Rendering Sacred Service Whole-souled
“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 of the inheritance.”—Col. 3:23, 24.
1, 2. (a) According to Deuteronomy 30:20, why is serving God so important? (b) What privilege of heavenly service will some enjoy?
THE rendering of sacred service to the Creator of all mankind is the greatest privilege anyone could possibly have. It not only brings happiness now, but opens up wonderful future prospects as well.
2 The Bible speaks of a future heavenly scene, where “the throne of God and of the Lamb” can be seen. Here also 144,000 in number from among mankind are rendering sacred service even while ruling as heavenly kings. These are the ones of whom it is said: “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. . . . And they will rule as kings forever and ever.”—Rev. 14:1-4; 22:3-5.
3. What prospects do the majority of faithful people have for which to look forward?
3 But what about others of mankind, those not called to the “heavenly calling” but who also render Jehovah God sacred service? Are they also to be seen in this prophetic picture? Yes, they are, for the angel showed John “a river of water of life . . . flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb. . . . On this side of the river and on that side there were trees of life producing twelve crops of fruit, yielding their fruits each month. And the leaves of the trees were for the curing of the nations.” So persons showing faith now, people of the “nations” who pass through “the great tribulation,” will have this prospect of enjoying the benefits of this river of water of life and the fruits of the trees of life that will bring healing and eternal happiness to them.—Rev. 22:1, 2.
4. What does God require for one to survive Armageddon?
4 Do you want to understand who these Armageddon survivors are, and how you can be among them? We read: “In response one of the elders said to me: ‘These who are dressed in the white robes, who are they and where did they come from?’ So right away I said to him: ‘My Lord, you are the one that knows.’ And he said to me: ‘These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them. . . . The Lamb . . . will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life.’” (Rev. 7:13-17) Do you see yourself there? Do you want to be among these survivors of “the great tribulation”? You can be.
5. What did Jesus mean when he spoke of loving Jehovah with one’s “whole soul”?
5 If you desire to be with the “great crowd” who will be standing before God’s throne serving him day and night in the post-Armageddon era, now is the time to prove to Jehovah that your service will be, not halfhearted, not lukewarm, not on and off, but without letup, as illustrated by the continuous day-and-night activity of these praisers of Jehovah. This means being whole-souled in your service to God. The original-language words for “soul” in Hebrew and Greek refer to the person—you and me. So when we talk about whole-souled service, it really means giving of ourselves completely, in every way possible. When Jesus spoke of loving Jehovah with our “whole soul,” he meant with all our existence as a person, with our mind, our heart, our strength. (Luke 10:27) We need to use each part of our soul (or, life as a person) in this service to God. Our whole life should be intertwined with our sacred service.
6. How does Colossians 3:23, 24 show that more than speaking the good news is involved in sacred service?
6 Sacred service means more than talking about God’s Word to others. True, that is a part of the example that Jesus set for his followers, but sacred service also includes doing good to others, sharing things—how we live our lives each day. Our conduct at work, for example, reflects on our worship of God. As Colossians 3:23, 24 says: “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 of the inheritance. Slave for the Master, Christ.” This would include every facet of our lives—in our witnessing to others, at home, at work—it all reflects on how we respond to Jehovah’s direction.
7, 8. What are some things we should do in a whole-souled way, and why?
7 For example, both men and women have certain God-given responsibilities and assignments to perform within the family circle. Those who recognize Jehovah’s direction in their lives see the applying and the carrying out of such heavenly instruction as a part of their sacred service in the sight of God. Thus Colossians 3:18-22 (Good News for Modern Man) reminds us: “Wives, be obedient to your husbands, for that is what you should do as Christians. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents always, for that is what pleases God. Parents, do not irritate your children, or they might become discouraged. Slaves [today, employees], obey your human masters in all things, and do it not only when they are watching you, just to gain their approval, but do it with a sincere heart, because of your reverence for the Lord.”
8 Thus a woman’s devoted care for her family is a part of her sacred service, since Jehovah has given her that assignment. And she should be whole-souled in carrying it out as befits an assignment from God. (Prov. 31:15, 27) The same is true of the husband, for he must carry out his assigned role to provide things needful and to give loving oversight to the family. So wives’ obedience to husbands, husbands’ love for wives, children’s obeying parents—all should be whole-souled to be pleasing to Jehovah. We do well to ask ourselves, Are we dealing with these positions that we have in Jehovah’s arrangement in a sacred way—or in a profane and worldly way?
