“Do Not Loiter at Your Business”
1. (a) For what is Jehovah noted, and how does he expect tasks assigned by him to be performed? (b) What can be said regarding his purposes?
JEHOVAH GOD, the great First Cause, the Creator of heaven and earth, is the never tardy, never tiring, never quitting Craftsman Supreme, noted for his exactitude and dependability. When in the working out of his purpose Jehovah assigns creatures certain tasks to perform he expects and demands that such be done with meticulous care and accuracy. Failure in this regard brings fearful consequences upon the negligent. Again, when Jehovah declares what shall come to pass in the future he makes sure that his Word is fulfilled. The ever living, never sleeping One diligently follows through to see that everything is accomplished in accordance with his good pleasure and perfect will. Nothing is left to chance.—Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Isa. 55:10, 11; Mal. 3:6; Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18.
2. What twofold work has been done in fulfillment of Matthew 24:45-47?
2 These points are forcefully emphasized in that long-range statement of events due to take place at the consummation of this system of things. In that prophecy recorded in the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jehovah by the mouth of Christ Jesus stated that he would have a “faithful and discreet slave” class in the earth to whom he would entrust all his Kingdom interests. (Matt. 24:45-47, NW) It was therefore not a mere occurrence when devoted men and women began to be gathered out of faithless Christendom from and after the year 1870. God purposed to use them as an organization to do a twofold work. First, they must proclaim that the Gentile times that began in 607 B. C. were due to come to an end A. D. 1914, at which time Jehovah would take to himself his official power and begin to reign in the heavens by his anointed King. So for some thirty-seven years prior to 1914 this proclamation was sounded.* That work in reality was pictured by what John the Baptist did, a work of ‘preparing the way before Jehovah’. (Ps. 110:1-3; Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1-3; Matt. 11:10; 25:31-33; John 3:28; 1 Pet. 4:17) Thereafter, following the Lord’s coming into regal power this same faithful and approved organization was and has been used to preach the good news of the established Kingdom to the far ends of the earth. (Matt. 24:14) That Jehovah God still has such a service organization in the earth in this latter half of the twentieth century, recognized for what it is, there cannot be the slightest doubt.
3. The Yearbook of International Organizations contains what list, and in what respect is the listing of the Society unique?
3 The Yearbook of International Organizations (1951-52) was prepared in cooperation with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and is published by the Service Centre of The Union of International Associations, Palais D’Egmont, Brussels, Belgium. It contains an exhaustive list of all known international organizations, together with a description of their structure, their purposes, and their activities. When leafing through this large volume of more than 1,200 pages, one is forcefully impressed to find that only one out of the more than 1,100 organizations listed is actually devoted to the work assigned by the Lord to his “faithful and discreet slave”. That organization, the unincorporated body of Jehovah’s witnesses, is represented by its legal instrument, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. On pages 314-316, in this authoritative publication, the following appears.
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
4, 5. What does that Yearbook tell about the origin and purpose of the Society?
4 “HISTORY Founded in 1872 in U. S. A. Incorporated 1884 as Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society, present name adopted in 1896. Is and has always been entirely non-political, non-profit, non-commercial, charitable, religious corporation, devoted exclusively to Bible education.
5 “PURPOSES To: act as the servant of and the legal world-wide governing agency for that body of Christian persons known as Jehovah’s witnesses; preach the gospel of God’s kingdom under Christ Jesus unto all nations as a witness to the name, word and supremacy of Almighty God Jehovah; print and distribute Bibles and disseminate Bible truths in various languages by means of making and publishing literature containing information and comment explaining Bible truths and prophecy concerning establishment of Jehovah’s kingdom under Christ Jesus; authorize and appoint agents, servants, employees, teachers, instructors, evangelists, missionaries and ministers to go forth to all the world publicly and from house to house preach and teach Bible truths to persons willing to listen by leaving with such persons said literature and by conducting Bible studies thereon; improve men, women and children mentally and morally by Christian missionary work and by charitable and benevolent instruction of the people on the Bible and incidental scientific, historical and literary subjects; establish and maintain private Bible schools and classes for gratuitous instruction of men and women in the Bible, Bible literature and Bible history; teach, train, prepare and equip men and women as ministers, missionaries, evangelists, preachers, teachers and lecturers . . . use or operate radio broadcasting stations for preaching this gospel of the kingdom. . . . (Society’s Charter).
