You Can Be Confident of a Reward
1. Whom can we thank for our being here on earth?
LIFE is a gift from God. No one would have life at all had not God, because of his own generosity, created the first man and woman. (Revelation 4:11) Being sinful people, we would not be here if God had not patiently ‘put up’ with our ways. “If errors were what you watch, O Jah, O Jehovah, who could stand?” wrote the psalmist.—Psalm 130:3.
2. Though life is a free gift, on what does continued life depend?
2 Life is indeed a free gift. And it is God’s will that the human race keep on living. (1 Timothy 2:3, 4) He gave mankind, not mere life, but life with a purpose. God does not grant everlasting life to his enemies, because they would only cause disorder in the earth and harm to others. Therefore our obtaining everlasting life is dependent on our faith in God, which really means that we must be friends of God. “Without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Hebrews 11:6.
3. What is the main purpose in studying the Bible?
3 Our faith, then, gains the friendship of God, and this friendship means a reward. In your study of the Bible, as you are doing, you are actually seeking him—that is, seeking to know him, to please him and become friends with him. And as you learn more about him your faith will become stronger, more solidly founded.—2 Peter 1:5-8.
4. If you are sincerely seeking God by studying his Word, of what can you be assured?
4 You may wonder, ‘Why have I been able to see these things about God’s purposes when many of my friends and acquaintances do not see them?’ You can indeed be happy that you do, because out of millions of persons, God has seen fit to let you know about his purpose. He draws to him whomever he wants to, but not arbitrarily or without good reason. We cannot see what God sees. God reveals his secrets to those who have a sincerely inquiring mind to know about him, as Jesus pointed out. (Matthew 13:10-15) And he knows just when circumstances are right for the individual to see and grasp the truth of the good news. (Acts 8:25-36) God’s choice of friends is right. He does not make mistakes. Therefore you can be assured that an opportunity for everlasting life is opened to you.—Acts 13:48.
5. What loving appreciation does God show toward those sincerely seeking him?
5 Jehovah God sees hearts. He blesses those who use their reasoning power and look sincerely into his Word. He appreciates and favors those who do even the slightest service toward him, giving them further opportunities to know him.—Matthew 10:40-42.
6. Why should we not undervalue or look down on the opportunities that God opens up for us to know him?
6 However, the apostle Paul warned: “Working together with him, we also entreat you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.” (2 Corinthians 6:1) It is up to the one whom God has favored with his kindness to appreciate it and to go ahead and come to establish a real, lasting relationship with him. (2 Corinthians 6:2) What a pity for one who, receiving God’s favor, turns away and loses out on the fine reward!—Proverbs 4:5-9.
PERSONAL PURPOSE IN LIFE NOW
7. (a) From what we have studied, what may we conclude? (b) What will happen if a person pursues a purpose in life that disregards God’s will?
7 As you have considered God’s Word thus far as to his purpose, the truth may be clear that your own life also indeed DOES HAVE A PURPOSE. The will of God is that we conform our life to his purpose because only God’s wisdom and guidance can bring us to a desirable, happy goal. A man or woman may set out to accomplish a purpose with good intentions, and that purpose may appear to succeed for a while. But if it has no regard for God’s direction it will end only in frustration. Such a person will actually be out of harmony with the rest of God’s creation.
8, 9. What will be the outcome for one who goes through life without a purpose?
8 The apostle Paul wrote to the young man Timothy, showing the reason for making the pursuit of God’s ways our own purpose. He said: “In a large house there are vessels [utensils] not only of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for an honorable purpose but others for a purpose lacking honor. If, therefore, anyone keeps clear of the latter ones, he will be a vessel for an honorable purpose, sanctified, useful to his owner [Jehovah God bought all humankind through the sacrifice of his Son], prepared for every good work.”—2 Timothy 2:20, 21.
9 But without a purpose in life a person in this world will be easy prey to bad influences, “tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in contriving error.” (Ephesians 4:14) He will become a vessel for a purpose lacking honor.
BAPTISM, A SERIOUS BUT ESSENTIAL STEP
10. When should a person be baptized?
10 After learning and determining what God’s will is, and after making a dedication of yourself through Christ to do God’s will forever, you may be baptized in water. This step is very serious. You must be sure that this is the course you want to take. You are thereby imitating Jesus’ example and obeying his command. Baptism is essential for one to become a follower of Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 10:7; Matthew 3:13-15; 28:19, 20) In being baptized, you are publicly declaring that your purpose in life is to serve God fully as his will and purpose are made known to you. Make your own decision. You should not be baptized because you let someone “push” you, or just because someone else gets baptized.
