Put up a hard fight for the faith.
The anxious wait is over. Relieved to see her father returning safely from battle, the young woman races to greet him and rejoices over his astounding victory. Instead of joining her in song and dance, he rips apart his battle-stained garments and cries out: “Oh no, my daughter! You have broken my heart.” Then he utters the words that change her life forever, shattering her dreams and hopes of a normal life. Yet, without hesitation, she encourages her father to follow through on what he promised Jehovah. Her words reveal her great faith. She trusts that whatever Jehovah asks is best for her. (Judg. 11:34-37) Her father’s heart swells with pride because he knows that his daughter’s willingness to support his decision brings Jehovah’s smile of approval. Jephthah and his daughter put their trust and confidence in Jehovah’s way of doing things, even when it was hard to do so. They were convinced that gaining God’s approval was worth any sacrifice. w16.04 1:1, 2
You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome Jehovah gave.
If you are crushed by the discouraging words of a friend or family member, are plagued by a serious illness, or are grieved by the death of a loved one, you can find comfort in the example of Job. (Job 1:18, 19; 2:7, 9; 19:1-3) Although he was unaware of the source of his troubles, Job did not give up in despair. Why not? For one thing, “he feared God.” (Job 1:1) Job was determined to please Jehovah in favorable and unfavorable circumstances. With God’s help, Job reflected on the wondrous things Jehovah had already accomplished by means of His holy spirit. Job became even more confident that Jehovah would end his trials at the right time. (Job 42:1, 2) And that is precisely what happened. “Jehovah removed Job’s tribulation and restored his prosperity. Jehovah gave him double what he had before.” Job lived “a long and satisfying life.”
Prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves.
We show caution by recognizing dangers early, and we remain innocent by not letting them lead us into compromise. We must exercise caution when political issues are brought up. For example, when presenting the Kingdom message, avoid either praising or criticizing the policies of a political party or leader. Try to establish common ground with the householder by focusing on the underlying problem rather than on any proposed political solution. Then, show from the Bible how God’s government will solve the problem completely and permanently. If such volatile issues as same-sex marriage or abortion come up, defend God’s standards and explain how we follow these in our own lives. During the discussion, remain strictly neutral on the political aspects of these topics. We take no position regarding what laws should be enacted, repealed, or changed, and we do not pressure others to agree with our view. w16.04 4:8, 9
Go, therefore, and make disciples.
We must make disciples, baptize them, and teach them, but what is the first thing we need to do? Jesus said: “Go”! With regard to this command, one Bible scholar commented: “To ‘go’ is the task of each believer, whether across the street or across the ocean.” (Matt. 10:7; Luke 10:3) Was Jesus referring only to the individual efforts of his followers, or was he alluding to an organized campaign to preach the good news? Since one individual would not be able to go to “all the nations,” this work would require the organized efforts of many. Jesus indicated as much when he invited his disciples to become “fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:18-22) The type of fishing he referred to here was not that of a lone fisherman using a line and a lure, sitting idly while waiting for the fish to bite. Rather, it involved the use of fishing nets
Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight.
To acquaint ourselves with Jehovah’s thinking, we need to make personal study a priority. When reading or studying God’s Word, we might ask ourselves, ‘What does this material reveal about Jehovah, his righteous ways, and his thinking?’ We need to have an attitude like that of the psalmist David, who sang: “Make me know your ways, O Jehovah; teach me your paths. Cause me to walk in your truth and teach me, for you are my God of salvation. In you I hope all day long.” (Ps. 25:4, 5) As you meditate on a Bible passage, you might consider questions like these: ‘How can I apply this information in my family? Where can I apply it? At home? At work? At school? In the ministry?’ Once we have determined where the material can be applied, it may become easier to perceive how we can put it to work. w16.05 3:9, 11
The overseer should . . . be irreprehensible.
