Endurance—Vital for Christians
“Supply to your faith . . . endurance.”—2 PETER 1:5, 6.
1, 2. Why must all of us endure to the end?
THE traveling overseer and his wife were visiting a fellow Christian in his 90’s. He had spent decades in the full-time ministry. As they talked, the older brother reminisced about some of the privileges he had enjoyed over the years. “But,” he lamented as tears started streaming down his face, “now I am not able to do much of anything.” The traveling overseer opened his Bible and read Matthew 24:13, where Jesus Christ is quoted as saying: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” Then the overseer looked at the dear brother and said: “The final assignment all of us have, no matter how much or how little we can do, is to endure to the end.”
2 Yes, as Christians all of us must endure to the end of this system of things or to the end of our lives. There is no other way to receive Jehovah’s approval for salvation. We are in a race for life, and we must “run with endurance” until we cross the finish line. (Hebrews 12:1) The apostle Peter emphasized the importance of this quality when he urged fellow Christians: “Supply to your faith . . . endurance.” (2 Peter 1:5, 6) But what exactly is endurance?
Endurance—What It Means
3, 4. What does it mean to endure?
3 What does it mean to endure? The Greek verb for “endure” (hy·po·meʹno) literally means “remain or stay under.” It occurs 17 times in the Bible. According to lexicographers W. Bauer, F. W. Gingrich, and F. Danker, it means “remain instead of fleeing . . . , stand one’s ground, hold out.” The Greek noun for “endurance” (hy·po·mo·neʹ) occurs over 30 times. Regarding it, A New Testament Wordbook, by William Barclay, says: “It is the spirit which can bear things, not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope . . . It is the quality which keeps a man on his feet with his face to the wind. It is the virtue which can transmute the hardest trial into glory because beyond the pain it sees the goal.”
4 Endurance, then, enables us to stand our ground and not lose hope in the face of obstacles or hardships. (Romans 5:3-5) It looks beyond the present pain to the goal—the prize, or gift, of eternal life, whether in heaven or on earth.—James 1:12.
5. (a) Why do all Christians “have need of endurance”? (b) Into what two categories may our trials be divided?
5 As Christians, all of us “have need of endurance.” (Hebrews 10:36) Why? Basically because we “meet with various trials.” The Greek text here at James 1:2 suggests an unexpected or unwelcome encounter, as when a person is confronted by a robber. (Compare Luke 10:30.) We meet with trials that may be divided into two categories: those that are common to men as a result of inherited sin, and those that develop because of our godly devotion. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Timothy 3:12) What are some of these trials?
6. How did one Witness endure when faced with a painful illness?
6 Serious illness. Like Timothy, some Christians must endure “frequent cases of sickness.” (1 Timothy 5:23) Especially when faced with a chronic, perhaps very painful, illness do we need to endure, to stand our ground, with God’s help and not lose sight of our Christian hope. Consider the example of one Witness in his early 50’s who waged a long, hard battle against a fast-growing malignant tumor. Through two operations he remained steadfast in his resolve not to accept blood transfusions. (Acts 15:28, 29) But the tumor reappeared in his abdomen and continued growing near his spine. As it did, he experienced unimaginable physical pain that no amount of medication could suppress. Yet, he looked beyond the present pain to the prize of life in the new world. He continued to share his blazing hope with doctors, nurses, and visitors. He endured right down to the end—the end of his life. Your health problem may not be life-threatening or as painful as the one experienced by that dear brother, but it may still pose a great test of endurance.
7. What kind of pain does endurance involve for some of our spiritual brothers and sisters?
7 Emotional pain. From time to time, some of Jehovah’s people encounter “the pain of the heart” that results in “a stricken spirit.” (Proverbs 15:13) Severe depression is not uncommon in these “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Science News of December 5, 1992, reported: “Rates of severe, often incapacitating depression have increased in each succeeding generation born since 1915.” The causes of such depression are varied, ranging from physiological factors to painfully unpleasant experiences. For some Christians, endurance involves a daily struggle to stand their ground in the face of emotional pain. Yet, they do not give up. They remain faithful to Jehovah despite the tears.—Compare Psalm 126:5, 6.
8. What financial trial may we encounter?
8 The various trials we encounter may include serious economic hardship. When a brother in New Jersey, U.S.A., suddenly found himself without a job, he was understandably concerned about feeding his family and not losing his home. However, he did not lose sight of the Kingdom hope. While he was looking for another job, he took advantage of the opportunity to serve as an auxiliary pioneer. Eventually, he found a job.—Matthew 6:25-34.
