Patience and Endurance
1. What blessings can be enjoyed by those in the New World society?
THE real source of strength for patience and endurance is Jehovah, the God of eternity. Those who become a part of Jehovah’s Christian organization must put forth an effort to maintain their place within it. It is not an honorary position. Endurance is required until one is actually carried through into the new world of righteousness. As one looks forward to the new world he can enjoy the spiritual riches that Jehovah is showering upon his people as the light of truth becomes brighter and brighter. Additionally, he can have a share in the great ingathering work that Jesus assigned for this time. As he does this work, Jehovah’s spirit will back him up. (Zech. 4:6) The very fact that so many men, women and children are offering themselves willingly to share in this tremendous international preaching work is strong evidence of Christ’s second presence and gives reason for endurance in the ministry.
2. How did Jesus and his disciples show endurance?
2 Jesus originally set the lead for this great preaching activity. He did not get discouraged when the crowd jeered at him, saying: “You have a demon”; or when, after a hard teaching, many of his disciples went back to their former ways and would no longer walk with him. His disciples also had the right attitude of mind and were not dismayed. When he asked them: “You do not want to go also, do you?” Peter answered: “Master, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.” (John 7:20; 6:66-68) In like manner there is no reason for those sharing in the ministerial work that Jesus began to get discouraged when some who show interest and walk with them for a time turn aside. (Ezek. 33:32) Jesus as a perfect man could speak effectively to large crowds and teach them persuasively. He used illustrations of things they knew about: sheep and goats, farming, fishing. We can likewise draw on events of the day, doing a similar work, although usually with smaller audiences. We can visit the people in their homes, patiently calling back on them, conducting Bible studies with family groups, showing loving consideration for all. Will you follow this lead Jesus set for the field ministry, thus being a Christian, not in name only, but also in deed?
3. What invitation is being extended, and what is the response?
3 Jesus told of a man who owned a large vineyard ready for the harvest who requested his two sons to share in the work. The first son agreed to go, but did not go out; while the second refused his father, but afterward felt regret and went out. This is the time for the harvest that Jesus foretold, and Jehovah is showing patience until the ingathering work is finished. Many persons who profess to be sons of the heavenly Father are not willing to do the work that he assigns them. In fact, Jesus was speaking to the chief priests and older men of influence when he said: “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and the harlots are going ahead of you into the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 21:28-31) Just as in Jesus’ day when sincere and humble people of all walks of life accepted the message and began to share in the ministry, so it is today. Such ones show a repentant attitude and a willingness to serve God even before the class of those who profess to be doing his work.—Matt. 23:2, 3.
PATIENT ENDURANCE PRODUCES FRUITAGE
4. How did Jesus illustrate the reaction of the people to the message?
4 When one has an active part in the house-to-house ministry, he finds Jesus’ illustration at Luke 8:9-15 to be true, that there are people of all kinds, just as there are many kinds of soil, some rocky, some full of thorns, some the right kind, good for planting. Jesus explained: “The seed is the word of God . . . As for that on the right soil, these are the ones that, after hearing the word with a right and good heart, retain it and bear fruit with endurance.” Patient personal help is necessary with most people. They may not understand the importance of the message, or they may have their minds filled with prejudices or misconceptions, or be sincerely convinced that the faith of their parents is the correct one. When the Witness returns to talk further about the Scriptural truths, the householder may try to evade him. Still Jesus assured us that the sheep would hear the Master’s voice. We can help to make that possible by persevering in the ministry, showing “endurance in work that is good.”—Rom. 2:7.
5. How is patience shown in producing Kingdom fruitage?
5 Last year 646,000 home Bible studies were conducted weekly, and from these there were 69,027 baptized throughout the world; so much effort is required to obtain fruitage. As Jesus pointed out, some of the seeds of truth planted fall by the road. Then the Devil comes and takes the word away from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved. Other seed falls on rocky ground. The Word of God is heard with joy, but the message does not take deep root because the soil is rocky; and so they believe for a season, but when the heat of opposition comes, such ones wilt and die. Other seed falls among thorns, as the people hear the message, but are too busy with the anxieties and wealth and pleasures of this life, and so the seed is choked out and never comes to maturity. It takes many studies to find the right kind of soil, with patient and practical weeding out of what is unfruitful.
