Do not forget hospitality.
The original-language expression translated “hospitality” means “kindness to strangers.” This phrase may remind us of the examples of Abraham and Lot. Both men showed kindness to visitors whom they did not know. These visitors turned out to be angels. (Gen. 18:2-5; 19:1-3) Do we too extend hospitality to others by inviting them to our home for a meal or for some association and encouragement? We would not need to make elaborate or expensive arrangements to be considered hospitable; nor would we want to invite only those who might repay us in some way. (Luke 10:42; 14:12-14) Our goal should be to encourage, not to impress! Even though we may not know our circuit overseer and his wife very well, do we eagerly show them hospitality? (3 John 5-8) With our busy schedules as well as the stresses of daily living, how important it is that we “do not forget hospitality”! w16.01 1:11, 12
You were sealed by means of him with the promised holy spirit, which is a token in advance of our inheritance.
This special operation of holy spirit becomes like a down payment, a guarantee (or, a pledge) of what is to come. An anointed Christian gains an inner conviction because of this token. (2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5) That person is sure of his invitation. But whether he finally receives his reward in heaven or not depends on his proving faithful to his calling. Peter explained it this way: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and choosing sure for yourselves, for if you keep on doing these things, you will by no means ever fail. In fact, in this way you will be richly granted entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:10, 11) Each anointed Christian must, therefore, struggle to remain faithful. If he does not, his heavenly calling, or invitation, will be of no value to him.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
It would be wrong to exalt individuals, even if they are anointed brothers of Christ. Speaking about Christian elders, the Bible encourages us to imitate the faith of those who take the lead, but it never commands us to elevate any human as our leader. (Heb. 13:7) True, the Scriptures speak of some as being “considered worthy of double honor.” However, such ones are worthy of honor, not because they are anointed, but because they “preside in a fine way” and “work hard in speaking and teaching.” (1 Tim. 5:17) Therefore, it would be embarrassing for those with a heavenly calling if others were to give them undue praise or attention. Worse still, if they received special treatment, anointed Christians might find it difficult to remain humble. (Rom. 12:3) None of us would want to cause one of Christ’s brothers to stumble!
A true friend shows love at all times.
A friendship can be a precious treasure. However, friendship is not like an inanimate thing that we might purchase and then store somewhere to gather dust. Friendship is more like a living thing that needs care and sustenance if it is to thrive and flourish. Abraham cherished and maintained his friendship with Jehovah. How did he do so? Abraham never came to feel that his past record of godly fear and obedience was enough. As he and his large household traveled into Canaan, he continued to let Jehovah guide him in making decisions, from the small to the great. A year before Isaac was born, when Abraham was 99 years old, Jehovah required that all males of Abraham’s household be circumcised. Did Abraham question that command or look for some way out of complying with it? No, he trusted in God and obeyed “on that very day.”
Even a child is known by his actions, whether his behavior is pure and right.
One who is somewhat younger can realize what it means to do what is right and to be dedicated to his Creator. Thus, baptism is an important and appropriate step for a young person who has manifested considerable maturity and has made a dedication to Jehovah. (Prov. 20:7) What does it mean to be mature? Maturity involves more than physical growth. The Bible says that mature people “have their powers of discernment trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Heb. 5:14) Thus, mature people know what is right in Jehovah’s eyes and are resolved in their heart to stick to it. As a result, they are not easily swayed to do what is wrong; nor do they always have to be prodded to do what is right. Really, it is only reasonable to expect that a young person who gets baptized will uphold God’s standards even when parents or other adults are not present.
Do not be afraid . . . ; you will be king over Israel, and I will become second to you.
Jonathan must have been astonished by the way young David faced the giant Goliath. Now David stood before Jonathan’s father, King Saul of Israel, “with the head of the Philistine in his hand.” (1 Sam. 17:57) Jonathan probably admired David for his courage. It was clear that God was with David, and “Jonathan and David became bound together in close friendship.” In fact, they “made a covenant because [Jonathan] loved [David] as himself.” (1 Sam. 18:1-3) For the rest of his life, he was loyal to David. Jonathan’s attachment to David endured, even though God had chosen David to be Israel’s next king. Jonathan became concerned about David when Saul was seeking to kill him. To encourage his friend, Jonathan traveled into the Judean wilderness at Horesh. There, Jonathan helped David “find strength in Jehovah,” saying the words of today’s text.
