Increase in Accurate Knowledge With “Eagerness of Mind”
ALL of Jehovah’s servants seek his approval. Desiring to have such, we are eager to improve the quality of our faith and to render sacred service zealously. The apostle Paul, however, draws our attention to a potential danger, one that affected some Jews in his day: “They have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge.” (Rom. 10:2) Clearly, our faith and our worship of Jehovah should not be based merely on emotion. We need accurate knowledge of our Creator and his will.
Elsewhere in his writings, Paul linked conduct that has God’s approval with our eager acquisition of knowledge. He prayed that Christ’s followers “may be filled with the accurate knowledge” of God’s will “in order to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him” as they “go on bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the accurate knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:9, 10) Why is our need for “accurate knowledge” so great? And why should we increase in such knowledge?
The Key to Faith
Accurate knowledge of God and his will as revealed in the Bible is the basis of our faith. Without such reliable knowledge, our faith in Jehovah would be like a house of cards that could topple over with the slightest breeze. Paul encourages us to render sacred service to God with our “power of reason” and to ‘make our mind over.’ (Rom. 12:1, 2) Regular study of the Bible can help us in that regard.
Ewa, a regular pioneer in Poland, acknowledges: “If I did not regularly study God’s Word, I would stop growing in the accurate knowledge of Jehovah. My Christian identity would quickly begin to deteriorate, and my faith in God would weaken—I would be heading for spiritual bankruptcy.” May that never happen to us! Consider the example of a man who increased in accurate knowledge of Jehovah and consequently enjoyed His approval.
“How I Do Love Your Law!”
The poetic song listed as Psalm 119 in our Bibles conveys the psalmist’s feelings about the laws, reminders, orders, commands, and judicial decisions of Jehovah. The psalmist wrote: “For your statutes I shall show a fondness. . . . Your reminders are what I am fond of.” He also wrote: “How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern.”—Ps. 119:16, 24, 47, 48, 77, 97.
The expressions “fondness” and “concern” suggest meditation on God’s Word, in fact, taking delight in such meditation. Those expressions emphasize the obvious love that the psalmist had for study of the divine law. That love did not spring from a mere welling up of emotion in the psalmist’s heart. Rather, he had an earnest desire to ‘concern himself’ with the law, to gain insight into Jehovah’s words. We can see from his attitude that he wanted to get to know God and his will as accurately as possible.
It is clear that the psalmist’s love for God’s Word came from the bottom of his heart. We can ask ourselves: ‘Is that true of me? Do I delight in reading and analyzing a portion of the Bible each day? Do I approach the reading of God’s Word diligently and prayerfully?’ To the extent that we can answer yes to those questions, we are likely “increasing in the accurate knowledge of God.”
Ewa remarks: “I constantly try to improve the quality of my personal study. Since receiving the ‘See the Good Land’ brochure, I have used it nearly every time I study. I try more and more to look things up in the Insight on the Scriptures and in other reference works as needed.”
Consider, too, the examples of Wojciech and Małgorzata, who have considerable family obligations. How do they manage to fit personal Bible study into their schedule? “We make time to study God’s Word individually as we can. Then, during our family study and in our daily conversations, we share points that we found interesting or motivating.” Deep personal study brings them a lot of joy and helps them to ‘increase in accurate knowledge.’
Study With a Receptive Mind
As Christians, we believe that it is God’s will “that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3, 4) This fact underscores the value of reading the Bible and striving to “get the sense of it.” (Matt. 15:10) One aid to that end is studying with a receptive mind. This was the attitude that the ancient Beroeans demonstrated when Paul shared the good news with them: “They received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.”—Acts 17:11.
Do you follow the Beroeans’ example of having eagerness of mind and keep your mind free of unnecessary distractions while you are studying the Bible? A Christian can work at imitating the Beroeans, even if in the past, he did not view study as pleasurable. Furthermore, some people tend to read and study less as they advance in age, but that need not be true of a Christian. Regardless of one’s age, it is possible to work at avoiding distractions. And as you read, you can eagerly look for information that you can share with others. For example, could you make it a point to mention to your mate or to a Christian friend things that you have read or learned during your study periods? Doing so can effectively fix in your mind and heart those things while having a positive effect on others.
