Joyful Always in Jehovah’s Service
“Rejoice in Jehovah and be joyful, you righteous ones; and cry out joyfully, all you who are upright in heart.”—Ps. 32:11.
1. (a) In what respects is Jehovah beyond compare? (b) What provision has Jehovah made for mankind, and how?
JEHOVAH’S loving-kindness is beyond compare! “His wonderful works to the sons of men” do indeed call forth heartfelt thanks, stirring lovers of righteousness to make known his matchless name and purposes. (Ps. 107:21, 22) The living God, Jehovah, surpasses all other gods in grandeur and wisdom. Is not Jehovah our Creator, the Giver of life itself? Did not Jehovah create man to serve him everlastingly in a paradise of pleasure? And after our unappreciative first parents plunged the race into sin and death, did not Jehovah make the marvelous, undeserved provision through Christ to ransom mankind from the power of the grave? What joy to behold the “sign” today that this resurrected Son rules in the kingdom of the heavens, as he prepares to oust all wickedness from the earth! Very soon, in the restored paradise, everything that breathes will again praise Jehovah.—Isa. 42:8; Gen. 2:7-9; John 11:25, 26; Heb. 1:1-3, 13.
2. What has always been the paramount need of all mankind?
2 What incomparable joy is to be found in serving Jehovah God! This service is also a need for all who wish to enter into the everlasting blessings of his new order. Indeed, the paramount need of all mankind always has been, and is, to serve Jehovah. Ancient Israel was called upon to ‘serve Jehovah with all their heart and soul.’ (Deut. 11:13) The newly formed Christian congregation served daily “with great rejoicing and sincerity of heart.” (Acts 2:46) And in looking forward to God’s creation of a new order for mankind, the prophet Isaiah calls on us today to be “joyful forever” and to serve God with “joyfulness” and “exultation.”—Isa 65:17, 18.
3. How does the condition of Babylon the Great differ from that of true Christians today?
3 Does the world of mankind rejoice today? What does the situation on international and home fronts tell us? The “pangs of distress” that Jesus foretold would mark the end of the present system of things become daily more agonizing. (Matt. 24:3-12) Religious leaders of Christendom find that their Babylon-based institutions and doctrines can no longer hold restive flocks. So, Protestant pastors lament empty churches, and Pope Paul VI bemoans the priesthood crisis as causing him “great worry and pain.” It is just as Jehovah foretold: “You yourselves will make outcries because of the pain of heart and you will howl because of sheer breakdown of spirit.” On the other hand, Bible-based Christians, God’s own people, “eat” to the full of an abundance of spiritual food, “drink” to the full of life-giving Bible truths and “cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart.” They are strengthened for joyful service to Jehovah, and to make known his salvation in all the earth, “for he has done surpassingly.”—Isa. 65:13, 14; 12:2-5.
4. How and why should we express appreciation for Jehovah’s provision?
4 This joyful service to Jehovah is a necessity for all who seek everlasting life in the coming system of things. (Mark 10:28-30) This service cannot be dispensed with without loss or damage. Jehovah’s marvelous, loving provision, made for mankind through his Son, calls for expression of appreciative thankfulness on the part of all. (Rom. 11:33-36) The full depth of this appreciation can be shown only by serving Jehovah in his way, making known the Kingdom good news to others. Even before this crucial “time of the end,” the apostle Paul expressed it in this way: “Necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!”—1 Cor. 9:16.
BONDAGE WITH JOY
5. What is involved in dedication to Jehovah?
5 Those who come really to love and appreciate Jehovah dedicate themselves to him. What a privilege is this—to devote oneself and one’s all to the highest Person—the loving God—of all the Universe! (Neh. 9:5, 6) Really, every worthwhile thing we have comes from Jehovah. So is it not fitting, yes, imperative, that we pay back to him out of this abundance? (Job 41:11; Ps. 116:12, 13; Jas. 1:17) In dedication, we come under bondage to our Creator, subject to his direction. Like Joshua of old, who worshiped Jehovah “in faultlessness and in truth,” dedicated family heads today may declare: “As for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah.”—Josh. 24:14, 15.
