“Stick to Your Work”
“Watch yourself and watch your teaching; stick to your work.”—1 Tim. 4:16, Moff.
1. By the Fourth Commandment what did God govern for Israelites?
JEHOVAH GOD has always shown consideration in dealing with the problems and needs of creatures upon the earth. He knows what is good for his creatures. He knew well that the nation of Israel required commandments to regulate their lives and to keep them close to pure worship of him. Through Moses, God gave to Israel the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, written on stone. It was in the Fourth Commandment where God stated his arrangement for governing the work that must be done: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a sabbath unto Jehovah thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore Jehovah blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”—Ex. 20:8-11, Am. Stan. Ver.
2. Besides to rest, what was this a command to do? How much?
2 Probably almost everyone in Christendom today knows of the law which God stated concerning the sabbath; yet very few have looked upon it as also a direct command from God to work. It is most important to remember that the Fourth Commandment is not limited to a mere consideration of one day in seven, but God’s pleasure for his creatures was that they should work. By far the greater part of their time would be devoted to working.
3. What was rest to provide? Did it mean complete idleness?
3 When man had been ejected from the garden of Eden, God provided that through the sweat of his brow he would earn his bread. That meant working; it meant hard work. But from this ordinary work to maintain a livelihood the imperfect man would properly pause for recuperation. So the Israelites were given one day out of seven to rest from the servile work or ordinary business of life. There was, of course, great prophetic significance too in what God caused them to do. (1 Cor. 10:11) Since Jehovah’s Word records his disapproval and condemnation of idleness (Prov. 6:10, 11; 19:15), it would be error to suppose that the commandment forbade activity of any kind and imposed complete idleness for the day. However, in the years that followed the issuance of the command on the sabbath to the nation of Israel, many of the Jews fell away from keeping the command, and eventually the clergy turned the words to suit their own convenience.
4, 5. Over objections, what did Jesus show regarding the sabbath?
4 That by the time Jesus came to the earth the clergy had induced the people to believe they must be completely idle on the sabbath day, and that there was a very general perversion of the sabbath then, are apparent both from their objections to the work Jesus did on that day and from his marked conduct on the sabbath to which these objections were sure to be urged. Evidently Jesus purposely did his acts on the seventh day to provide proper education for the common people. Jesus showed that it was not a violation of God’s Law, which he kept perfectly, for anyone to do good works for the benefit of others on that day. Rather it was in keeping with God’s principles to do the works of righteousness every day.
5 When Jesus freely cured a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years, the traditional religionists hated him for it and persecuted him, seeking to slay him. Jesus gave the straightforward answer: “My Father is still at work, and I work too.” (John 5:17, An Amer. Trans.; also see Matthew 12:1-15; Mark 3:2; Luke 6:1-5; 13:10-17; John 5:2-18; 7:22, 23; 9:1-34) Jesus had not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. (Matt. 5:17) The necessity of keeping the sabbath law remained until the death of Jesus, when the Law was abolished.—Eph. 2:15; Gal. 3:24, 25; 5:18; Col. 2:16, 17.
6. Did abolition of sabbath law change its principles? Why?
6 But the ending of the sabbath law with its command to work as well as rest did in no way change God’s principle that creatures should work. As Jesus clearly put it, God is a worker. We see his works every day; they are all about us. The Bible tells us of his creative works and the many acts he performed in behalf of his people on the earth in ancient days. Greater works have never been done than those of the Most High God.—Ps. 19:1.
A MINISTRY OF ACTIVITY
7. What ministry did Jesus bring? How did he show it?
7 Jesus brought a ministry of work to the earth. The Father in heaven had sent him, providing him with a commission to do marvelous and miraculous works while upon the earth. On one occasion, for example, Jesus saw a man who was blind from his birth, whom Jesus healed. The words of Jesus on that occasion were: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me.” (John 9:3, 4) And so Jesus worked diligently throughout the time of his ministry. He devoted his talents and abilities exclusively to God’s work and purposes. With this his Father in heaven was well pleased, thereafter exalting Christ to the highest position in the universe next to the Most High.
