Keep Up with the Good Examples
MANY persons of the old world seek material possessions in a mad scramble to “keep up with the Joneses.” Dedicated persons of the new world would rather keep up with the Isaiahs and Jeremiahs, the Peters and Pauls. They are more interested in spiritual treasures than in earthly riches: “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. No one can be a slave to two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves to God and to Riches.”—Matt. 6:19-21, 24, NW.
To heap up material possessions far beyond our needs, to be determined to accumulate showy riches, is to endanger our spiritual welfare and flouts the warning: “For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things. However, those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For 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.”—1 Tim. 6:7-10, NW.
Wealth feeds greed, and the more you get the more you want, and in the end you do not have money but it has you, and the inspired saying proves true: “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this also is vanity.” Again, “His eyes are never satisfied with riches.” Materialism will crowd out the spiritual if you let it: “The flesh is against the spirit in its desire, and the spirit against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, so that the very things that you would like to do you do not do.” So Christians should not stumble into the vain snare of an envious race to keep up with the materialistic “Joneses”: “Let us not become egotistical, stirring up competition with one another, envying one another.”—Eccl. 5:10; 4:8, RS; Gal. 5:17, 26, NW.
Riches accumulated beyond any reasonable need not only lack enduring value but also identify you as materialistic and witness against you and your spirituality: “Your riches have rotted, and your outer garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their rust will be as a witness against you and will eat your fleshy parts. Something like fire is what you have stored up in the last days.” With wealth a man may make a showy splash, but it lasts no longer than the waves from a rock plunked into a pond. “The sun rises with its burning heat and withers the vegetation, and its flower drops off and the beauty of its outward appearance perishes. So, too, the rich man will fade away in all his ways of life.” “Everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—Jas. 5:2, 3; 1:11; 1 John 2:16, 17, NW.
So it is the unseen things of the spirit that last, and not the eye-filling material things that many are now competitively accumulating. Like the apostle Paul, true Christians appreciate this and eye the lasting spiritual treasures as more desirable: “We keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.”—2 Cor. 4:18, NW.
The prophet Moses turned his back on material treasure to look toward the reward for spirituality: “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he esteemed the reproach of the Christ as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” So also did the prophet greater than Moses, Christ Jesus. Satan the Devil offered him rulership over all the kingdoms of earth, but this material wealth and pomp and] power Jesus rejected, holding instead to integrity and true worship of Jehovah. And later materialistic Jews wanted to make him king because he gave them bread. Again he rejected kingship contrary to Jehovah’s arrangement, and when he advised these Jews to seek, not bread that perishes, but Himself as the bread from heaven that brought life eternal, they balked at this spiritual provision.—Heb. 11:24-26; Matt. 4:8-10; John 6:15, 26-66, NW.
So what will Jehovah’s witnesses do? “To this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely,” said Peter. “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ,” and “Keep your eye on those who are walking in a way that accords with the example you have in us,” said Paul. “Brothers, take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the exercising of patience the prophets, who spoke in the name of Jehovah,” wrote James. Yes, take these faithful prophets and witnesses of Jehovah as examples and imitate them, keep your eye on them, try to keep up with them, and not with the materialistic Joneses of this old world that is perishing! Why try to keep up with the Joneses when we do not want to go where the Joneses are going? Instead, try to keep up with the good examples, for we want to go where they are going and be with them in the new world of righteousness.—1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17; Jas. 5:10, NW.