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Stop being molded by this system
„And stop being molded by this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, so that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
What are the facts of this system, which the apostle speaks of in Romans 12:2, and to which he draws the attention of Christians? Let's notice some of them by reading this article.
One of the specific facts of this system is the habit of drinking. There is plenty of drinking done today, and Paul mentions drinking as something to watch. People drink all kinds of beverages, but the drinking causing the most disturbance in the minds of some people is the drinking of alcoholic beverages. Maybe a person who wants to drink wine will argue that Paul admonished Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach’s sake. Another may say that Jesus’ first miracle was the making of wine. Still another will say that wine makes glad the heart. What is said is true, and in most countries and states it is lawful to have and use alcoholic beverages, but is it to the advantage of another brother? Will your drinking such a beverage serve to “build up”? Let us think not of our own advantage, but of that of the other person.
Suppose there is an overseer in a congregation of God’s people, a man of influence, one looked up to, who goes out some evening with friends but he does not control his drinking of intoxicating liquor and he becomes drunk. The Bible states very definitely that drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom. “What! Do you not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, . . . nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) Even though some of you were like this before coming into the truth, Paul says, you were washed clean. So why go back to this sort of practice again and stumble your brother? Now a brother may see this intoxicated overseer walking down the street in a zigzag fashion. This observer is shocked, disturbed and offended that an ordained minister of his congregation should think so little of his ordination before God that he should become a drunkard. This carelessness in drinking has become a cause for stumbling a brother in the congregation of God.
Let us follow this drunken man a little farther. As he nears his home his neighbor with whom he studies the Bible observes his drunkenness, and he, too, is stumbled, because he thought that this ordained minister was living a Christian life. Well, the neighbor decides he will no longer study the Bible with this individual, and says to his wife: “If that is what the Bible did for him, there are better men than that to associate with who do not even have faith in God. Why should I change my way of life and take up something new when here one of the prominent ones in the congregation, who claims to be an ordained minister, is drunk?”
How very right Paul was when he said: “Therefore, whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.” (1 Cor. 10:31) Was this to God’s glory? Certainly a Christian does not want to stumble a Jew, a Greek, a neighbor, a friend, or one of his brothers in the congregation of God. What every ordained minister must be interested in is saving the lives of all people for God’s new world. “So, then, let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another. Stop tearing down the work of God just for the sake of food. True, all things are clean, but it is injurious to the man who with an occasion for stumbling eats. It is well not to eat flesh or to drink wine or do anything over which your brother stumbles.”—Rom. 14:19-21.
A Christian must watch his step in other things too. Paul presents this truth when writing to the Colossians: “Let the word of the Christ reside in you richly in all wisdom. Keep on teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, praises to God, spiritual songs with graciousness, singing in your hearts to Jehovah. And whatever it is that you do in word or in work, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him.”—Col. 3:16, 17.
Paul says to watch your words and work, which take up a good part of our time every day. Just how do we speak to people and how do we work for our employer? One’s Christian training certainly expresses itself in these two things. Are the words that come out of our mouths decent, clean, helpful and respectable? Would we be pleased to have God listen to us in everything we say? James wrote about our words when he said: “A fountain does not cause the sweet and the bitter to bubble out of the same opening, does it? . . . Neither can salt water produce sweet water.” As for that little member in the body, he says: “The tongue is a fire. . . . Not one of mankind can get it tamed. An unruly injurious thing, it is full of death-dealing poison. With it we bless Jehovah, even the Father, and yet with it we curse men who have come into existence ‘in the likeness of God.’ Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. It is not proper, my brothers, for these things to go on occurring this way.” The mouth of an ordained minister should be teaching and admonishing others with graciousness. There should be no such thing as bragging and lying against the truth. The mouth should always praise Jehovah. “Moreover, the fruit of righteousness has its seed sown under peaceful conditions for those who are making peace.”—Jas. 3:6-12, 18.
Ordained ministers of Jehovah cannot have dual personalities with two vocabularies, one clean and upright, the other filthy and wicked. A Christian can train himself and be able to use good words that express his thoughts clearly and forcefully. The Christian does not have one vocabulary he uses in the congregation of God’s people and then another set of cruel, harsh, dirty words to be used where he works. Remember what Paul says: “Whatever it is that you do in word. . . , do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him.” Peter confirms this, too, using good expressive words: “For, ‘he that would love life and see good days, let him restrain his tongue from what is injurious and his lips from speaking deceitfully, but let him turn away from what is injurious and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For Jehovah’s eyes are upon the righteous and his ears are toward their supplication, but Jehovah’s face is against those doing injurious things.’”—1 Pet. 3:10-12.
28 Then there is that other part of the Christian life—work. Considerable time is spent at some kind of labor, but how does one perform his work and earn his daily bread? All individuals in effect make a contract or an agreement with their employer. When an employer hires a man to do a certain work he agrees to pay the worker a certain wage. The employee should not shirk his work, do less than he agreed to do. He should be honest and give his employer full measure. If one is hired as a carpenter for so many hours a day and he receives so much pay for those hours, then certainly during that period of time he should be diligent in doing good carpenter work for all those hours. He is not paid to loaf. He is paid to work. If a Christian is working in a store owned by a rich man he has no right to steal from that rich man because he is wealthy, nor has he the right to steal from customers by charging them more than the goods are worth and keeping the difference. That is stealing. A man can steal, too, from his employer by loafing on the job. The man expects to be paid by his employer. Why cannot the employer expect the work to be done for the money he pays out? “Whatever it is that you do . . . in work, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Do you?
Paul did not feel that Onesimus, a slave of Philemon, should be kept from his employer. When Onesimus became a Christian, Paul found out he was a slave and sent him back to his owner. The slave, now a Christian, still belonged to Philemon even though Philemon was a Christian too. Paul, writing about Onesimus, said: “I am exhorting you [Philemon] concerning my child, to whom I became a father while in my prison bonds, Onesimus, formerly useless to you but now useful to you and to me. This very one I am sending back to you, yes, him, that is, my own heart.” Even though Paul found Onesimus, who had run away from his owner, most helpful to himself, yet Paul wanted him to go back to his owner, because that was right, and there was where he belonged by law, and so that Philemon might “have him back forever, no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, as a brother beloved, especially so to me, yet how much more so to you both in fleshly relationship and in the Lord.” (Philem. 10-12, 15, 16) The Scriptures indicate that no matter what condition one finds himself in, as a slave or a free workman, a Christian should work as though he were doing it “in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him.”
Christians must be honest. They must be truthful. They must prove they are ordained ministers, not only when they preach the good news, but in everything they do, so that all kinds of men might get saved. By this they prove that ‘the word of God is at work in believers.’ Are you a Christian doing good works in your eating, drinking, talking, working, preaching or doing anything else, doing all to God’s glory in order that someone might get saved? Are you ‘seeking peace and pursuing it’? A Christian knows “Jehovah’s eyes are upon the righteous,” his ordained ministers.—1 Pet. 3:11, 12.
“Become holy yourselves in all your conduct.”—1 Pet. 1:15.