Find Security Among God’s People
1, 2. How is mankind’s situation like that of people in a storm-ravaged area?
IMAGINE that a violent storm has ravaged the area where you live. Your home is destroyed, and all your possessions are lost. Food is scarce. The situation seems hopeless. Then, unexpected relief supplies arrive. Food and clothing are provided in abundance. A new house is built for you. Surely you would be grateful to the person who made these provisions available.
2 Something comparable is occurring today. Like that storm, the rebellion of Adam and Eve caused great damage to the human race. Mankind’s Paradise home was lost. Since then, human governments have failed to shelter people from war, crime, and injustice. Religion has left multitudes starving for wholesome spiritual food. Spiritually speaking, however, Jehovah God is now furnishing food, clothing, and shelter. How is he doing that?
“THE FAITHFUL AND DISCREET SLAVE”
3. How does Jehovah supply provisions for mankind, as shown by what examples?
3 Relief supplies are generally dispensed through an organized channel, and Jehovah has similarly made spiritual provision for his people. For example, the Israelites were “Jehovah’s congregation” for some 1,500 years. Among them were those who served as God’s channel to teach his Law. (1 Chronicles 28:8; 2 Chronicles 17:7-9) In the first century C.E., Jehovah brought forth the Christian organization. Congregations were formed, and they functioned under the direction of a governing body made up of apostles and older men. (Acts 15:22-31) Likewise today, Jehovah deals with his people through an organized body. How do we know this?
4. Who has “the faithful and discreet slave” proved to be in modern times, and how are God’s spiritual provisions made available?
4 Jesus said that at the time of his presence in Kingdom power, “the faithful and discreet slave” would be found providing “food at the proper time” for His followers. (Matthew 24:45-47) When Jesus was installed as heavenly King in 1914, who did this “slave” prove to be? Certainly not the clergy of Christendom. For the most part, they were feeding their flocks propaganda that backed up their own national governments in World War I. But proper and timely spiritual food was being dispensed by the group of true Christians who were anointed by God’s holy spirit and were a part of what Jesus called the “little flock.” (Luke 12:32) These anointed Christians preached God’s Kingdom rather than man’s governments. As a result, over the years millions of righteously disposed “other sheep” have joined the anointed “slave” in practicing true religion. (John 10:16) Using the ‘faithful slave’ and its present-day Governing Body, God directs his organized people to make spiritual food, clothing, and shelter available to all who wish to have these provisions.
“FOOD AT THE PROPER TIME”
5. What spiritual condition exists in the world today, but what is Jehovah doing about this?
5 Jesus said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:4) Sadly, though, the vast majority of people are not paying attention to God’s utterances. As foretold by Jehovah’s prophet Amos, there is “a famine, not for bread, and a thirst, not for water, but for hearing the words of Jehovah.” (Amos 8:11) Even very religious people are spiritually famished. Nevertheless, Jehovah’s will is that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3, 4) Accordingly, he is providing spiritual food in abundance. But where can it be obtained?
6. How has Jehovah fed his people spiritually in times past?
6 Throughout history, Jehovah has dispensed spiritual food to his people as a group. (Isaiah 65:13) For instance, the Israelite priests gathered men, women, and children for group instruction in God’s Law. (Deuteronomy 31:9, 12) Under the direction of the governing body, first-century Christians organized congregations and held meetings for the instruction and encouragement of all. (Romans 16:5; Philemon 1, 2) Jehovah’s Witnesses follow this pattern. You are cordially invited to attend all their meetings.
7. How is regular attendance at Christian meetings related to knowledge and faith?
7 Of course, you may already have learned much in your personal study of the Bible. Perhaps someone has assisted you. (Acts 8:30-35) But your faith might be likened to a plant that will wither and die if it is not given suitable care. Hence, you must receive proper spiritual nourishment. (1 Timothy 4:6) Christian meetings provide a continuous program of instruction designed to nourish you spiritually and help you to keep on growing in faith as you increase in the knowledge of God.—Colossians 1:9, 10.
