Full-Time Service—a Glorious Treasure
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”—Matt. 6:21, NW.
1. What should we consider when examining a treasure? Why?
IS A handful of grain of more value than a handful of diamonds? Is a tumbler of water more to be desired than a tumbler of pearls? Is a bottle of oxygen more to be treasured than a bottle of rubies? We can say neither yes nor no to these questions, because the circumstances a person is in determine his set of values. To a starving man, isolated in some remote part of the earth, a handful of grain would mean more than a handful of diamonds. A thirsty man in a parched desert would spurn a tumbler of pearls for a tumbler of water. And a man suffocating from pneumonia would treasure a bottle of oxygen above a bottle of rubies. In each case the values are different from what would normally be the case, because life is at stake. Life means more than precious gems; for without life such things cannot be enjoyed. Therefore, when examining a treasure we should consider the reasons for its value and why we should set our heart upon it.
2, 3. (a) Why would the man of wisdom not place his heart upon material treasures? (b) What does he place his heart upon, and why should this be properly evaluated?
2 The precious gems in the earth were placed there by the Creator for man’s enjoyment, and there is no question about their being desirable treasures. But so also are food, water and air—things essential for sustaining life. These too are treasures given to man by a loving Creator. But should we place our heart upon obtaining material treasures, since the enjoyment of them is only temporary? Should the needs, the desires and the pleasures of the flesh be evaluated so highly that they are made the reasons for living, the goal in life? Would not the means by which a person could obtain eternal life be a much more practical goal?
SERVING THE LIFE-GIVER
3 Since Jehovah God is the Creator of earth’s many treasures and is the Giver of eternal life, the wise man will place his heart upon serving Him. Lasting enjoyment and true satisfaction come to those who serve this great loving Giver of every good and perfect gift full time. Here is a glorious treasure exceeding by far the many other treasures upon which a person might place his heart. It is a treasure that can bring eternal life. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that a person should have the proper evaluation of it. He should see it in the right perspective. He should understand the reasons why it is invaluable. By gaining accurate knowledge about it he will develop the mental attitude that Jehovah meant for his creatures to have toward his service.
4. What was God’s purpose in creating living, intelligent creatures?
4 Jehovah had definite purposes in mind when he began creating living, intelligent creatures untold ages ago. He did not create them merely for companionship, for he was not lonesome. He was self-sufficient and not dependent upon anyone else. Then why did he create? He did so because it pleased him to create and to allow others to enjoy his goodness, companionship and wisdom. He desired to share life unselfishly with others. And so he surrounded himself with hundreds of millions of mighty spirit creatures who were able to enjoy directly his radiant glory. It was his purpose that they should serve him continually, faithfully performing the tasks he assigned them. They were thus given the glorious treasure of full-time service. He meant for them to devote their time to bringing honor and glory to his name, to enjoying his goodness and love and to absorbing wisdom from him. Because he is the source of wisdom his thoughts are precious and of the utmost value to his creatures. “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” “Oh the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are!”—Ps. 139:17, AS; Rom. 11:33, NW.
5. How did the angels regard full-time service of the Creator?
5 At their various duties the angels joyfully served the interests of their loving Creator. They did not push these duties aside as secondary to personal interests. No, they gave their undivided attention and their full energies and abilities to serving the great Sovereign of the universe. Nothing was of greater importance to them. Those sent out as messengers went without hesitating for a moment. There was no holding back or the least sign of unwillingness to accept an assignment. They delighted to do Jehovah’s will because that was where their heart was. They found joy in serving him full time.
6. What were some of the special duties assigned to Jehovah’s first creation?
6 The first of these spirit creations was given many special duties, among which was the creating of the heavenly hosts. This mighty Son of God joyfully devoted his energies to this task, finding pleasure in the full-time service of his God and Father. Since he was appointed as a special spokesman for Jehovah, he was called “The Word.” Regarding him John 1:1-3 (NW) says: “Originally the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was originally with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” And then the apostle Paul tells us: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible.”—Col. 1:15, 16, NW.
7, 8. (a) What was his attitude toward full-time service? (b) Did a long period of service on one assignment discourage him?
