Increase Your Peace Through Accurate Knowledge
“May undeserved kindness and peace be increased to you by an accurate knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”—2 PETER 1:2.
1, 2. (a) Why can a peaceful relationship with God be compared to a marriage? (b) How can we strengthen our peace with God?
THE peaceful relationship established with Jehovah God at your baptism is, in some respects, like a marriage. Although the wedding day is delightful, it is only the start of a precious relationship. With effort, time, and experience, a marriage relationship will grow even dearer, becoming a haven during times of distress. So, too, by diligence and with Jehovah’s help, you can increase your peace with him.
2 The apostle Peter explained how those who had “obtained a faith” could strengthen their peace with God. He wrote: “May undeserved kindness and peace be increased to you by an accurate knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”—2 Peter 1:1, 2.
“Accurate Knowledge of God”
3. Having accurate knowledge of Jehovah and Jesus means what?
3 The Greek word for “accurate knowledge” (e·piʹgno·sis) used in this context means a deeper, more intimate knowledge. The verb form can refer to knowledge gained by personal experience and is rendered “know fully” at Luke 1:4. Greek scholar Culverwel explains that to him the word implies becoming “better acquainted with a thing I knew before; a more exact viewing of an object that I saw before afar off.” Gaining such “accurate knowledge” involves getting to know Jehovah and Jesus more intimately as persons, becoming better acquainted with their qualities.
4. How can we increase our knowledge of God, and why does this improve our peace with him?
4 Two ways to gain this knowledge are through good personal study habits and regular attendance at meetings of God’s people. In these ways you will learn more clearly how God conducts himself and what he thinks. You will form a more distinct mental image of his personality. But knowing God intimately means to imitate and reflect this image. For instance, Jehovah described a person who reflected godlike unselfishness, and then He said: “Was not that a case of knowing me?” (Jeremiah 22:15, 16; Ephesians 5:1) Imitating God more closely increases your peace with him because you improve in putting on the new personality, “which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.” You become more pleasing to God.—Colossians 3:10.
5. (a) How did accurate knowledge help one Christian woman? (b) In what ways can we more closely imitate Jehovah?
5 One Christian woman named Lynn found it hard to be forgiving because of a misunderstanding with a fellow Christian. But Lynn’s careful personal study caused her to examine her attitude. “I recalled the type of God Jehovah is, how he does not hold a grudge,” she admitted. “I thought of all the little things we do to Jehovah every day, yet he does not keep account of them. This matter with my Christian sister was so small by comparison. So whenever I saw her, I said to myself, ‘Jehovah loves her just as he loves me.’ This helped me to get over the problem.” Do you see areas where you also need to imitate Jehovah more closely?—Psalm 18:35; 103:8, 9; Luke 6:36; Acts 10:34, 35; 1 Peter 1:15, 16.
Accurate Knowledge of Christ
6. How did Jesus Christ show that the preaching work was of foremost importance to him?
6 Having accurate knowledge of Jesus requires having “the mind of Christ” and imitating him. (1 Corinthians 2:16) Jesus was an enthusiastic proclaimer of truth. (John 18:37) His intense evangelizing spirit was not shackled by community prejudices. Though other Jews hated Samaritans, he witnessed to a Samaritan woman at a well. Why, even talking at length in public with any woman may have been frowned upon!* But Jesus did not allow community feelings to stop him from giving a witness. God’s work was refreshing. He said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” The joy of seeing the response of people, like the Samaritan woman and many of the townspeople, sustained Jesus like food.—John 4:4-42; 8:48.
7. (a) Knowledge of Jesus should motivate us to do what? (b) Does God expect all of his servants to do the same amount of preaching? Explain.
7 Do you feel as did Jesus? Granted, starting up a conversation about the Bible with a stranger is hard for many and is often frowned upon by others in the community. Yet, to have the same mental attitude as Jesus had, we cannot escape this fact: We must witness. Of course, not all can do the same amount of preaching. This varies according to our abilities and circumstances. So do not feel that God is never satisfied with your sacred service. Our knowledge of Jesus, however, should spur us to do our best. Jesus commended whole-souled service.—Matthew 13:18-23; 22:37.
The Need to Hate Wickedness
8, 9. What are some things that God hates, and how can we reflect the same hatred?