6. Is bondage to Jehovah a hard burden? Explain.
6 Is this bondage to God a burden to be avoided? Assuredly not! Coming into subjection to Jehovah and his law can bring nothing but blessing and joy. All around us in the earth, living things of God’s creation flourish under divine law. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus invites us: “Take a lesson from the lilies of the field, how they are growing; they do not toil, nor do they spin; but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.” (Matt. 6:28, 29) If lilies of the field, developing according to implanted laws of growth, can display such breathtaking glory, how much more pleasing in Jehovah’s sight must be the moral beauty of those humans who uphold his righteous laws and principles! Just as bondage to God’s laws of creation is no hardship, but rather a blessing, to the abundance of living things on this earth, so the bondage that the Christian enters in dedicating his life to his Creator brings only satisfying joy, and in the end eternal life.—Ps. 104:24; 145:16, 17.
7. (a) How are those who come into bondage to God rewarded? (b) What dangers may call for positive action?
7 Those in bondage to God find meaning, beauty and purpose in life. There is incomparable joy in doing God’s will, serving him daily. There is satisfying assurance of God’s blessing. (Prov. 10:22) But just as a glorious flower of the field may be stricken by contaminated air or soil, so Christian growth may be stunted by the intrusion of Satan’s spirit of “the air,” immoral thoughts, blights of materialism and dissipated living. These pollutions bring joy neither to man nor to his Creator. Unless poisons are eradicated and replaced by healthful nourishment, the sick plant will wither and die.—Rev. 16:17; Jude 12; 2 Tim. 1:13, 14.
8. Why is it beneficial to respect God’s laws?
8 Though they may hate to admit it, scientists must constantly acknowledge man’s bondage to God’s physical laws. Anyone who steps outside the boundaries of those laws stands in disaster’s way. Thus while the lives of the three astronauts in the crippled Apollo XIII hung in the balance, they and helpers on earth struggled desperately to keep the spaceship within the framework of the Creator’s laws, for a safe return to earth. Actually, their underlying problem lay in that, in the first place, they had moved outside the Great Lawgiver’s stated purpose: “As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth [not outer space] he has given to the sons of men.” Dedicated Christians respect God’s physical and moral laws.—Ps. 115:16.
OTHER THEOCRATIC BONDS
9. How does dedication in the Christian congregation differ from that in ancient Israel?
9 Back in 1513 B.C.E., the entire nation of Israel came under bondage of dedication to Jehovah. From birth, each Israelite was a part of that dedicated nation. The situation is different, though, with spiritual Israel in the new covenant, in that each person must grow up in accurate knowledge and appreciation to the point of making a personal dedication to Jehovah.—Eph. 3:14-19.
10. How may principles that applied in Israel benefit us today? Illustrate.
10 However, the same principles that applied in ancient Israel teach us much that is practical for the Christian congregation today. For example, children must still be subject to parents, and parents can take to heart the laws that operated in Israel with regard to training their little ones. When should this training begin? Well, when did it begin in Israel? The record tells us that “the little ones” were to be found in the assemblies of God’s people from very earliest years. (Deut. 29:10-13; 31:12; 2 Chron. 20:13) The same principle was applied in the early Christian congregation, for Lois and Eunice taught Timothy the holy writings so that he knew them—from five years of age? from three years? from one year? No, but “from infancy.”—2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15; see also Luke 1:80; 2:40-52.
11. What is the value of training young ones from infancy?
11 Why should young children—even infants—be denied their part in the theocratic arrangement? It is courting disaster not to talk to them about our marvelous God from infancy. Moreover, if they are taken to Christian meetings from infancy, they will grow up to appreciate these as part of the Christian way of life.—Prov. 4:1-13.
12. (a) What instruction do the Scriptures give on disciplining children? (b) How may parents show loving consideration to others?
12 But what if parents learn the truth after the children have started to grow up? Here, there may be problems. But parents that love their children should start without delay to train them in the theocratic way. (Prov. 22:6; 23:13, 14) Even as laws of instinct prompt mother bear to spank her erring cub, so God’s law plainly stated in his Word requires human parents to discipline their young—not in anger or with irritating nagging, but reasonably and out of love. (Eph. 6:4) Until discipline takes effect, parents may show loving consideration for others, too, by sitting someplace in the Kingdom Hall where unruly “little ones” will cause least distraction.
13. What is the value of home training, and how may it be imparted?
13 The discipline most productive of results is that administered daily in the home. Here the loving parent can make time to instill respect for law and principle, to reason with little ones, to answer questions, to build up love for the family arrangement and respect for the theocratic arrangement in Jehovah’s earth-wide family. (Deut. 11:18, 19; 32:45, 46) Little ones can be trained to sit still with a loving parent for five minutes, fifteen minutes, thirty minutes—while Bible helps are used for sounding down into little hearts the thrilling events and instruction of Bible record. (Gal. 6:6; Ps. 78:4) The Watchtower has carried articles specially prepared for reading to children. Parents have used these well in building youthful appreciation of spiritual things. Yes, it means effort on the part of parents. It takes planning and time. But the daily training of little ones will build up the family bond. Youngsters will come to love parents for their companionship, and for sacrifices made on their behalf. They will be encouraged to become useful themselves, growing up morally, spiritually and theocratically to the point of making their own dedication to Jehovah God.—Deut. 29:29.