8. Why are we encouraged to attend the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
8 Meetings serve another vital purpose. Paul wrote: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25) The Greek word translated “to incite” can also mean “to sharpen.” A Bible proverb states: “By iron, iron itself is sharpened. So one man sharpens the face of another.” (Proverbs 27:17) All of us need continual ‘sharpening.’ Daily pressures from the world can dull our faith. When we attend Christian meetings, there is an interchange of encouragement. (Romans 1:11, 12) Members of the congregation follow the apostle Paul’s admonition to “keep comforting one another and building one another up,” and such things sharpen our faith. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Regular presence at Christian meetings also indicates that we love God and affords us opportunities to praise him.—Psalm 35:18.
“CLOTHE YOURSELVES WITH LOVE”
9. How has Jehovah set the example in displaying love?
9 Paul wrote: “Clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) Jehovah has graciously provided this clothing for us. In what way? Christians can display love because it is one of the God-given fruits of Jehovah’s holy spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) Jehovah himself has displayed the greatest love by sending his only-begotten Son so that we might have everlasting life. (John 3:16) This supreme demonstration of love provided a model for us in expressing this quality. “If this is how God loved us,” wrote the apostle John, “then we are ourselves under obligation to love one another.”—1 John 4:11.
10. How can we benefit from “the whole association of brothers”?
10 Your attending the meetings at the Kingdom Hall will afford you an excellent opportunity to show love. There you will meet a wide variety of people. No doubt you will feel drawn to many of them right away. Of course, personalities differ even among those serving Jehovah. Perhaps in the past you simply avoided people who did not share your interests or traits. Christians, though, are to “have love for the whole association of brothers.” (1 Peter 2:17) Therefore, make it your aim to become acquainted with those at the Kingdom Hall—even individuals whose age, personality, race, or level of education may differ from yours. Likely you will find that each one excels in some endearing quality.
11. Why should you not be disturbed by the variety of personalities among Jehovah’s people?
11 The diversity of personalities in the congregation need not disturb you. To illustrate, imagine that numerous vehicles are traveling alongside you on a road. Not all are moving at the same speed, nor are all in the same condition. Some have traveled many miles, but like you, others have just started out. Regardless of these differences, however, all are traveling down the road. It is similar with the individuals making up a congregation. Not all develop Christian qualities at the same speed. Furthermore, not all are in the same physical or emotional condition. Some have been worshiping Jehovah for many years; others have just begun. Yet, all are traveling along the road to everlasting life, “fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10) Therefore, look for the strengths rather than the weaknesses of those in the congregation. Doing that will warm your heart, for you will realize that God is really among these people. And surely this is where you want to be.—1 Corinthians 14:25.
12, 13. (a) If someone in the congregation offends you, what can you do? (b) Why is it important not to harbor resentment?
12 Since all humans are imperfect, at times someone in the congregation may say or do something that upsets you. (Romans 3:23) The disciple James realistically wrote: “We all stumble many times. If anyone does not stumble in word, this one is a perfect man.” (James 3:2) How will you react if someone offends you? A Bible proverb says: “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11) To have insight means to see beneath the surface of a situation, to grasp underlying factors that cause a person to talk or act in a certain way. Most of us use much insight in excusing our own mistakes. Why not also use it to understand and cover the imperfections of others?—Matthew 7:1-5; Colossians 3:13.
13 Never forget that we must forgive others if we ourselves are to receive Jehovah’s forgiveness. (Matthew 6:9, 12, 14, 15) If we are practicing the truth, we will treat others in a loving way. (1 John 1:6, 7; 3:14-16; 4:20, 21) Therefore, if you encounter a problem with an individual in the congregation, fight against harboring resentment. If you are clothed with love, you will strive to resolve the problem, and you will not hesitate to apologize if you have caused offense.—Matthew 5:23, 24; 18:15-17.
