Add Godly Devotion to Your Endurance
“Supply to your faith . . . endurance, to your endurance godly devotion.”—2 Peter 1:5, 6.
1, 2. (a) What kind of growth is expected in the case of a child? (b) How important is spiritual growth?
GROWING up is important to a child, but more than physical growth is desired. Mental and emotional growth are also expected. In time, the child will set aside its immature ways and blossom into a full-grown man or woman. The apostle Paul referred to this when he wrote: “When I was a babe, I used to speak as a babe, to think as a babe, to reason as a babe; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the traits of a babe.”—1 Corinthians 13:11.
2 Paul’s words make an important point about spiritual growth. Christians need to progress from being spiritual babes to being those “full-grown in powers of understanding.” (1 Corinthians 14:20) They should reach out and seek to attain “the measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of the Christ.” Then they will not be “babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching.”—Ephesians 4:13, 14.
3, 4. (a) What must we do to become full-grown spiritually? (b) What godly qualities should we display, and how important are they?
3 How can we become full-grown spiritually? While physical growth progresses almost automatically under normal circumstances, spiritual growth takes deliberate effort. It begins with taking in accurate knowledge of God’s Word and acting in harmony with what we learn. (Hebrews 5:14; 2 Peter 1:3) In turn, this enables us to display godly qualities. As with physical growth and its related aspects, growth in various godly qualities usually takes place simultaneously. The apostle Peter wrote: “By your contributing in response all earnest effort, supply to your faith virtue, to your virtue knowledge, to your knowledge self-control, to your self-control endurance, to your endurance godly devotion, to your godly devotion brotherly affection, to your brotherly affection love.”—2 Peter 1:5-7.
4 Each quality that Peter lists is vital, and none can be omitted. He adds: “If these things exist in you and overflow, they will prevent you from being either inactive or unfruitful regarding the accurate knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:8) Let us focus on the need to add godly devotion to our endurance.
The Need for Endurance
5. Why do we need endurance?
5 Both Peter and Paul link godly devotion with endurance. (1 Timothy 6:11) Having endurance means more than just bearing up under hardship and remaining resolute. It involves patience, courage, and steadfastness, not losing hope when faced with trials, obstacles, temptations, or persecution. As those living with “godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus,” we expect to be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12) We must endure if we are to prove our love for Jehovah and develop the qualities needed for salvation. (Romans 5:3-5; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8; James 1:3, 4, 12) Without endurance, we will not gain everlasting life.—Romans 2:6, 7; Hebrews 10:36.
6. Enduring to the end means doing what?
6 No matter how well we start out, what ultimately counts is that we have endurance. Said Jesus: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) Yes, we must endure to the end, whether that is to the end of our present life or to the end of this wicked system of things. In either case, we must maintain our integrity to God. Without adding godly devotion to our endurance, however, we cannot please Jehovah, and we will not gain everlasting life. But what is godly devotion?
What Godly Devotion Means
7. What is godly devotion, and what does it impel us to do?
7 Godly devotion is personal reverence, worship, and service to Jehovah God out of loyalty to his universal sovereignty. To practice godly devotion with respect to Jehovah, we need accurate knowledge of him and his ways. We should want to know God personally, intimately. This will move us to develop a heartfelt attachment to him, one that is manifested by our actions and way of life. We should desire to be as much like Jehovah as possible—to copy his ways and reflect his qualities and personality. (Ephesians 5:1) Indeed, godly devotion motivates us to want to please God in all we do.—1 Corinthians 10:31.
8. How do godly devotion and exclusive devotion work hand in hand?
8 In order to practice true godly devotion, we must worship Jehovah exclusively, allowing nothing else to occupy his position in our hearts. As our Creator, he has a right to our exclusive devotion. (Deuteronomy 4:24; Isaiah 42:8) Nevertheless, Jehovah does not force us to worship him. He desires our willing devotion. It is our love for God, based on accurate knowledge of him, that moves us to clean up our lives and make an unreserved dedication to him and then to live up to it.
Build a Relationship With God
9, 10. How can we build and maintain a close relationship with God?
9 After symbolizing our dedication to God by getting baptized, we still need to build an ever closer personal relationship with him. Our desire to do this and to serve Jehovah faithfully therefore moves us to continue studying his Word and meditating on it. As we allow God’s spirit to operate on our minds and hearts, our love for Jehovah deepens. Our relationship with him continues to be the most important thing in our lives. We regard Jehovah as our best Friend and want to please him at all times. (1 John 5:3) Our delight in our pleasant relationship with God grows, and we are grateful that he lovingly instructs us and corrects us where needed.—Deuteronomy 8:5.
10 Unless we constantly take steps to strengthen our precious relationship with Jehovah, it can fade. If that happened, it would not be God’s fault, for “he is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27) How happy we are that Jehovah does not make approach to him difficult! (1 John 5:14, 15) Of course, we must work to maintain a close personal relationship with Jehovah. However, he helps us to draw close to him by giving us all the provisions we need to build and maintain godly devotion. (James 4:8) How can we make full use of all these loving provisions?
Keep Spiritually Strong
11. What are some expressions of our godly devotion?
11 Our deep-rooted love for God will motivate us to demonstrate the depth of our godly devotion, in line with Paul’s counsel: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Doing this requires that we maintain a good routine of regular Bible study, meeting attendance, and participation in the field ministry. We can also keep close to Jehovah by ‘praying incessantly.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17) These are meaningful expressions of our godly devotion. Neglecting any of them may bring on spiritual sickness and make us vulnerable to Satan’s devices.—1 Peter 5:8.