9. (a) How may the loss of a loved one in death call for endurance? (b) What scriptures show that it is not wrong to shed tears of grief?
9 If you have experienced the loss of a loved one in death, you need endurance that lasts long after those around you have returned to their normal routine. You may even find that it is especially difficult for you each year about the time that your loved one died. Enduring such a loss does not mean that it is wrong to shed tears of grief. It is natural to mourn the death of someone we loved, and this in no way indicates a lack of faith in the resurrection hope. (Genesis 23:2; compare Hebrews 11:19.) Jesus “gave way to tears” after Lazarus died, though He had confidently told Martha: “Your brother will rise.” And Lazarus did rise!—John 11:23, 32-35, 41-44.
10. Why do Jehovah’s people have a unique need of endurance?
10 In addition to enduring the trials that are common to all humans, Jehovah’s people have a unique need of endurance. “You will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name,” warned Jesus. (Matthew 24:9) He also said: “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20) Why all the hatred and persecution? Because no matter where we live on this earth as God’s servants, Satan is trying to break our integrity to Jehovah. (1 Peter 5:8; compare Revelation 12:17.) To this end Satan has often fanned the flames of persecution, putting our endurance to a severe test.
11, 12. (a) Jehovah’s Witnesses and their children faced what test of endurance in the 1930’s and early 1940’s? (b) Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses not salute the national emblem?
11 For example, in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses and their children in the United States and Canada became objects of persecution because they did not salute the national emblem for reasons of conscience. The Witnesses respect the emblem of the nation in which they live, but they comply with the principle set forth in God’s Law at Exodus 20:4, 5: “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion.” When some Witness schoolchildren were expelled because they desired to direct their worship only to Jehovah God, the Witnesses set up Kingdom Schools for their instruction. These students returned to the public schools when the Supreme Court of the United States acknowledged their religious position, as enlightened nations do today. However, the courageous endurance of these youngsters serves as a sterling example especially for Christian youths who may now face ridicule because they endeavor to live by Bible standards.—1 John 5:21.
12 The various trials we encounter—both those that are common to humans and those we face because of our Christian faith—indicate why we need endurance. But how can we endure?
Endure to the End—How?
13. How does Jehovah supply endurance?
13 God’s people have a definite advantage over those who do not worship Jehovah. For help, we can appeal to “the God who supplies endurance.” (Romans 15:5) How, though, does Jehovah supply endurance? One way he does so is through the examples of endurance recorded in his Word, the Bible. (Romans 15:4) As we contemplate these, not only are we encouraged to endure but we also learn much about how to endure. Consider two outstanding examples—the courageous endurance of Job and the flawless endurance of Jesus Christ.—Hebrews 12:1-3; James 5:11.
14, 15. (a) What trials did Job endure? (b) How was Job able to endure the trials he faced?
14 What situations put Job’s endurance to the test? He suffered economic hardship when he lost most of his possessions. (Job 1:14-17; compare Job 1:3.) Job felt the pain of loss when all ten of his children were killed by a windstorm. (Job 1:18-21) He experienced a serious, very painful illness. (Job 2:7, 8; 7:4, 5) His own wife pressured him to turn away from God. (Job 2:9) Close companions said things that were hurtful, unkind, and untruthful. (Compare Job 16:1-3 and Job 42:7.) Through all of this, however, Job stood his ground, maintaining integrity. (Job 27:5) The things he endured are similar to the trials that Jehovah’s people meet with today.
15 How was Job able to endure all those trials? One thing in particular that sustained Job was hope. “There exists hope for even a tree,” he declared. “If it gets cut down, it will even sprout again, and its own twig will not cease to be.” (Job 14:7) What hope did Job have? As noted a few verses later, he stated: “If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? . . . You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning [or, long for].” (Job 14:14, 15) Yes, Job saw beyond his present pain. He knew that his trials would not last forever. At most he would have to endure until death. His hopeful expectation was that Jehovah, who lovingly desires to resurrect the dead, would bring him back to life.—Acts 24:15.
16. (a) What do we learn about endurance from the example of Job? (b) The Kingdom hope must be how real to us, and why?
