Walk by Faith!
“We are . . . always of good courage and know that, while we have our home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, for we are walking by faith, not by sight.”—2 CORINTHIANS 5:6, 7.
1. What are some of the blessings we enjoy because of the human eye?
ONE of the marvels of the human body is the eye. By means of this astounding photographic mechanism, we not only avoid obstacles but also take in a vast number of impressions, many of which affect our relations with others. It is evident that the Designer of the eye did not intend that we should grope about our planetary home in darkness. Moreover, it was his purpose that we behold and enjoy his wondrous creations—humans and animals, mountains and rivers, lakes and seas, flowers and other plants, the sky and the glorious hues of a sunset. Appreciative beholders can exclaim with the psalmist: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.”—Psalm 104:24.
2. Why is it not sufficient to walk by sight, and what did Paul say in this regard?
2 Marvelous though physical sight is, however, walking by it alone is fraught with great danger. If we are to enjoy divine favor, we must walk by faith in the Designer of the human eye. We must seek his guidance so as to practice what is good. Writing to fellow anointed Christians, the apostle Paul fittingly declared: “We are . . . always of good courage and know that, while we have our home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, for we are walking by faith, not by sight. But we are of good courage and are well pleased rather to become absent from the body and to make our home with the Lord [by dying and being resurrected to heavenly life]. Therefore we are also making it our aim that, whether having our home with him or being absent from him, we may be acceptable to him. For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each one may get his award for the things done through the body, according to the things he has practiced, whether it is good or vile.”—2 Corinthians 5:6-10.
3. What should be the desire of all dedicated servants of Jehovah, and what questions merit our consideration?
3 All dedicated servants of Jehovah—whether of the anointed remnant or of the increasing “great crowd” with earthly hopes—want to practice what is good. (Revelation 7:9) But why can it be said that there is such great danger in ‘walking by sight’? And what does it mean to ‘walk by faith’?
Dangers of ‘Walking by Sight’
4. (a) Why not take everything at face value? (b) How does the Maker of the eye view things?
4 If we take everything at face value and depend only upon outward appearances, there is the danger of being deceived to our own harm. For example, a person may be walking along a sandy stretch when he suddenly finds himself engulfed in quicksand. Or an individual may be thrown off guard by the friendly appearance of someone who turns out to be ‘a wolf in sheep’s covering.’ (Matthew 7:15) So we must be vigilant. The Maker of the eye is not guided by mere external appearance. He told the prophet Samuel: “Not the way man sees is the way God sees, because mere man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.” (1 Samuel 16:7) Indeed, the One who formed the eye discerns the inmost thoughts and intentions, and his appraisal of anyone or anything is always accurate. (Compare Hebrews 4:12.) In view of his perfect sight and insight, he truly is the all-seeing One.
5. Why is it vital that we be forewarned about the perils of ‘walking by sight’?
5 As mere humans, however, we cannot discern clearly what is in the heart of another person. Even with our God-given faculties, we are imperfect and can often be deceived. In fact, our own heart may mislead us, for it “is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate.” (Jeremiah 17:9) So it is vitally important that we be forewarned about the perils of ‘walking by sight.’ Has Jehovah provided for this urgent need? Indeed he has! For our instruction, he has caused a record to be made of some outstanding happenings that show the dangers of walking merely by sight.—Romans 15:4.
6. ‘Walking by sight’ had what effects upon the Israelites?
6 The experiences of God’s ancient people, the Israelites, are very much to the point. Even though the unerring guidance of Jehovah was available to that highly favored nation, its faithless multitudes stubbornly walked “in their own counsels.” (Psalm 81:12) ‘Walking by sight,’ they turned to the worship of idols or gods visible to the natural eye. Being guided by outward appearances, they trembled in fear of their enemies’ overwhelming numbers. Moreover, because of ‘walking by sight, not by faith,’ the Israelites also challenged Moses’ God-given leadership and complained about their lot in life. (Compare Jude 16.) Yes, and many of them apparently looked with envy upon what seemed like freedom and prosperity in surrounding nations, ignoring the fact that those people were steeped in degradation and subject to demonic influence.—Leviticus 18:1-3, 30.
