A gentle tongue can break a bone.
Even when someone says something offensive, responding with gracious words can have positive results. (Prov. 15:1) For example, the teenage son of a single mother was leading a double life. A well-meaning Christian sister said to the mother: “It’s too bad you have failed at child training.” The mother thought for a moment and responded: “It’s true that things are not going well right now, but his training is a work in progress. Talk to me after Armageddon; then we will know for sure.” This mild response helped to maintain peace between the sisters, and it encouraged the son, who overheard the conversation. He realized that his mother had not given up on him. This moved him to stop his bad associations. In time, he got baptized, and he later served at Bethel. Whether in the company of our brothers, our family, or strangers, we should always let our words “be gracious, seasoned with salt.”
Tongues as if of fire . . . came to rest on each one of them.
If you were one of the disciples who experienced that, you would never forget that day. There would be no question in your mind that you were anointed by holy spirit, especially if you also received the miraculous gift of speaking in a foreign language. (Acts 2:6-12) But do all those who are anointed by holy spirit receive their anointing in the same spectacular manner as that first group of about 120 disciples did? No. The rest of those who were present in Jerusalem that day received their anointing at their baptism. (Acts 2:38) There was no tongue as if of fire above their heads. Furthermore, not all anointed Christians receive their anointing at their baptism. The Samaritans received their anointing by holy spirit sometime after their baptism. (Acts 8:14-17) On the other hand, in an exceptional instance, Cornelius and his household were anointed by holy spirit even before they were baptized.
Maintain the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.
Modestly, anointed ones acknowledge that they do not necessarily have more holy spirit than those with an earthly hope. They do not claim to have special knowledge or revelations; neither do they try to prove that they are in some way superior. They would also never suggest to others that these too have been anointed and should start partaking; rather, they would humbly acknowledge that it is Jehovah who does the calling of anointed ones. Anointed Christians do not expect any special honor from others. (Eph. 1:18, 19; Phil. 2:2, 3) Jehovah’s spirit bore witness to them personally. No announcement was made to the world. So they are not surprised if some people do not readily believe that they have truly been anointed by holy spirit. In fact, the Scriptures advise against quickly believing someone who claims to have a special appointment from God.
O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!
More than once, Jehovah stepped in and protected Abraham and Sarah, even doing so miraculously. (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:2-7, 10-12, 17, 18) Those experiences strengthened Abraham’s faith. Can we build a friendship with Jehovah? We can indeed! The needed knowledge and experience are readily available. Abraham had only a fraction of the abundant riches of wisdom now contained in the Bible. (Dan. 12:4) God’s Word is full of treasures that can deepen our knowledge about the “Maker of heaven and earth” and help us to build respect and love for him. (Gen. 14:22) As such feelings move us to obey God, we gain experience because we see how obeying him works out. We find that his counsel protects us and that he blesses and strengthens us. We learn that wholehearted service to God brings fulfillment, peace, and joy. (Ps. 34:8; Prov. 10:22) As we grow in such knowledge and experience, our faith in Jehovah and our friendship with him grow as well. w16.02 1:7, 8
He has come to the aid of Israel . . . , just as he spoke to our forefathers.
Those words reveal that Mary knew the inspired Scriptures well. Her words seem to echo some that were spoken in prayer by Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel. (1 Sam. 2:1-10) By one estimate, Mary made some 20 references to the Scriptures in her speech. Clearly, she was a woman who spoke freely about spiritual things. Mary drew liberally from the treasure trove in her heart, a storehouse of precious truths that she had learned from her greatest Friend, Jehovah God. Like Mary, we may at times find that we receive assignments from Jehovah that seem challenging. Like her, let us humbly put ourselves in Jehovah’s hands, trusting in him to act in our best interests. We can imitate Mary’s faith by listening carefully to what we are learning about Jehovah and his purposes, by meditating on spiritual truths, and by joyously telling others about what we have learned.
Who of you wanting to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense to see if he has enough to complete it?