7 He gladly accepted whatever assignment God gave him. He did not consider full-time service a glorious treasure in one section of the universe but undesirable in another. It made no difference to him where he was assigned to serve so long as he could be of use to his God and Father. His attitude was well expressed at Psalm 40:8 (AS): “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” He has shown this same humble attitude and willingness to serve throughout his long career of full-time service. He said on one occasion: “I seek not my own will but the will of him that sent me.” (John 5:30, NW) This has been his mental attitude from the very beginning. He is, therefore, an example that all other creatures would do well to follow.
8 When Jehovah purposed to bring forth the material universe and to make one of the material bodies a paradise home for intelligent, fleshly creatures, it was the Word who was assigned to carry this purpose to fruition. And so with the pattern and power supplied by Jehovah God, he proceeded with the work of material creation. Although the forming of the earth and the preparing of it for life were tasks requiring a great period of time, the Word did not lose interest in his work. He did not allow billions of years on the same assignment to dishearten him and cause him to quit. He stuck to his job and faithfully worked at it until it was finished.
9. What did he prove by sticking to his assignment, and what did this bring him?
9 By such faithful service he proved his dependability and was therefore given other assignments. One of these strongly appears to have been the delivering of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. He had the responsibility of leading them by a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. And then when the people reached the foot of Mount Horeb, it was evidently this beloved Son of the Most High who transmitted the divine Law to the Israelites through Moses. Regarding this mighty spirit Son, called Michael, Daniel 12:1 (AS) says that he is “the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people.” Certainly the angel who had guided them and faithfully conveyed God’s instructions to them, as well as punished them for disobeying the divine Law, would be the one who would stand prince over God’s chosen people.*
10. What was the only-begotten Son’s most difficult assignment, and how did he react to it?
10 The most difficult assignment for the Word came when Jehovah had him give up life in the heavenly realm as a glorious spirit creature and take up full-time service on the earth as a man. Although this assignment meant being made lower than the angels and involved a sacrificial death while he was on earth, it did not cause the Son to reject the assignment. He humbly agreed to do whatever the great Sovereign decreed. And so it is written at Philippians 2:5-8 (NW): “Keep this mental attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.” In spite of the trials and hardships that came upon God’s only-begotten Son on this particular assignment, he did not for one moment think about quitting and dropping out of the full-time service of his heavenly Father. He valued that above his personal feelings, his personal comfort and even his life.
11, 12. (a) Did Christ have the proper evaluation of the treasure of full-time service? (b) What has he shown by his actions?
11 No matter what circumstance Christ was in, he always had the proper evaluation of the glorious treasure of full-time service. His evaluation did not change when circumstances changed, as do the evaluations of those who place their heart upon material possessions. He knew there was no need even to consider comparing the value of his Father’s service with any of the luxuries and comforts of this world, not even with the necessities of life. He once said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34, NW) He rejected the riches, honor and power of this entire world in preference for Jehovah’s service. (Matt. 4:8-10, NW) To fulfill this assignment, as he had fulfilled other assignments, was all that interested him. This godly service was of far greater value to him, because it meant Jehovah’s approval and eternal life.
12 The example of godly service set by this beloved Son is without question the finest any creature could follow. His billions of years of faithful full-time service and humble willingness to accept and perform whatever assignment was given him, as well as his endurance under trial, clearly prove his deep love for the Father. Here is a splendid example of appreciation for the treasure of full-time service, and it well illustrates the proper evaluation of that treasure.
SERVICE HAS VARIED
13. (a) Has this treasure been confined to one manner of service? (b) How did Noah serve?
13 The manner in which creatures have been privileged to serve Jehovah God full time has varied. The only-begotten Son, as we have seen, served in more than one manner. And when we examine the records of faithful full-time servants on earth, we find this to be true with them too. Not all served in the same way. Noah, for example, received an assignment to do a witness work. He was to preach a warning of the violent end that was due to come upon the antediluvian world, and, in addition to that, he was to construct an ark for the preservation of the creatures, human and beast, that God would designate. This was the manner in which Noah was to render service to Jehovah. It was a service of the utmost importance. He could not, therefore, place it secondary to personal ventures and interests. Since his heart was in the full-time service of the Creator, he stuck to his assignment until it was finished.
