Help Yourself and Others by Using God’s Word
“I have considered all orders regarding all things to be right.”—PS. 119:128.
1. Why must we have complete confidence in God’s Word?
WHEN the elders consider whether a Bible student qualifies to participate in the field ministry, they ask themselves, ‘Do the person’s expressions show that he believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?’a For someone who desires to become a Kingdom publisher—in fact, for all of God’s servants—the answer must be a clear yes. Why? Our confidence in God’s Word and our ability to use it in the ministry will help us to assist others to get to know Jehovah and to attain to salvation.
2. Why should we ‘continue in the things we have learned’?
2 The apostle Paul emphasized the importance of God’s Word when he wrote to Timothy: “Continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe.” “The things” that Paul mentioned are Bible truths that moved Timothy to put faith in the good news. These truths have had the same effect on us today, and they continue to help us to remain “wise for salvation.” (2 Tim. 3:14, 15) We often use Paul’s next words to show others that the Bible is of divine origin, but we may personally obtain an additional benefit from those words found at 2 Timothy 3:16. (Read.) Let us consider that verse in more detail. Doing so will strengthen our confidence that all of Jehovah’s teachings are “right.”—Ps. 119:128.
“BENEFICIAL FOR TEACHING”
3-5. (a) How did a crowd react to Peter’s talk at Pentecost, and why? (b) Why did many in Thessalonica accept the truth? (c) What about our ministry may impress people today?
3 Jesus told the nation of Israel: “I am sending forth to you prophets and wise men and public instructors.” (Matt. 23:34) Jesus was speaking about his disciples, whom he taught to use the Scriptures in their ministry. At Pentecost 33 C.E., one of these “public instructors,” the apostle Peter, gave a talk to a large crowd in Jerusalem in which he quoted several passages from the Hebrew Scriptures. On hearing Peter’s application of these words, many listeners “were stabbed to the heart.” They repented over their past sins. About three thousand of them sought God’s forgiveness and became Christians.—Acts 2:37-41.
4 Another public instructor, the apostle Paul, preached the good news far beyond Jerusalem. For instance, in the Macedonian city of Thessalonica, he spoke to those worshipping in a synagogue. For three Sabbaths, Paul “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving by references that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead.” The result? “Some of them [Jews] became believers,” as did “a great multitude of the Greeks.”—Acts 17:1-4.
5 The way God’s servants today use the Bible impresses many. After a householder in Switzerland listened to one of our sisters as she read a scripture, he asked her: “Whom do you represent?” She answered: “My companion and I are Jehovah’s Witnesses.” He said: “I should have known. Other than Jehovah’s Witnesses, who would come to my house to read the Bible?”
6, 7. (a) How can those teaching the congregation make good use of the Bible? (b) Why is effective use of the Scriptures on home Bible studies so important?
6 How could we use the Bible to a fuller extent in our teaching? If you have the privilege of teaching the congregation from the platform, use specific Bible references. Rather than paraphrasing key scriptures or reading them from a computer printout or an electronic device, open the Bible and read from it, and encourage the audience to do the same. Also, take time to apply the verses in a way that helps the audience draw closer to Jehovah. Instead of using complicated illustrations and experiences that merely entertain, use the time to expound on God’s Word.
7 What do we need to keep in mind while conducting home Bible studies? As we use our Christian publications, we must be careful not to skip the Bible references. We should encourage the student to read cited texts and help him to grasp their meaning. How? Not by giving long explanations that turn the study into a series of lectures, but by encouraging the student to express himself. Instead of telling him what to believe or how to act, we can ask well-thought-out questions that will help him arrive at proper conclusions.b
“BENEFICIAL . . . FOR REPROVING”
8. Paul dealt with what inner struggle?
8 We often view the matter of “reproving” as a task to be carried out by Christian elders. And, indeed, overseers have the responsibility to ‘reprove those who practice sin.’ (1 Tim. 5:20; Titus 1:13) But reproving ourselves is also important. Paul was an exemplary Christian who had a clean conscience. (2 Tim. 1:3) Even so, he wrote: “I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law.” By studying the context of those words, we will better understand what fight Paul had to wage to control his sinful nature.—Read Romans 7:21-25.
9, 10. (a) What possible weaknesses did Paul contend with? (b) How did Paul likely carry on his fight against sin?
9 What weaknesses did Paul strive to overcome? Though he did not specify them, he did write to Timothy that he had been “an insolent man.” (1 Tim. 1:13) Before his conversion, Paul’s fury against Christians had been intense. Regarding his feelings about Christ’s followers, he confessed: “I was extremely mad against them.” (Acts 26:11) Paul learned to control his temper, yet he at times must have struggled to control his feelings and his words. (Acts 15:36-39) What helped him to succeed?
10 When writing to the Christians in Corinth, Paul described the strategy that he used to reprove himself. (Read 1 Corinthians 9:26, 27.) He struck at his imperfect human nature with well-directed spiritual blows. Very likely, he looked for points of counsel in the Scriptures, supplicated Jehovah for help to apply them, and worked hard to improve.c We can benefit from his example because we wage similar fights against our imperfect inclinations.
11. How can we “keep testing” ourselves to see whether we are walking in the way of the truth?
11 We must never become complacent in our worship. Instead, we need to “keep testing” ourselves to make sure that we are truly walking in the way of the truth. (2 Cor. 13:5) When reading such scriptures as Colossians 3:5-10, we could ask ourselves: ‘Am I working hard on deadening my sinful inclinations or am I weakening morally? In using the Internet, when an immoral site comes up, do I get out of it, or do I search out improper Web sites?’ Applying the counsel of God’s Word in such a personal way will help us to “stay awake and keep our senses.”—1 Thess. 5:6-8.
