Develop Your Perceptive Powers
1 The distressing last days, where we now find ourselves, have brought increased pressures and serious tests of many kinds upon God’s people everywhere. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) All of us need encouragement to stand firm in the faith. (1 Cor. 16:13) We can do so with Jehovah’s help as we continue to feed regularly on his Word, rely on his spirit, and stick close to his organization.—Ps. 37:28; Rom. 8:38, 39; Rev. 2:10.
2 With good reason, the theme “Become Full-Grown in Powers of Understanding” was developed in last year’s special assembly day program. It was based on 1 Corinthians 14:20, where we read the apostle Paul’s words: “Brothers, do not become young children in powers of understanding, but be babes as to badness; yet become full-grown in powers of understanding.” What did you think of the program?
3 “How encouraging!” “This was just what we needed!” Those were only a couple of the responses. Even a non-Witness who came to the special assembly day to see his 12-year-old daughter get baptized said that he was very impressed with the program and that he could see how it would be beneficial to his family. Is that the way you feel? Let us recall some of the highlights of the program.
4 Accurate Knowledge Is Necessary to Develop Perceptive Powers: In the opening talk, “Develop Your Powers of Understanding Now,” what did the speaker emphasize is needed to meet today’s challenges? More than mental ability. We must develop and deepen our powers of Bible understanding, lest we be conquered by all the badness to which we are exposed. This understanding calls for divine direction. Like the psalmist, we must prayerfully ask Jehovah to make us understand his laws and reminders so that we may serve him wholeheartedly.—Ps. 119:1, 2, 34.
5 In the next part, the circuit overseer showed that Jehovah, through his Word and organization, provides us with “Aids to Becoming Full-Grown in Bible Understanding.” Understanding was defined as “the ability to see into a matter and discern its composition by grasping the connections between its parts and the whole, thus getting the sense of it.” Who can aid us in developing this ability? Jehovah has provided gifts in men to help us make spiritual progress. (Eph. 4:11, 12) His earthly organization urges us to read God’s Word every day and to attend all congregation meetings regularly. (Ps. 1:2) We are taught how to use the Bible and our Christian publications in personal and family study as well as in preparing for meetings and field service. Have you been taking advantage of all these provisions? Are you maintaining a regular, personal Bible-reading program? This is essential if we are to be protected from falling prey to worldly trends, fads, philosophies, and deceptive influences.—Col. 2:6-8.
6 Our Perceptive Powers Must Be Trained: In his first talk, entitled “Safeguard Spirituality by Training Your Perceptive Powers,” the visiting speaker explained that those in the world cannot distinguish right from wrong. (Isa. 5:20, 21) This is due to their refusal to acknowledge and observe God’s righteous standards. In contrast, we who have received spiritual training in Jehovah’s organization recognize God’s standards, which serve to guide our activities and conduct. Thus, we are in a position to prove to ourselves what is good and acceptable in Jehovah’s eyes and what is in accord with his perfect will.—Rom. 12:2.
7 To avoid the world’s confused thinking and consequent bad fruitage, we must continually train our perceptive powers. How is this accomplished? As recorded at Hebrews 5:12-14, the apostle Paul emphasized the need to feed on more than just the “milk” of the word. We need solid spiritual food, such as we are receiving in the study of Isaiah’s prophecy at the Congregation Book Study. Then we must readily apply in our lives what we learn. When we do so, we are convinced of the rightness of Jehovah’s principles and standards. This trains our perceptive powers to distinguish clearly both right and wrong.
8 Sad to say, some have faltered spiritually. Why? They have not focused their attention on what is good and upright in Jehovah’s eyes. As a result, they have fallen victim to radio and television talk shows with Scripturally objectionable content, to debasing music, or to bad influences in computer chat rooms. By acting wisely, we will avoid being influenced by immoral, stupid, or wicked men.—Prov. 13:20; Gal. 5:7; 1 Tim. 6:20, 21.
9 Youths Must “Be Babes as to Badness”: The program had two parts that specifically encouraged young ones to develop their perceptive powers. The speakers showed that being “babes as to badness” means remaining inexperienced, that is, innocent as babes, with regard to things that are unclean in Jehovah’s sight. (1 Cor. 14:20) All of us were encouraged to keep strict watch on how we use our time so as to resist being exposed to all sorts of badness and avoid being infected by it. (Eph. 5:15-17) We were encouraged to calculate how much time we spend reading material that does not directly contribute to our growth in understanding spiritual things. Did you do that? What did the results reveal? In addition to reading the Bible daily, be determined to keep up with the reading material that the organization provides. Doing this will help all of us, including young ones, to “acquire understanding.”—Prov. 4:7-9.
10 “Benefit From Applying Bible Principles With Understanding”: That was the theme of the concluding talk of the special assembly day program. The guest speaker explained that Jehovah is the Source of life-giving understanding, which is infinitely superior to that of all mankind. Just imagine having the opportunity to tap into Jehovah’s understanding! He generously grants it to those who sincerely seek it and ask for it in faith. (Prov. 2:3-5, 9; 28:5) Are you taking full advantage of his offer?
11 We were encouraged to learn to identify principles as we read the Bible. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) Carefully study them to have an accurate understanding of what Jehovah is saying. Take time to meditate on these principles and fix them in your mind and heart. This will train your perceptive powers so that you can be successful when making life’s decisions. (Josh. 1:8) Let us take a few situations that many face and see how applying Bible principles can help us to succeed.
12 ‘Should I adopt a certain style of dress and grooming?’ The world’s faddish trends in clothing and grooming often reflect a spirit of rebellion. Such a spirit influences people to dress shoddily and unattractively or to flaunt sexuality. What relevant Bible principles will help us to counteract such tendencies? Having trained our perceptive powers, we will take into consideration the principle found at 1 Timothy 2:9, 10, to dress “with modesty and soundness of mind . . . , in the way that befits [people] professing to reverence God.” Other principles that apply include those mentioned at 2 Corinthians 6:3 and Colossians 3:18, 20.
13 ‘What can I do to keep my family bonds strong?’ Good communication among family members is vital. James 1:19 tells us: “Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.” Family members need to listen as well as to talk to one another because family communication is a two-way street. Even when what we say is true, if it is said in a cruel, proud, or insensitive manner, it is likely to do more harm than good. So whether we are a husband or a wife, a parent or a child, we should let our speech “be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt.”—Col. 4:6.
14 ‘Am I being affected by materialism?’ Materialism is a worldly pressure that complicates one’s life. It does not unlock the door to happiness. (Eccl. 5:10; Luke 12:15; 1 Tim. 6:9, 10) To help us avoid the snare of materialism, Jesus taught us this important principle: Keep a simple eye. Living a balanced, less complicated life involves focusing our eyes on Kingdom interests, making everything else secondary.—Matt. 6:22, 23, 33.
15 What Our Objective Should Be: We have in God’s Word a reliable source of righteous principles to guide us in making decisions. We need to learn these principles, to meditate on them, and to understand how to apply them in our lives. By thus ‘training our perceptive powers to distinguish right and wrong,’ we will benefit ourselves and honor Jehovah.—Heb. 5:14.