8. Sabbaths, why did Jesus go to the synagogues? What do we learn?
8 Before his exaltation, Jesus instructed his disciples upon the earth and showed them by his working example the manner of carrying on God’s service. According to God’s Law, Jesus went to the synagogues and assembled with the people. He used these occasions for informing the people concerning God’s purposes: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matt. 9:35) Multitudes of Jews assembled at the synagogues; that was their regular meeting place. By speaking the truth then it was possible for Jesus to bring the truth to the ears of thousands of people in the territory he was assigned by Jehovah to cover. His followers thus learned by example how to take advantage of the custom of public assembling of the people, and this method was used later by faithful servants.—Acts 13:15, 16.
9. What work did he do at the homes of the people? Why?
9 In Mark 1:29 is the record of how Jesus went into the homes to do God’s work. The miraculous healing Jesus did was a token or evidence as to who he was, and the fame of him spread. In Mark 2 is the account of how Jesus conducted home Bible studies and instruction periods when the people gathered to hear his wisdom. (Also see Matthew 9:10.) Mark 9:33-37 shows how Jesus instructed disciples in a house, using a little child as an illustration or help so they could understand the principles he was teaching. Jesus visited the homes more than once, for it would have been impossible to impart sufficient knowledge to the imperfect minds of the people at one time. Jesus did this without respect for the standing of persons in the community, but on account of the desire of the people to learn God’s truth and because of their faith and love for righteousness.
10. Who learned by his example? So what did he do to them?
10 The apostles and disciples of Jesus benefited from his work. They learned much of the Kingdom gospel so they also could preach the Word. After they had witnessed Jesus’ working, Jesus gave them direct commands to go out to cities and villages to do the work of preaching and teaching. He left no doubt about it: a Christian is required to go to the people. “After this the Master appointed seventy-two others, and sent them on before him, two by two, to every town or place to which he intended to come. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is abundant enough, but the reapers are few. So pray to the owner of the harvest to send reapers to gather it. Now go. Here I send you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse nor wallet nor shoes, and do not stop to exchange civilities with anyone on the way. Whenever you go to stay at a house, first say, “Peace to this household!” If there is anyone there who loves peace, your blessing will rest upon him, but if there is not, it will come back to you. Stay at the same house, eating and drinking what they offer you, for the workman deserves his pay. Do not change from one house to another. Whenever you come to a town and they welcome you, eat what is offered you, and cure the sick there, and say to them, “The Kingdom of God is close upon you!”’”—Luke 10:1-9, An Amer. Trans.; see also Luke 9:1, 2, 6.
11. What did such instructions to them mean?
11 This meant house-to-house working, preaching and teaching the good news. They were not to change from house to house because one householder might possess more of the world’s goods or might offer more comfort and physical entertainment, but rather stay on until the message and instruction had been given adequately. The apostle Paul showed that to be the correct understanding when he said: “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks.” (Acts 20:20, 21) Paul did work from house to house.
12. What was their Christian work to include? To what extent?
12 That their Christian work was to include missionary service in far-away nations was shown by the direct words of Jesus to his disciples concerning the work they were to do following his ascension to heaven: “Go, disciple all the nations, immersing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit; teaching them to observe all things which I have enjoined upon you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20, Diag.) This was a clear command to go out to the people of all nations. It was further emphasized that this is a part of the work of the Christian when Jesus said: “But you shall receive power by the holy spirit coming upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and even to the remotest parts of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, Diag.) That took in a lot of territory; it showed there would be much work done.
13. What assistance was given them from above to that end?
13 When Jesus ascended to heaven to be with his Father, the comforter, God’s holy spirit, was poured out upon the faithful followers of Christ upon the earth. That spirit or invisible active force of God moved the Christians to perform wonderful works of preaching and teaching. God blessed their minds and hands for the performance of his will. Many persons believed the gospel and entered upon the way to life.