6-9. How does that Yearbook describe the organization and activity of Jehovah’s witnesses?
6 “ACTIVITIES Jehovah’s witnesses are organized primitively, as was the apostolic early church, without clergy and laity classes, all being brothers, each one individually dedicated, consecrated and ordained, without human leader, following Christ Jesus only, responsible to Jehovah God for his ministry to Him. They have congregations, cover the earth systematically from house to house, reaching all persons, conduct congregational and home Bible studies, preach from platform in and out of doors, use the radio, printing press and other modern aids in Bible education, all voluntarily.
7 “The program of the Society is to assist Jehovah’s witnesses to direct all persons to the Bible as God’s word of truth, uphold the worship of Jehovah God, advocate his kingdom of righteousness under Christ Jesus as the only hope of mankind, teach the people the righteous principles of the Bible of honesty, integrity, unity, morality, decency, uprightness, reverence and fear of God.
8 “In this providing Bibles in all versions and languages, magazines, booklets, books and tracts as Bible-study aids, training ministers thoroughly for missionary work and supporting them in the missionary field, it promotes actual unity among people of all nations.
9 “The Society restored primitive, apostolic home-to-home ministry; organized regional, national and international Bible conferences, assemblies and conventions. Trains missionaries at Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. Non-commercial radio station WBBR continuously since 24 February, 1924.”
SOCIETY APPROVED FOR ZEALOUS SERVICE
10. Why is there no other group or organization of people carrying on Jehovah’s work today?
10 Not among all the religious systems of Christendom is there to be found another group of people or an organization engaged in Jehovah’s work today. This is not because they never had the opportunity. Rather, as illustrated in the parable of the talents, when the Lord Jesus called the lazy and slothful leaders of Christendom to account and found they had hidden what Kingdom privileges were granted them he condemned the whole of them as a “wicked and sluggish slave”. All further privileges of service in connection with God’s work were taken from them and given to Jehovah’s theocratic society of anointed witnesses, the “good and faithful slave”. Furthermore, the Master of the parable declared: “Throw the good-for-nothing slave out into the darkness outside. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be.” (Matt. 25:14-30, NW) It is no surprise, then, to find Christendom’s sectarian denominations blindly groping in the dark, their leaders howling in a bitter rage of hatred against Jehovah’s faithful and approved witnesses. On the other hand, because of their industry and skill in caring for the Kingdom interests Jehovah’s witnesses have been raised out of obscurity and now stand in an honorable position of service before the Superior Authorities, Jehovah God and Christ Jesus. “You see a man skilled at his work? He will stand in the presence of kings; he will not stand in the presence of obscure men.”—Prov. 22:29, AT.
11. In times of danger how does the activity of Jehovah’s witnesses compare with that of the sluggards of Christendom?
11 If danger is abroad the lazy choose to sleep through it; if a lion is on the prowl sluggards seek to hide while others give chase. (Prov. 22:13; 26:13, AT) So it has been since the first world war. As wild beastlike dictators roam about the earth devouring whole nations, the sluggards of Christendom follow the lazy course, the course of compromise and least resistance, but Jehovah’s zealous witnesses do not hesitate to openly confront these ravenous totalitarian beasts, cost what it may, and this they do because of their impassionate love for what is just and true and because of their intense devotion to the Most High God. Another reason, then, why Jehovah’s smile of approval has been upon his faithful people.
12. Jehovah’s people have been heeding what divine command, and in spite of what?
12 The overwhelming evidence found in the events of recent years shows that Jehovah’s organization, pictured by the ancient city of Jerusalem, has heeded the divine command not to let their hands be slack, “hang down” (Ro), “droop” (Mo), or “relax” (AT). “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not; O Zion, let not thy hands be slack. Jehovah thy God is in the midst of thee, a mighty one who will save.” (Zeph. 3:16, 17, AS) As a consequence the hands of Jehovah’s people are most active doing what he assigns them, doing it with their whole might, with sincere diligence and with dynamic energy—thanks to the Almighty One, Jehovah, who continually backs them up and sustains them with his holy spirit! Whether enjoying a measure of peace and quiet or undergoing the most fiendish opposition, whether inside or outside concentration camps, above or under ground, in front of or behind totalitarian curtains of iron and bamboo, Jehovah’s witnesses persistently push ahead with their assignment to preach the good news of the established Kingdom to the ends of the earth.
