“What Sort of Persons Ought You to Be!”
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion!”—2 PET. 3:11.
1. Why was Peter’s second letter a timely exhortation to Christians in his day?
WHEN the apostle Peter wrote his second inspired letter, the Christian congregation had already endured much persecution, but this had not dampened its zeal or slowed its growth. So the Devil employed another tactic, one that had succeeded many times before. As revealed by Peter, Satan tried to corrupt God’s people by means of false teachers who had “eyes full of adultery” and “a heart trained in covetousness.” (2 Pet. 2:1-3, 14; Jude 4) Accordingly, Peter’s second letter is a heartfelt exhortation to faithfulness.
2. What is the focus of 2 Peter chapter 3, and what questions should we ask ourselves?
2 Peter wrote: “I consider it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to rouse you up by way of reminding you, knowing as I do that the putting off of my tabernacle is soon to be . . . So I will do my utmost also at every time that, after my departure, you may be able to make mention of these things for yourselves.” (2 Pet. 1:13-15) Yes, Peter knew that his death was near, but he desired that his timely reminders would live on. And, indeed, they became part of the Bible and can be read by all of us today. Chapter 3 of Peter’s second letter is of particular interest to us, for it focuses on “the last days” of the present system of things and on the destruction of the figurative heavens and earth. (2 Pet. 3:3, 7, 10) What counsel does Peter have for us? How will applying his counsel help us to merit Jehovah’s approval?
3, 4. (a) What exclamation did Peter make, and what warning did he give? (b) What three points will we consider?
3 After mentioning the dissolution of Satan’s world, Peter stated: “What sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion!” (2 Pet. 3:11, 12) Evidently, he was not posing a question but making a rousing statement, an exclamation. Peter knew that only those who do Jehovah’s will and exhibit godly traits will be preserved through the coming “day of vengeance.” (Isa. 61:2) Thus, the apostle added: “You, therefore, beloved ones, having this advance knowledge, be on your guard that you may not be led away with them [false teachers] by the error of the law-defying people and fall from your own steadfastness.”—2 Pet. 3:17.
4 Being among those who had “advance knowledge,” Peter knew that in the last days, Christians would have to be especially on guard in order to maintain their integrity. Later, the apostle John clearly explained why. He foresaw Satan’s eviction from heaven and his “great anger” against those “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Rev. 12:9, 12, 17) God’s loyal anointed servants along with their faithful “other sheep” companions will come off victorious. (John 10:16) But what about us individually? Will we maintain our integrity? We will be helped to do so if we strive to (1) cultivate godly qualities, (2) remain morally and spiritually spotless and unblemished, and (3) have the right view of trials. Let us consider these points.
Cultivate Godly Qualities
5, 6. What qualities should we strive to cultivate, and why does this take “earnest effort”?
5 Early in his second letter, 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. For 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 Pet. 1:5-8.
6 True, it takes “earnest effort” to share in activities that help us cultivate godly qualities. For example, it takes effort to attend all Christian meetings, to read the Bible daily, and to maintain a good personal study program. And it may require hard work along with good planning to have a regular, enjoyable, and meaningful Family Worship evening. But once we get into a good routine, wholesome habits become easier—especially when we taste the benefits.
7, 8. (a) What have some said about the Family Worship evening? (b) How are you benefiting from your family worship?
7 Concerning the family worship arrangement, a sister writes: “It allows us to learn about so many subjects.” Another says: “To be honest, I did not want the book study to end. It was my favorite meeting. But now, as we have our Family Worship night, I realize that Jehovah knows what we need and when we need it.” A family head states: “Family worship helps us tremendously. Having a meeting tailored to our specific needs as a couple is great! We both feel that we are improving in displaying the fruitage of the holy spirit, and we are finding more joy than ever in our ministry.” Another family head says: “The children are doing their own research and are learning much—and they enjoy it. The arrangement just makes us more confident that Jehovah knows our concerns and answers our prayers.” Do these sentiments reflect your view of this wonderful spiritual provision?
8 Do not allow minor things to interfere with family worship. A married couple said, “Every Thursday night for the last four weeks, something happened in our family that almost stopped us from having our study, but we did not let it interfere.” Of course, at times you may have to adjust your schedule. Still, be determined not to cancel your Family Worship evening—not even for one week!
9. How did Jehovah sustain Jeremiah, and what can we learn from his example?
9 The prophet Jeremiah serves as a fine example for us. He needed the spiritual sustenance he received from Jehovah and deeply appreciated it. That nourishment enabled him to preach with endurance to an unresponsive people. “The word of Jehovah . . . proved to be like a burning fire shut up in my bones,” he said. (Jer. 20:8, 9) It also helped him to endure the hard times that climaxed with the destruction of Jerusalem. Today, we have the complete written Word of God. When we study it diligently and make God’s thoughts our thoughts, we, like Jeremiah, will be able to endure joyfully in the ministry, stay faithful through trials, and remain morally and spiritually clean.—Jas. 5:10.
Remain “Spotless and Unblemished”
10, 11. Why must we do our utmost to remain “spotless and unblemished,” and what does that require of us?
10 As Christians, we know we are living in the time of the end. Therefore, we are not surprised that the world has become obsessed with things that Jehovah detests, such as greed, sexual depravity, and violence. Satan’s strategy might be summed up in this way: ‘If God’s servants cannot be frightened, perhaps they can be corrupted.’ (Rev. 2:13, 14) Hence, we must take to heart Peter’s loving admonition: “Do your utmost to be found finally by [God] spotless and unblemished and in peace.”—2 Pet. 3:14.
