Be Willing to Serve with What You Have
WHEN Jesus was on earth he emphasized the need to weigh values, to work for what was really worth while. He urged: “Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting.”—John 6:27.
Jesus frequently spoke of everlasting life under God’s kingdom. That would be really worth while! But such life requires more than physical food. For this reason, Jesus stated: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.”—Matt. 4:4.
However, what are God’s servants to do about the needs of life, such as food and clothing? Jesus said: “Never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.” (Matt. 6:31, 32) God would bless the efforts of his servants to obtain the daily necessities of life. That is why Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Give us today our bread for this day.”—Matt. 6:11.
SERVED WITH WHAT THEY HAD
Jesus and the early Christians appreciated that what God promised were the basic necessities and not great riches. For this reason they did not expend their energies trying to store up great material wealth. Jesus himself was so busy in the service of God that he did not take time to settle down permanently. Of him the Bible says: “The Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.” (Matt. 8:20) He concentrated on doing God’s will and trusted his Father, Jehovah, to take care of his basic needs.
When Jesus sent his disciples out to do God’s work, he showed them that they would not have to store up extra possessions. He said: “Do not procure gold or silver or copper for your girdle purses, or a food pouch for the trip, or two undergarments, or sandals or a staff; for the worker deserves his food.”—Matt. 10:9, 10.
The apostle Paul worked only for the necessities of life. He said he was often “in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, in abstinence from food many times, in cold and nakedness.” (2 Cor. 11:27) But Paul did not starve to death, nor did he die from being exposed to bad weather. He had what he needed to sustain life so he could serve God.
The point to learn from Jesus, the apostle Paul and the other zealous first-century Christians is that they were satisfied with what they had and served God with what they had, even if it was very little. They appreciated that the main thing was to do Jehovah’s will. As Paul said: “I have learned, in whatever circumstances I am, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to be low on provisions, I know indeed how to have an abundance. In everything and in all circumstances I have learned the secret of both how to be full and how to hunger, both how to have an abundance and how to suffer want.”—Phil. 4:11, 12.
IMITATE THEIR EXAMPLE
Dedicated servants of God today should imitate the fine example of the early Christians. They should learn to be content with what they have and to serve God with what they have, regardless of how little that may be.
At times, though, a Christian who is poor in material possessions may feel hesitant about engaging in the ministry, especially from house to house. He may feel it is a reproach to Jehovah God and his visible organization since he does not have stylish clothing to wear. His clothing may be quite old. However, while it is commendable to want to be at one’s best when serving God, there is no reproach involved just because one does not have fashionable clothing. The Christian who wears old clothing when preaching the good news of God’s kingdom is no less of a witness for Jehovah than the one who wears the best. What is needed is for one’s clothing to be clean and neat. Even new clothing, if filthy, is a reproach.
Nor should one feel badly because he does not have fine shoes to wear. Perhaps he has none at all. This should not interfere with the ministry, because, even if he feels he cannot preach in communities where he would feel uncomfortable for lack of shoes, in many countries he can go where others are in the same circumstances and will not notice whether Kingdom preachers have shoes or not.
Regardless of how much or how little you have to wear, remember that it is the One who sent you that counts. If someone reproaches you as one of God’s servants for being poor materially, you can remind him that God’s Word says, at Galatians 2:6: “God does not go by a man’s outward appearance.” It is the heart that counts with God, not what a man has to wear. When God’s servants are neat and clean, it does not matter how old their clothing is or how little they have. They are a credit to Jehovah because they do his will and do not permit lesser issues to divert them. This pleases God. But it would not please Him to have one neglect the ministry because he is poor. Many, perhaps most of Jehovah’s servants throughout the ages have been relatively poor, but they served the Most High nevertheless.
Perhaps it is the lack of a formal education that hinders you from the ministry. But is this a requirement? By no means! Most of the disciples of Jesus were those who had little formal education. Of them Acts 4:13 states: “Now when they [the rulers, older men, scribes and chief priest] beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering.”
Those educated authorities wondered how men who had not been to their schools could be so outspoken. They soon determined why, for that same verse adds: “And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus.” That was why they were so bold! They had been with Jesus and had been educated by him in what was really important! Now they were equipped to teach others about God, this time with the added assistance of God’s powerful holy spirit, which had been poured out upon them. This would more than make up for any deficiencies of education.
Not that the early Christians were ignorant. By no means. They were intelligent people. It was just that many of them did not have an opportunity to obtain a formal education. Nor was such formal education any advantage in God’s sight, for the highly educated frequently lacked humility and opposed Jesus, as evidenced by the rulers and the scribes and Pharisees.
So do not let a lack of school education hinder you from the ministry. The best minister that ever walked this earth did not have a degree from a school of higher education! But Jesus was educated by God through his Word, the very highest education. That is what you need. If you do have a formal education and you use it to good advantage in the ministry, that is fine, but do not consider it a requirement for becoming a servant of God.
In addition, no dedicated servant of God need feel he knows too little about the Bible to preach to others. Your dedicating your life to Jehovah is evidence that you understand and have an appreciation of God’s basic purposes and requirements. That is sufficient to tell others, for it is more than the overwhelming majority of persons on earth have. Be like the lame man the apostle Peter cured. The Bible says of him: “And, leaping up, he stood up and began walking, and he entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God.” (Acts 3:8) He praised God with what knowledge he had. You can do the same.
WISELY USE WHAT YOU HAVE
Where material things are concerned, those who have dedicated their lives to God certainly have a huge advantage. How so? In that their money goes farther because they do not squander it on loose living, immoral women, excessive drinking, smoking or on lavish entertainment and other excesses. Nor do they throw away their money by gambling. By not spending money foolishly, God’s servants have more to spend on necessities.
Of course, where it is possible to better yourself materially, you may do so. But if it means sacrificing one’s spiritual interests to get more of this world’s goods, then the Christian says, No! If it means simply planning one’s life and finances more carefully, or seeking work that provides more income without jeopardizing spiritual interests, then there is no objection to doing so.
Never think that fine clothing, a beautiful home or the choicest delicacies to eat make one a better servant of God. The contrary is generally true. Plenty of money and material possessions are usually a hindrance to spirituality, for one can become satisfied with just those things. This would dim one’s vision of God’s new order and could result in the neglecting of God’s will. Jesus warned of this danger when he said: “How difficult a thing it will be for those having money to make their way into the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24) Perhaps, too, if you were rich you might look down on your fellowman, with the result that you might be inclined to ignore ministering to him.
So be content with what you have and serve God no matter what state you are found in. Do not be overly concerned if you are materially poor. In God’s new order all of those worthy of life will be blessed with many material things because they put spiritual interests first now. At that time they will delight in peace and prosperity, even using things others of this world are now storing up: “For to the man that is good before him he has given wisdom and knowledge and rejoicing, but to the sinner he has given the occupation of gathering and bringing together merely to give to the one that is good before the true God.”—Eccl. 2:26; Josh. 24:13.
Yes, be willing to serve God with what you have and he will bless you with life, health and abundance in his righteous new order, now so near!