Is This Treasure for You?
“Consequently, I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason.”—Rom. 12:1, NW.
1, 2. (a) What treasure is of unequaled value, and to whom is it available? (b) Why is it a grave decision to seek possession of this treasure?
THE British crown jewels are the most dazzling collection of gems in the world. They form a priceless treasure that has been admired by multitudes. But although many have longed to possess some of these gems, there is not the remotest chance they ever will. However, there is a treasure they can possess that is of far greater value than the crown jewels. Since this treasure does not possess its value because of rarity, it is available to all who want it. But certain things are required of an individual before he can possess it. He must therefore carefully consider these requirements and then decide whether this treasure is for him.
2 The treasure of unequaled value is the full-time service of the great Source of life, Jehovah God. Since it brings eternal life to the one who reaches out for it and holds on to it, what jewel collection could possibly compare with it? What is a precious stone or a whole roomful of such stones in comparison with life? Little wonder is it, then, that the apostle Paul considered such things as refuse, in comparison with the knowledge and service of God! This, of course, is a set of values entirely in reverse of that possessed by the world. That is why the decision to reach out for the treasure of full-time service is a grave one that requires careful consideration. A person must know what he is doing. He must have an understanding and appreciation of the Kingdom ministry, and must already be engaged in that ministry to the extent that his time permits.
PROPER MENTAL ATTITUDE
3. What should a Christian’s mental attitude be?
3 To those who would like to serve God the apostle Paul says, as recorded at Romans 12:2 (NW): “And quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and complete will of God.” That means a person must reverse his set of values. Instead of looking upon material riches as the world does, he must look upon them as Paul did. He will not give them the predominant position in his life that he once did. What he now places the most value upon is the service of the great Life-Giver, Jehovah God. In this way he ceases to be fashioned after this present system of things. He dedicates his life to the doing of God’s will as did Jesus, who said: Let “not my will, but yours take place.” (Luke 22:42, NW) He also adopts the mental attitude expressed by David: “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:8, AS) He then engages in the Kingdom ministry along with others who have made this dedication. These dedicated ones now form a New World society of faithful witnesses who give testimony to the supremacy and purposes of Jehovah God.
4. What is the attitude some take toward full-time service?
4 The majority of these dedicated Christians have obligations and responsibilities that prevent them from devoting all their time to the Kingdom ministry, but that does not mean they should not seek the treasure of full-time service if it is at all possible for them to do so. There are some, however, who feel that they would accept without question an angelic-delivered invitation to serve in Jehovah’s heavenly courts along with the mighty angels, but yet close their ears when full-time service in the Kingdom ministry is mentioned. If they are willing to serve God full time at one place in his universe, why should they be uninterested in serving him full time at some other place? Does the location of his service or the different manner in which it is carried on change its value? Are they willing to give Jehovah full-time service only when there are no hardships and persecution involved? Do they forget that when they made their dedication to God and symbolized it by water baptism they died to their former course of life? By going beneath the water they indicated that they had. When they came up, they were to live from then on doing God’s will. If they are able to do so, do you not think God expects them to devote their full time to the doing of his ministry?
5. What kind of service is pleasing to Jehovah?
5 If you are one who has made this dedication and are in position to give Jehovah full-time service, why are you not doing so? Did you not mean it when you dedicated your life to him? Did you die to your own selfish course of life, or are you still putting it first? The apostle Paul says: “Present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service.” (Rom. 12:1, NW) That does not mean to consider Jehovah’s service as an incidental thing, to be done whenever you have spare time. It is not something that is to come second to personal interests. It should be of first importance. Those who fail to place it first have not as yet changed their set of values and been transformed from being fashioned after this present world or system of things. They do not, as yet, evaluate the treasure of full-time service above the riches of the world. To present yourself to God means to give yourself completely over to his service. It means devoting your time, your energies, your abilities, your possessions to the doing of God’s will, not to doing your own will. This is a sacred service that is pleasing and acceptable to him. But to be this, it must be done with your power of reason. You must fully understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.
NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY
6. (a) Should a person jump into the full-time service? (b) What are some basic requirements for this service, and why are they essential?
