Do You Let Your Light Shine?
1, 2. Why is it appropriate to compare the activity of an ordained minister with a city situated on a mountain and with a lamp that is lit?
AN ORDAINED minister of God carries a heavy responsibility. He starts in where Jesus left off. It was the Master who said to his faithful followers: “You are the light of the world. A city cannot be hid when situated upon a mountain. People light a lamp and set it, not under the measuring basket, but upon the lampstand, and it shines upon all those in the house. Likewise let your light shine before mankind, that they may see your right works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.” (Matt. 5:14-16) This light of truth shines in the world day and night because of the activeness of true Christians. When ordained ministers preach from house to house, the light shines. But that is not the only time he lets his light shine. It must shine during his eating, during his drinking, during his general conversation, during his working as well as when he is in the congregation of God’s people. At no time can a Christian hide or turn off his light. “You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before mankind.”
2 An ordained minister of God looks to the future. So, then, if he would “love life and see good days, . . . let him seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Pet. 3:10, 11) While pursuing peace he has no time for wrongdoing and so getting out of harmony with God’s Word. If he does, it will be seen. As a minister he must for twenty-four hours a day prove that he is living a Christian life. He is observed just like a city situated on a hill; there is no hiding it. It is there to be seen for many miles around. You cannot hide that city any more than you can hide the light of a true Christian. An ordained minister’s light shines continually. It is always aglow, unless the minister deliberately smothers the light by the way he eats, drinks, talks, works or preaches the good news of God’s kingdom. But never let that happen! Let people of all kinds see your right works, because when they see your right works all kinds of men will give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.
3. Aside from the Christian’s right work in preaching, what else should people be able to observe favorably?
3 The house-to-house preaching that the kingdom of God is at hand is vital, very important; and this good news helps people to see more clearly the great blessings God has in store for believers. But let them also observe the Christian’s right works, the way he lives, how he conducts himself at work and at play, the way his children behave themselves, the way he mixes with people in the congregation, along with his teaching ability. Yes, all this tells if he lets his light shine.
4, 5. (a) Is there such a thing as a part-time Christian, and why? (b) Can all Christians devote the same amount of time to preaching the good news? (c) What conclusion do we thus reach in the matter?
4 An individual who has dedicated himself to Jehovah’s service and has been baptized in water cannot say that he is a part-time Christian. He must be a full-time Christian. He may not be able to spend all his awake hours preaching from house to house and conducting Bible studies as do pioneers and missionaries. But that makes no difference as to being a Christian. God’s commandments are the same for all Christians. Many Christians among Jehovah’s witnesses are referred to as pioneers and missionaries, full-time preachers. These individuals have been able to arrange their affairs so that they can spend all their time in teaching and ministering to other persons by going from house to house and conducting Bible studies in the homes of believers. It is easily seen that not all persons who have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God and have been baptized can devote all their time to the preaching work, but certainly they must devote all their time to the Christian life. They must prove that they are ordained ministers before God just as surely as one who evangelizes all his wakeful hours. All Christians must be full-time light bearers just as Jesus was, because they are walking in his footsteps.
5 What, then, must we conclude? This: A Christian, whether he be a pioneer, a missionary, or a person known as a congregation publisher, must be an ordained minister before God full time. According to the Scriptures, in Paul’s writings as well as Peter’s and in Jesus’ own words, one living a Christian life must “keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” Furthermore, Jesus said: “If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love.” (John 15:10) There are no exceptions; all Christians have the same commandments, the same Redeemer, the same God.
WORKS BECOME MANIFEST
6, 7. How might we explain 1 Timothy 5:24, 25 in relation to people’s evil works?
