‘Consider One Another, Trusting in Jehovah’
1. What traits identify a mature witness of Jehovah?
PAUL, writing to the Hebrews, wanted them to know more about Christ Jesus. He wrote: “Concerning him we have much to say and hard to be explained, since you have become dull in your hearing. For, indeed, although you ought to be teachers in view of the time, you again need someone to teach you from the beginning the first principles of the sacred pronouncements of God, and you have become such as need milk, not solid food. For everyone that partakes of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Heb. 5:11-14, NW) A vigorous Christian himself, Paul wanted these Hebrews to advance and use their perceptive powers. In view of the time they were in the truth they should have been teachers, but they did not want to express themselves for enriching others. They preferred to take life easy and just feed on the milk of the Word and just remember the simple things they learned when they first came into Jehovah’s organization without becoming acquainted with the whole Word of God and taking the solid food that belongs to mature people. Any dedicated Christian witness of Jehovah should want to grow up and make advancement in the New World society. When one gains knowledge of Jehovah’s marvelous purposes it should fill him with vigor and give him vitality. Energized, he should want to help others to gain the same valuable information he has. Therefore he should show an aptness to teach, giving out accurate knowledge so that others, too, can lay hold on instruction. When he really grows to love his brothers he will want to make a public declaration in the congregation to incite them to love and right works.
2. (a) What outstanding practices identify the old world’s wrong thinkers? (b) What basic godly quality transforms the thinking of willing and obedient humans, and why?
2 A great change must take place in one’s thinking when he becomes a Christian. There must be a making over of the mind. To quit the old way of thinking is necessary. A new form of instruction must be put on. That is why Paul wrote: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and complete will of God.” (Rom. 12:2, NW) Every one of us has been born in the wicked, delinquent, fearful old world and we have been trained in the old world’s way to think selfishly, as human leaders want their followers or subjects to think. From childhood we have been taught to hate other nations, peoples and races and to fear them and suspect them, thus building up barriers between certain persons and ourselves. This wrong thought was very sharply expressed in one of the popular stage successes (“South Pacific”). In that play, a young army man, distressed because he had fallen in love with a young girl of another race and nationality, sings about ‘your being taught to hate and fear; that you have got to be taught from year to year, having it drummed into your dear little ear—carefully taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are ugly made and whose skin is a different shade; carefully taught before it’s too late, before you’re six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate.’ And that is true of the old world. Talk aplenty there is about brotherly love and the brotherhood of man and world brotherhood; but those who have been carefully taught according to this old world’s untheocratic theories prefer segregation, class distinction, the caste system. How necessary it is, then, for a reasonable person to make his mind over, to quit thinking like the old world and, instead, take instruction from Almighty God! God’s Book, the Bible, teaches us to love as he loves. Love casts out fear. “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.” “There is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside, because fear exercises a restraint. Indeed, he that is under fear has not been made perfect in love. As for us, we love, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:8, 18, 19, NW) When one lives by the accurate knowledge he receives from Jehovah’s Word, how different his life becomes! But with these new ideas, these newly found truths from God’s Word, Jehovah’s witnesses must go forward to teach others so that all who eventually choose to become part of the New World society will think as Jehovah thinks and grow to maturity.
HOW VALUABLE IS THE BIBLE?
3. (a) Daily reading and study of any version of the Bible result in what? (b) What can justly be said about good and better translations of it?
