How to Stick to It
1. How do business and worldly goods tend to slow down our work?
IN order to maintain our lives we must have a certain amount of this world’s goods. Will worldly goods become a hindrance to us in our Christian work? Will we fall into the snare of the enemy because we become afraid of losing a steady income from our secular work? Pressure is often put on those who have taken up God’s service. They are boycotted in their business establishments, particularly in such places as Quebec, where false religion holds sway. Again, there may be merely threats of financial or business losses. We know that if there is any selfishness or pride in us it will be worked on by our adversary to slow us down in our work. Here is another great test of the Christian’s faith. The Lord has promised to provide all the needs of his servants. (Matt. 6:33) Will their faith be strong enough? Will they take the Lord at his Word? Based upon his knowledge and faith, the apostle Paul came out with a statement of the sensible Christian position: “If we have food and clothing we will be satisfied. But men who want to get rich fall into temptations and snares and many foolish, harmful cravings, that plunge people into destruction and ruin. For love of money is the root of all the evils, and in their eagerness to get rich, some men wander away from the faith and pierce themselves to the heart with many a pang.”—1 Tim. 6:8-10, An Amer. Trans.
2. What part do worldly attractions and our lusts tend to play?
2 Satan tries to make the things of this world appear alluring to those in God’s work. There are many lusts of the flesh which war against the spiritual things. (1 Cor. 10:6-11; Jas. 1:14, 15; 1 Pet. 2:11) There are the pleasures of this life which can be allowed to take up all of our consecrated time. If we have plenty of this world’s goods we may become afraid to lose the easy way of life for the work’s sake. The attractions of the old world can be a cause of looking backward. It happened in the early Christian days and is still happening today. As the apostle Paul testified in his writing (2 Tim. 4:9, 10): “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” Demas had great opportunities of serving God in company with the apostle Paul, but he lost out because he did not stick to his work. By taking the course in life that he chose he could only lose his chances to obtain everlasting life, which he evidently did.
3. How do discord and evilspeaking tend to operate?
3 Our wily foe uses other methods to slow down God’s servants. He sows discord among the brethren. It is often that we are evil spoken of by the world; but when such things come from the mouths of those who are associated in the work it is not easily taken. It hurts deeply. If our faith is not strong, we may become offended and isolate ourselves from other Christians. That is a mistake; it may cause us to stop the work. That is why we must not allow disunity to creep into our ranks. We must quickly settle any differences that arise and keep going forward in the work.—Prov. 6:14, 16, 19; Eph. 4:3, 12, 13, 31, 32; Col. 3:12, 13.
4. Why must we be alert and have a positive viewpoint of our work?
4 Because we are attacked from so many sides by the evil one, we must keep alert and fight hard to go ahead. We cannot afford to take chances with our lives, so we must always have a positive viewpoint. There is danger in being indecisive, pausing on the way to life. We are wise when we understand that once we have made a consecration to serve God there is never any question about how to decide matters. And we play safe by making our decisions always in favor of the Lord’s work and in harmony with his Word. Jesus gave us a good example of how to proceed when the Devil tempted him in the wilderness. Jesus knew what the Scriptures said, so he used them as his vehicle for reply. The Devil could not make him change from his positive attitude of mind. (Matt. 4:1-11) We must likewise watch out that our fleshly desires or other creatures are not permitted to influence us unreasonably to keep us away from our Theocratic activities. It is necessary to stick close to the Lord and his organization to be safe.
5. Why must our minds be trained? By taking advantage of what?
5 Our minds must be trained through the study of the Scriptures if we are to stick to our work. Thinking and talking about God and his purposes is good for you. Consider your limitations. You have a limited amount of time to give to the training of your mind. If you consume all of that time with worldly reading, radio entertainment, television, etc., and thinking on earthly things, you are wasting time that can be used to build up a protective barrier against the darts of the enemy. Your thoughts can be filled with important ideas. Each day there is a text to consider, as published in the Yearbook of Jehovah’s witnesses. You will find appropriate times to discuss Theocratic matters when in association with others in public witness work, or with friends in travel or at home. The wise Christian sets aside certain regular times for the building up of his mind, fortifying himself for the work to be done.—Phil. 4:8, 9.