By giving a list of qualifications for overseers, Jehovah reveals that he has a high standard for those who serve in an appointed capacity. (1 Tim. 3:2-7) He expects them to set a good example, and he holds them accountable for the way they treat the congregation, “which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28) Jehovah wants us to feel safe in the care of the appointed undershepherds. (Isa. 32:1, 2) From that standpoint, the Scriptural qualifications for Christian elders remind us of how much Jehovah truly cares for us. In fact, each Christian can learn from the qualifications listed in these verses, as most of them involve things that Jehovah asks of all Christians. For instance, all of us should be reasonable and sound in mind. (Phil. 4:5; 1 Pet. 4:7) As elders prove to be “examples to the flock,” we can learn from them and “imitate their faith.”
Above all the things that you guard, safeguard your heart.
Against what hardening traits must we be on guard? They include inordinate pride, the practice of sin, and a lack of faith. These could foster a disobedient, rebellious spirit. (Dan. 5:1, 20; Heb. 3:13, 18, 19) King Uzziah of Judah certainly displayed pride. (2 Chron. 26:3-5, 16-21) At first, Uzziah did “what was right in Jehovah’s eyes,” and “he kept searching for God.” But “as soon as he was strong, his heart became haughty,” even though his strength was from God! He even attempted to burn incense at the temple
[Put] up with one another in love.
How do you feel about fellow Christians who are from cultures very different from your own? Their first language, style of clothing, manners, and food may not be what you are accustomed to. Do you tend to shy away from them and associate mainly with those who have a background similar to yours? Or what if those appointed as overseers in your congregation
Keep your eyes open and guard against every sort of greed.
Satan wants us to slave for Riches rather than for Jehovah. (Matt. 6:24) Those who spend most of their energy accumulating material things end up with a life that is, at best, shallow because it appeals to selfish gratification or that is, at worst, spiritually empty and full of grief and frustration. (1 Tim. 6:9, 10; Rev. 3:17) It is as Jesus described in his illustration of the sower. When the Kingdom message is “sown among the thorns . . . , the desires for everything else make inroads and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:14, 18, 19) As we near the end of this system of things, now is not the time to amass more and more material things for ourselves. We should not expect that any of our possessions, regardless of how treasured or valuable they may be, will survive with us through the great tribulation.
We all received . . . undeserved kindness upon undeserved kindness.
A winegrower went to the marketplace early one morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. The men he found agreed to the wage he offered and went to work. The owner needed more workers, however, and returned to the marketplace throughout the day to hire more and more men, offering a fair wage even to those whom he hired at the end of the afternoon. When evening came, he gathered the workers together to give them their wages, and he gave the same amount to each of them, whether they had labored many hours or just one. When those first hired realized this, they complained. The winegrower replied: ‘Did you not agree to the wage I offered? Do I not have the right to give all my workers whatever I want? Are you envious because I am generous?’ (Matt. 20:1-15, ftn.) Jesus’ parable reminds us of one of Jehovah’s qualities that is often mentioned in the Bible
Look! I am making all things new. . . . Write, for these words are faithful and true.
More than ever, our mission as the end nears is to preach the good news of the Kingdom! (Mark 13:10) Undeniably, the good news highlights Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. We should keep this in mind when we share in our witnessing work. Our objective when we preach is to honor Jehovah. We can do this by showing people that all the promises of new world blessings are expressions of Jehovah’s wonderful kindness. As we witness to others, we can explain that under Christ’s Kingdom rule, mankind will benefit from the full application of the ransom sacrifice and will gradually be brought to perfection. The Bible says: “The creation itself will also be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21) This will be possible only through Jehovah’s extraordinary kindness. w16.07 4:17-19
Let the husband give to his wife her due, and let the wife also do likewise to her husband.
Although the Bible does not provide specific rules about the kinds and limits of love play that might be associated with natural sexual intimacy, it mentions displays of affection. (Song of Sol. 1:2; 2:6) Christian marriage partners should treat each other with tenderness. Strong love for God and neighbor will not allow anyone or anything to interfere with the marriage bond. Some marriages have been strained or even ruined by a mate’s addiction to pornography. Any tendency toward being attracted to this or toward sexual interests of any sort outside marriage should be firmly resisted. Even giving the appearance of flirting with someone to whom one is not married is unloving and should be avoided. Remembering that God is aware of all our thoughts and actions will reinforce our desire to please him and to remain chaste.
We have never stopped praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the accurate knowledge of [God’s] will.
