Remain “Healthy in Faith”
“Let the aged men be . . . healthy in faith.”—Titus 2:2.
1. To what might faith be likened? But how much faith is needed by a servant of God?
FAITH, because of its vital relationship to one’s spiritual condition, might be likened somewhat to a trace element, a mineral essential to life. Humans, animals and plants require small amounts of such minerals as cobalt, copper and zinc to maintain normal functions and remain in good health. For instance, cobalt is needed to protect an individual from pernicious anemia. Daily, just one fifteen-millionth of an ounce of vitamin B12, with its cobalt content, makes the difference between health and illness with this blood disease. Less than that amount will not suffice. Similarly, faith (as well as virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godly devotion, brotherly affection and love) is essential to the spiritual health and life of the Christian. (2 Pet. 1:5-7) Of course, having only some faith is not enough. More than a small amount of faith is required by the Christian. True, too much of a certain trace element may produce disease in man and animals. But one can never have too much faith in God. The development and possession of great faith, strong and healthy faith, in Jehovah is vitally important to a servant of God.
2, 3. How can a Christian remain “healthy in faith”?
2 The Christian apostle Paul wrote to Titus: “You, however, keep on speaking what things are fitting for healthful teaching. Let the aged men be moderate in habits, serious, sound in mind, healthy in faith, in love, in endurance.” (Titus 2:1, 2) Remaining “healthy in faith” is important not only for aged Christian men but for all Christians, because “without faith it is impossible to please [God] well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Heb. 11:6.
3 But, how can a Christian remain “healthy in faith”? Needed factors include: (1) Regular study of God’s Word; (2) perseverance in prayer to Jehovah; (3) customary attendance at Christian meetings; (4) continual performance of godly works that manifest your faith.
YOUR FAITH AND GOD’S WORD
4. Largely by what means is a Christian’s faith developed and maintained?
4 The trace elements essential to a person’s continued health and life are usually supplied in sufficient amounts through a balanced diet of physical food. Comparably, faith is a vital element in a Christian’s case that is developed and maintained largely by means of a balanced diet of spiritual food. To the Greeks of Lystra, Paul and Barnabas described the living God as the One “giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts to the full with food and good cheer.” (Acts 14:14-17) But Jehovah is also the Provider of spiritual sustenance, Jesus Christ rightly stating: “It is written, ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’”—Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3.
5, 6. (a) What relation did God’s Word have to Joshua’s faith? (b) How can you augment your faith?
5 Jehovah gave the Israelites under Joshua’s direction many victories in the land of Canaan. (Josh. 12:7-24) But Joshua was no military leader who merely quoted Sacred Scripture for effect on some public occasions. He was a student of God’s Word and this helped him to be a man of spiritual bent, a man of faith in Jehovah. He took to heart the God-given counsel: “Only be courageous and very strong to take care to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn aside from it to the right or to the left, in order that you may act wisely everywhere you go. This book of the law should not depart from your mouth, and you must in an undertone read in it day and night, in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.”—Josh. 1:7, 8.
6 “Day and night” consideration of divine requirements and instructions was imperative in Joshua’s case. Hence, should you not arrange your affairs to read and study God’s Word regularly? Surely you should. If you do this and apply the Scriptures in life, you will be augmenting your faith. Then you, too, will “act wisely everywhere you go.” Furthermore, your spiritual health and life depend on study and application of the Scriptures. Fittingly, Paul admonished Timothy: “Keep holding the pattern of healthful words that you heard from me with the faith and love that are in connection with Christ Jesus.”—2 Tim. 1:13.
YOUR FAITH AND PRAYER
7. What did David do when beset by persecutors, and why did he do so?
7 David was a man of faith, but he did not try to stand alone. He regularly turned to Jehovah in prayer. When persecuted, David did not seek to foil his foes by mere ingenuity, or try to cope with them solely by a display of human might. Instead, he looked to Jehovah for help. For instance, in one psalm, he expressed himself in this way: “I called to you, O Jehovah, for aid. I said: ‘You are my refuge, my share in the land of the living ones.’ Do pay attention to my entreating cry, for I have become very much impoverished. Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I am. Do bring my soul out of the very dungeon to laud your name.” (Ps. 142:5-7) David prayed for Jehovah’s aid, seeking deliverance, not for selfish reasons, but so that he might laud God’s name. Jehovah hears such prayers of persons dedicated to him. How necessary it is, then, that modern-day servants of God “persevere in prayer.”—Rom. 12:12.
8. (a) Is faith a suitable subject of Christian prayer? (b) What can you do, even if you cannot literally reach out and help persecuted fellow believers?