16 What do we learn from Job’s endurance? To endure to the end, we must never lose sight of our hope. Remember, too, that the certainty of the Kingdom hope means that any suffering we encounter is relatively “momentary.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) Our precious hope is solidly based on Jehovah’s promise of a time in the near future when “he will wipe out every tear from [our] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” (Revelation 21:3, 4) That hope, which “does not lead to disappointment,” must guard our thinking. (Romans 5:4, 5; 1 Thessalonians 5:8) It must be real to us—so real that through eyes of faith, we can picture ourselves in the new world—no longer battling illness and depression but waking up each day in good health and with a clear mind; no longer worrying about serious economic pressures but living in security; no longer mourning the death of loved ones but experiencing the thrill of seeing them resurrected. (Hebrews 11:1) Without such hope we can become so overwhelmed by our present trials that we give up. With our hope, what a tremendous incentive we have to keep fighting, to keep enduring right to the end!
17. (a) What trials did Jesus endure? (b) The intense suffering that Jesus endured may possibly be seen from what fact? (See footnote.)
17 The Bible urges us to “look intently” at Jesus and ‘consider him closely.’ What trials did he endure? Some of them resulted from the sin and imperfection of others. Jesus endured not only “contrary talk by sinners” but also the problems that arose among his disciples, including their repeated disputes over who was the greatest. More than that, he encountered an unparalleled test of faith. He “endured a torture stake.” (Hebrews 12:1-3; Luke 9:46; 22:24) It is difficult even to imagine the mental and physical suffering involved in the pain of impalement and the disgrace of being executed as a blasphemer.a
18. According to the apostle Paul, what two things sustained Jesus?
18 What enabled Jesus to endure to the end? The apostle Paul mentions two things that sustained Jesus: ‘supplications and petitions’ and also “the joy that was set before him.” Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was not ashamed to ask for help. He prayed “with strong outcries and tears.” (Hebrews 5:7; 12:2) Especially when his supreme trial was approaching did he find it necessary to pray for strength repeatedly and earnestly. (Luke 22:39-44) In response to Jesus’ supplications, Jehovah did not remove the trial, but he did strengthen Jesus to endure it. Jesus endured also because he looked beyond the torture stake to his reward—the joy he would have in contributing to the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and the ransoming of the human family from death.—Matthew 6:9; 20:28.
19, 20. How does Jesus’ example help us to have a realistic view of what endurance involves?
19 From the example of Jesus, we learn a number of things that help us to have a realistic view of what endurance involves. The course of endurance is not an easy one. If we are finding it difficult to endure a particular trial, there is comfort in knowing that the same was true even of Jesus. To endure to the end, we must repeatedly pray for strength. When under trial we may at times feel unworthy to pray. But Jehovah invites us to pour out our hearts to him ‘because he cares for us.’ (1 Peter 5:7) And by reason of what Jehovah has promised in his Word, he has obligated himself to supply “power beyond what is normal” to those who call upon him in faith.—2 Corinthians 4:7-9.
20 Sometimes we must endure with tears. For Jesus the pain of the torture stake was not in itself a reason for rejoicing. Rather, the joy was in the reward that was set before him. In our case it is not realistic to expect that we will always feel cheerful and elated when we are under trial. (Compare Hebrews 12:11.) By looking ahead to the reward, however, we may be able to “consider it all joy” even when we meet with the most trialsome situations. (James 1:2-4; Acts 5:41) The important thing is that we remain steadfast—even if it must be with tears. After all, Jesus did not say, ‘He that sheds the least amount of tears will be saved’ but, “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”—Matthew 24:13.
21. (a) At 2 Peter 1:5, 6, we are urged to supply what to our endurance? (b) What questions will be considered in the next article?
21 Endurance is thus vital for salvation. However, at 2 Peter 1:5, 6, we are urged to supply godly devotion to our endurance. What is godly devotion? How is it related to endurance, and how can you acquire it? These questions will be considered in the next article.
a The intense suffering that Jesus endured may possibly be seen from the fact that his perfect organism expired after just a few hours on the stake, whereas the evildoers impaled alongside him had to have their legs broken to hasten death. (John 19:31-33) They had not experienced the mental and physical suffering inflicted on Jesus during the sleepless all-night ordeal preceding the impalement, perhaps to the point where he could not even carry his own torture stake.—Mark 15:15, 21.
Supply to Your Endurance Godly Devotion
“Supply to your faith . . . endurance, to your endurance godly devotion.”—2 PETER 1:5, 6.