11. Should a newly baptized person feel that now he (or she) is in no need of further counsel or help? Why?
11 Now, baptism in symbol of your dedication is but a beginning of your Christian course. Regardless of what education or position you have had in the world, you are, Scripturally, a spiritual “babe.” It is absolutely essential that you keep on studying, continuing to get help from those who are serving God. (1 Corinthians 14:20) You need regular association with the Christian congregation. Do not try to ‘go it’ on your own.—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
12. Does being a long time ‘in the truth’ in itself mean that one is a mature Christian? Why?
12 Time ‘in the truth’ is not the sole barometer of your spirituality. Continued study and application of the Bible’s principles are also necessary to produce the fruits that indicate maturity. (Hebrews 5:14; Romans 12:1, 2) The apostle Paul made these points clear to the early Hebrew Christians. He told them: “Indeed, although you ought to be teachers in view of the time, you again need someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God; and you have become such as need milk, not solid food.” He counseled them: “Let us press on to maturity.”—Hebrews 5:12; 6:1.
LOOKING FOR REWARD NOT SELFISH
13. Is it selfish to serve God with a reward in view? Explain.
13 In pursuing a purpose in life as a follower of Jesus Christ it is entirely proper, and not selfish, to look for God to reward you for faithfulness to him. (Colossians 3:24) Jehovah wants us to know that he is the kind of God that rewards those who love him. He is not like many worldly persons who have no appreciation or consideration for those who do things in love or loyalty. And a god without appreciation and loyalty, who never rewarded his servants, would be unworthy of worship. But Jehovah God is loyal; he is warmhearted and draws close to his friends. (Jeremiah 3:12) Even if you should make a bad mistake, entreat his forgiveness in prayer. (1 John 1:9; 2:1, 2; Luke 18:1-8) Seek help from fellow Christians. (James 5:16-18) If you hold fast to faith in him, he “will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.”—Hebrews 13:5, 6.
14. Even if we come to serve God with all our might, what should be our attitude?
14 However, Jesus said that, on our part, we should not feel that we are doing God a “favor,” or earning life as wages by serving him. He told his disciples: “When you have done all the things assigned to you, say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves. What we have done is what we ought to have done.’” (Luke 17:10) Nonetheless, we know that God loves us and does not feel that our efforts are of no value to him.
15. What rewards does faithfulness bring now and in the future?
15 So there are great rewards to look forward to, of things far beyond what we are able to conceive. Our keeping of faithfulness to God gives, first of all, a better life now, with a purpose. (1 Timothy 4:8) Then, there is the prospect of being a part of the “foundation” of the “new earth.” What a joy to be in on the “groundwork” of making the earth a paradise! More than that, how fine to be on hand to receive people back in the resurrection and to teach, help and train them! There is a fine purpose in the life ahead!
16. Why is it such a great privilege to serve God now?
16 But do not belittle the marvelous opportunity, you have to serve God now. For this is the last time that people will have an opportunity to stand for God’s side of the issue of universal rulership amid a whole world of people who do not know God’s provisions. Furthermore, it is the last opportunity to proclaim the good news to such people under conditions of opposition. What a fine way to prove your loyalty to God! (Matthew 24:14) Doing this brings the greatest reward. Now is the opportunity to work together with “God’s household, which is the congregation of the living God, a pillar and support of the truth,” in sharing and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom to others.—1 Timothy 3:15.
DO NOT BE DISMAYED BY OPPOSITION
17. Why may opposition be expected, and how should you view it?
17 You can associate with this congregation where God has “deposited” the truth about himself and his purposes. But when you try to put the truth of God’s Word into effect in your life and to speak the truth, do not be surprised or dismayed when opposition faces you. The apostle Peter gave these comforting words: “Beloved ones, do not be puzzled at the burning among you, which is happening to you for a trial, as though a strange thing were befalling you. On the contrary, go on rejoicing forasmuch as you are sharers in the sufferings of the Christ, that you may rejoice and be overjoyed also during the revelation of his glory. If you are being reproached for the name of Christ, you are happy, because the spirit of glory, even the spirit of God, is resting upon you.”—1 Peter 4:12-14.
18. (a) How can you develop more sympathy for those who oppose you? (b) Should you feel that those who oppose you are absolutely “wicked”? (c) Even if treated harshly, what should your response be?