Every year thousands of young people around the world get baptized. (Eccl. 12:1) Christian parents and elders in the congregation want to make sure that such young ones make a decision that is not only voluntary but also well-founded. The steps of dedication and baptism are the start of a life during which Christians will experience blessings from Jehovah but also opposition from Satan. (Prov. 10:22; 1 Pet. 5:8) Therefore, Christian parents take time to teach their children what is involved in being a disciple of Christ. In the case of young ones who have no Christian parents, the elders in the congregation will lovingly help them to count the cost of discipleship. (Luke 14:27-30) Just as it takes planning to complete a building project successfully, so it requires preparation to serve Jehovah faithfully “to the end.”
God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
The Mosaic Law was given to one nation
In showing honor to one another, take the lead.
An elder should start his training of another brother by taking time to develop a relaxed atmosphere and a bond of friendship with him. The specific steps an elder takes will differ somewhat from land to land, depending on local circumstances and customs. Yet, no matter where you live, if you as a busy elder set aside time to spend with a learner, you are telling him, in effect, “You are important to me.” That unspoken message will be clearly understood and deeply valued by willing learners everywhere. A successful teacher is someone who not only loves to train another person but also loves the person he is training. (Compare John 5:20.) That crucial aspect of a teacher’s disposition is quickly discerned by a learner and greatly affects the way he responds to the training he receives. Therefore, dear elders, as you give training, be more than a teacher
Jehovah afflicted the king, and he remained a leper until the day of his death.
Suppose clarifying details concerning King Azariah (King Uzziah) had not been included in God’s Word, as is the case with other abbreviated Bible accounts? (2 Ki. 15:7, 32; 2 Chron. 26:3-5, 16-21) Would you be inclined to question the righteousness of God? Or would you reason that the Bible contains enough information to assure us that Jehovah always does what is right and is, in fact, the very standard of what is right and what is wrong? (Deut. 32:4) As we get to know Jehovah better as a Person, our love and appreciation for his ways will grow to the point that we do not need an explanation for everything he does. Be assured that such appreciation will grow in proportion to your efforts to study and meditate on God’s communication through his written Word. (Ps. 77:12, 13) This, in turn, will strengthen your relationship with Jehovah, making it ever more real. w15 4/15 3:8, 10
Praise Jehovah, all you his angels, mighty in power, who carry out his word, obeying his voice.
Spirit creatures called angels are “mighty in power.” They are superior to humans and thus have greater intellect and strength. Of course, faithful angels use their power for good. For example, on one occasion an angel of Jehovah struck down 185,000 enemy Assyrian soldiers
None of you should become hardened by the deceptive power of sin.
Whether married or single, we must strenuously resist all forms of sexual immorality. Is the fight easy? By no means! If you are a young person, for instance, you might hear your schoolmates boast about having casual sex or about sexting, a practice that in some places is viewed as being tantamount to distributing child pornography. The Bible says: “Whoever practices sexual immorality is sinning against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18) Both suffering and death have resulted from the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. And the majority of unmarried youths who lose their virginity say that they regret what they did. The reality of immoral sex is far different from what is portrayed by the entertainment media, which would have us believe that breaking God’s laws has no consequences. Such thinking makes people fall victim to “the deceptive power of sin.” w15 5/15 2:14
The Most High . . . is kind toward the unthankful and wicked.
Jesus imitated God’s kindness. What helped Jesus to do so? He treated people in a kind manner by anticipating how his words and actions might affect another individual’s feelings. For example, a woman known to be a sinner approached him, weeping and wetting his feet with her tears. Jesus discerned that she was repentant, and he knew how heartbroken she would be if he dismissed her unkindly. Instead, he commended and forgave her. When a Pharisee disapproved of what had happened, Jesus spoke to him kindly too. (Luke 7:36-48) How can we imitate God’s kindness? The apostle Paul wrote: “A slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle [or, “tactful,” ftn.] toward all.” (2 Tim. 2:24) By putting ourselves in the place of others and trying to anticipate how our words might affect them, we can discern how to speak and act in ways that imitate Jehovah’s kindness.
Do not withhold good from those to whom you should give it if it is within your power to help.