6 If you have made the full-time service your treasure and have placed your heart upon it, then you will want to be in that service. But keep in mind that it is not something that can be jumped into just because a person is momentarily stirred up. It is a valuable treasure that cannot be taken lightly or grasped only temporarily. So before a person enters the full-time ministry he should give careful consideration to it. He should remember that the difficulties he experiences in the part-time ministry will be greatly multiplied in the full-time ministry. He should examine the requirements and decide whether he is able to meet them. He should consider the cost. Is it too high for him? Does he have to relinquish too much in the way of personal interests, pleasures and material possessions? It is a decision that must be made because of one’s love for God and his willingness to serve. He must have a genuine love for Jehovah and for the service of that Supreme One before he can even consider reaching out for this treasure. He must be keenly interested in the Kingdom ministry and in the expansion of the theocratic organization. He should be mature in the Scriptural truths that come to him through this organization. All this is essential, because those who take up the full-time service as the apostles did become special representatives of it. Others look to them for a mature understanding of the Scriptures and a zealous example in the Kingdom ministry.
7. Is the full-time service to be looked upon as a temporary occupation?
7 Once you have taken this forward step, you should not step back. The full-time service of God is not a temporary occupation. It is not something to be done for a few months or a few years and then dropped when you are tired of it. Those faithful persons who took up this service in ages past clung to it in spite of discouragement and hardships. They did not allow themselves to become “weary in well doing” full time. (Gal. 6:9, AV) Once they entered full-time service they stayed in it. The Kingdom ministry today is no easier than the service assignments they had. It has many hardships and difficulties. So do not enter it with the idea that it is easy and then quit when you find that it is not.
MUCH FULL-TIME SERVANTS CAN DO
8. Why are full-time servants needed?
8 In Jehovah’s earthly organization there are many places for full-time servants. It has a big work to do in carrying out his command to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth. There are many people that must be reached and instructed in God’s Word of truth. People by the tens of thousands are responding to this good news, but, as Jesus foretold, “the harvest is great, but the workers are few.” (Matt. 9:37, NW) More full-time workers are needed to care for the Master’s harvest. How can persons in isolated areas or in distant lands be reached unless God’s organization has dedicated persons who are willing to devote their full time to the Kingdom ministry? At Acts 16:9 (NW) it is recorded that the apostle Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing, beseeching: “Step over into Macedonia and help us.” Since Paul was serving Jehovah full time he was free to go to this other country and there direct persons of good will in the way to life. He gave no thought to himself or to his own interests. He had Jehovah’s interests at heart and was willing to go wherever he was directed.
9. What does Jehovah expect of those who accept his treasure?
9 This obedience and willingness to serve are what Jehovah God expects of those who accept the treasure of full-time service. Persons who are stubborn and self-willed are of no value to him. He wants servants who delight to do his will and gladly obey whatever instructions are given them through the theocratic organization. As Christ showed humility and obedience, so should his followers. They should, therefore, be willing to go wherever the organization sends them. They should show the willingness of the prophet Isaiah, who said: “Here am I; send me.” (Isa. 6:8, AS) A person with this mental attitude is eager to do Jehovah’s will, and he will not hesitate to accept greater privileges of service when they are offered him, such as those of a pioneer publisher.
10. Why must a pioneer have personal organization?
10 When engaging in the full-time service as a pioneer, a person has little time for personal pursuits. It is a work that requires careful budgeting of time. The pioneer minister must preach from house to house, make back-calls and conduct home Bible studies. He must meet the quota of hours set by the theocratic organization. In addition to this he must work with the local congregation of Jehovah’s dedicated servants by helping those who need assistance in the Kingdom ministry. Some pioneers may be given positions as overseers within the congregations, which is an added privilege of service for them. They must also take the lead in showing love, mercy and understanding. Besides keeping up their personal study, which is essential, they must take care of their personal needs, which may include a part-time secular job. To keep up such a busy schedule the pioneer minister must have personal organization. He must have each day planned in advance. So full-time service as a pioneer is not easy. It is hard work and therefore requires persons who are mature in Scriptural understanding, persons who find delight in proclaiming Jehovah’s praises, persons who are not afraid of work.
11. What is the prospect before a diligent pioneer, and how may he prepare for it?
11 The full-time servant who proves to be a diligent pioneer has the prospect of being invited to attend the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, for special training in the ministry. Here he will receive advanced instruction in the Scriptures as well as training for carrying on the Kingdom ministry in other countries. He is thus prepared to render special service to Jehovah’s organization in much the same manner as the apostle Paul did. At Gilead he learns to have greater appreciation for the organization, how it functions, the need for it, and his relationship to it. Since Gilead is designed to broaden a minister’s knowledge and understanding of Scriptural truths, the best way to prepare for it is to study diligently the publications regularly provided by the theocratic organization. He must keep up with the latest spiritual food coming from Jehovah’s table.
