“Be Rich in Right Works”
“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.”—1 Tim. 6:17, 18, NW.
1. What is Jesus’ counsel on treasure?
CHRIST Jesus counseled: “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.” How can creatures on earth store up treasures in heaven?—Matt. 6:19-21, NW.
2. What surpasses in value precious metals and stones, how is it gained, and what does it mean for its possessor?
2 Beyond comparison with silver and gold is Jehovah’s truth: “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” To gain it you must cry for it, search it out, seek it diligently: “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of [Jehovah] and find the knowledge of God.” To find it and apply it is to find peace, happiness and life eternal: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding, for the gain from it is better than gain from silver and its profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.”—Prov. 8:10, 11; 2:1-5; 3:13-18, RS.
3. How can we lay up treasure in heaven, and will death rob us of it?
3 We must do more than hear the word of Jehovah. We must “become doers of the word, and not hearers only.” “He who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in it, this man, because he has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, will be happy in his doing it.” And he will be getting rich, not in silver and gold that perishes, but in right works: “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.” Jehovah “judges impartially according to each one’s work,” and uses Christ to do this, who shows his qualifications when he says: “I am he who searches the inmost thoughts and hearts, and I will give to you individually according to your deeds.” If you seek out his words of truth, share them with others, do the right works they command, and shun the evil deeds they deplore, you will be laying up a treasure in heaven for the future and firmly embracing the prospect of real life in Jehovah’s new world. The anointed followers of Christ who die now and are instantaneously changed suffer no loss of their treasure of good works, “for the things they did go right with them.” To them it cannot be correctly said, “You can’t take it with you.” The same principle will not allow death to rob the other sheep of heavenly treasure: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.”—Jas. 1:22, 25; 1 Tim. 6:17-19; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 2:23; 14:13; Heb. 6:10, NW.
4. What is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 3:12-15?
4 But the works of the wicked perish with them: “The strong shall be as tow, and his work as a spark; and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.” At times even those in Jehovah’s service may err and build the wrong works on the foundation, Christ Jesus: “Now if anyone builds on the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood materials, hay, stubble, each one’s work will become manifest, for the day will show it up, because it will be revealed by means of fire, and the fire itself will prove what sort of work each one’s is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward; if anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved; yet, if so, it will be as through fire.” The gold, silver and precious stones endure the flames, but the wood, hay and stubble do not. The former symbolize approved works that are not destroyed by Jehovah’s fiery judgments, whereas the latter combustible materials are erroneous doctrines and works that cannot stand before Jehovah’s fiery tests. If the one performing the latter ones will suffer the loss of them, quit doing them, and turn to good works he will be saved. If he will let Jehovah’s judgment eliminate the false practices and take up the works approved by the Bible he will be saved by this cleansing, purifying fiery judgment; but if he clings to the false works he will perish with them.—Isa. 1:31, AS; 1 Cor. 3:12-15, NW.
5. Why should we become skilled in preaching work, and how can we?
5 The primary work Christians must now do is fulfill Jesus’ words: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations.” Our preaching work should be of as high a quality as possible for us, so that we can have a standing before the Kings Jehovah and Christ: “Do you see a man skilful in his work? he will stand before kings.” For necessary instruction and training the Bible is provided, in order “that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” So by private and group study, by regular attendance at congregational meetings, and by participation in the training program “do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.” Satan, the god of this present wicked world, has woven a gigantic tissue of religious lies and spreads it like a veil over the nations so that unbelievers are blinded to the enlightening good news of Christ’s kingdom. But Jehovah’s Word is like a two-edged sword and Christians must be skilled in wielding it to slash to shreds the blinding veil and let the light shine into the honest minds and hearts of sheeplike men and women and children. The fact that Satan makes the preaching work difficult only adds to the thrill of accomplishing it, with Jehovah’s help.—Matt. 24:14, NW; Prov. 22:29, RS; 2 Tim. 3:17; 2:15, NW.
6. What scriptures suggest quantity of work as well as quality?
6 Not only quality but also quantity must be considered. The days are critical and the time is short, so the admonition is to “preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season.” “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.” “Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” “Do not loiter at your business. Be aglow with the spirit.” “Sloth brings the sleep that has no awaking.” “Cursed be he that doeth the work of Jehovah negligently.” If we do the work of Jehovah in a skillful way and also do much of it the joy of accomplishment will be greater and in right works we shall be richer.—2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Cor. 15:58; Phil. 2:12; Rom. 12:11, NW; Prov. 19:15, Knox; Jer. 48:10, AS.
