Working Hard for the Reward of Eternal Life
“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.
1, 2. (a) What questions do youths often propound, and why? (b) What do some persons admit about their past lives? (c) What did the psalmist and Jesus Christ have to say about life and mankind’s most urgent need?
IF AN opportunity were extended to you today to start a completely new way of life, would you accept it? Or are you satisfied with the work you are doing and the life you are leading? Young people often ask older persons, ‘If you had a chance to live your life over again, would you do the same work that you are now doing, or would you choose something different? Would you want your sons and daughters to do the same work you are doing?’ These probing questions are youth’s way of determining whether your work has been rewarding and would be a course worth while for them to pursue.
2 Few people, however, will admit to having wasted away their lives at worthless jobs, despite how unrewarding their lives have been. One such person, Andrew Carnegie, a man envied for his wealth, said: “I would give all my millions, if I could have youth and health. If I could make Faust’s bargain, I would. I would gladly sell anything to have my life over again.” But, alas! eternal life is not for sale. Youth and health are beyond the reach of wealth. Perhaps those persons among mankind busily engaged in amassing wealth as if it were some form of panacea are the ones most to be pitied. For their life is an empty illusion indeed. Wrote the inspired psalmist: “Man’s busy life indeed is but a phantom, making an empty ado, amassing wealth and knowing not who is to have his hoard.” (Ps. 39:6, Moffatt) Probing into this very subject of determining life’s chief concern or pursuit, the greatest thinker among men of all time, namely, Jesus Christ, pinpointed the answer in two searching questions, saying: “For what benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul [or, life]? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul [or, life]?” (Matt. 16:26) Man’s most urgent and lasting need, according to Jesus Christ, is not fame or fortune, pleasure or possessions, but life itself. It is for the reward of eternal life that every last person on earth should now be working. Are you?
3, 4. (a) What are persons by the thousands doing today, making what their goal? (b) Being a disciple of Christ calls for what, with what reward in view?
3 Literally hundreds of thousands of people everywhere today are giving Jesus’ words about life deep thought. They are working hard now for the reward of eternal life by responding to a new way of life in imitation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 2:21) In just the past three years, 1969, 1970 and 1971, from 207 lands, a grand total of 434,906 persons have experienced great changes in their lives by making themselves eligible to receive the reward of eternal life. They have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God and have symbolized that dedication by being immersed in water. Materialistic pursuits have been placed in the background by them. They have taken to heart the appeal of Jesus: “Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you.” (John 6:27) While they do provide for themselves the necessities of life, these things are no longer their main goals. They know that if they trust fully in Jehovah he will provide them with life’s necessities. So they seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and as God promises, all these needed things are added to them.—Matt. 6:25-33.
4 This life in imitation of Jesus Christ calls for faith. It is hard work and it demands diligence and skill. It calls for self-sacrifice, a willingness to share of what is one’s own. It demands patience, this work of making disciples of Christ of peoples of all nations. However, the diligent worker finds joy in this work of God, as the psalmist declared: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted.” (Ps. 40:8) To his listeners, Jesus said: “If you know these things, happy you are if you do them.” (John 13:17) The man who does not shrink back from the hard work of being a Christian will come in line for the splendid and ultimate reward—eternal life.—Matt. 16:24, 25.
WELCOME TO JEHOVAH’S HARDWORKING ORGANIZATION
5. At the 1971 New York assembly, how were prospective disciples of Christ greeted by the baptismal speaker, and into what kind of congregation did he welcome them?
5 For Christian workers, the outstanding, happy event for 1971 was the wonderful series of “Divine Name” District Assemblies. These were held throughout the earth. One of the most thrilling sights at these assemblies was to see hundreds, yes, even thousands of persons arise and publicly testify to their determination to take up the hard work of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. At one of these assemblies, in New York, the baptismal speaker greeted the candidates by saying: “How thrilling and happifying to see here this morning such a multitude of persons whose love for Jehovah God impels them to follow in the steps of his beloved Son, Jesus Christ! For many months you have been studying the Bible systematically. You have come to accept it as God’s guidebook for his human creatures. You have learned its basic teachings. You have come to know just what is involved in being a genuine servant of the Most High God. Your study has borne good fruit, for it has produced a powerful desire in your hearts, a desire to do what all of God’s intelligent creatures ought rightly to do—dedicate your lives to God, thereby becoming his willing servants forever. . . . We are truly happy for you and welcome you to the congregation of God’s happy, hardworking servants, his witnesses.”
