Appreciating Jehovah’s Deliverance
1. (a) What deliverance has Jehovah given his servants today? (b) What was the purpose of Jehovah’s deliverance to Israel in 537 B.C.E.? Why have His modern-day servants been delivered?
DELIVERANCE! Freedom! These are wonderful thoughts to those who find themselves in bondage or slavery. True Christians today rejoice to have experienced deliverance, deliverance from bondage to Babylon the Great and the rest of this old system of Satan the Devil. (2 Cor. 4:4) Such Christians enjoy real spiritual freedom, for the truth from God’s Word sets them free. (John 8:32) It is a wonderful experience to share in the freedom from spiritual bondage that Jehovah’s servants enjoy today. But as loyal servants, how can we show that we really appreciate Jehovah’s deliverance? How can we hold fast to this freedom we enjoy today? Well, it is good for us to remember the purpose of the deliverance given to Israel of old. What was that? It was to rebuild Jehovah’s temple and to restore true worship in Jerusalem. Likewise today, Jehovah delivers us from Babylon the Great so that we can take up true worship, so we can exalt Jehovah’s name and make it known by participating in the ministry that he gives to us. (Rom. 10:13-15) So in connection with Jehovah’s true worship and the Christian ministry, there are some things that will help us to show heartfelt appreciation for Jehovah’s deliverance. Suppose we take some time to review these.
CORRECT MENTAL ATTITUDE
2. What was Paul’s attitude concerning the Christian ministry?
2 In connection with the Christian ministry, the apostle Paul had the correct mental attitude. He enjoyed the ministry and always tried to set a good example in it: “In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers.” (2 Cor. 6:3, 4) Paul then mentioned many things he endured, such as tribulations, cases of need, difficulties, beatings, prisons, disorders, labors, sleepless nights, lack of food. But through it all Paul maintained a good mental attitude. It is very important for us to have a good mental attitude if we want to show real appreciation for Jehovah’s deliverance from Babylon the Great.
3. (a) How can the word “attitude” be defined? (b) In what ways should our attitude be positive, and in what ways should it be negative?
3 One English-language dictionary defines attitude as “behavior representative of feeling or conviction,” or “a persistent disposition to act either positively or negatively toward a person, group, object, situation or value.” This means, then, that your mental attitude really reflects your feelings, your convictions. Now, speaking of convictions, Are you really convinced that you have the truth? Are you convinced that Babylon the Great has fallen? Are you convinced that the old system is doomed by Jehovah, that there is no use to tie yourself to it? If you have such a conviction, then your disposition should be positive toward the new system of things and toward Jehovah’s organization. It should be positive toward Jehovah’s kingdom. This disposition is manifest in our actions, including our attitude toward the Christian ministry. We will then carry out our ministry as Paul did. Concerning it he wrote: “The good news we preach did not turn up among you with speech alone but also with power and with holy spirit and strong conviction, just as you know what sort of men we became to you for your sakes.” (1 Thess. 1:5) If our disposition is positive toward God’s kingdom and His new system, then it would be negative toward this world and its materialistic attractions.
4. (a) What mental attitude did Jesus have and which we do well to copy? (b) What appropriate counsel is given to those who have much in a material way?
4 Paul recommended that we copy the mental attitude that Christ had: “Now may the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Rom. 15:5) Jesus was so positive in his feelings for Jehovah’s kingdom and Jehovah’s work that he said it was like food for him to do his Father’s will. (John 4:34) Jesus also had a mental attitude of humility, lowliness of mind. Paul recommended that we imitate this good attitude also and work out our salvation “with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:5, 12) Such a right mental attitude would help those who might have an abundance of material things not to depend on these things, or to think that because they are materially wealthy they can influence servants in Jehovah’s organization. Rather such brothers will be humble and use material things they may possess to advance Kingdom interests. At 1 Timothy 6:17-19 Paul gives good counsel to those who may have an abundance of material things: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.” A correct mental attitude, then, will help all of us to see the importance of the Christian ministry, the need to stick close to Jehovah God and support his new system of things and his kingdom rather than the old system of things.
5. Explain why we should show love for our Father, Jehovah.
5 Love for our God Jehovah is also essential to show real appreciation for Jehovah’s deliverance. Jehovah has taken the initiative in showing love to us. He has provided his Son as a ransomer, and this is really the basis for our deliverance from Babylon the Great and the rest of this old system of things. Therefore, John wrote: “As for us, we love, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) So since Jehovah has first shown love to us, we should show love for him in return. Have you ever noticed that a young child who truly loves his father will talk about his father? He will speak of the many good things his father has done for him. Yes, he wants everyone to know what a good father he has. He will not be like an unloving, unappreciative child who never thanks his father, but takes everything for granted and always begs for more.