13. Since 1919 what increase has taken place, and to whose praise?
13 of course, this is not vain boasting of what mere creatures have done or are doing. All praise and honor and thanksgiving for what this organization accomplishes go to Jehovah, and not to any man or group of men, and rightly so. Just think of it! In the space of a comparatively few years since their release from Babylonish captivity in 1919, the remnant of the “faithful and discreet slave”, together with their good-will companions, have phenomenally increased from a mere handful to a new peak reached in 1952 of 456,265 ministerial publishers in the field! It is just as Jehovah said it would be: “The little one shall become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation: I, Jehovah, will hasten it in its time.”—Isa. 60:22, AS.
14. To what extent has this work been carried on as regards number of lands, time spent and literature placed?
14 Out of all nations, from more than 127 separate lands, countries, territories and islands of the sea Jehovah has gathered his witnesses. Their activity in glorious Kingdom service over the years, if measured in time spent preaching, totals up to many hundreds of millions of hours. Why, last year alone more than 68,700,000 hours were reported by these ministers of God! The number of Bibles, books, booklets and magazines published and distributed by these ministers in more than a hundred languages amounts to far more than three-quarters of a billion copies. Truly, while Christendom’s religious clergy and laity have slumbered and slept and idled away their time in worldly pursuits, the society of Jehovah’s witnesses has been very busy looking after his business. “A lazy man’s ease is his undoing, for his hands will not labour; all the day long he rests at ease—while the good man works on unceasing.”—Prov. 21:25, 26, Mo.
15. How is this work divided up and shouldered by the various servants?
15 In the early Christian society we read that Christ “gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as missionaries, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the training of the holy ones for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ”. (Eph. 4:11, 12, NW) So, too, in this latter period of time the burden of the work is divided up and shouldered by various organizational servants. The global field is divided into branches, the branches are subdivided into districts, the districts are composed of circuits, and the circuits are made up of companies or congregations each having one or more service centers. All together, there are nearly 14,000 organized congregational companies throughout the earth.
16. Instead of a clergy-laity distinction, what condition prevails within Jehovah’s organization?
16 It is a noteworthy fact: in God’s theocratic organization no so-called “clergy” or “laity” classes exist. There are no Scriptural grounds for such ecclesiastica] distinctions. In fact, Christ emphatically declared: “Do not you be called ‘Rabbi’ [My great one; My excellent one, margin], for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for One is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called ‘leaders’, for your Leader is one, the Christ. But the greatest one among you must be your minister [servant, margin]. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt. 23:8-12, NW) Unlike the clergy of Christendom, the servants in Jehovah’s organization are not vested with special robes of honor and distinction. They are not paid fat salaries for their services. Neither do they carry a whip of authority empowering them to dictate, boss, browbeat or lord it over the congregation. Praise Jehovah, no such anti-Christian practices are found among Jehovah’s witnesses! Rather, as slaves of Jehovah and as servants to their brothers these duly appointed overseers of the flock of God are prompted to serve by the pure motives of love and unselfishness. They are appointed to assist others to become better ministers of God, better preachers of the truth, better singers of Jehovah’s praises. They are, as the apostle says, appointed “with a view to the training of the holy ones for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ”.
17. How was the need of overseers’ setting a proper example shown in the typical theocratic arrangement?
17 The activity and accomplishments of God’s organization are merely the sum total of what the individual members do, and to a large extent this depends on the example set by their overseers and servants. This was illustrated in the typical theocratic arrangement established among the people of Israel, wherein the Levites were set apart and appointed to oversee various duties. Some were priests, while others served as officers, judges, doorkeepers or musicians. Again we read how “men of valor, a thousand and seven hundred, had the oversight of Israel beyond the Jordan westward, for all the business of Jehovah, and for the service of the king”. (1 Chron. 23:1-5; 26:29, 30, AS) Each one had his respective assignment of service, and as they individually looked well to these duties, to that extent the nation prospered. Contrariwise, when these servants of Israel became indolent, slothful and indifferent toward their privileges of service the nation as a whole suffered depressing setbacks.