7. What happened to the Israelites who rejected divine guidance?
7 What happened to the Israelites who insisted on going their own way, rejecting divine guidance? Why, they incurred Jehovah’s displeasure, and he withdrew his protective care so that they were defeated by their enemies! Even in the Promised Land, the Israelites often became slaves to their merciless foes. (Judges 2:17-23) Unlike Moses, who refused to enjoy the worldly comforts of Egypt’s ruling class, the people of Israel sought “the temporary enjoyment of sin” and did not continue to walk “as seeing the One who is invisible.” They lacked faith. And remember, “without faith it is impossible to please [God] well.”—Hebrews 3:16-19; 11:6, 24-27.
8. Why should Jehovah’s modern-day servants take warning from the experiences of the ancient Israelites?
8 Jehovah’s modern-day servants can take warning from those events of the past. We, too, are in danger of becoming weak in faith or even losing our faith. Is it not a fact that we can be unduly influenced by the outward appearance of things and thus again start ‘walking by sight’? Yes, and that is why Jehovah kindly provided guidance for those who would serve him in faith. He used the Israelites and his dealings with them as object lessons for later generations, including our own. (1 Corinthians 10:11) Thereby we are fortified by accurate knowledge, by strong hope, and by endurance.
9. If we were to ‘walk by sight,’ how might we feel about certain actions and about theocratic arrangements?
9 Without this sure direction from our loving Creator, we would be in danger of challenging the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ, forgetting that God and Christ are directing true Christians today. (Compare 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:24.) We might view the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses as being of mere human origin and might thus feel free to do what seems right in our own eyes. (Compare Judges 21:25.) Additionally, we could fall into the error of some who appear to think that as long as some course of action does not trouble their conscience, it is all right. Others might start thinking that the theocratic organization is for their comfort and convenience and that all its requirements should be made easy, with no self-sacrifice required of them. Another danger could be entertaining the idea that the arrangements of the organization should be made to conform to our will instead of God’s will. Yet, our Exemplar, Jesus Christ, always did his heavenly Father’s will joyfully.—Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:5-10.
10. How might our attitude toward the field ministry and other theocratic activities be affected if we overlook divine direction or treat it lightly?
10 Because of overlooking divine direction or treating it lightly, some might think our meetings should be shortened, assembly locations should not be so far away, and study material should always be simple, never including “solid food.” (Hebrews 5:12) In lands where Christians enjoy peace and quiet, some may take Kingdom blessings for granted, feeling that there should be no exertion in sacred service. If we develop such attitudes, we could even become “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God,” possibly reserving nearly every weekend for recreation instead of using such time in the field ministry and other theocratic activities that show wholehearted devotion to Jehovah. (2 Timothy 3:1, 4) If that happened, could we honestly say that we were really “walking by faith, not by sight”?
11. Pampering ourselves might have what effect, but there is a need for us to do what?
11 There is also the danger of pampering ourselves. It is easy to talk ourselves into thinking that a slight headache or some similar problem is worse than it really is. Our imperfect flesh may prompt us to use this as an excuse not to fulfill a responsibility, such as giving a talk in the Theocratic Ministry School. But is it possible that we would never think of letting the same indisposition stop us from participating in some form of recreation? Of course, we should use a sound mind and not treat serious symptoms lightly. However, we do need to exert ourselves vigorously. (Luke 13:24) And surely faith should figure largely in our decisions so that we do not ‘walk by sight’ alone, in accord with our own unaided counsel.—Romans 12:1-3.
12. In what kind of fight do we find ourselves, calling for what attitude on our part?
12 Never forget that we are in a fight against wicked spirit forces. (Ephesians 6:11-18) Our chief enemy, Satan the Devil, can bring tremendous influences to bear upon us by wielding his weapons designed to destroy our faith in Jehovah. Satan will appeal to every selfish propensity in humans and will overlook no type of persuasion that might sway us in our thinking. If we are associated with “the remaining ones” of the “seed” of God’s “woman,” or heavenly organization, we are in a war. It is one from which there can be no furlough until Jehovah, who strengthens us to withstand satanic attack, brings the Devil’s entire organization to its end. (Revelation 12:16, 17; 1 Peter 5:6-11) So, should we now be courageous and have a sense of urgency? Assuredly we should!—Psalm 31:24.
