“Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I will walk in your truth.”—PS. 86:11.
SONGS: 27, 10
1-3. (a) How should we feel about Bible truth? Illustrate. (See opening pictures.) (b) What questions will we consider in this article?
RETURNING an item that was purchased is a common practice. Estimates reveal that in some countries, buyers return nearly 9 percent of items purchased in stores. The return rate for items ordered online can be more than 30 percent. Perhaps the buyers found that the item did not meet their expectations, was defective, or was just not to their liking. So they decided to exchange the item or to ask for a refund.
2 Although we might request a refund for material goods that we bought, we would never want to return, or “sell,” the “accurate knowledge” of Bible truth that we “buy.” (Read Proverbs 23:23; 1 Tim. 2:4) As we considered in the preceding article, we acquired the truth by spending much time to learn it. In addition, to buy the truth, we may have forgone a lucrative career, dealt with changes in our personal relationships and in our thinking and conduct, or given up unscriptural customs and practices. However, the price we paid is small in comparison to the blessings that we have received.
3 When it comes to Bible truth, our feelings are similar to those of a man whom Jesus described in a brief illustration. To show how precious the truth of God’s Kingdom is to those who find it, Jesus told about a traveling merchant who searched for fine pearls and found one. In fact, that pearl was of such high value that he “promptly sold” everything he had to buy it. (Matt. 13:45, 46) Similarly, the truth we found—the truth of God’s Kingdom and all the other precious truths we learned from God’s Word—is of such high value to us that we willingly and promptly made the sacrifices needed to obtain it. As long as we value the truth, we will “never sell it.” Sadly, though, some of God’s people have lost sight of the value of the truth they obtained—and have even sold it. May that never happen to us! To show that we deeply treasure the truth and that we would never sell it, we must heed the Bible’s admonition to “go on walking in the truth.” (Read 3 John 2-4.) To walk in the truth involves living it—giving it priority in our lives and conducting ourselves in harmony with it. Let us consider these questions: Why and how might some “sell” the truth? How can we avoid making that sad mistake? How can we strengthen our determination to “go on walking in the truth”?
WHY AND HOW SOME “SELL” THE TRUTH
4. In the first century, why did some “sell” the truth?
4 In the first century, some who initially responded favorably to the teachings of Jesus failed to continue walking in the truth. For example, after a large crowd had been fed in a miraculous way by Jesus, the crowd followed him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. There, Jesus said something that startled them: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Instead of asking Jesus to explain, they were stumbled by his words and said: “This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?” As a result, “many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him.”—John 6:53-66.
5, 6. (a) In recent times, why have some failed to hold on to the truth? (b) How might one gradually leave the truth?
5 Sadly, some today have failed to hold on to the truth. Some were stumbled by an adjusted understanding of a Bible passage or by what a prominent brother said or did. Others were offended by Scriptural counsel they received, or they let go of the truth because of a personality clash with a fellow Christian. Still others took sides with apostates and other opposers who misrepresented our beliefs. As a result, some deliberately began “drawing away” from Jehovah and the congregation. (Heb. 3:12-14) How much better it would have been if they had maintained their faith and kept their confidence in Jesus, as the apostle Peter did! When Jesus asked the apostles if they wanted to leave, Peter immediately replied: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.”—John 6:67-69.
6 Others have left the truth gradually, perhaps without even noticing what was happening. A person who gradually leaves the truth is like a boat that slowly slips away from the riverbank. The Bible describes such a slow change as ‘drifting away.’ (Heb. 2:1) Unlike one who intentionally draws away from the truth, one who drifts away does not do so deliberately. However, such a person strains his relationship with Jehovah and is in danger of losing it. How can we avoid such a tragic course?
HOW CAN WE AVOID SELLING THE TRUTH?
7. What initial step will help us to avoid selling the truth?
7 To walk in the truth, we must accept and obey all of Jehovah’s sayings. We must give the truth priority in our lives and live according to Bible principles. In prayer to Jehovah, King David declared: “I will walk in your truth.” (Ps. 86:11) David was determined. We too must be firmly resolved to keep walking in God’s truth. If we are not, we could have second thoughts about what we paid for the truth and perhaps be tempted to begin taking back part of the payment. Rather, we carefully hold on to the complete truth. We recognize that we cannot pick which truths to accept and which to ignore. After all, we must walk in “all the truth.” (John 16:13) Let us reflect on five things that we may have paid for the truth. Doing so will strengthen our resolve not to be lured into taking back even part of our payment.—Matt. 6:19.
8. How could unwise use of time cause a Christian to drift away from the truth? Give an example.
8 Time. To avoid drifting away from the truth, we must make wise use of our time. If we are not careful, we might start to spend excessive amounts of time on recreation, hobbies, browsing the Internet, or watching television. Although these things are not wrong in themselves, the time we spend on them can begin to encroach on time previously spent in personal study and other spiritual activities. Consider what happened to a Christian sister named Emma. * From the time of her youth, Emma had a passion for horses. Whenever she had the chance, she went horseback riding. After a while, she began to feel uneasy about all the time she spent on her hobby. She made adjustments and eventually succeeded in keeping recreation in its proper place. She was also encouraged by the experience of Cory Wells, a former rodeo trick rider. * Emma now enjoys spending more time in spiritual activities and with her Christian family and friends. She feels closer to Jehovah and is at peace, knowing that she is using her time wisely.