6. Why should we not be discouraged when some reject the message?
6 A French Witness preached for seven years to his workmates without results. But finally he was able to establish Bible studies with some of them and several have made good progress in the truth. His patience was rewarded. So do not become impatient in the ministry because of not being received favorably by many persons. Not everyone listened favorably to Jesus, and many who listened with curiosity would not exercise faith in his teachings; so the same might well be expected today. If people would not listen to Jesus when he explained the truths of his heavenly Father to them, then why expect them to listen to his servants now? There is no reason to think that the world will be converted and that all will listen to the message. Still a warning is being given regarding the day of Jehovah’s vengeance so that those who wish to respond can flee from the destruction. The work of separating the sheeplike ones from those who manifest a goatlike disposition is proceeding in all parts of the world. The way the people respond to the message and treat the message-bearers is what determines their position on the right hand of favor or on the left hand of disfavor of the King, Christ Jesus. As he said: “Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones, you did not do it to me.” So when someone brushes off the Kingdom messenger with the words, “I am too busy,” or, “I am not interested,” he is in effect telling that to Christ, for whom we serve as ambassadors.—Matt. 25:45; 2 Cor. 5:20.
7. How can we recommend the truth to all kinds of people?
7 A representative of Christ wants to perform his ministry in a way that may later on open up the way for a witness. The apostle Paul gave good instruction on this, saying: “But a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be tactful toward all, qualified to teach, keeping himself restrained under evil, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed, as perhaps God may give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth, and they may come back to their proper senses out from the snare of the Devil, seeing that they have been caught alive by him for the will of that one.” (2 Tim. 2:24-26) Some of those who first oppose the message strongly do so because of their sincere faith in what they have been previously taught, as was the case with Saul of Tarsus. He brought much persecution against the early Christians because of his misdirected zeal, but when he accepted the Christian way of life he bore the brunt of the opposition against Christianity. As he wrote: “In every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, by the endurance of much, by tribulations, by cases of need, by difficulties, by beatings, by prisons, by disorders, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times without food.”—2 Cor. 6:4-10.
8. How should our lives reflect the truth?
8 You may not have personally experienced such severe opposition because of your Christian course of conduct, but every dedicated Christian can recommend himself as God’s minister in the ways Paul mentioned as he continued, saying: “By purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by holy spirit, by love free from hypocrisy, by truthful speech, by God’s power; through the weapons of righteousness for offense and defense, through glory and dishonor, through bad report and good report . . . as sorrowing but ever rejoicing, as poor but making many rich, as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” Paul showed that he had good balance and a fine appreciation of the truth. He let nothing discourage him, but put Jehovah’s service first. He could be patient despite beatings, imprisonment and opposition because he knew his course would have Jehovah’s blessing.
PERSEVERING UNDER FAMILY OPPOSITION
9. What is the best course to follow in the face of family opposition?
9 Perhaps your greatest opposition is from those close to you. One who values the long-suffering and patience Jehovah has shown to mankind should certainly display the same qualities of long-suffering, kindness and patience in his dealings with others and particularly toward his own family, even though they may oppose the truth. Patience and a loving way may help the opposing ones to accept the truth in time. Getting impatient with the other person will only make the gulf wider. If members of the family persistently oppose a Christian in his worship as he attends meetings and shares in the service, it is possible to wear this opposition down, not by giving up, but by patiently putting Kingdom interests first. As Jesus said: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22, 34-39) Again we are told: “If, when you are doing good and you suffer, you endure it, this is a thing agreeable with God.” (1 Pet. 2:20) After a while the opposers, whoever they may be, will see that nothing will discourage you or overcome your patience, and they will respect you for your stand.
10, 11. (a) What counsel did Peter and Paul give on Christian conduct? (b) How may steadfastness of the Christian be rewarded?
10 It may be that the problem is so great you cannot even talk about the truth with others in your family; they refuse to listen. Even then they may be won without a word by good conduct with deep respect. (1 Pet. 3:1, 2) Such a course of action is bound to make a good impression. A Christian should not retaliate in the old-world way with name-calling, contemptuous actions and lack of respect for the other’s viewpoint. Rather, as Paul said: “Pursue righteousness, godly devotion, faith, love, endurance, mildness of temper.” (1 Tim. 6:11) When a husband says that his Christian wife cannot share in the ministry or attend meetings, the wife knows that she has a serious problem, because she has vowed in dedication to do Jehovah’s will. She does not want to oppose her husband, and yet she wants to remain true to her Creator. The scripture admonishes her: “Contend for victory in the right contest of the faith, get a firm hold on the everlasting life for which you were called and you declared the right confession publicly before many witnesses.” She knows her husband cannot give her life, but it may be that by continuing steadfast in the truth herself she will eventually win him over to accept God’s Word. Will she show godly devotion and endurance and make this public confession? This is what God wants. She cannot give up her faith if she wants life; so she shows her love for her husband but still carries out her dedication vow to Jehovah.—1 Tim. 6:12.
