Remain Steadfast, and Win the Race for Life
IF YOU had to travel through a stormy sea, what kind of vessel would you prefer? Would you want a flimsy dinghy or a sturdy, well-built ship? You would undoubtedly choose the ship, since it could more effectively negotiate the violent waves.
As we pass through this stormy and hazardous system of things, we face unsettling challenges. Young people, for instance, may sometimes feel disoriented and insecure amid this world’s confusing ideas and trends. Individuals who recently started on the Christian course may still feel rather unsteady. Even some steadfast ones with many years of faithful service to God behind them may be undergoing a test because their expectations have not yet been completely fulfilled.
Such feelings are not new. Faithful servants of Jehovah, such as Moses, Job, and David, felt unsettled at times. (Numbers 11:14, 15; Job 3:1-4; Psalm 55:4) Yet, their life course was marked by steadfast devotion to Jehovah. Their fine example encourages steadfastness on our part, but Satan the Devil wants to sidetrack us from the race for life everlasting. (Luke 22:31) So how can we remain steadfast, “solid in the faith”? (1 Peter 5:9) And how can we strengthen our fellow believers?
Jehovah Wants Us to Be Steadfast
If we are faithful to Jehovah, he will always be there to help us maintain our stability. The psalmist David faced many challenging situations, but he hoped in God and could therefore sing: “[Jehovah] also proceeded to bring me up out of a roaring pit, out of the mire of the sediment. Then he raised up my feet upon a crag; he firmly established my steps.”—Psalm 40:2.
Jehovah strengthens us to wage “the fine fight of the faith” so that we can ‘get a firm hold on everlasting life.’ (1 Timothy 6:12) He also provides the means for us to remain stable and come off victorious in our spiritual warfare. The apostle Paul urged fellow Christians to “go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength,” and to ‘put on the complete suit of armor from God so that they might be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil.’ (Ephesians 6:10-17) But what could unsettle us? And how can we ward off such perilous influences?
Beware of Destabilizing Factors
It is wise to remember this vital fact: The decisions we make eventually affect our Christian stability either positively or negatively. Youths are faced with decisions regarding such matters as a career, further education, and marriage. Adults may have to decide whether to move to another location or to take an additional job. We make decisions every day regarding the use of time and many other matters. What will help us to make wise decisions that will contribute to our stability as God’s servants? One longtime Christian said: “I ask for Jehovah’s help when making decisions. I believe it is important to accept and apply counsel given in the Bible, at Christian meetings, by the elders, and in Bible-based publications.”
When making decisions, we would do well to ask ourselves: ‘Five or ten years from now, will I be happy with the decisions I am making today, or will I regret them? Do I endeavor to make sure that my decisions will not destabilize me spiritually but will contribute to my spiritual progress?’—Philippians 3:16.
Succumbing to temptations or allowing themselves to come close to violating God’s laws has caused some baptized individuals to lead an unsteady life. A few who have been expelled from the congregation because of unrepentantly pursuing a sinful course have worked hard to be reinstated, only to be disfellowshipped again—sometimes shortly afterward—because of similar wrongdoing. Could it be that they have not prayed for divine help to ‘abhor what is wicked and cling to what is good’? (Romans 12:9; Psalm 97:10) All of us need to “keep making straight paths for [our] feet.” (Hebrews 12:13) Let us therefore consider some points that can help us to maintain spiritual stability.
Keep Steadfast Through Christian Activity
One way to keep a steady pace in our race for life is to have much to do in the Kingdom-preaching work. Yes, our Christian ministry is a valuable aid in keeping our hearts and minds focused on the doing of God’s will and firmly fixed on the prize of everlasting life. In this regard, Paul urged the Corinthians: “My beloved brothers, become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) “Steadfast” means ‘firmly fixed in place.’ “Unmovable” can signify ‘not allowing oneself to be loosed from one’s moorings.’ Hence, being busy in our ministry can have a stabilizing effect on our Christian course. Helping other people to get to know Jehovah gives our lives meaning and brings us happiness.—Acts 20:35.
