“Look! I and the young children, whom Jehovah gave me.”
This passage is a quote from the book of Isaiah, in which the prophet and his children were to serve as “signs” to the people of Judah. (Is. 8:18)
But the prophet foreshadowed Christ’s role as a means to salvation from death. (Heb. 2:14,15)
His “children” are the annointed members of the Christian congregation who are to rule in heaven with him. (Gal. 3:29; Heb. 2:16)
They serve as signs to us when they proclaim God’s kingdom message of justice. (Luke 4:18,19)
The tenderness with which Jesus views his brothers and sisters upon calling them “children” inspires one to draw closer to his congregation.
“[The undeserved kindness of God] trains us to reject ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.”
Paul mentions soundness of mind three times in his letter to Titus, as well as alluding to our use of reason. (Tit. 1:8; 2:5; 3:2)
It seems to be the underlying theme of his letter.
He says that for someone whose mind and conscience are defiled, “nothing is clean,” right before he condemns religious hypocrisy. (Tit. 1:15,16)
We can conclude, then, that in order to have a stronger sound mind, we need to continuously nurture our own moral thoughts so as to have purer motives.
A Christian with a sound mind is one who adopts Christ’s way of thinking over his or her own. (Matt. 6:33,34; Rom. 12:2; Phil. 1:9,10; 4:4-7; 1 Pet. 4:7,8)
If we feel this world is pushing us toward our tipping point, we can meditate on the transcendence of God’s promises. (Tit. 1:2)
“[…] You may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but as more than a slave, as a brother who is beloved […].
~Philemon 15, 16
In his letter to Philemon, Paul entreats him to welcome back their fellow Christian, Onesimus, as a brother more so than as an escaped slave.
Paul did not use his authority in the congregation to promote personal opinions on civic matters.
Instead, he appealed to his friend’s love for God and others. (Phil. 9)
Even today, in such a hate-filled world in which we feel the effects of generations of injustice, we can trust that divine love is capable of eradicating the root causes of inequality. (1 John 4:21)
“In my first defense no one came to my side, but they all forsook me—may they not be held accountable.”
~2 Timothy 4:16
Is it normal to feel alone serving God Jehovah?
After all, our worldwide brotherhood and local congregations are supposed to be a haven of love and kindness amidst this wicked world. (Heb. 10:24,25; 1 John 5:19)
But it is unrealistic to assume others will never fail us.
David, who had an army of supporters at different times in his life, wrote:
“Reproach has broken my heart, and the wound is incurable.
“I was hoping for sympathy, but there was none,
“And for comforters, but I found none.” (Ps. 31:12; 69:20; 142:4)
Job’s closest friends also abandoned him during the hardest time of his life. (Job 19:14)
Jesus’ own friends fled from him when he faced death. (Matt. 26:56)
So we should not be too discouraged nor surprised if our support group does not react the way we need them to.
We are all Christians trying to fight the good fight, and part of that is learning to forgive each other. (Col. 3:13)
Such circumstances also teach us to rely on Jehovah’s unfailing love regardless of what happens. (2 Tim. 4:17,18)
“[…] I desire the younger widows to marry, to bear children, to manage a household, to give no opportunity to the opposer to criticize.”
~1 Timothy 5:14
I have mixed feelings every time I read this passage.
Why did Paul’s advice differ from that given to the women in Corinth ten years earlier? (1 Cor. 7:8,9)
Why did Paul assume that a younger woman was incapable of controlling her sexual desires to the point of remaining single? (1 Tim. 5:11)
Christian women in the first century did not have less help from God’s holy spirit to exercise self-control, so it seems to me he made a rather sexist assumption. (Gal. 5:22-24)
While I can understand that some women who had originally felt hopeless and asked for the congregation’s material assistance might eventually backtrack on their choice and decide to remarry, it is a bit irritating that Paul would state that choice as a matter of fact. (1 Tim. 5:12)
It does seem that he was more concerned with protecting the congregation’s reputation than he was with advocating women’s rights.
While I struggle to see beyond my scope of modern millennial culture, the 2011 Watchtower, July Study edition, points out: “Paul’s words are directed to certain ‘younger widows,’ but the principles he mentions apply to all of us.”
The article goes on to explain that when we keep ourselves busy with good works, we are less likely to do harm to others, for example through gossip. (1 Tim. 5:13)
Paul also stressed the need for extended family members to care for each other first. (1 Tim. 5:16)
So whatever Paul’s reasons were for wording his instructions the way he did, the principles underlying his advice are timeless.
“This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of people should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.”
~1 Timothy 2:3,4
A few days ago I (a Latina woman) was witnessing door to door with a White brother when we came upon a house of a Trump supporter.
I asked the brother to speak to the men in the garage even though it was my turn to talk.