12. How should a Gilead graduate consider his assignment?
12 When a student at Gilead graduates he should have a much keener appreciation of the treasure of full-time service. He will gladly accept whatever territory assignment he is given, and will go there with the intention of staying at least three years. If he returns home for a visit at the end of that time he will want to go back to his foreign assignment and continue in Jehovah’s full-time service there. He will put forth every effort to stick to his assignment no matter how unpleasant or discouraging it may be. He will not consider quitting, but will always keep in mind the splendid examples of steadfastness in full-time service left by God’s faithful servants of ancient times. He will eventually become accustomed to the strange surroundings and peculiar habits of the people in his assignment if he makes up his mind to do so. In time he will look upon it as his home and will find the people of the New World society as lovable there as in other countries.
SERVING AT BETHEL
13. Explain the purpose of Bethel.
13 In order that the Kingdom ministry may be organized and that dedicated Christians may be kept supplied with Bibles and Bible study aids, it has been necessary for the theocratic organization to have so-called “Bethel homes” throughout the world. The ministers who live and work at these homes are persons who have embraced the treasure of full-time service. They spend their full time caring for Jehovah’s interests. In whatever land a Bethel home, which is the name given branch offices of the Watch Tower Society, is located, it is the hub of theocratic activity there. It is dedicated to the service of the Most High and is indeed “the house of God,” as the name “Bethel” means.
14, 15. How should Bethel be viewed?
14 When a dedicated Christian steps forward to full-time service, it may be that he will choose to serve at Bethel. If he meets the requirements and his application is accepted, he steps into a wonderful feature of full-time service. But to appreciate Bethel fully he must see Jehovah’s organization as a whole and the vital spot Bethel holds in it. He must not visualize Bethel as a monastery, where people live in seclusion, spending all their time in meditation and prayer. It is far from being anything like that. It is instead a place of great activity. It is a place where a person is expected to be productive, not unproductive. Not only must a person look after the duties assigned him there, but he must be active in preaching the good news of the Kingdom as well.
15 All who have come into the New World society should have a proper understanding of Bethel. Persons who look upon Bethel as a good place for training indifferent or obstinate children should change their view, because Bethel is no such place. It is the house of God, a place where dedicated ministers of Jehovah devote their full time to honoring and praising him as well as serving the interests of the Christian organization. It is not a school for correcting troublesome children. It is not designed to do the work parents have failed to do. Persons who come to Bethel should be ministers who are representative of Jehovah’s witnesses world-wide. They should be persons the theocratic organization is pleased to have in such a responsible place of service.
16, 17. (a) With what attitude should a person enter Bethel service? (b) How long should he stay?
16 Bethel service should never be taken lightly. No one should apply for Bethel with the attitude of giving it a try. This is full-time service and one should enter it with full intentions of sticking to it. If you were invited to serve in Jehovah’s heavenly courts, would you say: “Well, I’ll give it a try and see if I like it”? There may be many things you would like to do better than serve full time in the Kingdom ministry, since it is hard work, but that is not what should be considered. Serving Jehovah is your obligation, your responsibility, what you have agreed to do if you have made a dedication to him. So those who give themselves to the full-time service must do so because they love the great Sovereign and want to serve him as a slave. If you give yourself to Jehovah as a slave, then it is a question of not what is pleasing to you but what is pleasing to Him. Thus Bethel is not something just to try out. It is a blessed privilege of service that should be cherished and held in the highest regard.
17 The fact that a person may not find Bethel as he anticipated it is no reason for him to quit after working for only a few days, a few weeks or a few months. A person coming to Bethel should come with the determination to stay at least three years no matter what trials he may encounter. In fact, the Bethel application specifically says: If your application is accepted and you enter the Bethel service, will you remain faithfully at such post of assigned duty for three years or longer? If an applicant says yes, then he should mean yes. Remember what Ecclesiastes 5:4 (AS) says: “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest.” That means the theocratic organization expects Bethel applicants to be persons of integrity who will keep their agreement to serve at least three years in full-time service at Bethel. It is naturally hoped that he will stay in this particular field of full-time service much longer. Lifelong service at Bethel is the real goal and has been met by many faithful Christians.
18. (a) What should the full-time servant expect? (b) Give examples of individuals who had reason to be discouraged but did not quit.
