Guard Your Christian Trust
This beautiful trust guard through the holy spirit which is dwelling in us.”—2 Tim. 1:14, NW.
1. What is a trust?
THESE are the inspired words of the apostle Paul to his associate minister Timothy. Timothy was given a beautiful trust to guard. What is a trust? Of what trust was Paul writing? A trust is that which has been committed to one’s care for profitable use or for safekeeping, for which an account has to be rendered. Something given in confidence to be used for the benefit of another is a trust. It is a duty incumbent on one, something that one is bound in duty and honor to keep inviolate. Therefore a trust is not to be taken lightly.
2. How is Matthew 25:14-30 an example of a trust?
2 An excellent Scriptural example of a trust is found at Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus showed in parable how a man gave a trust to three of his slaves. What was given was not theirs, but was to be used as the master desired. Two of the slaves increased the money entrusted to them, while the third buried his in the ground. When the time came to give account to the owner the third slave proved good-for-nothing and unfaithful to his trust, and he lost his position. A trustee must comply with the terms of his trust and prove trustworthy or suffer the consequences.
3. What sacred trust was given to Timothy?
3 Timothy’s trust was similar to what Paul himself had. In the preceding verse Paul had said: “Keep holding the pattern of healthful words which you heard from me with the faith and love that are in connection with Christ Jesus.” The pattern came from Paul, who had written previously about “the glorious good news of the happy God, with which I was entrusted. I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who delegated power to me, because he considered me trustworthy by assigning me to a ministry.” Paul and Timothy served together under the trust and at Thessalonica “mustered up boldness by means of our God to speak to you the good news of God with a great deal of struggling. . . . we have been proved by God as fit to be entrusted with the good news.” So it is made clear: The ministry of the glorious good news is a sacred trust from Jehovah, of which every true Christian is a trustee.—2 Tim. 1:13; 1 Tim. 1:11, 12; 1 Thess. 2:2, 4; Tit. 1:3, NW.
4. How should the Christian view his ministry?
4 To be entrusted with anything by the Most High God is an unspeakable privilege. Indeed, the greatest honor that could be given to any man is for him to hold and guard this beautiful trust of the ministry; yet we are humble before our God. “We are . . . ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us.” No Christian should ever forget his position. It must always be foremost in his thoughts. The honor is great; it is accompanied by great responsibility. It was so for the apostle Paul, it was so for Timothy, and today it is so for all Christians, including us. When one is given much, more is required of him. The ministry is not to be taken lightly. It must be viewed seriously and recognized as a precious treasure that sparkles like a beautifully cut diamond, with many sides or facets. Many things go to make up the ministry, and each one is to be guarded as a valued part of the great treasure that the ministry truly is.—2 Cor. 5:20; 4:1, 7; Luke 12:48, NW.
5. Why should we be especially interested in what Timothy did?
5 The name Timothy, or Timotheus, means “honoring God,” and indeed he was, because he kept his many obligations before Jehovah under the sacred trust. The things he was required to do are of interest to Christians now, who also have part in the ministry and who wish to prove themselves faithful and therefore dear to God. All Christians have part in some of them. Each has his assigned place from Jehovah through the theocratic organization. As Timothy followed the pattern set by Paul, so must Christians today. “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ,” said Paul.—1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9, NW.
6. By what kind of training does the minister equip himself, and of what benefit is it to him?
6 A Christian is a minister of God and he must therefore train and equip himself, aiming in the right direction for success. His mind is kept clear and his eye sharply fixed on his goal of godly devotion. “Be training yourself with godly devotion as your aim.” Always the Christian is governed by the fear of Jehovah as he prepares himself and guides his course through a dedicated lifetime of ministry. He learns much about godly devotion as he proceeds in God’s service; so the closer he applies himself to this training the more beneficial results he attains. The more conscientiously an athlete prepares his body by training, the more benefit he gains and it is beneficial for a little while. This is compared to the benefits of godly devotion. “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” To be fit the athlete concentrates on his training and allows nothing else to become of greater import to him, to bar his success. Godly devotion can be developed too when one avoids having his attention distracted from what he is doing. Taking only occasional interest in godly devotion and service could not lead Timothy to success. The Kingdom demands first consideration, without wavering. In the ministry you must “pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things.” Constant attention is a primary requirement.—Matt. 6:33; 1 Tim. 4:7, 8, 16, NW.
7, 8. (a) How is continual training related to guarding the Christian trust? (b) What will result from proper use of the Bible in our training?
