“Serve Jehovah with Rejoicing”
“Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!”—Ps. 144:15.
1. Do Jehovah’s servants lead unhappy lives?
“Happy at last.” A Swedish governor once ordered that his epitaph contain those words (in Latin, Tandem felix). Regardless of how he viewed that phrase, one may wonder whether life held true happiness for such a man. Many persons, even some who have devoted themselves to religious pursuits, have experienced much unhappiness and may have died feeling that their lives were productive of little good. But that is not true of those who serve God faithfully until death. By their godly works they build up a good name with Jehovah and are assured of a resurrection from the dead.—Eccl. 7:1; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
2. What results from maintaining integrity to Jehovah?
2 Herodotus (a Greek historian of the fifth century B.C.E.) said: “Call no man happy till you know the end of his life. Till then, at most, he can only be counted fortunate.” Indeed, good things and bad can happen during one’s lifetime. But, whatever they must face, those who truly love God will maintain faithfulness to him, like Job of ancient times, who said resolutely: “Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!” (Job 27:5) Job died in the favor of Jehovah, and he received favorable mention in later Bible books. (Job 42:12; Ezek. 14:14, 20; Jas. 5:11) David of Israel once declared: “As for me, in my integrity I shall walk.” (Ps. 26:11) He was a man agreeable to God’s own heart and he, too, died as an integrity-keeper. (Acts 13:22, 23; Heb. 11:32-34) Both Job and David will receive a resurrection to life here on earth during Jesus Christ’s millennial reign. (Rev. 20:11-14) Matters also turn out well for faithful, godly persons of today, those who “serve Jehovah with rejoicing.”—Ps. 100:2.
3. By what means does Jehovah impart the strength needed to face even death as his servant? Cite examples that indicate this.
3 Jehovah, by means of his holy spirit or active force, imparts the courage and strength necessary to face even death as one of his servants. (Phil. 4:13) Indicative of this are expressions found in letters written by Jehovah’s witnesses in Nazi concentration camps. One young Christian, sentenced to death by beheading, wrote to his parents:
“It is already past midnight. I still have time to change my mind. Ah! could I be happy again in this world after I had denied our Lord? Surely not! But now you have the assurance that I leave this world in happiness and peace.”
To his wife another Witness wrote:
“It is now my last night. My sentence has been read out to me and I have eaten my last meal. So when this letter reaches you my life will be fulfilled. We know that the sting has been removed from death and victory has been won over the grave. Naturally, this appears utterly foolish and ridiculous to most people; but that is of little importance. The hour will come when the name of the Almighty God will be vindicated and mankind will see it. . . . And so I look once more into your serene and glistening eyes, and wipe away the last sorrow from your heart; and, in spite of the pain, lift up your head and rejoice, not about death, but over the life that God will give those that love Him.”
Both of these witnesses of Jehovah, and many others, were loyal to God till death at Nazi hands. However, whether one’s integrity to God is tested to the point of death or not, faithfulness to Jehovah always turns out well, a real contrast with the lot of the wicked one, as indicated by the words: “Because of his badness the wicked will be pushed down, but the righteous will be finding refuge in his integrity.”—Prov. 14:32.
GOOD REASONS TO REJOICE IN SERVING JEHOVAH
4. Why is being Jehovah’s servant a cause for happiness?
4 While Jehovah sustains his loyal servants even in the face of death and sets before them the prospect of the resurrection, there are many other reasons why it can be said: “Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!” (Ps. 144:15) For one thing, it is an inestimable and joyous privilege to serve Jehovah, “the Most High over all the earth.” (Ps. 83:18) There is certainly nothing oppressive about being his servant, for “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Witnesses of Jehovah can surely rejoice because in this time of great woe they have been entrusted with “the glorious good news of the happy God.” (1 Tim. 1:11) And, how delighted they can be that by their faithful service to God they make Jehovah’s heart rejoice.—Prov. 27:11.
5. Unlike the masses of humanity, Christians can rejoice because of knowing what about the future?
5 Furthermore, Christians are able to rejoice because, unlike the masses of humanity for whom the future is bleak or entirely obscure, they are aware of what tomorrow will bring. God has lovingly revealed the future to them through prophecies in his Word, the Bible, and by means of his spirit, which “searches into all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10) Consequently, Jehovah’s servants know they are living in the last days of this system of things and they can ‘raise their heads up because their deliverance is getting near.’ (Luke 21:25-28; Matt. 24:3-14, 34; 2 Tim. 3:1-5) In this very generation the words of Psalm 37:37, 38 will take on even fuller meaning: “Watch the blameless one and keep the upright one in sight, for the future of that man will be peaceful. But the transgressors themselves will certainly be annihilated together; the future of wicked people will indeed be cut off.” One who trusts in God and serves Jehovah with rejoicing is assured of a happy future. So, true indeed are the words: “O Jehovah of armies, happy is the man that is trusting in you.”—Ps. 84:12.
