Do You Really Believe It?
OFTEN a man will say, “I believe that,” when he is merely giving mental assent to something as being true. His mental assent does not mean that he is going to take action in harmony with it. He may be like some Christians in the first century C.E., to whom the disciple James wrote: “You believe there is one God, do you? You are doing quite well. And yet the demons believe and shudder. But do you care to know, O empty man, that faith apart from works is inactive?”—Jas. 2:19, 20.
The angels who made themselves demons by following a rebellious course knew that God existed. They had to believe in him. But that belief did not move them to act in harmony with God’s will.
Accordingly, belief that has value in the eyes of Jehovah God is not just a matter of acknowledging something as true. One who acts in harmony with his belief shows that it is genuine.
TRUE BELIEF MOTIVATES TO ACTIVITY
If you are one of Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses, you believe that the generation of people now living is in its “last days.” You believe that it is urgent to help others to become approved servants of Jehovah God and put themselves in line for surviving the coming world “tribulation” that will bring the “last days” to their end. You also believe that it is God’s will that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) Does what you believe about the “last days,” the coming “tribulation,” and God’s purpose for man stir you to activity? Does your whole way of life demonstrate that you really believe that these are the “last days” and that people’s lives are in danger?
One who is truly devoted to Jehovah God and has deep love for fellow humans acts in harmony with his belief. He exerts himself vigorously in proclaiming the Kingdom message to others. That is why Jehovah’s witnesses are very busy in this activity. Even in lands where their work is carried out under great difficulty because of official opposition, they do not give up in preaching “this good news of the kingdom.” (Matt. 24:14) In fact, the combined total of hours that Jehovah’s witnesses in eleven of these lands devoted to public preaching of God’s Word this past year was much greater than during the same period the year before. That was also true in other countries, including Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Spain and Zambia.
This is not to say that all who are associated with Jehovah’s witnesses are living their life in full recognition of the fact that these are indeed the “last days”—no, not even in the lands just named. While Jehovah’s witnesses are accomplishing much as a body, undoubtedly some individuals could do much better. Is that true of you? In a number of lands, including Australia, the British Isles, West Germany, the Philippines and the United States, the total report shows fewer hours spent in Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making last year than during the previous year. Yet it cannot be said that Jehovah’s witnesses as a group did not work hard in these lands. Surely the millions of hours that they did spend reflect zeal in using opportunities to help others to gain an accurate knowledge of God’s Word. Were you personally zealous about this work? Self-examination can be beneficial.
Of course, circumstances vary from country to country and from individual to individual. However, all of us must continually watch lest we lose sight of our precious relationship with God and cease acting in harmony with what we know to be true. None other than Jesus Christ alerted his followers to the danger of getting ensnared before divine judgment is executed. He said: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:34-36) Effort is required to resist the pressures that would plunge one into a deep spiritual sleep.
EXCESSES LEAD TO SPIRITUAL DROWSINESS
Excesses in food and drink as well as in other pleasures must be avoided. Such excesses dull mental and spiritual perception and overload the heart with feelings of guilt. They also cause the good motivations of the heart to be crowded out by fleshly desires. Any who allow fleshly desires to get the mastery over them cannot hope to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ as approved servants of Jehovah God when the “last days” culminate in the complete destruction of this system of things.—2 Pet. 3:11-14.
While a person may not be engaging in gluttony and drunkenness, he may nevertheless be pursuing a course that is interfering with spiritual wakefulness. He may be letting recreation occupy too prominent a place in his life and thus weakening his desire to help others to come to an accurate knowledge of God’s truth. It is vital for each dedicated servant of God to examine his attitude and way of life.
Ask yourself: Is the truly important thing in my life my relationship to God? Where is my heart?
If you are doing what you know to be right, you have reason to be happy with your service to God. This is in harmony with what God’s Word says: “He who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in it, this man, because he has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, will be happy in his doing it.”—Jas. 1:25.
UNDUE CONCERN OVER DAILY NEEDS IS DANGEROUS
Some dedicated servants of Jehovah God, however, are not experiencing this happiness even though they may not be given to excesses in food or drink or the pursuit of pleasure. What is their problem? Their hearts have become ‘weighed down with the anxieties of life,’ that is, they have become overly concerned about making a living. (Matt. 6:25-34) Their concern about providing food, clothing and shelter has robbed their hearts of the calm assurance that Jehovah God will supply everything his servants need. When this happens, the motivations of the heart become centered on materialistic things. The desire to share with others the marvelous promises of Jehovah God diminishes. Planning a secure future for oneself and one’s family becomes the main thing in life. This may lead to taking on time-consuming business ventures, much extra secular work or extensive building operations.
Should your heart ever incline you in that direction, what should you do? Prayerfully consider where we are in the stream of time. Ask yourself: Is it reasonable to carry on affairs of life in such a way as to ignore that this present system will soon come to its end? Is it right for me to take time that I could be using in helping others spiritually and spend it in gaining possessions that I really do not need?
Remember, Jehovah God has not promised to preserve fine homes and other possessions when this wicked system is destroyed. He has promised to preserve life. Past executions of Jehovah’s judgments prove this. Any home and other possessions that Noah and his family may have had, but that could not be taken into the ark, were destroyed. Prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., the prophet Jeremiah’s secretary Baruch was told: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Look! What I have built up I am tearing down, and what I have planted I am uprooting, even all the land itself. But as for you, you keep seeking great things for yourself. Do not keep on seeking. For here I am bringing in a calamity upon all flesh,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I will give you your soul as a spoil in all the places to which you may go.’” (Jer. 45:4, 5) Similarly, the Christians who forsook Jerusalem before its destruction in 70 C.E. escaped with their lives and with what few material possessions they could carry. Everything else they had to leave behind.
Yes, let us be satisfied and rejoice with what God grants us as our “spoil”—our souls—preserved through the coming destruction.
Would it, therefore, not be an unwise and dangerous risk to pursue material interests and neglect spiritual things? “Remember the wife of Lot.” (Luke 17:32) It may well have been her attachment to material things in Sodom that caused her to disobey angelic instruction, to look back, and consequently to lose her life.
This does not mean that all building and acquiring of material possessions is wrong in these “last days.” Nor does it mean that God’s servants should reduce themselves to virtual poverty. Wise use of material assets can actually free one to devote more time in the advancement of spiritual interests, and this is commendable.—Luke 16:9.
By putting true worship first in our lives, we will not be caught unawares at the destruction of this system of things. We can then have the satisfaction of knowing that we were instrumental in helping many people to gain life. That is certainly a fine reward for having been diligent in demonstrating our belief by positive action. If this is your desire, let your whole way of life show that you believe that we are living in the “last days” of the present system of things.
[Box on page 57]
“LAST DAYS”—WITHIN ONE GENERATION
1914 END OF WICKED SYSTEM
Increase of lawlessness.
Nation against nation.
Anguish of nations,
not knowing the way out.
Disobedience to parents.
Not open to any agreement.
Men without self-control.