Rejoice in Your Service to Jehovah
“Serve Jehovah with rejoicing. Come in before him with a joyful cry.”—Ps. 100:2.
1, 2. How is happiness often sought, and what was Jesus’ view as to what brings happiness?
DO YOU want to be happy? ‘Of course,’ you may answer, ‘doesn’t everyone?’ Yes, most people pursue happiness throughout their lives, but the majority of earth’s inhabitants never really find that deep inner peace, contentment and joy characteristic of true, lasting happiness. Many people, believing that material things will make them happy, earnestly seek to acquire more possessions. But is the pursuit of material things the way to find lasting happiness? If not, how can it be found?
2 These questions are not difficult to answer when we realize that abiding happiness is not primarily dependent upon physical circumstances. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, his “beatitudes” or “happinesses” did not even mention material possessions. Rather, he said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need . . . Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness . . . Happy are the merciful . . . Happy are the peaceable.”—Matt. 5:3-9.
3. Is it really hard to find the way of true contentment and happiness?
3 Elusive as some believe happiness and true contentment to be, it is not far away, because it is to be found closely associated with the pure worship of the Creator, Jehovah God. He is called the “happy God” and, since he created man in his image, it follows that he wants us to be happy as well. (1 Tim. 1:11; Gen. 1:27) He makes it easily possible to find out what his purpose is for us, and what we should do. The apostle Paul told a group of Athenian philosophers that God created man and that he desires that men “grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.”—Acts 17:26, 27.
JESUS’ VIEW OF WHAT BRINGS JOY
4. Why can we rely on Jesus’ counsel that a person should not be full of anxiety and worry about material things?
4 In this world many persons find that it is a struggle to obtain the necessities of life. But need it be so? Indeed, it takes work to earn a living. But Jesus Christ showed that worrying and engaging in an anxious pursuit of what we need is unnecessary. (Matt. 6:25) Jesus knew what he was talking about, for he had served as an agent of his Father in creating mankind at the beginning. (Col. 1:15, 16) He had observed God’s care and provisions for those who served Him and he could agree with David’s declaration: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread.”—Ps. 37:25.
5. Were the economic conditions easier during and after Jesus’ earthly ministry than they are in our time, so that his words might apply with less force to us today?
5 Jesus came to the Jewish nation at a turbulent time. He knew that much harder times were coming before many years passed. As God’s highest representative to the people he gave serious, truthful advice, we can be sure, when he said: “Never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—Matt. 6:31-33.
6. Can the one trusting in God for his needs sit back and wait for God to supply them?
6 Jesus knew that his Father was the Living God, able and willing to use his superior power to provide for the one serving him, following his Word of truth. This does not mean that he will feed and clothe his servant without effort on the individual’s part. The servant of God must have a balanced view, working for the necessary things, but not making this his exclusive pursuit. He must seek what God wants him to do by looking into His Word. He must actually come to make the spiritual part of his life the primary thing. Then God will do his part, empowering the person to obtain the things he needs.—Phil. 4:19.
THE PRIMARY CAUSES FOR REAL JOY
7. What is probably the foremost happiness for a person who learns the truth?
7 This assurance and the evidence from God that this promise is true will be a source of happiness. The greater happinesses or joys are: First, the understanding of God’s purpose for the earth and mankind on it, and the place the individual occupies in that purpose. This gives aim, purpose to life, which is more important to happiness than mere possessions.
8. How do the apostle Paul’s words at 1 Timothy 4:8 apply to us in this time?
8 Then, living as God requires frees one from many fears and dangers. Those who are properly taking care of their families, both materially and spiritually, have joy, because they generally have happier family relations. Their children grow up with a purpose in life. It is much easier for the members of such a family to see the futility of seeking pleasure through drugs, immoral associations and the pursuit of goals that have no lasting reward. They thereby escape the many diseases, mental and physical, that come from the loose, wasteful, unreal way of life that is pursued by a great number of people today. Regarding this, the apostle Paul said: “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.
9. Besides the joys already mentioned, what further joy does one have upon coming to a knowledge of the truth and following through on it?
9 Additionally, there is a real brotherhood among those serving God. They may not always find favor from relatives. They may lose friends. But, as Jesus promised: “No one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get a hundredfold now in this period of time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming system of things everlasting life.”—Mark 10:29, 30.
10. What is a great happiness that only those proclaiming the good news can have?
10 A crowning happiness to a life being lived according to the Bible is the joy of helping others. In contrast to the general idea that there is joy in getting, God’s Son said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) Those who have dedicated their lives to helping their fellowman in the field of medicine, in education and like endeavors, have found a measure of satisfaction and joy. But these joys do not equal that of helping your fellowman to come to a knowledge of God. This is because a knowledge of God’s ways and his instructions help in more than a temporary way—throughout this life and with a hope of future life. Learning the truth, people come to know how, with God’s help, to live their lives, solve or cope with their problems. They can, in turn, help others in learning the way to life that the Bible provides. All of this adds more to the joy of the teacher of the good news, for he sees the fruitage of his work in the expansion of the good news over an area vaster than he could cover himself. The early Thessalonian congregation is an example of this.—1 Thess. 1:8, 9.
11. Describe the joy that Paul and Silas had while they endured persecution in Philippi.
11 If we can bring joy to others it results also in satisfying joy to us. No doubt Paul and Silas were amazed and glad when Jehovah miraculously broke open the doors of the jail in which they were held, in the Macedonian city of Philippi. But imagine the joy they had when the jailer, realizing that these men represented the Most High God, brought them outside their cell and asked: “Sirs, what must I do to get saved?” Paul and Silas were then able to explain God’s purposes through Christ, and the result was, “one and all, he and his were baptized without delay . . . and he rejoiced greatly with all his household now that he had believed God.”—Acts 16:25-34.