6. Why is it a delight to have Christian associates?
6 Persons dedicated to Jehovah God can also rejoice in having the best of associates. Though it has been necessary for some Christians to leave father, or mother, or other family members because these greatly opposed their Scriptural pursuits, such servants of God are happy, for they have personally realized the fulfillment of Jesus Christ’s statement: “No one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get a hundredfold now in this period of time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming system of things everlasting life.” (Mark 10:29, 30) Since faithful Christians apply God’s Word to their lives, they are morally clean and upright. (Rom. 12:2) They have stripped off the old personality and put on the new. (Col. 3:8-11) Their conduct shows that they agree with the Christian apostle Peter, who said: “The time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries.” (1 Pet. 4:3) No longer indulging in the works of the fallen flesh, Christians cultivate and display the fruits of God’s holy spirit and heed the admonition to “go on walking orderly also by spirit.” (Gal. 5:19-26) What a delight it is to have such associates!
7. (a) Why do worldly ideological or political differences cause no breach between Christians? (b) True Christians have no racial prejudice because of what?
7 Not infrequently ideological or political differences cause a breach between worldly acquaintances. But this does not occur among those who “serve Jehovah with rejoicing.” They remain neutral in all worldly affairs, applying to themselves the words of Jesus Christ: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) Though being in relative subjection to governmental “superior authorities” and paying back “Caesar’s things to Caesar,” Christians also render “God’s things to God.” (Rom. 13:1; Mark 12:17) In any conflict of wills—that of Jehovah as opposed to that of man—they “must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) Additionally, true Christians are without worldly prejudices, such as racial prejudice, for they know that Jehovah “made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth,” and that “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 17:26; 10:34, 35) It is truly a joy to associate with individuals holding such Scriptural views.
8. When his conduct harmonizes with the Scriptures, why can a person rejoice?
8 A person has reason to rejoice when his conduct harmonizes with the Scriptures and pleases Jehovah. The Christian apostle Paul declared: “I am exercising myself continually to have a consciousness of committing no offense against God and men.” (Acts 24:16) Present-day Christians do the same thing and therefore need not live in fear of divine retribution sure to befall willful and unrepentant wrongdoers. (Matt. 12:22-32; Heb. 10:26-31) Moreover, Christians heed the admonition given at Proverbs 3:21-26 and thus also realize the fulfillment of the assurances found there in the words: “Safeguard practical wisdom and thinking ability, and they will prove to be life to your soul and charm to your throat. In that case you will walk in security on your way, and even your foot will not strike against anything. Whenever you lie down you will feel no dread; and you will certainly lie down, and your sleep must be pleasurable. You will not need to be afraid of any sudden dreadful thing, nor of the storm upon the wicked ones, because it is coming. For Jehovah himself will prove to be, in effect, your confidence, and he will certainly keep your foot against capture.” What blessings result when one serves Jehovah with rejoicing!
9. Why can Christians be joyful despite the existence of Babylon the Great?
9 But, consider another significant cause for Christian joy. Babylon the Great, the world-embracing empire of false religion, “sits on many waters,” meaning “peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.” However, she does not figuratively “sit” on, or religiously influence and control, those worshiping Jehovah. (Rev. 17:1, 15) Having taken warning from heaven, they have fled out of her, and they realize that she will soon be destroyed. (Rev. 18:4, 5, 8) Out of her clutches, they are not victims of her unclean false religion. They know, not religious falsehood, but Scriptural truth that sets its possessor truly free. (John 8:31, 32) Having this freedom is another reason for Christians to rejoice.
JOYOUS LIVES OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN TIMES PAST
10. (a) What might Moses have attained by espousing Egyptian interests? (b) Putting God first resulted in what blessings in Moses’ case?
10 Great happiness was experienced by persons of ancient times who devoted their lives to Jehovah. Moses was one of them. Of Moses’ early life in Egypt Stephen said: “But when he was exposed, the daughter of Pharaoh picked him up and brought him up as her own son. Consequently Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. In fact, he was mighty in his words and deeds.” (Acts 7:21, 22) According to tradition, Moses once led a successful Egyptian military campaign against Ethiopia, returning to Egypt victorious. (Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book II, Chapter X) This is merely a tradition. The Bible does not say it, though Moses probably could have attained military or political prominence or materialistic advantages by espousing Egyptian interests. However, the Scriptures report: “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin.” Why? “Because he esteemed the reproach of the Christ [the privilege of being God’s anointed one] as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” (Heb. 11:24-26) God came first with Moses. For his faithful course, Moses enjoyed a long rewarding life and the privilege of being used by Jehovah to lead God’s people out of Egyptian bondage. Moses surely did not die with a feeling that his life had been fruitless, wasted. And, because he faithfully served Jehovah, he will be resurrected in the Scripturally promised new order, in which he will serve as one of the “princes in all the earth” under God’s Messianic Liberator, the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ.—Ps. 45:16; 72:1, 4, 12-14.
