“Keep walking by spirit.”—GALATIANS 5:16.
1, 2. What did one brother realize about himself, and what did he do about it?
ROBERT got baptized when he was a teenager, but the truth was not the most important thing in his life. He says: “I never did anything wrong, but I was just going through the motions. I looked spiritually strong, being at all the meetings and serving as an auxiliary pioneer a few times a year. But something was missing.”
2 Robert did not understand what was missing until after he got married. As a game, he and his wife sometimes asked each other Bible questions. His wife knew the Bible well and could answer the questions easily. But Robert often did not know the answers and felt embarrassed. He says: “It was as if I knew nothing. I thought to myself, ‘If I am going to be my wife’s spiritual head, I have to do something.’” So he did. He says: “I studied the Bible and studied and studied some more, and the pieces started to fit together. I got understanding and, most important, developed a close relationship with Jehovah.”
3. (a) What can we learn from Robert’s story? (b) What important points will we now discuss?
3 We can learn important lessons from Robert’s story. We may have some Bible knowledge and be regular at meetings and in the ministry, but this does not make us spiritually-minded. Or we may have already worked to become more spiritually-minded, but when we examine ourselves, we see ways that we can improve. (Philippians 3:16) In this article, we will answer three important questions: (1) What will help us to know if we are spiritually-minded? (2) How can we become spiritually stronger? (3) How can strong spirituality help us in our daily life?
HOW TO KNOW IF WE ARE SPIRITUALLY-MINDED
4. To whom does the counsel at Ephesians 4:23, 24 apply?
4 When we began to serve God, we made changes that affected every part of our life. This process did not end when we got baptized. The Bible tells us: “Continue to be made new in your dominant mental attitude.” (Ephesians 4:23, 24) Because we are not perfect, we need to keep making changes. Even if we have served Jehovah for many years, we need to keep our relationship with him strong.—Philippians 3:12, 13.
5. What questions can help us know if we are spiritually-minded?
5 Whether we are young or old, we need to examine ourselves honestly. We can ask ourselves: ‘Do I notice that I am becoming more spiritually-minded? Am I becoming more like Christ? What do my attitude and the way I behave at meetings reveal? What do my conversations show about what I really want in life? What do my study habits, dress and grooming, and the way I react to counsel reveal about me? How do I react when I am tempted to do something wrong? Have I become a mature Christian?’ (Ephesians 4:13) These questions can help us to find out how much we have grown spiritually.
6. What else can help us know if we are spiritually-minded?
6 Sometimes we need others to help us find out if we are spiritually-minded. The apostle Paul explained that a physical, or fleshly, person does not understand that his way of life does not make God happy. But a spiritually-minded person understands how God sees matters. He knows that Jehovah does not approve of a fleshly way of life. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16; 3:1-3) Elders who have the mind of Christ quickly notice when brothers start to behave in a fleshly way, and they try to help them. If the elders try to help us, will we accept their help and make necessary changes? If we do, we will show that we really want to become spiritually stronger.—Ecclesiastes 7:5, 9.
BECOME SPIRITUALLY STRONGER
7. How do we know that a spiritually-minded person is not just someone with Bible knowledge?
7 Bible knowledge is not enough to make us spiritually-minded. King Solomon knew much about Jehovah, and some of Solomon’s wise words even became part of the Bible. But later on, his relationship with Jehovah became weak, and he did not stay faithful. (1 Kings 4:29, 30; 11:4-6) So, what do we need in addition to Bible knowledge? We need to continue to strengthen our faith. (Colossians 2:6, 7) How do we do this?
8, 9. (a) What will help us to strengthen our faith? (b) What is our goal when we study and meditate? (See opening picture.)
8 In the first century, Paul encouraged Christians to “press on to maturity.” (Hebrews 6:1) How can we apply this counsel today? One important way is to study the book How to Remain in God’s Love. This will help you understand how to use Bible principles in your life. If you have already studied that book, there are other publications that you can study to help you make your faith strong. (Colossians 1:23) We also need to meditate on what we learn and ask Jehovah to help us see how to apply it.
9 When we study and meditate, our goal should be to develop a deep desire to please and obey Jehovah. (Psalm 40:8; 119:97) We also need to reject anything that will stop us from growing spiritually.—Titus 2:11, 12.
10. What can young people do to become spiritually stronger?
10 If you are a young person, do you have spiritual goals? One brother who serves at Bethel often speaks with young people who are about to get baptized at circuit assemblies and asks them about their spiritual goals. He can see that many have thought carefully about how they want to serve Jehovah in the future. Some plan to serve Jehovah full-time or to move to a place where more publishers are needed. But some young ones do not know how to answer his question. Could that mean that they feel they do not need to have spiritual goals? If you are a young person, ask yourself: ‘Do I go to meetings and in the field ministry just because my parents want me to? Or do I have my own friendship with God?’ Of course, we should all have spiritual goals, whether we are young or old. These goals will help us to become spiritually stronger.—Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13.
