children learn from the way you make decisions. What do they think is the most important thing in your life? Your career? Or your friendship with Jehovah? If you keep trying to become important or make a lot of money, do you think your children will make a similar bad choice when they grow up? Or could they lose respect for you as a parent? One young Christian says that for as long as she can remember, her father made his job the most important thing in his life. “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.” Her father works all the time and buys expensive things that the family does not need. As a result, their family is known for having a lot of money, not for encouraging others to serve Jehovah. She says that she would be happier if her father worked hard to keep their family close to Jehovah instead of working hard to make a lot of money.
9 Parents, make sure that you do not allow your career to separate you from Jehovah. Be an example for your children. Show them that you truly believe that having a relationship with Jehovah is much more important than money or things.
10. What should a young person think about before choosing the kind of work he will do?
10 If you are a young person who is thinking about what kind of work you will do when you grow up, how can you make a good choice? As we have already learned, your choice will depend on what you want to do with your life. If you are thinking about getting training for a certain kind of work, will that work help you to make Jehovah’s service the most important thing in your life? Or will it separate you from Jehovah? (2 Timothy 4:10) Do you want to be like the people in the world who are happy only when they have a lot of money? Or will you have confidence in Jehovah, as David did? He said: “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.” (Psalm 37:25) This is like choosing which road to take. Remember that one choice will separate you from Jehovah and the other choice will give you the best life you could ever have. (Read Proverbs 10:22; Malachi 3:10.) Which choice will you make? *
RECREATION AND ENTERTAINMENT
11. What does the Bible teach us about recreation and entertainment? What should we remember?
11 The Bible does not say that it is wrong to have fun, and it does not say that enjoying recreation and entertainment is a waste of time. Paul told Timothy that it can be beneficial to get exercise. (1 Timothy 4:8) The Bible even says that there is “a time to laugh” and “a time to skip about,” and it encourages us to get enough rest. (Ecclesiastes 3:4; 4:6) But if you are not careful, recreation and entertainment could start to separate you from Jehovah. How? By your spending too much time on recreation and entertainment or by your choosing the wrong kind.
12. What should you think about when choosing recreation and entertainment?
12 First, let us think about what kind of recreation and entertainment we should choose. It is definitely possible to find good recreation and entertainment. But much of the entertainment in the world is about things that God hates, including violence, spiritism, and immoral sex. So you have to be careful about what kind of recreation and entertainment you choose. Think about questions such as these: How does my entertainment affect me? Does it encourage me to be violent or to feel proud of my nation? Does it make me think I always have to win? (Proverbs 3:31) Does it cost too much money? Would others be offended if they knew I chose this kind of recreation or entertainment? (Romans 14:21) What kind of people would I be with? (Proverbs 13:20) Does it make me want to do something wrong?
13, 14. Why should you think about how much time you spend on recreation?
13 Think, too, about the amount of time you spend on recreation and entertainment. Ask yourself: ‘Do I spend so much time on recreation that I have little time for field service and the meetings?’ If you spend too much time on entertainment, it will not be as enjoyable as it could be. In fact, those who are careful not to spend too much time on recreation enjoy their recreation even more. Why? They know that they did the more important things first, so they do not have to feel guilty about having some fun.
14 Although it may seem fun to spend a lot of time in recreation, it could separate you from Jehovah. A 20-year-old sister named Kim had that experience. She said she used to attend parties every weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Now, though, she sees that there are more important things to do. She says: “For example, as a pioneer, I wake up at 6:00 a.m. for field service, so I can’t be at gatherings until one or two in the morning. I know that social events are not all bad, but they can be a huge distraction.” She has learned that she has to be careful not to spend too much time at social events.
15. How can parents help their children to choose good recreation?
15 Parents have to provide what the family needs. They also have the responsibility to help the family to stay close to Jehovah and to feel happy and loved. If you are a parent, do not think that all recreation is bad. Of course, some kinds of recreation and entertainment are bad. (1 Corinthians 5:6) But if you make the effort to choose your recreation and entertainment carefully, you can find ways for your family to have a good time together. * (See footnote.) In that way, your choices in entertainment will not separate you from Jehovah.
16, 17. What sad situation have many parents experienced? How do we know that Jehovah understands their sadness?
16 It is natural for a parent and a child to love each other very much. Jehovah even said that he loves his people as a mother loves her child. (Isaiah 49:15) When a family member leaves Jehovah, it is normal for us to be very sad. One sister whose daughter was disfellowshipped said: “I was devastated. I wondered, ‘Why did she leave Jehovah?’ I felt guilty, and I blamed myself.”
17 If you are in this situation, Jehovah understands how you feel. He himself “felt hurt at his heart” when his first human son rebelled and later when most of the people living before the Flood did not listen to Noah. (Genesis 6:5, 6) Those who have never been in this situation may not understand how much this can hurt. But it would be dangerous to allow the wrong conduct of your disfellowshipped family member to separate you from Jehovah. How can you cope with the sadness when a family member leaves Jehovah?
18. Why should parents not blame themselves if their child leaves Jehovah?
18 Do not blame yourself for what happened. Each dedicated and baptized family member must “carry his own load” and choose whether he will serve Jehovah. (Galatians 6:5) Jehovah views the sinner as responsible for his decision. God does not blame you. (Ezekiel 18:20) Also, do not blame others. Have respect for the way Jehovah disciplines his people. Do not blame the elders, who are protecting the congregation. But take your stand against the Devil, and do not let this situation separate you from Jehovah.
19, 20. (a) How can parents of disfellowshipped ones cope with their sadness? (b) What hope do these parents have?
19 What would happen if you chose to be angry with Jehovah for what happened to your child? Your feelings could separate you from Jehovah. Really, your precious family member needs to know that you are determined to love Jehovah even more than you love your family. So to endure your sadness, work hard to keep your relationship with Jehovah strong. Associate regularly with your faithful Christian brothers and sisters. (Proverbs 18:1) Pray to Jehovah, and honestly tell him how you feel. (Psalm 62:7, 8) Do not try to find reasons to go against his command about disfellowshipping. We should not look for reasons to spend time with a disfellowshipped family member or have a relationship with him through e-mail. (1 Corinthians 5:11) Stay busy in Jehovah’s service. (1 Corinthians 15:58) The sister who was 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 Corinthians 13:4, 7) It is not wrong for you to hope that your loved one will return to Jehovah. Each year, many who have been disfellowshipped decide to repent and come back to Jehovah’s organization. Jehovah does not remain angry with them after they repent. Instead, he is “ready to forgive.”
MAKE GOOD CHOICES
21, 22. What kind of choices do you want to make in life?
21 Jehovah has given humans the right to make choices in their lives. (Read Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.) But this means that we have a responsibility to make good choices. Each Christian should ask himself: ‘Have I been making choices that keep me on the right road? Have I allowed my employment and career, recreation and entertainment, or family relationships to separate me from Jehovah?’
22 Jehovah never stops loving his people. So nothing can separate us from Jehovah unless we make bad choices. (Romans 8:38, 39) But that does not have to happen! Make sure that you allow nothing to separate you from Jehovah. The next article will talk about four more areas of life where we need to be careful about our choices.