14. How may worthwhile bonds be strengthened?
14 Our bond of dedication to Jehovah calls for respect for other bonds—the family bond, the marriage bond, the bond of love in the Christian congregation. (Eph. 5:33; 6:1-4; Col. 3:14) Think of all the things God’s people can do together! A family can consider the day’s Bible text, receiving a daily blessing just like that of the biggest of families, the Brooklyn Bethel family of over 1,500 members. At mealtimes and other times together, your family can discuss interesting Bible questions, recent reports in The Watchtower and Awake!, or experiences from the field of service. They can engage in healthful family hobbies or outings together. Or if one’s natural family has not yet joined in studying Jehovah’s Word, many of these things can be done in association with Christian brothers and sisters.—Matt. 19:29; Rom. 12:13.
15. How should we regard the bond of dedication?
15 Is this bond of dedication a hardship? Rather, it is a constant joy, bringing refreshment and satisfaction not experienced by others of the world of mankind.—Matt. 11:28-30.
16. What should be our sustaining interest in life, and why?
16 What are our interests? Should not our God, Jehovah, come first and foremost in our lives? We want to know this loving God, so that we may be like him. His magnificent qualities are reflected in his Son, Jesus Christ, who made known his heavenly Father while he was on earth. (John 1:14, 18; 8:19; 15:15; 17:3-6) Should we be less zealous than our Exemplar in glorifying Jehovah’s name? Jesus declared, “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) That should be our food and our sustaining interest in life, too. If our prime interest is Jehovah and his worship, and we love truth, then we will indeed rejoice to render exclusive devotion to our God.—Deut. 6:4-7; Mark 12:28-30.
17, 18. (a) What are the moral interests of those who love Jehovah? (b) What contrast is noted between those who love and those who ignore God’s moral principles? (c) How may we enjoy peace with God?
17 The Christian’s interests must be moral interests, in line with Jehovah’s righteous laws. “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad,” says the psalmist. (Ps 97:10) Jehovah will not tolerate what is bad, and this was clearly demonstrated in Moses’ day when Israel formed an immoral attachment to the Baal of Peor. Jehovah killed 24,000 Israelites by plague, and this was stopped only when upright Phinehas took positive action by striking a spear through the immoral Zimri and his Midianitess “girl friend.” Priest Phinehas hated what Jehovah hates, and acted accordingly. Many modern-day priests are far different, as press dispatches often show. For example, an AFP report, dated June 5, 1970, described “an extremely sympathetic meeting” between the Dutch homosexuals party and a cardinal, the Roman Catholic primate of the Netherlands. The reported topic of discussion was “religious blessing” for homosexuals. How could anyone who loves God and righteousness entertain homosexuality, let alone sit down and negotiate about it!—Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 1:24-27, 32.
18 Today, an avalanche of immorality descends on mankind through news and entertainment media. But we do not have to join with the world in feasting on this poisoned food. That would be fatal! May we be zealous like Phinehas in upholding standards of moral purity. May we continue to enjoy peace with God by feeding our minds on the pure things of his Word and through his service.—Phil. 4:8, 9.
19. In contrast with the world, what attitude do Christians cultivate?
19 The modern world has grown proud, independent, rebellious and demanding. (2 Tim. 3:1-13) How different from Jehovah’s worshipers, who cultivate humility and obedience after the example of Jesus! “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.” (Phil. 2:5-8) What a fine example for all who would place Jehovah’s kingdom interests first!—Matt. 6:33.
BEWARE OF WORLDLY INTERESTS
20, 21. (a) Why is it useless, and even dangerous, to seek worldly interests? (b) What worthwhile goal may be attained, and how?
20 What do people live for today? Is it to please God? Or is it to please self? For the majority, is it not to get as much for self as possible out of this brief life-span? Some accumulate money for money’s sake. Others accumulate possessions. Some wreck themselves morally and physically for the sake of “thrills.” Others aim for high station or prominence in society. How shortsighted! One of history’s wealthiest men, wise King Solomon, stated: “And I, even I, turned toward all the works of mine that my hands had done and toward the hard work that I had worked hard to accomplish, and, look! everything was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing of advantage under the sun.” (Eccl. 2:11) Do you thus strive in vain? Or is your goal a permanent place in God’s new system of things?
