“Keep your senses, be watchful!”—1 PET. 5:8.
SONG 144 Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!
1. What did Jesus tell his disciples regarding the timing of the end, and what warning did he give them?
A FEW days before Jesus’ death, four of his disciples asked him: “What will be the sign . . . of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matt. 24:3) Those disciples were likely wondering how they would be able to tell when the Jewish system of things was coming to an end. In his answer, Jesus spoke not only about the end of the Jewish system but also about “the conclusion of the system of things” in which we now live. With regard to the timing of the end, Jesus said: “Concerning that day or the hour nobody knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father.” Then he warned all his disciples to “keep awake” and to “keep on the watch.”—Mark 13:32-37.
2. Why was it important for those living under the Jewish system of things to keep on the watch?
2 Jewish Christians in the first century had to remain watchful; their life depended on it. Jesus told his followers what to look for to determine when the Jewish system of things was coming to its end. He said: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near.” At that moment, they were to heed Jesus’ warning and “begin fleeing to the mountains.” (Luke 21:20, 21) Those who paid attention to this warning survived when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.
3. What will we discuss in this article?
3 Today we are living in the time of the end of this wicked system of things. So we too must keep our senses and keep on the watch. In this article, we will discuss how we can be balanced while keeping a close watch on world events, how we can pay attention to ourselves, and how we can make the best use of the remaining time.
BE BALANCED WHEN WATCHING WORLD EVENTS
4. Why should we be interested in seeing how current world events are fulfilling Bible prophecy?
4 For good reason, we are interested in seeing how current world events are fulfilling Bible prophecy. For instance, Jesus provided a list of specific events to help us know when the end of Satan’s system is drawing near. (Matt. 24:3-14) The apostle Peter encouraged us to pay attention to the fulfillment of prophecy so that our faith will remain strong. (2 Pet. 1:19-21) The last book of the Bible begins with the words: “A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place.” (Rev. 1:1) So we have a keen interest in current world events and in knowing how they may fulfill Bible prophecy. And we may be eager to discuss such events with one another.
5. What should we avoid, but what should we do? (See also pictures.)
5 When discussing Bible prophecy, however, we should avoid speculating. Why? Because we would not want to say anything that could cause disunity in the congregation. For instance, we may hear world leaders talk about how they can solve a particular conflict and bring peace and security. Instead of speculating that such a statement fulfills the prophecy at 1 Thessalonians 5:3, we need to keep up-to-date with the latest published information. When we base our discussions on material published by Jehovah’s organization, we help the congregation to remain united “in the same line of thought.”—1 Cor. 1:10; 4:6.
6. What lessons can we learn from 2 Peter 3:11-13?
6 Read 2 Peter 3:11-13. The apostle Peter helps us to keep a balanced view when considering Bible prophecy. He urges us to “keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” Why? Not because we want to work out the “day and hour” when Jehovah will bring Armageddon, but because we want to use the time we have left to perform “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.” (Matt. 24:36; Luke 12:40) In other words, we want to maintain upright conduct and make sure that our efforts in Jehovah’s service reflect our deep love for him. To keep that focus, we must pay attention to ourselves.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PAY ATTENTION TO OURSELVES?
7. How do we show that we are paying attention to ourselves? (Luke 21:34)
7 Jesus told his disciples to pay attention not only to world events but also to themselves. That point is made clear in the warning recorded at Luke 21:34. (Read.) Notice Jesus’ words: “Pay attention to yourselves.” A person who pays attention to himself is alert to any dangers that threaten his relationship with Jehovah, and he takes steps to avoid them. In this way, he keeps himself in God’s love.—Prov. 22:3; Jude 20, 21.
8. What admonition did the apostle Paul give to Christians?
8 The apostle Paul admonished Christians to pay attention to themselves. For example, he told the Christians in Ephesus: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons.” (Eph. 5:15, 16) Our spirituality is under constant threat, so the Bible counsels us to “keep perceiving what the will of Jehovah is” so that we can deal with any type of threat.—Eph. 5:17.
