Rendering Sacred Service Night and Day
“God, to whom I render sacred service with my spirit in connection with the good news about his Son.”—Rom. 1:9.
1, 2. How does the Bible show that there are sacrifices involved in our “sacred service” to God?
SERVANTS of God today are not required to offer up sacrifices according to the Law covenant, which Christ Jesus fulfilled and which God therefore put out of the way. But there are sacrifices that form a vital part of our “sacred service.” What are they?
2 Paul the apostle of Christ Jesus shows us at Hebrews 13:15, 16. After speaking of the “sacred service” at the tabernacle by the priest of Israel and how this was fulfilled in Jesus, Paul says: “Through him let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.”
3. What do Paul’s inspired words at Hebrews 13:15 require of us?
3 What does that mean for us? It means that we should want to be speaking out the truth about Jehovah God and about the good news of his Kingdom. And we should be doing this not just now and then, once in a while, on weekends or meeting nights only, but, as the apostle says, “always”—every day, night and day, being on the alert for opportunities to do this.
4. Is our “sacred service” performed just with our lips? (1 John 3:18)
4 Does that mean that our “sacred service” is entirely a matter of talking? No, for after speaking of the “sacrifice of praise,” the apostle goes on to describe other sacrifices God wants of us. He says, in Heb 13 verse 16: “Moreover, do not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Yes, our “sacred service” needs to be a balanced one, one that balances words of praise to God with deeds, with the “doing of good and the sharing of things with others.”
5. (a) How can our whole life bear witness to the good news? (b) What effect will this have on others in our community?
5 So, like Jesus we want our whole life to be a witness to the truth. Of course, we cannot perform miracles as Jesus did to help people, but our fine conduct, honesty, sincerity and helpfulness to people when we can and with what we have are just as acceptable. We can do as Galatians 6:10 urges: “Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” By this course we establish a groundwork for persons opening their ears to the truth. We must not, then, hold back from declaring the good news to all, freely, boldly, ‘out of the abundance of our hearts.’ Otherwise, how will people who observe our good works and our fine manner of life really be helped? We must let people know that it is the good news of God that has moved us to do the fine works. (Matt. 5:16; 12:34, 35) Then they will see that there is a possibility to become the same as we are if they too learn the good news. Unless we have the fine, helpful and kind works along with good conduct as well as the “sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name,” we are not fully rendering God “sacred service.”—Heb. 13:15.
6. For our “sacred service” to be complete, what, then, is required?
6 From Jesus’ example and that of the apostles it is evident, then, that our “sacred service” is not entirely a matter of changing our personalities and doing kind things. This is a part, the foundation, of our service, to which we add the sacrifices of praise. (Ps. 106:12) Our “sacred service” cannot be complete unless we both live and declare the good news.
7. Who determines how much time we spend in the different sacrifices that form our “sacred service”?
7 All of us today can be showing ourselves to be among those rendering “sacred service” to God day and night. Jehovah God has not set out for us any legal code as to just how much time we are to spend in giving the sacrifice of praise (except to say “always”) or how much in the other sacrifices with which God is well pleased. We must balance this out ourselves. But all these sacrifices—the fruit of our lips in making public declaration to his name and the doing of good and the sharing of things with others—these must all be there and find a place in our lives, in the daylight hours and in the evening hours.—Compare Acts 26:7.
8 Jesus had the good news in his heart, he meditated on it and considered how he could put the message across to the people. He was always ready, “night and day,” to speak the good news, even when he was very tired. He was zealous always to declare the truth. (John 2:17) Recall how he talked to a woman, a Samaritan, whom the Jews considered below the level of being able to appreciate sacred things. (John 4:7-26) But Jesus did not judge the woman, even though he knew also that she was living immorally. His witness to her resulted in a wonderful widespread declaration of God’s name and purposes.—John 4:39-42.
OUR WHOLE LIFE COURSE A “SACRED SERVICE”
9. Essentially, just what does “sacred service” embrace, and how do the inspired writings of Paul bring this out? (Col. 3:17)
9 “Sacred service,” then, is not something that occupies only a portion of our lives. It is not limited to just one activity or a certain number of activities but it takes in every aspect of our daily living. It can be summed up by these words: ‘Keep doing all things as unto Jehovah, whether eating or drinking or doing any other thing.’ (1 Cor. 10:31) Showing how all-embracing this service should be, the apostle says at Romans 12:1, 2: “I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason. And quit being fashioned after this system of things.”a
10. (a) What determines whether any particular activity forms part of our “sacred service”? (b) What “night and day” service does God’s Word call on parents to perform, and how should they view this?