8 Faith is a suitable subject of Christian prayer. It is a fruit of God’s spirit, and Christians can properly petition Jehovah for his spirit as manifested in faith. (Luke 11:13; Gal. 5:22) The apostles said to the Lord Jesus Christ: “Give us more faith.” (Luke 17:5) They recognized their need for greater faith. Their request can well be included, in substance, in the earnest prayers of Christians today. They can also suitably pray that their fellow servants of Jehovah maintain healthy and lasting faith. Fellow believers in a distant place may be suffering intense persecution, being severely tested in faith. You cannot literally reach out and help them. But you can aid them by praying that their faith may not give out. Jesus did so in behalf of Simon Peter, as revealed in his words: “Simon, Simon, look! Satan has demanded to have you men to sift you as wheat. But I have made supplication for you that your faith may not give out; and you, when once you have returned, strengthen your brothers.”—Luke 22:31, 32.
9. Besides praying for fellow worshipers of God, what can you do to aid them to remain strong in faith?
9 Jesus Christ’s words, just quoted, suggest that, in addition to praying that fellow believers may have enduring faith, one should give them encouragement, if possible, thus seeking to strengthen them spiritually. Paul yearned for association with his Christian brothers and sisters in Rome, telling them: “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) Hence, each Christian can pray that his fellow worshipers of God may be strengthened by Jehovah to remain strong in faith. Moreover, he can build them up spiritually through conversation that manifests his own faith. Presence at Christian meetings affords a splendid opportunity to associate with and encourage fellow believers.
YOUR FAITH AND CHRISTIAN MEETINGS
10. What connection is there between faith and Christian meetings?
10 Proper nutrition is vitally important to the human body. For one thing, by eating good food regularly, a person assimilates the trace elements that can make the difference between illness and health. Similarly, by regular presence at and participation in Christian meetings and other spiritual banquets that God provides, an individual enhances his faith. He thus pleases God and will have this needed element of faith when confronted with tests of his integrity to Jehovah.
11. Must Christians have unwavering faith?
11 Paul showed that Jesus Christ, by his death in faithfulness, opened the way to heavenly life for his anointed followers. Yet, to gain it, they must “approach with true hearts in the full assurance of faith” and they are admonished to ‘hold fast the public declaration of their hope without wavering,’ “for he is faithful that promised.” (Heb. 10:19-23) Christians know that the things assured by God in his Word are certainties. They are not like wavering, indecisive ones who receive nothing from Jehovah. (Jas. 1:5-8) They remember that Abraham “did not waver in a lack of faith,” but was “fully convinced that what [God] had promised he was also able to do” in connection with making the aged patriarch the “father of many nations.”—Rom. 4:16-22.
12, 13. (a) Why is there a great need for Christians to assemble regularly? (b) When early Christians met together, what effect did this have on their faith? (c) Being attentive at gatherings of God’s servants has what other good effect?
12 At Christian meetings it is possible to make verbal expression, public declaration, of one’s faith and also to aid others. Today, when godless views are rampant, there is a great need for Christians to assemble together regularly to aid each other and prevent their falling away from the faith. Fittingly, Paul wrote: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) When early Christians met together, they built up their faith, Tertullian stating: “We meet to read the books of God . . . with those holy words we feed our faith, we lift up our hope, we confirm our confidence.”—Apology, XXXIX, 3.
13 The Israelites had three spiritually upbuilding national festivals each year. (Ex. 23:14-17; Deut. 16:16) One of these was the festival of booths, at which, every seven years (in the Sabbath year), adults and children alike assembled to listen to the reading of God’s law. (Deut. 31:10-13) Ezra the priest and his assistants read and explained the law of Jehovah at that time of the year (during the seventh Jewish month) on one specially mentioned occasion, doing so before the men, the women and “all intelligent enough to listen.” The result was that the attentive people, who had recently returned from exile in Babylon, rejoiced greatly because they understood. At that time they celebrated a very joyful festival of booths. (Nehemiah chapter 8) Similarly today, Jehovah’s servants who are attentive at Christian meetings and conventions receive at these gatherings much spiritual instruction causing them to rejoice, especially as they apply it in life.
14. Give ways in which Christian meetings aid one to remain “healthy in faith.”
14 Christian meetings build up faith in Jehovah and aid one to remain “healthy in faith.” They provide encouragement and they strengthen a person spiritually. In ancient Antioch, Syria, Judas and Silas “encouraged the brothers with many a discourse and strengthened them.” (Acts 15:30-32) ‘Faith without hypocrisy’ is engendered at Christian meetings, even as presence at these gatherings must have helped Timothy, his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois to acquire such faith. (2 Tim. 1:5) Largely at Christian meetings is instruction furnished that enables a person to become and stay “healthy in faith,” for at these gatherings the Christian overseer, for example, ‘keeps on speaking things that are fitting for healthful teaching.’—Titus 2:1; 1:5, 9.