I was beside [Jehovah] as a master worker. I was the one he was especially fond of day by day.
From the beginning of creation, unity of purpose was evident. Father and Son collaborated, and they produced the variety of life we observe today. Cooperation continued to mark God’s works. We see this quality in the building of the ark in Noah’s day; the erecting, dismantling, and moving of the tabernacle as God’s people journeyed in the wilderness; and even in the playing of music and blending of voices in harmonious praise to Jehovah at his temple. All those endeavors depended on cooperation. (Gen. 6:14-16, 22; Num. 4:4-32; 1 Chron. 25:1-8) This pattern of working together characterized the early Christian congregation under its head, Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul explained that, even though individual anointed Christians had “different gifts” and shared in “different ministries” and “different activities,” all were part of “one body.”
Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations.
Consider the preaching of the good news that Jesus would have his followers do. The method and the scope of the preaching work were new. In earlier centuries, people of the nations were welcomed when they came to Israel to serve Jehovah. (1 Ki. 8:41-43) That was before Jesus gave the command found in today’s text. Jesus’ disciples were told to “go” to all people. On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., there was an early evidence of Jehovah’s changed strategy
The things you heard from me . . . , entrust to faithful men.
God’s servants have long understood that training contributes to success. The patriarch Abram “mobilized his trained men” to rescue Lot
[Jesus will] bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil.
This does not mean that the Devil kills all people directly. However, his murderous spirit has permeated this world. Moreover, because Eve believed Satan’s lie and Adam disobeyed God, sin and death spread to all mankind. (Rom. 5:12) In that sense, the Devil has had “the means to cause death.” He is what Jesus called him
Those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who submit to homosexual acts, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners will not inherit God’s Kingdom.
If you struggle with temptation to engage in sexual immorality, what can you do? Acknowledge your weakness. (Rom. 7:22, 23) Pray to God for strength. (Phil. 4:6, 7, 13) Avoid situations that could lead to immorality. (Prov. 22:3) And when a temptation arises, reject it without delay. (Gen. 39:12) Jesus set a powerful example for us in resisting temptations. He was not fooled by Satan’s promises, nor did he have to take time to weigh the pros and cons. Rather, he immediately responded with the words: “It is written.” (Matt. 4:4-10) Jesus knew God’s Word, and that made it possible for him to act quickly and quote scriptures in the face of temptation. To fight Satan and win, we must not allow ourselves to be tempted to engage in sexual immorality. w15 5/15 2:15, 16
Become imitators of God.
Our being able to conceive of events that we have not lived through can help us to imitate Jehovah’s wisdom and foresee the probable results of our actions. If Jehovah chooses to do so, he can foresee in detail the results of certain actions. We do not have that degree of foresight, but we do well to think about what could happen as a result of what we are about to do. To imitate God’s wisdom, we would do well to think about or even visualize the likely consequences of our actions. If we are courting, for example, we need to recognize the power of sexual attraction. Never would we make plans or do anything that could endanger our precious relationship with Jehovah! Instead, let us act in harmony with these inspired words: “The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals himself, but the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences.”
Everyone who keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Recall what happened in King David’s case. “From the rooftop [David] saw a woman bathing.” (2 Sam. 11:2) He failed to look away and to direct his thoughts elsewhere. That led him to desire a woman who was someone else’s wife and to take steps to commit adultery with her. In order to combat immoral fantasies, we need to ‘make a covenant with our eyes,’ as did faithful Job. (Job 31:1, 7, 9) We must solemnly decide to control our eyes and not allow them to gaze with immoral lust at another person. That would include averting our gaze from sexually charged images, be they on a computer screen, a billboard, a magazine cover, or anywhere else. In your fight against wrong desires, take immediate action. Willingly submit to the counsel of God’s Word, which can help you avoid wrongdoing and thus remain chaste.
Do not bring us into temptation.
Considering what happened to Jesus shortly after his baptism can help us to understand the need for the request: “Do not bring us into temptation.” Jesus was led into the wilderness by God’s spirit. Why? “To be tempted by the Devil.” (Matt. 4:1) Should that surprise us? Not if we grasp the main reason why God sent his Son to the earth. That was to settle the issue raised when Adam and Eve rejected God’s sovereignty. Questions needed time to be settled. For example, was something wrong with the way God created man? Was it possible for a perfect human to uphold God’s sovereignty regardless of pressures from “the wicked one”? And would mankind be better off independent of God’s rulership, as Satan implied? (Gen. 3:4, 5) Answering such questions would require time but would show all intelligent creation that Jehovah exercises his sovereignty in a beneficial way. w15 6/15 5:12
Then there will be great tribulation.