6, 7. (a) How have things in life changed for many who were baptized, and in what kind of work were they invited to share? (b) What facts prove that these new workers have come to a busy organization?
6 Their attention was then drawn to Jehovah’s earthly organization consisting of very busy people. “In times past many of you,” the speaker continued, “quite likely, have felt that life was aimless, a mere round of accidents to be finally concluded with the great accident, death. Others of you may have been . . . keenly aware that life is full of injustices and frustrations. But now all that has changed for you. You have a reason for living. You have discovered that Jehovah God and Christ Jesus are having a great work done in all the earth in these days—and more, that they are opening the opportunity for multitudes to labor with them in a life-giving, life-transforming work. Laborers together with God! That does not sound like taking things easy, does it?”
7 During 1971, for example, those in the organization of Jehovah’s witnesses spent 291,952,375 hours talking to others about God’s Word, the Bible. They made 133,785,116 return visits, because they were concerned with the lives of people. More than that, they organized home Bible studies with many of the interested ones, conducting, on the average, 1,257,904 studies. Thus multitudes of persons were made disciples, and all in obedience to the commission Jesus gave his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.”—Matt. 28:19, 20.
8. Why are God’s people working so hard?
8 Why are God’s dedicated people working so hard? It is because their heart is in God’s work. Their dedication is genuine. They meant it when they chose to put God’s will first in their lives. And besides that, they are mindful of the rich reward that God holds out to them—the reward of everlasting life! What a powerful incentive this!
9. Why should lovers of life want to join the ranks of Jehovah’s witnesses?
9 All lovers of life should want to join the ranks of Jehovah’s witnesses. And especially so today, because we are blessed to be living at a time of greatest need for more workers. Remember Jesus’ words when he looked at the people with pity and said: “The crop is heavy, but labourers are scarce; you must therefore beg the owner to send labourers to harvest his crop.” (Matt. 9:36-38, New English Bible) We are now in the closing part of another great ingathering work. Lovers of God should want to share in this work of God and reap the grand reward of their faithful labors, namely, eternal life.
10. Why should the attitude of urgency be cultivated, and with what attitude toward the work ahead?
10 There is need, as you take up the work of God, to be aware of the hazards, the obstacles, that may threaten to move you aside from the course of loyal service to God. You need to have the right view of the work that has to be done and done quickly between now and the “great tribulation” that will end the present wicked system of things, and you must hold on to that proper view. (Matt. 24:21) But how can one keep that proper view and not be influenced by lazy or indifferent attitudes of worldly people or by persons lacking faith?
ALWAYS KEEP THE RIGHT VIEW OF OUR WORKING HARD
11. (a) Whose approval does the Christian worker seek, and why? (b) What attitude toward work marks the true Christian? (c) What counsel does Paul give?
11 Since true Christians are servants of Jehovah and have dedicated their lives to him because they love him, what does it matter what other people think of them or their work? It is God’s approval for which they long. “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.” (1 John 5:3) Lukewarmness for the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work is not the mark of the genuine, dedicated servant of God. Rather, it is zeal and eagerness to share in the hard work of God’s great witness-organization that marks the true Christian. (Rev. 3:16; Luke 13:24) We should want to do more and more, ever progressing in our chosen vocation as workers together with God. (2 Cor. 1:24) The apostle Paul, that indefatigable laborer, had the right counsel for us when he recommended: “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men, for you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the due reward.” (Col. 3:23, 24) Notice that! Jehovah is the rewarder. It is to his standard of service that we must measure up. Does not that suggest that we could do more?
12. What will genuine love for God motivate a Christian to do?
12 Instead of imitating worldlings in their endeavor to work as little as possible for as much return as possible, the Christian must place the ministry of God on a much higher level and on a far more stable basis, and then go on making constant progress. (Phil. 3:16) He will seek to please, not men, but God, who makes proof of our hearts. (1 Thess. 2:4) Like Christ and his apostles, he will not please or spare himself, but will go on working at that which God approves.—John 8:29; Acts 20:31.