15. What may happen if a person once enlightened with accurate knowledge of the truth deliberately forsakes Christian meetings?
15 While regular attendance at Christian meetings will help you to remain “healthy in faith,” persistent, deliberate and unnecessary absence from these gatherings weakens faith and may be a step in the direction of loss of faith and even willful sin, unforgivable sin against the holy spirit. (Matt. 12:31, 32) Persons who were once enlightened with accurate knowledge of God’s truth but who sin willfully, disown the Son of God, they trample upon him. Paul said, after urging Christians not to forsake the gathering of themselves together: “For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and there is a fiery jealousy that is going to consume those in opposition.” The apostle also stated: “Any man that has disregarded the law of Moses dies without compassion, upon the testimony of two or three. Of how much more severe a punishment, do you think, will the man be counted worthy who has trampled upon the Son of God and who has esteemed as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt?” (Heb. 10:26-29; Deut. 19:15) So, do not run the risk of losing your faith and disowning the Son of God, which results in everlasting destruction. With appreciation, regularly attend Christian meetings, acknowledging their importance in keeping you “healthy in faith.”
YOUR FAITH AND WORKS
16. What relationship is there between faith and works? Illustrate this.
16 Faith, like muscles of the human body, must be nourished and also exercised, if spiritual atrophy is to be avoided. James strikingly emphasized the necessity of displaying one’s faith by means of godly works. He wrote: “Indeed, as the body without breath is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (Jas. 2:26) These are not works of the Law given by Jehovah to the Israelites, but are activities that show a person possesses faith. (Gal. 2:15, 16) Abraham certainly proved he had faith by his willingness to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham’s faith “worked along with his works and by his works his faith was perfected.” For putting his faith in Jehovah, righteousness was counted to Abraham by God, the patriarch coming to be called “Jehovah’s friend.” Rahab, who hid the Israelite spies, also thus had works to back up her faith and she was declared righteous by those works.—Jas. 2:18-25; Joshua chapter 2.
17. By what works can you demonstrate that you are “healthy in faith”?
17 But, by what works can you demonstrate that you are “healthy in faith”? They are numerous. For instance, you display healthy faith when you accept Jehovah’s decisions in matters governed by his laws and principles: When you abide by the words of Isaiah 2:4 about beating swords into plowshares; when you refrain from eating blood or accepting a blood transfusion (Acts 15:28, 29); when you adhere to divine requirements pertaining to sexual morality and other moral behavior (1 Cor. 6:18; Ps. 15:1-5; Heb. 13:18); when you maintain Christian neutrality as far as worldly affairs are concerned (John 17:16)—in essence, when you accept and adhere willingly to what Jehovah tells you to do in his inspired Word. (Ps. 119:105) You also show that you are “healthy in faith” when you attend and participate in Christian meetings. (Ps. 26:12) And you certainly demonstrate that you have healthy faith when you regularly declare the good news of God’s established heavenly kingdom from house to house and by other means.—Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20.
18. Is it possible to grow in faith?
18 Is your belief in God backed up by such works of faith? Can you see possibilities of further developing your faith? Could it be a healthier faith? If so, do not despair. True, the time left for this wicked system of things is greatly reduced (1 Cor. 7:29-31), but there is still a limited period during which to grow in faith before the destruction of this system of things takes place. Your faith will grow the more you cultivate and exercise it.—2 Thess. 1:3.
19. True faith in Jehovah will cause one to avoid what works?
19 Just as there are proper works that demonstrate your faith, there are wicked works that true faith in Jehovah will cause you to avoid. These are urgent times. This is certainly not the day to get involved in wrong, wicked works. Nineteen centuries ago, Paul said it was time to awake from sleep, “for now our salvation is nearer than at the time when we became believers.” Then he continued: “The night is well along; the day has drawn near. Let us therefore put off the works belonging to darkness and let us put on the weapons of the light. As in the daytime let us walk decently, not in revelries and drunken bouts, not in illicit intercourse and loose conduct, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not be planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.” (Rom. 13:11-14) Stay far away from the works of the fallen flesh and cultivate the fruitage of God’s spirit, thus remaining “healthy in faith.”—Gal. 5:19-26.
ARE YOU SHRINKING BACK IN LACK OF FAITH?
20. What is required to maintain one’s standing as a Christian?
20 Constant vigil is required to maintain one’s standing as a Christian witness of Jehovah. A Christian cannot allow himself to shrink back in lack of faith to any degree, for this could eventually lead to willful sin and its dire consequences. Paul appropriately warned: “For we know him that said: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will recompense’; and again: ‘Jehovah will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”—Heb. 10:30, 31.