7. What enemy charge boomerangs, when will matters be righted, and what shows the time is ripe for it?
7 Because of doing these right spiritual works and upsetting the materialistic religions of their time the early Christians were accused of turning the world upside down, but actually it was the false religionists that perverted matters, and at similar hypocrites long before Christ’s time Jehovah’s prophet had leveled the stinging charge: “Ye turn things upside down!” (Isa. 29:16, AS; Acts 17:6) At Armageddon Jehovah breaks forth against them in a destruction. By the expression of this righteous indignation the “earth and the works in it will be discovered,” meaning all the vile works of this present wicked earthly system will be discovered to be like the heavens, burned up, along with the workers of such evils. And although people are now told beforehand of this work of Jehovah, they refuse to believe, as also foretold. Yet in view of the decline of honesty and decay of integrity and collapse of morality the time is ripe for it: “It is time for Jehovah to work; for they have made void thy law.” As Jesus told hypocrites of his day: “You have made the word of God invalid because of your tradition.”—2 Pet. 3:10, NW; Ps. 119:126, AS; Matt. 15:6, NW; Hab. 1:5; Acts 13:40, 41.
8. How should we now wisely use time?
8 Since the time is ripe for Jehovah’s destructive work, it is imperative to be urgently at the warning work now. Time must be used wisely, not wasted, for it is short. To save others and to save ourselves we must get rich quick, not in material ways, but in right works. Use the time to work. When doing nothing some idly say: “I’m just killing time.” They do consume time but in time they are consumed. Time passes on; we pass out. We stop; time marches on. It does not take time long to pass us—seventy or eighty years, more or less, a mere drop in time’s stream. But now, in these last days, we do not have even this droplet of time, for Armageddon comes on apace. If we are to march on with time instead of being outmarched by it, we must get in step with the Bible and walk with God. We must appreciate the spiritual values and store up lasting treasure, not being shortsighted materialists grabbing at the wind and ending with nothing, not even breath. You say you have no time to study God’s Word? You say you have no time to do his work? That is like saying you have no time to breathe.
9. What is this life good for, and what is the effect upon us of preaching or refusing to preach?
9 This present life as the world lives it is not really living. “The one that goes in for sensual gratification is dead though she is 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 in Jehovah’s new world. 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. The days are few, but there are enough for us to get rich in right works if we do not delay. To do such works brings us joy and satisfaction, peace and contentment, spiritual health and eternal life. Strange though it may seem, not to do them is exhausting, whereas to do them is refreshing. When Jeremiah decided not to preach he finally cried out: “I am worn out with holding it in—I cannot endure it.” When Elihu discerned necessary preaching to do he declared: “I will speak, that I may be refreshed.” Just as Jehovah was refreshed by his work of creation, and doing Jehovah’s will was like refreshing food to Jesus, so the accomplishment of the preaching work is refreshing to Jehovah’s witnesses at this time. So even as we work we are refreshed, and even in the face of persecution we do not become weary in well doing, for “they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.”—1 Tim. 5:6, NW; Jer. 20:9, AT; Job 32:20; Isa. 40:31, AS.
WORK IN THE NEW WORLD
10. What will keep life in the new world from becoming dull?
10 To be delivered to real life in the new world does not mean being granted a permanent vacation. Overlong vacations become dull. Loafing becomes monotonous. Life becomes uninteresting. The real life in the new world will never become dull or monotonous or uninteresting, because there will be plenty of work. Not the vain and futile work of this world that makes the work week a grind and that makes men speak of its beginning as “blue” Monday. No, it will be the interesting and even fascinating work of beautifying the earth, exercising loving dominion over animal life, and raising children to fill the earth with a righteous race. There will always be right work for the mind and for the body, and, just as in the case of the anointed witnesses and their work now, so then men “shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” Or, more in accord with the literal meaning of the Hebrew, the work of their hands they will “use to the full” or “wear out.” The fruits of their labor will not be stolen or uselessly hoarded or left behind unused by the worker because death took him. There will be nothing to frustrate Jehovah’s purpose that the worker will reap the joy and satisfaction of his own work.—Isa. 65:22; Ro; Yg.