6. Love for Jehovah requires what, and what does it mean to have ‘freeness of speech’?
6 John shows that, as Christians with love for our Father, we should observe Jehovah’s commandments. So, if we really love our Father, Jehovah, we will observe his commands to preach and to teach in all the earth. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) Thus, as loving children, we will be speaking about the good things Jehovah will do for those putting faith in him and his Son. “For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) Yes, it is true! It is a pleasure, not a burden, to show love for Jehovah by speaking about his good things and obeying his commands. Christians should have freeness of speech about their heavenly Father, Jehovah. Paul warned us to be careful to hold on to this freeness of speech. He wrote: “Do not, therefore, throw away your freeness of speech, which has a great reward to be paid it.” (Heb. 10:35) So we can surely show appreciation for Jehovah’s deliverance by freely speaking about him and the blessings he promises those of mankind who love him and put faith in him and his Son.
BREAKING OFF BAD ASSOCIATIONS
7. Why are worldly people bad associates for a Christian?
7 Another vital way to show appreciation for Jehovah’s deliverance is by breaking off bad associations. People of this old system of things are bad associates. They do not love Jehovah, otherwise they would be serving him too. We find that most people of the old system love money, material things, all that this system can give them. And there are many who delight in immoral, wicked things. They are not at all interested in Jehovah and the principles of his new system. Perhaps some of Jehovah’s servants have friends like that. They may maintain friendship with such worldly people for business reasons, but this is indeed a very dangerous course of action.
8. Explain what could happen to a Christian who does not heed the counsel at 1 Corinthians 15:33.
8 Why should a Christian witness of Jehovah associate with people who do not love Jehovah? He will soon begin thinking as they do, putting material things ahead of spiritual interests. We cannot deny the truthfulness of Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 15:33, where he wrote: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” If we maintain worldly associations for business reasons, certainly these bad worldly associations will eventually spoil our useful habits in the Christian ministry. Good habits of personal study and meeting attendance will be forgotten. Paul’s counsel at 2 Corinthians 6:14 is also apropos: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness?” If we really appreciate the deliverance Jehovah has provided us, then we do not want to get ourselves yoked up with unbelievers in any way, whether through marriage mates or so-called “friends” in business. Breaking off bad associations is urgent right now before it is too late! If we do so, then we can take full advantage of Jehovah’s deliverance and the spiritual freedom it provides.
PUTTING FAITH IN JEHOVAH
9. Why is it unwise to put faith in material possessions?
9 We can also show appreciation for our deliverance by putting faith in Jehovah and relying on him. The old system does not believe in Jehovah, so those supporting it put their faith in their material possessions. Are you putting faith in your material possessions? Are you constantly worried about getting them? And once you have them, worried about holding onto them? If so, what do you expect these material possessions to do for you? It is always wise to remember the words of Psalm 49:6, 7: “Those who are trusting in their means of maintenance, and who keep boasting about the abundance of their riches, not one of them can by any means redeem even a brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” And Ps 49 verse 10 adds: “And they must leave to others their means of maintenance.”
10. (a) What is Jehovah’s promise to those who put Kingdom interests first? (b) Show how Jehovah kept this promise in times past.
10 Christians must have faith not only that God exists, but also that he will provide the necessary things for those who wisely put Kingdom interests first in their lives. We know that Jehovah will do this because Jesus said He would. In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus spoke of how God takes good care of the vegetation and the birds, and then he said: “Will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith?” So Jesus’ counsel was “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. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:30-33) Do not forget this promise of Jehovah. Exhibit your faith; rely on Jehovah. He never fails his people. He provides the necessary things we need as we put Kingdom interests first. Jehovah blessed his faithful servants of old with the things they needed. (Mal. 3:10) The Israelites who were delivered from Babylon and returned to Jerusalem in 537 B.C.E. did not suffer, but Jehovah saw to it they had sufficient food, clothing and shelter. Ezra tells us: “As for all those round about them, they strengthened their hands with utensils of silver, with gold, with goods and with domestic animals and with choice things, besides all that which was voluntarily offered.” (Ezra 1:6) Jehovah promises to provide the needed things for his servants today IF we put true worship and Kingdom interests first in our lives. So show appreciation for Jehovah’s deliverance by putting faith in him, relying on him for your material needs as you put Kingdom interests first.
APPRECIATE SPIRITUAL THINGS
11. How do we know that Jesus appreciated spiritual things?
11 It is also advisable to develop our appreciation of spiritual things. This is possible if our mental attitude is correct and if we put faith in Jehovah. We recall that Jesus appreciated spiritual things. He said that man does not live on bread alone but “on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matt. 4:4) So the words from Jehovah as expressed in his Word are important and we must appreciate them.
12. Explain the viewpoint of worldly people and of true Christians with regard to spiritual matters, and what counsel is appropriate here?
12 People of this old system have little love for spiritual values. Paul referred to this when he wrote: “But a physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know them, because they are examined spiritually.” (1 Cor. 2:14) However, in the next verse (1 Co 2 verse 15), Paul shows that Christians should be spiritual men, loving spiritual things, for Paul says, “the spiritual man examines indeed all things.” Putting emphasis on spiritual values in life will prevent our being trapped by love for material possessions or pleasures. Here the words of the psalmist are very appropriate: “Incline my heart to your reminders, and not to profits.”—Ps. 119:36.