WORK, A REQUIREMENT
14. Why and how were Thessalonians shown work is a requirement?
14 Many of all nations were given the benefit of the tireless working of the faithful disciples. Among them were the people of Thessalonica. Some of the Thessalonians did not seem to have a proper appreciation of the value of good works. They did not take note that the Scriptures condemned idleness and laziness at work. By being slack at their work they were doing injury to themselves and withholding good from others, which action might bring about destruction of life at God’s hands. They should have known Proverbs 18:9 says, “He who is slack at his work is brother to him who destroys.” (An Amer. Trans.) But evidently this ignorance was a result of those at Thessalonica not being diligent in the study of the scriptures. (Acts 17:11) There was really no excuse for anyone’s being idle there at Thessalonica. The teaching of the Scriptures had been given to them by Paul, Timothy and others to show them how God required proper Christian works. Additionally, they had the excellent personal example of Paul. Nevertheless the apostle Paul had to write to them: “We charge you, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from any brother who lives in idleness, instead of following the teaching you received from us. For you know yourselves what you must do to follow my example, for I was not idle when I was with you; . . . When I was with you, I gave you this rule: ‘If anyone refuses to work, give him nothing to eat!’ For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now with the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ we charge and exhort such people to keep quiet and do their work . . . But you, brothers, must not get tired of doing right.”—2 Thess. 3:6-13, An Amer. Trans.
15. Why were some idle? Why was knowledge necessary?
15 All of the Christians were required to work. According to the apostle, the idleness of some of the Thessalonians was a result of their not following the teaching received from Paul and the other servants who visited them. They were not at work because they were not following knowledge of the truth. It is true that the Lord poured out his spirit upon the Christians in those days, but if some did not have faith and the knowledge upon which to base it they would surely not receive the spirit. Paul had dealt with them in the same manner as he had done with other Christians in other places, imparting such knowledge as the Lord directed for the upbuilding of the individuals in the Christian worship. Certainly without proper knowledge none could work in a manner pleasing to the Lord; none could bring forth fruits to the honor of Jehovah’s great name.
16. As Paul showed the Colossians, how is knowledge effective in us?
16 The knowledge of the wonderful hope of what is stored up for Christians by Jehovah God seemed to have a different effect upon those Colossians to whom Paul wrote: “You first heard of it long ago when the true message of the gospel came among you, to thrive and bear its fruit among you, as it does all over the world, from the time when you first heard about the mercy of God, and really came to know it, in the form in which Epaphras . . . taught it to you . . . it is he who has told me of the love the spirit has awakened in you. That is why, from the day I first heard of it, I have never given up praying for you and asking God to fill you, through full spiritual wisdom and insight, with a clear knowledge of what his will is, so that the lives you live may be worthy of your Master and wholly pleasing to him, and you may be fruitful in all kinds of good deeds, and may grow into fuller knowledge of God. Then, so mighty is his majesty, he will nerve you perfectly with strength for the cheerful exercise of endurance and forbearance in every situation, and you will thank the Father who has entitled you to share the lot of God’s people in the realm of light.” (Col. 1:6-12, An Amer. Trans.) Here Paul showed how important it is to have a clear knowledge of what God’s will is. Without it one cannot live a proper life, pleasing to the Master and worthy of him. With it the way is open to be fruitful in all kinds of good works. Not only that, but there will be a gift of strength, nerving one for cheerful endurance. But all these things go together. Proper use of the knowledge helps us to work; the Lord will help us to stick to our work, to persevere in it in every situation. That is the blessed lot of true servants of God.
17. How does such important knowledge come?
17 Is it possible for any person to obtain such knowledge? Will it truly be possible to work for the Most High and stick to that work? That so-important knowledge is something that does not come all in one moment. Our God has provided his Word of truth to help us and to show us the way to serve him. As we study it we learn what God’s purposes are and we see that in order for a creature to please him that individual must make a consecration of his life to God’s service. That means work. When one is filled with the knowledge of the hope in the living God and then works, that will benefit him in an exceptional way.
18, 19. Why do we do this Christian work, and especially now?
18 Why do we work? It is because of our faith and because we believe God’s promise that he will give us life. “It is for this that we toil and struggle, for we have fixed our hopes on the living God, the Savior of all men, especially those who believe.” (1 Tim. 4:10, An Amer. Trans.) To someone who has no faith this may appear to be a drudgery; yet in truth it is the source of the greatest joy to Christian men in this world. Especially at this time, when the forces of evil appear more actively than ever in the past, when the signs of the end of this old world are upon us, it is the greatest privilege. This is the time when the work of preaching the gospel in all the world for a testimony is taking place. It is the time when great light has been shed upon God’s truth and when the Christian’s business is to be studying his Word and assembling together regularly with those of like precious faith in Bible study, helping others to learn more of the kingdom hope of all mankind.
