Why Should Christians Accept and Discharge Responsibility?
“Go on carrying the burdens of one another, and thus fulfill the law of the Christ. For each one will carry his own load.”—Gal. 6:2, 5.
1. What would one do if invited to work in building the palace for a king in which he too would have a place to live?
IF A king decided to build a palace and it pleased him, not only to employ you in putting up the structure, but, in addition, to promise you a place to reside in it, how would you feel about that? What would you do? Why, you say, I would gladly and gratefully get down to work and do my best and talk to everyone with whom I came in contact about the goodness and generosity of that king.
2. When did the construction of this palace begin, and who are the builders as well as the Master Worker?
2 Such a royal palace is prophetically spoken of in Psalm 29:9. It has been in course of construction for over nineteen hundred years. It is a house or temple that God himself builds, not with inanimate stones, but with living material, with people, men and women alike, taken from this earth. What is more, he has put the oversight of the building in the hands of the best, most skillful Master Worker, one who has unnumbered years in the service of this great Sovereign. This one is God’s own Son, Christ Jesus, who, in Proverbs 8:22-31, is referred to as God’s wisdom personified, and who says: “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago. . . . I came to be beside him as a master worker, and I came to be the one he was specially fond of day by day, I being glad before him all the time.”—Col. 1:15, 16; John 1:3.
3. Whom did Jehovah put as a foundation stone, and why?
3 It pleased God, the Universal King, to lay his Son as the foundation stone of the house upon whom all the other stones would be built up. Concerning him Peter writes: “Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected, it is true, by men, but chosen, precious, with God, you yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:4, 5) He did so because Jesus proved to be “a tried stone, the precious corner of a sure foundation.”—Isa. 28:16.
4. Whose house is it, who gives “the architectural plan” for its construction, and what is the relationship of the builders to the owner of the house?
4 Although Jesus is the “master worker,” the palace or house belongs to God and it is built for him that he might reside there by his spirit. (Ps. 26:8) The apostle Paul also informs us about it, saying: “Christ was faithful as a Son over the house of that one. We are the house of that One, if we make fast our hold on our freeness of speech and our boasting over the hope firm to the end.” (Heb. 3:6) God, being the wise Architect, is also the One who gives “the architectural plan,” or the specifications, to his Master Worker for its construction. (1 Chron. 28:12, 19) Consequently all those who work at the building are spoken of as “God’s fellow workers.” So we read: “For we are God’s fellow workers. You people are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building.”—1 Cor. 3:9.
5. (a) In the Bible, with what also is this “spiritual house” associated, and how many will make it up? (b) By reason of what are they invited to form a part of it?
5 This “spiritual house” or royal palace is also associated in the Bible with the kingdom which the Grand Architect, the Most High God, offers to his faithful Son, who, in turn, extends the invitation to his associates to become “‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet. 2:9) Their number is limited to only 144,000, as we are told in Revelation 7:4-8 and Re 14:1-3. On the night of his betrayal Jesus said to the first ones he had selected: “You are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials; and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.”—Luke 22:28-30; 10:20; Dan. 7:13-22.
6. Before leaving the earth, what did Jesus say to his disciples about his kingdom, and what do the physical facts show as to its establishment?
6 Before leaving the earthly scene, speaking to his disciples, Jesus referred to himself as ‘a certain man of noble birth who traveled to a distant land to secure kingly power for himself and to return.’ (Luke 19:11, 12) He told them this illustration to impress upon their minds that his kingdom was not “going to display itself instantly,” that is, it would not be established in their days, but it would be set up after a long time. In fact, it was almost nineteen centuries later. The physical facts of today placed alongside the fulfilled prophecies prove beyond any doubt that this kingdom has been established in the heavens and that the Master Builder has come. In 1914, at the expiration of the times of the nations, Jesus took his great power and began his rule in the midst of his enemies. (Ps. 110:1, 2) For the proof of this we ask the reader to study carefully and prayerfully Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13. Also, for detailed explanation, please see The Watchtower of October 15, 1958, under the heading “God’s Kingdom Rules—Is the World’s End Near?”
7. In the illustration of “the man of noble birth,” what did Jesus give to the workers, to do what with them?
7 In the illustration of the “man of noble birth” Jesus is shown as having called ten slaves of his and given them ten “minas,” telling them, “Do business till I come.” (Luke 19:13) Matthew, relating a similar illustration, uses the word “talents” instead of “minas.” Both words have reference to the work that the workers have undertaken to do in the preaching of the Kingdom, that is, in the gathering of the Kingdom class, then the gathering and edification of the Kingdom subjects. They had gratefully accepted this responsibility and now they must faithfully discharge it. But after the “man of noble birth,” Christ the King, ‘secured his kingly power’ in 1914 (A.D.) and after he came to his slaves during his manifestation in 1918 (A.D.) to see whether they properly and zealously discharged their responsibility or not, what did he find out?
