“Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah.”—Col. 3:23.
1. In what are Jehovah and Christ examples for man?
JEHOVAH God and Christ Jesus are workers. “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working,” said Jesus. The magnificent creative works of Jehovah in which Jesus shared before coming to earth are seen daily. But what kind of works did Jesus do when on earth as a man? He glorified his Father’s name, Jehovah, within the hearing of men. His work was of the best quality. The work of the Father who sent him had his undivided interest and he was completely dedicated to doing it while there was opportunity. Jesus enjoyed his busy life on earth because he was whole-souled in his work. His interests were vitally tied in with those of Jehovah. At the end he was able to say: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do. So now you, Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory which I had alongside you before the world was.”—John 5:17; 9:4; 17:4, 5, 26.
2. Those now devoted to Jehovah have what unmerited privilege, and how should appreciation of it make them feel?
2 Since the death of Jesus and his resurrection Jehovah has had servants on the earth to do his work. It is work that glorifies Jehovah. When we stop to consider how small this earth is in the universe and the minuteness of the creatures upon it, then we must be impressed by the generosity and loving-kindness of Jehovah in granting insignificant humans the privilege of working with him. “We are God’s fellow workers.” We are “working together with him.” Why has God done this? Not that he needs us to do his work, but it has pleased him to allow his servants to share in it: “For God is the one that, for the sake of his good pleasure, is acting within you in order for you both to will and to act.” Appreciating this close relationship with Jehovah, how could any true Christian today be other than whole-souled in doing God’s work?—1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1; Phil. 2:13.
3. Can a person be whole-souled without complete belief in Jehovah?
3 The Christian must fully believe in Jehovah, else he would be spasmodic or unsteady in his work and finally receive nothing from him. “For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. In fact, let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from Jehovah; he is an indecisive man [two-souled, margin], unsteady in all his ways.” How much faith the servant has shows itself in his works or actions, whether they are whole-souled or “two-souled.” Those who are steady are whole-souled and genuine in their faith.—Jas. 1:6, 7.
4. What is the relationship between faith and works?
4 So the disciple James reasons: “Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? . . . Nevertheless, a certain one will say: ‘You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith apart from the works, and I shall show you my faith by my works.’ You believe there is one God, do you? You are doing quite well. And yet the demons believe and shudder. But do you care to know, O empty man, that faith apart from works is inactive? . . . You see that a man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone. . . . Indeed, as the body without breath is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” In this connection James mentions Abraham and Rahab as examples of those who demonstrated their faith by actions and were approved by Jehovah.—Jas. 2:14-26.
5. How valuable are sincere works of faith?
5 The value of working in faith before God is to be understood by the Bible’s words: “He will render to each one according to his works,” and, “Will not he himself that is estimating hearts discern it and he himself that is observing your soul know and certainly pay back to earthling man according to his activity?” “For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each one may get his award for the things done.” Christ, as Jehovah’s appointed Judge, looks into the hearts of men. He cannot be fooled by any hypocritical outward showy display of works by anyone who does not have faith in Jehovah and keep his law, for said he when discussing fruits men produce: “Many will say to me in that day: ‘Master, Master, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you at all. Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” The fine fruit of Kingdom service produced by each one is the factor in determining whose heart is right with Jehovah.—Rom. 2:6; Prov. 24:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 7:17-23.
PRODUCE FINE FRUIT NOW
6, 7. (a) Explain Jesus’ illustration at John 15:1-4. (b) What effect does hearing the truth have on whole-souled servants of God? (c) What is to be done with the Word of God, and what benefits come to those who use it?
6 As branches on a grapevine produce fruit, Christians must be fruitful in glorifying God. Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the cultivator. Every branch in me not bearing fruit he takes away, and every one bearing fruit he cleans, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Remain in union with me, and I in union with you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, in the same way neither can you, unless you remain in union with me.” No other way may be found to produce what is acceptable to the Cultivator, Jehovah, except in union with Christ Jesus, who is at the head of Jehovah’s organizational arrangement. The word of truth is heard by his anointed servants and should result in their producing more fruit; otherwise the pruning off of the nonbearing branch will follow. So acceptance of the truth by Christ’s disciples must not be merely an intellectual experience. The truth must settle in the heart and have a proper effect upon it. It is with the heart that one exercises faith for righteousness. When you hear the Bible or theocratic publications discussed or when you read them, you should get the same reaction as that experienced by the disciples with whom the risen Christ conversed along the road: “Commencing at Moses and all the Prophets he interpreted to them things pertaining to himself in all the Scriptures. And they said to each other: ‘Were not our hearts burning as he was speaking to us on the road, as he was fully opening up the Scriptures to us?’” They were impelled to go about telling others, including the eleven apostles, what they had learned.—John 15:1-4; Luke 24:27, 32.
