STUDY ARTICLE 40
“Guard What Has Been Entrusted to You”
“Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you.”—1 TIM. 6:20.
SONG 29 Living Up to Our Name
1-2. According to 1 Timothy 6:20, what had Timothy been given?
WE OFTEN place our valuable things in the care of others. For instance, we may deposit our money in a bank. When we do, we expect that our funds will be kept secure and not be lost or stolen. So we understand what it means to entrust another person with something that we view as precious.
2 Read 1 Timothy 6:20. The apostle Paul reminded Timothy that he had received something precious—accurate knowledge of God’s purpose for humankind. Timothy was also entrusted with the privilege to “preach the word” and to “do the work of an evangelizer.” (2 Tim. 4:2, 5) Paul urged Timothy to guard what had been entrusted to him. Like Timothy, we have been entrusted with valuable things. What are they? And why must we safeguard the treasure that Jehovah has given to us?
ENTRUSTED WITH PRECIOUS TRUTHS
3-4. What are some reasons why Bible truths are precious?
3 Jehovah has favored us with an accurate knowledge of the precious truths found in his Word, the Bible. These truths are precious because they teach us how to have a good relationship with Jehovah and they explain what brings real happiness in life. When we accept those truths and live by them, we are freed from enslavement to false teachings and immoral practices.—1 Cor. 6:9-11.
4 Another reason why the truths found in God’s Word are precious is that Jehovah reveals them only to humble ones who are “rightly disposed.” (Acts 13:48) Such individuals accept the channel he uses to dispense those truths today. (Matt. 11:25; 24:45) We cannot learn these truths on our own, and nothing else is anywhere near as valuable.—Prov. 3:13, 15.
5. What else has Jehovah entrusted us with?
5 Jehovah has also entrusted us with the privilege of teaching others the truth about him and his purposes. (Matt. 24:14) The message we bear is invaluable because it helps people become part of Jehovah’s family and gives them the opportunity to gain everlasting life. (1 Tim. 4:16) Whether our personal share in the ministry is large or small, we are supporting the most important work being done at this time. (1 Tim. 2:3, 4) What an honor it is to be God’s fellow workers!—1 Cor. 3:9.
HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN!
6. What happened to some who failed to stay on guard?
6 Some of Timothy’s contemporaries failed to appreciate their privilege of being fellow workers with God. Because Demas loved this system of things, he gave up his privilege of serving with Paul. (2 Tim. 4:10) Phygelus and Hermogenes apparently abandoned their ministry because they feared that they would suffer the kind of persecution that Paul faced. (2 Tim. 1:15) Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus succumbed to apostasy and left the truth. (1 Tim. 1:19, 20; 2 Tim. 2:16-18) Apparently, all these people were once spiritually strong, but they lost their sense of what was truly valuable.
7. What tactics does Satan use against us?
7 How does Satan try to make us give up the treasures that Jehovah has entrusted us with? Note some of Satan’s tactics. He uses entertainment and the media to promote values, thinking, and behavior that he hopes will cause us to loosen our grip on the truth. He attempts to intimidate us through peer pressure or persecution so that we will stop preaching. And he tries to entice us to listen to “the falsely called ‘knowledge’” of apostates so that we will abandon the truth.—1 Tim. 6:20, 21.
8. What do you learn from the experience of a brother named Daniel?
8 If we are not careful, we could gradually lose our grip on the truth. Consider the experience of Daniel,b who loved video games. He explains: “I began playing video games when I was about ten years old. At first, I played games that were relatively harmless. But gradually I started to play games that were violent and demonic.” Eventually, he was playing video games for about 15 hours each day. “Deep down, I knew that the type of games I was playing and the amount of time I spent playing them were distancing me from Jehovah. However, my heart had become hardened into believing that Bible principles did not apply to me,” says Daniel. The subtle influence of entertainment could easily cause us to loosen our hold on the truth. If that happens, we might end up losing the valuable things Jehovah has given to us.
HOW WE CAN HOLD ON TO THE TRUTH
9. According to 1 Timothy 1:18, 19, with whom did Paul compare Timothy?
9 Read 1 Timothy 1:18, 19. Paul compared Timothy with a soldier and urged him to “go on waging the fine warfare.” That warfare was, not literal, but spiritual. In what ways are Christians like soldiers engaged in battle? What qualities do we need to cultivate as soldiers of Christ? Let us consider five lessons we can learn from Paul’s illustration. These lessons can help us to hold on to the truth.
10. What is godly devotion, and why do we need it?
10 Develop godly devotion. A good soldier is loyal. He will fight hard to protect someone he loves or something he values. Paul encouraged Timothy to develop godly devotion—that is, a loyal attachment to God. (1 Tim. 4:7) The deeper our love and devotion for God, the greater our desire to hold on to the truth.—1 Tim. 4:8-10; 6:6.
