Serving Jehovah With All Seriousness
“Whatever things are of serious concern, . . . continue considering these things.”—PHIL. 4:8.
WE LIVE in a world that is experiencing some of the most difficult and tragic times in human history. For people who do not have a sound spiritual foundation, coping with these “critical times hard to deal with” can be nearly impossible. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) Only their own fortitude gets them through each day—with limited success. In an effort to avoid taking life too seriously, many turn to the constant flow of amusements of the entertainment world.
2 To cope with the stresses of life, people often put the desire for pleasures in first place. If not careful, Christians could easily get caught up in this way of living. How can we avoid that? Would it require that we be serious all the time? How do we strike a balance between pleasures and responsibilities? What Scriptural principles should guide us, so that while we are sober about life, we do not take ourselves too seriously?
Being Serious in a World That Loves Pleasure
3 Needless to say, this world places undue importance on ‘love of pleasure.’ (2 Tim. 3:4) Its emphasis on having a good time can be a threat to our spirituality. (Prov. 21:17) Thus, for good reason the apostle Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus also include counsel regarding the subject of seriousness. Applying that counsel will help us to counteract the world’s frivolous view of life.—Read 1 Timothy 2:1, 2; Titus 2:2-8.
4 Centuries earlier, Solomon wrote about the value of forgoing pleasures at times in order to take life seriously. (Eccl. 3:4; 7:2-4) Indeed, because of the shortness of life, we need to ‘exert ourselves vigorously’ to attain salvation. (Luke 13:24) To that end, we need to keep considering all the things that are of “serious concern.” (Phil. 4:8, 9) That means giving careful attention to every facet of Christian life.
5 For example, in imitation of Jehovah and Jesus, Christians take seriously their responsibility to work hard. (John 5:17) As a result, they are often praised for their good work ethic and dependability. Especially are family heads concerned about working hard to support their families. After all, not providing materially for one’s household is tantamount to having “disowned Jehovah”!—1 Tim. 5:8, ftn.
A Serious yet Joyful View of Our Worship
6 Jehovah has never taken true worship lightly. As an example, under the Mosaic Law, the Israelites experienced severe consequences when they veered from their worship of Jehovah. (Josh. 23:12, 13) In the first century C.E., Christ’s followers needed to put up a vigorous fight to keep true worship free of corrupt teachings and attitudes. (2 John 7-11; Rev. 2:14-16) Today, true Christians continue to take their worship seriously.—1 Tim. 6:20.
7 Our field ministry is a source of joy. However, in order to maintain joy in the ministry, we need to give it serious thought and advance preparation. Paul explained how he took into consideration the people he taught. He wrote: “I have become all things to people of all sorts, that I might by all means save some. But I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with others.” (1 Cor. 9:22, 23) Paul found pleasure in helping people spiritually, and he gave serious thought to how he would provide for the specific needs of his listeners. Thus, he was able to give them encouragement and incentive to worship Jehovah.
8 How serious was Paul about his ministry? He was willing to “slave” both for Jehovah and for those who would listen to the message of truth. (Rom. 12:11; 1 Cor. 9:19) When we take on the responsibility to teach people God’s Word—either during a home Bible study, a Christian meeting, or a Family Worship session—do we sense our responsibility toward those we are teaching? Perhaps we feel that conducting a regular Bible study is too much of a burden for us to take on. Granted, it usually calls for taking time from our personal pursuits and devoting that time to helping others. But is that not in the spirit of Jesus’ words that “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving”? (Acts 20:35) Personally teaching others the way to salvation will bring us happiness that cannot be compared with any other activity.
9 Being serious does not mean that we cannot have a relaxing and enjoyable time with people. Jesus set the perfect example of taking time not only to teach but also to relax and develop meaningful relationships with others. (Luke 5:27-29; John 12:1, 2) Being serious also does not mean that we should always have an appearance of severity. Had Jesus had a stern, overly serious nature, people certainly would not have been drawn to him. Even children were comfortable with him. (Mark 10:13-16) How can we imitate Jesus’ balanced manner?
10 Referring to an elder, one brother stated, “He expects much from himself but never expects perfection from others.” Can that be said of you? It is proper to have some reasonable expectations of others. For example, children respond well when parents set reasonable goals and help the children to reach them. Similarly, elders may encourage individuals in the congregation to grow spiritually and offer them specific suggestions on how to do so. Furthermore, when an elder has a balanced view of himself, he will have a warm and refreshing manner. (Rom. 12:3) One sister said: “I don’t want an elder to take everything as a joke. But if he is serious all the time, it is difficult to approach him.” Another said that she feels that some elders “can be very intimidating because they have an extremely serious nature.” Never would elders want to diminish the joyful view that all believers should have of their worship of Jehovah, “the happy God.”—1 Tim. 1:11.
Taking On Responsibility in the Congregation
11 When Paul encouraged the men in the congregation to strive to qualify for greater responsibility, his intention was not to encourage anyone to satisfy personal ambition. Instead, he wrote: “If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a fine work.” (1 Tim. 3:1, 4) “Reaching out” requires of Christian men that they develop a strong desire to work hard at acquiring needed spiritual qualities in order to serve their brothers. If a brother has been baptized at least one year and to a reasonable degree meets the Scriptural qualifications for ministerial servants outlined at 1 Timothy 3:8-13, he can be recommended for appointment. Note that verse 8 specifically states: “Ministerial servants should likewise be serious.”