10 Many things are involved, but your aim, your goal and your heart motivation are key factors in determining whether what you do is really “sacred service” or not. For example, among us are many parents. Part, in fact, a large part, of your “sacred service” to God involves your children. Psalm 127:3 says that they are “an inheritance from Jehovah.” Are you caring for that inheritance as unto him and for his glory? This too is a “night and day” feature of your service, for God’s Word points out that parents should be instilling God’s fine principles into their children from the time they get up until the time they lie down. (Deut. 6:4-9) To do this, a basic thing is to study the Bible with them. But a parent should not say to himself, ‘I have a Bible study once a week with my children, just as I have with other people. Therefore that is enough for them to know what is right and to follow Bible principles.’ This is just not true. Remember, the Bible says that children of a believing parent are viewed by God as “holy” or sacred. (1 Cor. 7:14) How would you treat something left in your care that you knew was sacred to God? Would you not guard it most carefully every day, day and night?
11. Why cannot this aspect of “sacred service” be neglected by parents?
11 What you do now to teach and discipline your children could well save them. On the other hand, if you are lax now, you may lose them. That is, the time may suddenly come—before you know it—when your words to them fall on deaf ears. The world will have more influence over them than you will have. Then, how will God view the way you have handled property sacred to him?
12, 13. (a) How can parents wisely and effectively carry out the exhortation at Deuteronomy 6:4-9? (b) Why will Christian parents want more than just a “good child” from the worldly standpoint? (Prov. 3:1-4)
12 To instill God’s Word in the children all day long does not mean constant preaching to them. It calls for your exemplifying what God’s truth is all about by your daily life and conversation. On every occasion, either by your loving, close relationship with them and your friendly, intimate association and free communication, you can help them to appreciate Jehovah God, his wisdom, his love and the rightness of his ways. Listen to them, reason with them. When giving instructions or jobs for them to do, or in disciplining, show why, and explain the good results of obeying you as a parent and, consequently, of obeying God as Head over all.
13 You cannot simply try to have a “good child” in the sense that the world uses that term. Of course, you want your child to be well-mannered, respectful, honest, and considerate of others. But you want him or her to be that way because, above all, your child has come to know and to love Jehovah God. For your upbringing of your child to be different from the world’s youth, and to be truly a “sacred service,” the child’s mind and heart must be directed toward Jehovah, so that he or she becomes a praiser of Jehovah.—Ps. 148:12, 13.
14. How can husbands and wives render “sacred service” through the marriage arrangement?
14 Husbands and wives can render “sacred service” by making their marriage successful and an honor to God’s institution of marriage. A man or a woman may be very kind and pleasant to others, patiently putting up with mistakes or even suffering indignities and injuries from them without retaliation. But when it comes to the marriage mate, a husband or a wife may be quick to anger, ‘reading between the lines’ of what the mate says, with a ‘chip-on-the-shoulder’ attitude, looking for an occasion to find fault. Or the couple may cut off communication with each other. No matter what other things a married person may do, he or she is not fully rendering acceptable “sacred service” to God if he or she ignores the sacred marriage covenant.—Eph. 5:22-25, 29.
15. What powerful contribution can a housewife make to the spread of the good news in her community?
15 Housewives have a fine opportunity to perform acceptable “sacred service” to God. Their fine works that others can see would certainly include keeping a neat, clean house, taking care of the cooking and the clothing needs of the family. For what is more on display to others than one’s home? A wife’s hospitality, her readiness to help her neighbors, particularly her willingness to ‘put herself out’ to assist other sisters in the congregation in whatever their needs may be—these are sacrifices in which God is well pleased. When people know these things about her, then her public declaration of the good news in the congregation territory will have a more powerful influence.—Acts 9:36-41; Titus 2:4, 5.
16. How can children and youths render “sacred service” to God every day with fine results?
16 If children in the household are concerned with rendering “sacred service” to Jehovah they can show respect for their father and help their mother in bringing honor to God by helping them to keep the house in good, clean order. And where parents are not in the truth the children can do much in this way to cause the parents to honor God. Their conduct before schoolmates, respect for teachers, telling others about the good news when opportunity affords and working closely with the congregation in things done at the Kingdom Hall and sharing in the field service, certainly are things God counts as “sacred service” to him. (Prov. 20:11; Titus 2:6-8) A good test of your service, as to whether it is true “sacred service” or not, is the question you might ask yourself: ‘Do I go in the field service, perhaps carrying Bible literature to others?’ That is commendable. But, now, also ask yourself: ‘At school and elsewhere, what is my conduct? Do I do what worldly youths do? Or do I remember that I am to render “sacred service” to Jehovah night and day?’ You, like others, can do much to interest people in the good news by your daily conduct and fine attitude.
17. What particular service are elders called on to perform?
17 Christian elders are also called on to serve night and day. Part of your “sacred service” is on behalf of your brothers, caring for their spiritual needs. To the elders of the Ephesus congregation, the apostle Paul could say: “Therefore keep awake, and bear in mind that for three years, night and day, I did not quit admonishing each one with tears.” (Acts 20:31) Your brothers today need your help no less than the brothers in Ephesus needed help back in the first century.
18-21. (a) Of what did Paul’s day and night “sacred service” consist? (b) Why did his secular work qualify as part of his “sacred service” to God, and what lesson is there here for us?