18. How is 1 Corinthians 12:18-20 having application today?
18 So also it is today in the antitypical theocratic organization. “God has set the members in the body, each one of them, just as he pleased. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now they are many members, yet one body. Now you are Christ’s body, and members individually.” (1 Cor. 12:18-20, 27, NW) A certain servant is assigned to look after the advertising activity of a local congregation. Another servant is designated to take care of the territory. Still another is given the responsibility of being the assistant company servant. In like manner other servants have other tasks to perform. Now if each one looks well to his job, works at it with zeal and efficiency with an eye single toward pleasing Jehovah, and not some creatures, then the congregation prospers and expands under God’s blessing and direction. (Eph. 6:6-8) If, on the other hand, the servants in a company are lackadaisical or sluggish, or are tied up in the affairs of this world until they have little or no time for Jehovah’s business, to that extent the company as a whole languishes in a limp state of stagnation.
AWAKE! NO LOITERING ALLOWED!
19. Why is it now high time to be alive, awake and active?
19 Dead or alive, asleep or awake, idle or active, what is your state of being? Really it is high time to be alive, awake and active. “You know the season, that it is already the hour for you to awake from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than at the time when we became believers.” (Rom. 13:11, NW) But if you prefer a state of inactivity, then you shall have your wish, “for there is no work . . . in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Eccl. 9:10) In sleepy idleness, death will overtake you when in the near future it swallows up this old world at Armageddon. “The great day of Jehovah is near, it is near and hasteth greatly.” Hence, the command, “Get out of her, my people”; waste no time, move out in a hurry, flee, while there is still an opportunity! As it was when Jehovah unleashed his terrible power against ancient Egypt and delivered his people in a high and mighty way, so it is today. If you hope to reach the shores of God’s promised kingdom you must keep up with God’s organization under the lead of the greater Moses, Christ Jesus, as it marches out of this old system of things, through the parted walls of Armageddon’s destructive waters into the freedom of the new world. To drag your feet or lag behind is to run the risk of being overtaken by the Devil and his pursuing Egyptian hordes.—Zeph. 1:14; AS; Rev. 18:4, NW.
20. Why should loafers beware?
20 Loafers, beware! There are still a few who associate with the organization who claim they are in the truth, yet they have no works to prove it. If they ever had any faith it is now dead. (Jas. 2:14-26) In their dedication vows to Jehovah they said they would go to work in his vineyard, but they never did. Now Jehovah blesses those that go, not the sluggards who say they will go to work but fail to do so. “As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him on an errand.” Let such heed the warning: No loitering allowed in the theocratic organization! If you will not work you shall not eat.—Prov. 10:26, AT; Matt. 21:28-31; 2 Thess. 3:7-12.
21. Quitters have what mental disposition, and why should we not want to imitate them?
21 Then there are the quitters, those that begin working yet grow weary in well-doing, slow down and finally quit altogether. Some of these may work for a long time and endure the heat of many fiery trials, like the grumblers mentioned in the parable of the penny (denarius), before they slack off. “A man slack at his work is as bad as a waster”; and God hates wasters. (Prov. 18:9, Mo; Matt. 20:1-16) They have the same mental disposition as displayed by Adam, Esau, Saul and Solomon, to mention a few, who for one reason or another abandoned their privileges of service and quit worshiping Jehovah in holy array. “Remember Lot’s wife,” for she too was of that kind. (Luke 17:32) No, quitters are never winners. Hence, the apostle writes for our encouragement: “Let us not give up in doing what is right, for in due season we shall reap by not giving out.” “Attend to these duties, let them absorb you . . . stick to your work.” Under no circumstances should you allow Satan through any sly or cunning trickery to turn your mind away from Jehovah’s precious service, for “no man that has put his hand to a plow and looks at the things behind is well fitted for the kingdom of God”.—Luke 9:62; Gal. 6:9, NW; 1 Tim. 4:15, 16, Mo.
22, 23. (a) What obligations do the Scriptures place upon the servants in the congregation? (b) How should such servants go about properly discharging their obligations?
22 You servants in the congregation of God, you who are given the oversight, the greater privileges of service: be proper examples by being awake, active, quick to hear organization instructions and prompt to obey. “Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly, neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly, neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock.” (1 Pet. 5:2, 3, NW) Do not hang back and think you can drive the flock from behind. They are sheep, the Lord’s sheep, and sheep must be led. So take the lead in the various features of the field activity and they will follow as long as you follow the Greater Shepherds of the flock.—1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1.