6 What a person really is will eventually manifest itself. Paul pointed out to Timothy: “The sins of some men are publicly manifest, leading immediately to judgment, but as for other men their sins also become manifest later. In the same way also the right works are publicly manifest and those that are otherwise cannot be kept hid.” (1 Tim. 5:24, 25) A simple example will help us see Paul’s point. There was a thief in a certain city who had been robbing homes for two years and another man who for the first time tried to rob a home. On the novice’s first venture of this kind he was caught leaving the house with the stolen goods. He was turned over to the police. The trial was held. The witnesses gave their testimony and he was proved to be a thief. The judgment: six months in prison. This man’s sins were “publicly manifest, leading immediately to judgment.”
7 But how about the first thief, who has been stealing for two years now? He decides to make another robbery. This time, however, he is apprehended. The police arrest him. He is brought before the court, and in the evidence presented it is proved not only that he robbed in the last home he unlawfully entered, but that he had robbed many other homes during the past two years! While this thief may have had a good reputation in the community up to this time, now his “sins also become manifest,” but only later, after two years. One cannot always hide his real way of life. If he is a thief, eventually it will become manifest.
8. How might the works of a righteous person become manifest at once?
8 Paul reasons that just as the sins of some people are manifest immediately and other men’s sins become manifest later, so the same is true with the right works of some persons. Maybe another illustration will show this truth clearly. A woman zealous in preaching the good news from house to house has excellent success in interesting people in God’s Word, resulting in many home Bible studies. By her right works, in but a short period of time several persons come to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses, study with the congregation, start preaching the good news themselves, dedicate their lives to Jehovah’s service and are baptized. This woman’s right works are publicly manifest immediately to all in the congregation.
9, 10. Why might the right works of another person be hidden for a long time?
9 On the other hand, there is another woman in the same congregation just as zealous in going out in the witnessing work, but for some reason the people she meets and has studies with do not come to the Kingdom Hall so quickly. She studied with them for well over a year, but no results yet.
10 It so happens that the husband of this second woman is not interested in the Bible and its message and for two years he has been very much opposed to her taking up the ministry work. When they were married ten years ago they were very worldly people, going out to parties, night clubs and getting drunk. It was a wild life but a rather unhappy one, with many family brawls during their sobering-up period and at other times. Their children kept them home some a little later on, but real happiness was missing. There was no peace at home. However, a little over two years ago this woman began studying the Bible with one of Jehovah’s witnesses. It did not take her very long to appreciate what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “We also thank God incessantly, because when you received God’s word . . . you accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.” (1 Thess. 2:13) She wanted salvation, for now she learned she could enjoy a better life. She dedicated herself to Jehovah’s service. She was baptized in water and proved herself to be an ordained minister, making her mind over and living a good Christian life along with her preaching work. She let her light shine. She attended all the meetings at the Kingdom Hall and brought her children with her in addition to studying with them at home. But her husband never came to the Kingdom Hall with her. Her fellow witnesses in the congregation did not know much about her husband or her home life, because the husband would not allow any of Jehovah’s witnesses to come into his home.
11. During the time the person’s right works are hidden, what advice of Peter is being followed?
11 This woman, now an ordained minister, had to show right works at home as well as on the outside, always following the commandments of God. She looked to Peter for advice, who wrote under inspiration of holy spirit: “In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect. And do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and of the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God. For so, too, formerly the holy women who were hoping in God used to adorn themselves, subjecting themselves to their own husbands, as Sarah used to obey Abraham, calling him ‘lord.’ And you have become her children, provided you keep on doing good and not fearing any cause for terror.”—1 Pet. 3:1-6.
12-14. After people observe what right works do such works become manifest to all?
12 This dedicated woman, a good housewife, a loving mother, was not allowed to speak the truth to her husband. This he forbade. However, the great change he saw in her through her right works spoke louder than words. No longer would she become drunk. Her disposition changed. Her home was clean and always in order; her meals were better and served on time. The children were well behaved and taught to love and respect their father. Conditions at home were much better than they used to be. But why?
13 Well, after two years of living as a Christian and at the same time putting up with some rough treatment, one day on her coming home from the field service her husband said to her: “There has been a great change in you. What made it?” Of course, the only answer was: “I am trying to live according to the Word of God, seeking peace and pursuing it.” He answered: “If the word of God made you do so many right works, maybe if I let the Word of God work on me, I, too, can become a believer.” He did!
