Galatians, chapters 4-6

“Now the works of the flesh are plainly seen, and they are […] strife, jealousy, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions […]. Those who practice such things will not inherit God’s Kingdom.”
~Galatians 5:19-21

I am highlighting this passage because recently I decided I need to be more mild in spirit and less contentious.
Perhaps we inherited a quick temper from one of our parents or it is a result of never having cultivated patience.
Maybe we find it easy to be polite face-to-face but immediately get hot headed when someone cuts us off in traffic, or gives us less than enthusiastic customer service over the phone.
Or maybe we generally get along well with someone until we find out they were rude to someone we love.
Regardless of our reasons, as Christians we need to be in control of what we feel instead of giving free reign to our emotions. (Gal. 5:22,23)

A recent article in the JW app, titled “How to Control Your Anger,” cited the following words of wisdom:

“Let go of anger and abandon rage; Do not become upset and turn to doing evil.” (Ps. 37:8)

“Also, let the peace of the Christ rule in your hearts, for you were called to that peace in one body. And show yourselves thankful.” (Col. 3:15)

“Finally, all of you have unity of mind, fellow feeling, brotherly affection, tender compassion, and humility.” (1 Pet. 3:8)

“The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, And it is beauty on his part to overlook an offense.” (Prov. 19:11)

“Let your words always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should answer each person.” (Col. 4:6)

“Know this, my beloved brothers: Everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (Jas. 1:19)

Galatians, chapters 1-3

“All of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. […] You are all one in union with Christ Jesus.”
~Galatians 3:27,28

We are all equally valuable within the congregation, regardless of our gender, ethnicity, social class, or whatever we identified as before becoming Christians.
Jesus gave his life for us each as individuals.
That is why we strive to give up our old divisive attitudes and humbly learn to see all our brothers and sisters with honor and appreciation (Rom. 12:10; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:24)

2 Corinthians, chapters 4-6

“Working together with him, we also urge you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.
For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you.’
Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation.”
~2 Corinthians 6:1,2

Serving God is not necessarily easy nor fun. While it is not burdensome, it does entail considerable effort and sacrifice. (Matt. 7:13,14; Phil. 3:12-14; 1 John 5:3)
It may be tempting to take the easy way out and leave drawing closer to God for a future time when life is more “settled” or we feel more “prepared.”
The reason God’s Day has not come is because he wants us to repent. (Rom. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9)
But we do not know what will happen tomorrow or a couple years down the line. (Jas. 4:13,14)
Even if we spent 80 or 90 years studying about Jehovah and Jesus, we would still have so much more to learn about them and all they have done for us. (Job 26:14)
We cannot store up time and return it to God at a later date.
If we meditate on how we can draw closer to him today, we will have fewer regrets when we finally do run out of time. (Is. 30:18; 55:6; Eph. 4:30; Jas. 4:17)

2 Corinthians, chapters 1-3

“We are not peddlers of the word of God as many men are, but we speak in all sincerity as sent from God.”
~2 Corinthians 2:17

Jesus said, “You received free, give free.” (Matt. 10:8)
He made it clear that the congregation was not for commercial purposes. (Matt. 21:12,13)
While the congregation did accept and redistribute monetary aid, no one should feel obligated to donate or be put on the spot for it. (2 Cor. 9:7)
It is inevitable to notice that some religious pastors who charge tithes have luxurious homes/lifestyles while members of their flock have to take in boarders to pay the rent and cannot afford to finish school.
The Christian congregation can be identified by love of neighbor, so true Christian ministers sacrifice their own assets for the spiritual wellbeing of others, instead of expecting the community to provide for them. (2 Thess. 3:8-10)

1 Corinthians, chapter 13 & 14

“[…] In a congregation I would rather speak five words with my mind, that I might also instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”
~1 Corinthians 14:19

What was the purpose of Christians speaking in tongues and how do we know God discontinued the use of this miracle in his service?
Fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection, 120 of his Jewish disciples gathered together in Jerusalem to observe the Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-4)
They received through holy spirit the ability to communicate with Jews visiting from foreign countries.
Thus, many converted to Christianity. (Acts 2:5-11; 41-43)
This was one of nine gifts of the spirit early Christians relied on to help others learn the truth about Christ.(1 Cor. 12:7-11; Heb. 2:3,4)
But Bible prophecy states those gifts would cease. (1 Cor. 13:8)
When?
After Pentecost, Christians who continued to receive the gift of speaking in tongues were notably in the company of an apostle. (Acts 8:18; 10:44-46; 19:6)
It is to be understood then that after the last apostle’s death, these miraculous gifts would cease and the only way to identify God’s true congregation would be through its love. (John 13:35; 1 Cor. 13:13)
While modern Christians do not speak in tongues, we can still use our speech to build each other up. (1 Cor. 14:12)

(Last week there was no assigned Congregation reading corresponding to my personal study so I respectfully remind JW blog readers not to use these notes to prepare comments for this week’s meeting. Thank you.)

1 Corinthians, chapters 7-9

“You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men.”
~1 Corinthians 7:23

As Christians we should be careful that our bad budgeting or overspending on nonessential things does not lead us to high debt.
The Greek word for slave is also the word for servant (“dou’los”).
In ancient Israel, a person could legally sell himself into slavery if he incurred debt that he could not otherwise pay off. (Lev. 25:39)
While some debt may be unavoidable, especially in emergency situations, mismanaging our finances can sadly lead to putting work interests before spiritual needs.
Time we used to spend in the ministry or in deep study of God’s Word could be derailed to furthering our company’s success.
Even if we are not missing meetings, our workload may leave us too tired to want to do more for Jehovah.
Jesus advised his followers to have faith and not worry excessively beyond the food and shelter of today. (Matt. 6:31-34)

Romans, chapters 15 & 16

“Now may the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
~Romans 15:5

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)