18 A good thing to do when faced with opposition is to look back at your former state—your life and attitude before coming to a knowledge of God’s purposes. This will help you to be sympathetic with the situation of those who oppose you and to have compassion for them. You may see that formerly, in your ignorance of God’s ways, you also did many of the wrong things that they are doing now. You may even have had a bad attitude toward God, toward the Bible and toward those who are witnesses for Jehovah God. (Compare Colossians 3:5-7.) By looking at the way you felt then, you can avoid the feeling that these people are absolutely “wicked” because they do not listen. You will not be condemning them or giving them up as hopeless. When someone, even in a harsh manner, challenges your faith, you will be “always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.”—1 Peter 3:15.
AVOID BEING ‘OVER-RIGHTEOUS’
19. (a) How might a person fall into the snare of being ‘over-righteous’? (b) Rather than feeling that you are better than those not serving God, what should you realize and do?
19 There is a certain temptation for one who sees the right way of life to become “righteous overmuch.” He may tend toward his being a “perfectionist.” This may lead him to begin to be critical of others, to look down on them, and to become a judge of his fellowman. (Ecclesiastes 7:16; Matthew 7:1, 2) He may grow to have the feeling that he is just a little better than those who do not yet know the truth. But it must be kept in mind that Christ died for all mankind. You are one of them and, without his help, you would be like the rest. Jesus Christ has compassion for all. He knows that circumstances, and the spirit of this world under its god Satan, have forced many people into a bad way of life. It was prophetically said: “Darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups.” This is true today. (Isaiah 60:2) Therefore it is necessary to have understanding and sympathy and have as our aim to help rather than accuse or condemn.—1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8.
20, 21. What principle and course of action should a person employ toward those closely associated with him (or her)?
20 Accordingly, a husband or wife coming to a knowledge of the truth should put stress on making himself or herself a better husband or wife. A child should become a better, more obedient child. This may have much more influence on others than words do. While all persons receiving the truth should be enthusiastic and zealous, it must be recognized that any attempt to “push” the unbelieving mate, the relative or friend may actually push him or her away from listening. Do not “nag” a person because he has a habit or belief of which you do not approve. Rather, use patience and more than the usual kindness. Even toward those showing enmity, be “cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves,” using every possible means, in love, to help others to see the truth. (Matthew 10:16; 1 Corinthians 9:20, 23) Whether you are a wife, a husband or a child, follow the principle expressed by the apostle Peter at 1 Peter 3:1, 2:
21 “In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.”
BE A HAPPY INTEGRITY KEEPER
22. (a) Will your efforts to apply Bible principles always remove problems? (b) If things do not go just right for you, what attitude should you avoid?
22 During your life course as a Christian, things will not always go just right for you, because we are not yet in God’s new system of things. Your efforts to apply Bible principles will not always completely solve or remove your problems. But they will help you greatly to cope with these problems. They will enable you to do all that can be done to make such less troublesome. So, if things occur that trouble you, do not become a complainer. Rather, be happy. Rejoice in the truth. Realize that Adam’s sin and Satan’s influence as the “god of this system of things” are the cause; God is not.—2 Corinthians 4:4.
23. If something bad should occur in the congregation of God’s people, is this a reason to become discouraged, offended or disgruntled?
23 So, instead of complaining at hardships or undesirable occurrences that you presumed would not happen among God’s people, take advantage of the opportunity to show that you are like Christ, an integrity keeper. Vindicate Jehovah’s name by demonstrating that not all men will let difficulties turn them away from God, as the Devil charged, but that they can be integrity keepers.
24. (a) How does our serving God give us a satisfactory purpose in living? (b) Can we count on continued purpose in life forever, with no dullness or monotony?
24 What a rewarding purpose life has indeed! With all the worthwhile things that we can do now, using what “gifts” or abilities we have to honor God and to help our fellowman, there is a real satisfaction in living—we find our place in life. And God, in using us, does not ask us to give up living a normal, productive life and become ascetics or in any way fanatical. Rather, he makes life better and more productive of things having lasting value. Furthermore, we will forever receive at God’s hand new and exciting projects for accomplishment, so that life will become ever more purposeful, never monotonous. As the apostle Paul wrote to his Christian associates: “My God will fully supply all your need to the extent of his riches in glory by means of Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:19; Psalm 145:16; Romans 8:38, 39.