“Keeping a Tight Grip on the Word of Life”
“Keep doing all things free from murmurings and arguments, that you may come to be blameless and innocent, children of God without a blemish in among a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you are shining as illuminators in the world, keeping a tight grip on the word of life.”—Phil. 2:14-16.
1-3. (a) How would one react upon receiving a letter from one’s beloved father? (b) What “letters” have been received from Jehovah God, and what results from applying the counsel that they contain?
IF YOUR father lived in a distant land, how would you react upon receiving a letter from him? Would you leave it unopened? Or, would you read merely a sentence or two and then file the letter away with other correspondence?
2 If you really loved your father, you would receive his letter with deep appreciation. Eagerly you would open it. With keen interest, you would read every word. Doubtless you would appreciate and apply any sound counsel that the letter contained. In fact, you might read that letter again and again, out of pleasure, or to make sure that you understood its contents. Is that not true?
3 Well, if you have dedicated your life to Jehovah God, you possess something of greater importance than any correspondence from a human parent. From your heavenly Father you have received a volume of sixty-six “letters,” God’s own holy Word, the Bible. By applying its counsel, anointed followers of Jesus Christ have remained innocent “in among a crooked and twisted generation” and have proved to be spiritual illuminators in the world. Whether you are of their number or entertain the hope of eternal life on earth in God’s promised new order, it is vital that you ‘keep a tight grip on the word of life.’—Phil. 2:14-16.
4. What is the “word of life”?
4 What is the “word of life”? It is God’s message about the hope of life, which began with his promise of the Seed. (Gen. 3:15) This assured the eventual triumph of righteousness. For some four thousand years, Jehovah added to that “word,” until the Bible’s completion about the year 98 C.E. Since then the “word of life” has consisted of the Holy Scriptures in their entirety. They reveal that God makes life eternal possible through Jesus Christ. (John 3:16) Persons desiring divine approval and eternal life must understand God’s Word, declare it to others and live according to the Bible, thus “keeping a tight grip on the word of life.”
5. Why is there great value in “keeping a tight grip on the word of life”?
5 There is great value in “keeping a tight grip on the word of life.” Any person having such a grip on it can maintain a close relationship with Jehovah God. Also, the individual is better able to cope with life’s problems. Furthermore, “keeping a tight grip on the word of life” makes it possible for the Christian to endure adverse circumstances. Please observe now just how true this is.
DEALING WITH ILLNESS
6, 7. Regarding illness, Jehovah’s servants can draw comfort and strength from what knowledge?
6 Sickness befalls poor and rich alike. (Eccl. 5:16, 17; 6:1, 2) Jesus Christ described his spiritual brothers as being ill at times. (Matt. 25:39, 40) And early Christians such as Epaphroditus, Timothy and Trophimus were stricken with sickness. (Phil. 2:25-30; 1 Tim. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:20) So, Jehovah’s modern-day servants can draw some comfort from the knowledge that illness is not a unique experience among God’s people today.
7 However, it is strengthening to know that Jehovah God can remove illness. (Deut. 7:15) The physical recovery of ailing King Hezekiah is a case in point. God healed him, answering Hezekiah’s prayer. (2 Ki. 20:1-11) When on earth, Jesus Christ brought about both physical and spiritual healing. (Matt. 8:14-17; Isa. 53:4) The basis for these cures was the ransom sacrifice that God provided through Christ, which climaxed the course Jesus followed after God’s spirit came upon him at the Jordan River in 29 C.E. Therefore, Christians can be confident that by means of the resurrected Jesus Christ and under the rule of God’s kingdom obedient mankind will receive permanent release from sin, disease and death. How fitting, then, that David blessed Jehovah as the One “who is healing all [our] maladies”!—Ps. 103:1-3.
8. What can an ailing Christian now do?
8 In the meantime, what can an ailing Christian do? While undergoing appropriate treatment, he can properly pray to Jehovah for fortitude to bear his illness, and for spiritual strength to maintain integrity to God under these difficult circumstances. Such a person can be certain that “Jehovah himself will sustain him upon a divan of illness.”—Ps. 41:1-3.
COPING WITH STRESS
9, 10. (a) What will aid one to maintain balance under stress? (b) How were King Saul’s emotions soothed?
9 For many, including some Christians, stress is a notable problem today. Trying, nerve-racking situations can develop in life. Sometimes the stress becomes so intense that considerable mental strain is felt. Yet, “a tight grip on the word of life” aids one to maintain balance.
10 What may help to calm a person who is experiencing great emotional stress? The Bible gives some insight on this. When a bad spirit came upon and terrorized Israel’s King Saul, David played the harp for him. With what effect? Says the Biblical account: “There was relief for Saul and it was well with him, and the bad spirit departed from upon him.” (1 Sam. 16:14-23) Yes, soft, calm music can soothe a person and produce a feeling of peace.
