Do Not Give Up in Doing What Is Fine
“Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.”—GALATIANS 6:9.
1, 2. (a) Why is endurance needed in order to serve God? (b) How did Abraham show endurance, and what helped him to do so?
AS Jehovah’s Witnesses, we delight in doing God’s will. We also find refreshment in taking on the “yoke” of discipleship. (Matthew 11:29) Nevertheless, serving Jehovah with Christ is not always easy. The apostle Paul made this plain when he urged fellow Christians: “You have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36) Endurance is needed because serving God can be challenging.
2 The life of Abraham certainly is a testimony to that fact. Many times he faced difficult choices and stressful circumstances. Being ordered to leave a comfortable life in Ur was just the beginning. Before long he faced famine, hostility from his neighbors, the near loss of his wife, animosity from some kinsmen, and the brutality of war. Greater trials were yet to come. But Abraham never gave up in doing what was fine. This is remarkable when you consider that he did not have the complete Word of God, as we do today. Nevertheless, he no doubt knew of the first prophecy, in which God declared: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed.” (Genesis 3:15) As the one through whom the Seed would come, Abraham would naturally be the focus of satanic enmity. Grasping this fact no doubt helped Abraham to endure his trials joyfully.
3. (a) Why should Jehovah’s people today expect tribulations? (b) What encouragement does Galatians 6:9 give us?
3 Jehovah’s people today should also expect tribulations. (1 Peter 1:6, 7) After all, Revelation 12:17 warns us that Satan is ‘waging war’ with the anointed remnant. Because of their close association with the anointed, the “other sheep” are likewise targets of Satan’s wrath. (John 10:16) Besides the opposition Christians might face in their public ministry, they may also experience trialsome pressures in their personal lives. Paul exhorts us: “Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.” (Galatians 6:9) Yes, although Satan is intent on destroying our faith, we must take our stand against him, solid in the faith. (1 Peter 5:8, 9) What can result from our faithful course? Explains James 1:2, 3: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet with various trials, knowing as you do that this tested quality of your faith works out endurance.”
4. How has Satan used frontal attacks in an attempt to break the integrity of God’s people?
4 Abraham’s life certainly illustrates the “various trials” a Christian may face today. For example, he had to respond to the attack of the invaders from Shinar. (Genesis 14:11-16) Not surprisingly, Satan continues to use frontal attacks in the form of persecution. Since the end of World War II, dozens of lands have imposed governmental bans on the Christian educational work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The 2001 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses tells of the violence Christians in Angola had to endure at the hands of enemies. Relying on Jehovah, our brothers in such lands have steadfastly refused to quit! They have responded, not by resorting to violence or rebellion, but by discreetly persisting in the preaching work.—Matthew 24:14.
5. How might Christian youths be victims of persecution at school?
5 However, persecution does not necessarily involve violence. Abraham was eventually blessed with two sons—Ishmael and Isaac. Genesis 21:8-12 tells us that on one occasion Ishmael was “poking fun” at Isaac. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul shows that this was more serious than childish play, for he describes Ishmael as persecuting Isaac! (Galatians 4:29) Ridicule from schoolmates and verbal attacks by opposers can thus legitimately be called persecution. A young Christian named Ryan recalls the torment he suffered at the hands of classmates: “The 15-minute bus ride to and from school seemed like hours as I was verbally abused. They burned me with paper clips that they had heated with cigarette lighters.” The reason for this harsh treatment? “My theocratic training made me different from the other young people at school.” Nevertheless, with his parents’ support, Ryan was able to endure faithfully. Young ones, have the taunts of your peers caused you to feel discouraged? Well, do not give up! By enduring faithfully, you will experience the fulfillment of Jesus’ words: “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake.”—Matthew 5:11.
