“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.
“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)
“Since you are so ‘reasonable,’ you gladly put up with the unreasonable ones.”
~2 Corinthians 11:19
Was the Apostle Paul being sarcastic when he made this statement?
The context shows that the “unreasonable ones” refers to apostate Christians who were criticizing him in his absence. (2 Cor. 11:3-6,12-15).
Paul put up with a lot to carry out his ministry, including physical persecution and health problems. (2 Cor. 11:24-27;12:7).
But he was especially sensitive to the negative attitudes the Christians in Corinth had towards him.
It hurt him to have to defend his own reputation before his brothers. (2 Cor. 12:11,16)
Today we may come across negative, one-sided information about other Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It would be unwise to “put up” with apostate material that tries to weaken our faith in God’s congregation.
“Whoever is joined to the Lord is one with him in spirit.”
~1 Corinthians 6:17
Bible prophecy says it would be harder to cultivate self control during the time of the end. (2 Tim. 3:1,3)
If even the Apostle Paul felt he was at war with himself, how can I keep my body morally pure? (Rom. 7:19,22-24)
God’s Word warns me not to trust my own heart. (Jer. 17:9)
Instead, I can pray to Jehovah to create in me a new heart- one that is consistently loyal to him. (Ps. 51:10)
I can also pray for holy spirit to have the strength to resist temptation. (Rom. 8:26; Phil. 4:6,7)
I need to remember that my actions affect others, many of whom could be discouraged if I carry on a fleshly course. (2 Cor. 6:3,4)
Jesus said one should not even entertain the idea of infidelity. (Luke 16:10; Rom. 13:14)
It is comforting to know that despite my shortcomings, God is willing to patiently help me be a better person. (Ps. 130:3; 1 Cor.6:19,20)
“[…] The spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.”
~1 Corinthians 2:10
It is impossible to know God without the guidance of his holy spirit.
This is why many historians miss truths that are otherwise obvious to Bible readers who pray prior to studying. (2 Cor. 4:1-6)
The other side to this is people who say they believe but do not take the time to diligently compare Bible prophecies with their respective fulfillment.
This is why many people have heard of God’s kingdom but cannot explain its role in the course of human events. (Dan. 2:44; Matt. 6:9,10)
Or they believe God’s sacred secret continues to be a mystery. (Rom. 16:25,26; 1 Cor. 2:7)
Most people nowadays are familiar with God’s name being Jehovah or Yahweh, but remain reluctant to use it. (Ps. 83:18)
God has carefully set truths in his Word in such a way that only those having a humble attitude can understand them. (1 Cor. 1:19, 25; 2:14; 3:18-20)
May we never underestimate the value of God’s knowledge. (Prov. 2:1-11)
“Now may the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
Paul had just advised Christians who were strong in the faith to selflessly bear the weaknesses of others. (Rom 15:1-3)
This requires a lot of humility and is not an easy thing to nurture in ourselves.
Being imperfect, we tend towards selfishness. (Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 7:18,19; 12:16)
Every day we have to struggle against the negative, discontent, self-centered spirit in the world. (Eph. 2:2; 4:17,18)
We may relate to the following statement: “Our obvious imperfection, standing in sharp contrast with the perfect pattern that Jesus left us, may at times cause us to be discouraged. We may doubt that having the same mental attitude that Jesus had is even possible.”
Despite our inability to carry out everything God requires of us, we can still serve him in a way that pleases him.
We can read about dozens of exemplary people in the Bible who managed to serve him faithfully and be inspired to imitate their humble attitudes.(Rom. 15:4)
“[…] We are coming off completely victorious through the one who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This was my favorite Scripture as a teenager. I am happy to say it still rings true.
When the Apostle Paul was introducing this verse, he quoted Psalm 44, written by the three loyal sons of the rebellious Korah when they were evidently undergoing tremendous stress.
Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph did not join their father’s rebellion against Moses in the desert, and instead retained the privilege of continuing to serve Jehovah as priests. (Num. 26:10,11; 1 Chro. 26:19; 2 Chro. 20:18,19)
Sometimes life’s trials, either major or minor, may have us doubting whether we deserve God’s love or if eternal life is all it’s cut out to be.
In order to endure joyfully we need this conviction that is the foundation of our faith.
We need to be convinced that if we adopt a Christian attitude, we can battle our demons and ‘conquer the world.’ (John 16:33)
God promises that no creation- not even ourselves- can separate us from his love.
“[…] ‘The righteous one will live by reason of faith.'”
In his letter to the congregation in Rome, Paul explains that even those who suppress God’s Word ought to have a sense of right and wrong based on observing nature. (Rom. 1:18-20)
Does this mean that God judges us based on our own individual criteria, and we do not need to be held to absolute universal standards?
How do we know what it means to have good enough faith or to be righteous?
Paul says God’s righteousness is revealed in the good news. (Rom. 1:16,17)
When he speaks of faith, he is not speaking of an impersonal higher power who saves everyone regardless of their actions. (Rom. 1:21,29-32)
Yet, it takes more than knowledge of God to have faith. (Rom. 2:17,18,21)
If we listen to our own conscience, we can be at peace if we “work what is good.”
However, we cannot save ourselves.
We rely on God’s mercy. (Rom. 3:24; 4:5,25)
But if we are also to “live by reason of faith,” we do well to strengthen that faith by deepening our understanding of God’s good news and of his creation. (Rom. 2:10,13,15,16)
God’s Word tells us he judges us based on the sincere motives behind our actions and not merely on what we think or do. (Rom. 2:29)
The higher standard we’re being judged against is whether or not we do things out of love. (Matt. 22:37-40)
“After [Paul] said this, he took bread, gave thanks to God before them all, broke it, and started eating.”
Paul was in Caesarea, on the northwest coast of modern day Israel, when he appealed his case to be heard before Caesar.
He was escorted to Rome under the care of army officer Julius, who treated him fairly. (Acts 25:11; 27:1,3,42,43)
Despite his suggestion that the ship and all aboard stay in Fair Havens for the winter, the journey continued.
Fair Havens was located on the south coast of the island of Crete, and they were trying to reach the nearby port city of Phoenix, about seventy-five kilometers (47 mi) northwest of there.
But shortly after departing, a violent wind drove them southwest past the tiny island of Cauda. (Acts 27:14-16)
They managed not to capsize for around the next 1000 km (620 mi) until they neared the island of Malta.
The crew had started to lighten the load on the second day of the journey, and on the fourteenth day, Paul said: “Today is the 14th day you have been waiting anxiously, and you have gone without taking any food at all.” (Acts 27:18,33)
Paul could have become bitter and self-centered in those circumstances.
He could have focused on the unfairness of his situation.
The account says the storm was battering them and their hope had started to fade. (Acts 27:20)
Still, Paul encouraged others to eat and even thanked God for the provision of bread. (Acts 27:34,35)
How much more productive it is to approach life’s afflictions with faith and a gracious spirit. (Prov. 15:13,15; Eph. 5:20)