8 Accurate knowledge also helps us to appreciate what things are hated by Jesus and by Jehovah. (Hebrews 1:9; Isaiah 61:8) “There are six things that Jehovah does hate; yes, seven are things detestable to his soul: lofty eyes, a false tongue, and hands that are shedding innocent blood, a heart fabricating hurtful schemes, feet that are in a hurry to run to badness, a false witness that launches forth lies, and anyone sending forth contentions among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) These attitudes and forms of conduct are “detestable to his soul.” The Hebrew word here rendered “detestable” comes from a word meaning “to loathe, nauseate,” “to be averse to, as to that which is offensive to all the senses; to detest, hate with indignation.” So to be at peace with God, we must develop a similar aversion.
9 For instance, shun “lofty eyes” and any show of pride. After baptism some have felt that they were no longer in need of the regular assistance of those who taught them. But new Christians should humbly accept help as they become well grounded in the truth. (Galatians 6:6) Also, avoid gossiping, which can easily cause “contentions among brothers.” By spreading unkind hearsay, unjustifiable criticism, or lies, we may not be “shedding innocent blood,” but we surely can destroy another person’s good reputation. We cannot be at peace with God if we are not at peace with our brothers. (Proverbs 17:9; Matthew 5:23, 24) God also says in his Word that “he has hated a divorcing.” (Malachi 2:14, 16) If married, do you, therefore, work to keep your marriage strong? Are flirting and taking undue liberties with another’s mate disgusting to you? Do you, like Jehovah, abhor sexual immorality? (Deuteronomy 23:17, 18) Hating such practices is not easy, since these may appeal to our sinful flesh, and they are smiled upon by the world.
10. How can we cultivate a hatred for wickedness?
10 As an aid to cultivating a hatred for wickedness, avoid being entertained by movies, TV programs, or literature featuring spiritism, immorality, or violence. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Psalm 11:5) By making wrongdoing seem ‘not that bad’ or even humorous, such entertainment undercuts efforts to develop godly hatred of it. On the other hand, earnest prayer will help, for Jesus said: “Pray continually, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Regarding being faced with a strong fleshly desire, one Christian said: “I make myself pray. Sometimes I feel unworthy to approach Jehovah, but by making myself do it, by appealing to him, I get the strength I need.” You will better understand why Jehovah detests wrongdoing if you review in your mind its painful consequences.—2 Peter 2:12, 13.
11. What things may trouble us at times?
11 Despite having peace with God, you will at times be troubled by everyday pressures and temptations and even by your own weaknesses. Remember, you have made yourself a special target of Satan. He wars against those who keep God’s commandments and are Jehovah’s Witnesses! (Revelation 12:17) How, then, can your inner peace be maintained?
Coping With Peace-Disturbing Calamities
12. (a) What is the background of Psalm 34? (b) How do the Scriptures describe David’s feelings during this experience?
12 “Many are the calamities of the righteous one,” wrote David at Psalm 34:19. According to the superscription of this psalm Ps 34:Sup, David penned it following a close encounter with death. Fleeing from King Saul, David sought refuge with Achish, the Philistine king of Gath. That king’s servants recognized David and, recalling his previous military exploits for Israel, complained to Achish. When David overheard the conversation, he “began to take these words to his heart, and he became very much afraid on account of Achish the king of Gath.” (1 Samuel 21:10-12) After all, this was the hometown of Goliath, and David had killed their hero—he was even carrying the giant’s sword! Would they now use this huge sword to cut off his head? What could David do?—1 Samuel 17:4; 21:9.
13. What did David do during this calamity, and how can we follow his example?
13 David supplicated God with intense cries for help. “This afflicted one called, and Jehovah himself heard. And out of all his distresses He saved him,” said David. He also said: “Out of all my frights he delivered me.” (Psalm 34:4, 6, 15, 17) Have you also learned to supplicate Jehovah, pouring out your heart during times of anxiety? (Ephesians 6:18; Psalm 62:8) Though your particular distress may not be as dramatic as David’s, still you will find that God will give you help at the right time. (Hebrews 4:16) But David did more than pray.
14. How did David use “thinking ability,” and what has God provided to help us do the same?
14 “He [David] disguised his sanity under their eyes and began acting insane. . . . Finally Achish said to his servants: ‘Here you see a man behaving crazy. Why should you bring him to me?’” (1 Samuel 21:13-15) David thought out a strategy by which he escaped. Jehovah blessed his efforts. Likewise, when we are confronted with knotty problems, Jehovah expects us to use our mental faculties and not simply to expect him to work them out for us. He has given us his inspired Word, which will “give to the inexperienced ones shrewdness, . . . knowledge and thinking ability.” (Proverbs 1:4; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17) God has also provided congregation elders, who can help us to know how to maintain God’s standards. (1 Thessalonians 4:1, 2) Oftentimes, these men can assist you in researching the publications of the Watch Tower Society for help in making a right decision or coping with a problem.