6. How can we help brethren to faith and right habits?
6 This course of action will help others too. You have the privilege of building others up in the faith. Oftentimes you will encounter a person who is not positive in his ways, who shows laxity in his way of working. You do a distinct service to such a doubtful one when you encourage him to attend Bible-study meetings with others of like precious faith and when you suggest to him that he participate in God’s service. He may not realize the danger into which he is being led when he makes little excuses for not doing as God requires of his consecrated servants. As a Christian you have the privilege of aiding another to form the good habits you have made your own and of fighting off the bad habits that lead backwards. Cultivate the habit of regularly associating with the Lord’s people. Habitually practice these things.
7. How does properly evaluating the work help us stick to it?
7 Sticking to your work will be easier if you properly evaluate the extraordinary work that is the portion of a Christian. Surely there is nothing of higher value in this transitory world. It is not common or ordinary. A proud person might feel himself to be too important or too capable to go from house to house in God’s service. But Jesus and his disciples did not feel that way. They did not choose to serve God because they were unable to find any other employment or because they were unqualified for any other work. They saw in God’s service the highest honor that could come to any creature on this earth. Today there are many among Jehovah’s witnesses who, as the world views things, have unusual natural abilities or talents. They may have intelligence well above the average. They may be clever. If they were to direct their efforts that way, they would be able to gain high positions in this world, together with the wealth and all such things the world pursues. But do they choose temporal things, with the loss of God’s treasured work and blessings? Certainly not. Rather they use all their natural abilities for the advancement of the Lord’s work. We should consider our natural abilities as gifts from Jehovah and cultivate them in his service. (1 Cor. 12:31; 13:8; 14:1, 39; Eph. 4:7-13, Am. Stan. Ver.) Whatever abilities we have, therefore, whether many or few, should be applied to God’s work and to help us stick to that work.
8, 9. What quality of work should we give to this ministry? Why?
8 It is not enough that we share in God’s work. No, we must give our very best if we shall please him. We should keep the quality of work as high as possible. As Paul put it: “Like an expert builder, I laid a foundation, as God commissioned me to do, and now someone else is building upon it. But let everyone be careful how he does so. For no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is laid, that is, Jesus Christ himself. And whether one uses gold or silver or costly stone in building on the foundation, or wood or hay or straw, the quality of everyone’s work will appear, for the Day will show it. For the Day will break in fire, and the fire will test the quality of everyone’s work. If what a man has built on the foundation stands the test, he will have his pay.”—1 Cor. 3:10-14, An Amer. Trans.
9 It is a mistake to undervalue the wonderful service of God. That service is a treasure of inestimable value. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels [our fleshly bodies], that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.” (2 Cor. 4:7, Am. Stan. Ver.) We receive our abilities in the work from God and these we should employ creatively, conscientiously and with diligence. We shall enjoy doing God’s work if we do it right, if we give our best. There will be good building work done; our work will be fruitful. It is upon the basis of the quality of our work that God will give us our pay. Jehovah pays us well for our service in righteousness; he gives us everlasting life. “The wicked man earns illusive wages; but he who sows righteousness has a true reward.”—Prov. 11:18, An Amer. Trans.
10. What present rewards do we have for thus doing?
10 Even now we are receiving rewards. We have the satisfaction and contentment of mind that comes only with the blessing of the Lord. We have the joy of the Lord, hearts full of hope and expectation. These come to us as a bulwark against the Devil’s opposition. We see that now we have the privilege of developing ourselves through the many experiences and tests that come upon us. We are, as it were, perfecting our work, polishing out the defects. As we see our work improving we receive much joy. We rejoice in doing the Lord’s will, as it is written: “You must find the greatest joy, my brothers, in being involved in various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith leads to steadfastness, and steadfastness must have full play, so that you may be fully and perfectly developed without any defects.”—Jas. 1:2, 3, An Amer. Trans.
THE FREEDOM OF A CLEAR CONSCIENCE
11. What freedom does a clear conscience give us?
11 With this perfecting of our service comes the knowledge that we are doing what is right. Thus the Lord pays us with the freedom that comes only from having a clear conscience. We, as Christians, have made a consecration to serve our Father, and he helps us to keep our integrity. By taking the course of righteousness we receive many blessings and we are privileged to show by our upright conduct that those who abuse us have all the shame. “And who is there that can hurt you if you are eager to do what is right? Even if you should suffer for uprightness, you are blessed. But do not be afraid of them, nor be troubled, but reverence Christ in your hearts as Lord, and always be ready to make your defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that you have. But do so gently and respectfully, and keep your conscience clear, so that those who abuse your upright Christian conduct may be made ashamed of their slanders.” What a wonderful feeling it is to be free from fear, to be satisfied, to rely on the safety of the covering hand of the Most High. There is a certain joy in suffering for doing right in God’s work; but, on the other hand, how great is the mental anguish of those who do wrong. “For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.”—1 Pet. 3:13-17, An Amer. Trans.
