“Though you never saw him, you love him. Though you do not see him now, yet you exercise faith in him.”—1 PET. 1:8.
1, 2. (a) How can we come in line for salvation? (b) What can help us to stay on course on our journey to salvation?
WHEN we become disciples of Christ, we embark on a journey. That journey can lead us to life, whether in heaven or on earth. Jesus said: “The one who has endured to the end [the end of his present life or the end of this wicked system of things] will be saved.” (Matt. 24:13) Yes, if we stick to a life course of faithfulness, we can come in line for salvation. Along the way, however, we must be careful not to get distracted or lost. (1 John 2:15-17) How can we stay on course on our journey?
2 Our Exemplar, Jesus, led the way. His journey was recorded in the Bible. By studying that record, we learn what Jesus is like. We can come to love him and exercise faith in him. (Read 1 Peter 1:8, 9.) Recall that the apostle Peter said that Jesus left us a model for us to follow his steps closely. (1 Pet. 2:21) If we carefully follow his steps, we will reach “the goal” of our faith—salvation.* In the preceding article, we discussed how we can imitate Jesus’ example in being humble and tender. Let us now examine how we can follow his steps in showing courage and discernment.
JESUS IS COURAGEOUS
3. What is courage, and how do we get it?
3 Courage is a kind of confidence that can strengthen and sustain us. Being courageous has been described as “persevering in the face of adversity,” “standing up for what is right,” and “facing suffering with dignity or faith.” Courage goes hand in hand with fear, hope, and love. How so? Godly fear gives us the courage to rise above fear of man. (1 Sam. 11:7; Prov. 29:25) Genuine hope helps us to see beyond present trials and to face the future with confidence. (Ps. 27:14) Self-sacrificing love impels us to show courage even at great personal risk. (John 15:13) We get courage by trusting in God and following the steps of his Son.—Ps. 28:7.
4. How did Jesus show courage “in the midst of the teachers” in the temple? (See opening image.)
4 Even as a 12-year-old boy, Jesus courageously stood up for what was right. Note what happened when young Jesus was “in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers.” (Read Luke 2:41-47.) Those teachers were well-versed not only in the Mosaic Law but also in the man-made traditions that undermined it. But Jesus was not intimidated into keeping quiet; he was “asking them questions.” Surely he was not asking the typical questions of a curious boy. We can imagine Jesus asking thought-provoking questions that made those learned teachers sit up and take notice. And if the teachers tried to trip Jesus up by asking him controversial questions, they failed. Why, everyone listening—including the teachers—were in “amazement at his understanding and his answers”—answers that no doubt upheld the truth of God’s Word!
5. In what ways did Jesus show courage during his ministry?
5 During his ministry, Jesus showed courage in various ways. He boldly exposed the religious leaders for misleading the people with false teachings. (Matt. 23:13-36) He stood firm against the world’s contaminating influence. (John 16:33) He continued to preach despite pressure from opposers. (John 5:15-18; 7:14) Twice, he fearlessly cleansed the temple, driving out those who were defiling the worship there.—Matt. 21:12, 13; John 2:14-17.
6. How did Jesus show courage on the final day of his earthly life?
6 It is faith-strengthening to trace Jesus’ courageous steps in the face of suffering. Consider the courage he showed on the final day of his earthly life. He knew the chain of events that would be set in motion by his betrayer. Yet, at the Passover meal, Jesus told Judas: “What you are doing, do it more quickly.” (John 13:21-27) In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus fearlessly identified himself to the soldiers who came to arrest him. Although his own life was in danger, he spoke up to protect his disciples. (John 18:1-8) When questioned before the Sanhedrin, he boldly affirmed that he was both the Christ and the Son of God, even though he knew that the high priest was looking for an excuse to have him killed. (Mark 14:60-65) Jesus steadfastly kept his integrity down to death on an execution stake. About to take his last agonizing breath, he called out in triumph: “It has been accomplished!”—John 19:28-30.
IMITATE JESUS’ COURAGE
7. Young ones, how do you feel about bearing Jehovah’s name, and how can you prove yourselves courageous?
7 How can we imitate Jesus in showing courage? At school. Young ones, you prove yourselves courageous when you readily identify yourselves as Witnesses of Jehovah, even if doing so means being teased by classmates or others. You thereby show that you are proud to bear Jehovah’s name. (Read Psalm 86:12.) You may face pressure to accept evolution as a fact. But you have sound reasons to be confident of your Bible-based belief in creation. You can use the brochure The Origin of Life—Five Questions Worth Asking to give a convincing answer to those who want to know “a reason for the hope you have.” (1 Pet. 3:15) Then you will find satisfaction in knowing that you have upheld the truth of God’s Word.
8. We have what reasons to preach with boldness?
8 In our ministry. As true Christians, we need to keep “speaking with boldness by the authority of Jehovah.” (Acts 14:3) What reasons do we have to preach with boldness, or courage? We know that what we preach is the truth because it is based on the Bible. (John 17:17) We recognize that “we are God’s fellow workers” and that we have the backing of holy spirit. (1 Cor. 3:9; Acts 4:31) We understand that by witnessing zealously, we demonstrate our devotion to Jehovah and our love for our neighbor. (Matt. 22:37-39) Imbued with courage, we will not be silenced. On the contrary, we are determined to expose the religious lies that blind people to the truth. (2 Cor. 4:4) And we will persevere in preaching the good news despite apathy, ridicule, or opposition.—1 Thess. 2:1, 2.
