“Stand firm in the faith, . . . grow mighty.”
SONGS: 60, 64
1. (a) What happened to Peter during a storm on the sea of Galilee? (See opening picture.) (b) Why did Peter start to sink?
ONE night, the apostle Peter and some of the disciples struggled to row across the Sea of Galilee during a storm. Suddenly, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. Peter called out to Jesus and asked if he could walk across the water to him. When Jesus told him to come, Peter got out of the boat and started walking toward him. But soon after, Peter started to sink. Why? Because he looked at the storm and the waves and became afraid. Peter shouted for help and Jesus quickly grabbed him and said: “You with little faith, why did you give way to doubt?”
2. What will we now consider?
2 Let us consider three things about faith that we can learn from Peter’s experience: (1) how Peter at first trusted that Jehovah could help him, (2) why Peter began to lose faith, and (3) what helped Peter to regain his faith. Examining these points can help us to see how we can “stand firm in the faith.”
FAITH THAT GOD WILL HELP US
3. Why did Peter climb out of the boat, and how have we done something similar?
3 Peter had strong faith. Why can we say that? When Jesus called him, Peter climbed out of the boat and walked on water. He trusted that God’s power would give him that ability in the same way it did for Jesus. Similarly, when Jesus invited us to follow him, we dedicated ourselves to Jehovah and got baptized. Why? Because of our faith in both Jehovah and Jesus and because we trusted that they would help us.
Peter’s faith gave him the ability to do what seemed impossible for a human
4, 5. Why is faith a precious possession?
4 Faith is something precious. Peter’s faith gave him the ability to walk on water, something that seemed impossible for a human. Faith can also help us to do what may seem impossible. (Matthew 21:21, 22) Some of us have changed our attitude and behavior so much that people who knew us before no longer recognize us. We made these changes because we love Jehovah and because he helped us to make them. (Read Colossians 3:5-10.) Faith motivated us to dedicate ourselves to Jehovah, and we became his friends, something we could never have done without his help.
5 Our faith makes us strong. For example, it helps us to fight against the attacks of the Devil, our powerful enemy. (Ephesians 6:16) Also, because we trust in Jehovah, we do not need to worry as much when we have problems. Jehovah has promised that he will give us what we need if we have faith in him and put his Kingdom first. (Matthew 6:30-34) And more than that, because of our faith, Jehovah will give us the wonderful gift of everlasting life.
LOSING OUR FOCUS CAN LEAD TO LOSING OUR FAITH
6, 7. (a) To what might we compare the wind and waves that scared Peter? (b) Why must we understand that it is possible to lose our faith?
6 As Peter walked on the Sea of Galilee, he became afraid. Why? Because of the wind and the waves. These might be compared to the many trials and temptations Christians experience today. Even if these problems are very difficult, we can be strong with Jehovah’s help. But remember what happened to Peter. He did not sink because of the wind and the waves hitting him. Instead, the Bible says: “Looking at the windstorm, he became afraid.” (Matthew 14:30) Peter stopped looking at Jesus and focused on the power of the storm. Then his faith started to weaken. In a similar way, if we focus on our problems, we can begin to doubt that Jehovah will help us.
If we focus on the wrong things, our faith could quickly become weak
7 We must understand that it is possible to lose our faith. Why? Because the Bible says that loss of faith is “the sin that easily entangles us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Similar to Peter, if we focus on the wrong things, our faith could quickly become weak. So how can we know if our faith is in danger? The following questions will help us to examine ourselves.
8. How might God’s promises seem less real to us than they once did?
8 Are God’s promises as real to me now as they were before? For example, God has promised to destroy Satan’s world. However, are we distracted by the many different types of entertainment his world offers? If so, we might start to doubt that the end is near. (Habakkuk 2:3) Think about another example. Jehovah provided the ransom, and he promised to forgive our mistakes. But if we keep focusing on our past mistakes, we may begin to doubt that Jehovah has really forgiven us. (Acts 3:19) As a result, we could lose our joy in God’s service and stop preaching to others.
9. What could happen if we focus our life on personal interests?
9 Do I still give Jehovah my very best? When we work hard for Jehovah, it helps us to focus on our hope for the future. However, what if we have started to focus more on our own interests? For example, we might accept a job that pays well but limits our service to Jehovah. This could weaken our faith, and we could “become sluggish,” doing less for Jehovah than we really can.
Jesus’ disciples learned that faith is needed to forgive others
10. How do we show faith in Jehovah when we forgive others?
10 Is it hard for me to forgive? When others offend or hurt us, are we tempted to get angry with them or stop speaking to them? If so, we could be focusing too much on our own feelings. We show our faith in Jehovah when we forgive others. How so? If someone sins against us, they owe us a debt. When we sin against Jehovah, we owe him a debt. (Luke 11:4) So when we forgive others, we are trusting in Jehovah. We trust him to bless our attitude, and his blessing is much more valuable than making someone pay for what he did to us. Jesus’ disciples learned that faith is needed to forgive others. When Jesus told them to forgive even those who sinned against them many times, his disciples begged him: “Give us more faith.”
