Are You Using What You Have?
1 Jesus Christ gave his disciples guidance on matters pertaining to true worship. Regarding Jesus’ conversation with two of his disciples, Luke reports that Jesus “interpreted to them things pertaining to himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27, 32, 45) Surely the disciples were greatly refreshed and strengthened by his instruction. In time, however, Jesus had to leave them. How would they be able to understand God’s written Word without him? Would they know how to apply it in their lives?
2 Jesus did not leave his disciples stranded, abandoned to their own imperfect judgment. They soon came to realize that during his stay with them on earth, Jesus had provided an abundance of information that could be used effectively for their direction on a wide variety of matters. They were able to discern what to do as they “called his sayings to mind.” (Luke 24:8; John 14:26) In time, many of Jesus’ sayings were recorded in God’s Word for our benefit.
3 As the Christian congregation began to function, those taking the lead helped the brothers call to mind what Jesus had taught previously. In his second letter, Peter wrote: “I am arousing your clear thinking faculties by way of a reminder, that you should remember the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.” (2 Pet. 3:1, 2) So, in most cases, even when very important matters were under consideration, it was simply a matter of making use of what had already been provided.—Acts 15:12-21.
4 Such instruction never became invalid, nor did it become outdated. Over the years, Jehovah progressively gave his people a clearer understanding of his will. (Prov. 4:18) Adjustments in understanding were well-defined and clearly documented by the organization. In all of this, the fundamental principles have remained the same. That is why, for example, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is just as practical today as when it was delivered almost 2,000 years ago. There is no need for new revelations of truth when what we need has already been provided.
SUPPLYING PRESENT SPIRITUAL NEEDS
5 Since the 1870’s, the modern Christian congregation has moved progressively toward a clearer understanding of Jehovah’s Word. Over the years, a great variety of questions have arisen calling for clear-cut answers. “The faithful and discreet slave” has provided such “food at the proper time.” (Matt. 24:45) One by one, questions have been thoroughly researched in the light of Bible truth, and specific direction has been provided for Jehovah’s people. All this information has been passed on to us through the publications of the theocratic organization, particularly the Watchtower magazine.
6 Upon reviewing what has been published over the years, it is evident that the Society’s publications have already provided direction on virtually any Bible subject that comes to mind. Doctrinal teachings have been thoroughly analyzed. Principles governing Christian conduct have been clearly defined. And the requirements for accomplishing the great preaching work have been carefully outlined. As a result, a wealth of Bible information has been accumulated for the benefit of all. For example, the Watchtower and Awake! bound volumes are a storehouse of instruction. If we had the Watchtower and Awake! volumes from 1960 to 1988, we would have, in effect, a 58-volume encyclopedia full of vital Scriptural knowledge as well as information in countless other fields. The feature “Questions From Readers” has examined many hundreds of inquiries. We can hardly mention a subject that has not been covered in some way in one of the publications. Accordingly, when we need guidance in some particular way, it is usually a simple matter of calling to mind what was brought to our attention in the past.
7 Even so, searching out the specific information we need at the moment could be a monumental task if we had to rely on our own memory. Happily, the organization has provided the Watch Tower Publications Index 1930-1985 that we can use to find specific details in a matter of minutes. The Index makes reference to more than 200 publications issued over a period of 56 years. Have you learned to use the Index to search out information that you need? Are you using what you have? Also, there are periodic Indexes in various languages, and some publications contain their own index.
BE A DOER—NOT A FORGETFUL HEARER
8 The organization, through its publications, helps us to perceive Jehovah’s will. We should be doers and apply what we learn rather than be forgetful hearers. (Jas. 1:25) What is brought to our attention should not be viewed as instruction to be put aside and forgotten after a momentary consideration. Instead, we should listen with a view to calling it to mind when there is a need for it in the future. In order to do that, “it is necessary for us to pay more than the usual attention to the things heard by us.”—Heb. 2:1.
9 How do we “pay more than the usual attention”? The March 15, 1989, Watchtower, page 14, explains that: (1) We need to appreciate Jehovah’s organization and show it by our cooperation and regular meeting attendance. (2) We must be diligent in personal study of God’s Word and the publications provided by the slave class. (3) It is important to meditate on the things we learn so that they can be applied in our lives and used to help others.
10 The publications provide continuous instruction on how to cope with the challenges we face in raising our families, keeping morally clean, and dealing with others. How do you react to that instruction? Do you view it with appreciation, taking careful note of things that apply to you personally? Or do you simply view it as something of momentary, passing interest? Appreciation should move us to absorb the information and meditate on it with a view to calling it to mind later and making full use of it.—Isa. 48:17.
11 We need to do more than simply read what is provided. That can often be quite casual and superficial. Instead, we have to study it. To study means to set the mind upon a subject systematically to learn it for future use, to make something an object of consideration with a view to action. This means that our mental approach to the material actually determines how deeply it will be impressed on our minds and applied in our daily lives. As we study, we should continually be asking: How does this apply to me? How can I use this to further my spiritual progress? What changes do I need to make? How can I use it to help others? How would I explain it to others?
IMPROVING OUR FIELD MINISTRY
12 Our Kingdom Ministry regularly analyzes the needs and trends in the field ministry, pointing out ways that will help us get the most effective results. Since it is published monthly, are you inclined to view its instruction as valid or relevant only until the next issue? One of the fundamental goals in the ministry has always been to reach people’s hearts with the Kingdom message. Human interest, emotions, and attitudes have basically remained the same over the years. A great variety of methods can be used effectively to stimulate interest. Our Kingdom Ministry simply makes us aware of what others are using successfully. While a number of variations have been suggested over a period of time, the basic methods remain the same. Current suggestions may have been offered in the past, and they may be used again in the future.
13 Another outstanding provision has been the Reasoning book. Page 8 explains that “use of this handbook should help you to cultivate the ability to reason from the Scriptures and to use them effectively in helping others.” Many publishers have related delightful experiences showing how this book was used to get very satisfying results. Its information is practical for use in virtually any situation encountered in our ministry. It would be very beneficial to review selected portions before sharing in field service each week. We should always carry a copy in our book bag. It has also been recommended that we include it among the publications that we regularly bring to the meetings. By having it readily available and being acquainted with its contents, we are really putting forth an effort to be “completely equipped for every good work.”—2 Tim. 3:17.
14 We show appreciation for what Jehovah has provided by making good use of it in our ministry. Necessary spiritual food along with guidance for our ministry has been made available in abundance. We need to “ponder over these things; be absorbed in them.” (1 Tim. 4:15) This will enable us to call to mind what we need at the appropriate time. When we need help in remembering, we have publications designed to jog our memory. Rather than always expecting something new, we should gratefully give thanks for what we have and use it to the full. In doing so, we show ourselves to be mature people “who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.”—Heb. 5:14.