Ephesians, chapters 4-6

“[…] Speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ.”
~Ephesians 4:15

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.

Romans, chapters 4-6

“Happy is the man whose sin Jehovah will by no means take into account.”
~Romans 4:8

The verse the Apostle Paul is quoting in this passage is a Psalm which continues: “In whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Ps. 32:2)
In order to benefit from the joy of being granted true forgiveness, we must first turn around from our evil course. (Eze. 33:11; Acts 3:19; Ep. 4:22-24)
This implies being humble enough to recognize the error of our ways and a willingness to put in the effort to change.
Once we have demonstrated our repentance, we are able to feel the joy that comes from being reconciled to God through Jesus. (Rom. 5:11)
The knowledge that God loves us and assumes the best in us when we try to please him can carry us joyfully through difficult times. (Rom. 5:2-6)

Luke, chapters 14-16

“[…] For this son of mine was dead but has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they started to enjoy themselves.”
~Luke 15:24

In the illustration of the prodigal son, neither the repentant son nor his compassionate father dwell on the bitter past.
They focus on the present and rejoice in each other’s company.
When someone who wronged us, insulted us or even ruined our name and reputation, comes back humbly ready to make amends, are we able to bury the past?
Or what if we are like the prodigal son who squandered everything valuable and lost all sense of self-worth?
Do we trust in Jehovah’s mercy and let him heal us emotionally and spiritually, letting him use us to do his will again? Or do we resist his holy spirit and stubbornly hold on to negativity, even against ourselves?
Jesus’ illustration shows us the wisdom of focusing on the present and moving past sadness and anger. (Lu. 15:11-32)

Luke, chapters 2 & 3

“Jesus went on progressing in wisdom […].”
~Luke 2:52

At the young age of twelve, Jesus appears to have had a clear idea of the direction his life was heading in. (Luke 2:49)
But for most children, the proverb that states their heart is full of foolishness holds true. (Prov. 22:15)
How can parents, Bible teachers, or mentors help their kids progress in wisdom?
Past suggestions from Watchtower articles include:

  • Take the time to teach him/her how to distinguish right from wrong
  • Teach them the value of will power
  • Be consistent
  • Teach them to manage money
  • Teach them how to act appropriately/respectfully toward different people
  • Do not withhold discipline
  • Give reasons for rules
  • Give reasons for the way you do certain things
  • Be kind, warm and understanding
  • Try to make chores fun for them
  • Gradually help them take on responsibilities outside of home
  • Encourage them every chance you get
  • Only rebuke when absolutely necessary, but include something positive
  • Listen to him/her patiently

If there is an important child in your life, would he/she say you need to work on any of these things?

Though neither we nor the children we teach are perfect, Jehovah’s counsel is.

(Deut. 6:4-9; Prov. 17:10; 22:6; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim 2:24,25)

Mark, chapters 7 & 8

“[…] He sighed deeply in his spirit […].”
~Mark 8:12

Jesus was a man who clearly expressed his emotions.
This is the only passage where the greek verb “anastenazas,” or exasperation, is used in the Scriptures.
It describes how the Pharisees’ lack of faith made him feel.
But Jesus also sighed when speaking sign language to a deaf man he was about to cure. (“estenazen,” Mark 7:34)
He did not simply go through mechanical motions like an overworked doctor.
His sigh conveyed heartfelt empathy, a quality he reflected from our heavenly Father.
People may respond favorably or critically to God’s message, and they can move us, encourage us or drain us.
And like Jesus, we will need to discern who truly is appreciative of the good news and keep looking for them without becoming disheartened.

Mark, chapters 5 & 6

“The woman, frightened and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.”
~Mark 5:33

The woman referred to in this passage had suffered an embarrassing ailment for twelve years without finding a medical solution.
She did not wonder if Jesus could help her.
She had faith that she would be healed as soon as she could discreetly touch his clothes. (Mark 5:28)
In doing so, she was breaking Mosaic Law. (Lev. 15:25-27)
When Jesus discovered her, she confronted him with the truth.
In her place, I would have likely ran away as fast as I could.
I admire her boldness.
She not only had faith that Jesus would heal her, but also had faith that he would compassionately understand.
When approaching Jesus’ father, Jehovah, in prayer, I will try to imitate this woman’s faith in divine mercy, expressing myself from the heart. (Heb. 4:16)

Mark, chapters 1 & 2

“[…] He was at home. And so many gathered that there was no more room, not even around the door, and he began to speak the word to them.”
~Mark 2:1,2

When I think of Jesus’ ministry, I do not think of him as having people over for brunch, but rather picture him as a wanderer, reaching out to others wherever they were at.
But he did have a home based in Capernaum, which was close to Nazareth, the town he had grown up in. (Matt. 4:13)
What strikes me in this passage is Jesus’ hospitality, even towards those who did not have faith in him. (Mark 2:6,7)
Not only was his privacy overcrowded in an unannounced manner, but some even removed the roof to bring down a paralytic man. (Mark 2:4)
Jesus remained helpful and compassionate as always. (Mark 2:5)
When we in the Christian congregation are encouraged to be hospitable, it is not a suggestion based on culture or personal preference. (1 Pe. 4:9)
The way of hospitality is part of Christ’s example.