3 Every one of us can become alive to the wonderful joys and blessings that Jehovah’s witnesses have if we take the time to receive instruction, associate with Jehovah’s witnesses, express ourselves and advance to maturity in the congregation of God Sometimes it is said that Jehovah’s witnesses have their own Bible, but when one reads the pages of The Watchtower he sees that many translations are constantly cited and quoted from. Jehovah’s witnesses urge that every person read his own copy of the Holy Bible daily. It matters not which version of the Bible is read, whether the Catholic Douay, or the Protestant King James or American Standard, or any other Bible version in German, French, Spanish, Hebrew or Tagalog. No matter which rendering of the Holy Scriptures you read you can learn the truth. None, generally speaking, are so far off from the original meaning expressed in the Hebrew and Greek texts as to sidetrack the reader and send him into error. However, there are good and better translations. Such are available for selection; and when you can get a better one to read and study, it will be to your advantage. It will aid you to gain a clearer understanding, probably a quicker understanding, of the marvelous purposes of Jehovah. His Book, the Bible, is one you should be reading every day throughout the entire year, and year after year. It is an inexhaustible fountain of refreshing water, truth. It never becomes dry. It is always deliciously fresh, tasty. Do not be choosy in your reading, but starting with Genesis proceed through to the last book, Revelation. You will find the rarest gems of truth, marvelous instruction, sound counsel; for all this is the written word of the Supreme Sovereign, the living God JEHOVAH. For us, dwellers upon this little earth of his vast universe, he provided that Book so that we might be properly instructed and trained as true followers of his Christ.—Eph. 4:31, 32; 1 John 1:7.
4, 5. How valuable is the Bible?
4 Centuries ago when Pilgrim fathers came to America’s shores the Bible was their principal book. Often now we hear or read of those bygone days when persons used their Bible daily in nearly every home. It affected the upbringing of their children, it broadened their knowledge and understanding, it helped to keep them close to the living God. They did not measure its contents with a yardstick supplied by self-serving, hostile critics or prejudiced scoffers. Indeed, the Giver’s Book, the Bible, is the one volume that has solid food for thought, excellent instruction on living and on proper behavior of oneself. Today the Bible is far more valuable to us than it was to those of the past days; for all things written aforetime were written for our instruction now in these days of great trial. (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) The Bible is for our comfort, and in reading the Scriptures we are able to have hope.—1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Pet. 1:19-21.
5 Do you appreciate that when you hear or read the Bible you are actually listening to, giving attention to, Jehovah God, as he communicates his thoughts to you? He is not going to talk to you in a dream. He will not send you a special messenger, an angel, to give you private instruction. Through his written Word he now is communicating to us. “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17, NW) It is useless to look around for advice and instruction from any other source.
WHY REGULARLY STUDY AND PREACH GOD’S TRUTH?
6. Why regularly study and preach God’s truth?
6 No one can be just satisfied with a mere general knowledge of God’s truth. (Psalm 117) In one’s Christian activity he must leave the elementary things and advance to maturity. That is why Paul said: “For this reason, now that we have left the elementary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying a foundation again, namely, repentance from dead works, and faith toward God, the teaching on baptisms and the laying on of the hands, the resurrection of the dead and everlasting judgment. And this we will do, if God indeed permits.” (Heb. 6:1-3, NW) Once we have taken the forward step of being one of God’s slaves, it is not a matter of becoming just a ‘Sunday Christian.’ It must be an everyday affair. The dedicated Christian witness of Jehovah must demonstrate that he is truly an industrious minister and cannot be interested in merely gaining knowledge for himself but he must see the responsibility of maintaining his own integrity through aiding others by sensibly preaching the good news to them. (1 Pet. 3:15) Every additional responsibility should be welcomed by all in the New World society. One should not be satisfied with the idea that he will ‘let well enough alone,’ but, rather, will be progressive and eagerly desire to advance. “For God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering. But we desire each one of you to show the same industriousness so as to have the full assurance of the hope down to the end, in order that you may not become sluggish, but be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Heb. 6:10-12, NW) No matter how long we have been walking in the truth, we must continue to preach God’s Word, the Bible, and study the things he has provided for us to study through his organization for his purposes. Otherwise, if we do not keep pace with the organization, sluggishness will overtake us. (1 John 2:6) The Word of God makes us alive, gives us vigor, and we have zeal peculiar to Jehovah’s house. A good Christian witness will always be an industrious person. He will be found regularly at the meetings, at the service centers, and taking the lead in gratefully expressing the truth to others.
