A GROUP of young Witnesses decide to go to a movie. Everyone at school is talking about it, saying it is really good. When they go to the theater and look at the movie posters, they see powerful weapons and women dressed indecently. What will the young Witnesses do? Will they go in and watch the movie?
Every day we have to make decisions that can make our relationship with Jehovah stronger or weaker. You may decide to do something, but when you think about it more, you change your mind and decide to do something different. Are you bad at making decisions, or did you do the right thing?
When You Should Not Change Your Mind
We love Jehovah so much that we dedicated our life to him and got baptized. We made a promise to remain faithful to him, and we really want to keep that promise. But our enemy Satan the Devil will do everything he can to break our integrity. (Revelation 12:17) We made a decision to serve and obey Jehovah. If we change our mind, we might lose our life.
More than 2,600 years ago, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar built a huge golden image and commanded everyone to worship it. Anyone who refused would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were three young men who worshipped Jehovah and did not want to displease him. So they refused to obey the king, and he threw them into the furnace. Jehovah performed a miracle and saved their lives. But they had been willing to die rather than disobey God.
Later, the prophet Daniel knew that if others saw him pray to God, he would be thrown into a pit of lions and would die a horrible death. But he continued to pray three times a day. He did not change his decision to worship the true God, and as a result, Jehovah saved him “from the paw of the lions.”
God’s servants today also keep the promise they made to Jehovah when they dedicated their life to him. A group of young Witnesses in Africa refused to salute a national symbol in a school ceremony, and the school threatened to expel them. Later, the minister of education talked to the young Witness students. They were not afraid, and they politely explained their decision not to salute. Since then, this issue has not come up again. They can go to school without this pressure to disobey Jehovah.
Joseph also faced a test when his wife died suddenly. Joseph’s family respected his wishes regarding funeral arrangements. But his wife’s family are not in the truth, and they wanted to include funeral customs that are displeasing to God. Joseph says: “When I would not compromise, they endeavored to influence my children, who remained resolute. The relatives also tried to organize a wake at my home as is the custom, but I told them that if they insisted on having a wake, it would not be at my home. They knew that a wake would not be in harmony with my beliefs nor those my wife had, so after much discussion they held it at another location.
“During this difficult time of mourning, I begged Jehovah for help so that our family would not break his laws. He heard my prayers and helped us to remain firm despite the pressure.” Joseph and his children never even considered changing their decision to obey Jehovah.
When You May Need to Change Your Mind
In the year 32, a non-Israelite woman asked Jesus to remove a demon from her daughter. Although she asked him many times, he did not answer her. He explained to his disciples: “I was not sent to anyone except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The woman did not stop asking, so Jesus told her: “It is not right to take the bread of the children and throw it to the little dogs.” She showed she had great faith, answering: “Yes, Lord, but really the little dogs do eat of the crumbs falling from the table of their masters.” Jesus changed his mind and removed the demon from her daughter.
By being willing to change his mind when appropriate, Jesus imitated Jehovah. For example, when the Israelites disobeyed Jehovah by worshipping a golden calf, he decided that they deserved to die. But when Moses begged him not to kill them, Jehovah was willing to change his mind.
Like Jehovah and Jesus, the apostle Paul was willing to change his mind. On his first missionary trip, Mark left him. For this reason, Paul did not want to take Mark along on any other trips. But later it seems that Paul saw that Mark had matured and that he could be very useful. So Paul said to Timothy: “Bring Mark along with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry.”
What do we learn from all of this? Jehovah, although perfect, is willing to change his mind because he is merciful, patient, and loving. We are not perfect, and we do not always see things correctly. So there is even more reason for us to change our mind at times. For example, we might change our opinion of others when we understand more about their situation.
We may sometimes need to change how we think about theocratic goals. We may study the Bible and go to meetings, but we may delay getting baptized. Or we may be able to pioneer but hesitate to start. A brother may not want to serve as a ministerial servant or an elder in the congregation. (1 Timothy 3:1) Have you ever felt like that? Do you think that you could change your mind? Jehovah invites you to enjoy these privileges and be happy serving God and others.
Ella, a Bethelite in Africa, says: “When I first came to Bethel, I did not know if I would stay long. I had the desire to serve Jehovah whole-souled, but I also felt very close to my family. At first, I missed my family so much! Yet, my roommate encouraged me, so I decided to stay. After spending ten years at Bethel, I feel that I want to continue as long as possible serving my brothers and sisters by remaining in my Bethel assignment.”
When You Must Change Your Mind
There are times when we must absolutely change our mind. For example, Cain became jealous of his brother and “grew hot with anger.” God saw that Cain was going to do something bad and warned him to control his anger. God said that sin was “crouching at the door.” But instead of changing his mind and attitude, Cain ignored God’s warning. The sad result was that Cain murdered his brother!
We can also learn from the example of King Uzziah. At first, he was obedient and had a good relationship with Jehovah. But sadly, he became very proud. He went into the temple to offer incense, although only priests were allowed to do that. The priests warned him not to, but he did not change his mind. Uzziah “became enraged” and ignored their warning. So Jehovah struck him with leprosy.
A modern example of one who needed to change his mind is Joachim, who was baptized in 1955 but was disfellowshipped in 1978. More than 20 years later, he changed his attitude, repented, and came back to the truth. When an elder asked him why he waited so long, Joachim said: “I was both angry and proud. I do regret that I waited so long. While I was disfellowshipped, I knew that Jehovah’s Witnesses taught the truth.”
We too may need to change our decisions and actions at times. When we are willing to do this, Jehovah will be pleased with us.