“Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be readjusted.”—2 COR. 13:11.
SONG 54 “This Is the Way”
1. According to Matthew 7:13, 14, in what sense are we on a journey?
ALL of us are on a journey. Our destination, or goal, is to live in the new world under Jehovah’s loving rulership. Each day, we try to follow the path that leads to life. But as Jesus said, that road is cramped and at times difficult to follow. (Read Matthew 7:13, 14.) We are imperfect, and it is easy for us to stray from this path.—Gal. 6:1.
2. What will we consider in this article? (See also the box “Humility Helps Us to Adjust Our Steps.”)
2 If we are to stay on the cramped road to life, we must be willing to adjust our thinking, attitude, and actions. The apostle Paul encouraged Christians living in Corinth to continue “to be readjusted.” (2 Cor. 13:11) That counsel also applies to us. In this article, we will discuss how the Bible can help us to adjust our steps and how mature friends can help us to stay on the path to life. We will also consider when it might be a challenge to follow direction given by Jehovah’s organization. We will see how humility can help us to change our course without losing our joy in serving Jehovah.
ALLOW GOD’S WORD TO CORRECT YOU
3. What can God’s Word do for you?
3 When we try to examine our own thoughts and feelings, we face a challenge. Our heart is treacherous, and that can make it difficult for us to know where it might be leading us. (Jer. 17:9) It is easy to deceive ourselves with “false reasoning.” (Jas. 1:22) So we must use God’s Word to examine ourselves. God’s Word reveals what we are on the inside, the innermost “thoughts and intentions” of our heart. (Heb. 4:12, 13) In a sense, God’s Word acts like an X-ray machine, enabling us to see what is inside. But we must be humble if we are to benefit from the counsel we receive from the Bible or from God’s representatives.
4. What indicates that King Saul became a proud man?
4 The example of King Saul shows what can happen when we lack humility. Saul became so proud that he would not admit, even to himself, that his thinking and actions needed to be adjusted. (Ps. 36:1, 2; Hab. 2:4) This became evident when Jehovah gave Saul specific direction on what he should do after he defeated the Amalekites. Saul, however, did not obey Jehovah. And when the prophet Samuel confronted him about the matter, Saul did not acknowledge his mistake. Instead, he tried to justify his actions by minimizing the consequences of his disobedience and shifting the blame to others. (1 Sam. 15:13-24) Earlier, Saul had displayed a similar attitude. (1 Sam. 13:10-14) Sadly, he allowed his heart to become haughty. He did not correct his thinking, so Jehovah reproved him and rejected him.
5. What can we learn from Saul’s example?
5 To learn from Saul’s example, we do well to ask ourselves these questions: ‘When I read counsel from God’s Word, do I tend to justify my thinking? Do I minimize the consequences of disobedience? Do I shift the blame for my actions to someone else?’ If our answer to any of those questions is yes, we must adjust our thinking and attitude. Otherwise, our heart can become so haughty that Jehovah will reject us as his friend.—Jas. 4:6.
6. Describe the contrast between King Saul and King David.
6 Note the contrast between King Saul and his successor, King David, a man who loved “the law of Jehovah.” (Ps. 1:1-3) David knew that Jehovah saves those who are humble but opposes the haughty. (2 Sam. 22:28) So David allowed God’s law to adjust his thinking. He wrote: “I will praise Jehovah, who has given me advice. Even during the night, my innermost thoughts correct me.”—Ps. 16:7.
7. What will we do if we are humble?
7 If we are humble, we will allow God’s Word to correct our wrong thinking before we act on those thoughts. God’s Word will be like a voice that tells us: “This is the way. Walk in it.” It will warn us when we are straying from the path—to the left or to the right. (Isa. 30:21) By listening to Jehovah, we will benefit ourselves in a number of ways. (Isa. 48:17) For instance, we will avoid the embarrassment of having to be corrected by someone else. And we will draw closer to Jehovah because we recognize that he is treating us like a beloved child.—Heb. 12:7.
8. As mentioned at James 1:22-25, how can we use God’s Word as a mirror?
8 God’s Word can act as a mirror for us. (Read James 1:22-25.) Most of us look in a mirror each morning before we leave home. That way, we can see if we need to make an adjustment before others see us. Similarly, when we read the Bible each day, we will see ways that we can adjust our thinking and our attitude. Many find it helpful to read the daily text each morning before they leave home. They allow what they read to affect their thinking. Then throughout the day, they look for ways to apply the counsel from God’s Word. In addition, we must have a study routine that includes reading and thinking about God’s Word each day. This may sound simple, but it is one of the most important things we can do to help us stay on the cramped road to life.
LISTEN TO MATURE FRIENDS
9. When might a friend have to correct you?
9 Have you ever started to walk on a path that was leading you away from Jehovah? (Ps. 73:2, 3) If a mature friend had the courage to correct you, did you listen to him and apply his advice? If so, you did the right thing, and you are no doubt grateful that your friend warned you.—Prov. 1:5.
