“Buy truth and never sell it, also wisdom and discipline and understanding.”—PROVERBS 23:23.
1, 2. (a) What is the most valuable thing in your life? (b) What truths do we value, and why? (See opening pictures.)
WHAT is the most valuable thing in your life? As Jehovah’s people, the most valuable thing we have is our relationship with him. We would never trade it for anything else. We also value the truth from the Bible, because it makes it possible for us to be Jehovah’s friends.—Colossians 1:9, 10.
2 Jehovah is our Grand Instructor, who teaches us many precious truths in his Word, the Bible. He teaches us the importance of his name and tells us about his wonderful qualities. He tells us that he loves us so much that he gave the life of his dear Son for us. Jehovah teaches us about the Messianic Kingdom. He gives us a hope for the future, whether in heaven for the anointed or in Paradise on earth for the “other sheep.” (John 10:16) Jehovah teaches us how we should live. We view these truths as a treasure because they help us to draw close to our Creator and give us a purpose in life.
3. Does Jehovah ask us to pay money for the truth?
3 Jehovah is a generous God. He is so generous that he sacrificed his own Son for us. When Jehovah sees that someone is searching for the truth, he helps that person to find it. He would never ask us to pay money to learn the truth. Once, a man named Simon offered the apostle Peter money for the authority to give holy spirit to others. Peter explained that his thinking was wrong and said: “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the free gift of God with money.” (Acts 8:18-20) So, what does it mean to “buy truth”?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “BUY TRUTH”?
4. In this article, what will we learn about the truth?
4 Read Proverbs 23:23. It takes effort to learn the truth from the Bible. We have to give up other things for it. And after we “buy truth,” that is, learn the truth, we must be careful that we never “sell it,” that is, leave it. How do we “buy” Bible truth? How much does it cost? The answers to these questions will help us value the truth even more and will make us more determined never to leave it. We will understand why the truth from Jehovah is worth far more than anything else.
5, 6. (a) How can we buy truth without money? Explain. (b) How does truth benefit us?
5 The fact that something is free does not mean that it does not cost anything. The Hebrew word translated “buy” at Proverbs 23:23 can also mean “acquire.” Both of these words indicate that a person makes an effort or gives something up to get something that he considers valuable. To help us understand how we can buy truth, imagine that a market is offering free bananas. Can we expect that the bananas will just appear on our table? No, we still have to go to the market and bring them home. So although the bananas do not cost money, we need to make an effort to get them. In a similar way, we do not need money to learn the truth, but it does require effort and sacrifice.
6 Read Isaiah 55:1-3. What Jehovah said helps us to understand what it means to buy truth. In these verses, Jehovah compares his words of truth to water, milk, and wine. Just as cold water refreshes a thirsty person, the truth refreshes us. And just as milk makes a child grow stronger, Bible truth makes our relationship with Jehovah stronger. Jehovah also compares his words to wine. Why? The Bible says that wine makes people rejoice. (Psalm 104:15) So when Jehovah tells us to “buy wine,” he is letting us know that when we follow his guidance in life, we will be happy. (Psalm 19:8) Jehovah uses these comparisons to help us understand how we benefit when we learn and apply the truth. Now let us discuss five things that we may have to give up to buy truth.
WHAT HAVE YOU GIVEN UP TO BUY TRUTH?
7, 8. (a) Why does it take time to learn the truth? (b) What did one student sacrifice, and what was the result?
7 Time. It takes time for someone to listen to the Kingdom message, read the Bible and Bible literature, study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, prepare for our meetings, and attend them. To do all these things, we must use time that we could have used for other, less important activities. (Read Ephesians 5:15, 16 and footnote.) How much time does it take to learn basic Bible truths? This is different for each person. There is no limit to what we can learn about Jehovah’s wisdom, his ways, and the things he has done. (Romans 11:33) The first issue of the Watch Tower compared the truth to “a modest little flower” and said: “Be not content with one flower of truth. Had one been sufficient there would have been no more. Gather ever, seek for more.” So we can ask ourselves, ‘How much have I learned about Jehovah?’ Even if we live forever, there will always be more to learn about Jehovah. Today, though, it is important that we use the time we have to learn as much as we can. Here is an example of someone who did this.
It is important that we use the time we have to learn as much as we can about Jehovah
8 Mariko,* (see footnote) a young woman from Japan, moved to the United States to go to school in New York City. One day, a pioneer sister shared the good news with her at her home. Mariko already had a religion, but she began to study the Bible with the sister. She loved what she was learning so much that she asked to study twice a week. Although Mariko was very busy with school and a part-time job, she began to go to congregation meetings right away. She spent less time on recreation so that she would have more time to learn the truth. By making these sacrifices, Mariko drew closer and closer to Jehovah, and in less than a year, she got baptized. Six months later, in 2006, she became a pioneer, and she is still pioneering today.
9, 10. (a) How does learning the truth change how we feel about material things? (b) What did one young woman give up, and how does she feel about it?
9 Material things. In order to learn the truth, we may need to give up a well-paid job or a successful career in this system. For example, Peter and Andrew were fishermen, but when Jesus invited them to become his disciples, they left their fishing business. (Matthew 4:18-20) This does not mean that when you learn the truth, you have to leave your job. A person needs to work and take care of his family. (1 Timothy 5:8) But when you learn the truth, the way you think about material things changes. You realize what is really important in life. Jesus said: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures on the earth.” Instead, he encouraged us: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:19, 20) That is what a young woman named Maria did.