14. With what qualities should we be clothed?
14 Our spiritual clothing should include other qualities closely related to love. Paul wrote: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.” These traits, encompassed by love, are part of the godly “new personality.” (Colossians 3:10, 12) Will you make the effort to clothe yourself in this way? Especially if you clothe yourself with brotherly love will you bear an identifying mark of Jesus’ disciples, for he said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:35.
A PLACE OF SECURITY
15. How is the congregation like a shelter?
15 The congregation also serves as a shelter, a protective refuge where you can feel secure. In it you will find honesthearted people who are striving to do what is right in God’s eyes. Many of them have done away with the same bad practices and attitudes that you may be struggling to overcome. (Titus 3:3) They can help you, for we are told to “go on carrying the burdens of one another.” (Galatians 6:2) Naturally, pursuing a course that leads to everlasting life is ultimately your own responsibility. (Galatians 6:5; Philippians 2:12) Yet, Jehovah has provided the Christian congregation as a wonderful means of help and support. No matter how distressing your problems may be, you have a valuable resource available to you—a loving congregation that will stand by you in times of affliction or deprivation.—Compare Luke 10:29-37; Acts 20:35.
16. What assistance do congregation elders provide?
16 Among those who would rally to your support are “gifts in men”—appointed congregation elders, or overseers, who shepherd the flock willingly and eagerly. (Ephesians 4:8, 11, 12; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2, 3) Regarding them, Isaiah prophesied: “Each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.”—Isaiah 32:2.
17. (a) What sort of help did Jesus especially want to give? (b) What provision did God promise to make for his people?
17 When Jesus was on earth, loving oversight by the religious leaders was sadly lacking. The condition of the people moved him deeply, and he especially wanted to help them spiritually. Jesus pitied them because “they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) How well this describes the present-day plight of many who endure heart-wrenching problems with no one to turn to for spiritual help and comfort! But Jehovah’s people do have spiritual assistance, for he promised: “I will raise up over them shepherds who will actually shepherd them; and they will be afraid no more, neither will they be struck with any terror, and none will be missing.”—Jeremiah 23:4.
18. Why should we approach an elder if we need spiritual help?
18 Get to know the appointed elders in the congregation. They have much experience in applying the knowledge of God, for they have met the qualifications for overseers set forth in the Bible. (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) Do not hesitate to approach one of them if you need spiritual help to overcome a habit or a trait that conflicts with God’s requirements. You will find that the elders follow Paul’s admonition: “Speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all.”—1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8; 5:14.
ENJOY SECURITY WITH JEHOVAH’S PEOPLE
19. What blessings has Jehovah bestowed upon those who seek security inside his organization?
19 Though we now live amid imperfect conditions, Jehovah provides us with spiritual food, clothing, and shelter. Of course, we must wait for God’s promised new world in order to experience the benefits of a physical paradise. But those who are part of Jehovah’s organization are presently enjoying the security of a spiritual paradise. Concerning them, Ezekiel prophesied: “They will actually dwell in security, with no one to make them tremble.”—Ezekiel 34:28; Psalm 4:8.
20. How will Jehovah compensate for anything we may sacrifice for the sake of his worship?
20 How grateful we can be that Jehovah makes loving spiritual provisions through his Word and organization! Draw close to God’s people. Do not hold back in fear of what friends or relatives may think of you for taking in the knowledge of God. Some may disapprove because you are associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses and attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall. But God will more than compensate for anything you sacrifice for the sake of his worship. (Malachi 3:10) Moreover, Jesus said: “No one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get a hundredfold now in this period of time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming system of things everlasting life.” (Mark 10:29, 30) Yes, no matter what you have left behind or must endure, you can find delightful companionship and spiritual security among God’s people.
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Who is “the faithful and discreet slave”?
What provision has Jehovah made to feed us spiritually?
How can those in the Christian congregation help us?
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