7 For one to demonstrate that he has prepared himself well he must be able to show he has the favor and blessing of the Owner of the trust, Jehovah. The Owner of the trust promises life to come and has raised in his servants a strong hope for the future. Jehovah expects his servants to produce results and, with the hope they have spurring them, they work hard and exert themselves in the ministry. The true Christian minister does not complete a course of theological training, nor does he sit back relaxed as an accepted minister of Jehovah at some church or building. His Scriptural preparation for successful ministry must continue and he must always progress in maturity. He is a diligent student and a field worker. Hence Paul advises: “Continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching.” From time to time you may see someone who does not continue to apply himself in the ministry and you will find him weak in hope and weak in faith, no more fit for the ministry than the athlete who has neglected his training for some other interest or because of sheer laziness or indifference is fit to contend in the games. He no longer has godly devotion as his aim and in his weakness he is in danger of losing his ministry and even his life. It could hardly be said that he is a strong, wide-awake guard of his Christian trust. By becoming unproductive he is in a position like the slave who buried the money that was entrusted to him and worked not at all with what the Master had given him. The Master of the sacred trust may take it from the unproductive servant whenever he wishes; so being unproductive is not guarding your trust.—1 Tim. 4:10, 13, 14, NW.
8 The Word of God has been provided as an instrument for our instruction and for the help of others. We use it in our public reading, in exhortation to godly devotion and in teaching the people of good will. To accomplish these requisites of the ministry we must know how to use the Bible and advance in the skillful handling of it. This is a continual effort on our part, requiring study and participation in discussions of the truth in meetings and with fellow Christians. As we make progress we shall be able to deal with spiritual matters in our battle against error and shall learn how to work with the Word powerfully, to the honor of Jehovah’s name, not ashamed because of failure in knowing our hope or in finding means of expressing the truth. Not that we want to have men look at us with praise and approval, but the trusted minister is told: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.” We need Jehovah’s approval.—2 Tim. 2:15, NW.
9. Why do we need spiritual power, and how can it be obtained?
9 Spiritual food is essential to the welfare of the Christian trustee. Every witness of Jehovah finds it necessary to devote a great portion of his life to consuming the nourishment provided for the spiritual man. He must “keep on acquiring power in the undeserved kindness that is in connection with Christ Jesus.” This is spiritual power, essential to the success of guarding the Christian trust. Now, as never before, we need this spiritual power. We are in the midst of a great spiritual warfare, and our real enemies are the invisible demon hosts. They know they have a short time, and they would like to destroy Jehovah’s servants. Just as Timothy did, we must “go on waging the right warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.”—2 Tim. 2:1; 2 Cor. 10:4; 1 Tim. 1:18, 19, NW.
10. How does a Christian guard against the machinations of the Devil?
10 The spiritual power is acquired by taking advantage of all the provisions Jehovah has made for his servants. To be able to stand firm against the machinations of Satan we need the truth, love of righteousness, the good news, faith, knowledge of salvation, and the Word of God. Paul mentioned these as the full suit of armor from God. Even as a suit of armor was put on by a warrior, so the Christian is obliged to do so spiritually. The spiritual armor is put on through regular private study and meditation on the truth, by sharing the good spiritual things in congregational study meetings, and through continual discussions of Jehovah’s purposes with fellow Christians and, among the public, wielding the “sword of the spirit.” In the same way the armor is kept on and our guard is kept up.—Eph. 6:10-18, NW.
11. What is a right kind of minister?
11 Under the Giver of truth we are trained. Our minds are shaped and molded by him so we can recognize what is good and for the upbuilding of ourselves and others. The truth constitutes healthful words; by holding to the truth we keep spiritually healthy and avoid that which is misleading, harmful and untrue. It is impossible to be a right kind of minister without closely adhering to the correct teaching. “Be a right kind of minister of Christ Jesus, one nourished with the words of the faith and of the right teaching which you have followed closely.” We must take the ministry seriously, partaking of the right teaching and following it closely. Are you doing this? Do you take the ministry seriously? Is it the most important thing in your life? Are you nourishing yourself with the words of the faith? Or do you pass over Bible study and the Watchtower studies superficially, not equipping yourself to give good advice to others?—1 Tim. 4:6, NW.
PREACH THE WORD
12, 13. (a) In gladly taking his ministerial responsibilities how did Timothy set a good example for us? (b) If a Christian is not persecuted can he afford to relax his guard? Why?
