“Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I will walk in your truth.”—PSALM 86:11.
1-3. (a) How should we feel about Bible truth? Illustrate. (See opening pictures.) (b) What will we discuss in this article?
TODAY, it is very common for people to buy something in a store and then return it. And when people buy something online, they are even more likely to return it. Maybe they do not like what they bought as much as they thought they would or there is something wrong with it. So they decide either to exchange it for something else or to ask for their money back.
2 We would never do this with Bible truth. Once we “buy” it, we never want to “sell” it, that is, once we learn the truth, we never want to leave it. (Read Proverbs 23:23; 1 Timothy 2:4) As we discussed in the previous article, we spent much time to learn the truth. Also, we may have sacrificed a career that made us a lot of money. And we may have had to adjust some of our relationships with others, change the way we think and act, or stop participating in customs and practices that do not please Jehovah. But we are convinced that nothing we gave up is as valuable as the blessings we receive from knowing the truth.
3 Jesus gave an illustration about a traveling merchant who was searching for fine pearls. When the man found one that was very precious, he immediately sold everything he had so that he could buy it. That pearl represented the truth about God’s Kingdom. In this way, Jesus showed how precious the truth would be to those who search for it. (Matthew 13:45, 46) When we first learned the truth, that is, the truth about God’s Kingdom and all the other precious truths from the Bible, we too were willing to sacrifice anything in order to gain it. If we continue to value the truth, we will never leave it. But sadly, some of God’s people have stopped valuing the truth and have even left it. We never want to do that! We need to follow the Bible’s advice to “go on walking in the truth.” (Read 3 John 2-4.) That means we put the truth first and show this by the way we live. But why and how might a person “sell,” or leave, the truth? How can we make sure that we never do this? And how can we be more determined to “go on walking in the truth”?
WHY AND HOW DO SOME “SELL” THE TRUTH?
4. Why did some not continue to walk in the truth in Jesus’ time?
4 In Jesus’ time, some who at first accepted the truth did not continue to walk in it. For example, after Jesus performed a miracle and fed a large crowd, that crowd followed him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. But then Jesus said something that shocked them: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Instead of asking Jesus to explain what he meant, they said: “This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?” As a result, “many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him.”—John 6:53-66.
5, 6. (a) Why have some drawn away from the truth in our day? (b) How could a person drift away from the truth?
5 Sadly, some today have also left the truth. Why? Some were stumbled by an adjusted understanding of a Bible verse or something a well-known brother said or did. Others did not like it when someone gave them counsel from the Bible, or they had a serious disagreement with someone in the congregation. And others followed the false teachings of apostates and others who tell lies about us. These are a few of the reasons that some have willfully drawn away from Jehovah and the congregation. (Hebrews 3:12-14) How much better it would have been if they had trusted in Jesus, as Peter did! When others in the crowd were shocked by Jesus’ words, Jesus asked his apostles if they wanted to leave too. Peter answered: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.”—John 6:67-69.
6 Others have drifted away from the truth little by little, perhaps without even noticing what was happening. A person who leaves the truth gradually is like a boat that slowly drifts away from the riverbank. The Bible warns us to be careful so that we “never drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1) Usually a person who drifts away from the truth does not mean to do so. But he lets his friendship with Jehovah become weak, and in time he may lose it. How can we make sure this never happens to us?
HOW CAN WE MAKE SURE WE NEVER SELL THE TRUTH?
7. What will help us never to sell the truth?
We cannot choose which Bible truths to accept and which to ignore
7 To continue to walk in the truth, we must accept and obey everything Jehovah says. We must make the truth the most important thing in our life and follow Bible principles in everything we do. In prayer, King David promised Jehovah: “I will walk in your truth.” (Psalm 86:11) David was determined to keep walking in the truth, and we must be too. If we are not, we could begin to think about the things we gave up for the truth and might even want some of them back. But we cannot choose which Bible truths to accept and which to ignore. We must walk in “all the truth.” (John 16:13) In the previous article, we discussed five things we may have sacrificed in order to learn and apply the truth. Now we will see how we can make sure that we never return to those things we left behind.—Matthew 6:19.
8. How could the way a Christian uses his time cause him to drift away from the truth? Give an example.
8 Time. To make sure that we never drift away from the truth, we must keep using our time wisely. If we are not careful, we can spend too much time on recreation, hobbies, browsing the Internet, or watching television. Even though these things are not necessarily wrong, we could be using time that we previously used in study and in the ministry. Something like this happened to Emma.* (See footnote.) Ever since she was a little girl, she loved horses and rode them whenever she could. But she began to feel guilty about how much time she was spending on her hobby and decided to change her priorities. Emma also learned from the experience of Cory Wells, a sister who used to ride horses in a rodeo.* (See footnote.) Emma now spends more time serving Jehovah, and she has more time to spend with her family and friends who also serve him. She feels closer to God and is happy to know that she is using her time wisely.