23 As servants, in addition to your personal preaching activity, you must study local conditions, seek ways and means of expanding the Kingdom interests. Close co-operation too between servants and publishers is a divine requirement. As overseers, do not give all your time and attention to the strong and active, but also tenderly look after the irregular publishers, the sick and afflicted, the slow and weak ones. “We, though, who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to be pleasing ourselves.” (Rom. 15:1, NW) True, all this requires much work, hard work, but it is necessary for the advancement of pure worship in the earth. Remember, hard workers in the Lord have His approval, for in the eyes of Jehovah “a diligent man is a rare treasure”. (Prov. 12:27, Mo; Rom. 16:12) So do not loiter, you appointed servants and prospective princes of the new world! Work hard, not beating the air. Be dependable and efficient at your business, Jehovah’s business. So doing you too can join hard-working Paul in saying: “For to this end we are working hard and exerting ourselves, because we have rested our hope on a living God, who is a Savior of all kinds of men, especially of faithful ones.”—1 Tim. 4:10; 1 Thess. 2:9, NW.
24. What grand privilege does the individual publisher in the organization have, and therefore how should he work?
24 And you publishers in the organization, you are certainly a favored lot of people, for through your efforts the work assigned to the “faithful and discreet slave” is accomplished, namely, preaching good news to the people, comforting those that mourn, binding up broken hearts, opening eyes of blind ones, showing prisoners the way to freedom, and declaring the day of vengeance of our God. What a grand privilege! What a glorious treasure of service! (Isa. 61:1-3; Luke 4:18, 19; 2 Cor. 4:7) Therefore, whether you are a company publisher putting in one or ninety-nine hours, or whether as a pioneer you devote more than a hundred hours a month preaching, you should certainly work with serious care and caution and with that energetic zeal peculiar to Jehovah and his organization. Push ahead with the work and, as you do, remember that the effort made is not everything. Results are what ultimately count, and results are obtained by applying effort in an efficient manner. Hence, plan your work consistently. Be steady. Show endurance, persistence. Put the Kingdom interests first in your lives, not second, not last, but first. As the apostle says: “No man serving as a soldier involves himself in the commercial businesses of life, in order that he may meet the approval of the one who enrolled him as a soldier. Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of.” And again, God’s Word instructs us to “repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things, . . . a people peculiarly his own, zealous for good works”.—2 Tim. 2:4, 15; Titus 2:11-14, NW.
25. What incentives to zealous work do the Scriptures give us?
25 Ah yes, “we are God’s fellow workers,” “working together with him,” a people belonging to Jehovah and devoted to his service! “Consequently, my beloved brothers, become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.” (1 Cor. 3:9; 15:58; 2 Cor. 6:1, NW) No question about it, as Jehovah’s faithful witnesses you certainly have plenty to do. Therefore, “whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men, for you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the due reward of the inheritance.” (Col. 3:23, 24, NW) Yes, Jehovah renders “to each one according to his works”, for “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering”. For this reason, because of Jehovah’s righteousness and faithfulness, the apostle urges you “to show the same industriousness so as to have the full assurance of the hope down to the end, in order that you may not become sluggish, but be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises”.—Ps. 62:12; Jer. 17:10, AS; Rom. 2:6; Heb. 6:10-12, NW.
26. Why is this no time for holding back? and what may we not do if we would gain eternal life in a paradise of perfection?
26 If you are seeking to escape the serfdom of Satan’s system of things, if you are tired of the thorns and thistles of sin and corruption, if you want to walk on a smooth highway leading to God’s kingdom, if you crave to live forever in a paradise of perfection, then avoid the ways of the slothful, lazy sluggards. “Slothful men will end as serfs,” “the lazy man finds life beset with thorns,” “the sluggard craves, but gets nothing.” (Prov. 13:4, AT; Pr 12:24; 15:19, Mo) This is no time to dillydally or hold back. The King is upon his heavenly throne. Jehovah’s “strange work” is rapidly reaching its successful conclusion. The triumphal day of final victory for Jehovah’s glorious kingdom is at hand. Awake! “Do not loiter at your business. Be aglow with the spirit. Be slaves to Jehovah.”—Rom. 12:11, NW.