10. How should you react if a friend corrects you?
10 God’s Word reminds us: “The wounds inflicted by a friend are faithful.” (Prov. 27:6) In what way is this statement true? Consider this illustration: Imagine that you are waiting to cross a busy street and you get distracted by your cell phone. You step onto the street without looking up. Just then, a friend grabs your arm and pulls you back onto the sidewalk. His grip is so firm that your arm is bruised, but his quick action saves you from being hit by a car. Even if the bruise he inflicted causes you pain for several days, would you be offended that your friend grabbed you? Certainly not! You would be grateful for his help. Similarly, if a friend warns you that your speech or actions are not in harmony with God’s righteous standards, you may feel hurt at first. But do not resent his counsel or become offended. That would be foolish. (Eccl. 7:9) Instead, be grateful that your friend had the courage to speak up.
11. What could cause someone to reject good counsel from a friend?
11 What could cause someone to reject good counsel from a loving friend? Pride. Proud people like “to have their ears tickled.” They “turn away from listening to the truth.” (2 Tim. 4:3, 4) They have an inflated view of their own opinion and worth. However, the apostle Paul wrote: “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving himself.” (Gal. 6:3) King Solomon summed up the matter well. He wrote: “Better is a poor but wise child than an old but stupid king, who no longer has enough sense to heed a warning.”—Eccl. 4:13.
12. What do we learn from the example set by the apostle Peter, as recorded at Galatians 2:11-14?
12 Note the example set by the apostle Peter when he was publicly corrected by the apostle Paul. (Read Galatians 2:11-14.) Peter could have resented what Paul said, focusing on the way he said it and where he chose to say it. But Peter was wise. He accepted the counsel and did not nurse a grudge against Paul. Instead, he later referred to Paul as a “beloved brother.”—2 Pet. 3:15.
13. What points should we keep in mind when offering counsel?
13 If you ever feel that you need to give counsel to a friend, what points should you keep in mind? Before you approach your friend, ask yourself, ‘Am I being “overly righteous”?’ (Eccl. 7:16) An overly righteous person judges others, not by Jehovah’s standards, but by his own, and he is probably not very merciful. If after examining yourself you still see the need to speak to your friend, clearly identify the problem and use viewpoint questions to help your friend to recognize his mistake. Make sure that what you say is based on the Scriptures, remembering that your friend is accountable, not to you, but to Jehovah. (Rom. 14:10) Rely on the wisdom found in God’s Word, and when counseling someone, imitate Jesus’ compassion. (Prov. 3:5; Matt. 12:20) Why? Because Jehovah will deal with us in the same way that we deal with others.—Jas. 2:13.
FOLLOW DIRECTION GIVEN BY GOD’S ORGANIZATION
14. What does God’s organization provide for us?
14 Jehovah guides us on the road to life by means of the earthly part of his organization, which provides videos, publications, and meetings that help all of us apply the counsel contained in God’s Word. This material is solidly based on the Scriptures. When deciding how the preaching work can best be accomplished, the Governing Body relies on holy spirit. Still, the Governing Body regularly reviews its own decisions about how the work is organized. Why? Because “the scene of this world is changing,” and God’s organization must adapt to new circumstances.—1 Cor. 7:31.
15. What challenge have some publishers faced?
15 No doubt, we readily follow the Bible-based direction we receive regarding doctrinal or moral matters. But how do we react when God’s organization makes a change that affects other aspects of our life? For example, in recent years the cost of building and maintaining places of worship has increased dramatically. So the Governing Body has directed that Kingdom Halls be used to capacity. As a result of this adjustment, congregations have been merged and some Kingdom Halls have been sold. The funds are being used to help build halls in areas that need them the most. If you live in an area where halls are being sold and congregations are being merged, you may find it a challenge to adapt to the new circumstances. Some publishers now have to travel farther to attend meetings. Others who worked hard to build or maintain a Kingdom Hall may wonder why that hall is now being sold. They may feel that their time and effort were wasted. Still, they are cooperating with this new arrangement and should be commended.
16. How will applying the counsel found at Colossians 3:23, 24 help us to maintain our joy?
16 We will maintain our joy if we remember that we are working for Jehovah and that he is directing his organization. (Read Colossians 3:23, 24.) King David set a good example when donating funds to build the temple. He said: “Who am I and who are my people that we should be in a position to make voluntary offerings like this? For everything is from you, and we have given to you what comes from your own hand.” (1 Chron. 29:14) When we donate funds, we too are giving to Jehovah what has come from his own hand. Even so, Jehovah appreciates the time, energy, and resources that we donate to support the work he wants done.—2 Cor. 9:7.
STAY ON THE CRAMPED ROAD
17. Why should you not feel discouraged if you have to adjust your steps?
17 To stay on the cramped road to life, all of us must follow Jesus’ steps closely. (1 Pet. 2:21) If it seems that you have to adjust your steps, do not be discouraged. That may actually be a good sign, showing that you are sensitive to Jehovah’s direction. Remember that Jehovah does not expect us—as imperfect as we are at present—to imitate Jesus’ example perfectly.
18. What must we do to reach our goal?
18 May all of us focus on the future and be willing to adjust our thinking, attitude, and actions. (Prov. 4:25; Luke 9:62) Let us remain humble, “continue to rejoice, to be readjusted.” (2 Cor. 13:11) If we do that, “the God of love and of peace will be with [us].” And we will not only reach our destination but also enjoy the journey.
SONG 34 Walking in Integrity
Some of us may find it difficult to make changes in our thinking, attitude, and actions. This article will explain why we all need to make adjustments and how we can keep our joy when making them.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: As the younger brother relates what happened to him after he made a poor decision, the older brother (on the right) listens calmly to determine if he needs to give some counsel.