“I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself.”—ISA. 48:17.
1, 2. (a) How do Jehovah’s Witnesses feel about the Bible? (b) What is your favorite part of the Bible?
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES love the Bible. It provides reliable instruction and helps us to find comfort and hope. (Rom. 15:4) We view the Bible, not as a collection of human ideas, but “just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.”—1 Thess. 2:13.
2 No doubt all of us have our favorite portions of the Bible. Some especially enjoy the Gospels, which paint a beautiful picture of Jehovah’s personality as reflected in his Son. (John 14:9) Others are fond of parts of the Bible containing prophecy—perhaps Revelation, with its preview of “the things that must shortly take place.” (Rev. 1:1) And who among us has not found comfort in the Psalms or drawn practical lessons from the book of Proverbs? The Bible truly is a book for everyone.
3, 4. (a) How do we feel about our publications? (b) What publications do we receive for specific groups of people?
3 Because we love the Bible, we also love our Bible-based publications. For instance, we appreciate the spiritual food we receive in the form of books, brochures, magazines, and other literature. We know that these provisions from Jehovah help us to stay spiritually alert, well-fed, and “healthy in faith.”—Titus 2:2.
4 In addition to publications for Jehovah’s Witnesses in general, we receive Bible-based material that appeals to specific groups. Some material is especially designed to help young people; other material assists their parents. Much of the material in print and on our website is prepared with the non-Witness public in mind. Such an abundance of spiritual food reminds us that Jehovah has kept his promise to “make for all the peoples a banquet of rich dishes.”—Isa. 25:6.
5. We can be sure that Jehovah appreciates what?
5 Very likely, most of us wish that we had more time to read the Bible and Bible-based publications. We can be sure that Jehovah appreciates our efforts to make “the best use of [our] time” by engaging in regular Bible reading and personal study. (Eph. 5:15, 16) Realistically, we may not always be able to give equal attention to all the spiritual food available to us. However, we need to be aware of a subtle danger. What is it?
6. What could cause us to miss out on the benefits of some of Jehovah’s provisions?
6 There is a danger that we could miss out on some benefits because we assume that certain spiritual provisions do not apply to us. For example, what if a portion of the Bible does not seem relevant to our situation? Or what if we are not part of the primary audience for a certain publication? Do we tend to give such information superficial consideration or even skip it altogether? If so, we could be depriving ourselves of information that would be of great benefit to us. How can we avoid falling into that trap? Above all, each one of us should bear in mind that God is the Source of our spiritual provisions. Through the prophet Isaiah, he said: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself.” (Isa. 48:17) It will be helpful to consider three suggestions for benefiting from all portions of the Bible and the various types of spiritual food available to us.
SUGGESTIONS FOR BENEFICIAL BIBLE READING
7. Why do we need to read the Bible with an open mind?
7 Read with an open mind. The Bible clearly says that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.” (2 Tim. 3:16) True, some portions of the Bible were initially directed to one individual or group. That is why we need to read the Scriptures with an open mind. “When I read the Bible, I try to remember that there may be several lessons that can be drawn from a passage,” says one brother. He adds: “Remembering this motivates me to look beyond the obvious.” Before reading God’s Word, we do well to pray for an open mind and for wisdom to discern the lessons that Jehovah wants us to learn.—Ezra 7:10; read James 1:5.
8, 9. (a) When reading the Bible, what questions might we ask ourselves? (b) What do the qualifications for Christian elders tell us about Jehovah?
8 Ask questions. As you read a Bible passage, take time to pause and ask yourself such questions as these: ‘What does this tell me about Jehovah? How can I apply this information in my life? How can I use it to help others?’ When we reflect on such questions, we will surely get more out of our Bible reading. As an example, think about the Scriptural qualifications for Christian elders. (Read 1 Timothy 3:2-7.) Since the majority of us do not serve as elders, we might initially think that this passage would have little application to our own life. However, when we consider a few of the many possible answers to the following questions, we will see that this list of qualifications can benefit all of us in a number of ways.
9 What does this tell me about Jehovah? By giving this list of qualifications, Jehovah reveals that he has a high standard for those who serve in an appointed capacity. He expects them to set a good example, and he holds them accountable for the way they treat the congregation, “which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28) Jehovah wants us to feel safe in the care of the appointed undershepherds. (Isa. 32:1, 2) From that standpoint, the Scriptural qualifications for Christian elders remind us of how much Jehovah truly cares for us.
10, 11. (a) When reading the qualifications for elders, how can we apply the information in our own life? (b) How can we use this information to help others?
10 How can I apply this information in my life? From time to time, an appointed man should examine himself in the light of these spiritual qualifications, looking for areas in which he can improve. A brother who is “reaching out to be an overseer” needs to give careful attention to these qualifications, for he should strive to meet them to the best of his ability. (1 Tim. 3:1) In fact, each Christian can learn from the qualifications listed in these verses, as most of them involve things that Jehovah asks of all Christians. For instance, all of us should be reasonable and sound in mind. (Phil. 4:5; 1 Pet. 4:7) As elders prove to be “examples to the flock,” we can learn from them and “imitate their faith.”—1 Pet. 5:3; Heb. 13:7.