21, 22. (a) What hard experiences can Jesus Christ’s followers expect to have? (b) Christians should never let persecution cause them to do what, and why?
21 To remain “healthy in faith” it will do you good to recall your first love of God’s truth. How you appreciated your new freedom from false religious and other wrong views! (John 8:32) Never forget that first love. Of course, you can expect opposition, even violent persecution, for Jesus Christ said his followers would experience such things. (Matt. 10:34-36; John 15:18-20) But do not let these experiences destroy your love of God’s truth and your faith in Jehovah. Recall what you have already endured as a Christian, also realizing that tribulation now suffered is temporary. When it is past, you will look back and will see that endurance brought you God’s approval, in which you will rejoice.—Heb. 10:32-34.
22 Never throw away your Christian freeness of speech about the good news of God’s kingdom because of persecution, for that freeness of speech “has a great reward to be paid it.” Paul also said: “For you have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise. For yet ‘a very little while,’ and ‘he who is coming will arrive and will not delay.’” (Heb. 10:35-37) Since the establishment of God’s heavenly kingdom in 1914 C.E. Jesus Christ’s second presence has been a reality! Also, Biblically promised life in Jehovah’s new order will soon be enjoyed by multitudes of persons who have displayed enduring faith in God.—John 17:3.
23, 24. (a) Why avoid even the slightest shrinking back in lack of faith? (b) What is Jehovah’s attitude toward the righteous person, and toward one who shrinks back?
23 So, avoid even the slightest shrinking back in lack of faith—that initial, almost imperceptible shrinking back from Christian privileges and responsibilities. It is especially dangerous because it is so subtle. It may begin, for instance, with occasional unnecessary absence from Christian meetings that eventually leads to habitual absence. So, beware! Salvation will not result from merely associating with a congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses. What is required is heartfelt faith that is exercised. (Rom. 10:10) David said: “The faithful ones Jehovah is safeguarding.” (Ps. 31:23) To have God’s favor and protection and to get everlasting life, Christians must with unfailing endurance run the race for life, having their eyes fixed on the great Exemplar, Jesus Christ, ‘that they may not get tired and give out in their souls.’—Heb. 12:1-3.
24 Do not shrink back, therefore, but remain “healthy in faith.” Concerning Jehovah’s attitude toward the righteous person and toward one who shrinks back, Paul wrote: “‘But my righteous one will live by reason of faith,’ and, ‘if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”—Heb. 10:38, 39.
25, 26. (a) What astonishing things will soon occur? (b) So, now is the time to do what about your faith? (c) Unyielding, healthy faith results in one’s receiving what gift?
25 Very soon the world empire of false religion, Babylon the Great, will come to its destructive end. (Rev. 17:16–18:8) Christians do not have long to wait thereafter for the “war of the great day of God the Almighty,” Armageddon, when “the kings of the earth and the top-ranking ones and the military commanders and the rich and the strong ones” and others opposed to God’s kingdom will vainly seek refuge from the “one seated on the throne [Jehovah God] and from the wrath of the Lamb,” Jesus Christ. Wicked ones will then meet crushing defeat in their hopeless encounter with the “King of kings and Lord of lords,” Jesus Christ, who rides the symbolic white horse to certain and eternal victory over them. (Rev. 16:14, 16; 6:15-17; 19:11-21) Next, without delay, will occur the long-awaited abyssing of Satan the Devil and his demons.—Rev. 20:1-3.
26 Yes, astonishing things will happen in the near future. So, now is the time to take full advantage of opportunities to assure yourself of the essential element of strong faith. Equip yourself for coming tests of faith and be determined to remain “healthy in faith,” despite unfavorable circumstances or hardship. Exult in Jehovah, as did Habakkuk, who said prayerfully: “Although the fig tree itself may not blossom, and there may be no yield on the vines; the work of the olive tree may actually turn out a failure, and the terraces themselves may actually produce no food; the flock may actually be severed from the pen, and there may be no herd in the enclosures; yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah himself; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. Jehovah the Sovereign Lord is my vital energy; and he will make my feet like those of the hinds, and upon my high places he will cause me to tread.” (Hab. 3:17-19) Indeed, such unyielding, healthy faith will bring you everlasting life, a gift from the faithful God, Jehovah.—1 Tim. 6:11, 12; Eph. 2:8; Deut. 32:4.
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Joshua’s success depended on his regularly reading God’s Word. To remain healthy in faith, should you not do the same?
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David showed faith by praying to Jehovah. Do you persevere in prayer?
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Regular attendance at Christian meetings helps one to remain “healthy in faith”
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Since faith without works is dead, one demonstrates healthy faith by declaring the good news from house to house