Why Do You Want Life for Yourself and Others?
“You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”—Rev. 4:11.
1. How was one of Jehovah’s witnesses able to help a woman to gain a new outlook on life?
SHORTLY after World War II, in Berlin, Germany, a deeply depressed woman was about to take her life with an overdose of drugs, when the doorbell rang. She answered the bell, determined to get rid of her caller quickly, but failed when the visitor, a minister of Jehovah’s witnesses, saw her depressed state and began to comfort her with Bible passages. After listening intently to what the Bible has to say about life, she went inside and put away her drugs. God’s Word, in so brief a moment, gave her a new outlook on life, a reason to live.
2. (a) Who is the Source of life? (b) What responsibility goes along with life?
2 What is life? According to the English jurist William Blackstone, life is “the immediate gift of God.” The Bible plainly states life’s Source, saying: “With you [God] is the source of life.” (Ps. 36:9) Even though we, by birth, come into possession of this sacred gift without asking for it, nevertheless, we are held responsible for it. We are called upon to live in a manner worthy of that sacred gift, which responsibility the vast majority of mankind have failed to fulfill.
3. (a) For what kind of life do humans long? (b) How is living made worth while?
3 The desire to live is fundamental, spontaneous. Actually we want more than just to exist. It is for a meaningful, purposeful way of life that men long. To live is not merely to breathe, but to act, to work and play, to make use of our organs and all our senses and faculties. We live, then, when we are true to ourselves, responsive to our convictions. We live when we are involved in the lives of others, when we are committed and concerned. We live when we build, hope, plan and rejoice. Life is made worth while by achievement, by experience. Therefore, the man who has lived the most is not necessarily the man who is the oldest, but he who has made good use of life and has enjoyed it to the full.
4. What is the true measure of life? Give an example.
4 The Bible defines the true measure of life as qualitative rather than quantitative. Simply length of years is not life in its full sense. The astronauts have brought stones back from the moon that have been dated into the billions of years, but those stones have not lived. What if a man has lived to be a hundred, or two hundred years? If he has done nothing useful, or, perhaps worse, if he has misused or abused his life to the harm of others, would it not have been better if he had not been born? (Mark 14:21) There are millions of people today who long for immortality, but do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. On the other hand, there are others who love life and use it wisely to the full. Jesus Christ was a perfect example of this. He lived for only thirty-three and a half years, yet if a report were given of his activity in full detail, says the apostle John: “I suppose, the world itself could not contain the scrolls written.” (John 21:25) The life of Jesus was obviously a productive one. So, to speak of life as long or short is deceiving. Doubtless it would be better to speak of it as interesting or dull, empty or productive.
LIFE MUST HAVE MEANING
5, 6. (a) What must life contain if it is to have substance? (b) How does the evolution theory cheapen the value of life; with what results?
5 Mere existence, therefore, is not life in the full sense. “A person lives,” says psychotherapist Sidney Jourard, “as long as he experiences his life as having meaning and value, and as long as he has something to live for.” But what meaning or significance does this world attach to life, when the vast majority of its teachers believe life to be, not a gift of God, but an accident of nature? Their theories plainly do not reverence life. Ideas such as the theory of evolution degrade human life by teaching that man is an animal, a product of evolution. They degrade man by disclaiming the dignity that is his as a creation of God. These concepts have led many to treat life as something cheap. The crimes, violence, wars and immorality rampant in the world are a reflection of the disrespect that men hold for the sacredness of life.
6 The rash of unflattering theories about the origin of man himself is a blasphemous reproach to the Almighty Creator. As the psalmist declared: “The enemy himself has reproached, O Jehovah, and a senseless people have treated your name with disrespect.” (Ps. 74:18, 22) Such views have had a demoralizing effect on mankind.
7. Where can we find described for us the true meaning of life, with what future prospects?
7 The Bible, however, gives us life’s true meaning. It never degrades man, but dignifies him by letting us know the exciting truth about man, namely, that he is a unique, distinct creation, made in the ‘image and likeness’ of God. (Gen. 1:26-28) This fact should move man to cherish life, his own life as well as the lives of others. Man’s outlook is not cramped, with nothing but death in view, as evolutionists teach, but, according to the Bible, is expansive, with everlasting life in store for him. (John 3:16) The future potential of man is beautiful from the Bible’s standpoint—the prospect of one’s becoming a perfect son or daughter of God on a paradise earth! Little wonder why the depressed German woman found comfort in what the Bible had to say about life. Such knowledge inspires a reverence for life and a desire to keep on living, to the glory of the Giver of life.
LIFE MUST HAVE PURPOSE
8. What else must life have to make it meaningful, but how have many men sought to find it?
8 But for life to be meaningful, it must have a purpose. A student set adrift by the many philosophies on life admitted this need. “The trouble with me,” he said, “is that I have no reason for living. . . . a man needs a reason, and I haven’t one.” His sad predicament is a common one. What, then, is life’s true purpose? Many have maintained that the chief end in life is to find happiness. But what is happiness? How and where is it to be found? Some persons confuse happiness with mere physical pleasure and seek to find it by satisfying the senses. Others search to find life’s purpose in devotion to some form of art, or in a cause, or even in the love of another human. But none of these pursuits have satisfied man for long.
