Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Make the Truth My Own?
“I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I always felt that if you were brought up that way, you actually knew Jehovah. How wrong I was!”—Antoinette.
“WHAT is truth?” Pontius Pilate, the man who handed Jesus over for execution, posed that famous question. (John 18:38) However, Pilate evidently intended his cynical question to close—not open—honest dialogue. He really wasn’t interested in “truth.” But what about you? Are you interested in truth?
Philosophers have pondered what truth is for centuries, with embarrassingly little to show for their efforts. However, you can find the answer to Pilate’s question. Jesus Christ taught that God’s Word is truth. He also spoke of himself as “the truth.” And the apostle John wrote: “The truth came to be through Jesus.” (John 1:17; 14:6; 17:17) The entire body of Christian teachings, which later became part of the Bible, are therefore also called “the truth” or “the truth of the good news.” (Titus 1:14; Galatians 2:14; 2 John 1, 2) These Christian teachings embody such things as God’s personal name, the establishment of God’s Kingdom, the resurrection, and Jesus’ ransom.—Psalm 83:18; Matthew 6:9, 10; 20:28; John 5:28, 29.
Thousands of young ones have been taught Bible truth by Christian parents. But does this mean that such ones are “walking in the truth”? (3 John 3, 4) Not necessarily. Twenty-year-old Jennifer, for example, was reared as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She recalls: “My mother took me to Witness conventions and hinted that I should be thinking about baptism. But I thought to myself, ‘I don’t ever want to be a Witness. I only want to have fun!’”
Some youths believe what they have been taught, but they have failed to develop a deep understanding of what the Bible really teaches. The danger? Jesus warned that some individuals “have no root in themselves.” Such ones may “continue for a time; then as soon as tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, they are stumbled.” (Mark 4:17) Others can explain their Bible-based beliefs to some extent, but they have not come to know God on a personal basis. Says a young woman named Aneesa: “I don’t think I had a real relationship with Jehovah when I was younger . . . I guess it was mainly dependent upon my parents’ relationship with him.”
Where do you stand in this regard? Is Jehovah simply the God of your parents? Or, like the Bible psalmist, can you say: “In you I have put my trust, O Jehovah. I have said: ‘You are my God’”? (Psalm 31:14) It may take courage to face the facts. A young man named Alexander says: “For me, honest self-examination was the first step.” After doing some soul-searching, you may come to realize that you have never really proved the truth (the entire body of Christian teachings) to yourself. You may lack firm conviction, and so your life may seem aimless, without real direction.
At their Christian meetings, Jehovah’s Witnesses often sing a song entitled “Make the Truth Your Own.”* That advice may be appropriate for you. But how can you do so? Where do you begin?
Prove It to Yourself
At Romans 12:2, we find the advice of the apostle Paul: “Prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Just how can you do that? By gaining “the accurate knowledge of the truth.” (Titus 1:1) Ancient inhabitants of the city of Beroea did not accept without question the things they heard. On the contrary, they “carefully [examined] the Scriptures daily as to whether these things [they were learning] were so.”—Acts 17:11.
A young Christian named Erin saw a need to do the same herself. She recalls: “I did research. I asked myself, ‘How do I know that this is the right religion? How do I know that there is a God named Jehovah?’” Why not start your own personal study program? You might start with the Bible-based book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life.* Read it carefully. Look up all the cited Scripture texts and note how they relate to what is stated. You may be amazed to find out how differently you feel about the truth when you become “a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright”!—2 Timothy 2:15.
The apostle Peter said that some things in the Bible are “hard to understand,” and you will find this to be true. (2 Peter 3:16) But God’s spirit can help you to grasp even difficult subjects. (1 Corinthians 2:11, 12) Pray for God’s help when you are having problems understanding something. (Psalm 119:10, 11, 27) Try doing some additional research in the publications of the Watch Tower Society. If you’re not sure how to do that, ask for help. Your parents or perhaps some other mature members of the Christian congregation can assist you.
Remember, you are not studying to impress others with your knowledge. A youth named Collin explains: “You’re getting to know Jehovah’s qualities.” Take the time to meditate on what you read so that it sinks down into your heart.—Psalm 1:2, 3.
Associating with the congregation at Christian meetings can also help you. After all, as the apostle Paul wrote, the congregation is “a pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15) Some youths complain that Christian meetings are boring. “But if you’re not preparing for the meetings,” reminds young Collin, “then you won’t get much out of them.” So prepare your lessons beforehand. Meetings are much more interesting when you are a participant—not merely a spectator.
Too Busy to Study?
Granted, with all your schoolwork and household chores, finding time to study may be challenging. A young person named Susan writes: “For years I struggled with knowing that I needed to prepare for meetings and do personal study, and yet I was never able to do it.”
Susan learned to ‘buy out time’ from less important pursuits. (Ephesians 5:15, 16) First, she made a list of all the things she needed to study. Then, she scheduled time to study them. But she also included some time for recreation in her schedule. She advises: “Don’t schedule every free moment. We all need some downtime.” Having a schedule will likely work for you too.
Share What You Learn
Using what you learn is especially helpful in making it a part of you. Try teaching someone else. The psalmist said: “My own mouth will speak things of wisdom, and the meditation of my heart will be of things of understanding.”—Psalm 49:3.
If you are not ashamed of the good news, you won’t hesitate to share it with schoolmates and others you might encounter. (Romans 1:16) By taking advantage of such opportunities to speak the truth to others, you will be using what you learn; and in this way you will embed the truth in your own mind and heart.
Guard Your Associations
Some Christians in the first century made good spiritual progress. But the apostle Paul soon had to write to them, asking: “Who hindered you from keeping on obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7) Something similar happened to a youth named Alex. He confesses that his efforts to study God’s Word were undermined by his “hanging around with bad associations.” For your spiritual progress, you may also need to make some changes in this regard.
Conversely, good associations can really help you to progress. Proverbs 27:17 says: “By iron, iron itself is sharpened. So one man sharpens the face of another.” Find good role models—people who apply the truth in their own lives. You may not have to look further than your own household. Young Jennifer recalls: “Grandfather was my best example. He always spent three hours preparing for our congregation Bible study on Sunday. He looked up every scripture in the lesson in various Bible translations and checked words in his dictionary. He was an expert on little-known facts from the Bible. You could ask him anything, and he would find the answer.”
When you make the truth your very own, you gain a precious possession—something you wouldn’t give up for any price. So never view the truth as just “my parents’ religion.” Your conviction should be that of the psalmist who said: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” (Psalm 27:10) By really knowing what the Bible teaches, believing it, sharing your beliefs with others and, above all, living in harmony with these beliefs, you will demonstrate that you have made the truth your own.
From the songbook Sing Praises to Jehovah, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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Prove the truth to yourself by doing your own research and personal study