Wholeheartedness Toward New World Interests
“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.”—Mark 12:30.
1. What does Jehovah look for in his creatures?
JEHOVAH emphasizes in his Word that he is a God exacting exclusive devotion. He looks for zeal and wholehearted service in his creatures. In view of the issue involving his name and supremacy he cannot tolerate indifference or lukewarmness on the part of those who will speak for him. He is himself zealous for his new world, which will uphold his honor. That new world is one of his concerns and he wholeheartedly supports its interests. Wholeheartedness is characteristic of Jehovah.
2. Why can we say Jesus Christ was wholehearted?
2 Christ Jesus was a perfect example of wholeheartedness in his ministry, his actions and devotion. It is a marvel to ponder the great volume of work that he crowded into his three and a half years of ministry. He served a nation of over two million people; day after day the crowds continually pressed in upon him and he wholeheartedly served them, sometimes postponing eating or sleeping. Often, when through with a long day’s service, he spent time teaching and training his disciples; even following this with a whole night in prayer. He truly poured out his soul unto death. In all this activity, was he ever perfunctory? Did he ever slur over his work? The record at Mark 7:37 says the multitudes “were being astounded in a most extraordinary way and said: ‘He has done all things well.’” What an excellent example of wholeheartedness in service! Well did he say: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” He delighted in his work as when one enjoys a good meal. The reason? God’s law was in his heart. “Everyone that is perfectly instructed will be like his teacher”—in at least his diligence and exclusive devotion to Jehovah’s New World interests.—John 4:34; Luke 6:40.
3. (a) Is man able to be wholehearted? Why? (b) What counsel does Paul give those who would be wholehearted Christians?
3 Man reflects the ability to be wholehearted in his earthly pursuits. See the child at play. How he puts his whole heart into it, even oblivious of danger, cold, heat or fatigue! He is all interest and attention and not at all anxious to quit, doing so only when he must. How about grownups? When it comes to the things in which they find interest there is no halfheartedness in their pursuits. The sportsman is a good example: Whether it is hunting, fishing, or athletics, his heart leads him in the action. Often his physical powers are heavily taxed and at times may be hardly equal to the heat of desire and activity; but anxiously, even pantingly, he pursues the object of his interest. Once a runner in a contest put everything into his race and reached his goal a winner, but then dropped dead from exhaustion. His whole heart was in his endeavor, even at the expense of his life itself. Paul took note of the zeal and intensity of the contenders in the games of his day and drew on it to illustrate the Christian course. Said he: “So, then, because we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also put off every weight and the sin that easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the leader and perfecter of our faith, Jesus.” Yes, put aside everything that might distract one from being wholehearted in the race and being engrossed or absorbed in watching the perfect example of faith set by Jesus.—Heb. 12:1, 2.
4. What relationship is there between wholeheartedness and faith?
4 Here the apostle Paul has drawn our attention to the part faith plays in our being wholehearted. Wholeheartedness is not a secret feeling any more than faith is. Faith is proved by what the servant of Jehovah does. Enduring faith in action reveals the wholeheartedness of the servant toward his Master. If one truly has faith in Jehovah and his precious promises he will be found demonstrating his faith by what he is doing, by his attitude toward the purposes and interests of Jehovah, even as Jesus Christ perfected our faith.—Jas. 2:17.
WHOLEHEARTED FAITH IN ACTION
5. Why is Abel an example for Christians today?
5 The ‘great cloud of witnesses surrounding us’ mentioned by Paul to the Hebrews includes many witnesses of Jehovah of ancient times. Theirs was not a halfhearted or shaky faith in Jehovah’s New World promises. Unquestionably they were wholehearted, manifesting their complete faith by what they did. Abel, for example, with much less information from Jehovah than we now have concerning the new world, exhibited his faith by wholeheartedly bringing the very best offering available, ‘the firstlings of his flock,’ in sacrifice before Jehovah. Cain brought a halfhearted offering of ‘some fruits of the ground.’ Which did Jehovah find acceptable? The wholehearted offering of faith made by Abel, the best of his flocks. So from the very first generation of the human family true history shows Jehovah’s pleasure in the wholehearted, not the halfhearted.—Gen. 4:3-5; Heb. 11:4.