9. What is the grand deception today, and why is it a delusion?
9 Today’s grand deception is that man can live by bread alone, that a purely materialistic philosophy will satisfy all life’s needs. “Just give me a house, a car, a television set and a job to pay my bills, and I’ll be happy,” is the blinding, hopeful delusion. But an enlightening fact, seldom accepted by the poor, is that the rich have little pleasure in their riches. Why? Because, though having money they admit that happiness and satisfaction have somehow escaped them. Though they have bread in abundance, they still are searching for life’s purpose.
10. Where can we really find the reason for living, and what is that reason?
10 God’s inspired Word the Bible gives us the reason we should have in living if we hope to attain satisfaction. The psalmist declared: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted.” (Ps. 40:8) Jesus Christ stated similarly: “Look! I am come to do your will,” O my God. “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (Heb. 10:9; John 4:34) The Christian apostle Paul also highlighted this very reason for living, saying that Christians should prove to themselves “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) And the last book of the Bible also emphasizes this point: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.” (Rev. 4:11) Thus the Bible plainly underscores the reason for man’s existence. To use life for any other reason is to miss its purpose. So it would be well to ask ourselves, What are we doing with our life? Are we engaged in the doing of God’s will?
LIFE MUST ALSO HAVE ACCOMPLISHMENT
11. What must life include to make it meaningful, and how is this supported in the Scriptures?
11 Life lived to the glory of God is progressive, not passive, as some might imagine. It is also rewarding. When God created the first man Adam and his wife, he said: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” “And Jehovah God proceeded to take the man and settle him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to take care of it.” (Gen. 1:28; 2:15) All of this meant work, meaningful work, subduing the earth and making of it a paradise. And as long as man busied himself in doing the will of God, his life was rewarding. It was when he sought selfish pursuits in opposition to the will of God that he became unhappy with life.—Gen. 3:8-24.
12. Can life be meaningful and filled with accomplishments under imperfect conditions? Give examples.
12 Outside Eden and under imperfect conditions, life can also be meaningful and filled with accomplishments if men honestly engage themselves in doing the will of God. This has been the lesson of history. Under God’s command, Noah built an ark by means of which the human race was saved from extinction. (2 Pet. 2:5; 3:5, 6) What an achievement that turned out to be! And what about Abraham, who became a father of a son when a hundred years old, because of his faith. Or consider briefly the life of Moses, who, after eighty, did more than a dozen men would normally accomplish in a lifetime. He was used by God to challenge the Pharaoh of Egypt, resulting in release of the Israelite slaves. Moses witnessed the birth of God’s nation of natural Israel and headed it for forty years. How rich his life was, because he chose to do the will of God! The history of many others is recorded for us in the Bible—persons who proved that “the blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.”—Prov. 10:22.
13. How has the Christian ministry been marked with achievements? Illustrate.
13 The Christian ministry is marked with varied achievements, as was true of the service of faithful men of earlier times. Jesus’ life is a perfect example of this. His life had meaning. It also had purpose, for he came “to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) It was marked with achievement in that he redeemed mankind, opening the way for deliverance from sin and its wage death. What he did was rewarding, for it won for him immortality in the heavens. (Heb. 12:1-3; Phil. 2:5-11) And those who have chosen to follow in Jesus’ footsteps have likewise found the doing of God’s will rewarding. Paul became an apostle to the Gentiles, forming Christian congregations throughout the Mediterranean area. His letters form a major part of the Christian Greek Scriptures. What accomplishments these! Little wonder that he recommends the Christian life, saying: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.”—1 Cor. 11:1.
REWARDING ASPECTS OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY TODAY
14. (a) Is the Christian ministry a rewarding pursuit in life today? (b) Give examples.
14 But times are different today, some say. They may think that a religious life is an anemic type of existence, with little adventure and excitement, or satisfaction that comes from accomplishment. This, however, is not the experience of Jehovah’s witnesses. They have found the Christian ministry a most rewarding pursuit in life. They do not sit at home and lament the critical times in which we live. They are out doing things, working as evangelizers, announcing Jehovah’s kingdom, making disciples of people of all the nations. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) For example, in Denmark, ministers of Jehovah’s witnesses met a man and his wife who wanted to study the Bible, but for one thing. The man admitted that he was a drunkard, and he said that no one could help him out of his condition. Doctors had tried but failed. To add to the problem, his wife was a drug addict. What an apparently hopeless situation! But when they read in the Bible that others in similar conditions were cured of their maladies, they took heart. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) A Bible study was started with them. Two years later they were baptized as Christian witnesses of Jehovah, fully recovered from alcoholism, drug addiction and cigarette smoking! Multiply this experience a thousand times over and you begin to see that today all kinds of persons are straightening out their lives. (Col. 3:8-10) What a pleasure it is to be instrumental as God’s fellow worker to aid people like these to become reconciled to God! What happiness these Witnesses enjoy because of their willingness to spend and to be spent for others!—Acts 20:35; Ps. 110:3.