18 Can you do what Paul did, serving day and night? Paul’s words do not necessarily mean that he spent every minute in talking or preaching. No, for in Acts 20:34 he goes on to mention how he worked with his own hands doing secular work so as to attend to the material needs of himself and of those laboring with him. In fact, in writing to the Thessalonians, he said: “Certainly you bear in mind, brothers, our labor and toil. It was with working night and day, so as not to put an expensive burden upon any one of you, that we preached the good news of God to you.”—1 Thess. 2:9.
19 Yes, Paul sometimes was occupied not only in the day but also in the evening in secular work, such as tentmaking. But it is important for us to ask: Why did he do this? Was it for materialistic reasons or due to a desire for luxuries? No, but as he himself says, it was “so as not to put an expensive burden” on his brothers. He set an example in this so that no one could accuse him of leading a soft life through the financial support of those to whom he was serving the good news. Because his motive and aim were to advance the truth and eliminate any stumbling blocks in the minds of those he served he could be said to be engaging in God’s service even during those secular working hours. But what if his motive had been selfish, if he had not been doing all things as unto Jehovah and for the advancement of the Kingdom interests? Then his work would have been no different from that of any other secular work. It would not have been a “sacred service.”
20 Paul, however, having a clean conscience and a right motive in his secular work, could make this part of his “sacred service” to God harmonize with his God-given commission by proclaiming the good news with great boldness and zeal. And such “sacred service” was greatly blessed by God. As Paul said, in our theme text: “God, to whom I render sacred service with my spirit in connection with [what? with] the good news about his Son.” (Rom. 1:9) Surely we must all marvel at the far-reaching effects of Paul’s faithful efforts to render God “sacred service.”
21 Each one of us, therefore, needs to ask himself, What is my viewpoint of my work and for what am I aiming? The only reasonable answer is found in the counsel that the apostle gave to the young man Timothy: “Be training yourself with godly devotion as your aim. For . . . godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Tim. 4:7, 8; John 6:27.
22. What twofold purpose do we achieve through our godly devotion?
22 Yes, the main objective of our godly devotion is to render “sacred service” to Jehovah and to bring honor to his name, thereby helping others to appreciate what kind of God he is and to come into intimate relationship with him. But by doing this we also live happier lives even now, in this time. And it means ‘the life to come,’ not only for us, but for our families and for all who are influenced by our conduct and our proclamation of the good news.
23, 24. What encourages us to keep testing ourselves as to the genuineness of our “sacred service”?
23 With regard to ‘the life that is to come,’ and even more, the opportunity of having an unbroken life-span from now on into eternity, the apostle John’s vision of the surviving great crowd is one of the greatest encouragements to ‘keep testing whether we are in the faith,’ proving whether we are really rendering “sacred service” to the full. (2 Cor. 13:5) Yes, God holds forth to us the crowning hope of being part of that great and unnumbered throng that he is going to preserve through the coming great tribulation and introduce into his righteous new order.
24 What a wonderful prospect is set before us for doing the right thing, the reasonable and most delightful thing! Why, everyone on earth will soon be rendering “sacred service” to God, and what a true paradise earth will then be!—Rev. 22:1-3.
25. To survive the approaching great tribulation, what should we be doing even now?
25 If we are going to be among those escaping destruction during the great tribulation, we must be doing right now what John saw the great crowd doing after the tribulation had passed. They were “crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Rev. 7:10) Not hesitantly, not uncertainly, but as though with a “loud voice,” motivated by confidence and by wholehearted love and whole-souled devotion—that is how we want to make public declaration to Jehovah God’s name and concerning all the grand things for which it stands and all the glorious promises that are backed up by that name. We want to be praising Jehovah and his Son ‘always,’ to one another in our homes, at our meetings, and to all who will listen in our community or wherever we are. And if we do this, all the heavenly hosts, who “always behold the face of [Christ’s] Father,” will back us up to the full, saying “Amen” to the proclamation of the good news we make as a specially designated part of our genuine “sacred service” to God.—Matt. 18:10; Rev. 7:12.
26. What motivates thousands of persons earth wide to seek Jehovah today, and what cause for rejoicing does this bring us?
26 It is “sacred service” by Jehovah’s people that is drawing thousands toward him today. They see the attitude of love and helpfulness, the cleanness, the sterling integrity, the peaceableness of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Then they hear and are impelled to listen to the good news God’s servants zealously declare. Thus Jehovah God is glorified now and will yet be glorified with greater brilliance throughout the earth, being praised mightily by the appreciative tribulation survivors—all of this the fine, happy result of truly rendering “sacred service” to God day and night.
a The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, commenting on the use of the verb la·treuʹein (to render sacred service), says; “The comprehensive use of latreuin for the whole conduct of the righteous toward God is found first in Lk. 1:74.” “ . . . in Phil. 3:3 we again find latreuʹein in a broad metaphysical sense in which it comprises the whole of Christian existence.”—Vol. IV, pp. 63, 64.