13. Why is the Christian ingathering work urgent, especially so now?
13 Then, too, there is urgent need for God’s ingathering work to be accomplished, for the time is now short before the end overtakes this wicked system of things and all who are still part of it. Think how many may still be aided to find peace with God and take their stand firmly on his side and against this old system and its god, Satan the Devil. As this opportune time swiftly runs out, what can you do to reach these people with God’s saving Word of truth? It is a real challenge, one not to be missed.—Eph. 5:15-17.
GUARD AGAINST NEGATIVE AND DEPRESSIVE FORCES
14. What might a Christian workers expect, and what counteracting counsel do we find in Galatians, chapter 6?
14 It is only to be expected that God’s work and his workers would arouse the ire and hatred of Satan and his organization, and that these, in turn, would subject the Christian to pressures of every sort in an effort to cause the Christian to break integrity to God. But refuse to be diverted from your dedicated relationship to God, even should an unbelieving marriage mate, a member of your own family or some close friend turn out to be the very instrument the Devil uses for your discouragement. Even when those who are fellow workers in the congregation of God fail somehow to give you comfort and help when you most feel the need, that is no valid reason for your turning your back on the honorable, meaningful work that Jehovah has extended to you. Instead, rely heavily on Jehovah’s Word and trust implicitly in his promises. Be assured that those who are sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit, if they do not tire out.—Gal. 6:8-10.
15. When questions of doubt arise, whose answers should we seek? Whose example can we copy?
15 What should one do if the Devil plagues one’s mind with thoughts of doubt, thoughts such as: ‘Is it all useless? Am I really accomplishing anything? Am I expected to do all this work amid pressures, criticisms and scoffers?’ Remember, only Jehovah can give the right answers, the dependable answers, for he is the one who has commissioned his servants to do this disciple-making work. When questions arise, it is His answers you need. Go to him at once and ask. (Prov. 3:5, 6; Matt. 7:7) Remember the prophet Job! How he continued to honor God with his lips through bitter trials of his faith. God blessed him for it too. Remember also those men of faith recorded in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews and profit from their experiences. “Look! We pronounce happy those who have endured,” wrote the disciple James. “Happy is the man that keeps on enduring trial, because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life, which Jehovah promised to those who continue loving him.”—Jas. 5:11; 1:12.
MAKING UP FOR PAST NEGLECT OF GOD’S WILL
16. (a) What reflections may prove profitable, and why? (b) What words of the apostle Peter can we take to heart? (c) How is Jonah’s example beneficial?
16 It is good occasionally to reflect on the past, to remember our previous situation, before becoming a servant of God, when we were without God and without hope in the world. Such reflections should awaken an earnest desire in us to make up for such negligence of the past when God was not in any of our thoughts. But how can we make up for ignoring God and his will in the past? By exerting ourselves in Jehovah’s service and thus proving that we repent over our past. Peter urges us to arm ourselves with this right disposition, “to the end that [we] may live the remainder of [our] time in the flesh, no more for the desires of men, but for God’s will. For 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.” (1 Pet. 4:2-11) The prophet Jonah is a good example. When he came to his senses and realized how he had shirked his responsibility to God, he turned around, and we find him loudly proclaiming: “Jehovah the God of the heavens I am fearing, the One who made the sea and the dry land.” Further he declared: “As for me, with the voice of thanksgiving I will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed, I will pay. Salvation belongs to Jehovah.” (Jonah 1:9; 2:9) He was eager to make up for his neglect of the past; and so should we.
17. (a) What should busy Christians keep in mind? (b) How did Paul show this same concern?
17 Keep in mind also that while Jehovah graciously extends to us a share in the busy Kingdom work, he also expects us to maintain good conduct in everyday relationships of life. Being busy in the preaching activity, but at the same time letting down one’s moral standard, would prove that it is not out of love for God that one serves. Serving with the wrong motive could render all our work of no avail. So while we busy ourselves in the work of the Lord, let us each one seek God’s approval on all our ways. This is what the apostle Paul was concerned about, stalwart laborer though he was, when he declared: “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave [under close control], that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.”—1 Cor. 9:27.
