“Get a Firm Hold on the Real Life”
MANY persons live for the gratification of the flesh. They look to the riches they have accumulated as the means of providing fleshly enjoyment. When week ends roll around they have them filled with plans for pleasure. They may swim or boat on Saturday, and that evening dine and dance till a late hour. Sunday they lie in bed till a late hour, and then drive in the country for a picnic. That evening they spend in front of a television set. The entire week end is spent catering to the flesh. So on Monday morning when they go to work they detail their week-end activities to their fellow workers and sum it all up with the exclamation, “Boy, I was really living!”
But they were not really living. They were really dying. In fact, to give oneself over to pleasing the flesh is to become dead in God’s sight: “The one that goes in for sensual gratification is dead though she is living.” They are digging their graves by their selfish, fleshly course, burying themselves deeper in their sins and sinking farther and farther from the reach of God’s Word. To go the way of this world is to eventually die with this world. Christians must deaden the desires of the flesh to become alive to the works of the spirit: “It is you God made alive though you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience. Yes, among them we all at one time conducted ourselves in harmony with the desires of our flesh, doing the things the flesh and the thoughts willed, and we were naturally children of wrath even as the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, made us alive together with the Christ, even when we were dead in trespasses.”—Eph. 2:1-5; 1 Tim. 5:6, NW.
To be lifted out of our inherited deadness and made alive to God we must become alive to his Word, alive to his will, alive to the ransom he has provided for obedient men. Only after we become alive in these ways can we perform the works that will bring true riches and enjoyment, that will mean a good foundation for the future, that will give us a firm hold on the real life that will be enjoyed in Jehovah’s new world. As Paul said: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be arrogant, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; to work at good, to be rich in right works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a right foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.” Only when we are alive to God and lively in right works are we really living and on the way to real life.—1 Tim. 6:17-19, NW.
The living faith that millions profess to have is really dead because it is inactive, without works to show it is living. “As the body without breath is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (Jas. 2:20, 26, NW) To perform right works is to acquire riches—not the kind that moths consume and rust corrodes and thieves steal—but the kind that endure. “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21, NW) It is true that “the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains,” but “the blessing of Jehovah, it maketh rich; and he addeth no sorrow therewith”.—1 Tim. 6:10, NW; Prov. 10:22, AS.
It is the enriching of our lives by doing the work of Jehovah that will bring us real joy and worth-while living. This present life as the world lives it is not really living. This life is good for only one thing, namely, to get rich in right works, to treasure up a right foundation for the future, to get a firm hold on real life. We could have everything that this life has to offer, and yet if empty of right works it would be wasted and worthless. The days of this life are few and full of trouble and pain, sorrow and suffering, grief and disappointment, wickedness and death. (Job 14:1) The days are few, but there are enough of them for us to get rich in right works if we do not delay. Many will recall the fable about a race between a hare and a tortoise. The hare sprinted far ahead then slept, while the tortoise went slow but steady and won. However, we must copy neither. We cannot burst into a showy sprint for a short time then indulge in dangerous napping, for Armageddon is not poking along like the tortoise. Nor can we steadily poke along like the tortoise, for Armageddon is not napping like the hare. We must run the Christian course both fast and steady. This life is uncertain. In this life that comes and goes like the flowers and grass and fleeting shadows we must be quick to seize our opportunities to serve, to work at good, to get rich in right works.
HELPING OTHERS GRASP THE REAL LIFE
Those who think they are really living when the fleshly desires are gratified cannot see the real life. Without mental perception and heart appreciation, persons can have eyes but not see, ears but not hear, tongues but not speak. (Matt. 13:13-15) There can be more than what meets the eye. A city dog can go into the woods, come across a skunk, and see only a little black-and-white kitty to play with. By bitter experience it learns differently, and the next time it sees a skunk it sees in it more than a black-and-white kitty, though that is all that meets the eye. Similarly, a man may see that upon this generation have come unprecedented wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, fears, anxieties, delinquencies and other woes. But if his vision ends there, if he does not see in these things the sign of Jesus’ second presence, then he is spiritually blind.—Matt. 24:1-22.
There is sometimes more than just what meets the ear. A person may get a package that ticks, and think he has received a nice clock from the sender. But when opened it may be revealed as an exploding time bomb. If he survives the ordeal, the next time he receives a package that ticks he will hear in that sound more than a harmless clock, though that is all that meets the ear. Similarly, persons may hear the message of both comfort and warning that is spoken by Jehovah’s witnesses today. To the majority it is taken as the words of the witnesses speaking to them, nothing more. But to those who are yet-scattered “other sheep” the voice or message is recognized as from God and Christ. (John 10:4, 16, NW) They have ears that hear both literally and spiritually. Those who hear the words but do not discern the Ones behind the message are spiritually deaf.
There is sometimes more to what is said than what leaves the tongue. A child may be misbehaving in the presence of company or at a meeting, and the parent may say, “I’ll see you later.” The tongue really is saying more than the actual words it speaks, and the child knows that. The child knows that the parent does not mean he will merely gaze upon the offspring at a later time, but the child appreciates that some kind of action will be taken. So with Christians, there must be more than just words leaving the tongue. The words must be right words, and they must be followed by action. They cannot merely be said; they must be done, carried out. There must be not a mere saying of “Lord, Lord”, but a doing of the will of God and Christ. (Matt. 7:21; Jas. 1:22) Unless the mind can direct the tongue to speak proper words of praise to Jehovah and follow up with right works, the tongue is spiritually dumb.
It is with the foregoing spiritual meanings in mind that Isaiah prophesied of the work that would be done in our day: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped . . . and the tongue of the dumb sing.” (Isa. 35:5, 6) This work of spiritual healing must take place before persons devoted to fleshly pursuits who think they are really living can appreciate that they are really dying. It is God’s Word that is the healing message, and Christians must diligently study it so that they can preach it effectively to others. As Paul advised: “Ponder over these things, be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons. Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:15, 16, NW.
By effective preaching those who are spiritually deaf and dumb and blind can be healed, if they possess humility and honest hearts. The blindness in which Satan enshrouds their mind will vanish as the good news of Christ’s kingdom enlightens them, and further study will enable them to comply with Romans 12:2, NW: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over.” Thereafter they will shun the snare of materialism, without swinging to the other extreme of asceticism: “Those very things are, indeed, possessed of an appearance of wisdom in a self-imposed form of worship and mock humility, a severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in combating the satisfying of the flesh.”—Col. 2:23; 2 Cor. 4:4, NW.
Now, having eyes enlightened by God’s Word and ears open to its message and tongues loosed to speak it out, these persons appreciate that it is not fleshly gratification that is really living. They forsake such a dying course and become alive to God and Christ and the Bible. They are now able to make the most of this present life, which is to do the good outlined in the Bible, to perform the right works that will mean heavenly riches, to be liberal in sharing these works with others. Then, and then only, are they “safely treasuring up for themselves a right foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life”.