CHRISTIANS DO NOT LET OPPOSITION SPOIL THEIR JOY
12. Why should we not be dismayed because some oppose the truth and reproach us?
12 Some people, however, are not glad to receive the truth, and these may tend to mar the joy of the one proclaiming the good news. They may even fight the spread of the good news and try to make it hard on the proclaimer by misrepresenting him and his motives. This happened to the apostle Paul. Nevertheless, when in prison in Rome Paul wrote back to the Philippian congregation, saying: “True, some are preaching the Christ through envy and rivalry, but others also through goodwill. The latter are publicizing the Christ out of love, for they know I am set here for the defense of the good news; but the former do it out of contentiousness, not with a pure motive, for they are supposing to stir up tribulation for me in my prison bonds. What then? Nothing, except that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being publicized, and in this I rejoice. In fact, I will also keep on rejoicing.” He added, “in no respect [be] frightened by your opponents. This very thing is a proof of destruction for them, but of salvation for you; and this indication is from God.”—Phil. 1:15-18, 28.
13. How did the apostles in Jerusalem react to bitter persecution there?
13 On an earlier occasion, shortly after Pentecost day, 33 C.E., the high priest and the Sadducees “became filled with jealousy” at the public witnessing of the apostles, particularly at the fact that many people were hearing them and becoming believers. They had them taken into custody. They were released by an angel and rearrested later. Upon hearing their defense the religious leaders “felt deeply cut and were wanting to do away with them.” But when a highly respected Pharisee named Gamaliel warned: “Let them alone . . . otherwise, you may perhaps be found fighters actually against God,” they merely flogged the apostles and ordered them to stop their proclamation. Did this close brush with death discourage them, causing them to lose their joy? Quite the contrary, they “went their way . . . rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to be dishonored in behalf of his name. And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.”—Acts 5:12-42.
14. Can we count on as much help from God as did the Christian congregation in the first century?
14 On this occasion and on others, God miraculously intervened to make it evident that he was backing up the work of declaring the good news. (Acts 12:1-11) He backs it up no less today, as Christ and his angels oversee the work. In modern times Jehovah’s servants have experienced marvelous deliverances. They have seen the work of proclaiming the good news open up in areas hitherto impossible to reach. God, by his spirit, has drawn to the truth persons who were formerly bitter opposers, reminding us of the conversion of Saul, who became the apostle Paul. (Acts 9:1-16) The modern-day examples are not so obviously miraculous as those in the early congregation. Nevertheless, God’s servants can see the almighty power behind these instances—“powerful works” of Jehovah.—Gal. 3:5.
15. Do Christians seek persecution, or why do they face it?
15 With this mighty power behind them, those truly serving Jehovah are not paralyzed by fear, or discouraged to the point of quitting because of indifference on the part of the people to whom they speak. In fact, they are aware of Jesus’ words to his followers: “You will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name.” Also, they recall the apostle Paul’s warning that “all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (Matt. 10:22; 2 Tim. 3:12) Christians do not seek or desire persecution, nor do they like it, but they face it when it is brought upon them, knowing that endurance through trials will turn out for their good. They take the position of the early Christians: “Let us exult while in tribulations, since we know that tribulation produces endurance; endurance, in turn, an approved condition; the approved condition, in turn, hope [that is, hope of attaining the reward], and the hope does not lead to disappointment.”—Rom. 5:3, 4.
16, 17. (a) What was required on the part of the soldiers of Israel in their fight against the pagan nations? (b) Can we count on the same backing as we engage in bearing witness to the people?
16 The ancient psalmist encouraged the people of Israel: “Serve Jehovah with rejoicing. Come in before him with a joyful cry.” (Ps. 100:2) He desired all Israel to gather to the temple at Jerusalem to engage in pure worship. We can gain strength and encouragement by considering the situation and faith of those who served Jehovah back there. They had to maintain obedience to the Law, which held the highest standard of morality and which, by its sanitary and dietary laws, tended to keep faithful Jews from association with those not worshipers of the true God. They were surrounded by these pagan nations, which practiced every form of immorality, often in connection with their unclean idol worship. At times they were called on to fight these people who, generally, desired to destroy Israel and take their land.
17 Imagine the faith and courage it took to go out in battle against these nations, their soldiers being hardened warriors, while the Israelites, for the most part, spent their time in peaceful farming pursuits. Picture yourself having to go out and fight hand to hand against these mighty enemy warriors. And it was not personal strength, but faith in God that enabled Israel to win, for, when they lost faith in God, these nations were too much for them. It is very encouraging to read accounts such as 2 Samuel 23:8-22, and, while reading, to realize that, although the men named there were doubtless strong, active men, it was their faith in God that gave them their miraculous energy and enduring power. We have the same powerful backing today. (Matt. 28:20; Rev. 14:6) Therefore we should not become weary in well-doing or shrink back through fear, for Jehovah “is giving to the tired one power; and to the one without dynamic energy he makes full might abound. Boys will both tire out and grow weary, and young men themselves will without fail stumble, but those who are hoping in Jehovah will regain power. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not tire out.”—Isa. 40:29-31.
18. How can our joy really be greater, as a result of our faith, than the joy those ancient faithful men experienced?
18 As we declare the good news we do not have to face instant death every hour as often those fighters back there did. And we have a peaceful message that appeals to the hearts of those who really listen. So our joy can be even greater. Instead of fighting with destructive weapons of the flesh, we have weapons of righteousness that eliminate, not people, but wrong doctrines and thoughts, and bring healing. The joy that it brings to the hearts of those who hear and believe increases our joy and strengthens our hope of gaining the fine reward ahead.—2 Cor. 6:4, 7; Col. 3:23, 24.
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Great joy can come from helping a workmate to learn Bible truth