6. How did Enoch serve New World interests?
6 Though the Bible record on Enoch is brief, there is no doubt concerning his being a servant of Jehovah who showed his faith wholeheartedly by his actions in serving as a prophet of Jehovah amid evil men. He foretold the destruction of the ungodly that must precede the setting up of the new world, thus serving in the New World interests.—Gen. 5:22; Heb. 11:5; Jude 14, 15.
7. By what acts did Noah and his family demonstrate their faith?
7 Much more is recorded about Noah’s wholehearted service for Jehovah. Never a doubt came into his mind about what Jehovah foretold, and it moved him to make expression of his faith by his actions, showing ‘godly fear and constructing an ark for the saving of his household.’ True, no one had ever seen a flood or heard of such an ark before, but Noah and his family never questioned for a minute what Jehovah had said. They fully gave themselves to the building of the ark according to Jehovah’s instructions. They had to, for it was a gigantic construction program to be completed in a limited time. The ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high, with three stories and many rooms inside. Preaching was done also, and all this amid a populace of wicked men and materialized angels. An old world was ending; another world was soon to be. The thoroughness of their work was rewarding; the huge chest floated for many months after the deluge arrived, and they survived. Thus another world came into existence, but Jehovah’s fixed time for restoration of the paradise condition to the earth had not yet arrived. Further opportunities would be afforded men to wholeheartedly put their faith into actions.—Gen. 6:9 to 8:5; 2 Pet. 2:5; 3:6.
8. (a) How was Abraham wholeheartedly for the new world? (b) Why is Jehovah not ashamed to be called upon as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
8 Abraham had to be wholehearted. It was not a small thing to pack up all property and move into strange territory with family, slaves, livestock and possessions, saying good-by to relatives, and leaving behind a good inheritance. His faith was put to the severest of tests when Jehovah commanded Abraham to offer Isaac, the son he loved so dearly, as a burnt offering. Unhesitatingly Abraham proceeded toward the offering up of Isaac, sure in heart that Jehovah was able to raise him from the dead. By these actions his faith was perfected. Jehovah intervened through his angel, sparing Isaac and promising Abraham that his descendants through Isaac would become innumerable, like the grains of sand beside the sea. Abraham lived to see the sons of Isaac, and they all dwelt in tents, “awaiting the city having real foundations and the builder and creator of which is God.” Even though they did not expect to see the establishment of the new world in their day, they were wholehearted in actions in harmony with Jehovah’s will, being moved in everything by their firm faith in Jehovah’s promises. “In faith all these died, although they did not get the fulfillment of the promises, but they saw them afar off and hailed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. . . . Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them.” They could have returned to the place from which they had gone forth had they been halfhearted toward the promises of Jehovah, but they did not. They were wholeheartedly serving where Jehovah assigned them.—Gen. 22:1-19; Heb. 11:8-20; Jas. 2:21-23.
9. Explain the attitudes of Jacob and Esau toward New World interests, and the results.
9 The Bible’s most famous twins give a contrast in attitudes toward New World interests. Isaac’s twin sons were of different dispositions. When it came to the promises of Jehovah, Jacob was wholeheartedly interested, but Esau took more interest in self, hunting and life in the open fields. The promise of Jehovah to Abraham and his seed and a descendant’s share in it compared as of little value with bread and lentil stew; so Esau showed the birthright to be despicable in his eyes by selling it to Jacob for a little food. And, unlike Jacob, he took wives among the unbelievers, bringing much bitterness to his parents thereby. Jacob was wholeheartedly interested in Jehovah’s promise and carefully chose wives who believed in Jehovah and who could co-operate in maintaining theocratic instruction in the family circle. Faith moved Jacob to serve Jehovah ardently and Jehovah changed his name to Israel, he becoming the head of the nation through which the seed of promise came. But Esau’s descendants in Edom opposed Jehovah’s purposes and his people, sided with Jehovah’s enemies and were sentenced to destruction as a people. During the warlike rule of the Maccabees before the time of Christ they were completely subdued, never to rise again as a nation.—Gen. 25:27-34; 26:34, 35; 32:28; Jer. 49:7-22.