9. (a) How do the scriptures show another service in which true Christians share? (b) What questions should we ask ourselves?
9 Apart from these family responsibilities, a very important part of our sacred service involves our bearing witness to the truth in harmony with the example of Jesus and the apostles. (Matt. 24:14; John 18:37; Heb. 13:15; Rev. 1:5; 12:17) Of course, the amount of time persons can spend in such public service will vary, depending on age, health, family responsibilities, and so forth. But the question is, What about our desire? Are we whole-souled in our worship of Jehovah, so that we take advantage of our opportunities and the strength that we have to bear witness to the truth?
10. Explain Matthew 13:23.
10 At Matthew 13:23 Jesus gave the illustration of the seed sown upon fine soil. He applied it to people, speaking of those who not only hear the word but get the sense of it and really do bear fruit and produce, this one a hundredfold, that one sixty, and the other thirty. If we do what we can in a whole-souled way, whether little or much, then we fit Jesus’ illustration, for all three types described were part of the “fine soil,” each producing according to individual circumstances.
11. What attitude did Paul have toward serving God, and how did he show it?
11 Some, like the full-time servant Paul, have the privilege of devoting their entire lives to Jehovah’s service. Not that they are any more whole-souled than others, but, like Paul, they not only have the desire to do as much as possible in Kingdom service, but also have the mental and physical stamina, and can adjust their circumstances to take hold of this opportunity. Paul felt that the opportunity he enjoyed to share extensively in the work of announcing the Kingdom was an undeserved kindness from God. He said: “By God’s undeserved kindness I am what I am. And his undeserved kindness that was toward me did not prove to be in vain, but I labored in excess of them all, yet not I but the undeserved kindness of God that is with me . . . so we are preaching and so you have believed.” (1 Cor. 15:10, 11) Is that the way you feel about your service to God?
12. What benefits come from godly devotion?
12 Peter expressed similar thoughts. He said: “His divine power has given us freely all the things that concern life and godly devotion, through the accurate knowledge of the one who called us through glory and virtue. Through these things he has freely given us the precious and very grand promises, that through these you may become sharers in divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Pet. 1:3, 4) While Peter is here addressing those with heavenly hopes as “sharers in divine nature,” his words apply similarly to all persons exercising godly devotion. By applying the accurate knowledge of God’s Word in a whole-souled way, we can escape the corruption and troubles that come to those following lustful ways. And we have the grand promise that we may enjoy everlasting benefits from the river of water of life and from the trees of life.
A FRUITFUL SERVICE
13. (a) In what should every servant of Jehovah be interested? (b) What will help to make our service successful?
13 All of those demonstrating this godly devotion by making an effort to share the truth of God’s Word with others want to be sure that they have Jehovah’s favor and that what they do will be successful. This is what Peter discusses at 2 Peter 1:5-8. Again we note that whole-souled effort is needed, by “contributing in response all earnest effort.” Peter then mentions a number of other qualities that are essential in preventing us from becoming “either inactive or unfruitful regarding the accurate knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In fact, if someone is having spiritual problems he can generally go through this list and find what is lacking that causes the spiritual sickness or the inactivity. On the other hand, if we apply these things, we will be both active and fruitful in our service to Jehovah.
14, 15. (a) What three qualities did Peter first mention, and why is the first one of importance? (b) Why do we need faith?
14 Among the qualities Peter mentions are earnest effort, then faith, then virtue. It is clear that it takes effort to accomplish anything—effort to study to get understanding and to establish our faith, effort to apply what we learn or to share it with others. But we also know that we will reap as we sow, so if we want results, the effort comes first.—Gal. 6:7.
15 And what about faith? We cannot instill it in others unless we have it ourselves. We can be glad that faith is one of the fruits of the spirit, so that it will increase with cultivation and care. (Rom. 10:17) And why is faith so important? Because ‘without faith it is impossible to please God well.’—Heb. 11:6.
16. (a) What is virtue? (b) How does it affect our Christian service?
16 However, besides effort and faith, Peter talks also about virtue. This is important for the reason that, when it comes to our witnessing to others, all our effort and all our talking go for nothing unless Jehovah blesses our efforts and makes the seed of truth grow. It does not help in seeking to offer a sacrifice of praise if we are not living according to the truth. Virtue is moral excellence, and is needed if we are to qualify to be among those dressed in white robes. (Rev. 7:9) We can understand that a man who is very busy and yet is alert to speak in favor of the Bible and who lives according to it will do much more to advance the truth than one who can spend more time witnessing in a certain area but who is not living up to God’s Word. Time and effort spent witnessing are not the only factors that produce fruitage. Rather, it is Jehovah who gives the increase, and he knows us; he knows what we do and what we are like.
