“Though you never saw him, you love him. Though you do not see him now, yet you exercise faith in him.”
1, 2. (a) How can we gain everlasting life? (b) What can help us to stay focused on our journey?
WHEN we become Christians, it is as if we begin a journey. If we remain faithful to God, our journey will be a success and we can live forever. Jesus said: “The one who has endured to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) Yes, to finish our journey, we must remain faithful to God until “the end,” whether it is the end of our life or the end of this wicked world. But we must be careful not to get distracted by this world. (1 John 2:15-17) How can we stay focused on our journey?
2 Jesus set the perfect example for us. By studying what the Bible says about Jesus’ journey, or his way of life, we can learn what he is like. And we will love him and have faith in him. (Read 1 Peter 1:8, 9.) The apostle Peter said that Jesus left an example for us to follow closely. (1 Peter 2:21) And if we carefully imitate Jesus’ example, we will be able to endure to the end. * (See footnote.) In the previous article, we learned how we can imitate Jesus’ example of humility and tenderness. In this article, we will learn how to imitate his example of courage and discernment.
JESUS IS COURAGEOUS
3. What is courage, and how do we get it?
3 Courage is a feeling that can strengthen us and help us to endure difficulties. Courage also helps us to defend what is right. It can help us to remain calm and faithful to God when we suffer trials. Courage is related to fear, hope, and love. How? When we have a fear of displeasing God, we will not let fear of man affect us. (1 Samuel 11:7; Proverbs 29:25) Hope in Jehovah helps us to focus on our future and not on our trials. (Psalm 27:14) Unselfish love motivates us to show courage even when we are persecuted. (John 15:13) We get courage by trusting in God and imitating his Son.
4. How did Jesus show courage in the temple? (See opening picture.)
4 At 12 years of age, Jesus showed courage when he was “in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers.” (Read Luke 2:41-47.) Those religious teachers knew the Mosaic Law very well, but they also knew the Jewish traditions. These traditions made the Law difficult to obey. But Jesus did not allow their knowledge to stop him from speaking up. He was not afraid. He kept “asking them questions.” Of course, Jesus was not asking questions that a young boy would usually ask. Instead, we can imagine him asking deep questions that made those teachers pay attention and think. And if the teachers tried to trick Jesus with questions that would cause arguments, they failed. All those listening, including the teachers, were amazed “at his understanding and his answers.” Yes, Jesus courageously defended the truth that is found in God’s Word!
5. In what ways did Jesus show courage during his ministry?
5 During his ministry, Jesus showed courage in different ways. For example, he showed the people that the religious leaders were misleading them with their false teachings. (Matthew 23:13-36) Also, Jesus did not allow the world to corrupt him. (John 16:33) He kept preaching despite opposition. (John 5:15-18; 7:14) And twice, he cleansed the temple by courageously throwing out those who were corrupting true worship there.
Jesus courageously told the Jewish high court that he was the Christ and the Son of God
6. How did Jesus show courage on the final day of his life on earth?
6 Let us examine Jesus’ courage on the final day of his life on earth. Jesus knew what would happen once Judas betrayed him. Yet, at the Passover meal, Jesus told Judas: “What you are doing, do it more quickly.” (John 13:21-27) Then, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus courageously identified himself to the soldiers who came to arrest him. Even though his own life was in danger, he protected his disciples, telling the soldiers: “Let these men go.” (John 18:1-8) Later, when the Jewish high court questioned him, Jesus courageously told them that he was the Christ and the Son of God. He was not afraid, even though the high priest was looking for an excuse to kill him. (Mark 14:60-65) Jesus kept his integrity to God and died on the torture stake. With his very last breath, he cried out: “It has been accomplished!”
IMITATE JESUS’ COURAGE
7. Young ones, how do you feel about being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and how can you show that you are courageous?
7 How can we imitate Jesus’ courage? At school. Young ones, you are courageous when you tell your classmates and others that you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In this way, you show that you are proud to be called by Jehovah’s name, even if it means that others may make fun of you. (Read Psalm 86:12.) Some may want you to believe in evolution. But you can trust that what the Bible says about creation is true. You can use the brochure The Origin of Life
8. What reasons do we have to preach with courage?
8 In our ministry. As true Christians, we need to keep “speaking with boldness by the authority of Jehovah.” (Acts 14:3) Why can we preach with courage? First, we know that what we preach comes from the Bible. It is the truth. (John 17:17) Second, “we are God’s fellow workers,” and he has given us his holy spirit to help us. (1 Corinthians 3:9; Acts 4:31) Third, we love Jehovah and people, so we are motivated to do as much as we can to tell others about the good news. (Matthew 22:37-39) Because we are courageous, we will not stop preaching. We are determined to teach the truth to those who have been “blinded” or deceived by religious leaders. (2 Corinthians 4:4) And we will continue to preach the good news even if others reject our message or persecute us.
9. How can we show courage when we suffer trials?
9 When we suffer trials. When we trust in God, he will give us the faith and courage we need to endure difficulties. If a loved one dies, we grieve, but we do not lose hope. We are confident that “the God of all comfort” will strengthen us. (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4; 1 Thessalonians 4:13) If we are sick or injured, we may be in pain, but we refuse any treatment that will displease God. (Acts 15:28, 29) If we are depressed, “our hearts may condemn us,” but we do not give up. We trust in Jehovah, who is “close to the brokenhearted.” * (See footnote.)
