“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.
“Now to the one who can, according to his power that is operating in us, do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive, to him be the glory by means of the congregation and by means of Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.”
Many people who consider themselves to be Christians seem to have an unclear understanding of Christ’s role in the divine arrangement.
The Bible clearly states that Jehovah and Jesus are two distinct beings. (Deut. 6:4; John 14:28; Acts 7:55,56; Rev. 1:1)
Jesus’ purpose is to do his father’s will. (John 4:34)
They are “one” only in the sense that they are a team. (Matt. 26:39; John 8:17,18; John 17:1-3)
But literally they are two individuals.
All the glory belongs to Jehovah by means of Christ. (Prov. 8:22-31; 1 Cor. 15:27,28; Col. 1:13-20)
If something belongs to someone by means of someone else, they cannot possibly be the same person.
By recognizing Jesus’ role of mediator, we are valuing his self-sacrifice in devoting himself to doing his father’s will and addressing all glory to Jehovah. (1 Tim. 2:5,6)