How will the great tribulation begin? The book of Revelation answers by describing the destruction of “Babylon the Great.” (Rev. 17:5-7) How appropriate that all false religion is likened to a prostitute! The clergy have prostituted themselves with the leaders of this wicked world. Instead of loyally supporting Jesus and his Kingdom, they have given their support to human rulers and have compromised godly principles just to gain political influence. They stand in stark contrast with the clean, virginlike anointed ones of God. (2 Cor. 11:2; Jas. 1:27; Rev. 14:4) But who will destroy the harlotlike organization? Jehovah God will put “his thought” into the hearts of “the ten horns” of the “scarlet-colored wild beast.” These horns represent all the present political powers that give support to the United Nations, an organization pictured by the “scarlet-colored wild beast.”
Each one of you says: “I belong to Paul,” “But I to Apollos,” “But I to Cephas,” “But I to Christ.”
What was the solution to such disruptive thinking? Paul exhorted the Christians: “I urge you, brothers, . . . that you should all speak in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you may be completely united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” (1 Cor. 1:10, 11, 13) Neither should there be divisions of any kind in the Christian congregation today. (Rom. 16:17, 18) Paul urged anointed Christians to focus on their heavenly citizenship rather than on earthly things. (Phil. 3:17-20) They were to act as ambassadors substituting for Christ. Ambassadors do not meddle in the affairs of the nations to which they are assigned. Their loyalties lie elsewhere. (2 Cor. 5:20) Christians with an earthly hope are also subjects of God’s Kingdom, so it is inappropriate for them to take sides in this world’s disputes. w15 7/15 3:9, 10
He was merciful; he would forgive their error and not bring them to ruin. He often held back his anger instead of stirring up all his wrath.
Reflecting on that verse may help you to appreciate in a very personal way that Jehovah loves and cares for you. Be assured that you do matter to Jehovah. (1 Pet. 5:6, 7) We should value the Bible highly because God communicates with us primarily by means of it. Meaningful and compassionate communication between parents and their children is essential to building mutual trust and developing a feeling of being loved. What can we expect of Jehovah? Although we have never seen him or heard his voice, he “speaks” to us through his inspired Word, and we need to listen. (Isa. 30:20, 21) Jehovah desires to guide us, his dedicated people, and to protect us from harm. He also wants us to know him and to put our trust in him.
Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.
As much as we look forward to the Paradise ahead, the primary blessings in the new world will be spiritual. How deeply satisfying it will be to know that Jehovah’s name has been sanctified and his sovereignty vindicated! (Matt. 6:9, 10) We will be thrilled to see Jehovah’s original purpose for mankind and the earth being fulfilled. And just think how much easier it will be to draw closer to Jehovah as we approach, and finally reach, perfection! (Ps. 73:28) These blessings can be ours, for Jesus assures us that “with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:25, 26) But if we expect to live in that new world
This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
Much of what is produced by this world’s media can be spiritually dangerous to Christians. Such material is not designed to build faith in Jehovah and his promises. Instead, it reflects Satan’s evil world and its goals. Therefore, we need to exercise great caution so that we do not choose material that could arouse “worldly desires.” (Titus 2:12) In contrast with what the world produces, the material produced by Jehovah’s organization in these last days encourages conduct that leads to eternal life. How blessed we are to have magazines, brochures, books, videos, and Web pages that promote true worship! God’s organization also provides regular meetings in more than 110,000 congregations worldwide. At those meetings and at assemblies and conventions, we consider Bible-based material that builds faith in God and his promises.
Their conscience is bearing witness with them.
Servants of Jehovah want to train their conscience. They want the proddings of their conscience to agree with the standards of right and wrong, good and bad, as reflected in God’s Word. A properly trained conscience exercises a powerful influence for good in the Christian congregation. However, training and using our Christian conscience is not just a mental activity. The Bible links a good conscience to faith and love. Paul wrote: “The objective of this instruction is love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.” (1 Tim. 1:5) As we train our conscience and respond to it, our love for Jehovah will deepen and our faith will be strengthened. In fact, the way we use our conscience reveals the depth of our spirituality, the quality of our heart, and the intensity of our desire to please Jehovah. Indeed, this inner voice reflects what sort of person we truly are. w15 9/15 2:2, 3
See what sort of love the Father has given us!
