What Dedication Means to Me
“I am come to do your will.”—Heb. 10:9, NW.
1. Why is it important to study the subject of dedication?
DEDICATION to Jehovah God is a divine requirement that none who will live in God’s new world can overlook or escape. And yet today there are many thousands of persons associated with the growing New World society who have not up to this time made a dedication. Millions of readers of The Watchtower have not as yet taken this very important step. Have you ever given serious thought to this subject? Generally speaking, those who have not yet taken this step see themselves under one of three headings.
2. Why have certain individuals not made a dedication and what should they do about it?
2 First, there are those who are babes in the truth and who as yet are not strong enough and do not have sufficient knowledge to take this serious step. Such should be very diligent to study and learn what Jehovah requires of them in this regard.
3. What prevents some from making a dedication?
3 Second, there are a few individuals who know that dedication is a divine requirement, and who desire to take this step, but, being comparatively new in the truth, they have not had sufficient time to strip off their unclean habits or straighten out their mixed-up married-life affairs. Without delay and with great haste such individuals should straighten themselves out and line up with Jehovah’s clean requirements in order that they may enjoy the blessed privileges that come only with dedication to Jehovah.
4. Describe the dangerous position a third class of undedicated persons find themselves in.
4 In the third class of undedicated persons are found those who have sufficient knowledge and see the responsibility dedication brings, but who for one reason or another attempt to side-step, escape or postpone their dedication. These individuals also like the truth. They enjoy the message about the new world and its promised blessings. They like Jehovah’s witnesses. They even attend our meetings. Still they take the attitude of waiting until a more favorable time to dedicate themselves. Some of these persons like to think that it is safer not to make a dedication and thus to avoid the danger of being unfaithful to such an obligation. Others, perhaps for business reasons or because of their associates, try to avoid the stigma the old world attaches to Jehovah’s witnesses. Still others love the pleasures and easy ways of the old world. Some even may be too proud to go preaching from house to house, and so they think they can evade this responsibility by not making a dedication and yet somehow enter the Ark of preservation before the flood waters of Armageddon break loose. How foolish all these excuses! What dangerous and false reasonings! Make no mistake about it, one’s stand toward dedication to Jehovah, the God of the “triumphant kingdom,” is now a life-or-death choice that no one can side-step, escape or indefinitely postpone! And just as important as making a dedication is being faithful in keeping it. Therefore let all persons, both dedicated and undedicated ones, ask themselves: What does dedication mean to me?
5. What do the Scriptures say Jehovah demands of all of us?
5 Jehovah demands and exacts exclusive devotion. In the very first words written by the finger of God this great truth was emphatically set forth. “I am Jehovah your God, . . . You must never have any other gods against my face [or, any other gods in defiance of me]. You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything . . . You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion.” (Ex. 20:2-5, NW, margin; Deut. 9:10) Again this exclusive God tells us: “You must not bow down to another god, because Jehovah is exclusively devoted to his name. He is a God exacting exclusive devotion.” (Ex. 34:14, NW; F. Fenton) On one occasion in the early history of the nation of Israel, if it had not been for the quick action on the part of Phinehas, grandson of High Priest Aaron, in “tolerating no rivalry” toward Jehovah, the Israelites would have been exterminated because of Jehovah’s “insistence on exclusive devotion.” (Num. 25:11, NW) Consequently, if you do not want the anger of Jehovah to “blaze against you” so that he “must annihilate you from off the surface of the ground,” then, as Deuteronomy 6:14, 15 (NW) says, “you must not walk after other gods, any gods of the peoples who are all around you, (for Jehovah your God in your midst is a God exacting exclusive devotion).”
6. To what are people of the old-world system devoted, and with what results?
6 Just look at the gods the peoples all around us in the old world are serving. Some idolize themselves. They are proud, high-minded, and put their personal honor, reputation and dignity above all else. Others make their belly their god, think only of themselves, and seek at all times the pleasures and gratifications of the flesh. Still others give their devotion and praise to other creatures or things. Money, power and influence are the “almighty” things to many people and they will make great sacrifices to gain these goals. And so it is in the old world today: people are so devoted and dedicated to their personal interests, their businesses, their professions, their careers, or they are so taken up with their hobbies, their pets or their fancies, that they have no time to devote attention to the pure worship and service of the only living and true God, “whose name alone is JEHOVAH.”—Ps. 83:18.