JESUS IS DISCERNING
10. What is discernment, and how does a discerning Christian speak and act?
10 Discernment is the ability to understand the difference between right and wrong and then to choose to do what is right. (Hebrews 5:14) A discerning Christian makes decisions that will strengthen his relationship with God. He is careful not to hurt others with his speech. Instead, he pleases Jehovah because he chooses words that help others. (Proverbs 11:12, 13) He is “slow to anger.” (Proverbs 14:29) He “walks straight ahead,” that is, he makes good decisions throughout his life. (Proverbs 15:21) How can we learn to be discerning? We must study God’s Word and apply what we learn. (Proverbs 2:1-5, 10, 11) We can also study and imitate Jesus’ perfect example of discernment.
11. How did Jesus show discernment in his speech?
11 Jesus showed discernment in all that he said and did. In his speech. When he preached the good news, Jesus used kind words that amazed his listeners. (Matthew 7:28; Luke 4:22) He often read or referred to God’s Word. He knew exactly what scriptures to use in any situation. (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; 12:1-5; Luke 4:16-21) Also, people who heard Jesus explain the Scriptures were deeply affected by his words. After his resurrection, Jesus spoke to two disciples on their way to Emmaus. He explained the meaning of the scriptures that applied to himself. The disciples later said: “Were not our hearts burning within us as he was speaking to us on the road, as he was fully opening up the Scriptures to us?”
12, 13. What examples show that Jesus was slow to anger and was reasonable?
12 In his emotions and attitude. Discernment helped Jesus to be “slow to anger.” (Proverbs 16:32) He was able to control his emotions, and he was “mild-tempered.” (Matthew 11:29) Jesus was always patient with his disciples despite their faults. (Mark 14:34-38; Luke 22:24-27) And he remained calm even when he was mistreated.
13 Discernment helped Jesus to be reasonable. He understood the reasons for the Mosaic Law, which affected the way he treated people. For example, think about the woman who had “a flow of blood.” (Read Mark 5:25-34.) The woman walked through a crowd of people, touched Jesus’ garment, and was healed. According to the Law, she was unclean, so she should not have touched anyone. (Leviticus 15:25-27) But Jesus did not speak unkindly to her. Why? Because he understood that qualities such as “mercy and faithfulness” were more important than strict obedience to the Law. (Matthew 23:23) Jesus kindly said: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed from your grievous sickness.” What a beautiful example of how discernment motivated Jesus to show kindness!
14. Jesus chose to do what, and how did he stay focused on his ministry?
14 In his way of life. Jesus showed discernment by the way he lived his life. He chose the ministry as his career. (Luke 4:43) Also, Jesus made decisions that helped him to focus on this work and finish his assignment. For example, he kept his life simple so that he could use his time and energy in the ministry. (Luke 9:58) He knew that it was necessary to train others in order to continue the preaching work after his death. (Luke 10:1-12; John 14:12) And he promised his disciples that he would help them in the ministry “until the conclusion of the system of things.”
IMITATE JESUS’ DISCERNMENT
15. How can we show discernment in our speech?
15 How can we imitate Jesus’ discernment? In our speech. When we talk to our brothers and sisters, we use words that encourage them rather than discourage them. (Ephesians 4:29) When we talk to others about God’s Kingdom, our words should be “seasoned with salt,” that is, we should speak in a tactful way. (Colossians 4:6) We try to understand what people need and what interests them, and then we choose our words carefully. If we use kind words, people may want to listen to us, and our message may touch their hearts. Also, when we explain our beliefs, we read from the Bible whenever possible because God’s Word is the authority. We know that the Bible’s message is much more powerful than anything we could ever say.
16, 17. (a) How can we show that we are slow to anger and reasonable? (b) How can we stay focused on our ministry?
16 In our emotions and attitude. Discernment helps us to control our emotions when we are under pressure, and it helps us to be “slow to anger.” (James 1:19) When people offend us, we try to understand why they speak or act the way they do. Then it is easier to forgive and not be angry with them. (Proverbs 19:11) Discernment also helps us to be reasonable. We do not expect our brothers and sisters to be perfect. Instead, we remember that they may have problems that we do not fully understand. We are willing to listen to their opinions. And when we can, we yield, which means that we do not insist on our own way.
17 In our way of life. We know that preaching the good news is the greatest honor we could have. So we want to make decisions that will help us to stay focused on our ministry. We choose to put Jehovah first in our life. We live a simple life so that we can use our time and energy to preach the good news before the end comes.
18. How can we continue our journey to everlasting life, and what are you determined to do?
18 It has been a joy to learn about some of Jesus’ beautiful qualities! Imagine how we could benefit from studying his other qualities and from learning to be more like him. So let us be determined to imitate Jesus. By doing so, we will continue our journey to everlasting life and we will draw closer to Jehovah.
^ par. 9 For examples of people who showed courage when suffering trials, see The Watchtower, December 1, 2000, pages 24-28; Awake! April 22, 2003, pages 18-21; and January 22, 1995, pages 11-15.