“This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved. Listen to him.”—MATT. 17:5.
SONG 54 “This Is the Way”
1-2. (a) What were three of Jesus’ apostles commanded to do, and how did they respond? (b) What will we consider in this article?
AFTER the Passover of 32 C.E., the apostles Peter, James, and John witnessed an amazing vision. On a lofty mountain, possibly a spur of Mount Hermon, Jesus was transfigured before them. “His face shone as the sun, and his outer garments became brilliant as the light.” (Matt. 17:1-4) Near the end of the vision, the apostles heard God say: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved. Listen to him.” (Matt. 17:5) The three apostles proved by their life course that they did listen to Jesus. We want to imitate their example.
2 In the preceding article, we learned that listening to Jesus’ voice means that we stop doing certain things. In this article, we will consider two things Jesus said that we should do.
“GO IN THROUGH THE NARROW GATE”
3. According to Matthew 7:13, 14, what should we do?
3 Read Matthew 7:13, 14. Notice that Jesus mentioned two different gates leading to two different roads, a “spacious” road and a “cramped” road. There is no third road. We must choose for ourselves on which road we will travel. This is the most important decision we will ever make—our everlasting life depends on it.
4. How would you describe the “spacious” road?
4 We need to keep in mind the differences between the two roads. The “spacious” road is popular because it is easy to travel. Sadly, many choose to remain on that road and to follow the crowd traveling on it. They fail to recognize that the one promoting this road is Satan the Devil and that his road leads to a dead end.—1 Cor. 6:9, 10; 1 John 5:19.
5. What efforts have some made to identify the “cramped” road and to begin traveling on it?
5 In contrast with the “spacious” road, the other road is “cramped,” and Jesus said that few are able to find it. Why? Interestingly, in the next verse, Jesus warns his followers against false prophets. (Matt. 7:15) By some counts, there are thousands of religions, and most of them claim to teach the truth. Millions of people are so discouraged or blinded by this religious confusion that they do not even try to look for the road leading to life. But that road can be found. Jesus said: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) Commendably, you did not follow the crowd; rather, you searched for the truth. You began an intensive study of God’s Word to learn what he requires of us, and you listened to Jesus’ teachings. Among other things, you learned that Jehovah expects us to reject the teachings of false religion and to stop celebrating holidays that have pagan origins or practices. You also learned that doing what Jehovah requires and breaking free from practices that do not meet with his approval may be challenging. (Matt. 10:34-36) It may not have been easy for you to make the needed adjustments. However, you persevered because you love your heavenly Father and want his favor. How pleased he must be with you!—Prov. 27:11.
HOW TO STAY ON THE CRAMPED ROAD
6 Once we have begun traveling on the cramped road, what can help us remain on it? Consider this illustration. A guardrail near the edge of a narrow mountain road serves as a protection for a driver and his vehicle. The guardrail is designed to keep drivers safe—to help them avoid getting too close to or going over the edge of the road. Not many drivers would complain that such a guardrail is too restrictive! Jehovah’s standards found in the Bible are like that guardrail. His standards serve to keep us on the cramped road.—Read Psalm 119:9, 10, 45, 133.
7. How should young ones view the cramped road?
7 Young ones, do you sometimes feel that Jehovah’s standards are too restrictive? This is what Satan wants you to think. He would like you to focus on what those who are traveling on the spacious road are doing, on the good time they seem to be having. He may use what your peers at school are doing or what you see on the Internet to make you feel that you are missing out on all the fun. Satan wants you to think that Jehovah’s standards are keeping you from enjoying life to the full.b But remember this: Satan does not want those who are traveling on his road to see what awaits them at the end of the journey. Jehovah, on the other hand, has given you a clear picture of what he has in store for those who stay on the road to life.—Ps. 37:29; Isa. 35:5, 6; 65:21-23.
8. What can young ones learn from Olaf’s example?
8 Consider what you can learn from the experience of a young brother named Olaf.c His classmates pressured him to engage in immoral conduct. When he explained that Jehovah’s Witnesses live by the Bible’s high moral standards, some girls in his class took this as a challenge and tried to persuade him to have sex with them. But Olaf stood firm for what is right. And this was not the only pressure he faced. Olaf says: “My teachers tried to convince me that I should pursue higher education because it is prestigious. They told me that without it, I would not succeed in life.” What helped Olaf to resist such pressure? He mentions: “I developed close relationships with those in my congregation. They became like a family to me. I also started to study the Bible more seriously. The more deeply I studied, the more I became convinced that this was the truth. As a result, I was determined to serve Jehovah.”
9. What is required of those who want to remain on the cramped road?
9 Satan would like to cause you to exit the road that leads to life. He wants you to join the majority of mankind on the spacious road “leading off into destruction.” (Matt. 7:13) However, we will remain on the cramped road if we continue to listen to Jesus and to view that road as a protection. Now let us consider something else that Jesus said we should do.
MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR BROTHER
10. According to Matthew 5:23, 24, what did Jesus say we should do?
10 Read Matthew 5:23, 24. Jesus described a moment that was very important to the Jewish worshippers who were listening to him. Imagine someone at the temple ready to hand over an animal sacrifice to a priest. If at that moment the person remembered that his brother had something against him, he was to leave the sacrifice and “go away.” Why? What could be more important than offering a sacrifice to Jehovah? Jesus plainly stated: “First make your peace with your brother.”