12 Are you a serious baptized brother in your late teens? There are several ways that you can reach out. One is by improving your personal share in the field ministry. Are you the sort who enjoys working with brothers of all age groups in the field service? Are you trying to find someone with whom you can study the Bible? When you conduct a Bible study according to the suggestions given at Christian meetings, you will improve your teaching ability. Moreover, you will learn to have empathy for the one learning Jehovah’s ways. As your student begins to see the need for making changes, you will learn—patiently and discreetly—to help him to apply Bible principles.
13 You young brothers can make yourselves available to older ones in the congregation, offering to assist them in any way possible. You can also show an interest in the appearance of the Kingdom Hall, helping to keep it clean and neat. When you offer to help out in any way you can, your willing spirit gives evidence that you are serious about your ministry. Like Timothy, you can learn to care genuinely for the needs of the congregation.—Read Philippians 2:19-22.
14 Elders, be conscious of putting to work young brothers who are endeavoring to “flee from the desires incidental to youth” and who are pursuing “righteousness, faith, love, peace,” along with other serious traits. (2 Tim. 2:22) By assigning them things to do in the congregation, they can be “tested as to fitness” to shoulder responsibility, so that their “advancement may be manifest to all persons.”—1 Tim. 3:10; 4:15.
Demonstrating Seriousness in the Congregation and the Family
15 Seriousness includes according our brothers and sisters dignity. In his counsel to Timothy, Paul addressed the need to view others with respect. (Read 1 Timothy 5:1, 2.) This is especially important when dealing with those of the opposite sex. Job’s example of dignifying women, especially his marriage mate, is worthy of imitation. He made a conscious effort to keep from gazing lustfully at another woman. (Job 31:1) Taking our brothers and sisters seriously would rule out flirting with them or doing anything that would make a brother or a sister feel uncomfortable around us. Dignifying others is especially important when two people are pursuing a romantic relationship with marriage in mind. A serious Christian would never toy with the emotions of one of the opposite sex.—Prov. 12:22.
16 We also need to be careful to maintain a serious view of our God-given roles in the family. Satan’s world is making a mockery of the role of husband and father. The entertainment industry takes pleasure in reducing the family head to a mere subject of ridicule and disrespect. However, the Scriptures place a great deal of responsibility on the husband, assigning him as “head of his wife.”—Eph. 5:23; 1 Cor. 11:3.
17 A husband may provide materially for his family. But if he does not provide spiritual direction, he would be displaying a lack of discretion and wisdom. (Deut. 6:6, 7) Thus, 1 Timothy 3:4 says that if you are the head of a family and are reaching out for extra privileges in the congregation, you must be a man who is “presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness.” In this regard, ask yourself, ‘Do I regularly set aside time for family worship in my household?’ Some Christian wives virtually have to beg their husbands to take the lead spiritually. Each husband should take a serious look at his own view of this responsibility. Of course, a Christian wife should be supporting the Family Worship arrangement and be cooperating with her husband to make it a success.
18 Children are also encouraged to take life seriously. (Eccl. 12:1) There is no harm in young children learning to work hard, doing chores in the home that are reasonable for their age and abilities. (Lam. 3:27) When King David was still a young boy, he learned to be a fine shepherd. He also learned to be a musician and a composer—skills that led him to serve before the ruler of Israel. (1 Sam. 16:11, 12, 18-21) No doubt, as a lad David knew how to be playful, but he also learned valuable skills that he later used to praise Jehovah. His skills as a shepherd helped him to lead the nation of Israel patiently. You young people, how many useful skills are you learning—skills that will help you to serve your Creator and prepare you for future responsibilities?
Keeping a Balanced View
19 We can all strive to keep a balanced view of ourselves—not taking ourselves too seriously. We would not want to become “righteous overmuch.” (Eccl. 7:16) Some levity can break tense moments, whether in the home, at work, or when dealing with our Christian brothers and sisters. Family members will want to be careful about being overly critical so that they do not erode the safe haven of peace that a home should be. In the congregation, all can learn to laugh with and enjoy one another, keeping conversations and our teaching manner upbuilding and positive.—2 Cor. 13:10; Eph. 4:29.
20 We live in a world that does not take Jehovah or his laws seriously. In contrast, Jehovah’s people are very concerned about their obedience and loyalty to their God. What a pleasure it is to be part of such a large association of people who worship Jehovah “with all seriousness”! May we be determined to maintain a serious view of our life and worship.
How Would You Answer?
• Why should we counteract the world’s frivolous view of life?
• How can we be joyful yet serious about our ministry?
• How does our view of taking on responsibility show whether we are serious or not?
• Explain why dignifying our brothers and family members is a serious matter.
1, 2. What has caused many in this world to have a frivolous view of life, prompting what questions?
3, 4. How do the Scriptures help us to value the need for being serious?
5. What is one area of life that we should take seriously?
6. How do we know that we should take seriously our worship of Jehovah?
7. How did Paul prepare for his ministry?
8. (a) What should be our attitude toward the people we teach in our ministry? (b) How may conducting a Bible study contribute to a joyful ministry?
9, 10. (a) Does being serious mean that we cannot relax and enjoy spending time with people? Explain. (b) What will help an elder to be encouraging and approachable?
11. What does it mean to be “reaching out” in the congregation?
12, 13. Describe ways young brothers may reach out for responsibility.
14. How can young brothers be “tested as to fitness” to serve in the congregation?
15. According to 1 Timothy 5:1, 2, how may we show seriousness in our view of others?
16. Contrast the view some in the world have of the role of husband and father with how the Bible describes his role.
17. Explain how our participation in family worship can show that we are serious about our responsibilities.
18. How may children learn to be serious?
19, 20. What balanced attitude are you determined to maintain toward yourself and your worship?
[Pictures on page 12]
A husband must provide both materially and spiritually for his family