1, 2. (a) Starting in the 1930’s, what happened to Jehovah’s Witnesses in lands under Nazi control, and why? (b) How did Jehovah’s people fare under this harsh treatment?
IT WAS a dark period in 20th-century history. Starting in the 1930’s, thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses in lands under Nazi control were unjustly arrested and thrown into concentration camps. Why? Because they dared to remain neutral and refused to heil Hitler. How were they treated? “No other group of prisoners . . . was exposed to the sadism of the SS-soldiery in such a fashion as the Bible Students [Jehovah’s Witnesses] were. It was a sadism marked by an unending chain of physical and mental tortures, the likes of which no language in the world can express.”—Karl Wittig, a former German government officer.
2 How did the Witnesses fare? In her book The Nazi State and the New Religions: Five Case Studies in Non-Conformity, Dr. Christine E. King noted: “Only against the Witnesses [in contrast with other religious groups] was the government unsuccessful.” Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses as a whole stood their ground, even though for hundreds of them, this meant enduring to the point of death.
3. What has enabled Jehovah’s Witnesses to endure severe trials?
3 What has enabled Jehovah’s Witnesses to endure such trials not only in Nazi Germany but all over the world? Their heavenly Father has helped them to endure because of their godly devotion. “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial,” the apostle Peter explains. (2 Peter 2:9) Earlier in the same letter, Peter had advised Christians: “Supply to your faith . . . endurance, to your endurance godly devotion.” (2 Peter 1:5, 6) So endurance is closely linked with godly devotion. In fact, to endure to the end, we must ‘pursue godly devotion’ and manifest it. (1 Timothy 6:11) But what exactly is godly devotion?
What Godly Devotion Is
4, 5. What is godly devotion?
4 The Greek noun for “godly devotion” (eu·seʹbei·a) may be translated literally as “well-reverencing.”a (2 Peter 1:6, Kingdom Interlinear) It denotes a warm heartfelt feeling toward God. According to W. E. Vine, the adjective eu·se·besʹ, literally meaning “well-reverential,” signifies “the energy which, directed by holy awe of God, finds expression in devoted activity.”—2 Peter 2:9, Int.
5 The expression “godly devotion” therefore refers to the reverence or devotion for Jehovah that moves us to do what is pleasing to him. This is done even in the face of difficult trials because we love God from the heart. It is a loyal, personal attachment to Jehovah that finds expression in the way we live our lives. True Christians are urged to pray that they may lead “a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion.” (1 Timothy 2:1, 2) According to lexicographers J. P. Louw and E. A. Nida, “in a number of languages [eu·seʹbei·a] in 1 Tm 2.2 may be appropriately translated as ‘to live as God would have us live’ or ‘to live as God has told us we should live.’”
6. What is the connection between endurance and godly devotion?
6 We can now better appreciate the connection between endurance and godly devotion. Because we live as God would have us live—with godly devotion—we incur the world’s hatred, which invariably brings trials of faith. (2 Timothy 3:12) But there is no way we would be motivated to endure such trials if it were not for our personal attachment to our heavenly Father. Moreover, Jehovah responds to such heartfelt devotion. Just imagine how it must make him feel to look down from the heavens and observe those who, because of their devotion to him, are striving to please him despite all manner of opposition. No wonder he is disposed to “deliver people of godly devotion out of trial”!
7. Why must godly devotion be cultivated?
7 We are, however, not born with godly devotion, nor do we automatically acquire it from godly parents. (Genesis 8:21) Instead, it must be cultivated. (1 Timothy 4:7, 10) We must work to supply godly devotion to our endurance and to our faith. This, Peter says, takes “earnest effort.” (2 Peter 1:5) How, then, can we acquire godly devotion?
How Do We Acquire Godly Devotion?
8. According to the apostle Peter, what is the key to acquiring godly devotion?
8 The apostle Peter explained the key to acquiring godly devotion. He said: “May undeserved kindness and peace be increased to you by an accurate knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, forasmuch as his divine power has given us freely all the things that concern life and godly devotion, through the accurate knowledge of the one who called us through glory and virtue.” (2 Peter 1:2, 3) So to supply godly devotion to our faith and endurance, we must grow in accurate, that is, full, or complete, knowledge of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ.
9. How may it be illustrated that having accurate knowledge of God and Christ involves more than just knowing who they are?
