Gaining God’s Reward by Active Training
DEDICATED Christian witnesses have well been likened to athletes running a race. As Paul wrote Timothy: “Contend for victory in the right contest of the faith.” In one respect, however, times of bitter persecution might be likened to the contest, whereas periods of peace and upbuilding may be compared to peacetime training.—1 Tim. 6:12, NW.a
The period of peacetime training has its own dangers, which some overlook. Because they see little violent opposition they are lulled to sleep or slow up in their training. They lose sight of the fact that their greatest enemy is invisible, Satan the Devil. They are making a serious mistake. Only by active, vigorous and severe peacetime training will we grow strong enough to endure in the contest of persecution and come off victorious.
We must discipline ourselves when conditions themselves tempt us to take things easy. We must deny ourselves, exert ourselves, always keeping on seeking first God’s kingdom. Especially must full-time servants keep on doing this if they would continue to enjoy their peculiar treasure of service. And only by doing likewise can part-time ministers make full use of their opportunities.
Of course, to be on the “team” we must first of all dedicate ourselves and be baptized. Then we must familiarize ourselves with the rules, the chief one of which is love. That means we must diligently, and daily, study God’s Word together with the helps he has provided, as well as take advantage of congregational classroom training. Athletes in active training also watch their diet and so must we. That means not only taking in the right kind of spiritual food, but avoiding anything that we know to be harmful. We dare not let idle curiosity expose us needlessly to Satan’s poison.
Active training that gains God’s reward also means exercising self-control. Like Paul, we must browbeat our bodies and lead them about like slaves, not following their inclinations but letting them serve our goal in life. Closely associated with self-control is guarding our associations, knowing that “bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Cor. 15:33, NW.
Especially does active training mean preaching the good news of God’s kingdom at every opportunity: from house to house, in the homes on return visits, on the streets, from the public lecture platform and incidentally, whenever we can find a hearing ear. To each one of us Paul’s words apply: “Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!” As with Ezekiel, so with us, our very lives depend upon our warning the wicked concerning Armageddon.—1 Cor. 9:16, NW.
To get results, however, we must train regularly, not spasmodically, not by fits and starts. That means setting aside time for regular study, for regular meeting attendance and for regular preaching of the good news. So buy out the opportune time.
And finally, active training requires watching our spiritual sight, not looking back as did Lot’s wife, but keeping our eyes appreciatively fixed on the Kingdom as did Jesus and his apostles.
So, in keeping with our theme for February, let all dedicated Christian witnesses of Jehovah remember and heed the apostle’s counsel: “Be training yourself with godly devotion as your aim. For bodily training is beneficial for a little, but godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Tim. 4:7, 8, NW.
a See The Watchtower, April 15, 1956, for details.