“BENEFICIAL . . . FOR SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT”
12, 13. (a) What should be our goal in “setting things straight,” and how can we follow Jesus’ example in doing so? (b) What kind of speech has no place in “setting things straight” with others?
12 The Greek term translated “setting things straight” means “to make good, to correct, to restore to a proper, upright condition.” At times, we must take the step of setting things straight with others who misunderstand us or our actions. For example, the Jewish religious leaders complained that Jesus was kind to “tax collectors and sinners.” Jesus responded: “Persons in health do not need a physician, but the ailing do. Go, then, and learn what this means, ‘I want mercy, and not sacrifice.’” (Matt. 9:11-13) He patiently and kindly explained God’s words to all. Hence, humble ones came to know Jehovah as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.” (Ex. 34:6) In response to the efforts of God’s Son to ‘set things straight,’ many came to have faith in the good news.
13 Jesus’ example teaches us how we should help others. Someone who is upset might say in an abrupt tone, ‘I want to set something straight with you.’ But such an approach is not the intent of what is stated at 2 Timothy 3:16. “All Scripture” does not authorize us to tell others off. Like “the stabs of a sword,” sharp criticism often causes much pain and seldom brings any benefits.—Prov. 12:18.
14-16. (a) How can elders ‘set things straight’ in a way that helps others solve their problems? (b) Why is “setting things straight” in a Scriptural way so important in raising children?
14 How, then, can we use patience and kindness in “setting things straight”? Suppose a married couple asked a Christian elder for help to end their frequent arguments. What would the elder do? Without taking sides, he can reason with the couple on Bible principles, perhaps using those found in chapter 3 of the book The Secret of Family Happiness. As the elder guides the discussion, the husband and wife may discern what counsel each should apply more fully. At a later time, the elder would want to inquire about how things are going in the family and offer more help if that is needed.
15 How can parents ‘set things straight’ in a way that strengthens their children spiritually? Imagine that you want to help your teenage daughter avoid a questionable friendship. First, you should find out the facts. Then, if there is reason for concern, you can talk to her, perhaps using points from Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volume 2. In the days following, you can spend extra time with her. You can also observe her frame of mind as she engages in the field service or shares in family recreation. If you show patience and kindness, your daughter will sense your loving interest. She will likely be moved to apply your counsel and avoid a disastrous turn in her life.
16 In a similar patient and kind way, we can encourage those who are worried about their health, are downhearted after the loss of their employment, or are confused about certain Scriptural teachings. Using God’s Word to ‘set things straight’ brings great benefits to Jehovah’s people.
“BENEFICIAL . . . FOR DISCIPLINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS”
17. Why should we accept discipline with gratitude?
17 “No discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous.” And yet, “afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.” (Heb. 12:11) Most Christian adults agree that the discipline they received from their believing parents helped them. And accepting discipline from Jehovah, as given by Christian elders, keeps us on the way to life.—Prov. 4:13.
18, 19. (a) Why is the counsel found at Proverbs 18:13 so important in “disciplining in righteousness”? (b) When elders show mildness and love in dealing with wrongdoers, what is often the result?
18 Giving effective discipline is a skill. Jehovah told Christians to administer it “in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16) Hence, we should use Bible principles as our guide. One such principle is found at Proverbs 18:13: “When anyone is replying to a matter before he hears it, that is foolishness on his part and a humiliation.” Thus, when elders need to speak with an individual accused of serious sin, they must thoroughly investigate the matter to obtain all the facts. (Deut. 13:14) Only then can they discipline “in righteousness.”
19 Moreover, God’s Word instructs Christian elders to correct others “with mildness.” (Read 2 Timothy 2:24-26.) True, a person may bring reproach on Jehovah as well as injury to innocent people. Still, an elder who gets angry when counseling such an individual will not help him. However, when elders imitate “the kindly quality of God,” they may move to repentance the one who has erred.—Rom. 2:4.
20. What principles should parents apply when disciplining their children?
20 In raising their children “in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah,” parents must apply Bible principles. (Eph. 6:4) A father should avoid punishing his son based on a one-sided report of the boy’s behavior. And violent anger has no place in a Christian family. “Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful,” and those who have the responsibility for disciplining young ones should strive to show the same loving qualities.—Jas. 5:11.
JEHOVAH’S PRICELESS GIFT TO US
21, 22. What expression found at Psalm 119:97-104 best describes your feeling toward Jehovah’s Word?
21 A godly man once revealed why he loved Jehovah’s law. (Read Psalm 119:97-104.) By studying it, he gained wisdom, insight, and understanding. Keeping its counsel helped him avoid false paths that brought heartache to others. For him, studying the Scriptures was pleasant and satisfying. He was determined to obey the God whose instructions had given him so many advantages in living.
22 Do you value “all Scripture”? With it, you build up your faith that God will fulfill his purpose. Its inspired counsel protects you from the deadly effects of practicing sin. And by explaining it skillfully, you can help others get on the road to life and stay on it. May we make full use of “all Scripture” as we serve our all-wise and loving God, Jehovah.
b In his teaching, Jesus often asked others: “What do you think?” Then he waited for a response.—Matt. 18:12; 21:28; 22:42.
c Paul’s letters contain much encouragement on overcoming sinful tendencies. (Rom. 6:12; Gal. 5:16-18) It is reasonable to conclude that he himself applied the counsel he gave to others.—Rom. 2:21.