12. How can we successfully cope with trials?
12 Keeping spiritually strong and active also helps us to face the many trials that beset us. Trials may come from sources that can sorely test us. Indifference, opposition, and persecution can be harder to endure when they originate with close family members, relatives, or neighbors. Insidious pressures to compromise our Christian principles may arise at our workplace or in school. Discouragement, sickness, and depression can weaken us physically and make it more difficult to cope with tests of faith. But we can successfully cope with all trials if we persevere “in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” (2 Peter 3:11, 12) And we can maintain our joy in doing so, confident of God’s blessing.—Proverbs 10:22.
13. What must we do if we are to keep on practicing godly devotion?
13 Although Satan targets those practicing godly devotion, we need not be fearful. Why? Because “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.” (2 Peter 2:9) To endure trials and experience such deliverance, we must “repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and . . . live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.” (Titus 2:12) As Christians, we must be on guard so that any weakness involving fleshly desires and activities does not encroach on our godly devotion and destroy it. Let us now consider some of these threats.
Beware of Threats to Godly Devotion
14. What should we remember if we are enticed by the snare of materialism?
14 Materialism is a snare to many. We may deceive even ourselves, “thinking that godly devotion is a means of [material] gain.” Thus, we could be emboldened to take improper advantage of the trust shown by fellow believers. (1 Timothy 6:5) We might even wrongly conclude that it is all right to press a prosperous Christian for a loan that we are unlikely to be able to repay. (Psalm 37:21) But it is godly devotion, not the acquisition of material things, that “holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) Since ‘we brought nothing into the world and cannot carry anything out,’ let us more intently pursue “godly devotion along with self-sufficiency” and allow ourselves to be ‘content with sustenance and covering.’—1 Timothy 6:6-11.
15. What can we do if the pursuit of pleasure is threatening to crowd out our godly devotion?
15 The pursuit of pleasure can crowd out godly devotion. Could it be that we need to make immediate adjustments in this regard? Granted, some benefits are derived from bodily training and recreation. Yet, such rewards are small compared with everlasting life. (1 John 2:25) Today, many are “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power,” and we need to turn away from such individuals. (2 Timothy 3:4, 5) Those who place emphasis on godly devotion are “safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.”—1 Timothy 6:19.
16. What sinful cravings keep some from living up to God’s righteous requirements, and how can we gain the mastery over these desires?
16 Alcohol and drug abuse, immorality, and sinful cravings can destroy our godly devotion. Succumbing to these can prevent us from living up to God’s righteous requirements. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 2 Corinthians 7:1) Even Paul had to endure a continuing conflict with the sinful flesh. (Romans 7:21-25) Strong measures are needed to wipe out wrong desires. For one thing, we must be determined to remain morally clean. Paul tells us: “Deaden . . . your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) Deadening our body members as respects such sinful things requires determination so as to eliminate them, wiping them out. Earnest prayer for God’s help will enable us to repudiate wrong desires and pursue righteousness and godly devotion amid this wicked system of things.
17. How should we view discipline?
17 Discouragement can weaken our endurance and have a detrimental effect on our godly devotion. Many of Jehovah’s servants have experienced discouragement. (Numbers 11:11-15; Ezra 4:4; Jonah 4:3) Especially can discouragement have a devastating effect on us if it is accompanied by resentment because we feel slighted or have been strongly chastised or disciplined. Reproof and discipline, however, are evidence of divine interest and loving concern. (Hebrews 12:5-7, 10, 11) Discipline should be considered not simply punishment but a means of training us in the way of righteousness. If we are humble, we will appreciate and accept counsel, realizing that “the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:23) This can help us to make fine spiritual progress in pursuing godly devotion.
18. What responsibility do we have when it comes to personal offenses?
18 Misunderstandings and personal offenses may pose a challenge to our godly devotion. They may cause anxiety or move some to take the unwise step of isolating themselves from their spiritual brothers and sisters. (Proverbs 18:1) But it is good to remember that bearing grudges or harboring ill will toward others can detrimentally affect our relationship with Jehovah. (Leviticus 19:18) In fact, “he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stressed the need to take immediate steps to resolve personal difficulties. He told his listeners: “If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and you there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away; first make your peace with your brother, and then, when you have come back, offer up your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24) An apology may help to heal a wound caused by unkind words or actions. A breach can be healed and peaceful relations restored if we ask forgiveness and admit that we handled matters improperly. Jesus also gave other counsel on handling difficulties. (Matthew 18:15-17) How happy we are when efforts to resolve problems meet with success!—Romans 12:18; Ephesians 4:26, 27.
Follow Jesus’ Example
19. Why is it so important to imitate Jesus’ example?
19 Trials will certainly beset us, but they do not have to sidetrack us from the race for everlasting life. Remember that Jehovah can deliver us out of trial. As we “put off every weight” and “run with endurance the race that is set before us,” let us “look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:1-3) Closely scrutinizing Jesus’ example and endeavoring to imitate him in word and deed will help us to cultivate godly devotion and display it in greater measure.
20. What rewards result from pursuing endurance and godly devotion?
20 Endurance and godly devotion work together in helping to make our salvation sure. By displaying these precious qualities, we can carry on faithfully in our sacred service to God. Even when under trial, happiness will be ours as we experience Jehovah’s tender affection and blessing because we have endured and are practicing godly devotion. (James 5:11) Moreover, Jesus himself assures us: “By endurance on your part you will acquire your souls.”—Luke 21:19.
How Would You Answer?
• Why is endurance important?
• What is godly devotion, and how is it manifested?
• How can we build and maintain a close relationship with God?
• What are some threats to our godly devotion, and how can we avoid them?
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Godly devotion is displayed in many ways
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Beware of threats to your godly devotion