9 What does it mean to have accurate knowledge of God and Christ? Clearly, it involves more than just knowing who they are. To illustrate: You may know who your next-door neighbor is and may even greet him by name. But would you lend him a large sum of money? Not unless you really knew what kind of person he is. (Compare Proverbs 11:15.) Similarly, knowing Jehovah and Jesus accurately, or fully, means more than merely believing that they exist and being aware of their names. To be willing to endure trials for their sake even to the point of death, we must really know them intimately. (John 17:3) What does this involve?
10. Having accurate knowledge of Jehovah and Jesus involves what two things, and why?
10 Possessing accurate, or complete, knowledge of Jehovah and Jesus involves two things: (1) getting to know them as persons—their qualities, feelings, and ways—and (2) imitating their example. Godly devotion involves a heartfelt, personal attachment to Jehovah and is made evident by the way we live our lives. Therefore, to acquire it we must get to know Jehovah personally and become thoroughly acquainted with his will and ways as far as this is humanly possible. Truly to know Jehovah, in whose image we were created, we must use such knowledge and strive to be like him. (Genesis 1:26-28; Colossians 3:10) And since Jesus perfectly imitated Jehovah in what he said and did, accurately knowing Jesus is a valuable aid in developing godly devotion.—Hebrews 1:3.
11. (a) How can we gain accurate knowledge of God and Christ? (b) Why is it important to meditate on what we read?
11 How, though, can we gain such accurate knowledge of God and Christ? By diligently studying the Bible and Bible-based publications.b However, if our personal Bible study is to result in our acquiring godly devotion, it is vital that we take the time to meditate, that is, to reflect, or ponder, on what we read. (Compare Joshua 1:8.) Why is this important? Remember that godly devotion is a warm, heartfelt feeling toward God. In the Scriptures, meditation is repeatedly associated with the figurative heart—the inner person. (Psalm 19:14; 49:3; Proverbs 15:28) When we reflect appreciatively on what we read, it filters down to the inner person, thus stirring our feelings, touching our emotions, and influencing our thinking. Only then can study strengthen our personal attachment to Jehovah and move us to live in a way that pleases God even in the face of challenging circumstances or difficult trials.
Practicing Godly Devotion at Home
12. (a) According to Paul, how may a Christian practice godly devotion at home? (b) Why do true Christians care for aging parents?
12 Godly devotion should be practiced first at home. Says the apostle Paul: “If any widow has children or grandchildren, let these learn first to practice godly devotion in their own household and to keep paying a due compensation to their parents and grandparents, for this is acceptable in God’s sight.” (1 Timothy 5:4) Caring for aging parents is, as Paul notes, an expression of godly devotion. True Christians provide such care not merely out of a sense of duty but because of love for their parents. More than that, though, they recognize the importance that Jehovah places on caring for one’s family. They are well aware that to turn their backs on their parents in a time of need would be equivalent to ‘disowning the Christian faith.’—1 Timothy 5:8.
13. Why may practicing godly devotion at home be a real challenge, but what satisfaction results from caring for one’s parents?
13 Admittedly, it is not always easy to practice godly devotion at home. Family members may be separated by considerable distances. The grown children may be raising their own families and may be struggling economically. The nature or the degree of the care needed by a parent can tax the physical, mental, and emotional health of the ones providing the care. Nevertheless, there can be real satisfaction in knowing that caring for one’s parents not only amounts to “a due compensation” but also pleases the One “to whom every family in heaven and on earth owes its name.”—Ephesians 3:14, 15.
14, 15. Relate an example of godly care on the part of children for a parent.
14 Consider a truly touching example. Ellis and five of his brothers and sisters face a real challenge in caring for their father at home. “In 1986 my father suffered a stroke, which left him completely paralyzed,” explains Ellis. The six children share in looking after their father’s needs, ranging from bathing him to making sure that he is regularly turned so that he does not develop bedsores. “We read to him, talk to him, play music for him. We are not sure whether he is aware of what goes on around him, but we treat him as though he is fully aware of everything.”
15 Why do the children care for their father as they do? Ellis continues: “After the death of our mother in 1964, Dad raised us on his own. At the time, we ranged in age from 5 to 14. He was there for us then; we are here for him now.” Clearly, it is not easy to provide such care, and the children do get discouraged at times. “But we realize that our father’s condition is a temporary problem,” says Ellis. “We look forward to the time when our father is restored to good health and we can be reunited with our mother.” (Isaiah 33:24; John 5:28, 29) Surely, such devoted care for a parent must warm the heart of the One who commands children to honor their parents!c—Ephesians 6:1, 2.