12 Timothy was shown another facet of this gem of the ministry: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season.” The healthful words that Timothy had learned from Paul were to be passed on to others. This brought some personal suffering to Timothy, who, for the sake of tactfully preaching to the Jews, submitted to the painful circumcision. He was tactful like Paul, who said: “To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; . . . I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with others.” From house to house and publicly Paul had set the example in preaching urgently. For Timothy it was urgent too. It had to be done whether conditions were favorable or not. Even in times of comparatively peaceful conditions the message remains urgent, for this is the day of salvation for all men who live, whether they realize it or not. Timothy did not live in the time when Armageddon was to be fought and yet it was urgently necessary for him to preach the Word. Then how much more urgent it is now when the foretold great battle of the day of God Almighty is impending in our generation. Merely because there is a period of no persecution in a community or a country is no reason for the mature minister to conclude it is time to slack off on the preaching of the good news with which he has been entrusted. Rather, the mature person will be grateful to Jehovah and will work all the harder in the ministry while the way is held open by Jehovah.—2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 16:3; 20:20; 1 Cor. 9:20-23, NW.
13 A state of war now exists between Jehovah’s reigning King and the forces of Satan. Lull in the battle is not an indication that a soldier is no longer in the war. It is on such occasions that the soldier must be ever alert to watch for the sniper and a sudden surprise attack or, better still, to be preparing for an attack and making the attack while the enemy is on the run. It is a known fact that the best defense in warfare is a good offense. Being active in the ministry is our safeguard. Inactive ones grow spiritually weak, unable to defend themselves or their ministry. Active ones keep the shield of faith always up in place, guarding their Christian trust. The time of apparent lack of organized opposition in some lands is not the signal to quit the fighting forces of Jehovah or even to emphasize the preaching work less and undertake some activity in the world for selfish reasons. Fight as the right kind of soldier of Christ Jesus with the eye fixed upon the final victory, not becoming sidetracked by any involvements with this world. “No man serving as a soldier involves himself in the commercial businesses of life, in order that he may meet the approval of the one who enrolled him as a soldier.”—2 Tim. 2:4, NW.
14. What subtle snare can break through the Christian soldier’s guard?
14 While Satan may not succeed in overcoming us with a violent frontal assault of persecution, we must be on guard vigilantly that none of his infiltration forces of a more subtle nature break through our spiritual armor. The spiritual warrior is not pursuing a life of ease in this old world, but he fights on under the Commander to the peoples, Christ Jesus, allowing no love of money-gaining enterprises to capture him or his fancy in this time of spiritual warfare. Admittedly the commercial businesses of life are a subtle means of overcoming many persons, little by little building up in one a love of material things and of the riches that may obtain the luxuries of this life. A true soldier does not expect luxuries and the Christian warrior now does not seek the so-called security that the riches of this world may offer, for he knows that all he now requires are the necessities of sustaining life and contentment along with them as he forges ahead in the preaching of the Word in favorable season or in troublesome season. Whatever material things he has are accepted as Jehovah’s provision to keep him going in the warfare.
15. Contrast the use of material things to bring success or failure in the ministry.
15 There is no point in accumulating a mass of material things, which we shall not be able to take along with us into the New World anyway; but let us be content with the necessities of life and make the material things work for us to keep us in the ministry. “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.” Do not think yourself immune to these snares. Keep the mature Christian viewpoint of life, and while you have to provide for the necessities of life be watchful that increased commercial activities do not hurt you. If this viewpoint is firmly held to by more dedicated servants of Jehovah there is every reason to expect that more individuals will undertake the full-time ministry, and pioneers are urgently needed right now.—1 Tim. 6:7-10, NW.
16. (a) How are some Christians now suffering much pain or ruin through love of material things? (b) What part does holy spirit play in guarding our trust?
16 With inflationary tendencies throughout the world in these perilous days, some Christians have let themselves in for spiritual weakening and difficulties by sacrificing valuable time in order to hold two secular positions in the world, leaving practically no time for preaching the Word, attending congregational meetings or for the vital personal study. Some married couples neglect not only their own personal welfare but that of their children; they both go out and find secular jobs so they can indulge themselves in expensive clothing and household luxuries, as well as the fruitless entertainments this world offers through its propaganda media. Their increased income is not used to give increased support to the ministry. The love of material things grows in them and soon they are finding no time to train up their children in the proper way of life, at the same time surrounding them with so much of the old-world influences that the children lose any appreciation they had of the truth and eventually go wrong, much to the pain and distress of the dedicated parents. Sometimes even the parents are led astray from the faith, eventually plunging themselves into destruction and ruin. Who is to blame for one’s getting himself thus cut off from the faith and losing a share in the victory? We are advised to guard our Christian trust, which means from direct frontal attack or from any other danger, especially from the spirit of worldliness. Through the holy spirit from Jehovah, not the spirit of this old world, we guard our Christian trust. Filling our hearts and minds with appreciation of the things of Jehovah’s Word and work will keep us attuned to holy spirit from him.—2 Tim. 1:14, NW.