11. Why do we need self-discipline?
11 Cultivate self-discipline. A soldier must discipline himself if he is to remain fit for duty. Timothy remained spiritually fit because he followed Paul’s inspired advice to flee from wrong desires, to pursue godly qualities, and to associate with fellow believers. (2 Tim. 2:22) That required self-discipline. We need self-discipline to win the war against our fleshly desires. (Rom. 7:21-25) In addition, we need self-discipline to keep working at stripping off the old personality and putting on the new. (Eph. 4:22, 24) And when we are tired at the end of a long day, we may need to push ourselves to attend a meeting.—Heb. 10:24, 25.
12. In what ways can we improve in our use of the Bible?
12 A soldier needs to practice using his weapons. To be skillful, he needs to do so regularly. Similarly, we need to become skillful in handling God’s Word. (2 Tim. 2:15) We can learn some of these skills at our meetings. But if we are to convince others that Bible truth is truly valuable, we need to stick to a regular routine of personal Bible study. We need to use God’s Word to strengthen our faith. This involves more than just reading the Bible. It requires that we meditate on what we read and do research in our publications so that we can correctly understand and apply the Scriptures. (1 Tim. 4:13-15) Then we will be able to use God’s Word to teach others. Again, this involves more than just reading a Bible text. We want to help our listeners to understand the verse and how it applies to them. By sticking to a regular schedule of personal Bible study, we can improve in our ability to use God’s inspired Word to teach others.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
13. In line with Hebrews 5:14, why must we be discerning?
13 Be discerning. A soldier must be able to anticipate danger and avoid it. We too must learn to recognize situations that could harm us and then act to avoid the danger. (Prov. 22:3; read Hebrews 5:14.) For instance, we need to choose our recreation and entertainment wisely. Television shows and movies often portray immoral conduct. Such conduct offends God and will inevitably bring about harm. Accordingly, we avoid entertainment that could gradually undermine our love for God.—Eph. 5:5, 6.
14. How did discernment help Daniel?
14 Daniel, mentioned earlier, began to discern that playing violent and demonic video games was a problem. He did research in Watchtower Library for material to help him deal with his problem. How did that affect him? He stopped playing inappropriate video games. He canceled his subscriptions to online games and broke off his association with other players. Daniel says, “Instead of playing video games, I began spending time doing things outdoors or associating with friends from the congregation.” Daniel is now serving as a pioneer and an elder.
15. Why are false stories dangerous?
15 Like Timothy, we must also discern the danger of false information spread by apostates. (1 Tim. 4:1, 7; 2 Tim. 2:16) For example, they might try to spread false stories about our brothers or raise doubts about Jehovah’s organization. Such misinformation could undermine our faith. We must avoid being fooled by this propaganda. Why? Because these types of stories are spread “by men who are corrupted in mind and deprived of the truth.” Their goal is to start “arguments and debates.” (1 Tim. 6:4, 5) They want us to believe their slander and develop wicked suspicions about our brothers.
16. What distractions must we avoid?
16 Avoid distractions. As “a fine soldier of Christ Jesus,” Timothy had to stay focused on the ministry rather than become sidetracked by secular or material pursuits. (2 Tim. 2:3, 4) Like Timothy, we cannot afford to become distracted by a desire for more material things. “The deceptive power of riches” could choke our love for Jehovah, our appreciation for God’s Word, and our desire to share it with others. (Matt. 13:22) We must keep our life simple and use our time and energy to “keep . . . seeking first the Kingdom.”—Matt. 6:22-25, 33.
17-18. What can we do to avoid spiritual harm?
17 Be prepared to act quickly. A soldier needs to plan in advance how he will act. If we are to safeguard the things that Jehovah has entrusted to us, we need to act quickly when we see danger. What can help us to respond promptly? We need to plan in advance how we will react to a threat.
18 To illustrate, when attending an event, audience members are often asked to locate the nearest exit before the program begins. Why? So that they will be able to leave quickly if an emergency arises. In the same way, we can rehearse beforehand which “exit” we will take if we suddenly encounter an immoral scene, graphic violence, or apostate material while using the Internet or while watching a movie or TV program. If we prepare for what might happen, we can act quickly to escape spiritual harm and remain clean in Jehovah’s eyes.—Ps. 101:3; 1 Tim. 4:12.
19. What blessings will we experience if we safeguard the valuable things that Jehovah has given to us?
19 We must guard the valuable things that Jehovah has given to us—precious Bible truths and the privilege of teaching them to others. When we do, we will have a clean conscience, a life that has real meaning, and the joy of helping others come to know Jehovah. With his help, we will be able to guard what has been entrusted to us.—1 Tim. 6:12, 19.
SONG 127 The Sort of Person I Should Be
a We have the great privilege of knowing the truth and teaching it to others. This article will help us to hold on to that privilege and never let it go.
b Name has been changed.