“Let no man deprive you of the prize.”—COLOSSIANS 2:18.
1, 2. (a) What prize do God’s servants look forward to? (b) What helps us to keep our eyes on the prize? (See opening picture.)
ANOINTED Christians have a precious hope. They look forward to living in heaven. The apostle Paul called this hope “the prize of the upward call of God.” (Philippians 3:14) In heaven, they will rule with Jesus Christ in his Kingdom and work with him to help humans become perfect. (Revelation 20:6) What a wonderful hope this is! The other sheep look forward to a different prize. They hope to live forever in Paradise on earth, and this hope makes them truly happy!—2 Peter 3:13.
2 Paul wanted to help his fellow anointed Christians to stay faithful and win the prize. He told them: “Keep your minds fixed on the things above.” (Colossians 3:2) They needed to focus on their precious heavenly hope. (Colossians 1:4, 5) Thinking about Jehovah’s blessings helps all of God’s servants keep their eyes on the prize. This is true whether they hope to live in heaven or on earth.—1 Corinthians 9:24.
3. What did Paul warn Christians about?
3 Paul also warned Christians about dangers that could deprive them of the prize. For example, he wrote to the Colossians about false Christians who were trying to please God by following the Law of Moses instead of putting faith in Christ. (Colossians 2:16-18) Paul also discussed dangers that still exist today and that could stop us too from winning the prize. He explained how to resist immoral desires and what to do when we have problems in our family or with our brothers in the congregation. Paul’s valuable advice can help us today. So let us examine some of the loving warnings we find in his letter to the Colossians.
DEADEN IMMORAL DESIRES
4. Why can immoral desires stop us from winning the prize?
4 After Paul reminded his brothers about their marvelous hope, he wrote: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are on the earth as respects sexual immorality, uncleanness, uncontrolled sexual passion, hurtful desire, and greediness.” (Colossians 3:5) Immoral desires can be very strong and can make us lose our relationship with Jehovah and our hope for the future. One brother who gave in to his immoral desires and later returned to the congregation says that these desires became so powerful that he “did not turn back until it was too late.”
5. How can we protect ourselves in dangerous situations?
5 We need to be especially careful if we are in a situation that could lead us to disobey Jehovah’s moral standards. For example, it is wise for a couple who are courting to set limits from the beginning about things such as touching, kissing, and being alone together. (Proverbs 22:3) Other dangerous situations could happen when we go on a business trip or when we work with someone of the opposite sex. (Proverbs 2:10-12, 16) What can you do to protect yourself? Identify yourself as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Behave properly, and never forget that flirting can lead to disaster. We also need to be careful if we are sad or lonely. We may want someone to make us feel needed. We may feel so desperate that we will accept attention from anyone. This is dangerous. If you ever feel that way, do not do anything that will stop you from winning the prize. Turn to Jehovah and your brothers and sisters for help.—Read Psalm 34:18; Proverbs 13:20.
6. What should we remember when we choose entertainment?
6 To deaden immoral desires, we need to reject immoral entertainment. Today, much of the entertainment available reminds us of the way things were in Sodom and Gomorrah. (Jude 7) Those who produce entertainment make sexual immorality seem normal and harmless. So we always need to be alert. We cannot accept just any entertainment the world offers. Instead, we need to choose entertainment that will not stop us from winning the prize of life.—Proverbs 4:23.
“CLOTHE YOURSELVES WITH” LOVE AND KINDNESS
7. What problems could arise in the Christian congregation?
7 We are happy to be part of the Christian congregation. We study God’s Word at the meetings, and we lovingly support one another. This helps us to keep our eyes focused on the prize. But sometimes there are misunderstandings that can cause problems with our brothers and sisters. If we do not solve these problems, they can easily lead to resentment.—Read 1 Peter 3:8, 9.
8, 9. (a) What qualities will help us to win the prize? (b) What can help us to keep the peace if a fellow Christian upsets us?
8 We cannot allow resentment to stop us from winning the prize. Paul explained what Christians need to do: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, humility, mildness, and patience. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely even if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Just as Jehovah freely forgave you, you must also do the same. But besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.”—Colossians 3:12-14.
9 Love and kindness can help us to forgive others. If we feel hurt by what someone has said or done, we can think of occasions when we said or did something unkind to others and they forgave us. How grateful we were for their love and kindness! (Read Ecclesiastes 7:21, 22.) We are thankful that Christ kindly unites true worshippers. (Colossians 3:15) We all love the same God, preach the same message, and have many of the same problems. If we are kind and loving and forgive one another, the congregation will be more united and we can stay focused on the prize.