7 Does your heart burn with appreciation and in sheer enjoyment of the wonderful truths you hear? Does your heart move you to whole-souled work of producing fruit, as Christ’s faithful followers did, to the glory of Jehovah as you learn the good things of his Word? When you have an opportunity to receive truth, such as when receiving the Watchtower articles, do you rejoice and immediately delve into them? Are you happy at hearing the Word because you wholeheartedly want to act in accord with it? James advises: “Become doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves with false reasoning. For if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, this one is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, and off he goes and immediately forgets what kind of man he is. On the other hand, he who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in it, this man, because he has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, will be happy in his doing it.” The way to remember the truth is to use it; the way to forget it is not use it. Fill your heart with the truth and then let it bubble forth. You will always be happy if you are calling at homes and speaking of Jehovah to people everywhere, producing much fruit.—Jas. 1:22-25; John 15:8; Prov. 18:4.
8. Why are congregational meetings very important and what danger is there in irregular attendance at meetings?
8 Today Jehovah has an organization to help you put the word of truth deep into your heart. Jehovah is giving spiritual nourishment to all fruit-producing branches through study of the Bible and the study helps provided through the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in regular weekly meetings. If one believes he can derive all needed benefit from personal study at home, without going to meetings and studying in company with others, he is deceiving himself. The congregation is as a lifeline for all Christians. Said Jesus: “For where there are two or three met together in my name, there I am in their midst.” What a privilege to be one present sharing in the instruction from Christ Jesus! This is Jehovah’s arrangement through Christ Jesus. But if one begins to think wrongly in his heart toward the organization of Jehovah, he will begin to show it. One of the first wrong steps is failing to meet regularly with other servants of Jehovah for study. Little by little this becomes a habit and over a period of time a feeling of indifference or independence will grow. He begins to forget visiting the homes of others regularly in field service to tell the good news and glorify Jehovah. What he is doing is no longer whole-souled.—Matt. 18:20.
9. (a) What becomes of those who are not whole-souled about taking in spiritual food in company with Christ? (b) What efforts should now be made by “those who are being saved”? (c) In connection with the congregation, what will whole-souled workers be found doing continually?
9 Even though one has for a time partaken of the spiritual food in company with Christ Jesus, if he becomes halfhearted he will sooner or later find himself outside of Jehovah’s organization, spiritually weak and, finally, like a branch that is cut off for not producing fruit. He will be as those mentioned by Jesus at Luke 13:25-27: “When once the householder has got up and locked the door, and you start to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying: ‘Sir, open to us.’ But in answer he will say to you: ‘I do not know where you are from.’ Then you will start saying: ‘We ate and drank in front of you, and you taught in our broad ways.’ But he will speak and say to you: ‘I do not know where you are from. Get away from me, all you workers of unrighteousness!’” Where had they been? They should have been inside with the “householder.” Actually, comparatively “few” of those who at one time or another attended meetings in the days of the apostles continued to do so regularly over the years. Today the record of some persons is similar. The heart attitude shows up in time. Often those with the most handicaps, such as physical disabilities, long distances to travel in bad weather, or family opposition, are the ones who are always present at the meetings, while others who may live near a meeting place or have a car in which to travel do not want to exert themselves at all and come only spasmodically. Which ones will succeed in gaining everlasting life? “Now a certain man said to him: ‘Master, are those who are being saved few?’ He said to them: ‘Exert yourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be strong enough.’” The ones exerting themselves whole-souled regularly study and share in the spiritual food at meetings and so keep “strong enough.” They do not forsake the assembling of themselves together regularly to incite others to love and right works. Everything that has to do with the congregations is important, and all should be found participating together in every detail, having the Kingdom Halls and other meeting places in the best condition to serve as centers of happy, pure worship. Contribute toward their support. Welcome the stranger warmly.—Luke 13:23, 24; Heb. 10:24, 25.
WORK OF OVERSEERS
10. What is the obligation of the congregation overseer in handling spiritual food?
10 The study meetings are a feeding place for the Master’s sheep. Those assigned to deal with the oversight of meetings are given extra work that merits their wholehearted attention. The overseer prepares each part of the work carefully. He knows it takes time to do things well and he purposely sets aside the required time. The importance of feeding the sheep well was emphasized by Jesus to Simon Peter, an already whole-souled worker, and is recorded for the guidance of overseers in congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses today. Any indifference toward arranging for proper feeding of the sheep through the meetings will show not merely a lack of love for the sheep, but a lack of love for the Master, for, when speaking to Peter, Jesus questioned three times whether Peter loved him. Love for the Master, Christ Jesus, spurs servants on in their work with the sheep.—John 21:15-17.
11. What qualities are found in whole-souled overseers?
11 This wholeheartedness is tied in directly with unselfishness and willingness. Love is unselfish and warm. As a true undershepherd the overseer lovingly helps the sheep in bearing their weaknesses, not just pleasing himself in what is the easiest course. Like Paul, you will say: “Though I am free from all persons, I have made myself the slave to all.” And, you serve “not under compulsion, but willingly, . . . eagerly,” “keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.” As a servant you do not put personal affairs or socializing ahead of ministerial duties, but you are looking after the interests of your brothers and show the same mental attitude of the humble Christ Jesus.—1 Cor. 9:19; 1 Pet. 5:2, 3; Phil. 2:3-8; Rom. 15:1.
12. With the example of the Great Shepherd before them, how far will the faithful undershepherds go in the interests of the sheep?