7. How can spiritual weakness be avoided?
7 Do you ever feel spiritually weak? Examine yourself. Very likely you have not been going to meetings regularly. You lack association with your brothers. When one begins missing meetings one is withdrawing from Jehovah’s organization, and that is when one begins to become weak. He ceases to express himself or make a public declaration of his hope. In these last days of the Devil’s organization this is no time to take chances. All must be strong in powers of understanding, and the only way we can remain strong is to study Jehovah’s Word and meet with Jehovah’s people. “Brothers, do not become young children in powers of understanding, but be babes as to evil; yet become full-grown in powers of understanding.” (1 Cor. 14:20, NW) The godly advice is that as far as the wicked things of this old system are concerned be like children, innocent toward such things and knowing only very partly or incompletely about the evil things, so as to avoid such. Do not associate in such company. But, on the other hand, when it comes to powers of understanding, do not be children; be full grown, mature.
8, 9. By heeding what advice is spiritual-mindedness maintained?
8 One who holds on to the instruction from Jehovah will be a spiritually-minded person. He will think correctly, divinely, like God. Spiritual-mindedness is opposed to carnal-mindedness. To be carnally-minded means to be thinking of the things of this world, to be carrying on the wicked practices of the Devil’s organization. To be spiritually-minded is to be the opposite of carnally-minded. Life and our gaining it are the important things to have in mind. Jesus had these things in mind when he was upon earth and he told his apostles: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. Does not the soul mean more than food and the body than clothing?” (Matt. 6:25, NW) By far the majority of the people in the world are interested in only these things that pertain to themselves and not how they can benefit others. This is the Gentiles’ or selfish way of looking at it. In his discussion with his apostles Jesus told us that there was a far greater thing to think about, the spiritual thing, the Kingdom. He said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his [Jehovah’s] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33, NW) Do not question that Jehovah God does not know our needs. He does, and he can care for them. He does not want us to be worried about them all the time. He wants us to concentrate on the greater thing, Jehovah’s kingdom that will mean life to men of good will. When we follow Jesus, then we will want to “take fast hold of instruction; let her not go.”—Prov. 4:13, AS.
9 Taking in the right kind of knowledge is important to our spiritual-mindedness and our gaining life. Jesus, when praying with his disciples, set forth the formula for happy endless living, saying to Jehovah: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3, NW) In this prayer Jesus was very anxious to see his followers take in this true knowledge of the Sovereign Ruler of the universe and to understand why he sent his Son to earth, for with this information one can know the way to everlasting living. From this we can see, then, how essential it is for every individual dedicated to Jehovah God to be busy in the congregation of Jehovah’s people. Meeting attendance is a “must.” Meeting attenders must speak up, communicate, express their minds, and they must keep spiritually-minded. This is not difficult, Paul says, adding: “For I am longing to see you, that I may impart some spiritual gift to you in order for you to be made firm; or, rather, that there may be an interchange of encouragement among you, by each one through the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Rom. 1:11, 12, NW) This spiritual gift Paul is talking about seems to be bestowed upon Jehovah’s people just through communication, by one’s expressing himself as others listen, by the individual’s telling out his faith—by Paul’s expressing his faith to and interchanging thought with others. In other words, talking about Jehovah’s truth is rounding out spiritual-mindedness. (Ps. 145:9-12) This fits in with the thought that we should make a “public declaration of our hope without wavering, for he is faithful that promised.” Our experiences in the field, our association with the brothers, our discussing the Watchtower articles, our going to the theocratic ministry school, our having a part in the service meeting, our attending and participating in the activity of the service center and our attendance at public meetings; all of this is spiritually sustaining, all this discussion, communicating and interchange of ideas is encouraging, spiritually strengthening, upbuilding to faith, as Paul says, “both yours and mine.”
CONSIDER ONE ANOTHER
10. What other provision for aiding one another to maintain spiritual-mindedness is now ours?
10 The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society publishes the Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the forepart of every year, reporting the past year’s activities of God’s servants throughout the world. The Yearbook also sets forth a text for consideration for each day, with a comment on each daily text. How grand it is for families to read the text each day, discuss it, interchange their thinking about it and thus show to one another their faith, making a declaration of their hope; and then sum it up by reading the published comment on that text! All of this is spiritually upbuilding and helps us hold fast to instruction, for this is life.