10. What wise choice did Moses make in Egypt?
10 Materialism has crowded pure worship out of the lives of some men, but Moses is not among them. Born in a time of distress for his nation when male babies were condemned to die at birth, Moses was preserved and Jehovah used him for his purpose. Moses’ early years were spent with his mother, who acted as “nurse” for the Egyptian princess. During that time Moses received education on Jehovah’s promises and will. Later he was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians . . . he was mighty in his words and deeds.” Which learning had the greater effect upon him? “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he esteemed the reproach of the Christ as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” Though feeling not well equipped to speak before Pharaoh, he threw himself completely into the tasks connected with the ten plagues upon Egypt, leaving no question in the minds of the Egyptians that he was wholeheartedly on Jehovah’s side.—Acts 7:22; Heb. 11:24-26.
11, 12. What wholehearted services did Moses perform with Israel?
11 After the deliverance from Egypt, Moses stands out as a leader and a prophet in Israel. He was zealous for Jehovah’s cause. Each time Israel displayed a spirit of quarreling or rebellion Moses demonstrated how wholehearted he was for righteousness. How could he be other than angry when the nation made the golden calf to worship instead of worshiping Jehovah or when Korah and his men rebelled against the theocratic appointments to service made by Jehovah? When Israel joined in immoral worship of Baal of Peor, Moses justly ordered the killing of all men involved therein. He generaled the armies of Israel in successful campaigns against Amorite Kings Sihon and Og.
12 Moses gave his energies gladly to sit as judge to help his fellow Israelites. He was vigorous and genuine in his loyalty to Jehovah, proving his faith by his works. He was such an example of wholehearted service that all the nation should have benefited by just seeing him serve Jehovah. His wholeheartedness was proved too in the strong words of counsel he delivered to the nation as recorded in Deuteronomy. His expression at Deuteronomy 31:1-8 proves the strength of his belief in Jehovah after many years of service. In his wholeheartedness Moses qualified to be a prophet of Jehovah; even one of the Psalms (90) is attributed to him, and perhaps the ninety-first psalm was also written by him. What he would have missed out on had he chosen the “treasures of Egypt”!
13. How did a blessing come to a non-Israelite who was wholeheartedly for Jehovah?
13 For non-Israelites the requirement of Jehovah was the same. Acceptable faith was shown by wholehearted actions. Scrutiny of the words of Rahab at Joshua 2:9-13 will prove to everyone her unshakable faith in the power of Jehovah and the certainty of the destruction of Jericho. She protected the spies, helped them escape and gave them accurate information on the feelings of the people about the coming of the nation of Israel, which message when relayed to Joshua could only have the effect of encouraging the armies of Israel. Carefully she complied with the terms for deliverance as outlined by Jehovah’s representatives and so did not perish as Jericho was overthrown. It was not her faith alone that saved her life, but actions: “Was not also Rahab the harlot declared righteous by works, after she had received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way?” More than life was gained by Rahab. She abandoned prostitution, became the wife of Salmon and was privileged to be an ancestress of Christ.—Jas. 2:25; Matt. 1:5; Heb. 11:31.
14. (a) What events in the life of Gideon show Jehovah’s attitude toward the halfhearted? (b) How did Gideon show himself theocratic?