14. How did Moses have reason to be discouraged?
14 The same was true of Moses, who gave up shepherding in order to serve Jehovah full time. He too remained steadfast in that service. His manner of service differed from that of Noah, however, as it was an assignment to look after Jehovah’s interests with regard to the nation of Israel. It proved to be a very difficult assignment, because of the complaining, stubborn and rebellious disposition of the people. Although this caused him to be very discouraged on a number of occasions, he did not run away from his responsibilities of leadership, leaving its problems for someone else to wrestle with. To quit and run away would have meant giving up the treasure of full-time service, and Moses preferred to bear the load before doing that. So he stuck to his job in spite of occasional discouragement. His heart was in the service of his God.—Heb. 3:2, 5.
15. (a) What inheritance did the Levites receive? (b) How was their service assignment different?
15 Another form of full-time service was that performed by the tribe of Levi. It was set apart from the twelve tribes of Israel for temple service. The Levites were assigned to devote all their attention to performing the various duties in connection with the nation’s worship. Therefore their continual service was to be at the tabernacle or in connection with it. This treasure of full-time service of God was to be their inheritance, as is pointed out at Deuteronomy 10:9 (NW): “That is why Levi has come to have no share and inheritance with his brothers. Jehovah is his inheritance, just as Jehovah your God had said to him.” Certainly their inheritance was far greater than the land received by the twelve tribes.
16, 17. (a) Did the prophets have reason to be discouraged? (b) What examples can you give of some who did not quit full-time service because of discouragement?
16 Later, when prophets were raised up among the Israelites, we find a still different form of full-time service. Jehovah used them to sound warnings to the wayward nation of Israel. This they faithfully did in spite of the abuse that was heaped upon them. “Brothers, take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the exercising of patience the prophets, who spoke in the name of Jehovah. Look! we pronounce happy those who have endured.” (Jas. 5:10, 11, NW; 2 Chron. 36:16) So although they were not well received and had good reason to be discouraged, they did not quit. What could be more discouraging than to know that, before one spoke, the people would not listen? Jeremiah had to contend with that. God told him: “And thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee.” (Jer. 7:27, AS) What would you do if you were faced with a similar situation today? Knowing before you even began speaking that your efforts would be fruitless, would you give up? Would you quit Jehovah’s full-time service because you felt your labors were in vain? Or would you cling to that treasure and fulfill your commission as Jeremiah did? The Bible indicates that this was more or less the situation faced by all the prophets who were sent to the nation of Israel. “And though I sent all my servants the prophets, early and late, from the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt even to this day, they neither listened nor inclined their ears to me, but stiffened their necks, and behaved worse than their fathers.” (Jer. 7:25, 26, AT) The prophets had the proper evaluation of the treasure of godly service and so clung to it in spite of such discouraging circumstances. The peoples’ attitude did not alter their set of values.
17 Even when Elijah thought he was the only one in all Israel who had not forsaken Jehovah’s worship, he did not think for a moment that he should give up his assignment as a prophet. He stuck to it until Jehovah took him. Like other faithful prophets he maintained integrity to Jehovah God under the most trying and discouraging circumstances. But in spite of his trials and discouragements he did not lose his keen appreciation for the invaluable treasure of full-time service.—1 Ki. 19:2, 4, 9, 10.
18. In what manner did David serve full time?
18 King David had this same appreciation for Jehovah’s service. He served full time as a divinely appointed king to the nation of Israel. That was his assignment, an assignment that was distinctly different from what was given to the prophets. As an anointed king over God’s chosen people, he had the distinction of being representative of the sovereign power of the great Ruler of the universe. For that reason it can be said that he sat on the throne of Jehovah. This expression is used at 1 Chronicles 29:23 regarding David’s son Solomon, when he was crowned king the second time. On that occasion the treasure of full-time service as a theocratic king passed from David to Solomon, but Solomon failed to maintain the proper evaluation and appreciation of it throughout his lifetime, as his father David had done.
19. How did David regard the treasure of full-time service, and what was his desire?
19 To David, however, nothing brought greater joy than serving the interests of his God. At one time he expressed the desire to dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of his life. (Ps. 27:4) He thus clearly revealed where his heart was. He had no desire to be anywhere else than in Jehovah’s service. He sincerely yearned for Jehovah’s praises to be sung among the nations and for the Creator’s marvelous works to be proclaimed far and wide. This desire was beautifully expressed in the thanks he gave Jehovah at the time the ark was brought to Jerusalem and placed in the tent he had prepared for it alongside his palace. Here was the heartfelt expression of one who was fully devoted to God’s service and who looked upon it as the most precious of all treasures. David opened his expression of thanks by saying: “Thank Jehovah, call upon his name, make his deeds known among the peoples! Sing to him, make melody to him, talk of all his wonderful acts.” (1 Chron. 16:8, 9, NW) This making known of Jehovah’s acts and talking of his marvelous works is the form of service that the Greater David introduced a considerable time later.