11, 12. Of what dangers should we be alert to aid one another to keep strong in faith?
11 Spiritual-mindedness is very important in the life of the Christian, but when one does not study or attend meetings of his brothers he will soon feel lost among his brothers when he does come occasionally, and he will even feel out of place when his brothers call on him. Why should that be? It is because he is losing his spiritual-mindedness, because he is no longer making a public declaration of the things he believes. He is letting his faith weaken and die out, and he is slipping back into the old world. The greater part of the congregation that Paul called upon was slipping backward, and so to them he wrote: “Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to fleshly men, as to babes in Christ. I fed you milk, not something to eat, for you were not yet strong enough. In fact, neither are you strong enough now, for you are yet fleshly. For whereas there are jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and are you not walking as men do? For when one says: ‘I belong to Paul,’ but another says: ‘I to Apollos,’ are you not simply men?”—1 Cor. 3:1-4, NW.
12 Jealousy and strife now fill the old world. Love for God and love for the brothers are the principal teachings of the Bible. (Mark 12:29-31; John 15:11-15) Keeping the teaching of God’s Word does not direct us to be following any man, as did the Corinthians who were following Paul or Apollos, making a choice of an individual visible associate. That is what men of the old world are doing every day, choosing this one or that one as a leader. But Christians must choose to follow and then actually and exclusively worship the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, Jehovah God. Every day will they bless him.
13, 14. Exercise of what responsibilities of the spiritually qualified brings what further benefits?
13 For one to become a spiritual man requires time. If he is a person of the world, never having turned to God’s Word, he must first study; and that is where Jehovah’s witnesses have a great blessing and opportunity before them. They call upon the people at their homes and tell them about the things they have learned. They make back-calls and conduct home Bible studies with people of good will. It may take six months or a year before these individuals are able to understand and appreciate what Jehovah’s purposes are, but in time any person who is sincere and who has a sheeplike disposition will turn from his worldly way of thinking and will see that the instruction set forth in God’s Word is of greatest value, and it will not be long until he will be becoming spiritually-minded. All the “other sheep” who have been gathered into the New World society and have dedicated themselves to Jehovah God have become spiritually-minded just like the anointed of God who will be joint heirs with Christ Jesus of the heavenly kingdom. They have become spiritually-minded through the interchange of faith, through communicating to one another about the things they believe. Those who are truly spiritually-minded can help the weaker ones in the organization. It is the responsibility of the stronger ones to speak to those who have shown hesitance in taking up their responsibility. That is why Paul said: “Brothers, even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to restore such a man in a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted.”—Gal. 6:1, NW.
14 A brother in the organization should not be offended when another brother who is zealous and joyful in God’s service calls on him to help him. He should be grateful to God that someone sees his need and that someone with spiritual qualifications is willing to help to restore him in a spirit of mildness. It may be that the one who was slipping away lost his grip and no longer was holding fast to the instruction God had given for him through His Word. Once we lose our grip on the instruction in God’s Word we begin to lose our life. We must seek accurate knowledge, and this we cannot attain by our individually, privately working out our own philosophies and ideas of life. We must seek Jehovah God. (Prov. 3:5-7) We must turn to his Word; we must associate with his organization. We must keep our minds on the right things and in that way we shall be able to attain accurate knowledge and true understanding. It should be the desire of every one to be filled with accurate knowledge, wisdom and spiritual discernment so that each one can walk worthily of Jehovah and thus please him. As a Christian we each must be bearing fruit in every good work, and as we bear this fruit we must increase in accurate knowledge of God. What a wonderful privilege it is for a dedicated person to have made advancement in Jehovah’s organization so as to qualify himself to be a right kind of minister. He feels like the apostle Paul: “Thanking the Father who rendered you suitable for your participation in the inheritance of the holy ones in the light.” (Col. 1:9-12, NW) He was glad to see others make advancement and to co-operate with God to render themselves suitable servants so that they too could share in this great work of “announcing Jehovah’s kingdom” in all the world for a witness.—Matt. 24:14, NW.