11. (a) What do we need to do to become spiritually-minded? (b) What Bible example can we imitate?
11 After we see where we can improve, we need to start making changes. This is so important that it affects whether we will live or die. (Romans 8:6-8) Jehovah does not expect us to be perfect, and he gives us his holy spirit to help us. But we still need to work hard ourselves. Brother John Barr, who served as a member of the Governing Body, once commented on Luke 13:24 and said: “Many fail because they are not diligent enough to grow mighty.” We need to be like Jacob, who wrestled with an angel and did not give up until he got a blessing. (Genesis 32:26-28) Although Bible study can be enjoyable, we should not expect the Bible to be entertaining as a novel might be. We need to work to find precious truths that will help us.
12, 13. (a) What will help us to apply Romans 15:5? (b) How can Peter’s example and counsel help us? (c) What can you do to grow spiritually strong? (See the box “What You Can Do to Grow Spiritually.”)
12 When we make the effort to grow spiritually, holy spirit will help us to change the way we think. Little by little, we can learn to think as Christ did. (Romans 15:5) Holy spirit can help us get rid of wrong desires and develop qualities that please God. (Galatians 5:16, 22, 23) If we find that we are focusing on material things or pleasures, we should not give up. We must keep asking Jehovah for holy spirit to help us focus on the right things. (Luke 11:13) Remember the apostle Peter. He did not always think like Christ. (Matthew 16:22, 23; Luke 22:34, 54-62; Galatians 2:11-14) But he did not give up, and Jehovah helped him. Little by little, Peter learned to think like Christ. And so can we.
13 Peter later mentioned specific qualities that will help us. (Read 2 Peter 1:5-8.) We need to work hard to develop self-control, endurance, brotherly affection, and other good qualities. Every day we can ask ourselves, ‘What quality can I work on today that will help me to become spiritually stronger?’
APPLY BIBLE PRINCIPLES EVERY DAY
14. How will being spiritually-minded affect our life?
14 If we think like Christ, it will affect how we behave at work or in school, how we speak, and how we make decisions each day. Our decisions will show that we are trying to imitate Christ. Because we are spiritually-minded, we do not want anything to damage our relationship with Jehovah. When we are tempted to do something wrong, our spirituality will help us resist the temptation. Before we make a decision, we will stop and ask ourselves: ‘What Bible principles can help me? What would Christ do in this situation? What will please Jehovah?’ We need to make it a habit to think this way. So let us discuss some possible situations. For each one, we will look at a Bible principle that can help us to make a wise decision.
15, 16. How can thinking like Christ help us make a wise decision about (a) choosing a marriage mate? (b) choosing our friends?
15 Choosing a marriage mate. The Bible principle is found at 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15. (Read.) Paul made it clear that spiritually-minded people do not look at things the same way as physical, or fleshly-minded, people do. How could this principle help you to choose a marriage mate?
16 Choosing our friends. The Bible principle is found at 1 Corinthians 15: 33. (Read.) A spiritually-minded person will not be friends with people who could weaken his faith. Think of how you could apply this principle in different situations. For example, how could it help you make decisions about social networking? How could it help you decide whether you will play online games with strangers?
17-19. How will being a spiritually-minded person help you (a) to avoid worthless activities? (b) to have good goals? (c) to handle disagreements?
17 Activities that harm our spirituality. We find an important warning at Hebrews 6:1. (Read.) What are the “dead works” that we should avoid? These are worthless activities that do not help us to become spiritually stronger. This warning about dead works can help us to answer questions such as: ‘Is this activity beneficial, or is it worthless? Should I get involved in this business plan? Why should I not join a group that is trying to change world conditions?’
18 Spiritual goals. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us good advice about goals. (Matthew 6:33) A spiritually-minded person puts the Kingdom first in his life. This principle will help us to answer questions such as: ‘Should I go on to university after I have completed my basic education? Should I accept a certain job?’
19 Disagreements. Paul’s counsel to the Christians in Rome can help us when we have disagreements with others. (Romans 12:18) We imitate Christ, so we try to “be peaceable with all men.” How do we react when we have disagreements with others? Is it difficult for us to accept someone else’s opinion? Or are we known as a person who tries to make peace?—James 3:18.
20. Why do you want to move forward spiritually?
20 These examples show how Bible principles can help us make decisions that prove we are guided by God’s spirit. If we are spiritually-minded, our life will be happy and satisfying. Robert, mentioned earlier, says: “After I developed a real relationship with Jehovah, I was a better husband and a better father. I was content and happy.” If we do all we can to move forward as a spiritual person, we will also enjoy many benefits. We will have a happier life now, and in the future we will have “the real life.”—1 Timothy 6:19.