Regarding your study periods, follow the example of Ezra, the ancient servant of God who “prepared his heart to consult the law of Jehovah.” (Ezra 7:10) How can you do so? You can create an environment conducive to study. Then, sit down and pray to Jehovah for his direction and wisdom. (Jas. 1:5) Ask yourself, ‘What do I expect to learn during this study period?’ As you read, be on the lookout for key ideas. You may want to make a note of these or mark portions that you especially want to remember. Consider how you could use the material when preaching, when making decisions, or when encouraging fellow believers. Near the end of your study period, briefly review what you have covered. That will enable you to retain what you have learned.
Ewa describes her approach: “As I read the Bible, I use the cross-references, the Watch Tower Publications Index, and the Watchtower Library on CD-ROM. I make notes for myself with a view to using them in my ministry.”
Some have long enjoyed studying deeply, becoming absorbed in spiritual matters. (Prov. 2:1-5) Still, they have many responsibilities and have difficulty setting aside time for personal study. If that is true of you, what adjustments can you make in your schedule?
How Can I Find the Time?
You would probably agree that it is easier to make time for doing things that you enjoy. Many have found that an aid to being absorbed in personal study is setting a realistic goal, such as reading the entire Bible. Granted, it may seem daunting to read lengthy genealogies, detailed descriptions of the ancient temple, or complex prophecies that do not seem to relate to everyday life. Try to take practical steps toward reaching your goal. For example, before examining a portion of the Bible that seems difficult, you could read about its historical setting or its practical application. Such information can be found in the book “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial,” available in almost 50 languages.
It is stimulating to use your imagination while you are reading the Bible. This can help you to create in your mind a picture of the characters and events involved. Applying just these few suggestions will likely make your study sessions more enjoyable and rewarding. Accordingly, you will be more eager to make time for them. It will be easier to maintain the habit of reading the Bible every day.
While the above suggestions can help us on an individual level, what can a busy family do? Why not sit down together for a relaxed discussion of the potential benefits of family study? Out of that discussion may come practical ideas, such as getting up a few minutes earlier each day or on certain days in order to consider a portion of the Bible. Or perhaps your discussion will reveal the need to adjust the family schedule. For example, some families have found it practical to discuss the text for the day or to read a portion of the Bible at the conclusion of a family meal. Before anyone starts to clear the table or leaves for another activity, the family spends 10 or 15 minutes discussing the Scriptures or doing the scheduled Bible reading. At first, this might seem a bit challenging, but soon it could become normal for the family and very pleasurable.
Wojciech and Małgorzata explain what helped their family: “In the past, our time was consumed by unimportant, trivial activities. We made the decision to cut back on the time we spent sending e-mails. We have also curtailed some of our pastimes and set aside a specific day and time for in-depth study.” This family certainly does not regret making those adjustments, and you can find the same to be true of your family.
Increasing in Accurate Knowledge Is Worthwhile!
Deep study of God’s Word can bear “fruit in every good work.” (Col. 1:10) As that proves to be so in your life, your advancement will be manifest to all. You will be a spiritual person with a comprehensive understanding of Bible truths. Your decisions will be more balanced and the help you give to others more skillfully rendered, free of the extremes that often mark uninformed ones. Above all, you will draw closer to Jehovah. You will have a deeper appreciation of his qualities, and this will be evident as you tell others about him.—1 Tim. 4:15; Jas. 4:8.
Regardless of your age or experience, make every effort to keep on finding delight in God’s Word and engaging in deep study of it with a receptive mind. You can be confident that Jehovah will not forget your efforts. (Heb. 6:10) He will pour out on you his rich blessings.
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WHEN WE ‘INCREASE IN ACCURATE KNOWLEDGE’. . .
We strengthen our faith in God and walk worthily of Jehovah.—Col. 1:9, 10
We gain insight, being able to use discernment and make sensible decisions.—Ps. 119:99
We take increased pleasure in helping others to draw close to Jehovah.—Matt. 28:19, 20
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Finding a location that is conducive to study can be a challenge, but it is desirable
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Some families read a portion of the Bible after a meal