10 Maria enjoyed playing golf from the time she was a little girl. In high school, she kept getting better and better. She became so good at it that she was given a university scholarship. Maria’s goal in life was to become a professional golfer and make a lot of money. Then she started to study the Bible. She loved what she learned and began to apply it in her life. She said, “The more I adjusted my attitude and lifestyle to the Bible’s standards, the happier I became.” Maria realized that it would be difficult to focus on both her relationship with Jehovah and her sports career. (Matthew 6:24) So she decided to give up her goal of becoming a professional golfer for something better. Today, she is a pioneer and says she has “the happiest, most meaningful life possible.”
Jesus promised that no matter how much we give up for the truth, we will receive far more in return
11. When we learn the truth, what may happen to some of our relationships?
11 Relationships with others. When we begin to apply what we learn from the Bible, our relationships with friends and family may change. Jesus helped us understand the reason for this when he prayed about his followers: “Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17; footnote) To “sanctify” can mean to “set apart.” When we begin to apply the truth in our life, we are set apart from the world because we follow the standards of the Bible. Even though we try to keep good relationships with our friends and relatives, some may not like us as much as they used to and may even oppose our new beliefs. This does not surprise us. Jesus said: “Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36) But Jesus also promised that no matter how much we give up for the truth, we will receive far more in return!—Read Mark 10:28-30.
12. What did one Jewish man give up for the truth?
12 All his life, a Jewish man named Aaron had believed that it was wrong to pronounce God’s name. But he really wanted to know the truth about God. One day, a Witness showed him that if he added vowels to the four Hebrew consonants of God’s name, it could be pronounced “Jehovah.” Aaron was so excited to learn this that he went to the synagogue to tell the rabbis! He thought that they would be happy to learn the truth about God’s name, but they were not. Instead, they spit on him and chased him away. Aaron’s family also turned against him. But he did not let this stop him from getting to know more about Jehovah. Aaron became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and faithfully served Jehovah for the rest of his life. We can also expect that our relationships with others may change when we learn the truth.
13, 14. What changes do we need to make in the way we think and act when we learn the truth? Give an example.
13 Unclean thoughts and actions. When we learn the truth and begin to live by Bible standards, we must be willing to adjust the way we think and act. The apostle Peter wrote: “As obedient children, stop being molded by the desires you formerly had in your ignorance.” Then he added: “Become holy yourselves in all your conduct.” (1 Peter 1:14, 15) In the ancient city of Corinth, many people were immoral. Those who lived there had to make big changes in order to become clean in Jehovah’s eyes. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Today, many make similar changes when they learn the truth. Peter described this when he wrote: “The time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have done the will of the nations when you carried on in acts of brazen conduct, unbridled passions, overdrinking, wild parties, drinking bouts, and lawless idolatries.”—1 Peter 4:3.
14 Devynn and Jasmine had been drunkards for many years. Even though Devynn was a skilled bookkeeper, he could not keep a job because of his drinking. Jasmine was well-known for being angry and violent. One day, while she was drunk, she met two Witness missionaries on the road. They offered her a Bible study. But when they went to their home the next week, Jasmine and Devynn were both drunk. They had not believed that the missionaries would care enough to come to their home. The next time the missionaries came, the situation was different. Jasmine and Devynn were eager to start learning Bible truth, and they quickly began to apply what they learned. In less than three months, they stopped drinking, and later they got legally married. Many people in their village noticed how Jasmine and Devynn had changed, and they started studying the Bible too.
15. What can be one of the most difficult changes we have to make for the truth, and why?
15 Customs and practices that do not please God. One of the most difficult changes we have to make is to stop participating in customs and practices that do not please Jehovah. Even after some learn how Jehovah feels about these things, they still find it difficult to stop. They worry about how their family, workmates, or friends will react. They know that people often have strong feelings about certain customs, such as those that honor dead relatives. (Deuteronomy 14:1) So, what can help us to make the necessary changes? We can learn from the good examples of those in the past who made changes when they learned the truth, such as the early Christians in Ephesus.
16. What sacrifice did some in Ephesus make?
16 In the ancient city of Ephesus, it was very common to practice magic. What did those people who practiced magic do when they became Christians? The Bible explains: “Quite a number of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them up before everybody. And they calculated their value and found them worth 50,000 pieces of silver. Thus in a mighty way, the word of Jehovah kept growing and prevailing.” (Acts 19:19, 20) Those faithful Christians were willing to give up their expensive books, and Jehovah blessed them for this.
What have you sacrificed in order to learn the truth?
17. (a) What are some things that we may have given up for the truth? (b) What questions will we answer in the next article?
17 What have you sacrificed in order to learn the truth? All of us have given our time. Some of us have sacrificed opportunities to become rich. And some of our relationships with others may have changed. Many of us have adjusted the way we think and act and have rejected customs and practices that do not please Jehovah. But we are convinced that Bible truth is far more valuable than anything we have given up. Bible truth makes it possible for us to have a close relationship with Jehovah, which is the most valuable thing in our life. When we think about all the blessings we have because of the truth, it is hard to understand why anyone would ever “sell it”. How could that happen? And how can we avoid making such a serious mistake? We will answer these questions in the next article.
Some names in this article have been changed.