11 How can I use this information to help others? We could use the list of qualifications for Christian overseers to help interested ones or Bible students to see ways that elders among Jehovah’s Witnesses differ from the clergy of Christendom. Also, when reading through the list, we might recall the effort that elders in our own congregation are putting forth in our behalf. Reflecting on how they expend themselves deepens our “respect for those who are working hard” among us. (1 Thess. 5:12) And the more we show our sincere respect for these hardworking overseers, the more we add to their joy.—Heb. 13:17.
12, 13. (a) Using tools available to us, what kind of research might we do? (b) Give an example of how background information may reveal lessons that are not immediately obvious.
12 Do research. Using tools available to us, we might look for such information as the following:
Who wrote this portion of the Scriptures?
Where and when was it written?
What significant events occurred when a particular Bible book was written?
Background information of this nature may bring to light lessons that are not immediately obvious.
13 For example, consider Ezekiel 14:13, 14, where we read: “If a land sins against me by acting unfaithfully, I will stretch out my hand against it and destroy its food supply, and I will send famine upon it and cut off man and animal from it. ‘Even if these three men—Noah, Daniel, and Job—were within it, they would be able to save only themselves because of their righteousness,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” By doing some research, we learn that this portion of Ezekiel was written in about the year 612 B.C.E. By that time, Noah and Job had been dead for centuries, and their record of faithfulness was in God’s memory. But Daniel was still alive. In fact, he may have been in his late teens or early 20’s when Jehovah said that he was just as righteous as Noah and Job. The lesson? Jehovah notices and values the integrity of all his faithful worshippers, including those who are relatively young.—Ps. 148:12-14.
BENEFIT FROM A VARIETY OF PUBLICATIONS
14. How does the material published for young people help them, and how can it benefit others too? (See opening picture.)
14 Just as we find it beneficial to study all portions of God’s Word, we can benefit from all the spiritual food available to us. Consider a few examples. Material for young people. In recent years, much of our literature has been published for young people. Some of this material is designed to help them deal with the pressures at school or the challenges of adolescence. How may all of us benefit from reading such material? When we do so, we are reminded of what our faithful young people are facing. In turn, we are in a better position to help and encourage them.
15. Why should adult Christians be interested in information for young people?
15 Many of the problems addressed in material for young people are not unique to them. All of us need to defend our faith, control our emotions, reject harmful peer pressure, and avoid unwholesome associations and entertainment. These topics and many others have been addressed in material designed for teenagers. Should adult Christians feel that it is demeaning for them to read publications directed to young people? Not at all! Although the material is presented in a way that appeals to youths, the information is based on timeless Scriptural principles, and all of us can benefit from these spiritual provisions.
16. What else do our publications help young people to do?
16 Besides helping young people to deal with problems, our publications help them to grow spiritually and draw close to Jehovah. (Read Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13.) Here, too, adult Christians can benefit. For example, the April 2009 issue of Awake! included the article “Young People Ask . . . How Can I Make Bible Reading Enjoyable?” The article provided a number of suggestions and included a box that could be cut out and kept in the Bible for reference. Have adults also benefited from the article? “I have always struggled with Bible reading,” wrote a 24-year-old wife and mother. “I took to heart the suggestions in this article, and I am making good use of the cutout that was provided. Now I look forward to Bible reading. I can see how the books of the Bible harmonize and are interwoven like a beautiful tapestry. I have never been this excited over Bible reading.”
17, 18. How can we benefit from reading material written for the public? Give an example.
17 Material for the public. Since 2008 we have enjoyed the study edition of The Watchtower, which is written primarily for Jehovah’s Witnesses. But what about our magazines that are principally for the public? Can we benefit from reading these too? Consider an illustration. Imagine that one day, before the public talk, you notice that someone whom you invited has come to the Kingdom Hall. No doubt you are thrilled. As the public speaker delivers his talk, you are likely thinking about that visitor. In effect, you are hearing the talk through his ears. As a result, you come away from that talk with renewed appreciation for the subject.
18 We can experience something similar when we read material written for the public. For example, the public edition of The Watchtower discusses Scriptural topics in terms that a non-Witness reader can understand. The same is true of many of the articles published on jw.org, such as those in the sections entitled “Bible Questions Answered” and “Frequently Asked Questions.” When we read this information, we deepen our appreciation for familiar truths. Moreover, we may learn fresh ways to explain our beliefs when we are engaging in the ministry. Similarly, Awake! regularly strengthens our conviction that the true God exists, and it helps us learn how to defend our beliefs.—Read 1 Peter 3:15.
19. How can we show our gratitude to Jehovah for his provisions?
19 Clearly, Jehovah has given us an abundance of provisions to fill our “spiritual need.” (Matt. 5:3) May we continue to make use of all the spiritual provisions available to us. We will thereby show our gratitude to the One who teaches us to benefit ourselves.—Isa. 48:17.
 (paragraph 14) Such material includes Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volumes 1 and 2, as well as the series “Young People Ask,” which is now published exclusively online.