11. Describe Jacob’s efforts to make peace with Esau.
11 We can learn valuable lessons about making peace by examining an event in the life of the patriarch Jacob. After Jacob had been away from the land of his birth for about 20 years, God commanded him through an angel to return there. (Gen. 31:11, 13, 38) But there was a problem. His older brother, Esau, had wanted to kill him. (Gen. 27:41) Jacob was “very frightened and anxious” that his brother might still be nursing a grudge against him. (Gen. 32:7) What did Jacob do to make peace with his brother? First, he fervently prayed to Jehovah about the matter. Then, he sent a generous gift to Esau. (Gen. 32:9-15) Finally, when the estranged brothers met face-to-face, Jacob took the initiative to show honor to Esau. He bowed to Esau—not once, not twice, but seven times! With humble and respectful action, Jacob made peace with his brother.—Gen. 33:3, 4.
12. What do we learn from Jacob’s example?
12 We learn a lesson from how Jacob prepared to meet his brother and how he approached Esau. Jacob humbly asked Jehovah for help. Then he followed through on his prayer by taking steps to make his reunion with his brother as pleasant as possible. When the brothers met, Jacob did not argue with Esau about who was right and who was wrong. Jacob’s goal was to make peace with his brother. How can we imitate Jacob’s example?
HOW TO MAKE PEACE WITH OTHERS
13-14. If we offend a fellow believer, what should we do?
13 We who are traveling on the road leading to life want to promote peaceful relations with our brothers. (Rom. 12:18) How should we proceed when we realize that we have offended a fellow believer? Like Jacob, we should turn to Jehovah in earnest prayer. We can ask him to bless our efforts to gain our brother.
14 We should also take time to analyze ourselves. We can ask ourselves such questions as these: ‘Am I willing to sacrifice my pride, humbly apologize, and make peace? How will Jehovah and Jesus feel if I take the initiative to make peace with my brother or my sister?’ Our answers can motivate us to listen to Jesus and humbly approach our fellow believer in order to make peace. In this regard, we can follow Jacob’s example.
15. How can applying the principle found at Ephesians 4:2, 3 help us to make peace with our brother?
15 Imagine if Jacob had manifested pride when he confronted his brother! The outcome might have been quite different. When we go to our brother to settle a difference with him, we need to do so with a humble spirit. (Read Ephesians 4:2, 3.) Proverbs 18:19 states: “A brother offended is more unyielding than a fortified city, and there are disputes like the bars of a fortress.” A humble apology can help us to gain entry to that “fortress.”
16. What should we give thought to, and why?
16 We also need to give careful thought to what we will say to our brother and how we will say it. When we are ready, we should approach the offended one with the goal of removing any hurt from his heart. He may initially say things that are not pleasant to hear. It would be easy to get angry or to try to justify ourselves, but would following that course lead to a peaceful resolution? Certainly not. Remember that restoring peace with your brother is more important than establishing who was right and who was wrong.—1 Cor. 6:7.
17. What can you learn from Gilbert’s example?
17 A brother named Gilbert worked hard to be a peacemaker. He relates: “I had a very difficult time with a close family member. For over two years, I made efforts to speak honestly and calmly in order to reestablish a good relationship.” What else did Gilbert do? “Before speaking with this family member, I would pray and prepare myself mentally for any unkind comments that might be made. I needed to be ready to forgive. I learned not to fight for my rights, and I understood that my duty was to promote peace.” What were the results? Gilbert says: “Today, I have peace of mind because of the good relationships I have with all my family members.”
18-19. If we have offended someone, what should we be determined to do, and why?
18 What, then, should be your determination when you realize that you have offended a fellow Christian? Follow Jesus’ direction to make peace. Talk to Jehovah about the matter, and rely on his holy spirit to help you to be a peacemaker. If you do, you will be happy, and you will give further evidence that you are listening to Jesus.—Matt. 5:9.
19 We are grateful that Jehovah provides us with loving direction through the “head of the congregation,” Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:23) May we be determined to “listen to him,” as were the apostles Peter, James, and John. (Matt. 17:5) We have examined how we can do that by making peace with a fellow Christian whom we have offended. By doing so and remaining on the cramped road leading to life, we will receive many blessings now and unending happiness in the future.
SONG 130 Be Forgiving
a Jesus urges us to go through the narrow gate leading to the road to life. He also instructs us to make peace with fellow believers. What challenges may we face when we try to apply his counsel, and how can we overcome them?
b See question 6 of the brochure Answers to 10 Questions Young People Ask, “How Can I Resist Peer Pressure?” and the whiteboard animation Stand Up to Peer Pressure! at www.jw.org. (Look under BIBLE TEACHINGS > TEENAGERS.)
c Some names have been changed.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: By staying on the “cramped” road protected by guardrails that God provides, we avoid such dangers as pornography, immoral association, and pressure to put advanced education first in life.
e PICTURE DESCRIPTION: In pursuit of peace, Jacob bowed repeatedly before his brother, Esau.