What It Means to ‘Walk by Faith’
13. What does it mean to ‘walk by faith’?
13 “Walking by faith” means moving along through difficult conditions with faith in God, in his ability to guide our steps, and in his willingness to see us to safety. (Psalm 22:3-5; Hebrews 11:6) It means refusing to be guided by mere outward appearances of things or by unaided human reasoning. Faith will move us to walk in the direction in which Jehovah points, regardless of how difficult the path may be. If we ‘walk by faith,’ we will be like David, who said of God: “You will cause me to know the path of life. Rejoicing to satisfaction is with your face; there is pleasantness at your right hand forever.” (Psalm 16:11) Moreover, if we allow Jehovah to direct our steps, he will grant us peace of mind and will help us to gain the victory, no matter how great the odds against us. (John 16:33; Philippians 4:6, 7) Among other things, “walking by faith” will regularly take us into association with our spiritual brothers and sisters for united Bible study and prayer.—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
14, 15. (a) What was Jesus’ attitude toward riches, prestige, and involvement in politics? (b) As revealed in the Scriptures, how did Jesus view God’s guidance?
14 In effect, “walking by faith” also makes us the companions of Jehovah’s faithful servants of the past. The principal one among them was Jesus Christ, “the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith.” As we strive to “follow his steps closely,” what do we find?—Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Peter 2:21.
15 Jesus shunned involvement in worldly politics and never sought the riches and prestige many were pursuing. Instead, he pointed out that his Kingdom is “no part of this world,” and far from being a materialist, he had ‘nowhere to lay his head.’ (John 6:14, 15; 18:36; Luke 9:57, 58) Although Jesus had a perfect mind, he did not act independently but looked to his heavenly Father for guidance.—John 8:28, 29.
16. In the light of Jesus’ example, what can be said about the attitude of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
16 In view of Jesus’ example, what can be said about Jehovah’s Witnesses today? Well, as advocates of God’s heavenly Kingdom, we respect governmental “superior authorities” but maintain neutrality in political affairs. (Romans 13:1-7; Matthew 6:9, 10; John 17:16) Rather than seeking riches and prestige in this world, we ‘seek first the Kingdom,’ confident that Jehovah will provide the necessities of life. (Matthew 6:24-34; Psalm 37:25) And like Jesus, we ‘do not lean on our own understanding’ but gratefully accept the guidance of our loving God. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) Certainly, all of this helps us to ‘walk by faith.’
Tests and Blessings
17. Jehovah’s people must endure what as they ‘walk by faith’? Please illustrate this.
17 In many lands our fellow witnesses of Jehovah must endure unusual inconveniences and tribulations, even brutal persecution, as they ‘walk by faith.’ Of course, trials of faith appear in a variety of forms. For example, consider the hardships and faithful service of one elderly Ecuadorian brother. He came in contact with the truth at the age of 80, then learned to read and write. He was baptized two years later. Since he lived in the jungle, he had to walk for three hours to reach the Kingdom Hall. His opposed wife would hide his clothes and money to discourage him from attending Christian meetings. But these problems did not overwhelm this faithful brother. He served as a temporary, or auxiliary, pioneer every month for ten years and preached in many villages, often being mistreated by the villagers. However, when pioneers and missionaries later witnessed in those areas, many people approached them and asked for Bible studies. So, good things resulted from the hard work of this zealous brother. He died of cancer at the age of 92 but spent 40 hours in the ministry the very month that he died.
18. (a) What must we do if we are to enjoy divine favor? (b) What rewards will be ours if we keep “walking by faith, not by sight”?
18 We, too, must persevere despite problems and hardships. (Matthew 24:13) If we are to enjoy divine favor, it is vital that we apply the counsel of God, rely on him, and remain separate from the world, its attitudes, and its ways. (Psalm 37:5; 1 Corinthians 2:12; James 1:27) So let us strive to imitate our Exemplar, Jesus Christ. Let us be self-sacrificing and willing to exert ourselves in Jehovah’s glorious service. As we do this, we can confidently look to the fulfillment of our heavenly Father’s grand promises to his loyal worshipers. And to what wonderful blessings this will lead in his promised New Order! Above all, “walking by faith, not by sight” will bring us the reward of sharing in the vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty.
Do You Recall?
□ What are the dangers of ‘walking by sight’?
□ The experiences of the Israelites furnish what warning for Jehovah’s people today?
□ Instead of pampering ourselves, what do we need to do?
□ “Walking by faith” means doing what?
[Pictures on page 12]
While fellow witnesses of Jehovah are engaging in theocratic pursuits, are you and your family often heading for some recreation spot?
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Jesus Christ set us a superb example. Like him, are you “walking by faith”?