With such accurate knowledge, the Colossian Christians would be able “to walk worthily of Jehovah in order to please him fully.” This would enable them to continue “bearing fruit in every good work,” especially in the preaching of the good news. (Col. 1:10) To serve effectively, a worshipper of Jehovah must follow a routine of Bible study. We do well to help Bible students grasp that fact. Moreover, we ourselves must be convinced of its value. In fact, we ourselves need to have good Bible study habits. So you might ask yourself, ‘When householders express opinions that are contrary to Scriptural teachings or they ask difficult questions, am I able to give answers that are based on the Bible?’ If we tell others how much we have benefited from our personal study of the Bible, we may encourage them to obtain such benefits by being diligent students of the Scriptures. w16.08 4:3, 4
We have a struggle . . . against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.
It is vital that we resist being affected by the world’s “strongly entrenched things.” These include its doctrines, philosophies, and harmful practices, such as committing immorality, using tobacco, and abusing alcohol and drugs. And we must constantly fight against our fleshly weaknesses and discouragement. (2 Cor. 10:3-6; Col. 3:5-9) Is it really possible to defeat such powerful opponents? Yes, but not without a struggle. Drawing on the example of a boxer of ancient times, Paul said of himself: “The way I am aiming my blows is so as not to be striking the air.” (1 Cor. 9:26) Just as a boxer fights off his opponent, we must fend off our enemies. Jehovah trains us and helps us in our fight. He provides lifesaving instructions in his Word. He also helps us through our Bible-based publications, Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions. Are you putting into practice what you are learning? w16.09 2:2, 3
Even the Christ did not please himself.
Yes, Jesus put helping others ahead of personal convenience
A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly instructed will be like his teacher.
As a teacher, Jesus reached hearts because he loved Jehovah, God’s Word, and people. (Luke 24:32; John 7:46) Similar love will help parents reach the hearts of their children. (Deut. 6:5-8; Luke 6:45) So parents, be good students of the Bible and of our study aids. Take an interest in creation and in articles in our publications that discuss this topic. (Matt. 6:26, 28) Your doing so will broaden your knowledge, deepen your appreciation for Jehovah, and better equip you to teach your young ones. When your heart is filled with Bible truth, you will want to discuss it with your family. Do this not only when preparing for Christian meetings or during family worship but at any time. Moreover, such discussions should not be forced but should be natural and spontaneous
None of them knew how to speak the language of the Jews.
The inability to grasp God’s Word in a foreign language can pose a real threat to our spiritual health. In the fifth century B.C.E., Nehemiah showed concern when he learned that some children among the Jews who had returned from Babylon could not speak the Hebrew language. These children were actually losing their identity as God’s servants because they could not fully understand the meaning of God’s Word. (Neh. 8:2, 8) Some Christian parents serving in a foreign-language field have come to realize that their children’s interest in the truth has waned. Why? When we read in a foreign tongue, our heart may not be as involved as it would be in our own language. Moreover, the inability to communicate well in another language can be mentally and spiritually draining. So while keeping alive our desire to serve Jehovah in a foreign-language field, we do well to safeguard our spiritual health.
Faith is . . . the convincing evidence of realities that are not seen.
Christian faith is a precious quality. Not all humans possess it. (2 Thess. 3:2) However, Jehovah has given to each one of his worshippers “a measure of faith.” (Rom. 12:3; Gal. 5:22) All who have it should be deeply grateful. Jesus Christ said that his heavenly Father draws people to himself through His Son. (John 6:44, 65) Acquiring faith in Jesus, in turn, makes it possible for an individual to gain forgiveness of sins. That, then, opens up the prospect of enjoying an everlasting relationship with Jehovah. (Rom. 6:23) What did we do to deserve such a wonderful blessing? As sinners, the only thing we deserve is death. (Ps. 103:10) But Jehovah saw a potential for good in us. Out of his undeserved kindness, he opened our heart to the good news. So we began to exercise faith in Jesus with everlasting life in view.
[Paul gave] many words of encouragement to the ones there.