11 The expression “do your utmost” is similar to Peter’s earlier exhortation to contribute “all earnest effort.” Clearly, Jehovah—the one who inspired Peter to express those sentiments—knows that we need to exert ourselves to remain “spotless and unblemished,” untainted by the filth of Satan’s world. Exerting ourselves includes protecting our heart from being overtaken by wrong desires. (Read Proverbs 4:23; James 1:14, 15.) It also includes standing firm against those who are puzzled about our Christian way of life and who “go on speaking abusively of [us].”—1 Pet. 4:4.
12. What assurance do we find at Luke 11:13?
12 Because of our imperfection, it is a struggle to do what is right. (Rom. 7:21-25) We can hope to succeed only if we turn to Jehovah, who generously gives holy spirit to those sincerely asking him. (Luke 11:13) That spirit, in turn, nurtures within us qualities that merit God’s approval and that help us to cope not only with life’s temptations but also with its trials, which may well increase as Jehovah’s day draws near.
Let Trials Strengthen You
13. When trials arise in our life, what will help us to endure?
13 As long as we live in this old system of things, trials of one form or another are inevitable. But instead of becoming downhearted, why not view trials as an opportunity to confirm your love for God and to refine your faith in him and his Word? The disciple James wrote: “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.” (Jas. 1:2-4) Remember, too, that “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.”—2 Pet. 2:9.
14. How does Joseph’s example encourage you?
14 Consider the example of Jacob’s son Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his own brothers. (Gen. 37:23-28; 42:21) Did Joseph’s faith crumble as a result of that act of cruelty? Did he become embittered against God for allowing evil to befall him? God’s Word clearly answers no! Moreover, that was not the end of Joseph’s trials. Later, he was falsely accused of attempted rape and was imprisoned. Once again, though, he never wavered in his godly devotion. (Gen. 39:9-21) Rather, he let trials strengthen him, and for this he was richly rewarded.
15. What can we learn from the example of Naomi?
15 Granted, trials can sadden or even depress us. Perhaps Joseph felt that way at times. Other faithful servants of God certainly did. Consider Naomi, who lost both her husband and her two sons. “Do not call me Naomi,” she said. “Call me Mara [meaning “Bitter”], for the Almighty has made it very bitter for me.” (Ruth 1:20, 21, ftn.) Naomi’s reaction was natural and understandable. Like Joseph, though, she neither stumbled spiritually nor wavered in her integrity. Jehovah, in turn, rewarded that precious woman. (Ruth 4:13-17, 22) What is more, in the earthly Paradise to come, he will undo all the harm caused by Satan and his wicked world. “The former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.”—Isa. 65:17.
16. What should be our attitude toward prayer, and why so?
16 No matter what trials may befall us, God’s love is there to sustain us. (Read Romans 8:35-39.) Though Satan will not stop trying to discourage us, he will fail if we remain “sound in mind” and “vigilant with a view to prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:7) Jesus said: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36) Note Jesus’ use of the word “supplication,” which is a very earnest form of prayer. By admonishing us to make supplication, Jesus emphasized that this is no time to be casual about standing before him and his Father. Only those standing in an approved condition will have the prospect of surviving Jehovah’s day.
Keep Active in Jehovah’s Service
17. If your witnessing territory is a challenge, how can you benefit from the good example of the prophets of old?
17 Sharing in spiritual activities refreshes us. This calls to mind Peter’s words: “What sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion!” (2 Pet. 3:11) Foremost among those deeds is the proclaiming of the good news. (Matt. 24:14) True, in some territories the preaching work may be a challenge, perhaps because of apathy or opposition or simply because people are preoccupied with the everyday concerns of life. Jehovah’s servants of old had to contend with similar attitudes. Yet, they never gave up but kept going back “again and again” with their God-given message. (Read 2 Chronicles 36:15, 16; Jer. 7:24-26) What helped them to endure? They viewed their assignment from Jehovah’s point of view, not from that of the world. Also, they considered it the greatest honor to bear God’s name.—Jer. 15:16.
18. What bearing will the Kingdom-preaching work have on the future magnifying of God’s name?
18 We too have the privilege of announcing Jehovah’s name and purpose. Think of this: As a direct result of our preaching work, God’s enemies will not be able to plead ignorance when they come face-to-face with him during his great day. Indeed, like Pharaoh of old, they will know that it is Jehovah who is acting against them. (Ex. 8:1, 20; 14:25) At the same time, Jehovah will honor his faithful servants by making it abundantly clear that they were, indeed, his representatives.—Read Ezekiel 2:5; 33:33.
19. How can we show that we desire to make good use of Jehovah’s patience?
19 Near the end of his second letter, Peter wrote to his fellow believers: “Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.” (2 Pet. 3:15) Yes, let us continue to make good use of Jehovah’s patience. How? By developing qualities that please him, by remaining “spotless and unblemished,” by having the right attitude toward trials, and by keeping busy in Kingdom service. In so doing, we put ourselves in line for the endless blessings associated with the ‘new heavens and new earth.’—2 Pet. 3:13.
Do You Recall?
• How can we cultivate godly qualities?
• How can we remain “spotless and unblemished”?
• What can we learn from Joseph and Naomi?
• Why is sharing in the preaching work a great privilege?
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What will help you husbands to cultivate godly qualities in you and your family?
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What can we learn from how Joseph dealt with trials?