When our brothers suffer hardships, we can comfort and support them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. (Prov. 17:17) For example, we may help them recover from a natural disaster. Listen to one widow’s heartfelt expression of thanks after a hurricane badly damaged her home: “I am so deeply grateful to be in Jehovah’s organization, not only for the physical help but also for the spiritual help.” And note the comments of one single sister who felt hopeless and perplexed after seeing the damage done to her home by a storm. Upon receiving help, she said: “It is indescribable! I am unable to express totally how I feel . . . Thank you, Jehovah!” We rejoice that we are part of a brotherhood that genuinely cares about the needs of others. A greater cause for gladness is that Jehovah and Jesus Christ really care for God’s people. w15 6/15 1:17
[Treat] older women as mothers, . . . younger women as sisters, with all chasteness.
The Bible helps us to avoid improper desires by giving counsel on how to treat those of the opposite sex. Such counsel clearly rules out flirting. Some may view the use of body language, gestures, and glances that have romantic overtones as harmless in that these do not involve any physical contact. But flirting, or responding to it, may arouse unclean thoughts that can lead to serious sexual wrongdoing. It has happened before
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Jehovah wants us to be concerned not only about our own spiritual welfare but also about that of others, including those who might have sinned against us. Usually, such sins are minor and give us an opportunity to show that we truly love our brothers and are willing to forgive, as God has mercifully forgiven us. (Col. 3:13) Sadly, as imperfect humans, we may sometimes harbor a grudge against another. (Lev. 19:18) If we talk about the matter, others may side with us, causing a division in the congregation. If we allow such a situation to continue, it would show a lack of appreciation for God’s mercy and the ransom. Our Father will cease to apply to us the value of his Son’s sacrifice if we display an unforgiving spirit. (Matt. 18:35) Jesus elaborated on this immediately after giving the model prayer. (Matt. 6:14, 15) Finally, to benefit from God’s forgiveness, we must strive to avoid making a practice of serious sin.
The king finds pleasure in a servant who acts with insight.
It is an honor to be allowed by Jehovah to contribute to the beauty of our spiritual paradise. We do that by zealously preaching the Kingdom good news and making more disciples. Each time we help a person progress to Christian dedication, we have worked to extend the borders of the spiritual paradise. (Isa. 26:15; 54:2) We can also enhance the beauty of our spiritual paradise by steadily improving our own Christian personality. In that way, we make this paradise more appealing to onlookers. More than even Bible knowledge, it is often our chaste, peaceful conduct that initially draws people to the organization and in turn to God and to Christ. How pleased Jehovah and Jesus must be when they observe our beautiful spiritual paradise today! The enjoyment we have now in working to enhance its beauty is but a foretaste of the joy we will have later in working to make the earth a physical paradise. w15 7/15 1:18-20
You will be like God, knowing good and bad.
Today, all must decide whether they believe that God’s way of doing things is superior to Satan’s or vice versa. In all sincerity, do you take Jehovah’s side by choosing to obey his laws and standards instead of doing things your own way? Do you see his Kingdom as the only answer to mankind’s woes? Or do you believe that man is capable of governing himself? Your answers to these questions will determine how you respond when people ask your opinion on controversial matters. Politicians, activists, and reformers have long struggled to find solutions to divisive issues. Their efforts may be sincere and well-motivated. Yet, Christians recognize that only God’s Kingdom can solve mankind’s problems and guarantee true justice. We must leave the matter in Jehovah’s hands. After all, if each Christian advocated the solution he thought best, would not our congregations soon become divided? w15 7/15 3:7, 8
I will meditate on all your activity.
Can we see Jehovah’s enduring love for us in what he has created? Yes, we can because the very act of creation was a manifestation of God’s love. (Rom. 1:20) He designed the earth with an ecosystem in which we can safely exist and thrive. However, he wants us to do more than merely exist. We need to eat to keep on living. Jehovah made sure that the earth could produce a seemingly endless variety of plants that can be prepared as wholesome food. Why, he even made eating a delightful and satisfying experience! (Eccl. 9:7) Jehovah created us with the ability to perform productive and meaningful work that adds to our enjoyment of life. (Eccl. 2:24) He purposed that humans fill the earth, subdue it, and have in subjection the fish, the birds, and other living creatures. (Gen. 1:26-28) And how loving of Jehovah to endow us with qualities that enable us to imitate him!
Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down . . . and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare.
Events on the world scene clearly indicate that Bible prophecy is now being fulfilled and that the end of this wicked system of things is imminent. Therefore, we should not assume that much time is needed for the state of this world to develop to the point where “the ten horns” and “the wild beast” of Revelation 17:16 turn on Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Let us bear in mind that God will “put it into their hearts” to make that move
Whoever does the will of God, this one is my brother and sister and mother.
Although we want to be kind even to those who do not follow God’s laws, we should not become their intimate associates or close friends. It would therefore be wrong for one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who is a single person to date such an individual who is not dedicated and faithful to God and who does not respect His high standards. Maintaining Christian integrity is far more important than becoming popular with people who do not live by Jehovah’s laws. Our close associates should be those who do God’s will. The disastrous results of bad associations were experienced by the Israelites. (Ex. 23:24, 25; Ps. 106:35-39) Because they became unfaithful to God, Jesus later told them: “Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” (Matt. 23:38) Jehovah cast off Israel, transferring his blessing to the newly formed Christian congregation.
The objective of this instruction is love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience.
Jehovah God created humans with free will, that is, the liberty to choose between one option and another. God provided a valuable guide for the first man and woman and their future offspring
See what sort of love the Father has given us!
This statement by the apostle John is truly worthy of our deep and appreciative reflection. With the words “see what sort of love the Father has given us,” John was urging Christians to think about the nature and magnitude of God’s love for them, to consider how God loves them. Comprehending Jehovah’s love in those terms will surely deepen our love for him and strengthen our relationship with him. To some, though, God’s love for people is a foreign concept. To them, God is to be feared and obeyed. Or perhaps because of certain entrenched erroneous teachings, they feel that God is unloving, even unlovable. On the other hand, there are those who believe that God’s love is unconditional and that he loves them regardless of what they do or fail to do. As you studied the Bible, you learned that love is Jehovah’s paramount attribute and that his love moved him to give his Son as a ransom in our behalf.
Discipline . . . is painful.
In saying so, Paul was not minimizing the importance or value of discipline, for he continued: “Yet afterward, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” If we love Jehovah, we must guard against becoming complacent or resentful of his counsel. In today’s me-first, self-centered generation, it is not easy to talk about counsel and discipline, let alone to accept such. Even those who seem to accept counsel or discipline often do so begrudgingly. Christians, though, are advised to “stop being molded by this system of things.” We are to perceive and follow the “perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) Through his organization, Jehovah gives us timely counsel about many areas of life
Help me out where I need faith!
We cannot develop faith simply by our own willpower. Faith is an aspect of the fruitage of God’s holy spirit. (Gal. 5:22) Thus, we are wise to follow Jesus’ counsel about praying for more of that spirit because Jesus assures us that the Father will “give holy spirit to those asking him.” (Luke 11:13) Once our faith is established, we must continue to nourish it. Our faith might be compared to a wood fire. When the fire is started, it may come roaring to life in an intense blaze. However, if nothing more is done to the fire, it will eventually die down to hot coals that, in turn, will become cold ashes if left alone. But if you regularly feed the fire with more wood, it can be kept going indefinitely. So, too, our faith can be kept alive if we regularly feed on God’s Word. By progressively studying the Bible, we can develop a deep love for it and its Author, and that will become the basis for building more faith. w15 10/15 2:6, 7
I will meditate on all your activity.
Scientific research shows that saying words aloud during study makes them easier to recall. The Creator of our brain knows this. That is why he instructed Joshua to read His book of the Law “in an undertone.” (Josh. 1:8) You will likely find that reading the Bible softly, or in an undertone, makes a deeper impression on your mind. This may also help you to concentrate better. While reading may be done with little effort, meditation requires concentration. That is why the imperfect human brain is inclined to switch to easier, less demanding tasks. Thus, the best time to meditate is when you are rested and in a stress-free environment with few distractions. The psalmist found that a good time to meditate was while he was awake in bed during the night. (Ps. 63:6) Jesus, who had perfect mental powers, knew the advantage of being in quiet places to meditate and pray.