14 Wholehearted servants of Jehovah are theocratic. Gideon made sure Jehovah was with him and fearlessly proceeded with preparations for battle with Midian. Jehovah made it clear that he was the Deliverer, eliminating the halfhearted and fearful. Thirty-two thousand men had been gathered. First, 22,000 retired; then 9,700 were disqualified. Only 300 fully alert men remained. Gideon wavered not. Conscientiously following Jehovah’s leading, Gideon and the 300 men with large empty jars, torches and trumpets surrounded on three sides the great enemy encampment of over 120,000 warriors. That was no place for any halfhearted or faithless men; Jehovah had eliminated them. Jehovah’s tactics in directing the small army to blow the trumpets and shout, “Jehovah’s sword and Gideon’s!” shot fear through the enemy hearts, causing them to flee disorderly into the night. Gideon and his 300 spearheaded the pursuit and, though weary, did not stop going until the kings of Midian were taken and the victory was complete. The wholehearted do not give out before the battle is over. Jehovah’s giving Gideon this outstanding victory did not change Gideon’s wholeheartedness toward Jehovah or make him lose his balance. He remained theocratic in his outlook. He had been used by Jehovah to do Jehovah’s work. Later the men of Israel asked Gideon to become their ruler, which he rejected, saying: “Jehovah is the one who will rule over you.”—Judg. 8:23; Heb. 11:32.
OTHER EXAMPLES OF WHOLEHEARTEDNESS
15. (a) How was Barak wholehearted toward Jehovah? (b) What examples are there of faithful women in the days of Barak?
15 Oppression for twenty years did not turn Barak and Deborah from love for Jehovah. They endured as believers in Jehovah’s supremacy, waiting for the time of deliverance from King Jabin of Canaan and General Sisera. Barak with ten thousand Israelites, though greatly outnumbered and facing superior armaments, responded wholeheartedly to the words of Jehovah through the prophetess Deborah: “Get up, for this is the day that Jehovah will certainly give Sisera into your hand. Is it not Jehovah that has gone out before you?” By his supreme power Jehovah could certainly have defeated the armies of Canaan without any action on the part of Barak, but Jehovah wanted to see his people hold back nothing when an issue arose involving his name, to be “a people that scorned their souls to the point of death.” So Jehovah fought for his servants, flooding out the war chariots and washing them away. This battle also gave another woman, Jael, an opportunity to show her wholeheartedness in serving Jehovah by alone fearlessly putting Sisera to death.—Judg. 4:14, 21; 5:18; Heb. 11:32.
16. Mention events in Samson’s life proving his exclusive devotion.
16 Another fighter for Jehovah’s cause was Samson. The Philistines were the oppressing enemies of Jehovah’s people, so Jehovah raised up Samson to “take the lead in saving Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” Jehovah’s spirit directed him to take a wife from among the Philistines so he might have an opportunity to destroy many of the wicked men, which he did. Later, trusting fully in Jehovah, he permitted himself to be bound and delivered into the hand of the Philistines. With the help of Jehovah’s spirit he broke his bonds and slew a thousand of the enemy single-handedly. The book of Judges records his many exploits against the wicked Philistines, climaxed by his pulling down upon thousands the house of false worship to Dagon and not letting the Philistines attribute the capture of Samson to their demon god. The serious physical handicap of blindness did not dishearten him. Jehovah used his faithful servant right to the end.—Judg. 13:5; 16:30; Heb. 11:32.
17. Why did Jephthah make his vow?
17 Jephthah is outstanding as a wholehearted fighter for the new world. His being the son of a prostitute and despised by others did not disanimate him in serving Jehovah. That was not the important issue. His first concern was the throwing off of the domination of Ammon over worshipers of Jehovah. Under Jehovah’s spirit Jephthah proceeded to the battle, but prior to engaging the enemy he made his famous vow, the vow of a man wholly interested in victory for the honor of Jehovah’s name: “If you without fail give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it must occur that the one coming out, who comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, must then become Jehovah’s and I must offer that one up as a burnt offering.”—Judg. 11:30, 31.
18. How are Jephthah and his daughter examples for theocratic families today?
18 With the victory won, upon his triumphant return who should come out to meet him but his daughter, his only child. Evidently Jephthah raised his daughter to be wholehearted like himself, for she too showed first interest in Jehovah’s victory and she expressed her strong desire to fall in line with the vow. She had become a thing devoted to Jehovah and so had to be turned over to the priests at the tabernacle in Shiloh, where she was not permitted to have a husband or family but served alongside the Gibeonites in the worship of Jehovah. This spirit of self-sacrifice on the part of Jephthah and his only child stands out in the Bible as an example of wholeheartedness for all theocratic parents and children since that time.—Judg. 11:34-39.