11. In times of stress, where can the greatest aid be found?
11 David himself knew stress. More than once, suspicious King Saul tried to pin him to the wall with a spear. (1 Sam. 18:6-11; 19:9, 10) Saul also outlawed David, forcing him to live as a hunted fugitive. Certainly, David underwent stress then and at later times. For aid he turned to Jehovah God in prayer. “Turn your face to me, and show me favor; for I am solitary and afflicted,” David begged Jehovah. “Distresses of my heart have multiplied; from the stresses upon me O bring me out.” (Ps. 25:16, 17) Well, can Jehovah be relied upon to aid his servants in times of stress? Indeed he can! David was able to say: “Jehovah will become a secure height for anyone crushed, a secure height in times of distress. And those knowing your name will trust in you, for you will certainly not leave those looking for you, O Jehovah.”—Ps. 9:9, 10.
CONSOLATION FOR THOSE DEPRESSED
12, 13. (a) Is it true that mental depression should never be experienced by those serving Jehovah? (b) How was Paul able to endure hardships that could have resulted in depression? (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
12 Persons “keeping a tight grip on the word of life” also can find consolation in Scripture if they experience mental depression. They will note that others who served Jehovah in the past were depressed at times. Certainly, Isaac and Rebekah experienced depression due to the two Hittite wives of their son Esau, for we are told: “They were a source of bitterness of spirit to Isaac and Rebekah.”—Gen. 26:34, 35.
13 Depression apparently troubled some early Christians, because the apostle Paul advised fellow believers in Thessalonica to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thess. 5:14) Paul himself underwent hardships that could have resulted in depression, but he dealt with these circumstances in the strength that God gives. The apostle wrote: “We are pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are persecuted, but not left in the lurch; we are thrown down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8, 9) Yes, Paul is an encouraging example for all Christians.
14. If depressed because of personal problems, why should we remember Nehemiah?
14 Perhaps you are depressed because of personal problems or other matters of great concern. If so, remember Nehemiah. He was gloomy in the presence of King Artaxerxes, being depressed over the devastated condition of Jerusalem and its walls. When questioned by the Persian ruler, Nehemiah “prayed to the God of the heavens.” Thereafter he asked permission to go to Jerusalem for the rebuilding work. The king responded favorably, granting this request. Truly, the ‘good hand of God’ was upon Nehemiah. (Neh. 2:1-8) Similarly today, Jehovah’s people should pray to him for aid and direction regarding problems or other matters of concern. Then they can be confident that Jehovah will be with them, if they follow his direction.
15. What did Peter indicate we should do in times of depression?
15 In times of mental depression, how vital it is to place our reliance upon Jehovah God! As the apostle Peter said: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; while you throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”—1 Pet. 5:6, 7.
ENDURANCE OF GRIEF
16, 17. The death of a loved one can cause what, as shown in Scripture?
16 At one time or another, humans experience grief. Many are its causes. The psalmist declared: “Distress and grief I kept finding.” (Ps. 116:3) A notable cause of intense grief is the death of a loved one.
17 The patriarch Abraham wept due to the death of his beloved wife Sarah. (Gen. 23:2) David was deeply grieved over Absalom’s death, exclaiming: “My son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! O that I might have died, I myself, instead of you, Absalom my son, my son!” (2 Sam. 18:33) Even the perfect man Jesus Christ “gave way to tears,” so greatly grieved was he over the death of his friend Lazarus.—John 11:35.
18, 19. (a) How can the bereaved one be helped to endure grief? (b) How can he draw comfort from Bible accounts?
18 “A tight grip on the word of life” helps the bereaved one to endure grief. Naturally, if a person thinks longingly on past joys shared with the deceased, grief may increase. So, how much better it is to think of the future! The Bible indicates that billions of human dead will be raised to life. Paul had hope that there would be “a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Of course, God determines who is to be resurrected. However, a faithful Christian who gains life in the future earthly paradise can entertain the hope of seeing again another loyal servant of Jehovah who had died with similar prospects.—John 5:28, 29.
19 A bereaved person having “a tight grip on the word of life” can draw comfort from Bible accounts. For instance, imagine the happiness of Mary and Martha when their fleshly brother Lazarus was resurrected by Jesus. (John 11:38-44) And do you recall what happened when Jesus Christ restored to life the young daughter of Jairus? “Well,” says the account, “her parents were beside themselves” with evident joy. (Luke 8:40-42, 49-56) Just think how happy inhabitants of God’s promised new order will be when they welcome back the resurrected dead! Such thoughts can be of aid to one in enduring the grief that can strike when a loved one dies. Above all, at the time of bereavement, Christians need to draw close to Jehovah in prayer, for he is “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort.”—2 Cor. 1:3.