11. Why might we fail to learn from counsel?
11 Am I offended when given counsel? Look for ways to learn from counsel instead of looking for mistakes in the counsel or weaknesses in the one who gave it. (Proverbs 19:20) Do not miss an opportunity to learn to think more like Jehovah!
12. What may be wrong if a person always complains about those taking the lead?
12 Do I complain about those taking the lead in the congregation? When the Israelites focused on the bad report of the ten spies, they complained about Moses and Aaron. Then Jehovah asked Moses: “How much longer will they not put faith in me?” (Numbers 14:2-4, 11) Yes, Jehovah knew that the Israelites did not trust in him because they complained against Moses and Aaron, men whom he had appointed. In a similar way, if we always complain about those whom Jehovah uses to lead his people today, this may show that our faith in God has weakened.
13. Why should we not be disappointed if we see some weaknesses in our faith?
13 After considering these questions, do not be disappointed if you see that your faith has weakened. Remember that even the apostle Peter became afraid and began to doubt. And at times, Jesus counseled all the apostles for having “little faith.” (Matthew 16:8) Yet, we can learn an important lesson from Peter’s experience. Notice what he did after he started to doubt and sink into the sea.
FOCUS ON JESUS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH
14, 15. (a) What did Peter do when he started to sink? (b) How can we “look intently” at Jesus?
14 What did Peter do when he started to sink? Peter was a good swimmer, so he could have decided to swim back to the boat. (John 21:7) But why did he not do that? Because he did not rely on himself for help. He focused on Jesus again and accepted his help. If we notice that our faith has weakened, we should imitate Peter. How can we do that?
15 Just as Peter focused on Jesus again for help, we too must “look intently” at Jesus. (Read Hebrews 12:2, 3.) But we cannot see him with our eyes the way Peter could. So how can we “look intently” at Jesus? We can study the things he taught and did and then imitate him very closely. When we do that, we will get the help we need to strengthen our faith. Let us consider some ways that we can imitate Jesus.
16. How can the Bible help us to strengthen our faith?
16 Strengthen your trust in the Bible. Jesus was convinced that the Bible is God’s Word and that it gives us the best advice. (John 17:17) To imitate Jesus, we must read the Bible every day, study it, and meditate on the lessons we learn. We must also search for answers to questions we might have. For example, do you strongly believe that we live in the last days? Strengthen your faith that the end is near by studying Bible prophecies that prove we are living in the last days. Do you want to strengthen your faith in God’s promises for the future? Then study Bible prophecies that have been fulfilled. Do you really believe that the Bible is practical today? You can read about brothers and sisters who changed their lives for the better with help from the Bible. * (See footnote.)
17. Why was Jesus able to endure extreme tests, and how can you imitate him?
17 Focus on the blessings Jehovah has promised. Jesus focused on his future blessings, and this helped him to endure extreme tests. (Hebrews 12:2) He was never distracted by what the world could offer. (Matthew 4:8-10) How can we imitate Jesus’ example? Meditate on the wonderful promises Jehovah has made. Imagine yourself in the new world. Write about or draw what you will do in Paradise. Or make a list of resurrected people you would like to talk with and what you would like to say to them. See these as God’s promises, not just to people in general, but to you personally.
18. How can prayer help to strengthen your faith?
18 Pray for more faith. Jesus taught his disciples to ask Jehovah for holy spirit. (Luke 11:9, 13) As you ask for holy spirit, pray for more faith. It is one aspect of the fruitage of the holy spirit. You can be specific in your prayers. For example, if you notice that it is difficult for you to forgive others, ask Jehovah to keep your faith strong and to help you to be forgiving.
19. How can we choose good friends?
19 Choose friends with strong faith. Jesus chose his close friends carefully. His closest friends, the apostles, were faithful, loyal, and obedient to him. (Read John 15:14, 15.) Imitate Jesus and choose your friends carefully. They should be people with strong faith who are obedient to Jesus. True friends can be honest with each other, even when they need to give or accept counsel.
20. What will happen when we help others strengthen their faith?
20 Help others build their faith. Jesus helped his disciples to strengthen their faith by what he said and did. (Mark 11:20-24) We should imitate Jesus’ example. When we do that, we will strengthen our own faith and the faith of others. (Proverbs 11:25) How can you help people in your territory? When you teach the Bible to others, emphasize the proof that God exists, that he cares about us, and that the Bible is God’s Word. How can you help your brothers and sisters to keep their faith strong? If you notice someone complaining about the brothers who take the lead, do not be quick to avoid him. Use tact to try to help him restore his faith. (Jude 22, 23) If you are still in school and your teacher talks about evolution, be bold and defend your faith in creation. The reaction of your teacher and your classmates might pleasantly surprise you.
21. What has Jehovah promised each of us?
21 Jehovah and Jesus helped Peter to overcome doubt and fear. Later in his life, Peter became a strong example of faith for others. In the same way, Jehovah helps each of us to stand firm in the faith. (Read 1 Peter 5:9, 10.) It takes effort to build strong faith, but Jehovah will reward us when we make that effort.
^ par. 16 For example, see the series “The Bible Changes Lives” in the public edition of The Watchtower.