Are You Gratefully Receiving What Jehovah Provides?
ALL of us without exception are recipients of provisions for which we ought to be grateful. Whether we partake of food, draw a breath of air or absorb warmth from the sun, we are receiving something to sustain our life. Besides these essential provisions, we receive many other things each day. It may be home care, training on the job, a letter with good news, a token of affection, a friendly greeting, or perhaps a guest into our home. These and other provisions fill a need or contribute to our enjoyment of life. Do you ever stop to express thanks for these things?
Receiving is not limited in scope to just taking material things offered or admitting a person into our presence or inside our homes. We can open our mind to a flow of ideas. We can take to heart spiritual provisions, counsel, or encouragement based on the Bible.
No matter what we possess or think is ours, if we trace down its origin, it was actually received from another source. To remind us of this fact, the Christian apostle Paul asked: “What do you have that you did not receive? If, now, you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?” (1 Cor. 4:7) There is no reason for us to boast in ourselves because of what we have materially or spiritually. There is a need to be grateful, to recognize the true source of each beneficial provision and to use it for the purpose intended.
SUPERIORITY OF SPIRITUAL THINGS
Of all the things we receive, what brings us the most happiness and lasting good? If our appraisal is based on God’s Word, we must answer that it is gifts that are spiritual. Is this the way that you feel? We should be particularly susceptible to what Jehovah God gives, since the Bible identifies him as the Giver of every good gift and every perfect present. (Jas. 1:17) In view of this it is logical, as the apostle Paul stated, for Christians to “rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment.”—1 Tim. 6:17.
Yet, even though Jehovah is a Giver without equal, is it not strange that the majority of mankind do not accept His spiritual provisions? Such refusal on their part, if continued, will result in a termination of their ability eventually to receive anything. To ensure our continued happiness and to lay hold on the hope set before us, there is a need to determine whether we individually are gratefully receiving those divine provisions that lead to “the real life.”—1 Tim. 6:19.
GIFTS GOD PROVIDES
What, then, are some of the spiritual gifts from God that we should appreciate? It has well been said that, of all gifts, Jesus Christ is God’s greatest gift to mankind. Nothing could surpass that beloved Son as a gift. “God loved the world [of mankind] so much that he gave his only-begotten Son.” (John 3:16) Yet, despite the fact that Jesus Christ was God’s chief agent of life, how many people received him as such? The Jewish nation of which he was a part did not do so, nor do the majority of mankind today. Do you?
In addition to giving his Son, Jehovah provided mankind with his “word of the truth,” the Holy Scriptures. (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16) These Scriptures are not, as some claim, the product of man. Although men were used in writing them, the apostle Peter explains that holy spirit moved these men to do so. Is that the way you view the Bible?—2 Pet. 1:20, 21.
Closely linked with God’s gift of his Son and his Word the Bible is the holy spirit. Prior to ascending into the heavens, Jesus told his disciples to wait in the city of Jerusalem for the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise to send the helper or holy spirit. Ten days following Jesus’ ascension into the heavens, this gift of the holy spirit was poured out on 120 disciples. (Acts 1:4, 8; 2:1-4) Operation of the holy spirit on that day of Pentecost brought a significant blessing and produced progressive enlightenment to those who gratefully received it. The same holy spirit can benefit us today.
A fourth gift from Jehovah God, provided by means of his Son, is dedicated men to build up the Christian congregation. The Christian apostle Paul spoke of these in connection with a Bible psalm, saying: “‘When he ascended on high he carried away captives; he gave gifts in men.’ And he [Jesus Christ] gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the training of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ.”—Eph. 4:8, 11, 12; Ps. 68:18.
In addition to these four gifts, Jehovah has made available many others, including ‘the gift of everlasting life.’ (Rom. 6:23) But to be worthy of this reward of life one must first gratefully receive these aforementioned gifts. Are we individually gratefully receiving these spiritual provisions? Are we, for example, receiving Jesus Christ? How can we determine whether we are or not?
RECEIVING THE GIFT OF GOD’S SON
In the first century, when Jesus walked the earth and presented the Kingdom message, it was rather obvious whether people received him or not. Those few that did became his disciples. They accepted Jesus as God’s provision through whom eternal life could be obtained and shared with him in preaching that good news to others.—Luke 8:1.
Of course, in the first century the majority of persons did not accept Jesus, and some of these went to the point of causing his death. But how did one show his acceptance or rejection of God’s Son after Jesus’ death in 33 C.E.?
The principle that Jesus stated applied: “He that receives you [representatives of mine] receives me also, and he that receives me receives him also that sent me forth.” (Matt. 10:40) This principle is illustrated by the inquiry of the heavenly voice to the Pharisee Saul: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Right away Saul wanted to know, “Who are you?” And the heavenly voice answered: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”—Acts 9:4, 5.
Saul, of course, was not rejecting Jesus by directly persecuting him. Jesus was in heaven where Saul could not touch him. Yet Saul was persecuting Jesus’ disciples, and this was, in effect, persecution of Jesus himself. That is why in an illustration Jesus had said: “Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”—Matt. 25:40.