Pauline, a Christian who has spent more than 30 years as a missionary and in other full-time preaching activity, notes: “The ministry is a protection because witnessing to others confirms to me that I do have the truth.” Similar conviction also results from regularly engaging in other Christian activities, such as attending meetings for worship and doing diligent personal Bible study.
Stabilized by a Loving Brotherhood
Being part of the worldwide organization of true worshipers can have a powerful stabilizing effect on us. What a blessing it is to be associated with such a loving, global brotherhood! (1 Peter 2:17) And we can have a stabilizing effect on our fellow believers.
Consider the helpful actions of the upright man Job. Even the false comforter Eliphaz was forced to admit: “Anyone stumbling, your words would raise up; and knees giving way you would make firm.” (Job 4:4) How are we doing in this respect? We individually have the responsibility to help our spiritual brothers and sisters to endure in God’s service. In our dealings with them, we can act in the spirit of the words: “Strengthen the weak hands, you people, and make the knees that are wobbling firm.” (Isaiah 35:3) So why not make it your aim to strengthen and encourage one or two fellow Christians every time you meet with them? (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Heartening words of commendation and gratitude for their continued efforts to please Jehovah can really help them to remain steadfast with a view to winning the race for life.
Christian elders can do much good by encouraging newer ones. This may be possible by offering helpful suggestions and sound Scriptural advice and by working with them in the field ministry. The apostle Paul always seized opportunities to strengthen others. He longed to see the Christians in Rome so that he could help to fortify them spiritually. (Romans 1:11) He considered his beloved brothers and sisters in Philippi to be his “joy and crown” and exhorted them to “stand firm in this way in the Lord.” (Philippians 4:1) Upon hearing about the hardships of his brothers in Thessalonica, Paul sent Timothy to ‘make them firm and comfort them, that no one might be swayed by tribulations.’—1 Thessalonians 3:1-3.
The apostles Paul and Peter acknowledged and appreciated the faithful efforts of their fellow worshipers. (Colossians 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:12) Let us similarly focus, not on the weaknesses of our brothers, but on their fine qualities and their successful fight to remain steadfast and honor Jehovah.
If we are negative or critical, we may inadvertently make it more difficult for some to maintain firmness in the faith. How appropriate it is to remember that our brothers are “skinned and thrown about” in this system of things! (Matthew 9:36) In the Christian congregation, they rightly expect to find comfort and refreshment. May all of us, therefore, do our very best to build up fellow believers and help them to remain steadfast.
Others may occasionally deal with us in a way that could diminish our steadfastness. Will we let a harsh comment or an unkind act bring us to a low ebb in our service to Jehovah? May we never let anyone draw us away from our steadfastness!—2 Peter 3:17.
God’s Promises—A Stabilizing Influence
Jehovah’s promise of a marvelous future under Kingdom rule gives us hope that helps us to maintain our steadfastness. (Hebrews 6:19) And the conviction that God always fulfills his promises motivates us to ‘stay awake and stand firm in the faith.’ (1 Corinthians 16:13; Hebrews 3:6) A seeming delay in the fulfillment of some of God’s promises may test our faith. It is therefore imperative that we be on guard against being misled by false teachings and shifted away from our hope.—Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 13:9.
The bad example of the Israelites who perished because they did not have faith in Jehovah’s promises should serve as a warning for us. (Psalm 78:37) Rather than being like them, may we be steadfast, serving God with a sense of urgency in these last days. “I live every day as if the great day of Jehovah will come tomorrow,” said one experienced elder.—Joel 1:15.
Yes, the great day of Jehovah is imminent. However, we have nothing to fear as long as we stay close to God. If we firmly adhere to his righteous standards and remain steadfast, we can successfully run the race for life eternal!—Proverbs 11:19; 1 Timothy 6:12, 17-19.
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Are you doing all you can to help fellow Christians remain steadfast?
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The Complete Encyclopedia of Illustration/J. G. Heck