A Fine Reward for Faithfulness
FAITHFULNESS is a quality appreciated by everyone. “A man of faithful acts will get many blessings,” says the Biblical proverb. A faithful person is not seeking first his own interests. Accordingly, the proverb goes ahead to emphasize this with a contrasting clause: “but he that is hastening to gain riches will not remain innocent.”—Prov. 28:20.
Jehovah God is “the true God, the faithful God, keeping covenant and loving-kindness.” (Deut. 7:9) A fine thing about him is that he is the kind of God who appreciates faithfulness in others, and one cannot serve him without recognition of this fine quality. In fact, “he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Heb. 11:6.
The acts of faithfulness that a person may perform need not be great or outstanding. The principle upon which one is rewarded is faithfulness in all things, however small. Jesus Christ said: “The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.”—Luke 16:10.
Such is the case with all persons truly serving God. All are his “slaves,” doing his bidding, and all look, not to men, but to God for their real, lasting reward. As a congregation, body or group, the anointed, spirit-begotten brothers of Jesus Christ, while on earth, are called his “faithful and discreet slave,” or servant. Their reward for faithfulness is dispensed to them through Jesus Christ, the Head of the Christian congregation. He provided a prophetic illustration of this. Speaking of his return in Kingdom power, he said to his disciples: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.”—Matt. 24:45-47.
In the preceding issue of The Watchtower we have discussed this illustration in which the term “slave” refers to these anointed Christians on earth as a body and the term “domestics” refers to them as individuals. They all assist in seeing that each one of their number is spiritually fed.
WHEN THE “SLAVE” WAS TO RECEIVE THE REWARD
A reward was to come after an inspection to see how the “slave” had been carrying out his job of feeding the “domestics.” The master had gone away to receive greater authority, as did the master in the parable of the minas. This man went to a distant land to receive kingly power. Christ is the “master” in the illustration, and he is shown as having a reckoning with his slaves on returning. (Luke 19:12-27) Likewise the “faithful and discreet slave” must receive his reward at the time of Christ’s return in an invisible presence in Kingdom power and before Christ acts to displace this present system of things from its domination over the earth. The apostle Peter stated the rule that ‘judgment must begin at the house of God’ and thereafter proceed to the world in general.—1 Pet. 4:17.
Feeding Christ’s “domestics” spiritually was no easy matter for the “faithful and discreet slave,” particularly for a few years after Jesus came invisibly to inspect and reward them. There was much opposition and severe persecution from religious organizations that claimed the sole right to dispense spiritual food to the “flock,” which they said belonged to them. However, these organizations of Christendom had made a wartime record for themselves, an open record of bloodguilt that had a heavy bearing on their claim to be disciples and slaves of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, they took advantage of the war hysteria to cause mobbings, arrests, imprisonment and death to members of the small remnant of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. This, along with wartime conditions and restrictions, made it difficult for the small “slave” group to keep a steady flow of Bible information to the individual “domestics.” But they faithfully did so despite hardships.
All this corresponded with what happened to the disciples at the time of Jesus’ death in 33 C.E. Jesus had foretold the situation by quoting from Zechariah’s prophecy, which reads: “Strike the shepherd, and let those of the flock be scattered; and I shall certainly turn my hand back upon those who are insignificant.” After Jesus’ betrayal, the Bible record tells us: “Then all the disciples abandoned him and fled.” The “sheep” were indeed scattered.—Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31, 56.
In parallel fashion, the work of the anointed “slave” class was almost broken up in 1918 C.E., the governing members thereof having been sentenced to many years in the federal penitentiary. The outlook was dark. Faithfulness to their commission was put to the test.
But God ‘turned his hand back upon them.’ That meant a turning back with favor. Those in the federal penitentiary were released and exonerated of all charges. The scattered “sheep” were regathered into an organized body of “domestics” and vigorously continued the spiritual feeding work, expanding their efforts even more strongly in preaching the good news of the Kingdom.
APPOINTED OVER ALL THE MASTER’S BELONGINGS
How did Christ appoint the “slave” over all his “belongings,” and how was this a promotion?
Well, shortly after his resurrection, Jesus had gone to a “distant country,” into heaven itself and into the presence of his Father, Jehovah God. After a time of sitting at His right hand awaiting God’s appointed time, Jesus received kingly power over the world in 1914. (Heb. 10:12, 13) Then, in 1919, after a period of inspection, came the time for the Master to reward his faithful “slave.” Finding this servant class indeed thoroughly faithful in feeding the household of faith, Jesus gave the “slave” a new status. The “slave” had been feeding the “domestics,” but now had a greatly enlarged position over “all [Christ’s] belongings.” This included much more than previously. The Master had obtained royal power, and the “slave” would now share in the increased interests of the Master. The faithful “slave” would now be representing and advertising, not a kingdom afar off, but the Kingdom now having all the earth under its dominion. The “slave” now represented the enthroned Messianic king, whose complete rule over the earth for a thousand years would soon begin!
Furthermore, the “slave” class would now be highly favored in being assigned to carry out a role in connection with work to be done on earth before the end of this system of things. This expanded their responsibilities and blessings. They could lend themselves as instruments for carrying out the Kingdom prophecies that have their finalizing fulfillment since the King’s enthronement in 1914. This included fulfillment of the many fine symbolisms in the book of Revelation. What a responsibility, and what dignity!
Additionally, while the “slave” class had been faithful in feeding the few remaining thousands of Christ’s body of 144,000 spiritual brothers, now they would also feed a “great crowd” of worshipers outnumbering the “domestics” by scores of times. These worshipers have come in “like a cloud” to join the “slave” and to play a large part in seeing that the good news is preached to the ends of the earth. They have been a very precious belonging of Christ’s and are greatly loved by the “slave” class for their loyal, zealous assistance. (Rev. 7:9-17; Isa. 60:8) The book of Revelation describes these as surviving the “great tribulation” that destroys this system of things and becoming the foundation of a righteous new human society on earth. Certainly this “great crowd,” spiritually fed by the “slave” class, are part of the Master’s “belongings.”
Being faithful as a composite body of Christians designated by the term “slave,” the spiritual brothers of Christ now enjoy a fine, dignified standing before Christ and his Father. As a class they are the “faithful and discreet slave.” But individually, as “domestics,” each one must remain faithfully and closely united with his brothers as part of the “slave” class. Proving faithful to the end, each will receive the reward of heavenly immortality. Finishing his course in death, each will be resurrected to heaven to be one of the kings and priests of God and of his Christ and will share in his reign over the earth. (1 Cor. 15:50-54; Rev. 20:4, 6) During that time he will be able, along with the rest of his 144,000 brothers who have served in the past, from the apostles’ time until now, to do spiritual feeding and shepherding. More than that, this body of 144,000 priests will take great joy in applying the merits of Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice to that “great crowd” and to the resurrected billions, healing and imparting perfection of life to those who prove faithful in obedience to God.
Is it not worth while, then, to be faithful? God knows that the one faithful in a few things will be faithful over many things. He has proved that he can safely reward his “slave” class with the greatest responsibility on earth at this time, and with even more marvelous blessings in the future. It encourages all of us to faithful service, knowing that our faithfulness will not be overlooked, and that God rewards faithful ones far beyond anything they could have envisioned for themselves.—Heb. 6:10.