So the question is, Are you gratefully receiving God’s Son by showing kindness and hospitality to his earthly representatives who are taking the lead in preaching the Kingdom good news? Do you gratefully accept the counsel and direction of these individuals who are “substituting for Christ”? Are you sharing with them in the public preaching work that Jesus assigned to his disciples?—2 Cor. 5:20; Heb. 13:17; Acts 1:8.
RECEIVING GOD’S WORD
What is your attitude toward God’s provision of his Word? The apostles Paul and Barnabas said regarding certain Jews in the first century: “It was necessary for the word of God to be spoken first to you. Since you are thrusting it away from you and do not judge yourselves worthy of everlasting life, look! we turn to the nations.” (Acts 13:46) Rejection of the gift of God’s Word meant the rejection of life itself! May we never have such an attitude toward God’s Word. Rather, may we, like the early Thessalonian Christians, accept it, “not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.”—1 Thess. 2:13.
When you first heard the grand truths about God’s kingdom, the paradise earth and the hope of resurrection for the dead you probably were thrilled. But are you also gratefully receiving the Bible’s principles regarding proper morals?
For example, at the recent “Peace on Earth” International Assemblies various parts of the program touched on proper moral conduct for a Christian. Have you personally put all this counsel into practice in your own life? Does all that you do conform to the high moral standards of God’s Word? Are you willing to receive such counsel from God’s Word with the same readiness of mind as you did doctrinal truths? If you are, you are putting away your old personality, and you are clothing yourself with a new personality that is created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty. This acceptance of God’s Word will qualify you for eternal life.—Eph. 4:22-24; Rom. 12:2.
RECEIVING GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT
Jesus said: “The Father in heaven [will] give holy spirit to those asking him!” (Luke 11:13) Holy spirit is a gift that God gives to those who sincerely desire it. But not all do. The disciple Stephen said of certain first-century Jewish leaders: “Obstinate men and uncircumcised in hearts and ears, you are always resisting the holy spirit.” (Acts 7:51) The heart condition of those men was bad. They resisted holy spirit by turning a deaf ear to the message God was having proclaimed by his representatives.
Are you gratefully receiving holy spirit? The apostle Paul showed what was necessary to do so when he rebuked some for again trying to keep the Mosaic law. He said: “Did you receive the spirit due to works of law or due to a hearing by faith?” (Gal. 3:2) There we have it, “a hearing by faith.” To receive God’s holy spirit it is necessary to listen to God’s instructions with faith, and then live in harmony with those instructions. Are you doing this?
Also, there is the need actually to ask God for holy spirit. How often do you do so? Do you just assume that God knows your need for his spirit? You ask him for other things, do you not? It is vital likewise that you keep on asking him for holy spirit, for the Father gives “holy spirit to those asking him!”
RECEIVING “GIFTS IN MEN”
Those called “gifts in men” in the Bible include “apostles, . . . shepherds and teachers.” (Eph. 4:11) Thus, the apostle John was such a “gift” provided by God. However, not all received John. He himself wrote that Diotrephes “does not receive anything from us with respect.” (3 John 9) Diotrephes certainly was not gratefully receiving Jehovah’s provisions.
What about today? Are you receiving the “gifts in men” that Jehovah God is providing for your spiritual strengthening? When traveling representatives visit your congregation to build up its spirituality, do you receive them by supporting the arrangements during the time they are with you? Such occasions are stimulating and helpful, just as the visits of the mature Christian brothers in the first century were.
Those today who fail to receive God’s “gifts in men” certainly miss out on a blessing; they fail to receive the spiritual help that they so much need now. On the other hand, by receiving such persons you will be greatly helped. What is more, by receiving also this provision you put yourself in line for God’s reward of eternal life.
MAINTAIN APPRECIATION FOR GOD’S GIFTS
By receiving all of these provisions from Jehovah’s bountiful hand you will be happy. It is good, therefore, to ask yourself: Do I appreciate all these spiritual gifts? Am I gratefully receiving what Jehovah provides? Or do I feel there is too much to give up in this system of things in order to be a recipient of God’s gifts? What if I give up everything to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ—is this worth while?
The apostle Peter posed such a question. He said: “‘Look! We have left all things and followed you; what actually will there be for us?’ Jesus said to them: ‘Truly I say to you, In the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down upon his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also yourselves sit upon twelve thrones . . . And everyone that has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive many times more and will inherit everlasting life.’”—Matt. 19:27-29.
How worth while it is to receive God’s provisions gratefully! For no matter what you leave behind in this system, you will receive a hundredfold more from God, as well as everlasting life. Jesus gave up more than any human could. He laid aside a glorious spirit existence in heaven. He even sacrificed life itself in faithful obedience to his Father’s will on earth. But look at the reward that he received—his Father’s smile of approval and exaltation to a position even superior to what he had before coming to earth!—Phil. 2:5-11.
When we evaluate the real spiritual worth of Jehovah’s kind and loving gifts, our hearts move us to give more of what we have in the way of time, energy and effort in doing his will. In this way we prove worthy of that gift that only Jehovah can provide; namely, everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord.—Rom. 6:23.