19 The knowledge of the Scriptures shows us that just ahead of us is that terrible and dark time of the battle of Armageddon, when the evil forces of the Devil’s world will go down into destruction. The nearness of that world-shaking event impresses upon our minds the import of the words of Jesus at John 9:4, according to An American Translation: “We must carry on the work of him who has sent me while the daylight lasts. Night is coming, when no one can do any work.” Now is the time to act wisely in doing these righteous works of teaching. Now is the time to live and work as Christians, especially now, for the final end is near. That is why the apostle advises us to be vigilant and careful: “Watch yourself and watch your teaching; stick to your work; if you do that, you will save your hearers as well as yourself.”—1 Tim. 4:16, Moff.
WHY PERSEVERE IN IT
20. Why give such pointed advice about sticking to our work?
20 “Stick to your work,” he says. Why is it necessary to give such pointed advice? It is because there is real struggle in keeping going in God’s work. Were it true that no one opposed God’s work, then, of course, it would be much easier; however, we must be aware that Satan the Devil is our adversary and he is very angry now, since he has been cast out of heaven. (Revelation 12) He is busily trying to turn all creatures away from God and into destruction with him at the coming conflict. He wants to make each one slack the hand, slow down, and finally stop completely from God’s beneficial work. He is still trying to fight God by overcoming the servants of Jehovah, for he well knows that then they will lose out on God’s precious promises and Kingdom blessings. The warning of the apostle Peter (1 Pet. 5:8, 9, Am. Stan. Ver.) is therefore so appropriate at this time: “Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom withstand stedfast in your faith.” Satan is attacking every individual who is consecrated to God, every man, woman and child doing God’s work. The Devil wants us to turn back from God’s work, against the good advice of Jesus, who said: “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”—Luke 9:62.
21. How is this ‘looking back’ done, and with what result?
21 How is this “looking back” done? By turning back to the old world from which we came out. It means turning our interest back to the evil practices and customs of the old world, as when Lot and his family were delivered by God from the destruction of wicked Sodom and Lot’s wife turned to look back because her interest was actually there. She perished, becoming a pillar of salt; therefore Jesus said: “Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32) Looking back means not keeping the Kingdom interests first. It means not sticking to your work.
22. How does Satan induce this in some? How do we combat this?
22 Satan uses many ways to accomplish this. Some persons are affected by the persecution. Reproach slows others down. But this persecution and reproach cannot be avoided. The Master told his followers they would suffer many indignities and much torture for his name’s sake. It was so in the case of his servants following his ascension to heaven and it has been true upon real Christians ever since. (Matt. 24:9; 2 Tim. 3:12) To combat this violent action of the enemy the Christian must be strong in faith. With strong faith we are fortified by Jehovah and we are able to overcome or neutralize the enemy’s attacks if we persist in our work and trust in our God to deliver us.
23. Despite opposition must one still provide for family? Why?
23 Not all suffer violent persecution today, but there are other methods Satan uses to turn us from our good work. In this life we have many responsibilities. Some of us learn the truth after we have acquired families, and these families do not always believe the Scriptures as we do. Sometimes they put every hindrance in our way in an effort to make us fail to stick to our worship. The responsibility is upon us to provide for our family members, which we as Christians are pleased to do. “But if any provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim. 5:8, Am. Stan. Ver.) Even when they oppose our good works we must see that they have the necessities to maintain life if we are family providers. And in the end it may be that they will accept the truth and we shall gain our families for the Lord by setting a faithful example of belief and good works.
24. Why stick to the work despite family opposition? How?
24 The counsel on overcoming family opposition is found in Jesus’ words at Matthew 10:34-39 (Am. Stan. Ver.): “Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law: and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that doth not take his [stake] and follow after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Jesus showed that there would be great crises in the families who accepted Christ and followed in the right way. No Christian must permit family opposition to keep him back from serving Jehovah God and Christ, but the Christian must put the love of Christ first, else he would fail to prove worthy. If others in the family became so violent as to take the Christian believer’s life, then Christ would restore life in the Kingdom time; but if one would back up into inactivity in order to save his life, in the end he would displease the Life-giver and lose everlasting life. By keeping the love of the Lord as of first importance and the other required things secondary, we will properly stick to our work.