17. Why does sticking to the rules of spiritual warfare bring eventual victory? What must we seek to win?
17 We must remember we have a Commander who has enrolled us as soldiers, who is much more skilled in defeating Satan’s snares than we are. He is the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords. Our wish must always be to meet his approval, and success will come our way only if we follow the instructions from him. We are assured: “Moreover, if anyone contends even in the games, he is not crowned unless he has contended according to the rules.” When we started out in the ministry we did it not in ignorance but with full knowledge of the rules of the spiritual warfare, and we must stick in the right contest and live according to the rules to guard our Christian trust successfully against Satan’s snares. “You, O man of God, flee from these things. But pursue righteousness, godly devotion, faith, love, endurance, mildness of temper. Contend for victory in the right contest of the faith, get a firm hold on the everlasting life for which you were called and you declared the right confession publicly before many witnesses.” Victory lies in keeping affection on things above.—2 Tim. 2:5; 1 Tim. 6:11, 12, NW.
18. Why is prayer essential to guarding the ministry?
18 Guarding the ministry is not entirely on our own. We are not fighting a lone battle, but we are part of a great fighting force under Jehovah; so we must seek the One who has given us the trust. Prayer is required and emphasized in the Word. It is good for us to pray when we wake up in the morning, before we partake of spiritual and material food, before we go to bed at night and before we undertake special activities in the ministry. If we are seriously endeavoring to fulfill our dedication we shall daily offer our petitions to Jehovah. It is a privilege. In many circumstances we can pray, and we should never underestimate the power of prayer. It is another evidence to us of our strong faith. When we go into our room and privately petition Jehovah, it is because we believe in him. We have faith in God. There could be no other reason. It is not that we wish to be seen of men and appear religious. Jehovah will help us in times of trial.—1 Tim. 2:1, 8, NW.
19. How does persecution test individuals who are guarding the trust?
19 Persecution also comes to test our guard. The Christian trust must be guarded in times of suffering. Paul wrote: “Take your part in suffering evil. . . . Remember that Christ Jesus was raised up from the dead and was of David’s seed, according to the good news I preach, and in connection with which I am suffering evil to the point of prison bonds as an evildoer. Nevertheless, the word of God is not bound.” It is a great honor to suffer for the Christian ministry and we may not drop our guard when trials come. The preaching of the good news is not halted by persecution. Let us rejoice when we see Jehovah’s hand with us in giving a witness to his honor and let us glory in the suffering that comes to us as Christians, for it is our privilege to prove integrity. Remember, other people suffer much for unworthy things with no future reward in this world. Suffering for the ministry works out endurance. Endurance we need for faithful trusteeship.—2 Tim. 2:3, 8, 9; 3:11, 12; Heb. 10:39, NW.
CONTINUE IN THE THINGS YOU LEARNED
20, 21. (a) What must be done to complete the ministry successfully? (b) How was Timothy an excellent example of perseverance to young and old?
20 Timothy learned from the older minister Paul, and he gained faith from association with his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice. Taking up the ministry is one thing; completing it with success is another. Timothy knew it. He was told: “Continue in the things you learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing from what persons you learned them and that from infancy you have known the holy writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through the faith in connection with Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” Timothy did just that; so should we today. And the youth among Jehovah’s witnesses would do well to follow a similar course, learning the faith through their dedicated parents with due respect and pursuing a course of ministry comparable to that undertaken by Timothy.—2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14-17, NW.
21 The time to begin the ministry is when you are young, or as soon as you hear the truth. It is wise to remember the Creator in the days of your youth, and as you grow in knowledge, faith and privileges of service let nothing stumble you. First Timothy chapter 5 shows that all kinds of people—young and old, men and women—are employed in the ministry. Everyone can be useful, even the children or the feeble ones. A young or immature person might allow illness to hold him back from the ministry, but not so with Timothy. He determinedly pushed on in the face of frequent cases of sickness. He had other Christian ministers as fine examples of serving in spite of illness and pain. So let us in this day be of mature mind and serve in spite of any illness or pain that may come our way. Be patient with yourself, remembering that you are not perfect. Look to Jehovah, do your best and you will succeed in guarding your Christian trust through any stormy periods of illness.—Eccl. 12: 1; 2 Cor. 12:7; Gal. 4:13; Phil. 2:26; 1 Tim. 5:23, NW.