13. What does our conversation reveal about us, and so what is recommended?
13 Often our conversation alone will reveal what we really love, whether it is material possessions or spiritual values. Have you noticed that Christians in the full-time ministry as pioneers, as well as many others who have a real pioneer spirit, love to discuss the new things they learn from Jehovah’s Word in the weekly congregational meetings. Or they are often heard relating experiences enjoyed in the field ministry or the spiritual progress of new ones in the congregation. Their lives are filled to overflowing with Jehovah’s service. They love his service and they love spiritual things, and you seldom hear them discussing material possessions or pleasures. Such Christian brothers and sisters are excellent examples in appreciating the right things. So it is good to develop greater appreciation of spiritual matters and to talk about the joys of the service and the good things we are learning from God’s Word, for this will certainly help us to show we appreciate Jehovah’s deliverance and the freedom that he gives us.—Ps. 34:1.
REACH OUT FOR SERVICE PRIVILEGES
14. (a) How can we show in our lives that we believe John’s words at 1 John 2:16, 17? (b) In order to progress spiritually, what should Christians do?
14 Finally, it is recommended that we reach out for privileges of service in Jehovah’s organization, rather than promotions in Satan’s organization. Do we really believe John’s words at 1 John 2:16, 17, where he wrote: “Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire”? If we do believe what John wrote, then why look for more promotions in a dying world? If we do, it indicates we may love the old system more than Jehovah’s new system of things. However, John also wrote: “But he that does the will of God remains forever.” How much better it is, then, to do Jehovah’s will, to be reaching out for privileges of service in his organization, promoting the new system of things and expanding our ministry. It is good for all to progress as Christians, to set reasonable goals each year and work hard toward reaching those goals. Paul tells us: “At any rate, to what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine.” (Phil. 3:16) So we should never slow down or stop in our spiritual progress as Christians.
15. What privileges are available to those who reach out for them, and what is the best work we can perform today?
15 Jehovah’s work is expanding rapidly today. Thousands of people are dedicating themselves to Jehovah and coming into his organization. Why, just last year there were 149,808 baptized! What a tremendous crowd in just one year. Missionaries are still being sent out, and there is a need for more servants, more special pioneers, more regular pioneers. Yes, there are many wonderful privileges and blessings available to those who reach out for these service privileges this side of Armageddon and untold blessings after Armageddon in Jehovah’s new system of things. Paul said that one reaching out to be an overseer was desirous of a fine work. (1 Tim. 3:1) Besides such overseer work, there are many other important tasks that need to be done. There is plenty of work to do in Jehovah’s service—enjoyable work. As Paul said: “Consequently, my beloved brothers, become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58) Yes, work for this old system of things is in vain. It is a dying system; why work to perpetuate it? We may get caught up and destroyed with it. How much better to do work that is not in vain in connection with the Lord. Our working diligently for the Lord and reaching out for privileges of service in Jehovah’s organization are excellent ways to express our appreciation to Jehovah for his deliverance.—1 Tim. 3:13.
16, 17. (a) What fine example was set by the faithful Jewish remnant that left Babylon in 537 B.C.E.? (b) Why is it urgent for Christians to imitate this example?
16 Keep close in mind the good example set by the faithful Jewish remnant that left Babylon years ago and returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. They appreciated their deliverance from Babylon. They had a good mental attitude. They loved Jehovah and his worship and they wanted to see the temple rebuilt and true worship restored. They were not tied so closely to their homes and their jobs in Babylon that they could not give these up. They were ready and willing to leave these things and go to Jerusalem, with full faith that Jehovah would bless and protect them. They were happy to leave Babylon and its materialism in order to share in the precious privilege of restoring true worship.—Ezra 3:11, 12.
17 We are encouraged, then, to follow this good example of love for Jehovah and true worship rather than be too tied down to homes and jobs and material possessions, enjoying too much what this old system offers for a few more years. This matter is really urgent! Time is running out for those who allow themselves to be trapped by pursuit of material pleasures. Those who continue to trust in Babylon the Great and the rest of this old system have little time left to heed the warning: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4) Yes, Paul’s words are even more urgent today than they were in his day: “Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation.”—2 Cor. 6:2.
18. Summarize how we can show appreciation to Jehovah for his deliverance and undeserved kindness.
18 Show that you have not missed the purpose of Jehovah’s deliverance. Always display the right mental attitude toward Jehovah’s new system of things. (Matt. 6:33) Be positive toward Jehovah’s kingdom and His new system of righteousness. Then express heartfelt love for Jehovah God and his blessings by action, especially by regular participation in the Christian ministry. (1 Pet. 1:13) Break off from any bad association with those who love material things and this old system more than Jehovah. (2 Tim. 3:5) Put faith in Jehovah God; rely on him for necessities as you put Kingdom interests first in your life. (1 Tim. 6:6-8) Back up your faith with works. (Jas. 2:26) Then develop greater appreciation for spiritual things and let these spiritual matters take precedence over material values in your life. (2 Pet. 1:5-8) Reach out for greater privileges in Jehovah’s organization rather than promotions in Satan’s organization. Truly we are living at a most wonderful time in human history to know and serve our God Jehovah, promoting true worship. May we all appreciate and act on Paul’s counsel: “We also entreat you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.”—2 Cor. 6:1.