6. What things can strain relationships among fellow Christians today?
6 Most of the trials we face today involve normal everyday anxieties. Abraham himself had to cope with tensions that had developed between his herdsmen and those of his nephew Lot. (Genesis 13:5-7) In a similar way today, personality differences and petty jealousies can strain relationships and even threaten the peace of the congregation. “Where jealousy and contentiousness are, there disorder and every vile thing are.” (James 3:16) How important it is for us not to give up but to put peace ahead of pride, as did Abraham, and seek the interests of others!—1 Corinthians 13:5; James 3:17.
7. (a) What should a person do if he has been hurt by a fellow Christian? (b) How did Abraham set a fine example in maintaining good relations with others?
7 Being peaceable can be a challenge when we feel that we have been unjustly treated by a fellow believer. Proverbs 12:18 says: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword.” Thoughtless words, even if spoken innocently, can cause deep pain. The pain is even greater if we feel that we have been slandered or made the victim of cruel gossip. (Psalm 6:6, 7) But a Christian cannot allow hurt feelings to cause him to give up! If you are in such a situation, take the initiative to correct matters by speaking in a kindly way to the offending one. (Matthew 5:23, 24; Ephesians 4:26) Be inclined to forgive that person. (Colossians 3:13) By letting go of resentment, we make it possible to heal both our own emotions and our relationship with our brother. Abraham did not hold on to any resentment that he might have felt toward Lot. Why, Abraham rushed to the defense of Lot and his family!—Genesis 14:12-16.
8. (a) How might Christians ‘stab themselves all over with many pains’? (b) Why was Abraham able to have a balanced view of material things?
8 Admittedly, some trials are self-imposed. For example, Jesus commanded his followers: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19) Yet, some brothers ‘stab themselves all over with many pains’ by putting material interests ahead of Kingdom interests. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Abraham was willing to sacrifice material comforts in order to please God. “By faith he resided as an alien in the land of the promise as in a foreign land, and dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the very same promise. For he was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.” (Hebrews 11:9, 10) Abraham’s faith in a future “city,” or divine government, helped him not to rely on riches. Would we not be wise to do the same?
9, 10. (a) How can a desire for prominence create a trial? (b) How might a brother today conduct himself as “a lesser one”?
9 Consider another aspect. The Bible gives this strong direction: “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving his own mind.” (Galatians 6:3) Furthermore, we are urged to do “nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind.” (Philippians 2:3) Some bring trials upon themselves by failing to apply this counsel. Driven by a desire for prominence rather than by a desire to do “a fine work,” they become discouraged and disgruntled when they do not receive privileges in the congregation.—1 Timothy 3:1.
10 Abraham set a fine example in ‘not thinking more of oneself than necessary.’ (Romans 12:3) When he encountered Melchizedek, Abraham did not act as if his favored position with God made him superior. On the contrary, he acknowledged Melchizedek’s superior position as priest by paying him a tithe. (Hebrews 7:4-7) Christians today should likewise be willing to conduct themselves as ‘lesser ones’ and not demand the limelight. (Luke 9:48) If those taking the lead in the congregation seem to be withholding certain privileges from you, do some honest self-examination to determine what refinements you can make in your personality or way of handling things. Instead of becoming bitter over the privileges you do not have, take full advantage of the privilege you do have—the privilege of helping others to come to know Jehovah. Yes, “humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”—1 Peter 5:6.
Faith in the Things Unseen
11, 12. (a) Why may some in the congregation lose their sense of urgency? (b) How did Abraham set a fine example in building his life on faith in God’s promises?
11 Another trial may involve the seeming delay of the end of this wicked system of things. According to 2 Peter 3:12, Christians are to be “awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” However, many have awaited this “day” for years, some for decades. As a result, some may become discouraged and lose their sense of urgency.
12 Once again, consider Abraham’s example. He built his whole life on faith in God’s promises, even though there was no chance that they would all be fulfilled within his lifetime. True, he lived long enough to see his son Isaac grow up. But it would be centuries before Abraham’s offspring could be compared to “the stars of the heavens” or “the grains of sand that are on the seashore.” (Genesis 22:17) Abraham did not become embittered or discouraged, however. The apostle Paul thus said of Abraham and other patriarchs: “In faith all these died, although they did not get the fulfillment of the promises, but they saw them afar off and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land.”—Hebrews 11:13.