11 One Witness, who first heard of the truth about twenty-eight years ago, met consistent opposition from his wife and relatives. Prayers were said for him, candles were burned. When he was imprisoned because of his ministry, they said it served him right. His wife influenced their children not to listen to the teachings of the father. Despite all this, he showed himself to be a loving parent and a steady provider as a Christian father should, and he held fast to the truth. Finally after all those years, an Awake! article on the importance of religion in family life made such a deep impression that the wife asked for a Bible study with Jehovah’s witnesses. Now she accepts the truth with her husband and is baptized, and they both rejoice to be united closer than ever by God’s Word.
12. How is Job a good example of endurance?
12 There are many Bible examples that also show the blessing that comes with patient endurance. Job had a similar problem. He became sick and suffered the loss of his family and his property. His friends turned against him, telling him that he must have done wrong and that God was punishing him. His wife gave him foolish counsel, telling him to curse God and die. But he hung onto his faith determinedly, so that the patient endurance of Job is proverbial. At James 5:10, 11 we are told: “Brothers, take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the exercising of patience the prophets, who spoke in the name of Jehovah. Look! we pronounce happy those who have endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome Jehovah gave, that Jehovah is very tender in affection and compassionate.” So if you think you have problems, consider what Job went through and then exercise patience so that you may also receive a blessing for yourself and your family as he did. You may be assured that Jehovah will not allow you to be tested or tried beyond what you are able to bear, but that you will win by not giving up.—1 Cor. 10:13.
PATIENTLY ENDURING TO THE FINISH
13. How can the Israelites be a warning example for us now?
13 When an individual accepts the truth from God’s Word and begins to associate with the New World society, he is in a position similar to that of the Israelites thousands of years ago after they left Egypt and started on their way to the Promised Land. Similarly people of good will today leave behind them the old-world system of things and its way of life and set as their goal the new world of righteousness. It is important, however, not to be discouraged and impatient because the way seems long or hard. Soon after leaving Egypt the Israelites began to complain. The whole congregation began to murmur against Moses and Aaron, saying: “You have brought us out into this wilderness to put this whole congregation to death by famine.” (Ex. 16:2, 3) They forgot that it was Jehovah who was leading them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. It was Jehovah who would provide for them, as he showed shortly in bringing them manna and also quail to eat. Then they complained about insufficient water, but Moses rebuked them with the words: “Why do you keep putting Jehovah to the test?” Jehovah was not going to let his people die of thirst; he provided water for them at Meribah. After all this, when they sent some of their men to spy out the land they were to take, they feared the inhabitants because of the report of the spies. They complained: “Why is Jehovah bringing us to this land to fall by the sword? . . . Let us appoint a head and let us return to Egypt.” Due to this final display of their lack of faith in Jehovah and his ability to lead and protect them, they were sentenced to wander forty years in the wilderness before their children entered the Promised Land.—Ex. 17:2, 3; Num. 14:3, 4.
14. How does Christ serve as the Greater Moses?
14 Today we are following the lead of Christ Jesus, the Greater Moses. He provides us abundantly with spiritual food and the waters of truth in the midst of a parched land. He protects us from all the opposition that Satan and his hordes can bring against us. We do not want to show now the same lack of faith and appreciation that many of the Israelites showed, becoming impatient with Jehovah and his provisions or his schedule for working out his purposes. We do well instead to consider the promise at Psalm 37:7, 9: “Keep silent before Jehovah and wait longingly for him. . . . For evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth.”