In his letters, Paul spoke highly of his fellow Christians. He had traveled with some of them for years and undoubtedly knew their faults, but he said good things about them. For instance, Paul described Timothy as his “beloved and faithful child in the Lord,” one who would genuinely care for the concerns of other Christians. (1 Cor. 4:17; Phil. 2:19, 20) The apostle commended Titus to the Corinthian congregation as “my companion and a fellow worker for your interests.” (2 Cor. 8:23) How encouraged Timothy and Titus must have been to learn what Paul thought of them! Paul and Barnabas risked their lives by going back to places where they had suffered violent attacks. For instance, even though they had faced fanatic opposition in Lystra, they returned there in order to encourage new disciples to remain in the faith. (Acts 14:19-22) In Ephesus, after Paul faced an angry crowd, he encouraged the disciples there.
Be completely united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.
Jehovah leads and feeds those in the earthly part of his organization by means of “the faithful and discreet slave” under the direction of Christ, the “head of the congregation.” (Matt. 24:45-47; Eph. 5:23) Like the first-century governing body, this slave accepts God’s inspired word, or message, and highly esteems it. (1 Thess. 2:13) The Bible directs us to attend meetings regularly. (Heb. 10:24, 25) It urges us to promote unity of doctrine. God’s Word tells us to give the Kingdom first place in our lives. (Matt. 6:33) The Scriptures also emphasize our duty and privilege to preach from house to house, in public places, and informally. (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 5:42; 17:17; 20:20) God’s own Book directs Christian elders to keep his organization clean. (1 Cor. 5:1-5, 13; 1 Tim. 5:19-21) And Jehovah decrees that all those in his organization must be clean physically and spiritually.
Get out of her, my people.
In the decades leading up to World War I, Charles Taze Russell and his associates realized that the organizations of Christendom were not teaching Bible truth. Accordingly, they resolved to have nothing to do with false religion as they understood it. As early as November of 1879, Zion’s Watch Tower straightforwardly set out their Scriptural position by stating: “Every church claiming to be a chaste virgin espoused to Christ, but in reality united to and supported by the world (beast) we must condemn as being in scripture language a harlot church,” a reference to Babylon the Great. (Rev. 17:1, 2) God-fearing men and women knew what they must do. They could not expect to receive God’s blessing if they continued to support false religious organizations. Consequently, many Bible Students prepared letters of withdrawal from their churches. w16.11 5:2, 3
Those who live according to the spirit, [set their minds] on the things of the spirit.
In connection with the annual commemoration of Jesus’ death, have you read Romans 8:15-17? Probably so. That key passage explains how Christians know that they are anointed
Never be anxious.
What did Jesus mean when he said: “Never be anxious”? Obviously, he could not have meant that a servant of God would not at some point in life experience anxiety. Instead, Jesus was helping his disciples to realize that undue, or extreme, anxiety does not solve problems. Each day has its own challenges, so Christians do not need to add anxious thoughts about the past or the future to the concerns of the present. Unwarranted anxiety often results if a Christian agonizes over possible future problems. However, you need not be consumed by anxiety, or worry, over events that you do not know anything about. Why not? Because things often do not turn out to be as bad as we feared they might be. Moreover, there is no situation beyond the control of the God on whom you can throw all your anxiety. You can be certain that God can reward his faithful ones and help them deal with anxiety about the past, the present, and the future. w16.12 3:13, 16
Wisdom is with the modest ones.
King Saul of ancient Israel began his reign as a modest and respected man. (1 Sam. 9:1, 2, 21; 10:20-24) But soon after he became king, he carried out a series of presumptuous acts. When God’s prophet Samuel did not show up in Gilgal at the appointed time, Saul became impatient. The Philistines were preparing for battle, and the Israelites were deserting Saul. He must have thought, ‘I have to do something
I have found David . . . a man agreeable to my heart.
David’s life course was one of faithfulness. Even so, on occasion he fell into serious sin. He committed adultery with Bath-sheba. (2 Sam. 11:1-21) David could not undo what he had done. And he could not escape the consequences of his mistakes. In fact, some of those consequences would stay with David for the rest of his life. (2 Sam. 12:10-12, 14) Thus, he needed faith. He had to trust that when he truly repented, Jehovah would forgive him and help him endure the consequences of his actions. Being imperfect, all of us sin. Some mistakes are more serious than others. In some cases, we may not be able to undo our mistakes. We may simply have to live with the consequences. (Gal. 6:7) But we take God at his word, trusting that if we are repentant, Jehovah will support us through difficult times
Mankind cannot comprehend what happens under the sun. No matter how hard men try, they cannot comprehend it. Even if they claim that they are wise enough to know, they cannot really comprehend it.