He knew what was in man.
On one occasion, some of Jesus’ listeners in Galilee appeared eager to follow him. (John 6:22-24) But Jesus, who could read hearts, discerned that the people were more interested in physical food than in what he taught. He saw what was wrong, patiently corrected them, and explained how they could improve. (John 6:25-27) Although you cannot read hearts, you too can show insight and learn how your child feels about the field ministry. Many parents include short breaks during field service to allow their children to rest and enjoy some refreshments. Yet, you might look beyond the obvious and ask yourself, ‘Does my child enjoy the ministry or only the breaks?’ If you discern that the ministry could be more interesting or more rewarding for your children, set goals with them. Use creativity to help them to have a full share as your preaching companions. w15 11/15 1:10, 11
The former things have passed away.
Our loving God always does what is in the best interests of his faithful servants. The Bible tells us: “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” What a marvelous future awaits all of us who truly appreciate Jehovah’s love and obey him as our Ruler! Jehovah’s Word tells us: “Take note of the blameless one, and keep the upright one in sight, for the future of that man will be peaceful. But all the transgressors will be destroyed.” (Ps. 37:37, 38) “The blameless one” comes to know Jehovah and his Son and obediently does God’s will. (John 17:3) Such a person takes seriously the words of 1 John 2:17: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.” As the world’s end draws near, it is urgent that we “hope in Jehovah and follow his way.”
The harvest is great, but the workers are few.
God’s people have used a variety of methods in order to reach as many as possible with the good news. This was especially important when ‘the workers were few.’ In the early 20th century, newspapers were used to reach large audiences in areas where Jehovah’s people were few in number. Each week, Charles Taze Russell would telegraph a sermon to a newspaper syndicate. In turn, the syndicate retelegraphed the sermon to newspapers in the United States, Canada, and Europe. It is estimated that by 1913, Brother Russell’s sermons were reaching 15,000,000 readers by means of 2,000 newspapers! After Brother Russell died, another effective method of spreading the good news began to be used. On April 16, 1922, Joseph F. Rutherford made one of his first radio broadcasts, speaking to an estimated 50,000 people. Then, on February 24, 1924, the organization’s first radio station, WBBR, began broadcasting. w15 11/15 5:10, 11
I Will Become What I Choose to Become.
Jehovah also causes his creation to become whatever he chooses. In line with the meaning of his name, God caused Noah to be an ark builder, Bezalel to be a master craftsman, Gideon to be a victorious warrior, and Paul to be an apostle to the nations. Yes, God’s name has great meaning to his people. And the New World Bible Translation Committee would never undermine the name’s significance by omitting it from the Bible. Over 130 language editions of the New World Translation honor God’s name by including it where it belongs in the sacred text. (Mal. 3:16) In contrast, the current trend in Bible translation is to omit the divine name, substituting a title such as “Lord” or the name of a local god. This is a prime reason why the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has given priority to making available to as many people as possible a Bible that honors God’s name. w15 12/15 2:7-9
No resident will say: “I am sick.”
There is no doubt that God has the power to affect someone’s health. The Bible confirms that. At times, he punished individuals with sickness, such as the Pharaoh in Abraham’s day and later Moses’ sister, Miriam. (Gen. 12:17; Num. 12:9, 10; 2 Sam. 24:15) God warned that if the Israelites proved unfaithful, he would afflict them with “every sickness or plague.” (Deut. 28:58-61) On the other hand, Jehovah could remove diseases or prevent sickness. (Ex. 23:25; Deut. 7:15) Also, he could heal people. After Job had been so sick that he longed to die, God healed him! (Job 2:7; 3:11-13; 42:10, 16) Yes, God definitely has the power to intervene and heal a sick person. It is similar with his Son. We read that Jesus miraculously cured lepers, epileptics, and blind or paralyzed ones. (Matt. 4:23, 24; John 9:1-7) How strengthening it is to think that the healings Jesus performed are a foregleam of what he will do on a grand scale in the new world. w15 12/15 4:3, 4