12. To what pitiful state does failure to stick to it lead?
12 When we stick to the work of serving God and when we stick close to his organization we may suffer persecution, but God grants us the strength and ability to bear it. It is when we carelessly drift back to the old world’s ways and become ensnared in any of Satan’s many pits or traps that we suffer the untold miseries that we bring upon ourselves. The attention of the Watch Tower Society is often called to such things because persons seek help in their time of trouble. One recent example that is very unfortunate is set forth in the following letter:
I am writing for your suggestions on separation and divorce. My husband and I are witnesses for Jehovah but in the past two years we have slacked in our zeal for the service. I realize the mistake we have made and have tried to get my husband to get into the service again. Since the first of this year I haven’t been able to get him to attend meetings. He thinks because at one time he was company servant and has slacked his hand that he has lost his right to the Kingdom blessings. Of course I think the Devil has ensnared him and he is trying to justify his actions now.
He has become involved with a woman and wants a divorce so he can marry her. I told him he would certainly be throwing away all hope if he proceeds in this. We have two children, and I think anyone who has a knowledge of God’s laws should be able to figure out that they must leave such temptations alone, even if we can’t get along, which I think we could if he would give up this other woman. Please write us as soon as possible on our standing. I realize we have lost a lot of blessings by our negligence, but is all hope gone? I know he loves the Lord and the Lord’s people. But I am at a loss as to what steps I should take.
Yours for the Theocracy,
That is the very pitiful state into which failing to stick to the work and stick to the Lord’s organization has led some individuals. That is what Satan will bring upon those who give him an opening by pausing to associate again with the old world: mental suffering, misery, unhappiness.
13. How can taking advantage of God’s mercy help us to stick to it?
13 It is a comfort to us to know that our God in heaven is a merciful One and that he is an ever-present source of help and comfort. When we are caused to stumble under the constant attacks of our adversary and we yield ground, we suffer untold miseries on account of it. But if we truly love God we will turn to him and seek his help, as a child will go to its father. This help we may receive, by his undeserved kindness, if we put forth a sincere effort to henceforth go in the right way. We know we cannot go on willfully repeating our sins and then come again each time to ask forgiveness, as is the manner of some in modern religious circles, for the Scriptures do not allow for that (Heb. 10:26-30); but when we sincerely repent and seek to go in the right way, getting back into the Lord’s work and determining to stick to it, there is the Lord to help us recover. At the very least, the period of suffering is certain to be a most difficult time—there are many who never recover—and so the wise servant of Jehovah will keep his vision of the issue clear and stick to his work, not taking any risks with his life.
14. By what course can we lose all our pay for our past works?
14 In the finality, it is our works that will be considered by our Father, and then it will be determined whether or not we shall receive everlasting life. Why should we foolishly risk the loss of that excellent pay from Jehovah by going back and pursuing the illusive wages of this dying old world? It is better to consider and heed the words of the apostle Peter: “And if you address him as Father who judges everyone impartially by what he does, you must live reverently all the time you stay here, for you know that you have not been ransomed with anything perishable like silver or gold, from the futile way of living in which you were brought up, but with precious blood.” (1 Pet. 1:17-19, An Amer. Trans.) It is required of Christians to live reverently all the time they stay in this old world, following God’s Word carefully, if they are to gain final approval of the Life-giver in heaven. The ransom by Christ Jesus is not to be viewed as a common thing, but it is a precious treasure far more valuable than silver and gold. We can lose all of the blessings of the Lord if we go back to the futile way of living in which we were brought up before we knew the truth and made our consecration.
15, 16. Where and how do we get strength for our work?
15 With the pay we receive now from Jehovah we find the divine protection. We are in an evil world that is seeking to destroy all that honors Jehovah’s name. Were it not for the unexcelled protective service from above our chances of survival in this old world would be nil. We are given every reasonable help too. The Lord has given his spirit in abundance to his servants and with that has come a supply of spiritual food and knowledge of his purposes that we cannot contain. The food is plentiful. When we are working hard we use more of the food and we appreciate it more. It gives us added strength to stick to our work.
