“When you received God’s word, . . . you accepted it . . . just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.”—1 THESS. 2:13.
SONGS: 37, 37
1-3. How might the differences between Euodia and Syntyche have arisen, and how can such problems be avoided? (See opening picture.)
JEHOVAH’S servants highly esteem God’s own holy book, the Bible. Being imperfect, we all receive Scriptural counsel at times. How will we respond to it? Consider the first-century Christians Euodia and Syntyche. Serious problems arose between these anointed women. What problems? The Bible does not say. But for the sake of illustration, consider the following possibility.
2 Suppose Euodia invited some brothers and sisters to her home for a meal and pleasant association. Syntyche was not invited, but she heard about the good time that everyone had. Syntyche may have said: ‘I cannot believe that Euodia did not invite me! I thought we were best friends.’ Feeling betrayed, Syntyche began to look at Euodia with doubt and even suspicion. So Syntyche arranged her own gathering and invited the same brothers and sisters—but not Euodia! The problem that existed between Euodia and Syntyche could have disrupted the peace of the whole congregation. The Bible does not tell us the outcome, but these sisters may have responded well to the apostle Paul’s loving counsel.—Phil. 4:2, 3.
3 Similar situations sometimes cause difficulties in congregations of Jehovah’s people today. However, such problems can be solved or even avoided if we apply the counsel found in God’s Word, the Bible. And if we highly esteem Jehovah’s own Book, we will live by its instructions.—Ps. 27:11.
GOD’S OWN BOOK AND HUMAN EMOTIONS
4, 5. What counsel does God’s Word give us about controlling our emotions?
4 It is not easy to control our emotions when we feel that we have been slighted or treated unjustly. It can be devastating if we are mistreated because of our ethnic background, the color of our skin, or some other physical difference. How much greater the pain is if it is caused by a fellow Christian! Does God’s Word provide counsel to help us if we face this ugly side of imperfect human behavior?
5 Jehovah has observed human relations since mankind’s beginning. He takes note of our emotions and actions. Thoughts, including those that are emotionally charged, can lead to words and actions we may later regret. How wise it is to apply the Bible’s counsel to control our temper and avoid being quick to take offense! (Prov. 16:32; Read Ecclesiastes 7:9.) No doubt all of us need to work at being less sensitive and more forgiving. Jehovah and Jesus take forgiveness very seriously. (Matt. 6:14, 15) Do you need to be more forgiving or to give attention to controlling your emotions?
6. Why should we guard against bitterness?
6 People who fail to control their emotions often become bitter. As a result, others may not want to be around them. A bitter individual can exert a bad influence in the congregation. He may try to disguise his bitterness or even his hatred, but negative thoughts lurking in his heart “will be exposed in the congregation.” (Prov. 26:24-26) The elders may be able to help such individuals to see that bitterness, hatred, and the harboring of grudges are traits that have no place in God’s organization. Jehovah’s own priceless Book is very clear about this. (Lev. 19:17, 18; Rom. 3:11-18) Do you agree with it?
REMEMBER HOW WE ARE BEING LED
7, 8. (a) How does Jehovah lead the earthly part of his organization? (b) What are some of the directives found in God’s Word, and why should we obey them?
7 Jehovah leads and feeds those in the earthly part of his organization by means of “the faithful and discreet slave” under the direction of Christ, the “head of the congregation.” (Matt. 24:45-47; Eph. 5:23) Like the first-century governing body, this slave accepts God’s inspired word, or message, and highly esteems it. (Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13.) What are some directives, or instructions, provided in the Bible for our benefit?
8 The Bible directs us to attend meetings regularly. (Heb. 10:24, 25) It urges us to promote unity of doctrine. (1 Cor. 1:10) God’s Word tells us to give the Kingdom first place in our lives. (Matt. 6:33) The Scriptures also emphasize our duty and privilege to preach from house to house, in public places, and informally. (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 5:42; 17:17; 20:20) God’s own Book directs Christian elders to keep his organization clean. (1 Cor. 5:1-5, 13; 1 Tim. 5:19-21) And Jehovah decrees that all those in his organization must be clean physically and spiritually.—2 Cor. 7:1.
9. What is the only channel that is being used to help us understand God’s Word?
9 Some may feel that they can interpret the Bible on their own. However, Jesus has appointed the ‘faithful slave’ to be the only channel for dispensing spiritual food. Since 1919, the glorified Jesus Christ has been using that slave to help his followers understand God’s own Book and heed its directives. By obeying the instructions found in the Bible, we promote cleanness, peace, and unity in the congregation. Each one of us does well to ask himself, ‘Am I loyal to the channel that Jesus is using today?’
JEHOVAH’S CHARIOT IS ON THE MOVE!
10. How is the heavenly part of Jehovah’s organization described in the book of Ezekiel?
10 Jehovah’s written Word acquaints us with the heavenly part of his organization. For example, the prophet Ezekiel received a vision in which the heavenly part of God’s organization is represented by a celestial chariot. (Ezek. 1:4-28) Jehovah rides on this chariot, and it goes wherever his spirit impels it to go. In turn, the heavenly part of his organization influences the earthly part. The chariot certainly has been on the move! Think about the many organizational changes that have been made during the past decade—and bear in mind that Jehovah is behind such developments. With Christ and the holy angels about to destroy this wicked world, Jehovah’s chariot is rapidly moving toward the vindication of his sovereignty and the sanctification of his holy name!
11, 12. What are some things being accomplished by Jehovah’s organization?