7. What advice does 1 John 2:15-17 give us?
7 When a person comes out of and abandons this old system of things it is only reasonable that he should stop loving and serving its many false gods. Jehovah is absolutely right when he insists that such a person give his exclusive devotion to Him. The apostle John appreciated the rightness of this divine requirement and so he wrote to Christians: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because 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.” Such a person, who “does the will of God” instead of his own will, makes a dedication to God to do so, for that is what dedication entails.—1 John 2:15-17, NW.
WHY MANY REFUSE TO DEDICATE
8. Why is compromising in devotion to Jehovah such a dangerous course?
8 Some individuals upon hearing the Kingdom message preached by Jehovah’s witnesses are well pleased with the sample of spiritual food off Jehovah’s bountiful table. It tastes good and they come to our meetings for more, but instead of eating exclusively off Jehovah’s table they attempt to supplement their diet with crumbs off the Devil’s table. Refusing to dedicate themselves wholly and completely to the living God, Jehovah, they attempt to follow a course of compromise. After nibbling and picking at Jehovah’s good table they turn around and expend their strength and time serving the interests and pleasures of this old world, all of which is contrary to the sacred Scriptures. However, are we able to be friends of the old world and friends of God at the same time? No indeed, we are not, “for Jehovah your God is a consuming fire, a God exacting exclusive devotion.” (Deut. 4:24, NW) Jesus emphatically declared: “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. 6:24, NW) Or as the Almighty himself puts it: “I Jehovah your God am a God not tolerating rivalry.” (Deut. 5:9, NW, margin) Such divine edicts leave absolutely no room for a dedicated person to compromise.
9. Jesus gave what counsel to those so concerned with material things that they fail to make a dedication?
9 Again, some may allow the cares and anxieties of this fast-moving, highly competitive, war-threatened world to weigh them down and prevent them from giving exclusive devotion to Jehovah. Jesus’ parable foretold that some people would readily accept the word of truth as soil accepts the sower’s seed, allowing it to take root and sprout, but at the same time they would also permit weed seeds to grow up until “the anxiety of this system of things and the deceptive power of wealth choke the word,” and such ones would become unfruitful. (Matt. 13:22, NW) How much better it would be for such burdened ones to heed Jesus’ counsel! He said: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. So never be anxious and say: ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” Putting Kingdom interests first, not second or third, but ahead of all other considerations in our lives, means nothing less than full and complete dedication to Jehovah God.—Matt. 6:25, 31-33, NW.
10. How far should one go in loving and serving Jehovah?
10 To worship Jehovah, that is, to be exclusively devoted to him, means that one serves him as a willing slave serves his master. To serve means to obey, and those who obey Jehovah do so out of love for him. (John 14:23, 24) Love is, in fact, the sum and substance of the whole law and commandments of God, as Christ Jesus verified: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength [or, vital force].” (Mark 12:30 and Deut. 6:5, NW) That certainly leaves nothing out; and to love and serve Jehovah to that extent means nothing less than complete dedication to him.
11. When it comes to dedication what example did Christ Jesus set for us?
11 The Founder of Christianity not only preached this fundamental commandment from God’s law for others to follow but he himself also put it into practice in his own life by wholeheartedly and unequivocally dedicating himself to do Jehovah’s will, as we read: “I [Jesus] said, ‘Look! I am come (in the roll of the book it is written about me) to do your will, O God.’” (Heb. 10:7, NW; Ps. 40:7, 8) Once setting his mind and heart on this course of dedication at the age of thirty, Jesus never faltered or wavered, never attempted to substitute for God’s will his own will. “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative,” Jesus said. “I seek not my own will but the will of him that sent me.” “I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.” In fact, doing God’s will was just as important to Jesus as eating food to stay alive. To quote him: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.”—John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38, NW.
12. What, then, is required of all true Christians?
12 Can you imagine Christ saying he was too busy with his carpenter duties to take on the responsibilities of dedication as Jehovah’s minister? Or can you picture Jesus taking the attitude that the work of preaching from house to house was beneath his dignity or that it required too much of his energy and time? To the contrary, of Jesus it was prophetically written: “‘I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is within my heart.’ I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; lo, I have not restrained my lips.” (Ps. 40:8, 9, RS) Certainly those of you who really want to be Christians would not want anyone to call you pagans or godless heathen, would you? But to be true Christians you must follow in the footsteps of Christ Jesus, for Christ left us the true pattern or example, even as to his very first step in making a dedication of himself to do the will of his Father, Jehovah. And in even that first important step of his we should follow him. (1 Pet. 2:21) You cannot imagine apostles like Paul and Peter making excuses and trying to dodge or postpone their following the dedicated footsteps of Jesus, can you? Not at all! Paul even recommended that we imitate him even as he imitated Christ Jesus.—1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9, NW.