18 It must be kept in mind that when a person enters the full-time service of the Creator there are bound to be many trials. This was true with the faithful men of ancient times who embraced this treasure; so it should be the expected thing today. It was even foretold by the apostle Paul, who said: “All those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12, NW) But persecution for proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom and holding fast to Christian integrity is only one of the trials a full-time servant must contend with. Discouragement, for example, is a trial that pioneers and missionaries must contend with continually. Working day after day with little or no results is very discouraging, and the natural tendency is to say: “What’s the use?” That is precisely what Satan wants you to conclude. He does not want you to serve Jehovah either full time or part time. He wants you to quit. But think how discouraging it may have been for Noah, who preached for forty or fifty years with absolutely no results except the response of his immediate family. Was he discouraged to the point where he quit Jehovah’s full-time service? Did he let go of that wonderful treasure just because people of his day did not respond to his preaching? And what about Jeremiah? God told him before he even began preaching that the people would not listen to him. But did Jeremiah say: “What’s the use?” Did he allow discouragement to silence his lips? Did he quit his assignment and tell God that it was a waste of time? He did not. He stuck to it, even as Noah did. These two faithful men knew they were doing God’s will, serving his interests, even though their preaching fell upon deaf ears. By continuing on their assignment in spite of this indifference, they proved their integrity.
19, 20. What does it take to stick in full-time service?
19 But what about you? II you are one who has made a dedication to serve the Most High and have embraced the treasure of full-time service, do you cherish that treasure enough that you could preach for forty or fifty years with no one responding to your preaching, and yet not let go of that treasure? Could you go to an assignment, knowing in advance that not a single person will heed your warning message, and yet stay on that assignment for years without quitting? It takes courage to do that. It takes determination. It takes appreciation of Jehovah’s service. It takes real love for Him. Jehovah’s servants of ancient times had these qualities; do you?
20 We must not give up in doing what is right, for “in due season we shall reap by not giving out.” (Gal. 6:9, NW) In order not to give out a person has to study God’s Word constantly and meditate upon it. Not only must he meditate upon the marvelous blessings that Jehovah has promised for those who endure in faithful service, but he must reflect upon the splendid examples of steadfastness that can be found in the Bible. If persons of past ages could hold up under trials and discouraging circumstances, then you can too. They were human just as you are. At 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NW) the apostle Paul gives this sound advice: “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.” Therefore, even if your preaching may seem to be fruitless, your labor is never in vain. Your daily service is a sacrifice of praise to Jehovah, and that alone is reason enough to be steadfast in full-time service.
21. What have some persons allowed to happen, and what question does this raise?
21 God’s servants are bound to have many obstacles and temptations come upon them. But did Christ and other faithful men allow such things to take the treasure of full-time service away from them? Their minds and hearts were fixed upon one thing—faithfully serving Jehovah. They allowed nothing to interfere with that. There are persons today, however, who once possessed the treasure of full-time service as pioneers but failed to have this mental attitude. They allowed their part-time secular work to entice them into laying aside pioneering in order to take up full-time secular work. Now, where is their heart? Is it in doing God’s will or in doing their own will? Is their treasure in material riches or in full-time service? Since we know that Satan accuses us of loving ourselves more than God, we never want to give him grounds for that accusation.
22. What searching questions can a person ask himself?
22 If you happen to be one who is a dedicated servant of God and you are free of obligations, or could be free of them, why have you not made the treasure of full-time service yours? Do you serve Jehovah God out of love or for selfish reasons, as Satan charges? If you serve him out of love, then why do you hold back from giving him full-time service since it is possible for you to do so? Is this treasure not for you? Is it only for others? Is the thought of serving the great Life-Giver full time unattractive to you? Do you hold back because you find no delight in doing God’s will all the time?
23. When a person gains the treasure of full-time service, what should he be determined to do?
23 On the other hand, if you decide that this treasure is for you and you reach out to embrace it to make it yours, then make up your mind that you are going to hang on to it with all your strength. Never let it go. Do not quit the full-time service when persecution comes upon you. Do not quit when your spirit becomes low because of discouragement. Do not quit when lured by financial gain. Do not quit because of weariness from long years of service. Instead of quitting, hold on to that treasure of full-time service. Hold on more firmly than you would the crown jewels if they were yours. Never allow your eyes to become dull to its resplendent beauty. Never lose appreciation for it. Rejoice over it as the angels have rejoiced over it, as the patriarchs, the prophets and the apostles rejoiced over it and cherished it. Never forget that its rewards are eternal, its blessings beyond compare.