12 You undershepherds, remember Christ, whom the apostle Paul identifies as “the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus.” His own blood was poured out on behalf of his sheep. Thus Jesus set the example by going the limit in his love for the sheep. A hired man will run when danger comes to the sheep, but true undershepherds will imitate Christ Jesus and spend their all if necessary in the interests of the sheep, come what may. Especially in communistic lands now there is great danger in being an overseer, but the dedicated undershepherds have not drawn back. They see their responsibilities, as do all true undershepherds in keeping watch over the souls and rendering the account to the Great Shepherd, Christ Jesus.—Heb. 13:17, 20; John 10:11-13.
13. What should be the attitude of all in a congregation toward the appointed overseer?
13 And what should be the attitude of all in the congregation toward the appointed overseer? There must be full co-operation to accomplish all Jehovah has given to be done. Servants cannot do all the field service, but they take the lead. In unity there is strength needed to produce fruit to the glory of Jehovah’s name. The world today has no unity and everyone seems to try to see how little work he can do and get by. In contrast the work and co-operation of Jehovah’s witnesses in accomplishing things under direction of the appointed overseers is watched by the world with amazement. The Divine Will International Assembly of 1958 was an outstanding example, but so is every other meeting or activity. Jehovah’s witnesses are following the instruction: “Be obedient to those who are governing you and be submissive.” In their work of protecting the sheep, overseers visit and counsel spiritually weaker ones, hoping thereby to save lives. No one so visited should become offended, but should rather appreciate the efforts made as acts of great love, and respond. If the “great shepherd,” Christ Jesus, himself came, you would take his counsel, so why not that of his representative undershepherds? Co-operate warmly with the overseers in their work among the flock, “that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.”—Heb. 13:17.
14. (a) If someone’s activity proves he is lukewarm, what should he do according to Christ’s words in Revelation 3:15-19? (b) What will become of the lukewarm, those with divided hearts?
14 Foreknowing that some would fall into a state of indifference or lukewarmness and would switch their eyes from looking intently at the “perfecter of our faith” to riches and materialism, Christ caused John to write of the congregation at Laodicea: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or else hot. So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say: ‘I am rich and have acquired riches and do not need anything at all,’ but you do not know you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire that you may become rich, and white outer garments that you may become dressed and that the shame of your nakedness may not become manifested, and eyesalve to rub in your eyes that you may see. All those for whom I have affection I reprove and discipline. Therefore be zealous and repent.” All Christians should be on guard against this condition, but it is particularly the assignment of the overseers. This is the time to be seeking first the kingdom, to be truly dedicated. Lukewarmness is repulsive to Christ. If any have slipped into lukewarmness, quickly change your heart condition. Accept the help of an overseer. Rub the spiritual eyesalve of the truth into your eyes and get a clear vision of the New World interests. You found the great treasure of the Kingdom; now do not lose it. Repent and become zealous. Be not found like ancient Israel, with a divided heart, whom Jehovah found guilty and cast away. “The complete end of all things has drawn close. Be sound in mind, therefore, and be vigilant with a view to prayers.” “Keep testing whether you are in the faith, keep proving what you yourselves are.”—Rev. 3:15-19; 1 Pet. 4:7; 2 Cor. 13:5; Hos. 9:17; 10:2.
15. (a) What questions presented here may help you “keep testing yourself whether you are in the faith”? (b) How do you show you love Jehovah with your whole heart?
15 Space here would not permit telling of all the ways a servant of Jehovah proves his wholeheartedness toward the New World interests. You can ‘test yourself whether you are in the faith’ by examining what you do. In the theocratic organization today a variety of duties and privileges of service are offered. Are you associated with a congregation? Work with them whole-souled. Are you assigned as an overseer or ministerial servant? Work with love. Do you conduct a service center? Put your heart into it. Do you have meetings to prepare? Are you assigned to duties at an assembly? Do you study? Are you preaching from house to house? Do you always call back wherever interested people are found? Do you return to look for someone who was not at home the first time you called? Have you children to train for New World living? Do you have service records to keep in order? Are there opportunities for incidental preaching? Do you defend the honor of Jehovah on every occasion? In your “sacrifice of praise” to Jehovah, do you give your best? Remember Abel’s sacrifice. When special work must be done in a limited time, do you respond wholeheartedly? Remember Noah building the ark. When there is a call to go where the need is great, do you think of Abraham? When the snares of materialism confront you, choose wisely like Moses. Is your life in danger from the opposing enemy? Be fearless like Gideon. Have you a physical handicap that interferes with your service? Still be wholehearted like blind Samson. Are you a youthful servant of Jehovah choosing your life’s work? Remember the examples of Samuel and Jephthah’s daughter. Have you been many years in the service? Continue zealous like David. As long as there are homes to visit in the teaching work, what will you do? Preach as Christ Jesus did. Any work Jehovah opens up before you through his organization deserves your best attention. Every assignment is a privilege. Each task is important. If with your whole heart you love him, whatever you are doing you will “work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah.”—Heb. 13:12-15; Col. 3:23.