10, 11. (a) Why is jealousy dangerous? (b) How can we make sure that jealousy does not prevent us from winning the prize?
10 Jealousy can prevent us from winning the prize. Bible examples show how dangerous jealousy is. For example, Cain became jealous of Abel and killed him. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram became jealous of Moses and rebelled against him. King Saul became jealous of David and tried to kill him. What God’s Word says is very true: “Wherever there are jealousy and contentiousness, there will also be disorder and every vile thing.”—James 3:16.
11 If we work hard to become truly loving and kind, we will not easily become jealous. God’s Word says: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) To make sure that jealousy does not become part of our personality, we need to try to see things as Jehovah does. We need to view our brothers and sisters as members of the same body, which is the congregation. The Bible says: “If a member is glorified, all the other members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:16-18, 26) If something good happens to one of our brothers, we will be happy for him, not jealous of him. Think about the good example of King Saul’s son Jonathan. Jonathan was not jealous when David was chosen to be king instead of him. He even encouraged and supported David. (1 Samuel 23:16-18) Could we be as kind and loving as Jonathan?
WIN THE PRIZE AS A FAMILY
12. What counsel from the Bible will help our family to win the prize?
12 When every member of our family applies Bible principles, our family will be peaceful and happy and will win the prize. Paul gave this wise advice for families: “You wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord. You husbands, keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them. You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. You fathers, do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.” (Colossians 3:18-21) Can you see how this advice can help your family?
13. How could a Christian sister help her unbelieving husband to want to serve Jehovah?
13 Maybe you are a sister whose husband does not serve Jehovah. What will you do if you feel that he does not treat you the way he should? You might get angry and argue with him, but would that make the situation better? Even if you win the argument, will you make him want to serve Jehovah? Probably not. But if you show respect for his role as the family head, you can help your family be more peaceful and you will bring honor to Jehovah. Your good example might even make your husband want to serve Jehovah, and then you both can win the prize.—Read 1 Peter 3:1, 2.
14. What should a Christian husband do if his unbelieving wife does not respect him?
14 Maybe you are a brother whose wife does not serve Jehovah. What can you do if you feel that she does not respect you? If you tried to show her who is boss by shouting at her, would she respect you then? Of course not! God expects you to be a loving husband who imitates Jesus. (Ephesians 5:23) Jesus, the head of the congregation, is always patient and loving. (Luke 9:46-48) If you imitate Jesus, in time your wife may want to serve Jehovah too.
15. How does a Christian man show his wife that he loves her?
15 Jehovah instructs husbands: “Keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them.” (Colossians 3:19) A loving husband shows honor to his wife. How? He listens to her opinions and lets her know that what she says is important to him. (1 Peter 3:7) Even if he cannot always do what she asks, listening to her can help him make better decisions. (Proverbs 15:22) A loving husband does not demand that his wife respect him. Instead, he tries to gain her respect. When a husband loves his wife and children, they are more likely to be happy as they serve Jehovah and win the prize of life.
YOUTHS—DO NOT LET ANYTHING STOP YOU FROM WINNING THE PRIZE!
16, 17. As a young person, how can you avoid getting overly upset with your parents?
16 Maybe you are a teenager and feel that your parents do not understand you or that they are too strict. This may upset you so much that you wonder whether you even want to serve Jehovah. But if you leave Jehovah, you will discover that nobody in the world loves you as much as your Christian parents and your friends in the congregation do.
17 Think about this: If your parents never corrected you, how would you know if they really cared about you? (Hebrews 12:8) Of course, they are not perfect, so the way they discipline you may upset you. But don’t focus on that. Instead, try to understand the reasons for what they do and say. Stay calm, and try not to overreact. God’s Word says: “A man of knowledge restrains his words, and a discerning man will remain calm.” (Proverbs 17:27) Make it your goal to become a mature person who accepts counsel and learns from it no matter how it is given. (Proverbs 1:8) Never forget that having parents who love Jehovah is a precious gift. They want to help you to live forever.
18. Why are you determined to keep your eyes on the prize?
18 Whether we hope to live forever in heaven or on a paradise earth, each one of us can look forward to a marvelous future. Our hope is real. It is based on the promise of the Creator of the universe, who says: “The earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 11:9) Soon everyone on earth will be taught by God. That is a prize worth working toward. So always remember what Jehovah has promised you, and do not let anything stop you from winning the prize!