11. What religious decision did Ruth make, and how did it result in happiness?
11 Ruth the Moabitess made the proper religious decision, resulting in happiness. During a famine in the days of Israel’s judges, Elimelech of Bethlehem, his wife Naomi and their two sons became residents in Moab. Elimelech died and his sons took the Moabite women Orpah and Ruth as wives. Later these men also died, and the three widows were then alone. In time, they set out for Judah. When Naomi strongly urged the young women to return to their people, Orpah tearfully complied and “returned to her people and her gods.” However, Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law and said: “Where you go I shall go, and where you spend the night I shall spend the night. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:1-16) Though Ruth had apparently been taught pagan religion at least in childhood, devotion to false gods was not for her. Naomi’s God, Jehovah, would be Ruth’s God. In time this faithful Moabitess became the wife of Boaz and the mother of Obed, David’s grandfather. (Ruth 4:13-17) But think of it! Ruth was privileged to be an ancestress of Jesus, the Messiah! (Matt. 1:1-16) Surely, when she is resurrected on earth during Christ’s millennial reign she will rejoice that she held firmly to her words: “Your people will be my people, and your God my God.”
12. To serve Jehovah, what changed position have some had to take respecting demonism?
12 Some have abandoned outright demonism in order to serve Jehovah with rejoicing. Regarding the apostle Paul’s ministry in Ephesus it is reported: “Many of those who had become believers would come and confess and report their practices openly. Indeed, quite a number of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them up before everybody. And they calculated together the prices of them and found them worth fifty thousand pieces of silver. Thus in a mighty way the word of Jehovah kept growing and prevailing.” (Acts 19:18-20) Demonistic practices are not for Jehovah’s servants, and “those practicing spiritism” are among the wicked whose foretold portion is to be “in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur.” They thus experience the “second death,” from which there is no resurrection. (Rev. 21:8; Deut. 18:10-12; Isa. 8:19, 20) But imagine the new and happy life that opened up to the Ephesians who abandoned demonism, burned their magical books, and proceeded to “serve Jehovah with rejoicing.”
13. Because some Corinthians made great moral changes, what resulted?
13 Ancient Corinth, in Greece, has been described as “a renowned and voluptuous city, where the vices of East and West met.” The Christian apostle Paul preached and founded a Christian congregation there in the first century C.E. (Acts 18:1-11) Later, when writing to his fellow believers in that city, the apostle pointed out that fornicators, idolaters, thieves, drunkards, and the like, would not inherit God’s kingdom. He then observed: “And yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean, but you have been sanctified, but you have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11) Yes, Jehovah had helped many of them to make great moral changes, and thus they entered into a happy and healthier life. Furthermore, by remaining faithful to God till death, they have had the joy of being resurrected to immortal heavenly life in association with Jesus Christ.—1 Cor. 15:42-57.
14. What significant change had taken place in Paul’s life?
14 A change had taken place in Paul’s own life. As a rabid persecutor of Christ’s followers, he was once on his way to Damascus to continue his opposition there when the miraculous appearance of the glorified Jesus Christ brought his opposition to a halt. By God’s undeserved kindness, the former persecutor became one of the persecuted, a faithful follower of Christ and “an apostle to the nations.” (Rom. 11:13; Acts 9:1-20) As such, he endured many sufferings for Jesus’ sake. (2 Cor. 11:23-27; 12:10) With God’s aid Saul changed and served Jehovah with rejoicing. That apostle now has the “crown of righteousness,” along with other faithful anointed Christians in heaven.—2 Tim. 4:6-8.
JOYOUS LIVES OF PRESENT-DAY WITNESSES OF JEHOVAH
15. After decades of loyal service in spiritual warfare, how did one Christian express himself?
15 Jehovah’s servants have many reasons to rejoice. Persons of various kinds have changed their lives in the past in order to serve Jehovah. Individuals are still doing so in great numbers, and in some instances the changes they are making are comparable to those made by persons who took their stand for Jehovah in ancient times. One faithful Christian of the present day who chose to be a soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:3, 4) instead of pursuing a military career and worldly materialistic interests was able to say joyfully after decades of loyal service in spiritual warfare: “I am happy that I could, at the age of seventy-one, attend the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in Brooklyn in 1964 to receive advanced theocratic training. My prayer is that ‘Jehovah, the God of armies,’ and his appointed Commander in Chief, Christ Jesus, may strengthen all their spiritual warriors to carry on faithfully until the final victory.—Jer. 35:17.”