21 Does the world’s showy, material display intrigue you? If so, you stand in danger’s way, for misdirected desire, “when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin.” Encroaching worldly interests can chop more and more out of a person’s life, until he is engulfed in sin. “Sin, when it is accomplished, brings forth death.” But the person who places Jehovah first in his heart and who does the will of God “remains forever.”—Jas. 1:14, 15; 1 John 2:15-17.
22. What appreciation should we show for Jesus’ sacrifice?
22 Through the precious blood of Jesus, Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses have been set free from sin, to become slaves of righteousness. May we stand fast, therefore, never becoming enslaved again to worldly interests!—Rom. 6:17, 18; Gal. 5:1.
“HEART” SERVICE TO JEHOVAH
23, 24. (a) How may we be pleasing to Jehovah? (b) Why have many failed in this in former and later periods of time?
23 Mere lip service falls short of Jehovah’s requirements. Jesus so reminded religious people of his day, and applied Isaiah 29:13 to them: “This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me.” (Matt. 15:8) Sincere obedience from an appreciative heart is what pleases Jehovah. It is with our whole heart, and with all our other faculties, that we must love and serve our one God, Jehovah. (Mark 12:29, 30) We must endure joyfully, in positive service to Jehovah, year in and year out. When Joshua expressed his household’s clear determination to serve Jehovah, all Israel answered him: “It is unthinkable, on our part, to leave Jehovah so as to serve other gods. . . . As for us, too, we shall serve Jehovah, because he is our God.”—Josh. 24:15-18.
24 “Unthinkable,” they said. But later their descendants did go after other gods. And why? Because they let their love for Jehovah grow dim. Their service lost its positive drive. They stopped their daily meditation on his Word, stopped making progress. They retreated from their faith and spirituality. Their minds became warped to worldly ways, and their consciences seared so as no longer to distinguish between right and wrong. If they had continued to rejoice from the heart in serving Jehovah, disaster would never have befallen them.—Deut. 4:3-10; Josh. 1:7-9; Heb. 10:36-39; 1 Tim. 4:1, 2.
25. What kind of children should we become to Jehovah?
25 This should serve as a warning to Jehovah’s people today. How important that we continue to serve Jehovah joyfully, without letup! How important that we regularly study and meet to maintain spirituality and joy! How important that we joyfully cherish the incomparable privilege of serving Jehovah as his witnesses! Remember, the thing that Jehovah, the Creator and Owner of the whole earth, delights in is loving obedience to his voice.—Ex. 19:5; 1 Pet. 1:13-16.
26. What should be our attitude toward (a) God’s kingdom, (b) the world and its nations, and (c) speakiing God’s Word?
26 All our hopes, all our service, all our daily living must be centered on God’s kingdom. All our worthwhile interests are Kingdom interests. Our daily prayer is for the Kingdom to come, with its glorious revelation of Christ’s power, and for God’s will to take place, as in heaven, also upon earth. (Matt. 6:9, 10; 2 Thess. 1:6-8) We want none of the world’s depravity, none of the rulers’ anxieties, none of the nations’ perplexities. The nations are against Jehovah and his anointed One, Jesus. Shortly, they will be dashed to pieces. (Luke 21:25, 26; Ps. 2:2-9) Mankind is fast approaching that “great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” As “pangs of distress” worsen, may we be like the first-century Christians in praying to Jehovah for boldness to keep speaking his Word.—Matt. 24:7, 8, 21; Acts 4:24-30.
27. How may we attain the goal of everlasting life?
27 What do we want in life? Surely we do not want to live by the shifting sands of the world’s moral code—which have lately become quicksands sucking in the unwary for destruction! Nor do we want any part with the world’s broken-down religion or its corrupt politics, its ideologies or hatreds, its frustration or its confusion. We want to live the real life, do we not? Then we must love righteousness and hate wickedness, even as Jehovah does, and build “a fine foundation for the future.” (Ps. 11:7; Prov. 6:16-18; 1 Tim. 6:17-19) We must continue to abound more and more in love, treasuring up Bible knowledge and becoming “filled with righteous fruit” in God’s service. (Phil. 1:9-11) With the goal of everlasting life in view, may we be at one, then, with Christ Jesus and with all other faithful witnesses in serving Jehovah “with a complete heart and with a delightful soul.”—1 Chron. 28:9.