15. How is the commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself” practically applied today?
15 There is no doubt about it, we as individual members of the New World society must be interested in ourselves. It was Jesus who said: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39; Luke 21:34-36, NW) We must pay constant attention to ourselves so that we may gain life in the new world. Individually we must look after our own integrity. No one else can take any one of us into the new world by holding our hand and dragging us through the battle of Armageddon. Each dedicated Christian witness of Jehovah must stand on his own feet. (Joel 2:7, 8; Phil. 2:12, 13) He must hold fast to instruction. As Jesus said, it is your taking in knowledge of Jehovah, the only true God, and of the One whom he sent forth, Jesus Christ, that means life. Wisdom and understanding of Jehovah’s purposes are the vital essentials that will ensure your survival. But, remember, you cannot go it alone. While you may do much private study, it is very necessary that you meet with the congregation and there make the public declaration of your hope. Even Jesus did that. (Heb. 2:12; John 13:15-17) By so doing, you, like Jesus, will incite others to love and good works and encourage those who have not forsaken the assembling of themselves with their brothers in these last days. Knowledge you thus gain and dispense shows that you are holding fast to instruction and that you can be assured of everlasting life.
16. ‘Paying constant attention to yourself’ means what to spiritually-minded ones?
16 Paul loved youthful Timothy and he gave him much admonition in several letters. One time he wrote him at length and, summing up, said: “Ponder over these things, be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons. Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching.” (1 Tim. 4:15, 16, NW) From this it is clear that every Christian must advance within Jehovah’s organization and never be ashamed to make this advancement manifest to all persons within the congregation. If you respectfully speak up and express yourself and others become aware that you are becoming more mature and spiritually-minded, that makes their hearts glad and it may help them to follow in the same way, for they see the benefit you are deriving from studying and communicating in the hearing of your assembled brothers. They will observe, too, that you are paying constant attention to yourself and that you are keeping yourself in attendance at all the meetings and that you are seeing to it that you are getting out in the field service, both in your private territory and with your brothers at the service center. They may even see that you are advancing to the point of entering the pioneer service and perhaps eventually to going through Gilead School and on to a foreign missionary assignment or into circuit servant work. Not that you are trying to be better than someone else, but simply better than you have been, because you see the great responsibility Jehovah God has placed on each one who has dedicated himself to serve Jehovah God, a responsibility to grow, to increase. You are paying constant attention to yourself and now you want to be sure, too, that you are paying constant attention to your teaching.
17, 18. What, in summary, are the essentials for maintaining integrity and fear-free devotion to Jehovah?
17 To maintain integrity we see how important it is to meet with the congregation, to mingle with and express ourselves among our brothers, so that we can always be sure that our teaching, the things we speak from house to house and in Bible studies, is correct. By meeting attendance we are constantly testing whether we are in the faith and we keep proving or demonstrating what we ourselves are. Results of such conduct are marvelous, constantly bringing joy and gladness to our hearts. Paul adds: “Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” (1 Tim. 4:16, NW) Yes, by taking in knowledge, by holding fast to instruction, by believing the whole Word of God, you can save yourself. By your holding fast the public declaration of your hope those who listen to you in the congregation can be helped and those who listen to you as you travel throughout the old world preaching the good news of the Kingdom can also be helped.
18 Jehovah’s witnesses certainly find themselves in a magnificent position at this time. They are not fearful of the things occurring in the old world. They are not disturbed because of the thickening darkness, the encircling gloom that afflicts and perplexes all nations. They are not afraid of the wars or the rumors of wars. The reason: They have hope. They know the outcome. They have read, yes, studied God’s Word and so feel content and satisfied and sure. Let each of us, then, holding fast the public declaration of our hope, be like that man of whom the psalmist wrote: “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in Jehovah.”—Ps. 112:7, AS.
A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.—Prov. 24:5.