11. From what shall we have rest in the new world, and what wonderful vistas of work will open up for us?
11 The thousand-year reign of Christ will be a time of rest from drought, crop failure, hurricane, earthquake, accidents and oppressive toil; rest from cheating commercialists, corrupt politicians and hypocritical religionists; rest from racial strife and national divisions, from cold wars and hot wars, from pain and sickness, and from suffering and death. It will be a time of rest from all the rottenness heaped on humankind for the past six thousand years of tyranny by wicked men and degraded demons and depraved Devil. But it will not be a time of rest from right works. There will always be new work, with new problems to solve and new mysteries to penetrate. These will challenge our mind and body and draw us on to ever new advances in work, knowledge, wisdom and understanding. And with endless life, individuals will have time to finish the work they start. Now men either know a little about a lot, or a lot about a little. Their studies leave them broad and shallow, or narrow and deep. But in the new world where time is not doled out in limited life spans that are as fleeting shadows men will have time to pursue studies until they become both broad and deep, learning much about many subjects. And the rich satisfaction of increasing knowledge will never end, for we can never know it all. Only Jehovah knows it all, and we can never begin to fathom the depths of his limitless wisdom. What a marvelous future of satisfying work lies ahead of obedient mankind!
12. What admonition is given for our good?
12 To have that real life then is worth working for now. Jehovah works, Christ works, man should work, will be happier if he works, will live longer if he works, will have satisfaction in his work now if it fills a useful purpose, and will gain real life in the new world if his present works are right in Jehovah’s sight. Store treasure in heaven. Earthly riches are temporary. Work for what endures: “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be wise enough to desist.” “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” The more a desire is fed the bigger and hungrier it gets, whether spiritual or material. We have only so much time, and the more we use it to please the flesh the less we shall have for things of the spirit.—Prov. 23:4, RS; 1 John 2:17, NW.
13. What is the subtle danger of materialism?
13 The material crowds out the spiritual if we let it, and sometimes subtly does it before we know it. There is a fable about an Arab and his camel. It was a cold night, and as the Arab sat in his small tent the camel looked in and begged to be allowed to put his head inside because of the cold. Soon he asked to get his neck in, then his forelegs, and finally asked to stand wholly within. Permission was granted, but it was so crowded the camel nudged the Arab and moved him outside, saying there was not room for both in the tent. So it is with materialism. If we give it an opening it will encroach more and more on our time and energy and soon spirituality will be crowded out of our life. This is not to say we should go to the other extreme of asceticism and put on “a self-imposed form of worship and mock humility, a severe treatment of the body,” for material goods are needed, are to be enjoyed, and can be used in Jehovah’s service also; but when pursued beyond our needs they cost too much. As this disintegrating old world is finding out, the cost of materialism is spirituality, and to pay over spirituality is eventually to pay over your life: “The minding of the flesh means death, but the minding of the spirit means life and peace.” Now many glory in the god of materialism, when actually it is their shame: “Their god is their belly, and their glory consists in their shame, and they have their minds upon things on the earth.” Do Jehovah’s work, not your belly’s bidding!—Col. 2:23; Rom. 8:6; Phil. 3:19, NW.
14. What is the common denominator of happiness? So what must we now do?
14 Money is not the common denominator of happiness. Some rich people are happy, many are not. Some poor people are happy, many are not. Youth is not the common denominator of happiness. Some youths are happy, some are not. Many aged persons are happy, many are not. Health is not the common denominator of happiness. Some healthy people are happy, but many are sad. Some sickly ones are happier than healthy ones. The same can be said for the famous and the obscure, the popular and the unpopular, the talented and the mediocre—none of these conditions is the common denominator of happiness. The common denominator of happiness and peace and contentment is knowing Jehovah. All who know Jehovah and serve him—whether rich or poor, young or old, healthy or sickly, famous or obscure, popular or unpopular, talented or mediocre—all of them are happy and contented and hopeful. To take in knowledge of Jehovah and Christ and then give out the truth water to others means life everlasting: “The generous man will be enriched; and he who waters will himself be watered.” Such happy persons now study Jehovah’s Word, tell it to others, obey his commands, live clean lives, systematically preach, become rich in right works, and thereby get a firm grip on the real life that will be filled to overflowing with satisfying works to the everlasting praise of the great Creator God, Jehovah.—Prov. 11:25, AT; John 17:3, NW.