FOLLOWING THE GREATEST EXAMPLE
13. What does it mean to “disown” oneself?
13 That true followers of Christ should in like manner dedicate themselves to the doing of Jehovah’s will is shown by Jesus’ words: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself.” (Luke 9:23, NW) One who disowns himself disowns his personal possession of himself or his choice of a life career and seeks, instead, to learn what is Jehovah’s will and purpose concerning his future, and then to deport himself accordingly. He ceases doing his own will and, instead, always diligently seeks to learn and do God’s will. If then your disowning of your personal choice of a course or way of life in order that God’s will may be done by you brings ridicule, reproach and all manner of hardships and persecutions, perhaps even cruel torture and imprisonment in a totalitarian work camp; still that, according to the Bible, is only one’s reasonable service to God; and that is all Jehovah requires. “I entreat you,” wrote the apostle Paul to his Christian brothers at Rome, “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, 2, NW.
14. Should one hesitate to make a dedication because some fail to keep dedication vows?
14 It is true that dedication places a heavy load of responsibility upon one. And faithfulness in carrying that load is mandatory! For this reason some readers who have not yet dedicated themselves to the Great Person, Jehovah, may hesitate to step forward and say, not to men, but to Jehovah, as Isaiah said: “Here I am! Send me.” (Isa. 6:8, RS) And is it because you fear you might fail to meet the requirements? You may know some persons or may have heard of certain persons who made a dedication and then failed to live up to it. They, you say, are hypocrites and you do not want to be a hypocrite. Well, if you hate hypocrisy (and you should), are you playing the hypocrite by claiming to be a Christian and yet refusing to dedicate your whole life as the willing servant or slave of the living God, Jehovah, even as Christ did in setting the example for every one of his true followers? Or do you merely think of such examples of weaklings who failed in order to justify yourself for postponing the making of your own dedication? If so, then you can point to Judas Iscariot as another who broke faithfulness under the test. And do not forget to think soberly of Satan the Devil, who deliberately turned away from his devotion to Jehovah, abandoning his responsibilities. Satan and Judas and other unfaithful ones certainly are warning examples of a way of life to be avoided, shunned, not copied or followed.
15. Why should we dispel the spirit of cowardice from our lives?
15 You too by nature may be weak, always fearful of failing. By nature you may be a coward. But if you ever hope to live in Jehovah’s everlasting new world you must strip off this spirit of fear and of cowardice. There is no doubt about this, for Jehovah himself revealed his true way, of which John wrote, saying: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, . . . Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowards and those without faith . . . and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.” (Rev. 21:1, 7, 8, NW) If you exercise faith and dedicate yourself entirely to Jehovah, then his spirit of courage he will put upon you, as Paul assuringly wrote: “God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind. Therefore do not become ashamed of the witness about our Lord, neither of me a prisoner for his sake, but take your part in suffering evil for the good news according to the power of God.” (2 Tim. 1:7, 8, NW) Instead, then, of looking at wrong examples set by the fainthearted and by cowards, is it not right, yes, much better to fix attention on the long line of faithful conquerors held before us in the Bible?
16. What outstanding examples, both past and present, are there of fear-free, dedicated servants of Jehovah?
16 Christ Jesus was a conqueror, not a coward. From the beginning and throughout his years on earth he stood up and fought against the Devil and his demons like a lion; in fact, like the “Lion of the tribe of Judah.” Early Christians, including Jesus’ faithful apostles, likewise were anything but cowards. Also, men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David; women like Sarah, Rahab, Deborah and Jael—and the many others in the long line of courageous, covenant-keeping witnesses of Jehovah that extends back to righteous Abel—were wholly dedicated to Jehovah and they firmly stood their ground even when facing death at enemy hands. But were their lives shipwrecked? No, not at all, for they had a strong anchor of hope in Jehovah’s supreme power even to resurrect the dead. And so today Jehovah’s faithful dedicated slaves, numbering upward of six hundred thousand, have God’s spirit of power and of love upon them; and this makes them fear-free, undaunted, zealous, courageous fighters for truth and righteousness against terrific odds.—Heb. 11:4-39; 12:1, 2.