9. How can we show courage in the face of suffering?
9 In the face of suffering. Trusting in God gives us the faith and courage to face adversities. If a loved one dies, we grieve, but we do not lose hope. We confidently look to “the God of all comfort” for strength. (2 Cor. 1:3, 4; 1 Thess. 4:13) If we face serious illness or injury, we may suffer pain, but we do not compromise. We refuse any treatment that conflicts with Bible principles. (Acts 15:28, 29) If we become depressed, “our hearts may condemn us,” but because we trust in the God who “is close to the brokenhearted,” we do not give up.*—1 John 3:19, 20; Ps. 34:18.
JESUS IS DISCERNING
10. What is discernment, and how does a discerning worshipper of Jehovah speak and act?
10 Discernment is good judgment—the ability to tell right from wrong and then choose the wise course. (Heb. 5:14) It has been defined as “the ability to make sound judgements in spiritual matters.” A discerning worshipper speaks and acts in ways that please God. Such a person chooses words that help others rather than hurt them. (Prov. 11:12, 13) He is “slow to anger.” (Prov. 14:29) He “walks straight ahead,” sticking to the right course on his journey through life. (Prov. 15:21) How can we acquire discernment? We must study God’s Word and apply what we learn. (Prov. 2:1-5, 10, 11) It is especially helpful to consider the example of Jesus, the most discerning man who ever lived.
11. How did Jesus show discernment in his speech?
11 Jesus showed discernment in all he said and did. In his speech. He used good judgment when he preached the good news, choosing “gracious words” that amazed his listeners. (Luke 4:22; Matt. 7:28) He often let God’s Word speak for him—reading, quoting, or referring to just the right scriptures to make his point. (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; 12:1-5; Luke 4:16-21) Jesus also explained the Scriptures, doing so in ways that moved the hearts of his listeners. After his resurrection, when speaking to two disciples on their way to Emmaus, he “interpreted to them things pertaining to himself in all the Scriptures.” The disciples later said: “Were not our hearts burning within us . . . as he was fully opening up the Scriptures to us?”—Luke 24:27, 32.
12, 13. What examples show that Jesus was slow to anger and reasonable?
12 In his spirit and attitude. Discernment helped Jesus to control his spirit, making him “slow to anger.” (Prov. 16:32) He was “mild-tempered.” (Matt. 11:29) He was always patient with his disciples despite their failings. (Mark 14:34-38; Luke 22:24-27) He remained calm even when he was treated unjustly.—1 Pet. 2:23.
13 Discernment also enabled Jesus to be reasonable. He saw beyond the letter of the Mosaic Law; he perceived the spirit behind that Law and acted accordingly. For example, consider the account at Mark 5:25-34. (Read.) A woman with a flow of blood made her way through a crowd, touched Jesus’ garment, and was healed. She was unclean under the Law, so she should not have touched anyone. (Lev. 15:25-27) But Jesus—who discerned that “the weightier matters of the Law” included “mercy and faithfulness”—did not chastise her for touching his garment. (Matt. 23:23) Instead, he kindly said: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed from your grievous sickness.” How touching that Jesus’ discernment moved him to show such kindness!
14. Jesus chose to do what, and how did he stay on course?
14 In pursuing his life course. Jesus showed discernment in choosing the right course and then sticking to it. He devoted himself to the preaching of the good news, making it his lifework. (Luke 4:43) Jesus also stayed on course, making decisions that enabled him to remain focused on the work and to see it through to a successful completion. He wisely chose to keep his life simple so that he could devote his time and energy to the ministry. (Luke 9:58) He discerned the need to train others to carry on the work after his death. (Luke 10:1-12; John 14:12) He promised his followers that he would remain involved in this work “until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matt. 28:19, 20.
IMITATE JESUS’ DISCERNMENT
15. How can we show discernment in our speech?
15 Consider another way that we can imitate Jesus. In our speech. In conversations with fellow believers, we use words that build up rather than tear down. (Eph. 4:29) When we talk to others about God’s Kingdom, we season our words “with salt.” (Col. 4:6) We try to discern the needs and interests of householders and then choose our words accordingly. We remember that gracious words may open doors—and hearts. In addition, when explaining our beliefs, we try to let the Bible speak for us. Hence, we cite it as an authority and read from it whenever possible. We recognize that the Bible’s message is far more powerful than anything we could possibly say on our own authority.—Heb. 4:12.
16, 17. (a) How can we show that we are slow to anger and reasonable? (b) How can we stay focused on our ministry?
16 In our spirit and attitude. Discernment enables us to control our spirit, making us “slow to anger.” (Jas. 1:19) When others offend us, we try to discern what is behind their words or actions. Such insight can melt anger and help us to “overlook an offense.” (Prov. 19:11) Discernment also helps us to be reasonable. We thus try to be realistic in what we expect of our fellow believers, remembering that they may be facing challenges that we do not fully understand. We are willing to listen to their opinions and when appropriate yield to their viewpoint.—Phil. 4:5.
17 In our course of life. As followers of Jesus, we discern that we could have no higher privilege than that of sharing in the work of preaching the good news. We keep on track by making decisions that enable us to stay focused on our ministry. We choose to keep spiritual things in first place and maintain a simple life so that we can devote ourselves to the all-important preaching work before the end comes.—Matt. 6:33; 24:14.
18. How can we stay on course on our journey to salvation, and what is your determination?
18 Has it not been delightful to reflect on some of Jesus’ appealing qualities? Imagine how rewarding it would be to make a study of his other qualities and learn how we can be more like him. Let us, then, be determined to follow his steps closely. By so doing, we will stay on course on our journey to salvation and we will draw closer to Jehovah, the One whom Jesus perfectly imitated.
First Peter 1:8, 9 was written to Christians with the heavenly hope. In principle, however, those words also apply to individuals who have the earthly hope.