Jehovah is the Creator of all humans. (Ps. 100:3-5) That is why the Bible calls Adam a “son of God,” and Jesus taught his followers to address God as “our Father in the heavens.” (Luke 3:38; Matt. 6:9) Being the Life-Giver, Jehovah is our Father; the relationship between him and us is that of a father to his children. Simply put, Jehovah loves us the way a devoted father loves his children. Human fathers, of course, are imperfect. Try as they may, they do not fully reflect the way Jehovah expresses his fatherly love. In fact, some individuals have dark memories of growing up in family situations that have left them with deep emotional or psychological scars. That is painful and sad, even tragic. To be sure, Jehovah is not a father like that. (Ps. 27:10) Knowing how Jehovah loves and cares for us will surely draw us closer to him.
God is the one who for the sake of his good pleasure energizes you, giving you both the desire and the power to act.
It would reflect a serious lack of love and trust for us to make decisions without taking God’s will into consideration. Once in the days of Samuel, Israel was badly defeated in battle by the Philistines. God’s people were in dire need of help and protection. What did they do? “Let us take the ark of Jehovah’s covenant with us from Shiloh, so that it may be with us and save us from the hand of our enemies,” they decided. The outcome? “The slaughter was very great; on Israel’s side, 30,000 foot soldiers fell. Moreover, the Ark of God was captured.” (1 Sam. 4:2-4, 10, 11) It might have seemed that in taking the Ark with them, the Israelites were looking to Jehovah for help. Really, though, they had not sought Jehovah’s direction; they were following their own ideas, and the result was disastrous.
Give us more faith.
What can you do to build and maintain strong faith? Do not be satisfied with only what you learned up to the point of your baptism. (Heb. 6:1, 2) Take note of fulfilled prophecies in the Bible because these can provide you with powerful reasons for having faith. You can also use God’s Word as a measuring rod to see if your faith matches the description of what is expected of those who have strong faith. (Jas. 1:25; 2:24, 26) The apostle Paul told fellow Christians that they could “have an interchange of encouragement by one another’s faith.” (Rom. 1:12) As we associate with fellow worshippers, we can build up one another’s faith, especially when we are with those who have already demonstrated the “tested quality” of their faith. (Jas. 1:3) Bad associations destroy faith, but good associations build it. (1 Cor. 15:33) That is one reason why we are counseled not to forsake “our meeting together.”
Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them.
We need time to meditate as we prepare to conduct a Bible study. With each student in mind, we might think of a viewpoint question or an illustration to help the student make progress. Time spent in this way can be most refreshing, as pondering over these things strengthens our own faith and helps us to conduct our Bible studies with greater effectiveness and enthusiasm. The same is true when we prepare our heart to go out in the field service. (Ezra 7:10) Reading a chapter from the Bible book of Acts will “stir up like a fire” our enthusiasm for the ministry. Meditating on Bible verses we intend to use that day and the publications we plan to offer will help us carry out our privilege of service. (2 Tim. 1:6) Think about the people in the territory and what may arouse their interest. All such preparation will move us to witness effectively “with a demonstration of spirit and power” from the Word of God.
If . . . your right eye is making you stumble, tear it out.
Ask yourself: ‘What may tempt my child to look at pornography? Does he know why it is so dangerous? Am I approachable so that he will come to me for help if he is ever tempted to look at pornography?’ Even while your children are quite young, you could say to them: “If you ever come across an immoral website and you feel tempted to look at it, please come and talk to me. You don’t have to be ashamed. I want to help you.” Insight will also help you to choose your own entertainment prudently. “What we as parents approve of in the way of music, movies, or books sets the tone for the family,” says a father named Pranas. “You can say a lot about a lot of things, but your children will watch what you do and imitate you.” If your children see you carefully choosing clean entertainment, they will probably be moved to make similar choices.
I will give you insight and instruct you in the way you should go.