8. What condition did “the man of noble birth” find among his slaves when he returned?
8 He found two classes of servants. One class, who had the vision of the victorious King in action, were faithfully engaged in the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom and helping the Kingdom heirs whom Jehovah was bringing in to come to maturity, that they too might be used in the operation of this glorious government. As the apostle Paul puts it, God’s provisions were made “with a view to the training of the holy ones, for ministerial work.” (Eph. 4:12) Those of the other class of servants, although they had received the same opportunities of service and accepted them, neglected their duty and responsibility, turned their attention to beating their fellow slaves, became lazy and stopped the trading of their “talents.” They laid away their “minas” in a cloth by becoming inactive in the Master’s service, in the preaching of the Kingdom.—Luke 19:20; Matt. 24:48, 49.
9. How, then, did he act toward the first class?
9 In view of this, what did the Master do? He immediately took action. To the first servant he said: “Well done, good slave! Because in a very small matter you have proved yourself faithful, hold authority over ten cities.” (Luke 19:17) Servants of this kind were given more Kingdom privileges in the gathering of the Kingdom heirs; their joy and happiness greatly increased and have kept increasing ever since.
10. What did he say and do to the inactive ones, and why?
10 Notice now the condition of the inactive slave, representing a class of people. He was not only lazy and unappreciative but, in addition, wicked and faultfinding. He accused his loving Master as being harsh, exacting and reaping where he did not sow and collecting where he did not winnow. (Luke 19:20, 21; Matt. 25:24, 25) But did the Master tolerate such an unjust and wicked accusation? He without delay pronounced adverse judgment against him. He addressed him as being a wicked and sluggish, good-for-nothing slave. He had his talents taken away from him and given to him that had the ten talents, and had the unfaithful slave thrown into the darkness outside. (Luke 19:22, 23; Matt. 25:28-30) Why? Because those of that class had been made stewards of the sacred secrets of God (1 Cor. 4:1); they had agreed to be employed in the feeding of Jehovah’s “sheep” by gathering and building up the sheeplike followers of Christ, but they became neglectful, inactive. Note, they were thrown outside into darkness, not because of immorality or some other kind of fleshly sin, but because they did not work to increase their talents in the Kingdom service; they did not attend to their responsibility.
11. In what way is Jesus’ example as a zealous workman outstanding?
11 The Scriptures are full of faithful examples of workers who gratefully shouldered their responsibility. The greatest example of all is that of Jesus Christ, who really had a consuming zeal for Jehovah’s house and worked for it. He did not hold back, saying to his Father: “The work you gave me is too much and requires many hours and much effort.” No, but he went right ahead, with the words: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted.” (Ps. 40:8; Heb. 10:7-9) Notice the last words, “I have delighted.” He did his Father’s will in the building up of the “living stones” of God’s spiritual temple out of love, and he rejoiced in this work. God had given him twelve apostles as secondary foundation stones of the building; he taught them and lovingly trained them to be preachers and teachers by being every day with them. He loved them so much that he laid down his own life for them and for all his “sheep.” He discharged his responsibility to the end. Do we, as Christians, show such a zeal for Jehovah’s “sheep”?—John 10:11-17.
12. (a) How did another one who accepted and discharged responsibility feel toward his brothers? (b) What words of affection did he write to the Thessalonians?
12 Another faithful example of accepting and discharging responsibility toward God’s “sheep” is that of the apostle Paul. This fellow worker of God took his responsibility so seriously in his heart that he was glad to ‘spend and be completely spent for the souls’ of his brothers. (2 Cor. 12:15) Although he knew, by the testimony of God’s spirit from city to city, that ‘bonds and tribulations were awaiting him at Jerusalem,’ he went right ahead, as he says: “Nevertheless, I do not make my soul of any account as dear to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received of the Lord Jesus, to bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God.” (Acts 20:24) At another time, writing to his fellow builders at Thessalonica, he stated: “Having a tender affection for you, 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.” (1 Thess. 2:8) What was it that moved him to the point of imparting even his soul? The zeal and love for the “living stones” of Jehovah’s house.