15, 16. (a) What other aspects of the ministry prove it to be a rewarding pursuit? (b) What does 2 Peter 1:5-8 say in this regard?
15 There are other bonuses that flow from the Christian ministry too. Many youths believe that to retire from work is to begin the real life. Stretched out doing nothing—‘Ah, this is the life!’ they say. But ‘life’ for how long? Inactivity soon breeds discontent. It is boring. More than that, to find oneself in the doldrums of boredom is to live in the shadow of fatigue and ill health. One moves about half-alive. On the other hand, when such youths see their fathers or mothers in their old age out in the Christian ministry calling back on interested persons, holding Bible studies or hurrying to Christian meetings, little do they realize the tonic effect of using their arms, legs and mind in this manner. It gives them a sense of well-being. Obviously, benefits come to those who respond to the apostle Paul’s counsel: “Do not loiter at your business. Be aglow with the spirit. Slave for Jehovah.”—Rom. 12:11.
16 People who retire from work, meaningful work, retire from life too. Doing nothing is a slow but sure suicide. These people’s bodies are like useless broken bedsprings; their minds are like unfurnished rooms, void of ideas or interests. The best prescription for this condition is wholesome study of God’s Word the Bible and participation in the work of God. The Christian ministry provides both. Doing God’s will fills a person with constructive thoughts and activities. It prevents him from becoming inactive, unfruitful, feeling worthless. And what an achievement and blessing that is!—Phil. 4:6-9; 2 Pet. 1:5-8.
LIFE MUST BE ETERNAL, HOWEVER, TO BE SATISFYING
17. (a) What else must be added to make life completely satisfying? (b) How is this attainable according to John 17:3?
17 While life becomes something immediately beautiful and precious for oneself and others when spent in the service of God—and that may appear to be reward enough—still to live so fully with only death in view would not be truly satisfying. Death is an enemy, not a friend. (1 Cor. 15:26) Jesus highlighted man’s need for everlasting life, when he said: “For what benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26) Material accomplishment with death in view is no accomplishment at all. To be of service to God, man must live; the dead do not honor God. (Ps. 115:17) The whole quest of the Christian ministry is this: to reconcile man to God in order that he may live eternally to the glory of God. But is this possible? Yes, and this is the good news that Christ declared. (John 17:3) Therefore, the purpose in one’s life should be to get to know God and Christ that one may live eternally. For “the gift God gives” is, not just a life of limited years, but “everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) It is he reaching out for this gift that makes the Christian life as one of Jehovah’s witnesses so exciting, so meaningful, so satisfying even now.
18. Explain why eternal life would be most desirable.
18 But would eternal life be desirable? Under perfect conditions, why not? Jesus called this promised future the ‘abundant life. (John 10:10) Paul referred to it as the “real life.” (1 Tim. 6:19) And it is not difficult to see why. Eternity offers ample time to think creatively and to work constructively. The unfinished business of God, that of turning this earth into a paradise, no doubt will be one of the first orders of the day to occupy mankind’s attention under God’s new system of things. (Isa. 65:17-25; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-5) People’s minds will never stop learning about Jehovah and acquiring facts, figures and opinions about life in general. The storage capacity of the brain is inexhaustible, and the more it stores, the more useful it becomes. Inventor-scientist Thomas Edison once bemoaned the inability of the mind in its present state to grasp all things in the universe. He said that we do not know a millionth part of anything. But think of the joy that will flow from using the mind to its far reaches! With life as it is today, it is extremely difficult to see a work through to its finish. Most people simply do things in bits and snatches and trust that the final product will be somewhere near their hopeful desire. But in Jehovah’s new system there will be time and potential to think an idea through in concrete terms to its very completion. This will result in human happiness throughout all eternity to the glory of God, for this is His stated purpose.—Isa. 55:10, 11.
19. What can we do to assure for ourselves and others the gift of everlasting life?
19 Therefore, treasure life as a gift from God by doing God’s will now. Implant this reverence for life in others by showing them life’s only Source, its true meaning and rewarding purpose. Help people to become disciples, learners, of Jehovah God and Christ Jesus by teaching them all that God has commanded for them to do. As we point others to the only reason for life, we will be keeping life’s purpose fresh in ourselves. For life, like love, cannot thrive inside its own threshold but is renewed as it offers itself to others. And its greatest and most rewarding service is to glorify God. Its ultimate wish therefore is expressed by the psalmist, who said: “Every breathing thing—let it praise Jah. Praise Jah, you people!”—Ps. 150:6.