“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)