DEALING WITH TIMIDITY AND FEAR
20, 21. (a) Timid persons can learn what from Moses’ experience? (b) What can be learned from the experience of Jeremiah? (Jer. 1:5-8)
20 Some who have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God have had quite a struggle against emotions such as shyness or timidity, and fear. Being extremely shy, certain persons have found it difficult to express their inward faith in words. But those who have acquired “a tight grip on the word of life” realize that other servants of God have coped successfully with problems not unlike their own.
21 For instance, the prophet Moses apparently had difficulty expressing himself in speech. When God spoke to Moses about sending him back to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of slavery there, Moses was very diffident and said: “Excuse me, Jehovah, but I am not a fluent speaker, neither since yesterday nor since before that nor since your speaking to your servant, for I am slow of mouth and slow of tongue.” Jehovah sent Moses to Egypt anyway, providing Aaron as his spokesman. But Moses did not give up, always letting someone else speak for him. Later, he confidently spoke to the Israelites himself.—Ex. 4:10-17; Deut. 1:1-5.
22. As to fearfulness, what fine counsel did Paul give Timothy?
22 Consider also the apostle Paul’s counsel to Timothy. Whether Timothy had become somewhat fearful, we cannot say with certainty. However, Paul told him: “God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind. Therefore do not become ashamed of the witness about our Lord, neither of me a prisoner for his sake, but take your part in suffering evil for the good news according to the power of God.”—2 Tim. 1:7, 8.
23. How may shyness or timidity, and fear, be dispelled?
23 A Christian can cope with problems like the one that confronted Moses. Also, it is possible to dispel shyness or timidity, and fear, by praying earnestly to Jehovah God for strength. (Phil. 4:6, 7, 13) Lovers of Jehovah can always seek his face in prayer without fear or dread, and they can courageously speak God’s truths to others. “This is how love has been made perfect with us,” wrote the apostle John, “that we may have freeness of speech in the day of judgment, because, just as that one is, so are we ourselves in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside, because fear exercises a restraint.”—1 John 4:17, 18.
AVOIDING IMMORAL CONDUCT
24. (a) How may “the fear of Jehovah” serve as a protection? (b) Sexual immorality can lead to what consequences?
24 On the other hand, there is a proper fear and thus the Bible says that “the fear of Jehovah is pure,” and it “means the hating of bad.” (Ps. 19:9; Prov. 8:13) It is not morbid dread, but it involves reverence and a wholesome fear of displeasing Jehovah. This is a protection against following a bad course. Naturally, a person having “a tight grip on the word of life” knows, for instance, that the Scriptures condemn sexual immorality. (Deut. 5:18; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10) Yet, the Bible shows that such morally corrupt conduct may also lead to distress. After King David’s son Amnon violated his own half sister Tamar, he “began hating her with a very great hatred.” Amnon had Tamar put out of his house as a person now repugnant to him, and whose presence likely made him feel unclean.—2 Sam. 13:1-19.
25. When tempted, why can one profitably recall Joseph’s conduct?
25 By way of contrast, what a fine example we have in Joseph, the son of Jacob! Repeatedly tempted by the wife of his master Potiphar, Joseph firmly refused to have sexual relations with her. Though falsely accused and imprisoned for his refusal, Joseph had not sinned against God. (Gen. 39:7-23) His conduct can be recalled with profit if temptation to engage in sexual immorality should arise in the life of one “keeping a tight grip on the word of life.”
“SHINING AS ILLUMINATORS”
26-28. (a) Summing up, “a tight grip on the word of life” can aid us in what ways? (b) How may we continue to ‘shine as illuminators’?
26 Certainly, then, those with “a tight grip on the word of life” have many reasons to appreciate the sixty-six divinely inspired books of the Holy Bible. Among other things, applied counsel from the Scriptures enables Christians to cope with illness and stress. In God’s Word they find consolation when depressed. The Bible also aids them to endure grief, to deal successfully with timidity and fear, and to avoid immoral conduct.
27 Furthermore, those “keeping a tight grip on the word of life” are able to remain “blameless and innocent” as regards the misdeeds of this “crooked and twisted generation,” the world of mankind alienated from God. Among them, Christians continue to ‘shine as illuminators.’ (Phil. 2:14-16) Associated with the anointed followers of Jesus Christ, who have the prime responsibility to serve as such spiritual “illuminators,” are a “great crowd” who have the prospects of eternal life on a paradise earth.—Rev. 7:4-9.
28 Relying upon Jehovah God, all faithful Christians will continue reflecting spiritual light. With divine aid they will go on manifesting the proper motivation or spirit, one that befits persons who are worshiping Jehovah God. They will seek to cultivate and display the fruits of God’s spirit and wisely will bear in mind the fine qualities of the early Christians and others who have served Jehovah down through the centuries. And, surely, the Lord will continue to be with the spirit shown by all godly persons of today who truly are “keeping a tight grip on the word of life.” Are you among those showing the proper Christian spirit, and have you a good, tight grip on the “word of life”?