19. Through what events in life did David prove wholly for Jehovah?
19 David rose from shepherd boy to king. Did his gaining of prominence and authority turn him from wholeheartedness toward Jehovah God? As a youth he fought Goliath, in the name of Jehovah of armies, carrying faith in his heart instead of shield and spear in hand. Later he endured dangers of King Saul’s murderous pursuits and perils in the territory of the Philistines. He led the fight in many hard battles, overcoming the Jebusites and establishing himself at Jerusalem and then gaining domination over long-time enemies, the Philistines, and extending the borders of the nation through military victories. On the domestic scene there came a sword within his own house when Absalom revolted; also he experienced problems with his wife, Michal, daughter of Saul. The wholehearted faith of David and his love for Jehovah’s worship and vindication, his great interest in the ark of Jehovah and preparing material for the building of the temple at Jerusalem, which Jehovah assigned to Solomon, reveal him as a fervent true worshiper all his life. The psalms he composed reflect his devotion. His closing words to Solomon, his successor on the throne, to keep Jehovah’s commandments show his heart condition as wholly for Jehovah. In all his experiences David proved himself exclusively devoted to Jehovah and a steadfast praiser.—1 Ki. 2:3; Ps. 108:1, 3; Heb. 11:32.
20. Who is an outstanding example of spending a lifetime serving Jehovah, and what tests did he pass through?
20 Prophets were many before the days of Christ. Among the most prominent is Samuel. Here is an example of a witness for Jehovah who served exclusively from the time he was weaned until his death. In his youth he served with high priest Eli at the tabernacle in Shiloh but did not follow the evil example of the sons of Eli, who cohabited with the women that were serving at the entrance of the tent of meeting. He remained morally clean. Samuel denounced idolatrous practices among Jehovah’s covenant people, offered proper sacrifices and kept on judging Israel all the days of his life, traveling regularly through the nation as a circuit servant. He it was who became distressed in heart when the people asked for a king, rejecting Jehovah’s rulership over them. It was Samuel who, without fear of what disobedient King Saul would do, stood up to him with the words: “Does Jehovah have as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Look! to obey is better than a sacrifice, to pay attention than the fat of rams; for rebelliousness is the same as the sin of divination. . . . Since you have rejected the word of Jehovah, he accordingly rejects you from being king.” Later, in the face of Saul’s possibly killing him, Samuel did Jehovah’s will by anointing David to be king. This wholehearted kind of prophet was pleasing to Jehovah.—1 Sam. 2:22; 7:16; 15:22, 23; Heb. 11:32.
21. What unequaled record is preserved for consideration now, and what reaction should learning of it have upon us?
21 Faith and wholehearted devotion to Jehovah had to be found in the ancient men who proved acceptable to Jehovah. By the spirit of Jehovah they compiled a record through the centuries that is unequaled by any other group of men, not the mighty men of Egypt, nor the priests of Babylon, nor the princes of Persia and Greece. Only Jehovah’s faithful witnesses could be described as those who “through faith defeated kingdoms in conflict, effected righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, stayed the force of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from a weak state were made powerful, became valiant in war, routed the armies of foreigners. Women received their dead by resurrection; but other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection. Yes, others received their trial by mockings and scourgings, indeed, more than that, by bonds and prisons. They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn asunder, they died by slaughter with the sword, they went about in sheep skins, in goat skins, while they were in want, in tribulation, under ill-treatment; and the world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and mountains and dens and caves of the earth.” Yes, as Paul wrote, time would fail to tell in detail about all the exploits and acts of faith recorded for us in the Hebrew Scriptures. But the record is there, and for a good purpose: for us to be moved by these examples of wholehearted men who centuries ago acted with full faith in the establishment of the righteous new world now so near at hand, and for us to learn that it is the men and women of undivided faith, who love Jehovah with their whole heart, that gain the approval of the great Resurrector and Giver of life.—Heb. 11:32-38; 1 Cor. 10:11.