9. How could seeking material advantages cause some to put aside spiritual pursuits?
9 Material Advantages. If we are to continue walking in the truth, we must keep material things in their proper place. When we learned the truth, our interest in material things became secondary to our spiritual pursuits. We were happy to make material sacrifices in order to walk in the truth. Over time, however, we may see others buying the latest electronic devices or enjoying other material advantages. We could begin to feel that we are losing out. No longer content with the necessities, we might put spiritual pursuits aside in favor of accumulating material possessions. Such a course reminds us of Demas. His love for “the present system of things” led him to abandon a life of service with the apostle Paul. (2 Tim. 4:10) Why did Demas leave Paul? Whether he loved material things more than spiritual activities or he was no longer willing to make personal sacrifices in order to serve with Paul, the Bible does not say. We surely do not want to rekindle a desire for material things and let those attractions crowd out our love for the truth.
10. To go on walking in the truth, what pressure must we resist?
10 Personal relationships. To continue walking in the truth, we must not give in to pressure from others. When we started to walk in the truth, our relationship with non-Witness associates and family members changed. Some were tolerant; others became outright opposers. (1 Pet. 4:4) Although we endeavor to have good relations with family members and treat them kindly, we must be careful not to compromise the truth to please them. We will continue to try to get along well with family members. In view of the clear warning at 1 Corinthians 15:33, we will have close friendships only with those who love Jehovah.
11. How can we avoid unscriptural practices?
11 Ungodly thinking and conduct. All who walk in the truth must be holy. (Isa. 35:8; read 1 Peter 1:14-16.) When coming into the truth, all of us had to make adjustments to conform to the Bible’s righteous standards. Some had to undergo major changes. Whichever the case, we must never trade our pure, holy condition for the immoral filth of this world. How can we avoid succumbing to immoral conduct? Reflect on the high price that Jehovah paid in order for us to be holy—the precious blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:18, 19) To maintain our clean standing before Jehovah, we need to keep the value of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice foremost in our mind and heart.
12, 13. (a) Why is it vital to maintain Jehovah’s view of holidays? (b) What will we consider next?
12 Unscriptural customs and practices. Family members, workmates, and schoolmates may try to get us to join them in their celebrations. How can we resist the pressure to conform to customs and holidays that do not honor Jehovah? We can do so by keeping Jehovah’s view of such practices clearly in mind. Reviewing discussions printed in our publications that show the origin of popular holidays can be helpful. When we remind ourselves of the Scriptural reasons for not participating in such holidays, we are convinced that we are walking in the way that “is acceptable to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:10) Trusting in Jehovah and his Word of truth will protect us from “trembling at men.”—Prov. 29:25.
13 Walking in the truth is an ongoing process, a path that we hope to follow throughout eternity. How can we strengthen our determination to go on walking in the truth? Let us consider three ways.
STRENGTHEN YOUR RESOLVE TO WALK IN THE TRUTH
14. (a) How will continuing to buy truth strengthen our resolve never to sell it? (b) Why are wisdom, discipline, and understanding essential?
14 First, continue to study the precious truths of God’s Word and meditate on them. Yes, buy truth by regularly setting aside time to feed on the precious truths of God’s Word. You will thus deepen your appreciation for the truth and strengthen your resolve never to sell it. In addition to buying truth, Proverbs 23:23 says that we should also buy “wisdom and discipline and understanding.” Knowledge alone is not enough. We must put the truth to work in our lives. With understanding, we discern the harmony of all of Jehovah’s sayings. Wisdom moves us to act on what we know. At times, the truth disciplines us, showing us where we need to make changes. May we always be responsive to such guidance. Its value is far more than silver.—Prov. 8:10.
15. How does the belt of truth protect us?
15 Second, be firmly resolved to live in harmony with the truth day by day. Wear the belt of truth around your waist. (Eph. 6:14) In Bible times, the belt of a soldier supported and protected his waist and his internal organs. For his belt to provide protection, however, it had to be tight. A loose belt gave little support. How does our spiritual belt of truth protect us? If we keep it wrapped tightly around us like a belt, the truth will guard us from faulty reasoning and will help us to make sound decisions. When we are tempted or under trial, Bible truth will strengthen our resolve to do what is right. Just as a soldier would never have thought of going into battle without his belt, we must be determined never to loosen or remove our belt of truth. Rather, we do all we can to keep it tight around our body by living in harmony with the truth. Another function of the soldier’s belt was that it furnished a convenient place to suspend his sword. That brings us to the next way to strengthen our determination to go on walking in the truth.
16. How does sharing the truth with others strengthen our determination to go on walking in the truth?
16 Third, have as full a share as possible in teaching Bible truth to others. In this way you will keep a firm grip on our spiritual sword, which is “God’s word.” (Eph. 6:17) All of us can strive to improve our skills as teachers, “handling the word of the truth aright.” (2 Tim. 2:15) As we use the Bible to help others to buy truth and reject falsehoods, we embed God’s sayings in our own mind and heart. In this way, we strengthen our determination to go on walking in the truth.
17. Why is the truth precious to you?
17 The truth is a precious gift from Jehovah. By means of this gift, we have our most prized possession, our intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. What he has taught us until now is only the beginning! God has promised us an eternity to add to the truth we have already bought. Therefore, cherish the truth like a fine pearl. Continue to “buy truth and never sell it.” Then, like David, you will carry out this promise to Jehovah: “I will walk in your truth.”—Ps. 86:11.