15. What was the message to the congregation at Ephesus, and how does it apply at this time?
15 Counsel to continue on with full faith and zeal was also given the early Christian congregation at Ephesus: “I know your deeds, and your hard work and endurance, and that you cannot bear evil men . . . You are also showing endurance, and you have borne up for my name’s sake and have not grown weary. Nevertheless, I hold this against you, that you have left the love you had at first.” This must have shocked the brothers at Ephesus. They had been working hard and showing endurance, but still they lacked the same zeal and intense love and enthusiasm they first had for the truth. Today, although you may have been active for many years in the service, you do not want to cool off from the zeal and joy that you first had, but you must work to keep this alive as the force actuating your life. (Rev. 2:2-4) Jesus foreknew that this problem would exist today, pointing out that the love of the greater number would cool off. But if we are strong in the faith, associating regularly with the congregation and active in Jehovah’s service, it will not happen to us. Instead we must continue in a balanced course of life, putting Jehovah’s interests first and keeping the Kingdom as our goal.
16. Why can opposition be expected by a Christian, but what must he do?
16 A quality closely linked to patience is endurance, taking a resolute stand for the truth, not giving way under suffering or persecution. Jesus warned that there would be much opposition to the truth, saying: “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you. Bear in mind the word I said to you, A slave is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:19, 20) An active Christian can expect opposition to his ministry, but he must continue faithfully despite it, because endurance now will mean future life in the new world. No one can run halfway down the course to life and expect to receive the prize; he must go all the way. Paul stressed this at Hebrews 10:36, saying: “You have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise.” “So, then, because we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also put off every weight and the sin that easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1) Never stumbling because of lack of faith, but continuing doggedly on until the finish, the Christian will be able to run this race of endurance with Jehovah’s help.
17. What persecution for the truth have some encountered, but what does it produce?
17 In years past and until now many brothers have continued faithfully under severe persecution. Two brothers are even now in prison for alleged “counter-revolutionary activities” in one country simply because they continued in their ministerial activity, bringing the Kingdom hope to the attention of the people of good will. In another country a brother who has taken the lead in the Christian activity of Jehovah’s witnesses for many years has suffered much for the truth. He was imprisoned under one regime and then enjoyed a period of freedom during which time he pushed ahead with the ministry. He has been betrayed now by one in whom he trusted and again has been imprisoned. However, for such faithful Christians, even the threat of death does not turn them away from their worship of Jehovah. The words of Paul give powerful encouragement: “But let us exult while in tribulations, since we know that tribulation produces endurance; endurance, in turn, an approved condition; the approved condition, in turn, hope, and the hope does not lead to disappointment; because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy spirit which was given us.” (Rom. 5:3-5; Jas. 1:2, 3) Around the world the brothers have endured much, whether in plenty or in shortage, in persecution or in peace. But whether in good times or hard times, they know that their joy and happiness come from zealous activity in Kingdom service.—Phil. 4:11-13.
18. How should we act on the knowledge of the truth we have?
18 They do not want to bury their Kingdom talents by refusing to act on the knowledge of truth they have been given, but instead they use them constantly, planting, watering and cultivating in the hearts of others the same hope they enjoy. The servants in Jesus’ illustration knew that the master wanted them to use the talents, to show an increase, not to bury what had been entrusted to them by disuse. So today, we want to continue actively in the harvest, not being caught unprepared like the false shepherds who turn to farming at the last minute to escape the blame that comes upon them as a result of their many years of preaching falsehoods for hire. (Matt. 25:14-30; Zech. 13:4-6; Mic. 3:11) Jehovah’s servants want to be able to show that they have been active in the vineyard, laboring in the field at Jehovah’s direction, sharing in the great ingathering work. They do not want to give up now while the harvest is in full swing, but rather continue patiently until Jehovah says it is enough.—Isa. 6:11; 2 Thess. 1:4, 5; 2 Pet. 1:6.
19. What will keep us from being inactive or unfruitful, and why should we be patient and endure?
19 You, too, can share in this ingathering work. If you add to your faith virtue, knowledge and endurance, then nothing can prevent you from being active and fruitful as you use the accurate knowledge you have received. If you have continued patiently for many years in advancing the New World interests, then keep holding fast the privileges of service you have, so that no one may take from you the crown of life. (2 Pet. 1:5-8; Rev. 3:10, 11) We can afford to be patient, because we have time on our side. But time is running out for the old-world system. Satan knows he has but a short period of time. Part of this generation is all that is left; so endure patiently to the finish for salvation. Continue preaching until Jehovah says the harvest is complete and brings an end to the old world in the destruction of Armageddon. Remember that ‘he that endures to the end is the one who shall be saved.’—Matt. 24:13; 2 Thess. 3:5.