Zealous Participation in the Ministry
WHEN we study the lives of such men as Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Jehu and Jesus, we are forced to conclude that they were men of extraordinary zeal for Jehovah. These men were entrusted with a ministry and they allowed nothing to hold them back from fully participating in it.
For example, Ezekiel was sent to “sons insolent of face and hard of heart.” His commission was to repeat the words of Jehovah “whether they will hear or will refrain” from hearing. This was not an easy assignment, yet Ezekiel fulfilled it with exemplary zeal. Jeremiah’s ministry made him “an object of laughter all day long; everyone is holding me in derision,” the prophet said. Still he pressed on, not in silence, but openly and boldly declaring Jehovah’s judgments. Jehu was a man of action. He rode furiously, fulfilling his role as executioner, calling on others to witness his zeal for Jehovah. And of Jesus Christ it is written: “Sheer zeal for your house has eaten me up.” These men exemplified this essential quality of zeal in the service of Jehovah.—Ezek. 2:4, 5; Jer. 20:7-9; 2 Ki. 10:1-19; Ps. 69:9.
The word “zeal” means boiling; and the zealous, earnest minister of God is, therefore, described in the Scriptures as being hot or ardent with enthusiasm for the service of Jehovah, while unfaithful ones are said to be lukewarm. It is this fiery quality of zeal that has moved men to spread the good news of Christianity to the ends of the earth. Dr. Goodspeed testifies to this effect, saying: “There were men in the early church keenly alive . . . in their zeal to spread the Christian message over that [Graeco-Roman] world, [they] seized upon all the techniques of publication.”
The Christian ministry today calls for a like vigorous, zealous campaign. And, for the most part, dedicated Christians are responding with zeal to the need of the hour. Charles S. Braden, in These Also Believe, says: “It may truly be said that no single religious group in the world displayed more zeal and persistence in the attempt to spread the good news of the Kingdom than the Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Theirs is a ministry of zealous participation, one that says more than simply, “I believe.”
Zealous participation means Christians must identify themselves with Jehovah’s organization by actively associating with it, not just occasionally but by regular meeting attendance. The apostle Paul emphasizes this point, saying: “Let us hold fast the public declaration of our hope without wavering, for he is faithful that promised. And let us consider one another to incite to love and right works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” Paul is encouraging an active participation in the ministry by regularly assembling together and inciting one another to love and right works.—Heb. 10:23-25.
Even more is required in a zealous ministry, which the apostle reveals in these words: “With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” Paul debunks the idea that one can gain salvation by just believing without expressing one’s faith. One must declare the good news about the Christ not only in the presence of believers but among unbelievers as well. A Christian’s faith must carry him from house to house preaching truths concerning God’s kingdom, even as faith carried the early Christians to the doors of the people. (Rom. 10:10; Acts 5:42; 20:20) Paul declared that necessity was laid upon him. “Really, woe is me,” said the apostle, “if I did not declare the good news!”—1 Cor. 9:16.
The house-to-house Christian ministry must be carried on with enthusiasm and power, peculiar to the example set by Jesus and the apostles. One’s manner in service must not be slipshod, lackadaisical or indifferent, but alive with zeal. A Christian’s sermons must impart faith; his words, love; his zeal, conviction. As heat generally causes a substance to expand, so the Christian’s zeal must create within himself and others the desire to expand in knowledge of God and in the ministry.
Zealous participation in the ministry requires a great amount of mental and physical strength. To keep going zealously ahead one’s vital force must be replenished by taking in truths from God’s Word, the Bible. Paul assures us: “The word of God is alive and exerts power.” “Is not my word . . . like a fire?” inquires Jehovah. By daily studying and meditating on God’s Word, our fuel supply will not run out. We will have fuel to keep us “aglow with the spirit,” as the apostle admonished.—Heb. 4:12; Jer. 23:29; Rom. 12:11.
To keep our zeal alive it is mandatory that we be aware of the times and the seasons we are living in, that we keep “close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” (2 Pet. 3:11, 12) Awareness of Armageddon’s nearness should spark us to greater service and to give of ourselves wholeheartedly. We cannot afford to be complacent simply because we have had some share in the ministry. Our ministry must be whole-souled; our devotion, exclusive; our love, complete. We should not want to hold back our vital energies. As Paul told the Thessalonians: “We were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.” Jesus also did not hold back, but “poured out his soul to the very death” in behalf of his Father’s sheep.—1 Thess. 2:8; Isa. 53:12.
How is your love for Jehovah and his sheep? Is it still hot as it first was or have you allowed it to cool? Love if allowed to cool will affect your zeal. It can bring a servant to a dead stop. The congregation in Ephesus was reprimanded for permitting its first love to grow cool. To prevent such a tragedy from happening to us, we must ‘brace up our minds for activity and keep completely balanced.’ That means we must be alive to our privileges of meeting together and inciting others to love and right works.—Rev. 2:4; 1 Pet. 1:13.
Maintaining a warm love embraces the thought of caring for Jehovah’s sheep. When we find sheeplike persons, we will not treat them as routine cases, but display keen interest and deep concern, knowing that their everlasting welfare is at stake. We will want to make a return call soon after we have found them, to establish truths in their hearts and minds and kindle in them a love for Jehovah. To this end we will speak enthusiastically of God’s kingdom and his blessings. The firelike words of Jehovah will spark a flame that will set them aglow with his spirit. The more we expend ourselves the greater our joy and the surer our salvation.
And, too, we must not allow worldly indifference to dampen our spirit or cool our zeal. Neither may we feel that the need is not great because the sheep are apparently few in our territory. Let love be our motivation to warn and to teach. God is faithful that promised, so push ahead zealously. “Let us not give up in doing what is right, for in due season we shall reap by not giving out.”—Gal. 6:9.