14 So in the life of this woman we see her right works “manifest later.” Yes, God’s Word is true: “In the same way also the right works are publicly manifest and those that are otherwise cannot be kept hid.”—1 Tim. 5:24, 25.
15. What comfort, then, is there for all of us, and so what do we want to prove ourselves to be?
15 While some people’s right works produce good results quickly, still other persons’ right works become manifest eventually, even after many years. Never become discouraged because there seem to be no results from your right works. Keep on being a Christian. Salvation will come to some because of your letting your light shine even though it be observed in small things, eating, drinking, conversation, working or doing anything else. Be sure that, whatever you do, it is for God’s glory. One should not be seeking one’s own advantage, but that of the many in order that they might get saved! Remember, this Christian woman was not seeking her own advantage, but that of her husband, so that he, too, might get saved and share the joys of living in God’s new world. Be a Christian all day long, prove yourself to be a full-time ordained minister before God.
16. Are the right works of an ordained minister performed only to be seen of men? If not, why not?
16 An ordained minister in his going from house to house or doing right works for his employer or at home toward his wife and children, and conducting himself properly in the congregation is not trying to show off. The Word of God must be guiding him, and, because of his following the Word, life becomes pleasant and peaceful. “For Jehovah’s eyes are upon the righteous and his ears are toward their supplication.” (1 Pet. 3:12) We are admonished to “take good care not to practice your righteousness in front of men in order to be observed by them; otherwise you will have no reward with your Father who is in the heavens.” (Matt. 6:1) “Do all things for God’s glory.” Do not be a hypocrite!
17. (a) How are we warned in the matter of our doing right works? (b) What fitting words of Jesus do we have on right and wrong conduct?
17 Do not do the things you are doing to be seen of men, but, whatever you do, do it as to Jehovah God and let him give you the reward. Do not appear to be a minister of God in the same way as the clergymen do in the world today by putting on an appearance of holiness before their congregations. Do not be classed or described by Jesus as the scribes and Pharisees were in his days. Jesus said of them: “All the works they do they do to be viewed by men . . . They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by men. . . . Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut up the kingdom of the heavens before mankind; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one you make him a subject for Gehenna twice as much so as yourselves.” (Matt. 23:5-15) A real ordained minister directs the attention of people to God, not to himself. By paying constant attention to God’s Word and preaching it one will not only save himself but those who listen to him.—1 Tim. 4:16.
CONTROLLED BY GOD’S WORD
18. How much of Matthew 6:33 do some people read?
18 A Christian’s whole life must be controlled by the Word of God. He must believe what it says and delight to do Jehovah’s commandments. He must appreciate God’s righteousness and want to live according to what is written in the Bible. It was Jesus who said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33) Some individuals when reading this text only read “keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom,” for that is the extent of their interest. They are anxious for Armageddon, the battle of the great day of God the Almighty, the time when Jehovah will destroy all wickedness from the earth and establish his righteous new world. Why so anxious? Because they want to live in paradise, have perfect life, peace and happiness, food and shelter and all the good things that the new world offers.
19. What else is there to consider in Matthew 6:33?
19 However, those persons seeking only the Kingdom and not Jehovah’s righteousness now should read the whole text. Jesus said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” His righteousness, too, is something to keep on seeking. It is now that we must know Jehovah’s principles of truth and righteousness and how to live. If a Christian is seeking Jehovah’s righteousness, then he will want to know what a Christian should do. For example, the Bible says that a single man or woman should not live in fornication. “If they do not have self-control, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to be inflamed with passion.” (1 Cor. 7:9) When married, neither mate can live in adultery, because that is not seeking his righteousness. “You heard that it was said, ‘You must not commit adultery.’”—Matt. 5:27.