THE KINGDOM MINISTRY
20, 21. What new way of serving Jehovah full time was introduced by Christ?
20 Up to now we have seen how the treasure of full-time service has been enjoyed in different ways throughout the ages. Persons of faith carried on their service in various manners, depending upon the assignment God had given them. But with the coming of the Greater David, Christ Jesus, a new form of full-time service was introduced. It was the doing of the very thing David spoke about—the making known of Jehovah’s acts among the people of the world. It was time to declare the good news of Jehovah’s kingdom. This new work was appropriately launched by the One anointed to be King of the Kingdom.
21 This was a new assignment for God’s only-begotten Son, who, thirty years before his anointing as King, had been born to Mary as a perfect human, his life force having been transferred from the heavens to Mary’s womb. So, at the age of thirty, as the anointed King he proceeded to launch this new way of serving the Creator. In order that others might know how this service was to be rendered, Christ set the example by going from place to place preaching the good news of the Kingdom and the wonderful acts of God. Here was an educational work that was unparalleled. It was a work of gathering together persons who would be worthy of the gift of eternal life. (John 17:3) Christ devoted his full time to this assignment and carried it to completion, as he had done with every other assignment his Father had given him.
22. (a) What change did the Kingdom ministry make with regard to the treasure of full-time service? (b) How did some respond to the invitation to make this treasure theirs?
22 Before the days of Christ the treasure of full-time service was limited to just a few individuals, but the Kingdom ministry changed that. It finally made this treasure available to people of all nations, so that anyone might take hold of it. John and his fellow fisherman Andrew were the first of thousands to embrace it in this new form. When Jesus offered it to them and later to Peter, they did not hesitate to accept it. The same was true of James the brother of John. Regarding this Matthew 4:18-22 (NW) says: “Walking alongside the sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon who is called ‘Peter’ and Andrew his brother, letting down a fishing-net into the sea, for they were fishers. And he said to them: ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once abandoning the nets, they followed him. Going on also from there he saw two others who were brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, repairing their nets, and he called them. At once leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.” As he had promised, Christ instructed them and made them fishers of men. They now concentrated their time and energies on the work of proclaiming the magnificent purposes of Jehovah God.
23. How did Paul view full-time service?
23 The apostle Paul was outstanding in this regard. He devoted his all to the ministry. Although he underwent many severe trials, he never gave the slightest thought to quitting the full-time service. Regarding some of his experiences 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 (NW) says: “By Jews I five times received forty strokes less one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the deep; in travels often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from highwaymen, in dangers from my own race, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers among false brothers, in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, in abstinence from food many times, in cold and nakedness.” For a person lacking the proper evaluation of the treasure of full-time service these would have been good reasons for quitting. But not so with Paul. He cherished this treasure too greatly even to entertain such a thought. No amount of hardship and abuse could cause him to let this treasure go. Neither did he permit the attraction of material comforts, financial security or precious gems to change his set of values. He considered all that the world offered in a material way as loss when compared with the ministry and its life-giving truths. Regarding this he said: “Why, for that matter, I do indeed also consider all things to be loss on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. On account of him I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse.” (Phil. 3:8, NW) Thus the things of this world, upon which people set their hearts, Paul considered to be refuse, to compare with the treasure he had of full-time service of God in the Kingdom ministry.
24. What is the wise course for a person to take?
24 Does it not seem foolish to place your heart upon a great deal of refuse and to make it your goal in life? Is it not foolhardy to make that your treasure? Since a person’s evaluation of diamonds, pearls and rubies is completely changed by the circumstances he is in, is it not wiser to set your heart upon a treasure whose value never changes? A treasure that can mean eternal life? Jesus once said: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21, NW) Now, where is your heart? Is it where his heart is, on the glorious treasure of full-time service?
See the book “New Heavens and a New Earth”, pages 26-30, ¶¶ 10-15.
[Picture on page 172]
“I delight to do thy will.”