What Is Practical?
“WHY don’t you do practical things, like social work, relief work, building hospitals, and efforts to make this world better by taking part in political activities, putting Bible principles into government?” Jehovah’s witnesses are often confronted with this question by honest and well-meaning people.
The test of practicality of a thing is its success. If it accomplishes its purpose to the greatest good of all concerned and to the good of others, then it is practical.
Since Jehovah God is the Creator and the Provider for his creatures, he is certainly the most practical Person in the universe. What he does accomplishes its purpose, ending in success and the most practical and lasting good for all who desire what is right. (Isa. 46:11; 55:11) What creatures, especially imperfect ones as we are, think good or expedient at the time may not bring the most good ultimately. So let us get his viewpoint, far higher and with greater foresight than ours, and his wisdom as he views the world from his vantage point.—Isa. 55:8, 9; 40:22.
From the very beginning of man’s entry into this sorrowful condition in which he finds himself today, Jehovah gave man hope of relief and stated his purpose of deliverance. He at the same time showed that there would be built up a deflected world society, which would exist until destroyed by God’s appointed liberator. (Gen. 3:15) Since that time such society has existed. But God did not command faithful men to be subservient to that old world society, nor to try to perpetuate it. To the contrary, he called men out to be free and separate from it to do a work he had for them. Although these men were not to set up a government of their own, this would not mean that there would not be government, for the old world society would continue without their help. Neither were they commissioned to hinder or overthrow world governments nor to attempt to patch up such systems to improve mankind’s lot by means of them. They realized that an effort to do this would result in disappointment. More than this, such forsaking their separateness from the old world would have the effect of obscuring and quenching among men the knowledge and hope of Jehovah’s new world promise. It was mandatory that they devote themselves completely to a work far greater, better, more lasting and effective. What was this?
They were to walk with God, learn his ways and study his revealed promises of a better world, and preach this to other men who needed such comfort. The information they presented was an outline of government directly administered by Jehovah God, the Creator and rightful Ruler. This government would be established while the old world society still flourished. (Dan. 2:44) Between the two there could be no compromise. God would completely supplant the old world society, adopting no part of it into his new world. Though awaiting God’s time to establish this government by his own power, they were not idly folding their hands, with nothing to do. No! Teaching, training, organizing—this educational work profitably occupied all their time. This knowledge of God’s purpose must be made a beacon, seen by all men of good will.—Hebrews, chapter 11.
JESUS’ PRACTICAL COURSE
Then came Jesus, the promised Liberator and Messiah, the one who was himself the King designate while on earth. Did he condemn these men who had separated themselves from the world or take a course different from theirs? With all his marvelous gifts of organization he could have then and there been king, thus ‘bringing Bible principles into government’ better than any modern-day organization or group of Christians. But what did he do? Let the Bible record answer: “Therefore Jesus, realizing they were about to come and seize him to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain all alone.” (John 6:15, NW) He later said: “My kingdom is no part of this world,” and in prayer, “I make request, not concerning the world.” (John 18:36; 17:9, NW) He, too, preached the truth. He spent all his time, energy and resources in the all-important educational work of the Kingdom.
What did Jesus do about the problem of the poor and sick? By his miraculous powers he could have fed the world. But to those more interested in material things such as being fed or physically healed he said: “You are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate from the loaves and were satisfied. Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you.”—John 6:26, 27, NW.
He knew the people in his home town at Nazareth expected him to perform some of his great works of healing among them. But in the synagogue there he corrected this materialistic frame of mind by reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah his commission from God as one of preaching. (Isa. 61:1, 2; Luke 4:17-19) Here he showed that the commission of the Christian organization is not to concentrate on such minor philanthropic works as social and relief efforts, but to express the greatest love by doing works of spiritual healing, preaching the good news of the Kingdom. Jesus recognized that as long as this system of things exists the problem of the poor and needy will not be relieved. He said: “For you have the poor always with you.” (John 12:8, NW) He knew that material help would be only temporary at most. He pointed out, however, that by seeking first the Kingdom one can come under God’s care and be secure, with a bright outlook and a sureness of receiving the things needed now, and everlasting life in the new world.—John 6:33; Ps. 37:25.
Was Jesus’ course the practical one? Did it result in the greatest blessings? Consider as an answer the enduring heritage of freedom and enlightenment that his short three-and-a-half-year ministry has brought to those who have heard his word, and even to many others in those nations where Christians have dwelt. Has any other work been comparable in beneficial effects?
The undeniable truth stands: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matt. 4:4, NW) Everlasting life, yes, even peace of mind, appreciation and enjoyment of life now depend on taking in knowledge of the only true God Jehovah and the one whom he has sent forth, Jesus Christ.—John 17:3.