13. (a) How are Christians today like “temporary residents”? (b) Why will Jehovah bring an end to this system of things?
13 If Abraham could keep his life centered on promises the fulfillment of which were “afar off,” how much more so should we today, with the fulfillment of these things so near! Like Abraham, we must view ourselves as “temporary residents” in Satan’s system, refusing to settle down in a self-indulgent life-style. Naturally, we would prefer that this “end of all things” be here, not simply near. (1 Peter 4:7) Perhaps we are suffering from serious health problems. Or economic pressures may weigh heavily upon us. We must remember, though, that Jehovah brings the end not just to rescue us from grievous circumstances but to sanctify his own name. (Ezekiel 36:23; Matthew 6:9, 10) The end will come, not necessarily at a time convenient to us, but at a time that best serves Jehovah’s purposes.
14. How does God’s patience benefit Christians today?
14 Remember, too, that “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Notice, God is “patient with you”—members of the Christian congregation. Evidently, some of us need more time to make changes and adjustments so as to “be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.” (2 Peter 3:14) Should we not be grateful, then, that God has shown such patience?
Finding Joy Despite Obstacles
15. How was Jesus able to maintain his joy in the face of trials, and how does imitating him benefit Christians today?
15 The life of Abraham teaches many lessons to Christians today. He showed not only faith but patience, shrewdness, courage, and unselfish love. He gave the worship of Jehovah priority in his life. It must be remembered, though, that the superlative example for us to imitate was set by Jesus Christ. He too faced numerous trials and tests, but through them all, he never lost his joy. Why? Because he kept his mind focused on the hope ahead. (Hebrews 12:2, 3) Paul thus prayed: “Now may the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Romans 15:5) With the right mental attitude, we can find joy despite obstacles that Satan may throw our way.
16. What can we do when our problems seem to be overwhelming?
16 When problems seem overwhelming, remind yourself that just as he loved Abraham, Jehovah loves you. He wants you to succeed. (Philippians 1:6) Put your full trust in Jehovah, confident that “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Develop the habit of reading God’s Word daily. (Psalm 1:2) Persevere in prayer, asking Jehovah to help you endure. (Philippians 4:6) He will “give holy spirit to those asking him.” (Luke 11:13) Take advantage of the provisions Jehovah has made to sustain you spiritually, such as our Bible-based publications. Also, seek out the support of the brotherhood. (1 Peter 2:17) Faithfully attend Christian meetings, for there you will receive the encouragement you need in order to endure. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Rejoice in the conviction that your endurance leads to an approved condition in God’s eyes and that your faithfulness makes his heart rejoice!—Proverbs 27:11; Romans 5:3-5.
17. Why do Christians not give in to despair?
17 Abraham was loved by God as his “friend.” (James 2:23) Even so, Abraham’s life was a series of stressful trials and tribulations. Christians can therefore expect nothing less during these evil “last days.” In fact, the Bible warns us that “wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse.” (2 Timothy 3:1, 13) Instead of giving in to despair, realize that the pressures we face give evidence that the end of Satan’s wicked system is near. But Jesus reminds us that “he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) So, ‘do not give up in doing what is fine!’ Imitate Abraham, and be among those who “through faith and patience inherit the promises.”—Hebrews 6:12.
Did You Note?
• Why should Jehovah’s people today expect tests and tribulation?
• In what ways might Satan use frontal attacks?
• How can personal conflicts among Christians be resolved?
• How can pride and egotism create trials?
• In what way did Abraham set a good example in waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises?
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Many Christian youths suffer persecution, being taunted by peers
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In Abraham’s day the fulfillment of God’s promises was “afar off,” yet he built his life around them