“Roll Your Works upon Jehovah”
“Roll your works upon Jehovah himself and your plans will be firmly established.”—Prov. 16:3.
1. What did the apostles recognize to be one of the greatest needs that Christians have?
ONE of the things that people need most in our times is encouragement. Everyone feels discouraged now and then because of the pressures of this world and on account of his own inadequacies. Christians are no exception. The apostle Paul described the purpose of his visit to a congregation “that there may be an interchange of encouragement among you, by each one through the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Rom. 1:12) When Christian men from Jerusalem traveled to other cities, they “encouraged the brothers with many a discourse and strengthened them.” (Acts 15:32; 20:1) This is a fine pattern for elders and traveling overseers today.—Compare Philippians 2:1.
2. What does the Bible advise that we do when faced with a difficult job or a problem?
2 Sometimes you may have a problem or a job that seems like a mountain. Or, you may encounter some very unfavorable circumstance in life. What should you do? Instead of being discouraged or giving up, you should turn to “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort.” (2 Cor. 1:3, 4) Yes, “roll your works upon Jehovah himself and your plans will be firmly established.”—Prov. 16:3.
3. What does it mean to “roll your works upon Jehovah”?
3 However, what does it mean to “roll your works upon Jehovah”? It means to roll the burden off your shoulders, as it were, onto his. Of course, the plans or desires you have must be right, good, in harmony with God’s Word of truth, not for selfish satisfaction, revenge, and so forth. But instead of feeling that the burden is on you, lay everything before Jehovah, fully putting the issue in his hands. Then, through prayer and by following the Bible’s counsel to the best of your ability, look to him to accomplish what you ask.—Jas. 1:2, 5; Matt. 7:7, 8.
GROWTH AND PROSPERITY COME FROM GOD
4. Why is it essential that a Christian keep in mind ‘rolling his works upon Jehovah’?
4 This is a very serious matter. If a Christian does not do this, he may begin relying too much on himself, thinking, perhaps not even consciously, of his own importance or ability. If his plans appear to succeed, he may take the credit to himself, only to find out later that his “success” was only temporary or superficial. Such success does not bring glory to God and does not truly help others. For, “unless Jehovah himself builds the house, it is to no avail that its builders have worked hard on it. Unless Jehovah himself guards the city, it is to no avail that the guard has kept awake.”—Ps. 127:1.
5. How did the apostle Paul point out the wrongness of glorifying ourselves or other men?
5 This principle was emphasized by the apostle Paul when he wrote to the Christian congregation at Corinth. Many in this congregation were following or glorifying ambitious men. (2 Cor. 11:4, 5, 13) Also, some may have given undue importance to Paul and Apollos. (1 Cor. 1:12) But Paul used himself, Apollos and Cephas as illustrations, so as to show how improper it is to glorify self or to look to oneself or to any man or men. (1 Cor. 4:6) He said: “After all, what is Apollos? What is Paul? We are simply God’s agents [or, servants] in bringing you to the faith. Each of us performed the task which the Lord allotted to him: I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it; but God made it grow. Thus it is not the gardeners with their planting and watering who count, but God, who makes it grow.”—1 Cor. 3:5-7, New English Bible.
6. What will be the result to the Christian who does not ‘roll his works upon Jehovah’?
6 Paul then pointed out that they might have been working hard to build on the right foundation, which is Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, if they failed to build properly—not ‘rolling their works upon Jehovah’ and so not relying on him to bring success—they would find, to their shame, that they had built things of no value, things that would not endure God’s test.—1 Cor. 3:10-15.
7. Why must a Christian watch himself to see that he does not rely on himself or take credit to himself?
7 The reason why Christians have to be very watchful of themselves is that it is the human inclination to rely on oneself, to take credit to oneself and to act independently. God said, shortly after the flood of Noah’s day: “The inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up.” (Gen. 8:21) This inclination we have all inherited from Adam, who took an independent course, to do things on his own, according to his own direction of matters. But he actually came under the dominion of the Devil.—Gen. 3:5.
EXALT GOD’S NAME, NOT OURSELVES
8. What should be the primary motivation in all things that we do?
8 God’s name and that of his Son must be sanctified in all that Christians do. This means that our object must be to make known and to exalt God’s sovereignty, his righteousness, his mercy and his other fine qualities. (1 Pet. 3:15) If we do not do this, either we or someone else will be credited for what is done, with no good result. An instance that God has had recorded, highlighting this fact, is found in a situation that developed after Israel’s settlement in the Promised Land.
9. How did the Israelites experience the results of ‘rolling their works upon Jehovah’?
9 At the time, Samuel the faithful prophet was judging Israel. Because the people had vacillated between the worship of Jehovah and that of other gods, they had suffered much at the hands of their enemies. But Samuel directed them in the right way. He called on them to put away the false gods that were in their midst. They obeyed and began serving Jehovah alone. Thus, ‘rolling their works upon Jehovah,’ they were granted a decisive victory over their bitter enemies, the Philistines.—1 Sam. 7:3, 4, 10-14.
10, 11. Even after Jehovah had guided them so well, how did the Israelites fail to exalt him and trust in him?