18. What can safeguard one against being disapproved by God?
18 Keep from becoming disapproved, by putting on that new personality that the Bible speaks of. (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9, 10) Allow the free flow of God’s spirit to guide every aspect of your life so that the spirit’s fruitage will make itself apparent. Then love, joy, peace and the other fruitage of the spirit will beneficially affect our relationships with one another. Such determined conscientiousness on our part is evidence of a right motive and a pure heart in our service of God.—Gal. 5:16-25.
RIGHT VIEW OF THE REWARD A HELPFUL STIMULANT
19. Why must there also be a proper view of the reward?
19 Not only a right view of the preaching work is needed, but a right view of the reward. Do not be mistaken, working for the reward can indeed be harmonized with working out of love for God. How is that? It is God who holds out the reward and bids us to strive to gain it. At Titus 1:2 we read: “Upon the basis of a hope of the everlasting life which God, who cannot lie, promised before times long lasting.” It was with that promised gift of life in mind that God gave his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ as a ransom, “in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:14-16, 36) God having provided such a precious gift, certainly he cannot but love those who would with all diligence reach out to receive it. And, besides, the inspired Scriptures assure us that “without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Heb. 11:6) And what is that reward? Always remember that the reward is eternal life under righteous conditions in God’s new order. So, reach out now for the reward, and qualify to receive it, while opportunity is still available.
20, 21. (a) What will life in God’s new order be like? (b) What will people everywhere enjoy, transforming this earth into what?
20 How different life in God’s new order will be from what we see today! Now a man may spend long hours in building a home and making a beautiful garden, only to die suddenly and leave it to someone else. But in the promised New Order a man will enjoy the outcome of his labors for years without end. Consider all the marvels of the heavens, sea and land! The most advanced scientists have but scratched the surface in their attempt to understand the wisdom and principles upon which our universe is founded. The reward of eternal life that integrity-keeping servants of God will then enjoy will afford them ample opportunity to investigate all these marvels of creation. Time will then allow for travel to become acquainted firsthand with fellow humans of all races and with animal creatures in all parts of the earth.
21 Best of all, people everywhere on earth will be enjoying peace and freedom as God’s earthly children. They will be free from the fears that blight this old system of things. They will be able to serve Jehovah in whatever they set their hands to do, for God will see to it that there is meaningful work for all. No, not jobs that produce burdens or endanger their own or others’ lives, but work that has to do with rehabilitating man and transforming this earth into a beautiful garden paradise.
22. Why is it not wise to let the imagination run riot when thinking about the future new system of things?
22 Of course, it is good to guard against letting one’s imagination run riot when thinking of conditions in the New Order that are not promised by Jehovah in his Word the Bible. No need, for example, to train now for some hoped-for activity in that glorious era, for there will be plenty of time then to gain such training and experience. Under God’s Kingdom rule people will be living in a system wherein there will be no fight against time. Time will still be marking off the days and years, but the endlessness of life then will make the need for haste unnecessary.
23. Why are Christian workers assured of the reward, and whose examples are they called upon to imitate?
23 The reward God’s people are working hard for is sure, for it is guaranteed by the Creator himself, of whom the apostle Paul confidently declared: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.” (Heb. 6:10) Your hard work in proclaiming the good news of his kingdom, and thereby publicizing his holy name Jehovah, will not go unrewarded. Assured of that fact, be like Abraham who held unbreakably to his faith in God’s word to him: “Do not fear, Abram. I am a shield for you. Your reward will be very great.” (Gen. 15:1) Also, be like the Moabitess Ruth who accepted in full faith the marvelous prospect held forth to her: “May Jehovah reward the way you act, and may there come to be a perfect wage for you from Jehovah the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” (Ruth 2:12) May you too find the strength and courage to seek refuge under Jehovah’s widespreading wings as his fellow worker.
24. Why is the Christian’s work the highest of all causes, with what end in view?
24 As you manifest the right attitude toward work you will not want to relax your effort but be alert always to have plenty to do in the work of the Lord, doing more and more, if possible. (1 Cor. 15:58) Our service to God is the highest form of work to which man can devote himself. It is the greatest Cause of all. It is that which has to do with the Name of our God and Creator, Jehovah, and certainly that is no lost cause. Rather, it is a triumphant cause, and one that gives promise to those diligently promoting it of a full and satisfying life now with the prospect of unending life in God’s new order so near at hand. May you qualify to join us in this most urgent of all causes now.