Godly Devotion and the Ministry
16. What should be the primary reason for what we do in the ministry?
16 When we accept Jesus’ invitation to ‘follow him continually,’ we come under a divine commission to preach the good news of the Kingdom and to make disciples. (Matthew 16:24; 24:14; 28:19, 20) Clearly, having a share in the ministry is a Christian obligation in these “last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1) However, our motive for preaching and teaching must go beyond a mere sense of duty or obligation. A deep love for Jehovah must be the primary reason for what we do and how much we do in the ministry. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” said Jesus. (Matthew 12:34) Yes, when our hearts overflow with love for Jehovah, we feel impelled to witness about him to others. When love for God is our motive, our ministry is a meaningful expression of our godly devotion.
17. How may we cultivate the right motive for the ministry?
17 How may we cultivate the right motive for the ministry? Reflect appreciatively on three reasons that Jehovah has given us for loving him. (1) We love Jehovah because of what he has already done for us. No greater love could he have shown than in providing the ransom. (Matthew 20:28; John 15:13) (2) We love Jehovah because of what he is now doing for us. We have freeness of speech with Jehovah, who answers our prayers. (Psalm 65:2; Hebrews 4:14-16) As we give priority to Kingdom interests, we enjoy the necessities of life. (Matthew 6:25-33) We receive a steady supply of spiritual food that helps us to cope with the problems we face. (Matthew 24:45) And we have the blessing of being a part of a worldwide Christian brotherhood that truly sets us apart from the rest of the world. (1 Peter 2:17) (3) We also love Jehovah because of what he will yet do for us. Because of his love, we have “a firm hold on the real life”—everlasting life in the future. (1 Timothy 6:12, 19) When we consider the love of Jehovah in our behalf, surely our hearts will move us to have a devoted share in telling others about him and his precious purposes! Others will not have to tell us what to do or how much to do in the ministry. Our hearts will move us to do what we can.
18, 19. What obstacle did a sister overcome in order to share in the ministry?
18 Even in the face of challenging circumstances, a heart stirred by godly devotion will be impelled to speak. (Compare Jeremiah 20:9.) This is shown by the case of Stella, an extremely shy Christian woman. When she first started studying the Bible, she thought, ‘I could never go from house to house!’ She explains: “I was always very quiet. I could never approach others to start a conversation.” As she continued studying, her love for Jehovah grew, and she developed a burning desire to talk to others about him. “I remember telling my Bible teacher, ‘I so much want to talk, but I just can’t, and that really bothers me.’ I will never forget what she told me: ‘Stella, be grateful that you want to talk.’”
19 Before long, Stella found herself witnessing to her next-door neighbor. Then she took what was for her a monumental step—she shared in the house-to-house ministry for the first time. (Acts 20:20, 21) She recalls: “I had my presentation written out. But I was so scared that even though I had it in front of me, I was too nervous to look down at my notes!” Now, over 35 years later, Stella is still very shy by nature. Yet, she loves the field ministry and continues to have a meaningful share in it.
20. What example shows that not even persecution or imprisonment can shut the mouths of devoted Witnesses of Jehovah?
20 Not even persecution or imprisonment can shut the mouths of devoted Witnesses of Jehovah. Consider the example of Ernst and Hildegard Seliger of Germany. Because of their faith, between them they spent more than 40 years in Nazi concentration camps and Communist prisons. Even in prison, they persisted in witnessing to other prisoners. Recalled Hildegard: “Prison officials classified me as being especially dangerous, because, as one woman guard said, I spoke about the Bible all day long. So I was put in a basement cell.” After they were finally given their freedom, Brother and Sister Seliger devoted their full time to the Christian ministry. Both of them served faithfully until their deaths, Brother Seliger in 1985 and his wife in 1992.
21. What must we do to supply godly devotion to our endurance?
21 By diligently studying God’s Word and taking the time to meditate appreciatively on what we learn, we will grow in accurate knowledge of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. This, in turn, will result in our acquiring a fuller measure of that precious quality—godly devotion. Without godly devotion there is no way to endure the various trials that come upon us as Christians. So let us follow the apostle Peter’s advice, continuing to ‘supply to our faith endurance and to our endurance godly devotion.’—2 Peter 1:5, 6.