A PERSONAL CHOICE
17. From what source comes life, to whom is it offered, and how is it obtained?
17 All humans, including all of us, are born sinners and from birth are under condemnation to death without a right to life, by reason of the first man Adam’s transgression of God’s command. Everlasting life is therefore an undeserved gift from the Life-giver, Jehovah; and he has chosen to make this gift available to any willing human, but only through Christ Jesus. (Acts 3:23; 4:12; Rom. 5:19; 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:22) The only way, then, to win everlasting life is to accept it on the terms upon which it is given by God; that is, by confidently coming through Christ to the Life-giver, Jehovah, and willingly dedicating oneself to serve him now and forevermore. This dedication to God must be made gladly and voluntarily. It is a personal choice and no one can make it for another. It is not a choice to be made under coercion either. One should not make such a dedication just to keep peace in the family or because one feels he is under pressure to do so. No one is compelled to choose the only way that leads to life. The choice is each individual’s personal responsibility. As Moses said: “I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the malediction, and you must choose life in order that you may keep alive, you and your offspring.” And how does one now choose life? The next verse explains: “By loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him, for he is your life and the length of your days.” In other words, you choose life by dedicating yourself entirely to Jehovah your God, to obey him forever.—Deut. 30:19, 20, NW.
18. What choice does every informed person have to make?
18 Joshua also emphasized the fact that dedicated service to Jehovah is a personal choice for each one to make. “Now if it is bad in your eyes to serve Jehovah, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve, whether the gods that your forefathers who were on the other side of the River served or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are dwelling. But as for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah.” (Josh. 24:15, NW) So each one of you undedicated persons has today the same freedom to choose, a choice of life or death. If you deliberately refuse to dedicate yourself to Jehovah God in this judgment day of his in which we now are living, your life will end at Armageddon, if not before, as a condemned sinner without right to life and even without hope of a resurrection. On the other hand, in choosing Jehovah’s way that leads to life you will willingly and with great delight wholly dedicate your heart and your mind, your strength and your substance, to Jehovah God and his triumphant kingdom.
19. Is dedication to Jehovah worth what it costs?
19 Count the cost, yes, by all means! Study over what it is going to require of you in this world. (Luke 14:26-33) However, measure what you give alongside what you are promised by Jehovah. Have you anything that you did not receive from Jehovah in the first place, except your power of devotion and praise and willing service? So all you have you gladly dedicate to God. What you already have received from him you give him for the unspeakable privileges and blessings continually bestowed upon God’s dedicated servants! He puts his spirit and power upon them and gives them authority to be called by his name and to speak in his name as his witnesses. Amid this doomed and dying old world these dedicated servants of God are the happiest people living. Their hope to survive Armageddon, in vindication of God’s word and name, removes fear of that oncoming tempest and they confidently expect to live forever in a new world with new heavens and an earth-wide paradise of perfection. Certainly much depends now upon making a dedication; everything depends upon faithfulness to that dedication.—Luke 9:59-62.
20. What reasons make it most urgent for good-will persons to dedicate themselves to Jehovah now?
20 For the past several years great multitudes, numbering more than 50,000 a year, have been coming forward and dedicating themselves to the living God, Jehovah. Ask yourself, “What does dedication mean to me?” With Armageddon coming on apace, the favorable time for salvation is now, not later. Now, not later, God’s patience is waiting for all who want to live to seek him while he can yet be found. Now, not later, is the time to flee to the theocratic mountains for safety. Now, therefore, is no time to postpone dedicating one’s life to Jehovah God. So do not put off to tomorrow what should be done now when you appreciate what dedication means and what blessings it brings. If you have real faith and hope and are a person of good will toward God, and you have sufficient knowledge and understanding and appreciation of dedication, and if you are morally and Scripturally clean, then this day, in the secret of your prayer, you should solemnly vow to Jehovah God that you will henceforth and forever worship and serve him exclusively, and that you will do his will as set forth in his written Word, the Bible, come what may. If that is what you do, why not afterward be baptized? Then Jehovah will bless you richly!