16, 17. (a) Give an example of a change from false to true worship. (b) To “serve Jehovah with rejoicing,” what other changes have some persons made?
16 Thousands of persons have made a religious change, turning from false worship to true religion, just as Ruth did. For instance, consider this account:
“Many years ago a young woman who was born in Germany and who was a devout Protestant and a student of the Bible believed she could serve the poor and needy better if she were to embrace the Roman Catholic belief and become a nun. This she did. She took the veil in the order of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, of which ‘Mother’ Cabrini was the mother general. This sister became the traveling companion of Cabrini and was later elevated to the position of a mother superior. . . . She came to America and she and her secretary, another nun, opened a home for orphans just outside of New York city. She was crying for God to show her the truth. She bought a small radio and began to tune in various religious programs. One day she tuned in WBBR [onetime Watchtower radio station], listened, and a great flood of light came into her heart and mind. She had found the truth! She sent for literature and began to witness to her neighbors in her nun’s garb. Her secretary also got the truth and began to witness. It was not long before off came the garments of ritualistic religion and on went the garments of praise to the Great Jehovah!”
17 In order to “serve Jehovah with rejoicing,” some today have abandoned occultism, just as many practicers of magical arts did in ancient Ephesus so as to become Christians. Still others, like some who embraced Christianity in Corinth, have made great moral changes in life. Then too, many now serving Jehovah once persecuted faithful Christians, as did Saul of Tarsus before becoming the apostle Paul. One Christian man who suffered persecution at Nazi hands showed how Jehovah’s witnesses in concentration camps gave their captors a bold and open witness leading to such transformations, reporting:
“By such fearless preaching and neighbor love faith was often born in the lions’ den. Here and there, in various camps, SS guards renounced their Nazi oath and declared their belief in Jehovah. These ‘Sauls,’ our persecutors, became ‘Pauls,’ our fellow prisoners!”
SHOW YOUR JOY IN SERVING JEHOVAH
18. What privileges may be enjoyed if one pursues true worship?
18 It cannot be denied. Moses made the right choice of loyalties. Ruth’s was the proper religious decision. Those who turned from magic to Christianity in ancient Ephesus acted with wisdom, as did residents of Corinth who made moral changes to become God’s servants. And certainly Saul of Tarsus acted wisely and properly in devoting his life to Jehovah, becoming the Christian apostle Paul. To such persons, and others like them in more recent times, the door to blessings and inestimable privileges before God swung open. Possibly you are already of their number. Or, perhaps you have resolved to pursue true worship from now on and “serve Jehovah with rejoicing.” If so, rich blessings await you, for of Jehovah it is said: “You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.” (Ps. 145:16) For instance, it may yet be your joyous privilege to aid other good-hearted persons to conform their lives to God’s righteous requirements by preaching to them and teaching them his Word.
19, 20. (a) Give examples to show that serving Jehovah results in blessing and joy? (b) What is required to enjoy full satisfaction and true happiness?
19 Faithful Christian ministers experience no sorrow over an unsatisfying or fruitless life. Instead, despite persecution, years of service to God and his manifest blessing on the Kingdom-preaching work prompted one of Jehovah’s witnesses to write: “How gratifying it is to have experienced all this! How often I have felt Jehovah’s help and protection! Time and again I have stared death in the face, but I can join the psalmist in saying: ‘Jehovah is my shepherd. I shall lack nothing.’ . . . Truly, Jehovah blesses us beyond what we can ever ask or comprehend when we answer his call and wholeheartedly take up the ministry as his witnesses.” (Ps. 23:1) At ninety-three years of age another Witness, long a minister, could state: “Spending my full time in Jehovah’s service has been the joy of my life, and I look forward to continuing it eternally in association with Jesus Christ and his ‘holy ones in the light.’—Col. 1:12.”
20 This is the experience of those who faithfully “serve Jehovah with rejoicing.” (Ps. 100:2) They can confidently speak about God as did David, who said: “You will cause me to know the path of life. Rejoicing to satisfaction is with your face; there is pleasantness at your right hand forever.” (Ps. 16:11) But, to enjoy full satisfaction and true happiness, one must take pleasure in the house of God.
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True Christians realize that God is not partial, that he “made out of one man every nation of men”