What Are You Doing for God?
How can you be sure that what you are doing is pleasing to him? It is vital to know.
IN HIS address of inauguration as president of the United States, the late John F. Kennedy stated: “Ask not what your country will do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
You could hardly expect a government to continue supplying you with benefits if you violated the law and refused to be a peaceable citizen. Instead, you would receive the sanctions exercised against lawbreakers. To benefit from what a government provides, you must do what that government lawfully requires. The Christian does this, for Jesus Christ, God’s Son, said: “Pay back, therefore, Caesar’s things to Caesar.”—Matt. 22:21.
WHAT ABOUT GOD?
Too often, though, something much more vital to your welfare is overlooked. While you must do what civil authorities rightly require, there is a higher authority for whom you must also do something. Jesus, when concluding his statement about paying back Caesar’s things to Caesar, showed what that was when he added, “ . . . but God’s things to God.”
Just as civil authorities withhold benefits from those who violate the law of the land, so, too, God withholds his everlasting benefits from those who do not carry out his requirements, but who violate divine law.
No doubt you have observed how millions of persons of various religions pray to God for benefits such as wealth, success in business, sports and politics, or for health and a variety of other things. Probably at one time or another you, too, have prayed for God to supply you with something you wanted.
But on what basis do you expect God to answer? God has already showed unsurpassed love for you as one of the human family. (John 3:16; 1 John 4:19) Now, what have you done for God that he should continue to shower down blessings and prosperity on you? If you are always thinking about what God should do for you, but do not think about what you should do for God, are you not placing yourself in the position of one who expects benefits from his government and yet refuses to obey the requirements of that government?
The vital principle here is this: You should not always be asking what God can do for you, but you should also consider what you should be doing for God. Not that he is dependent on our doing things for him, but it is an evidence of our loving appreciation when we do.
When was the last time you did anything for God? If you are like many religious persons, you might say that you go to a church, synagogue, temple or mosque regularly and also lead a good, decent life. Yet how can you be certain that this is what God wants you to do for him?
It is a tragic truth, but one that is continually brought to the attention of ministers of God who call at the homes of people, that very few persons in either Western or Eastern religions can state with certainty what it is that God wants them to do.
DANGEROUS NOT TO KNOW
However sincere you may be about your religion, it still is dangerous to your everlasting welfare to just feel or think you know what God wants you to do to please him, without really knowing for a certainty.
Many people in centuries past felt that they were doing what God wanted, but the record of history shows that frequently this was not actually what God wanted them to do, but it was what they or an organization of men wanted to do.
One example of this occurred in the days of Jesus. A religious group known as the Pharisees felt that they were doing a lot for God. They had built up a system of worship and believed it had God’s approval. They stated confidently: “Our father is Abraham.” (John 8:39) They felt that they had the same faith as Abraham, who was God’s friend.
What a shock they received when Jesus replied: “If you are Abraham’s children, do the works of Abraham. But now you are seeking to kill me, a man that has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the works of your father.”—John 8:39-41.
Those religious leaders still did not get the point. They maintained they were doing what God wanted, for they said to Jesus: “We have one Father, God.”—John 8:41.
Was God actually their father? Did God accept their form of religion? Jesus showed them whether God approved of what they were doing, for he emphatically declared to those religious Pharisees: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father.”—John 8:44.
What was wrong? Why did God not accept their way of worship? Listen to what Jesus said about this matter: “Why is it you also overstep the commandment of God because of your tradition? . . . you have made the word of God invalid because of your tradition. You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly prophesied about you, when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me.’”—Matt. 15:1-8.
That is what was wrong! They were worshiping and doing things, true, but it was not what God wanted. Does this mean that God did not accept what they were doing, even though it was supposed to be for him? Jesus applied the words of the prophet Isaiah to them when he said: “It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach commands of men as doctrines.”—Matt. 15:9.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Surely you want to receive the blessings that God has in store for obedient humans, the blessings of everlasting life in happiness and perfect health on his paradise earth. You certainly will want to avoid falling into adverse judgment before God. So what should you do now to win God’s approval?
The first thing you must do is to begin finding out for yourself what God’s requirements are. The Christian apostle Paul urged: “Make sure of all things.” (1 Thess. 5:21) How? By taking in knowledge of God’s Word, the Bible, wherein he clearly makes his requirements known. Be like those persons in the ancient city of Beroea who “received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) Yes, personal scrutiny of God’s Word is absolutely necessary for you to determine whether the teaching you are receiving is right or wrong.
What is the purpose of this? It is to build up your faith in God. For “without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Heb. 11:6.
Is that all? No, there is more. The Bible writer James said: “Faith without works is dead.” (Jas. 2:26) Yes, you must put to use the faith you acquire by doing the works of God. Jesus also said: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.”—Matt. 7:21.
What works should you do? Those pertaining to “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22) This means cultivating Christian qualities, gradually putting on a new Christian personality. Paul stated: “Put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct . . . [and] put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—Eph. 4:22-24.
Another essential work is that described at Romans 10:10: “For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” Is that work necessary for you? The previous verse of this same chapter answers Ro 10:9: “For if you publicly declare that ‘word in your own mouth,’ that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved.” Thus, making public declaration, or witnessing to God’s name and purposes, is necessary so others may hear and come in line for God’s blessings. The importance of this unselfish work was foretold by Jesus when he stated: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) Those who want to do what is right will be happy to have a share in this lifesaving work.
However, where will you get the knowledge, training and ability to do this? By gathering together with those who are truly doing God’s work among the nations. Yes, to please God you must “consider one another to incite to love and fine 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.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) God wants you to meet with his people so you can build up your faith and contribute to the building up of the other person’s faith.
So if, in answer to the question, What are you doing for God? you can say you are studying his Word, building up your faith, putting on a new Christian personality, associating with God’s people and doing the work of witnessing to his kingdom before the end comes, then you can have confidence that you are doing what God wants you to do. You will be like the faithful man of ancient times who survived a world’s destruction. Genesis 6:22 tells us of him: “And Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.” That is why he survived the end of that world. He listened to God and did “just so.”
Today is a time of decision. You must decide whether you will do what God wants you to do or not. Before the end of this system of things comes, the inspired Bible record urges you to “choose life in order that you may keep alive, you and your offspring, by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him; for he is your life and the length of your days.”—Deut. 30:19, 20.
So do not be concerned only about what God can do for you, but if you love life, be concerned about what you can do for God.