11 Reflect on what the earthly part of God’s organization has been accomplishing in these last days. Construction. Hundreds of workers were very busy building the new headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses at Warwick, New York, U.S.A. Under the direction of the Worldwide Design/Construction Department, thousands of volunteers worldwide are working hard to build new Kingdom Halls and expand branch facilities. How thankful we are for the many willing volunteers who work tirelessly on such projects! Remember that Jehovah is blessing the Kingdom proclaimers earth wide who humbly and loyally contribute what they can to help finance such projects.—Luke 21:1-4.
12 Education. Consider the various schools that promote divine education. (Isa. 2:2, 3) We have the Pioneer Service School, the School for Kingdom Evangelizers, Gilead School, Bethel Entrants’ School, the School for Circuit Overseers and Their Wives, the School for Congregation Elders, the Kingdom Ministry School, and the School for Branch Committee Members and Their Wives. How Jehovah loves to educate his people! Bible education is also promoted on our website, jw.org, where we have literature available in hundreds of languages. The site has special sections for children and for families as well as a section with news items. Have you been using jw.org in your ministry and in your family worship?
SHOW LOYALTY TO JEHOVAH AND SUPPORT HIS ORGANIZATION
13. What responsibility do we as Jehovah’s loyal worshippers have?
13 What a privilege it is to be part of Jehovah’s organization! With our knowledge of God’s requirements and standards comes the responsibility to do what is right and uphold his sovereignty. As this world sinks deeper and deeper into debauchery, we must “hate what is bad,” as Jehovah does. (Ps. 97:10) We refuse to join the ungodly and say: “Good is bad and bad is good.” (Isa. 5:20) Because we want to please God, we strive to remain clean physically, morally, and spiritually. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) We love Jehovah and put our trust in him; we choose to show our loyalty to him by living up to the standards clearly outlined in his own precious Book. And we make every effort to comply with those standards at home, in the congregation, on the job, at school—everywhere. (Prov. 15:3) Consider further ways we can prove our loyalty to God.
14. How can Christian parents show loyalty to God?
14 Child-rearing. Christian parents display loyalty to Jehovah by training their children according to his Word. Godly parents are not unduly influenced by local cultural views about child-rearing. The spirit of the world is unacceptable in a Christian home. (Eph. 2:2) A baptized Christian father will not think, ‘Well, in our country the women teach the children.’ The Bible is clear on this subject when it says: “Fathers, . . . go on bringing [your children] up in the discipline and admonition [instruction; guidance] of Jehovah.” (Read Ephesians 6:4; ftn.) God-fearing fathers and mothers want their children to be like Samuel, for Jehovah was with him while he was growing up.—1 Sam. 3:19.
15. How do we show our loyalty to Jehovah when we are making major decisions?
15 Making decisions. When we make major decisions in life, one way to demonstrate our loyalty to God is by seeking help from his written Word and organization. To illustrate the importance of doing so, consider a sensitive subject that affects many parents. It is a practice among certain immigrants to send their newborn babies to relatives to be cared for so that the parents can continue working and making money in their new country. Yes, this is a personal decision, but we should bear in mind that God holds us responsible for the decisions we make. (Read Romans 14:12.) Would it be wise to make important decisions about our family and our livelihood without first consulting the Bible? Of course not! We need our heavenly Father’s help because we are unable to direct our own steps.—Jer. 10:23.
16. When her son was born, what choice did one mother have to make, and what helped her to make the right one?
16 One woman who gave birth to a baby boy while living in a foreign country was going to send the child back to her homeland to be cared for by his grandparents. At the time of the birth, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses began to study the Bible with the woman. She made good progress and learned that it was her God-given duty to raise her child to worship Jehovah. (Ps. 127:3; Prov. 22:6) The young woman poured out her heart to Jehovah, as the Scriptures tell us to do. (Ps. 62:7, 8) She also opened her heart to her Bible teacher and spoke to others in the congregation. Despite pressure from her relatives and friends to send her child to the grandparents, she concluded that it was not right to do so. Her husband was so impressed by the way the congregation proved to be a refuge for her and the baby that he accepted a Bible study and began to attend meetings with his wife and child. Do you think that this mother felt that Jehovah answered her heartfelt prayer? Undoubtedly, she did feel that way.
17. What direction have we received regarding Bible students?
17 Following direction. An important way that we display loyalty to God is by following the direction we receive from his organization. For example, consider the suggestions we have been given regarding our Bible students. It has been recommended that soon after establishing a personal study with someone in the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? we take a few minutes after each study to direct the student’s attention to the organization. We can do this by using the video What Happens at a Kingdom Hall? and the brochure Who Are Doing Jehovah’s Will Today? It has been suggested that when we finish studying the Bible Teach book with a progressive student, we study the book “Keep Yourselves in God’s Love” with him, even if he is baptized by that time. The organization has given this direction so that new disciples will be “stabilized in the faith.” (Col. 2:7) Are you following such suggestions from Jehovah’s organization?
18, 19. What are some reasons why we should be thankful to Jehovah?
18 There are many reasons why we should be thankful to Jehovah! We owe him our very life, for without him we would not even move or exist. (Acts 17:27, 28) He has given us a very precious gift—his own book, the Bible. We gratefully accept it as God’s message, even as the Christians in Thessalonica received God’s word and accepted it.—1 Thess. 2:13.
19 With the written Word of God in hand, we have drawn close to Jehovah and he has drawn close to us. (Jas. 4:8) Our heavenly Father has granted us the wonderful privilege of being part of his organization. How we appreciate such blessings! The psalmist put matters beautifully when he sang: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good; his loyal love endures forever.” (Ps. 136:1) Twenty-six times in Psalm 136, we find the refrain “his loyal love endures forever.” By proving loyal to Jehovah and his organization, we will experience the truthfulness of those heartening words because we will live forever!