10 Even so, after actually experiencing their own inadequacy and that they were completely dependent on Jehovah for blessings, later on, when Samuel had grown old, they demanded a king. They said: “Appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” When Samuel prayed to God over the matter, Jehovah’s answer was: “It is not you whom they have rejected, but it is I whom they have rejected from being king over them.”—1 Sam. 8:4-7.
11 Samuel then warned them of the oppression that they would suffer under the rule of a human king, but they replied: “No, but a king is what will come to be over us. And we must become, we also, like all the nations, and our king must judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”—1 Sam. 8:10-20.
12. By not ‘rolling their works upon Jehovah,’ what results did they experience?
12 The people of Israel here revealed their true heart condition, looking to men to bring success to their plans. They did not have the faith to ‘roll their works upon Jehovah.’ A little later on, God exhibited his displeasure by causing a rain on the very day that they were to harvest their wheat. (1 Sam. 12:17, 18) Thereafter, Israel suffered much under their kings, with the exception of a few faithful men, such as Kings David, Josiah and Hezekiah. This was a result of not recognizing that Jehovah was their real king.
LAY EVERYTHING IN GOD’S HANDS
13. In everything that we as God’s servants undertake, how should we go about it?
13 From this example we can see that, in every problem confronting God’s servants and in all their undertakings, Jehovah is involved. First we must have Jehovah’s will and his name in mind. Then we can lay matters before him and know that the firm establishing of our plans is in his hands. If it works out, God gets the praise. If it turns out differently from what we had planned, we can still know that he is doing or permitting what is best for us.—Rom. 8:28.
14. What is wrong when we as Christians credit some accomplishment to our ability or ingenuity?
14 In the world, a person’s success is often in direct proportion to his ability and ingenuity, so that individuals take the credit for their accomplishments to themselves. But in the service of God this is not so. Otherwise, the measure of a person’s standing with God would be his ability or personality. Actually, the person who relies least on his personality or ability is the one whom God blesses. The apostle said: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not that out of ourselves.” (2 Cor. 4:7; compare 2 Corinthians 12:9.) Christians have to be alert at all times not to lapse into the natural tendency of the imperfect flesh, forgetting that they are ‘simply God’s servants,’ planting and watering the seed, but that it is God who makes it grow.—1 Cor. 3:6, 7.
15. How do accomplishments in serving God rest on the same principle as the successful functioning of our bodies?
15 The part that God performs as we serve him can be compared with the way our bodies function. The organs God designed for us function without our being conscious of their operation. We can only partly explain how they work. Also, the food we get grows with only minor effort on our part, and in some cases none at all, yet it is filled with all the vital nourishing factors. Sun, rain, soil and seed do the major tasks. So, in reality, our life is wholly dependent on the things God supplies. He does practically all the work. Our service to God rests on the same principle. Says the apostle Peter: “If anyone ministers, let him minister as dependent on the strength that God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”—1 Pet. 4:11; compare Matthew 6:25-31.
THE FINE EXAMPLE OF ABRAHAM
16. How did Abraham have to ‘roll his works upon Jehovah’ in connection with the promised seed?
16 Abraham is a fine example of a man who unreservedly ‘rolled his works upon Jehovah.’ He had only Jehovah’s word of promise that God would make a great nation out of him and that through him all families of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 12:2, 3) The apostle Paul calls attention to Abraham’s faith, saying:
“(He [Abraham] is the father of us all, just as it is written: ‘I have appointed you a father of many nations.’) This was in the sight of the One in whom he had faith, even of God, who makes the dead alive and calls the things that are not as though they were. Although beyond hope, yet based on hope he had faith, that he might become the father of many nations in accord with what had been said: ‘So your seed will be.’ And, although he did not grow weak in faith, he considered his own body, now already deadened, as he was about one hundred years old, also the deadness of the womb of Sarah. But because of the promise of God he did not waver in a lack of faith, but became powerful by his faith, giving God glory and being fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to do. Hence ‘it was counted to him as righteousness.’”—Rom. 4:16-22.
17. How did Abraham ‘roll his works upon Jehovah’ when God asked him to sacrifice the one through whom the seed was to come?
17 Abraham knew that, for a son to be brought forth from him and his wife Sarah, God would have to intervene. He knew that he was completely powerless. But this did not cause Abraham to despair. When a son was born to him, Abraham knew that it was by a miracle of Jehovah, restoring his and Sarah’s reproductive powers. This further strengthened his faith. Now, he knew that through this son the seed was to come. What did he do when God asked him to sacrifice that son? This must have caused great wonderment on Abraham’s part. He could have considered this request “just too much.” But he gave himself absolutely into Jehovah’s hands, as recounted in the Bible book of Hebrews:
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, as good as offered up Isaac, and the man that had gladly received the promises attempted to offer up his only-begotten son, although it had been said to him: ‘What will be called “your seed” will be through Isaac.’ But he reckoned that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; and from there he did receive him also in an illustrative way.”—Heb. 11:17-19.
GOD CAN MAKE YOUR WAY SUCCESSFUL
18, 19. