May We Never Shrink Back to Destruction!
“We are not the sort that shrink back to destruction.”—HEBREWS 10:39.
1. What circumstances led to the apostle Peter’s giving in to fear?
THE apostles must have been shocked when their beloved Master, Jesus, told them that they would all scatter and abandon him. How could such a thing be—in this, his hour of greatest need? Peter insisted: “Even if all the others are stumbled, yet I will not be.” In truth, Peter was a brave, bold man. But when Jesus was betrayed and arrested, the apostles—including Peter—scattered. Later, while Jesus was being interrogated in the house of High Priest Caiaphas, Peter lingered anxiously in the courtyard. As the cold night wore on, Peter likely came to fear that Jesus and anyone associated with him might be executed. When some bystanders recognized Peter as one of Jesus’ close associates, panic seized him. Three times he disavowed his connection with Jesus. Peter denied even knowing him!—Mark 14:27-31, 66-72.
2. (a) Why would Peter’s fearful course on the night of Jesus’ arrest not make him of “the sort that shrink back”? (b) What should be our determination?
2 That was a low point in Peter’s life, a moment he no doubt regretted for the rest of his days. But did Peter’s course that night make him a coward? Did it make him one of “the sort” that the apostle Paul later described when he wrote: “Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction”? (Hebrews 10:39) Most of us would likely agree that Paul’s words do not apply to Peter. Why? Because Peter’s fear was temporary, a brief lapse in a life marked by outstanding courage and faith. Similarly, many of us have moments in our past that we recall with some degree of shame, moments when fear caught us by surprise and kept us from standing as boldly for the truth as we would have liked. (Compare Romans 7:21-23.) We can be assured that such momentary lapses do not make us the sort that shrink back to destruction. Still, we need to be determined never to become of that sort. Why? And how can we avoid becoming such a person?
What It Means to Shrink Back to Destruction
3. How did the prophets Elijah and Jonah give in to fear?
3 When Paul wrote of “the sort that shrink back,” he did not mean those who may suffer a momentary lapse of courage. Paul surely knew of Peter’s experience and of other similar cases. Elijah, a bold and outspoken prophet, once gave in to fear and fled for his life because of a death threat from wicked Queen Jezebel. (1 Kings 19:1-4) The prophet Jonah had a more serious bout with fear. Jehovah assigned him to travel to the notoriously violent, wicked city of Nineveh. Jonah promptly boarded a boat headed for Tarshish—2,200 miles [3,500 km] in the opposite direction! (Jonah 1:1-3) Yet, neither of these faithful prophets nor the apostle Peter could rightly be described as the sort that shrink back. Why not?
4, 5. (a) How does the context help us to determine what Paul meant by “destruction” at Hebrews 10:39? (b) What did Paul mean when he said: “We are not the sort that shrink back to destruction”?
4 Note the full phrase that Paul used: “Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction.” What did he mean by “destruction”? The Greek word he used refers at times to eternal destruction. This definition fits the context. Paul had just warned: “If we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and there is a fiery jealousy that is going to consume those in opposition.”—Hebrews 10:26, 27.
5 So when Paul said to his fellow believers, “We are not the sort that shrink back to destruction,” he meant that he and his faithful Christian readers were determined never to turn away from Jehovah and stop serving him. To do so could lead only to eternal destruction. Judas Iscariot was one who shrank back to such destruction, as did other enemies of the truth who willfully worked against Jehovah’s spirit. (John 17:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) Such individuals are among “the cowards” who suffer eternal destruction in the symbolic lake of fire. (Revelation 21:8) No, we do not ever want to be of that sort!
6. What course does Satan the Devil want us to take?
6 Satan the Devil wants us to shrink back to destruction. A master of “crafty acts,” he knows that such a ruinous course often starts in small ways. (Ephesians 6:11, footnote) If direct persecution fails to achieve his ends, he seeks to erode the faith of true Christians through subtler means. He wants to see bold, zealous Witnesses of Jehovah silenced. Let us see what tactics he used against the Hebrew Christians to whom Paul wrote.
How Christians Were Pressured to Shrink Back
7. (a) What was the history of the congregation in Jerusalem? (b) What spiritual circumstances existed in the case of some of Paul’s readers?
7 The evidence indicates that Paul wrote his letter to the Hebrews about 61 C.E. The congregation in Jerusalem had a tumultuous history. After the death of Jesus, a wave of vicious persecution struck, forcing many Christians in the city to scatter. A period of peace ensued, however, allowing the number of Christians to multiply. (Acts 8:4; 9:31) As the years passed, other persecutions and hardships came and went. It seems that by the time Paul wrote the letter to the Hebrews, the congregation was once again enjoying a period of comparative peace. Still, there were pressures. Nearly three decades had passed since Jesus had foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. There were likely some who felt that the end had delayed beyond reason and might not come in their lifetime. Others, especially those newer in the faith, had not yet been tested by severe persecution and knew little of the need for endurance under trial. (Hebrews 12:4) Satan surely sought to take advantage of such circumstances. What “crafty acts” did he use?
8. What attitude did many Jews have toward the fledgling Christian congregation?
8 The Jewish community in Jerusalem and Judea viewed the fledgling Christian congregation with contempt. Judging from the content of Paul’s letter, we get some idea of the taunts that the arrogant Jewish religious leaders and their followers directed at the Christians. They may, in effect, have said: ‘We have the great temple in Jerusalem, standing for centuries! We have a noble high priest officiating there, along with his underpriests. Sacrifices are offered daily. We have the Law, transmitted by angels to Moses and established with great signs upon Mount Sinai. This upstart sect, these Christians, who have apostatized from Judaism, they have none of these things!’ Did such scorn find its mark? Some Hebrew Christians were evidently troubled by the attacks. Paul’s letter came to their aid at just the right time.
Why They Should Never Shrink Back to Destruction
9. (a) What theme pervades the letter to the Hebrews? (b) In what sense did Christians serve in a better temple than the one in Jerusalem?
9 Let us examine two reasons that Paul gave his brothers and sisters there in Judea for never shrinking back to destruction. The first—the superiority of the Christian system of worship—pervades the letter to the Hebrews. Throughout his letter, Paul developed this theme. The temple in Jerusalem was merely a copy of a far greater reality, Jehovah’s spiritual temple, a building “not made with hands.” (Hebrews 9:11) Those Christians had the privilege of serving in that spiritual arrangement for pure worship. They served under a better covenant, the long-promised new covenant, which had a Mediator superior to Moses, Jesus Christ.—Jeremiah 31:31-34.
10, 11. (a) Why did Jesus’ lineage not disqualify his serving as High Priest in the spiritual temple? (b) In what ways was Jesus a High Priest superior to the one serving at the temple in Jerusalem?
10 Those Christians also had a far better High Priest, Jesus Christ. No, he had not descended from Aaron. Rather, he was a High Priest “according to the manner of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4) Melchizedek, whose lineage was unrecorded, was king of ancient Salem as well as its high priest. He thus made a fitting prophetic type of Jesus, whose priesthood depended, not on any imperfect human ancestry, but on something far greater—Jehovah God’s own oath. Like Melchizedek, Jesus serves not only as High Priest but also as King, one who will never die.—Hebrews 7:11-21.
11 Furthermore, unlike the high priest at the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus did not have to offer sacrifices year after year. His sacrifice was his own perfect life, which he offered once for all time. (Hebrews 7:27) All those sacrifices offered at the temple were only shadows, pictures of what Jesus offered. His perfect sacrifice provided for real forgiveness of the sins of all who exercised faith. Heartwarming, too, are Paul’s comments showing that this High Priest is the same unchanging Jesus whom the Christians in Jerusalem had known. He was humble, kind, and one who can “sympathize with our weaknesses.” (Hebrews 4:15; 13:8) Those anointed Christians had the prospect of serving as Christ’s underpriests! How could they even think of shrinking back to “the weak and beggarly” things of corrupt Judaism?—Galatians 4:9.
12, 13. (a) What second reason never to shrink back did Paul provide? (b) Why would their past record of endurance encourage the Hebrew Christians never to shrink back to destruction?
12 As if that were not enough, Paul gave the Hebrews a second reason never to shrink back to destruction—their own record of endurance. He wrote: “Keep on remembering the former days in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great contest under sufferings.” Paul reminded them that they had been “exposed as in a theater” to reproaches and tribulations. Some had suffered imprisonment; others had sympathized with and supported those in prison. Yes, they had shown exemplary faith and perseverance. (Hebrews 10:32-34) Yet, why did Paul ask them to “keep on remembering” such painful experiences? Would that not prove discouraging?
13 On the contrary, “remembering the former days” would remind the Hebrews of how Jehovah had sustained them under trial. With his help, they had already resisted many of Satan’s attacks. Paul wrote: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.” (Hebrews 6:10) Yes, Jehovah remembered all their faithful works, storing them in his limitless memory. We are reminded of Jesus’ exhortation to store up treasures in heaven. No thief can steal these treasures; no moth or rust can consume them. (Matthew 6:19-21) In fact, these treasures can be destroyed only if a Christian shrinks back to destruction. That would squander any treasures he had stored up in heaven. What a powerful reason Paul gave the Hebrew Christians for never pursuing such a course! Why waste all their years of faithful service? It would be right and far better to keep on enduring.
Why We Should Never Shrink Back to Destruction
14. What challenges do we face that are similar to those faced by the first-century Christians?
14 True Christians today have equally powerful reasons for not shrinking back. First, let us remember what a blessing we have in the pure form of worship that Jehovah has given us. Like the first-century Christians, we live at a time when members of the more popular religions sneer at us and mock us, pointing proudly to their impressive religious edifices and the antiquity of their traditions. Jehovah assures us, though, that he approves of our form of worship. In fact, we enjoy blessings today that the first-century Christians did not have. You might wonder, ‘How can that be?’ After all, they lived when the spiritual temple came into operation. Christ became its High Priest upon his baptism in 29 C.E. Some of them had seen the miracle-working Son of God. Even after his death, there were more miracles. As foretold, though, such gifts eventually ceased.—1 Corinthians 13:8.
15. True Christians today live during the fulfillment of what prophecy, and what does that mean for us?
15 However, we live during a significant fulfillment of the extensive temple prophecy of Ezekiel chapters 40-48.* Thus, we have seen the restoration of God’s arrangement for pure worship. That spiritual temple has been cleansed of all forms of religious pollution and idolatry. (Ezekiel 43:9; Malachi 3:1-5) Think of the advantages that this cleansing has given us.
16. What discouraging trend did first-century Christians face?
16 During the first century, the future looked dark for the organized Christian congregation. Jesus had foretold that it would be as if a newly planted wheat field were oversown with weeds, making the wheat virtually indistinguishable from the weeds. (Matthew 13:24-30) And so it was. By the end of the first century, when the aged apostle John was acting as the final restraint against corruption, apostasy was already flourishing. (2 Thessalonians 2:6; 1 John 2:18) Not long after the death of the apostles, a separate clergy class arose, oppressing the flock and wearing distinctive garb. Apostasy spread like gangrene. How discouraging for faithful Christians! They saw the newly established arrangement for pure worship become overwhelmed by a corrupted form. This developed less than a century after Christ founded the congregation.
17. In what sense has the modern-day Christian congregation outlasted its first-century counterpart?
17 Now, consider a contrast. Today, pure worship has already lasted longer than the period until the apostles died. From the time of the publication of the first issue of this journal back in 1879, Jehovah has blessed us with increasingly purified worship. Jehovah and Christ Jesus entered the spiritual temple in 1918 for the purpose of cleansing it. (Malachi 3:1-5) Since 1919, the arrangement for worshiping Jehovah God has been progressively refined. Our understanding of Bible prophecies and principles has become clearer. (Proverbs 4:18) To whom does the credit go? Not to mere imperfect humans. Only Jehovah, with his Son as Head of the congregation, could protect His people from corruption during these corrupt times. Let us never fail, then, to thank Jehovah for allowing us to take part in pure worship today. And let us be firmly resolved never to shrink back to destruction!
18. What reason do we have for never shrinking back to destruction?
18 Like those Hebrew Christians, we have a second reason for rejecting a cowardly, shrinking course—our own record of endurance. Whether we have begun to serve Jehovah in recent years or have been doing so faithfully for decades, we have built up a record of Christian works. Many of us have suffered persecution, be it imprisonment, ban, brutality, or loss of property. Many more have faced family opposition, scorn, ridicule, and indifference. All of us have endured, continuing in our faithful service to Jehovah despite life’s challenges and tests. By doing so, we have built up a record of perseverance that Jehovah will not forget, a storehouse of treasures in heaven. Surely, then, this is no time to shrink back to the corrupt old system we left behind! Why render all our hard work worthless? Especially is this true today, when only “a very little while” is left before the end.—Hebrews 10:37.
19. What will be discussed in our next article?
19 Yes, let us be resolved that “we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction”! Let us, rather, be “the sort that have faith.” (Hebrews 10:39) How can we make sure that we fit that description, and how can we help fellow Christians to do the same? Our next article will consider this matter.
Let Us Be the Sort That Have Faith
“We are . . . the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”—HEBREWS 10:39.
1. Why can it be said that the faith of each loyal servant of Jehovah is precious?
THE next time you are in a Kingdom Hall full of worshipers of Jehovah, pause to look at those around you. Think of the many ways in which they show faith. You may see elderly ones who have served God for decades, youths who daily stand up to peer pressure, and parents who work hard to raise God-fearing children. There are congregation elders and ministerial servants, who shoulder many responsibilities. Yes, you may see spiritual brothers and sisters of every age who surmount all manner of obstacles in order to serve Jehovah. How precious the faith of each one!—1 Peter 1:7.
2 Few imperfect humans, if any, have understood the importance of faith better than did the apostle Paul. In fact, he noted that genuine faith leads to “the preserving alive of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:39) Paul knew, though, that faith is subject to attack and erosion in this faithless world. He was deeply concerned about the Hebrew Christians in Jerusalem and Judea, who were struggling to preserve their faith. As we look at parts of Hebrews chapters 10 and 11, let us take note of the methods that Paul used to build up their faith. In the process, we will see how we can build stronger faith in ourselves and in those around us.
Express Confidence in One Another
3. How do Paul’s words found at Hebrews 10:39 show that he had confidence in his brothers and sisters in the faith?
3 The first thing we might note is Paul’s positive attitude toward his audience. He wrote: “Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:39) Paul thought the best, not the worst, of his faithful fellow Christians. Notice, too, that he used the expression “we.” Paul was a righteous man. Yet, he did not speak down to his audience, as if he were on a lofty plane of righteousness far above them. (Compare Ecclesiastes 7:16.) Rather, he included himself with them. He expressed heartfelt confidence that he and his faithful Christian readers would all face the daunting obstacles looming before them, that they would courageously refuse to shrink back to destruction, and that they would prove to be of the sort that have faith.
4. For what reasons did Paul have confidence in his fellow believers?
4 How could Paul have such confidence? Was he blind to the faults of the Hebrew Christians? On the contrary, he offered them specific counsel to help them overcome their spiritual shortcomings. (Hebrews 3:12; 5:12-14; 6:4-6; 10:26, 27; 12:5) Still, Paul had at least two good reasons for having confidence in his brothers. (1) As an imitator of Jehovah, Paul endeavored to see God’s people as Jehovah sees them. That was not merely in terms of their faults but in terms of their good qualities and their potential for choosing to do good in the future. (Psalm 130:3; Ephesians 5:1) (2) Paul had implicit faith in the power of the holy spirit. He knew that no obstacles, no human frailties, could prevent Jehovah from imparting “power beyond what is normal” to any Christian endeavoring to serve Him faithfully. (2 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 4:13) So Paul’s confidence in his brothers and sisters was not misplaced, unrealistic, or blindly optimistic. It was solidly based and Scripturally founded.
5. How can we imitate Paul’s confidence, and with what likely result?
5 Surely, the confidence Paul displayed proved infectious. It must have meant a great deal to the congregations in Jerusalem and Judea to have Paul speak so encouragingly to them. In the face of the withering scorn and haughty indifference of their Jewish opposers, the Hebrew Christians were helped by such expressions to resolve in their hearts to be the sort that have faith. Can we do the same for one another today? It is all too easy to see in others only a long list of faults and personality quirks. (Matthew 7:1-5) Yet, we can help one another far more if we take note of and value the unique faith that each one possesses. With such encouragement, faith is more likely to grow.—Romans 1:11, 12.
Fitting Use of God’s Word
6. From what source was Paul quoting when he wrote the words recorded at Hebrews 10:38?
6 Paul also built faith in his fellow believers by his skillful use of the Scriptures. For example, he wrote: “‘But my righteous one will live by reason of faith,’ and, ‘if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’” (Hebrews 10:38) Paul was here quoting from the prophet Habakkuk.* These words were likely familiar to Paul’s readers, Hebrew Christians to whom the prophetic books were well-known. Considering his goal—to strengthen the faith of Christians in and near Jerusalem around the year 61 C.E.—the example of Habakkuk was an apt choice. Why?
7. When did Habakkuk record his prophecy, and what were the conditions in Judah at that time?
7 Habakkuk evidently wrote his book just over two decades before the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. In vision, the prophet saw the Chaldeans (or, Babylonians), a “nation bitter and impetuous,” swooping down on Judah and destroying Jerusalem, swallowing up peoples and nations in the process. (Habakkuk 1:5-11) But such a calamity had been foretold since Isaiah’s day, over a century earlier. In Habakkuk’s time, Jehoiakim succeeded good King Josiah, and wickedness again flourished in Judah. Jehoiakim persecuted and even murdered those speaking in Jehovah’s name. (2 Chronicles 36:5; Jeremiah 22:17; 26:20-24) It is no wonder that the anguished prophet Habakkuk cried out: “How long, O Jehovah?”—Habakkuk 1:2.
8. Why would Habakkuk’s example prove helpful to Christians in the first century and today?
8 Habakkuk did not know how close the destruction of Jerusalem was. Similarly, the first-century Christians did not know when the Jewish system of things would end. Nor do we today know the “day and hour” when Jehovah’s judgment will come against this wicked system. (Matthew 24:36) Let us note, then, Jehovah’s twofold answer to Habakkuk. First, he assured the prophet that the end would come right on time. “It will not be late,” God said, even though from a human standpoint, it might appear to delay. (Habakkuk 2:3) Second, Jehovah reminded Habakkuk: “As for the righteous one, by his faithfulness he will keep living.” (Habakkuk 2:4) What beautiful, simple truths! What matters most is, not when the end comes, but whether we continue to live a life of faith.
9. How did obedient servants of Jehovah keep living by their faithfulness (a) in 607 B.C.E.? (b) after 66 C.E.? (c) Why is it vital that we strengthen our faith?
9 When Jerusalem was sacked in 607 B.C.E., Jeremiah, his secretary Baruch, Ebed-melech, and the loyal Rechabites saw the truth of Jehovah’s promise to Habakkuk. They ‘kept living’ by escaping the terrible destruction of Jerusalem. Why? Jehovah rewarded their faithfulness. (Jeremiah 35:1-19; 39:15-18; 43:4-7; 45:1-5) Similarly, the first-century Hebrew Christians must have responded well to Paul’s counsel, for when the Roman armies attacked Jerusalem in 66 C.E. and then inexplicably withdrew, those Christians faithfully heeded Jesus’ warning to flee. (Luke 21:20, 21) They kept living because of their faithfulness. Likewise, we will keep living if we are found faithful when the end comes. What a vital reason for strengthening our faith now!
Bringing Examples of Faith to Life
10. How did Paul describe Moses’ faith, and how might we imitate Moses in this regard?
10 Paul also built faith by powerful use of examples. As you read Hebrews chapter 11, note how he brings the examples of Bible characters to life. He says, for instance, that Moses “continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27) In other words, Jehovah was so real to Moses that it was as if he could see the invisible God. Could the same be said of us? It is easy to talk about a relationship with Jehovah, but to build and strengthen that relationship requires work. That is work we need to do! Is Jehovah so real to us that we take him into consideration when making decisions, including seemingly minor ones? Faith of that kind will help us to endure even the worst opposition.
11, 12. (a) Under what conditions may Enoch’s faith have been tested? (b) What encouraging reward did Enoch receive?
11 Consider, too, the faith of Enoch. The opposition he faced is difficult for us to imagine. Enoch had to deliver a stinging message of judgment against the wicked people living then. (Jude 14, 15) The persecution that threatened this faithful man was evidently so vicious, so violent, that Jehovah “transferred him,” taking him from the living state to the sleep of death before the enemies could lay hold of him. So Enoch did not get to see the fulfillment of the prophecy he uttered. However, he received a gift that was, in some respects, even better.—Hebrews 11:5; Genesis 5:22-24.
12 Paul explains: “Before his transference [Enoch] had the witness that he had pleased God well.” (Hebrews 11:5) What did this mean? Before he went into the sleep of death, Enoch may have had a vision of some kind, perhaps of the earthly Paradise in which he will awaken one day soon. In any case, Jehovah let Enoch know that He was well pleased by his faithful course. Enoch had made Jehovah’s heart rejoice. (Compare Proverbs 27:11.) Thinking of Enoch’s life is touching, is it not? Would you like to live such a life of faith? Then ponder over such examples; see them as real people. Be determined to live by faith, day by day. Remember, too, that the sort that have faith do not serve Jehovah on the basis of a date or deadline when God will fulfill all his promises. Rather, we are resolved to serve Jehovah forever! Doing so means the very best way of life in this system of things and in the next.
How to Grow Stronger in the Faith
13, 14. (a) How might Paul’s words recorded at Hebrews 10:24, 25 help us to make our meetings joyous occasions? (b) What is the primary reason for Christian meetings?