13. In what way did Paul prove his responsibility toward the “living stones”?
13 And he does not simply utter words but he proves it. Writing to the Corinthians, who failed to love him the way he loved them, and telling them of his sufferings for the building up of his brothers spiritually, he lists a number of ill-treatments he received during his ministry—such that very few of us today will even so much as come close to him in sufferings. He goes on, saying: “Besides those things of an external kind [that is, his daily dangers and adversities], there is what rushes in on me from day to day, the anxiety for all the congregations. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is stumbled, and I am not incensed?” (2 Cor. 11:23-29) Think of that! In the midst of all these dangers and adversities he had the anxiety of all the congregations. He was worrying about their spiritual welfare. He loved his brothers. He was thinking of them. He felt deeply his responsibility toward them.
14. How should Jehovah’s witnesses discharge their responsibility toward the weak ones?
14 Do all of Jehovah’s witnesses imitate Paul in this regard? Do we similarly care for our weak brothers? Do those of us who are servants and study conductors visit these spiritually sick “sheep” at their homes to help them? Have we this anxiety, peculiar to Paul, in watching for fear that any of our brothers might have become spiritually sick or might have stumbled for this or that reason? You probably noticed that certain ones of the weak Kingdom publishers stopped attending meetings and they did not report field service, say, for one or two weeks. Do you make it your business to call on them, prepared in advance to give spiritual counsel and instruction for the purpose of healing their spiritual sickness? Do you ‘speak consolingly to these depressed souls’? (1 Thess. 5:14) Did you go to their home, tactfully asking them to come along with you to make one or two revisits on people of goodwill in their neighborhood? Are you aware of the fact that you will render an account for the loss of even one “sheep”? (Heb. 13:17) Keep in mind that it is a command of Jehovah by Isaiah, who says to the mature workers: “Strengthen the weak hands, you people, and make the knees that are wobbling firm.” (Isa. 35:3) To the same effect are the words of Paul in Romans 15:1, 2: “We, though, who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to be pleasing ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor in what is good for his upbuilding.” Do we, as Christians, apply this counsel to ourselves?
“THE DESIRABLE THINGS OF ALL THE NATIONS”
15. In this time of the end, what is it Jehovah’s purpose to do to his house, and how are Jesus’ words in harmony with it?
15 As it was previously proved in this magazine, Jehovah’s temple, house or palace is made up of 144,000 and One “living stones.” At this time of the end the major part of them have been laid in heaven by their being resurrected from the dead, and only a remnant of them are still on earth awaiting their change. (1 Thess. 4:15-17) Now the Author of this glorious house, in his infinite loving-kindness, wants to fill this house with people who appreciate his love and goodness. In other words, he pleases to extend to hundreds of thousands of the human race the privilege of associating themselves with the “living stones” of the temple, that they too might receive everlasting life in the new world by knowing Jehovah and his Son and by becoming fellow worshipers with the “living stones.” These associates are the ones whom Jesus had in mind when he said: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.”—John 10:16; 17:3.
16. (a) When and after what event did these “desirable things of all the nations” start to come in? (b) Where do they come from, and for what purpose?
16 When does the gathering of these “other sheep” take place? Isaiah under inspiration tells us: “In the final part of the days,” when ‘the mountain of the house of Jehovah becomes firmly established above the top of the mountains.’ (Isa. 2:2) And how does Jehovah gather them? He says: “‘Yet once—it is a little while—and I am rocking the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry ground. And I will rock all the nations, and the desirable things of all the nations must come in; and I will fill this house with glory,’ Jehovah of armies has said.” (Hag. 2:6, 7) The royal house began to be filled with those “desirable things of all the nations” after the birth of God’s kingdom in the heavens in 1914 (A.D.) and after the great tribulation began upon Satan and his wicked crowd in heaven. As one of the elderly persons informed John concerning the “great crowd” of “other sheep”: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9-14) These meek, sheeplike people, who, according to John’s vision, are an unnumbered great crowd, began to come to the royal house or temple after they heard God’s kingdom preached to them from A.D. 1919 onward. They come from now some 185 lands and islands of the sea, that they may be instructed of Jehovah’s ways and walk in his paths.—Isa. 2:3.
17. (a) What, then, is the responsibility of the true shepherds? (b) What warning does the Chief inspector give to the self-complacent ones?
17 Who is going to instruct these? Jehovah assures us that in this time of the end he would “raise up over them shepherds who will actually shepherd them.” (Jer. 23:4) Are you one of these shepherds? Have you accepted this responsibility and are you discharging it? It is reported that in congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses there are some competent, mature brothers who have the ability to render aid and train these sheeplike teachable people but who do not do it. Why not? Because they do not want to be tied down. They forget that now, a short time before Armageddon, the invisible Inspector, Jesus Christ, tells such ones in the congregations who think they ‘are alive, but they are dead’: “Become watchful, and strengthen the things remaining that were ready to die.” (Rev. 3:1-3) Such spirit of self-complacency exists among some in a number of congregations of God’s people and unless they repent and wake up to their responsibilities by aiding those “remaining that were ready to die,” they will lose their spiritual vision and they will not know the time of Christ’s coming to take account with them.
18. (a) What, in effect, do the indifferent ones say to Jehovah and to his wifely organization? (b) How should mature brothers and study conductors act toward these spiritual babies?
18 Jehovah now brings into his temple tens of thousands of meek and teachable people from all nations every year. Those who avoid their responsibilities in effect say to him, ‘Father, stop, please, bringing them in,’ and to his wifely organization, ‘Stop bringing them forth; they are too many for us; we have no time to feed them.’ Do you not realize that with your indifferent, idle course of action you are in effect dictating to God how he should run his own business? Who, then, is to feed these sheep, instruct and train them? Do you expect these babies to feed themselves? Did you feed yourself when you were a baby? Loyal workers must imitate Paul, who ‘became gentle among the brothers, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children.’ (1 Thess. 2:7) That means that when Bible study conductors and mature Kingdom publishers see God’s “sheep” have difficulty in answering the questions at their Bible study, they must make it their business to visit them and teach them how to study by breaking down the food for them until they grow to maturity.
19. (a) Why, today, have some become lax toward their responsibility? (b) What examples, ancient and modern, prove their argument is unfounded?
19 It has been noticed that some in the congregations have become lax and have been reluctant to discharge their responsibility by putting their secular work above the Kingdom’s interests and that they even work overtime to secure the conveniences and luxuries of this world. They miss meetings and often field service. They deprive themselves of the fellowship and association of their faithful brothers, which is so essential and encouraging at this time of the end. They argue: “We are married, we have children, we must work to provide for our families.” Very true. According to Paul, one must ‘provide for those who are his own, otherwise he has disowned the faith and he is worse than a person without faith.’ (1 Tim. 5:8) But what about the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel and Hosea and the apostle Peter? What about thousands of others today who are married and have many children and yet who are hard workers in Jehovah’s service? How do they manage to carry on? Where is the faith of the lax brothers? Without doubt they treat lightly the words of Jesus, the Master Worker: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33; Ps. 37:25) These brothers put the proverbial cart before the horse, and that is why they do not have the joy of their Master.
20. (a) What privilege is ours today, and what must we do in order for us to be in the joy of our Master? (b) Whose tireless modern example should those who say, ‘I am tired,’ imitate?
20 It is a privilege for one to be a worker in Jehovah’s service and especially now at the final ingathering of “the desirable things of all the nations.” If we want to hear ringing in our ears the words, “Well done, good and faithful slave! . . . Enter into the joy of your master,” we must accept and discharge our responsibility. If we envision the Messianic King conquering in the midst of his enemies and if we are in harmony with the righteous war he is waging against Satan and his wicked forces, we must offer ourselves willingly in this day of his military force. Otherwise we will lose out. What will the victorious King think about the one who does not even come to the Bible study, where the weak “sheep” come for the study of God’s Word, to render his aid to them, and who excuses himself, saying that his home is quite a few yards away? What will this brother say about the African witnesses in Nyasaland who, in order to attend the congregational meetings, have to ‘walk seven to fifteen miles in the rain and swim a river or two infested with crocodiles’? The flimsy argument, ‘I am tired,’ will not help him. The Master Worker does not want lazy people in his army. He will vomit him out of his mouth as an unworthy soldier and worker.—Rev. 3:16.
21. (a) Is it proper to seek the position of any kind of servant in the congregation? (b) For what two reasons should all of Jehovah’s witnesses accept and discharge responsibility?
21 There is a crying need for congregational servants and Bible study conductors to take care of the great ingathering of “other sheep.” The apostle Paul encourages capable brothers to seek these positions eagerly by counseling Timothy: “If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a fine work.” (1 Tim. 3:1) The glorious palace of the wise Sovereign very shortly will have been completed when the last members now on earth will have joined those “living stones” who are already in the heavens. The influx of “the desirable things of all the nations” is under way and is speeded up. What shall we do? As mature Christians, whether we are of the anointed ones, those who will make up Jehovah’s palace in the heavens, or from the earthly “other sheep,” we have accepted responsibility to work in the gathering of other meek people and making loyal worshipers of Jehovah and teachers out of them. This responsibility we must lovingly discharge. Why so? First, because to be fellow workers of the Most High God in this grand work is an inestimable privilege and honor; and, second, because there is life for the teacher as well as for the ones who are taught. This the inspired apostle Paul makes very plain when he writes to Timothy: “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things.” Why? “For by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:16.