17. How can knowledge of the Bible be helpful?
17 Peter continues: “Supply . . . to your virtue knowledge, to your knowledge self-control, to your self-control endurance.” It is easy to see how a fine, accurate knowledge of the Bible will help us to be effective and fruitful in convincing people of its importance. This knowledge will help us to be ready always to make, not just a defense, but an effective defense of the good news. Not only that, but it helps us to know what Jehovah requires of us so that we will have his favor. As we get this knowledge we can see more clearly the value of doing all things his way, with completeness of heart and mind.
18. (a) What are some ways in which we can show self-control? (b) According to what he wrote to the Galatians, what shows that Paul as a single man thought self-control was important?
18 This leads us to the matter of self-control. How can our life be one of whole-souled devotion if we do not follow Jehovah’s Word in controlling our body and its passions—or what we do with our hands, where our feet lead us, what our mouth says? How can we progress spiritually if we do not have enough self-control to turn off the television when it is time to study? Which do we devote the most time to—watching television or some other recreation, or to spiritual matters? This is something to think about. How do we want to spend our time? Do we value the time that we have as a provision of Jehovah that can be used by us in matters related to “sacred service,” not just once or twice a week, but “day and night”? Whole-souled devotion to Jehovah requires control of self. It means that our energies and thoughts must be toward Jehovah, not toward self or devoted largely to self-indulgence.—Gal. 5:16, 17, 22-24.
19. Why do Christians need endurance and godly devotion?
19 But even knowledge and self-control are of little value if we do not show endurance and godly devotion, sticking to the truth once that we have found it. As Luke wrote (21:19): “By endurance on your part you will acquire your souls.” Yes, our life prospects depend on endurance. Some have to endure physical abuse, as Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi have done. Others may be troubled by indifference to their efforts to share the good news, or by pressures and ridicule from friends and family, some even by violent opposition. But as Paul told Timothy: “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8) So we need both endurance and godly devotion to continue on faithfully, not becoming inactive or unfruitful in our sacred service to God.
20. How do brotherly affection and love help us to avoid becoming unfruitful in our service?
20 Finally, Peter tells us to add to our godly devotion brotherly affection, and to our brotherly affection love. (2 Pet. 1:7) This reaches out, not just to our natural family, but to all persons. (Gal. 6:10) Those who show genuine interest in others, and agape or principled love, often see a fine response to their efforts to share the truth. Just as Jehovah shows love to us, so we want to show love and brotherly affection toward all people. We should show concern for them as individuals, including a sincere desire to help them spiritually. By doing all these things we will avoid becoming “inactive or unfruitful regarding the accurate knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—2 Pet. 1:8.
A SERVICE THAT BRINGS BLESSINGS
21, 22. (a) What counsel by Peter applies to each one serving God in spirit and in truth? (b) How can we apply Jesus’ words at Luke 13:24, 25?
21 Peter continues his words of encouragement: “For this reason, brothers, all the more do your utmost to make the calling and choosing of you sure for yourselves; for if you keep on doing these things you will by no means ever fail. In fact, thus there will be richly supplied to you the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:10, 11) Whether we are of the anointed remnant of Christ’s heirs or of the “great crowd,” Peter’s encouragement here to “do your utmost” applies to each one who wants to enjoy Kingdom blessings.
22 This is no time to diminish our sacred service. Rather, Peter appeals to us: “What sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” (2 Pet. 3:11, 12) Jesus did not give the assignment of making disciples to the angels, expecting them to materialize to do the work of separating the “sheep” and the “goats.” Instead, he gave it to those who show themselves to be his true followers both by their service and by their whole-souled devotion. (Rev. 12:17) Now is the time to be pleasing our heavenly King by regular Kingdom activity, and not by offering a crippled or half-hearted sacrifice of praise by occasional or irregular service.—Mal. 1:6-8; Luke 13:24, 25.
23. What wonderful prospects are before those now rendering God sacred service in a whole-souled way?
23 As we fill our lives with sacred service rendered whole-souled, we can have the assurance of being among the happy crowd of Armageddon survivors who will rejoice to continue such service day and night before God’s throne after the great tribulation is finished. And as Revelation 7:17 tells us: “The Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life.” What a wonderful prospect is before us if we continue to render sacred service to Jehovah in a whole-souled way!