9. How could material things become too important to us?
9 Material things. To continue to walk in the truth, we cannot let material things become too important to us. When we learned the truth, we realized that serving Jehovah is much more important than material things, and we were happy to give up any of those things for the truth. But as time passes, we may see others buying the latest electronic devices or enjoying other things money can buy. We could start to feel that we are missing out. We might no longer be satisfied with what we have and start to focus more on getting material things than on serving Jehovah. This reminds us of what happened to Demas. He loved “the present system of things” so much that he left the assignment he had with the apostle Paul. (2 Timothy 4:10) Maybe Demas loved material things more than he loved serving God. Or maybe he no longer wanted to make sacrifices in order to serve with Paul. What is the lesson for us? Maybe in the past we really loved material things. If we are not careful, that love can grow in us again and become so strong that we lose our love for the truth.
10. What influence must we resist?
10 Relationships with others. To keep walking in the truth, we must not allow those who do not serve Jehovah to influence us. When we learned the truth, our relationship with our non-Witness friends and family members changed. Maybe some respected our new beliefs, but others may have opposed them. (1 Peter 4:4) Of course, we try our best to get along with our family members and to be kind to them. But we cannot ignore Jehovah’s standards in order to please them. And as we learn from 1 Corinthians 15:33, our close friends should be people who love Jehovah.
11. How can we avoid unclean thoughts and actions?
11 Unclean thoughts and actions. To walk in the truth, we need to be holy, or clean, from Jehovah’s viewpoint. (Isaiah 35:8; read 1 Peter 1:14-16.) When we learned the truth, we made changes in our life in order to follow Bible standards. Some made very big changes. But we still need to be careful that we never exchange our clean life for an immoral life. What can help us to resist any temptation to do something immoral? Think about what Jehovah gave so that we can be holy. He gave the precious life of his dear Son, Jesus Christ! (1 Peter 1:18, 19) To help us to stay clean in Jehovah’s eyes, we always need to remember how precious Jesus’ ransom sacrifice is.
12, 13. (a) Why must we view holidays as Jehovah does? (b) What will we discuss next?
12 Customs and practices that do not please God. Family members, workmates, and schoolmates may try to get us to join them in their celebrations. What can help us to resist the pressure to participate in customs and holidays that do not please Jehovah? We need to keep clear in our mind the reasons why Jehovah does not approve of these holidays. We can do research in our publications and remind ourselves of how certain holidays began. When we meditate on the Scriptural reasons we do not celebrate these holidays, we feel sure that we are walking in the way that is “acceptable to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10) If we trust in Jehovah and his Word, we will not be afraid of what other people think.—Proverbs 29:25.
13 We hope to keep walking in the truth forever. What can help us to be even more determined to keep walking in the truth? Here are three things we can do.
BE EVEN MORE DETERMINED TO WALK IN THE TRUTH
14. (a) How will continuing to study the Bible help us be determined never to leave the truth? (b) Why do we need wisdom, discipline, and understanding?
14 First, continue to study the Bible and think deeply about what you learn. Regularly schedule time for this. The more you study, the more you will love the truth and be determined never to leave it. Proverbs 23:23 tells us to “buy truth” and also to buy “wisdom and discipline and understanding.” It is not enough just to know Bible truth. We need to apply it in our life. When we gain understanding, we put together the things we learn with the things we already know. Wisdom moves us to act on what we know. Sometimes the truth disciplines us by showing us what changes we need to make. We need to be quick to respond to such discipline, which the Bible says is more precious than silver.—Proverbs 8:10.
15. How does the truth protect us like a belt?
15 Second, be determined to apply the truth in your everyday life. The Bible compares the truth to the belt of a soldier. (Ephesians 6:14) In Bible times, a belt gave a soldier support and protection in battle as long as it was tight. If it was loose, it would not help him. How does the truth protect us like a belt? If we keep Bible truth close to us all the time, it will protect us from thinking in a wrong way and will help us to make good decisions. When we have a serious problem or are tempted to do something wrong, Bible truth will make us even more determined to do what is right. Just as a soldier would never go into battle without his belt, we would never leave the truth. We make sure we apply Bible truth in every part of our life. A soldier would also carry his sword on his belt. Let us see how we can do something similar.
16. How does teaching the truth help us to keep walking in the truth?
16 Third, teach Bible truth to others as much as you can. The Bible is compared to a sword. Just as a good soldier kept a tight grip on his sword, we need to keep a tight grip on God’s Word. (Ephesians 6:17) We all can become better teachers, “handling the word of the truth aright.” (2 Timothy 2:15) When we use the Bible to teach others, we come to know and love the truth even more. And we become even more determined to keep walking in the truth.
The truth is a precious gift from Jehovah
17. Why is the truth precious to you?
17 The truth is a precious gift from Jehovah. It makes it possible for us to have a close relationship with our heavenly Father. That is the most valuable thing we could have. Jehovah has already taught us so much, but it is only the beginning! He promises to keep teaching us forever. So treasure the truth as you would treasure a valuable pearl. Continue to “buy truth and never sell it.” Then, like David, you will keep this promise to Jehovah: “I will walk in your truth.”—Psalm 86:11.
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