I assumed that the men who lived there were White supremacists and would not want to talk to me.
One of the men complained that door to door ministers do not stop at his house because ‘they are afraid of him.’
He politely went on to ask a sincere Bible question.
I wonder how they would have received me had I been the one to greet them.
Many people hold erroneous ideals because they ignore the Bible’s “accurate knowledge of truth.”
Even those of us who have been studying God’s Word for years can have trouble seeing past our own prejudices from time to time.
For instance, a fellow believer asked me if my husband is in the country legally.
I pointed out that she would not be asking me that question if my husband and I were White.
Later, she said she does not see differences in race or ethnicity because we are all the same before God.
She is not from this area and she apologized and said she had always been curious about immigration issues.
These experiences have reminded me that I must progressively view all people as equal in their potential to serve God and be saved.
What a relief it is to know that despite our limiting imperfections, Jehovah God does truly seek out and find deserving ones regardless of ethnicity. (Zech. 8:23; Matt. 10:11; 24:14; 28:19,20; Rev. 14:6)
“[…] The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the wicked one.”
~2 Thessalonians 3:3
It would be a mistake on my part to think I could be strong enough to make good choices without God’s guidance.
While everyone benefits from an innate conscience, gone unchecked that very conscience could end up justifying immoral or selfish behavior. (Rom. 2:14,15; Tit. 1:15)
And while I could live a fairly decent life solely based on the values my parents taught me, parents are imperfect and that approach would most certainly doom me to repeat their mistakes. (Pr. 22:6; Rom. 3:23; Eph. 6:4)
On top of this, God’s word explains that one’s personal struggle against Satanic influences is very real. (Eph. 2:2; 6:11,12; 1 John 5:19)
Knowing all this, modesty ought to move me to seek out God’s guidance through prayer and through reading the Scriptures, as well as by staying close to the congregation. (2 Thes. 3:5; Heb. 4:12)
Only then can I truly benefit from ‘protection from the wicked one.’ (Ps. 37:28)
“[…] Just as you are in fact walking, we request you and appeal to you by the Lord Jesus to keep doing it more fully.”
1 Thessalonians 4:1
The members of the Christian congregation in Thessalonica were not perfect.
They had moral standards and love, but could improve on both counts. (1 Thess. 4:3,4,9,10)
That is why Paul commended them while tactfully encouraging them to “pursue what is good toward one another.” (1 Thess. 5:15)
Regardless of how long it has been since we became Christians, ‘making sure of all things’ and ‘holding fast to what is fine’ is something we have to remember to do every day. (1 Thess. 5:4,6,8,21)
We cannot afford to take our faith for granted, and as long as we are imperfect, there will be things we can improve on.
“Although those things have an appearance of wisdom in a self-imposed form of worship and a false humility, a harsh treatment of the body, they are of no value in combating the satisfying of the flesh.”
Is it wrong to fast?
Paul asked the Christian congregation at Colossae why they continued subjecting themselves to the man-made decrees: “Do not handle, nor taste, nor touch.” (Col. 2:20-22)
Although it is true that Paul himself fasted on occasion while praying, Jehovah expects his servants to serve him cheerfully and enjoy food.
(Eccl. 3:12,13; Acts 13:1-3; Acts 14:23; 1 Tim 1:11)
Furthermore, fasting itself does not help us combat other carnal desires.
And the Bible makes it clear that we cannot make up for our shortcomings through fasting. (Is. 58:3-7)
Whether a Christian chooses to fast or not is an entirely personal, private matter. (Matt. 6:16-18)
“Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”
If this is one of the verses I’ve cited most from the Bible, it is because I often need to remind myself of this.
Jehovah does not expect us to never be anxious, but he does expect us to rely on him through our trials. (1 Pet. 5:7)
He promises to be there for us, either by providing strength to endure or by showing us the solution. (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 4:7-9; 2 Pet. 2:9)
Jehovah often answers our prayers in ways which we could never have even imagined. (Eph. 3:20)
If we look to him for comfort, his training will make us stronger and ‘firmly ground us’ in the faith. (1 Pet. 5:10)
“[…] Speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ.”
How can I “grow up” by love, becoming a more spiritually mature Christian?
Mature Christians look for ways to promote unity in the congregation. (John 17:21,22; Eph. 4:2-4,13,16)
Instead of holding grudges, mature Christians consistently overlook the flaws of their brothers and sisters.
They view others with mercy and compassion. (Eph. 4:25,26; 31,32)
In the above passage, the Greek phrase “alitheiontes” literally means to maintain the truth.
This implies upholding Bible principles even when no one is watching. (Eph. 6:6)
But to be a mature Christian, it is not enough to obey systematically.
I have to be motivated by love.