Modesty can help us to make good decisions even when we cannot fully know or control how things will turn out. As an example, if we enter some feature of the full-time service, what will happen to us if we get sick? What if our aging parents need our help? How will we look after ourselves in our old age? No amount of prayer or research will reveal a complete answer to questions like these. Our confidence in Jehovah will help us not only to acknowledge but also to accept our limitations. After doing research, consulting others, and praying for guidance, we need to take steps in the direction that God’s spirit is leading us. (Eccl. 11:4-6) That gives Jehovah something to bless, or he can gently redirect our goals.
You must not eat from it.
Adam and Eve had to decide what to do. Would they obey Jehovah, or would they listen to the serpent? They decided to disobey God. (Gen. 3:6-13) By rebelling against Jehovah, Adam and Eve lost their perfection. Moreover, their rebellion resulted in alienation from Jehovah because his “eyes are too pure to look on what is evil.” Therefore, he “cannot tolerate wickedness.” (Hab. 1:13) If he had tolerated it, the well-being of all living creatures
Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from Jehovah’s mouth.
From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus allowed the Scriptures to direct him. Even his final words before he died included quotations of Messianic prophecies. (Matt. 27:46; Luke 23:46) In contrast, the religious leaders of that time disregarded God’s Word whenever it contradicted their own traditions. Quoting Jehovah’s words through the prophet Isaiah, Jesus said about them: “This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshipping me, for they teach commands of men as doctrines.” (Matt. 15:7-9) Jesus allowed God’s Word to guide not only his actions but also his teaching. When confronted with religious controversies, he appealed neither to his vast wisdom nor to his unparalleled experience. Instead, he held up the Scriptures as the final authority.
Honor men of all sorts, . . . honor the king.
Jehovah’s Witnesses willingly render honor to public servants, even as it may be expected and as may be customary in the land. We cooperate with them as they perform their duties. Of course, our honor and support have reasonable, Scriptural limits. We cannot go to the point of disobeying God or violating our Christian neutrality. (1 Pet. 2:13-16) Jehovah’s servants in the past set the pattern in their relationship with governments and officials. When the Roman Empire called on people to participate in a census, Joseph and Mary complied. They traveled to Bethlehem despite the fact that Mary was soon to give birth to her first child. (Luke 2:1-5) Later, when Paul was accused of wrongdoing, he respectfully defended himself and showed proper honor to King Herod Agrippa and to Festus, governor of the Roman province of Judea.
These things . . . were written for a warning to us.
When the Israelites adopted the sinful ways of the Canaanites, Jehovah no longer granted them his protective care. (Judg. 2:1-3, 11-15; Ps. 106:40-43) What a challenge it must have been for God-fearing families to remain loyal to Jehovah during those hard years! Nevertheless, the Bible reveals that there were faithful ones, such as Jephthah, Elkanah, Hannah, and Samuel, who were determined to gain God’s approval. (1 Sam. 1:20-28; 2:26) We live in a world where people think and act in ways that are similar to those in ancient Canaan
A man of understanding acquires skillful direction.
When we are faced with serious decisions, it is vital to draw on the Bible as the best source of advice and to seek Jehovah’s guidance in prayer. Jehovah can give us the qualities we need to make decisions that are in harmony with his will. Make it a practice to ask: ‘Will this decision give evidence of my love for Jehovah? Will it bring joy and peace to my family? And will it show that I am patient and kind?’ Jehovah does not coerce us into loving him and serving him. In line with the free will that he grants us, he respects our responsibility and right to ‘choose for ourselves’ whether we will serve him. (Josh. 24:15; Eccl. 5:4) But he expects us to follow through on other decisions that we make based on his guidance. With faith in Jehovah’s way of doing things and the principles that he has kindly provided, we can make wise decisions and prove ourselves steady in all our ways.