16 The strength that God gives us to endure in this old world is beyond the understanding of this world. The world sees that as an organization Jehovah’s witnesses are sticking to their work under any and all conditions, in the face of the violence of persecution and war. The efforts made to stop the work would ordinarily bring an end to the activities of any group. We know it is only Jehovah’s help that makes it possible for us to endure, and so we do not boast in ourselves. “We boast in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we triumph also in afflictions, knowing that affliction works out endurance; and endurance, approval; and approval, hope; and this hope is not put to shame, because the love of God has been diffused in our hearts, through that holy spirit which has been given to us.”—Rom. 5:1-5, Diag.
17. As to our work, what is the only wise thing to do now? How?
17 With the help of God’s spirit and the wonderful hope, we can endure, we find ourselves able to persevere, we can continue, we can stick to our work. It is the only wise thing to do now. We have the prospects of life, and the time is so near. Paul said: “You must not lose your courage, for it will be richly rewarded, but you will need endurance if you are to carry out God’s will and receive the blessing he has promised.”—Heb. 10:35, 36, An Amer. Trans.
A SOUND INVESTMENT OF EFFORT
18. To what should we not bend all our energies? Why not?
18 The enduring things are what we must invest in. These are only the Theocratic things, God’s work. We are advised not to put all of our energies into the worldly enterprises because those things are doomed to destruction at the near battle of Armageddon. If we give all of our time to such things it will be lost because such things are doomed to destruction with this world at the now near battle of Armageddon. If we give all of our time to such things it will be time lost because such things are going to be lost. Worse than that, we may be smashed up with them at Armageddon because of not sticking to God’s work and keeping that first in our lives. “You must not work for the food that perishes, but for that which lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, for God the Father has authorized him to do so.” (John 6:27, An Amer. Trans.) It must be remembered that the gaining of salvation means work, sticking to it through thick and thin. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”—Phil. 2:12.
19. In what profitable ways can our personal work proceed?
19 And all the work we do is profitable. A few words spoken at the right time will help many a person to appreciate more of God’s purposes and his great mercy. We have opportunities to speak to other people by telephone. We write letters about the gospel. We can mail literature concerning the Kingdom to friends and people of good-will. When visitors come to our homes we can speak with them about Jehovah God. These are all a part of the good work, oftentimes in addition to the important work of calling upon the people at their homes and places of business. Whether it may be that we do much in the work or a little because of limited strength or ability, sticking to the work is good. Since it means salvation, your work is not wasted or thrown away. “So my dear brothers, be firm and unmoved, and always devote yourselves to the Lord’s work, for you know that through the Lord your labor is not thrown away.”—1 Cor. 15:58, An Amer. Trans.
20. Why does the quotation from 1 Timothy 4:16 have more force now?
20 It has always been true that Christians are required to work, for that is according to the principles of the Most High God. The advice of Paul that is written at 1 Timothy 4:16 was full of meaning for the consecrated ones in early Christian times. But today the times are more perilous, the days are more evil. The time for the final settlement of the great issue of universal domination is here and the ire of the evil ones is at its highest pitch. This means that the assaults against those who are seeking to do God’s work are more intense and violent than at any other time in history. In the face of all of this we ourselves must stand firm in our integrity, never giving even a slight opening to the Devil to get in a wounding blow to disable us from the Christian service; never permitting ourselves to be captured by his forces and dragged back into the darkness of this world and its perdition.
21. How is our work a blessing now toward winning out?
21 The work that we have been given is a great blessing. It keeps us away from the dangerous things of the old world, so it acts as a protector. The work we have to do now is teaching and preaching. All of the time and strength we can possibly muster should go into the work. We have entered into this work with determination to see it through to the finish. The name of Jehovah is involved and so is our eternal salvation. We want to win and we can win by doing good works. Indeed, we must stick to our work, faithfully looking to the time when the Lord’s statement at Revelation 22:12 (An Amer. Trans.) is fulfilled: “See! I am coming very soon, bringing with me my rewards, to repay everyone for what he has done.” Now is the time. Because the final settling of the great issue is to come in this generation, our salvation is much nearer than when Christians first started to serve God. It is even much closer than when we ourselves first started to do God’s work. We must not take chances by looking back to the old world for anything. We cannot risk even the slightest slowing down now. That is why the admonition at 1 Timothy 4:16 (Moff.) means so much to us in the last days: “Watch yourself and watch your teaching; stick to your work.”