Increased emphasis is now being placed on public witnessing: at bus stops, train stations, parking lots, in public squares, and markets. If engaging in some of these features of service makes you nervous, why not give prayerful thought to this comment of longtime traveling overseer Angelo Manera, Jr.: “We looked at each new feature of service as another way to serve Jehovah, as another way to prove our loyalty to him, as another test of our integrity, and we were eager to prove ourselves willing to serve him in any way he asked.” Engaging in a new feature of the work, perhaps one outside our comfort zone, helps us to build trust and faith in Jehovah, leading to greater spirituality. (2 Cor. 12:9, 10) Many publishers have enjoyed directing people to our website, jw.org. It is reaching people with the good news, even in remote areas. w15 11/15 5:12, 13, 15
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens his friend.
In the past, the English New World Translation followed the pattern of some other English Bibles that use the Hebrew expression “Sheol” in verses such as Ecclesiastes 9:10. That verse used to read: “There is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheʹol, the place to which you are going.” Translators of many non-English editions faced this problem: The term “Sheol” is unknown to most of their readers, it is not found in their dictionaries, and it sounds like some geographic location. Accordingly, for the 2013 revision, approval was given to make the meaning of “Sheol” and the corresponding Greek term “Hades” clear by translating them accurately as “the Grave.” Obsolete English expressions were also replaced, and a concerted effort was put forth to make the text clear and easy to understand without sacrificing accuracy. Applying what had been done in other languages sharpened the English text. w15 12/15 2:10, 12
Happy is anyone who shows consideration to the lowly one; Jehovah will rescue him in the day of calamity. Jehovah will guard him and keep him alive.
If we are ill, we can look to God for comfort, wisdom, and support, as did true worshippers in the past. Still, we know that an individual living in David’s day who showed consideration to a lowly one did not keep living without end. Hence, when David wrote the above, he could not have meant that such a considerate individual would be kept alive miraculously, thus gaining everlasting life. We can take those inspired words to mean that God would help the loyal considerate one. How? David explained: “Jehovah will sustain him on his sickbed; during his sickness you will completely change his bed.” (Ps. 41:3) Yes, an individual who showed consideration to a lowly one could be certain that God was aware of him and his faithful course. And the recuperative power of his God-given body might help him to get better, to recover from his sickness. w15 12/15 4:7
Keep in mind those in prison.
Paul was not here referring to just any type of prisoner. He was speaking about those brothers who were imprisoned for their faith. Paul himself had been in prison bonds for some four years by the time he penned those words to the Hebrew Christians. (Phil. 1:12-14) He commended the brothers for having “expressed sympathy for those in prison.” (Heb. 10:34) Those Hebrew Christians were physically separated from Paul. So how could they keep him in mind? They could do so by their fervent prayers in his behalf. (Heb. 13:18, 19) Today, we may likewise be separated physically from our brothers who have been thrown into prison. We may not be able to give them the practical help that is provided by the Witnesses who live near the prison. But we can show our sympathy and brotherly affection by constantly remembering these faithful ones and mentioning them in our prayers, pleading to Jehovah in their behalf. w16.01 1:13, 14
The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.
God’s original purpose was for mankind to live forever here on earth. (Gen. 1:28; Ps. 37:29) The selection of some to go to heaven to rule as kings and priests is not the norm. It is an exceptional arrangement. This calling causes a profound change in the thinking, outlook, and hope of a person when he is anointed. (Eph. 1:18) But how does a person know that he has the heavenly calling, that he has, in fact, received this special token? The answer is clearly seen in Paul’s words to the anointed brothers in Rome, who were “called to be holy ones.” He told them: “You did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: ‘Abba, Father!’” (Rom. 1:7; 8:15) Simply put, by means of his holy spirit, God makes it clear to that person that he is invited to become a future heir in the Kingdom arrangement.
Mind your own business.
How can we show appropriate respect for those whom Jehovah chooses to anoint? We would not ask them personal questions about their anointing. We thus avoid meddling with what does not concern us. (2 Thess. 3:11) We should not assume that the parents, spouse, or other relatives of one of the anointed would also be anointed. Genetics or marriage play no part in the process. (1 Thess. 2:12) We should also resist the urge to quiz spouses of anointed ones about how they feel knowing that they will live without their mate in the future earthly Paradise. Rather than raise questions that may cause pain, all of us can have full confidence that Jehovah will open his hand and “satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Ps. 145:16) Those who treat anointed Christians in a proper manner protect themselves from an insidious danger