15. Why is Psalm 34:18 comforting?
15 Even when our heart pains us because of our own weaknesses or failures, if we have the right attitude, we can maintain our peace with God. David wrote at Psalm 34:18: “Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” If we ask for forgiveness and take any necessary steps to correct matters (especially in cases of serious transgression), Jehovah will stay close to us, supporting us emotionally.—Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 55:7; 2 Corinthians 7:9-11.
Personal Knowledge Gives Peace
16. (a) What is another way in which we gain accurate knowledge of God? (b) Explain David’s statement: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good.”
16 Another way in which we gain accurate knowledge of God, besides taking in spiritual information, is through our personally experiencing his loving help. (Psalm 41:10, 11) Being delivered out of distress does not always mean the immediate or complete end of a problem; you may have to continue to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Though David’s life was spared at Gath, he remained a fugitive for several years, facing one danger after another. Through it all, David sensed Jehovah’s care and support. He had pursued and found peace with God, and he learned that those who do so “will not lack anything good.” Realizing by personal experience how Jehovah supported him during calamity, David could say: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good, O you people; happy is the able-bodied man that takes refuge in him.”—Psalm 34:8-10, 14, 15.
17. During a calamity, what effect did taking refuge in Jehovah have on one family?
17 Taking refuge in Jehovah during difficulties will also enable you to “taste and see that Jehovah is good.” Because of an accident, a Christian in the midwestern United States lost the well-paying job that he had had for 14 years. Since they had no income, he and his family supplicated God. At the same time, though, they cut down on expenses, gleaned in nearby fields, and fished for food. With help from some in the congregation and by taking part-time work when available, this family of four managed. A year after the accident, the mother reflected: “We can fool ourselves into thinking that we are relying upon Jehovah, when we are really relying upon our own abilities, our mate, or our job. We, though, really learned to trust just Him. These other things can be taken away, but Jehovah never left us—not for one moment. Though we have just the bare necessities, our relationship with Jehovah as a family is much closer.”
18. What will enable you to endure even persistent problems?
18 Yes, a financial hardship may persist. Or one may be plagued with a chronic physical illness; a personality conflict with another; an emotional disorder, such as depression; or one of a host of other problems. Yet, by truly knowing God, you will have faith in his support. (Isaiah 43:10) This unbreakable trust will help you to endure and to have “the peace of God that excels all thought.”—Philippians 4:7.
19. How do we know that Jehovah does not take our sufferings lightly?
19 When going through a troubling experience, never forget that Jehovah knows what you are suffering. In a psalm that was also composed when he reflected on his experience at Gath, David entreated Jehovah: “Do put my tears in your skin bottle. Are they not in your book?” (Psalm 56:8) Certainly, God listened to David’s request. How consoling to know that God would gather up such tears caused by affliction and anxiety and put these, as it were, in his skin bottle, just as one would pour into such a container precious wine or drinking water! Such tears would always be remembered, yes, written down in God’s book. How tender is Jehovah’s regard!
20. How can we increase our peace with God?
20 So your baptism is just the beginning of a peaceful relationship with God. By becoming better acquainted with the personal qualities of God and Jesus, and personally experiencing Jehovah’s support during trials, you will increase your peace with God. Not only will you have a relationship with Jehovah that becomes a haven of security now but you will also have the precious hope of living forever in Paradise, where you will find “exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:11, 29.
According to the Talmud, ancient rabbis advised that a scholar “should not converse with a woman in the street.” If this custom prevailed in Jesus’ day, it may be why his disciples “began to wonder because he was speaking with a woman.”—John 4:27.
Do You Recall?
□ In what ways can we gain accurate knowledge of God and Jesus?
□ Imitating God and Jesus will cause us to do what?
□ How do we imitate God’s hatred for evil?
□ How can we maintain peace despite difficulties?
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Jesus refused to allow community prejudices to hinder his giving a witness. Do you imitate his zeal for preaching?
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When faced with a serious problem, David supplicated Jehovah . . . . . . and disguised his sanity to plan an escape. Jehovah heard David’s prayer