20. What kinds of advice do we find in the Word of God?
20 In the Word of God there is excellent admonition on how single persons should live and on the conduct of married couples, on the raising of children, on the work to be done by the congregation of God, and on how overseers should deport themselves. There is counsel given on loving our neighbors and being hospitable to strangers. Advice is given on one’s moral way of life as to his language, his eating, his drinking, his working, his honesty, his general disposition. He surely cannot be a murderer, a thief, a drunkard, an idolater, a liar, a greedy person, an extortioner, a reviler. A Christian’s whole life is governed by Scriptural principles set out clearly in God’s Word. So, then, let us keep on seeking God’s righteousness as well as the Kingdom, but not just the Kingdom. If you do right, the promise is that all other things will be added to you.
21, 22. What are the fruits of the old personality? the new personality?
21 By doing what is right a Christian puts on a new personality and conforms his life to God’s will in true righteousness and loving-kindness. The apostle Paul in writing to the Ephesians said so: “You should put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; but that you should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loving-kindness.” (Eph. 4:22-24) A Christian knows that Satan, the god of this world, “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” and keeps them in darkness. The Devil wants all human creatures to conduct themselves according to their own deceptive desires. “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.” (1 John 2:16) So the Devil would like to keep everyone ‘conformed to his former course of conduct which is being corrupted.’
22 But when one learns the truth he can change his personality, putting away the old one with its ugly language that he once used. He will also put away his lazy or dishonest working habits, and so many other bad habits that would interfere with letting his light shine. He knows that “Jehovah’s face is against those doing injurious things.” So the Christian makes a big change in order to “seek peace and pursue it,” for he knows that “Jehovah’s eyes are upon the righteous.”—1 Pet. 3:11, 12.
23. (a) How can one acquire the new personality? (b) Originally what kind of personality did Adam possess?
23 The Word of God has a powerful effect upon an individual who is sincere. Hundreds of thousands of persons have allowed God’s Word to guide them until they have seen the importance of becoming an ordained minister before God, even though most of the worldly governments do not recognize them as such. Still they keep letting their light shine. No longer do they conform themselves to the old course of conduct, but they take on an entirely new outlook as regards life, knowing that the Word of God is at work in still other believers and that these other believers are letting God’s Word have an effect upon their lives. Paul knew that “you should be made new in the force actuating your mind.” And what is that force that actuates the mind? It is God’s spirit, his active force, which is revealed to us through his Word. Study the Word of God so as to put on the new personality, one befitting a full-time ordained minister and pleasing to God. Surely the personality that God gave Adam in the original creation in the garden of Eden was according to God’s will; and it was in true righteousness and loving-kindness that he made this man. He was a perfect creature. He was put on a perfect earth. His personality must have had the quality of one seeking peace, for there in the garden of Eden he was at peace with all the animals, a condition that the prophet Isaiah describes will exist in the paradise earth under the kingdom of heaven after the battle of Armageddon.
24, 25. What is Jehovah’s will for ordained ministers and how will they respond to His will?
24 It is certainly God’s will today for one to seek peace with God and show meekness and righteousness, for it may be that he will be hid in the day of Jehovah’s anger. (Zeph. 2:3) Jehovah’s witnesses in all parts of the world want to prove themselves worthy ministers of God by steadfastly preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. They want to show appreciation for the ordination they have received from Jehovah and prove by right works that they can live Christian lives. Their vocation is their call to the divine service of their God. By putting on this new personality, which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loving-kindness, they can serve better and accomplish more. Jehovah’s witnesses, God’s ordained ministers, will devote their full time to Christian living and will conduct themselves in this old world as Jesus did. They remember what he said: “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.” (John 15:19) But even though the world hates them, Jehovah’s witnesses are going to show love toward all persons in the world and are going to stay at peace with them. They “will seek peace and pursue it. For Jehovah’s eyes are upon the righteous.”
25 As ordained ministers before Jehovah God, Jehovah’s witnesses will carry out His will. “In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely. He committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth. When he was being reviled, he did not go to reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go to threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.” (1 Pet. 2:21-23) To him also his ordained ministers commit themselves in ever doing right.