Those who speak of practical use of their possessions and time, do they not give to church organizations for things spiritual? Do they not believe that money given for education and prevention of crime and juvenile delinquency serves a practical purpose? Do they not put the intangible values above the material ones? Even now it is being said that money and efforts spent to educate people behind the Iron Curtain by broadcasts in the interests of freedom will accomplish more toward the peace of the world than mighty defenses of great armies, with their atom and thermo-nuclear bombs.—Eccl. 7:12; Ps. 127:1.
Contrast the course of Jesus Christ in teaching the people the spiritual things of God with that of the United States’ great experiment in trying to “feed the world”. What has been the result of its efforts? After pouring billions of dollars into other nations, she finds many of the people calling the United States a “capitalistic dictatorship” and turning to godless communism, while using the materials supplied by democracy to fight against it.
When Almighty God issues a warning and commissions his people to deliver it, this they must do. Their obedience to his command to preach will certainly bring the greatest good to all. Those who listen to and aid these servants of God in their work will find the fullest measure of blessings for themselves, and life in a new world of righteousness. Assuredly, after the flood Noah and his sons were proved the practical ones, having forsaken the old world society of their day and devoted all their efforts to preaching and providing a place of safety from the flood. The Christians of the first century were proved the practical ones when they preached right up to A. D. 70 the warning of Jerusalem’s destruction and, in obedience to Jesus’ prophecy, withdrew to the mountains with those who heeded their warning, thus escaping the terrible slaughter of the Jews there when the Roman army overran it like a flood.—Matt. 24:15, 16.
Yes, the apostles and their companions did a practical work. Most of them had very little money, but they had a precious message of life that they freely gave. (Acts 3:6) They devoted their all in time, energy and possessions to the one supremely vital work of preaching the kingdom of God. (Acts 4:32-35) At the same time, with true and practical loving-kindness they were using these possessions to help their fellow witnesses keep on preaching the good news.—Acts 11:29; 2 Corinthians, chapter 9.
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES TODAY PRACTICAL
So that is what Jehovah’s witnesses do today. Like the example of Mary, who was commended by Jesus as seeking better things than Martha, they learn at the feet of Jesus. (Luke 10:38-42) His example is a practical one and can be followed with the greatest success in these days. While they help one another and men of good will, all their substance is fully devoted to the expansion of the good news to every corner of the earth. They are vigorously preaching today in 127 nations. Are any of these Christians unencumbered with family responsibilities so that they can devote full time to preaching? They do not selfishly hold back from doing so. Do they have money? It is freely and voluntarily used to support missionary work, provide Kingdom Halls, and to defray expenses that they and their co-workers encounter in getting the warning to every land in the short time before God acts to remove the old world society and establish the new world. Do they have homes? They do not hesitate to open them up for neighborhood Bible studies so that a convenient center for the vital but neglected study of God’s Word can be made. They are not afraid to let these homes be worn out by the walking of many feet in and out of them as the home is used weekly, not only for a study center but also for assembly of those gathering to preach the good news in the vicinity. Do they have automobiles? They do not fear that these may be prematurely sent to the junk yard because they travel even to isolated rural areas to call on persons who want to study the Bible. They consider their cars well used if they go out of their way to take along their fellow witnesses to the Kingdom Hall meeting place for study or service assemblies.
Jehovah’s witnesses see practical results as an outcome of this course now. For time spent they have the delightful reward of seeing the light of hope in the eyes of those who mourn in this time of spiritual famine. (Amos 8:11; Ezek. 9:4) For their money they read reports of the happiness brought to persons in an area extending from their own doorstep to the very ends of the earth, as these take hold on renewed hope, turn from despondency and helpless despair to be helpful citizens of a new world society. For their well-used homes and automobiles they have real friends and joyful associations, besides the approval of the most valuable Friends, Jehovah and his enthroned Son.—Mark 10:29, 30; Luke 16:9.
But to have a share in the vindication of Jehovah’s name is above all rewards. Jehovah himself considers it so important that he has called all creation as spectators. Moreover, he has assigned legions of mighty angels to hold back the enemies who would like to stop the proclamation. Yes, Jehovah’s witnesses have found the practical, progressive way to live during this temporary time of transition from an old world to a new. Soon, with the marvelous blessings of healing and prosperity as the merit of Christ’s ransom sacrifice is applied to the families of earth, there will be no need for hospitals or bread lines. Under Jehovah’s rule through Christ Bible principles will be fully applied to government. Then communism, dictatorships, sorrow, slavery and oppression will forever be things of the past.—Rev. 21:1-4; Isa. 25:6-8; 65:17-25.