22. Why should the Christian never feel inadequate or useless in the ministry?
22 Nor should anyone who is young in the truth feel himself of no use to the Owner of the trust. If you are young you may not have had time to study all that has been published on Jehovah’s purposes, but you have a place in the service of God. The good news is to be told to everyone, and whatever we have learned we ought to tell out to others. Paul, who set a pattern for Timothy, acknowledged his dependence upon help from above, and are we any different? It is evident from the two letters Paul wrote to him that Timothy had more to learn, and not one of us ever completes his learning either. You must know you do not know before you can learn. So do not feel discouraged if you find you do not know all the answers, but take your part in the ministry and as you do progress in learning. Try hard to equip yourself for every good work and fix the righteous principles of Jehovah firmly in your mind. Then serve in accord therewith. “Let no man ever look down on your youth. On the contrary, become an example to the faithful ones in speaking, in conduct, in love, in faith, in chasteness.” We are happy to see that today there are many youthful ones associated with the New World society who have become such examples to the faithful ones.—Phil. 4:13; 1 Tim. 4:12; 2 Tim. 4:17, NW.
23, 24. (a) What part does proper behavior play in guarding the trust? (b) What course of action must be taken to maintain right conduct?
23 Part of guarding your ministry is watching your behavior. The ministry can be lost by you if you do not conduct yourself properly. God’s Word gives us the necessary instruction. Timothy read in Paul’s letter: “I am writing you these things, . . . that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in God’s household.” The uninstructed youth often causes trouble in a household by not making a mature evaluation of spiritual things, loving pleasures only. One keeps his Christian ministry inviolate by shunning the desires that spring from spiritual immaturity. “Flee from the desires incidental to youth, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.”—1 Tim. 3:14, 15; 5:1, 2; 6:14; 2 Tim. 2:22, NW.
24 Right conduct will result from studying God’s Word and from seeking good association in the congregation, association with those who are conscientiously devoted to Jehovah’s service, who encourage you to preach publicly and from house to house. If someone in the congregation shows spiritual immaturity by following a course of misconduct, rather than joining in such misconduct you should seek a good association “with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.” “Neither be a sharer in the sins of others; preserve yourself pure.” For your own good, avoid troublemakers. Do not be surprised if you find one sometime. They had some in the early Christian congregations, and there will be some showing themselves in our times too. Paul wrote Timothy about Alexander the coppersmith: “You, too, be on guard against” such a one. But if someone does show the worldly spirit and does treat you wrongly, never become offended against God’s organization or service and quit the ministry. Avoid as much personal difficulty as possible by remembering that any who resist God’s Word or who lead others into worldliness or immorality are not good company and will not help improve your conduct in the household of God. Walk uprightly and let no evildoers upset your spiritual balance. We were warned that some “will turn their ears away from the truth, . . . You, though, keep your balance in all things, . . . thoroughly accomplish your ministry.”—Rom. 16:17, 18; 1 Cor. 15:33; 1 Tim. 5:22; 6:11; 2 Tim. 4:14, 15; 4:1-5, NW.
25, 26 (a) How do we thoroughly accomplish our personal ministry and successfully guard the Christian trust? (b) What questions should we be able to answer individually after self-examination?
25 Nothing is to be permitted to interfere with our personal preparation and carrying out of the ministry. We are obliged to accomplish our ministry thoroughly. That requires our constant attention. To be thorough we must complete the work assigned. Any work worth doing is worth doing right and the ministry is the most worthy work in the world. Dedication to this ministerial service entails much personal examination and reflection. The most serious step we make in life is the dedicating of ourselves to Jehovah’s service and the accepting of the trust at his hands. Then we must be absorbed in our dedication and service, especially now. We have a precious treasure to guard and if we become in the least spiritually sleepy, indifferently careless or even distracted for a moment, what we have may be taken away from us. “Ponder over these things, be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons.” What we have undertaken we must keep on doing, advancing, seeking the guidance of Jehovah’s holy spirit in guarding the trust we have been given. Our guard must be kept up continually. Never for a moment may we entertain contradictory or false knowledge, but with close adherence to the Word and spirit we shall guard well what is laid up in trust with us.—1 Tim. 4:13, 15; 6:2, 20; 2 Tim. 3:14, NW.
26 Are you daily practicing Christianity? Have you regulated your personal life to conform to ministerial standards? Are you alertly guarding what is given you in trust, or do outside matters hold your interest? Are you keeping active in the ministry, or have you ‘buried’ your trust? What kind of account can you render to the Owner of the trust, Jehovah? Do you find yourself measuring up to the personal requirements of the ministry and, like Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, “proved by God as fit to be entrusted with the good news”? Then give consideration to the next article and check yourself on your responsibilities toward others.—1 Thess. 2:4, NW.