13 Paul showed the Hebrew Christians a number of practical ways in which they could strengthen their faith. Let us consider just two. We likely are familiar with his exhortation at Hebrews 10:24, 25, urging us to gather regularly at our Christian meetings. Remember, though, that Paul’s inspired words there do not imply that we are to be mere passive observers at such meetings. Rather, Paul describes meetings as opportunities to get to know one another, to move one another to serve God more fully, and to encourage one another. We are there to give, not just to receive. That helps to make our meetings joyous occasions.—Acts 20:35.
14 Primarily, though, we attend Christian meetings to worship Jehovah God. We do so by joining in prayer and song, by listening intently, and by offering “the fruit of lips”—expressions of praise to Jehovah in our comments and parts on the meeting. (Hebrews 13:15) If we keep those goals in mind and act on them at every meeting, our faith will without fail be built up each time.
15. Why did Paul urge the Hebrew Christians to hold fast to their ministry, and why is the same counsel appropriate today?
15 Another way to build faith is through the preaching work. Paul wrote: “Let us hold fast the public declaration of our hope without wavering, for he is faithful that promised.” (Hebrews 10:23) You might urge others to hold fast to something when they seem in danger of letting go. Satan was certainly pressuring those Hebrew Christians to let go of their ministry, and he is pressuring God’s people today as well. In the face of such pressure, what should we do? Consider what Paul did.
16, 17. (a) How did Paul acquire boldness for the ministry? (b) What measures should we take if we find ourselves intimidated by some aspect of our Christian ministry?
16 To the Christians in Thessalonica, Paul wrote: “After we had first suffered and been insolently treated (just as you know) in Philippi, we mustered up boldness by means of our God to speak to you the good news of God with a great deal of struggling.” (1 Thessalonians 2:2) How had Paul and his companions been “insolently treated” in Philippi? According to some scholars, the Greek word used by Paul expresses insulting, shameful, or outrageous treatment. The Philippian authorities had beaten them with rods, thrown them into prison, and confined them in stocks. (Acts 16:16-24) How did that painful experience affect Paul? Did ones in the next city on his missionary tour, Thessalonica, find Paul shrinking back in fear? No, he “mustered up boldness.” He conquered fear and continued to preach boldly.
17 From where did Paul’s boldness come? From within? No, he said that he mustered up boldness “by means of our God.” A reference work for Bible translators says that this statement may be rendered “God took fear out of our hearts.” So if you do not feel particularly bold about your ministry, or if some aspect of it in particular strikes you as intimidating, why not appeal to Jehovah to do the same for you? Ask him to take the fear from your heart. Ask him to help you muster up boldness for the work. In addition, take some other practical measures. For example, arrange to work with someone who is adept at the form of witnessing that concerns you. It may involve business territory, street witnessing, informal preaching, or telephone witnessing. Perhaps your partner will be willing to take the lead at first. If so, observe and learn. But then muster up the boldness to give it a try.
18. What blessings may we experience if we muster up boldness in our ministry?
18 If you do muster up boldness, think of what may result. When you persist and do not let yourself become discouraged, you are likely to have good experiences in sharing the truth, experiences that you might otherwise have missed. (See page 25.) You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have pleased Jehovah by doing something that is difficult for you. You will experience his blessing and help in overcoming your fears. Your faith will be stronger. Really, you cannot work at building faith in others without building your own faith at the same time.—Jude 20, 21.
19. What precious reward is in store for “the sort that have faith”?
19 May you continue to strengthen your faith and the faith of those around you. You can do so by building yourself and others up through adept use of God’s Word, by studying Bible examples of faith and bringing them to life, by preparing for and participating in Christian meetings, and by holding fast to the precious privilege of the public ministry. As you do these things, be assured that you are, indeed, one of “the sort that have faith.” Remember, too, that those of this sort have a precious reward. They are “the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”* May your faith continue to grow, and may Jehovah God preserve you alive forever!
Paul quoted the Septuagint rendering of Habakkuk 2:4, which includes the phrase “if anyone shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” This statement does not appear in any extant Hebrew manuscript. Some have suggested that the Septuagint was based on earlier Hebrew manuscripts that no longer exist. In any event, Paul included it here under the influence of God’s holy spirit. It therefore has divine authorization.
The yeartext of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the year 2000 will be: “We are not the sort that shrink back . . . but the sort that have faith.”—Hebrews 10:39.