9. How do we perceive Jehovah’s will for us?
9 The Bible does not identify every danger that could threaten our friendship with Jehovah. We must often make decisions on matters that are not directly discussed in the Scriptures. To make wise choices, we need to perceive, or sense, “the will of Jehovah.” We can do this by regularly studying God’s Word and meditating on it. The more we understand Jehovah’s will and cultivate “the mind of Christ,” the more likely we will walk “as wise persons,” even when we do not have specific rules to guide our conduct. (1 Cor. 2:14-16) Some dangers are relatively easy to identify; others are more subtle.
10. What are some dangers that we must avoid?
10 Some dangers that we must avoid include flirting, heavy drinking, overeating, engaging in hurtful speech, as well as viewing violent entertainment, pornography, and similar things. (Ps. 101:3) Our adversary, the Devil, is constantly looking for opportunities to damage our friendship with Jehovah. (1 Pet. 5:8) If we are not watchful, Satan can plant in our mind and heart seeds of envy, dishonesty, greed, hatred, haughtiness, and resentment. (Gal. 5:19-21) At first, these inclinations may not be very strong. But if we do not take immediate steps to uproot them, they will continue to grow like a poisonous plant and cause trouble.—Jas. 1:14, 15.
11. What is one subtle danger that we must avoid, and why?
11 One subtle danger is bad association. Consider this scenario. You work secularly with someone who does not share your Christian beliefs. You want your workmate to have a good impression of Jehovah’s Witnesses, so you are kind and helpful. You might also agree to have lunch with this person now and then. Before long, you do so on a regular basis. Occasionally, the conversation turns to immoral subjects, which you try to ignore at first. With time, you become so used to such talk that you are no longer offended by it. Then one day, your workmate invites you to have a drink after work, and you accept. Eventually, you begin to think like your workmate. At this point, how long will it take before you begin to act like him? Of course, we are kind and respectful to all, but we must remember that we will be strongly influenced by those with whom we choose to spend our time. (1 Cor. 15:33) If we pay attention to ourselves, as Jesus urged us to do, we will avoid unnecessary association with those who do not live by Jehovah’s standards. (2 Cor. 6:15) We will see the danger and steer clear of it.
MAKE THE BEST USE OF YOUR TIME
12. What were Jesus’ disciples to do while they awaited the conclusion of the system of things?
12 Jesus’ disciples were not to be idle while they awaited the conclusion of the system of things. Jesus gave them work to do. He commanded them to preach the good news “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8) What an enormous assignment Jesus’ followers received! By devoting themselves to that assignment, they made the best use of their time.
13. Why do we need to make the best use of our time? (Colossians 4:5)
14-15. How can we make the best use of our time? (Hebrews 6:11, 12) (See also picture.)
14 We can make the best use of our time by doing Jehovah’s will and strengthening our friendship with him. (John 14:21) We need to “be steadfast, immovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58) Then when the end comes—whether it is the end of our life or the end of this wicked system—we will have no regrets.—Matt. 24:13; Rom. 14:8.
15 Today, Jesus continues to direct his disciples as they preach about God’s Kingdom in all the earth. He has done his part. Through Jehovah’s organization, Jesus trains us how to preach and he provides us with the tools we need to spread the good news. (Matt. 28:18-20) We do our part by being industrious in our preaching and teaching work and by keeping watchful as we wait on Jehovah to bring an end to this system of things. By applying the counsel found at Hebrews 6:11, 12, we will hold fast to our hope “down to the end.”—Read.
16. What are we determined to do?
16 Jehovah has a fixed day and hour when he will bring an end to Satan’s system. When that day comes, Jehovah will without fail fulfill the prophecies that he had recorded in his Word. Meanwhile, it may at times seem that the end of this system has been delayed. However, Jehovah’s day “will not be late!” (Hab. 2:3) So may we be determined to “keep on the lookout for Jehovah,” showing “a waiting attitude for the God of [our] salvation.”—Mic. 7:7.
SONG 139 See Yourself When All Is New
a In this article, we will consider how we can keep our spiritual balance and remain watchful. Further, we will see how we can pay attention to ourselves and how we can make the best use of our time.
b PICTURE DESCRIPTION: (Top) A couple watch the news. Later, after a congregation meeting, they share with others their strong personal opinions about the meaning of news events. (Bottom) A couple watch a Governing Body update in order to stay current with the latest understanding of Bible prophecy. They offer to others Bible-based publications that are provided by the faithful slave.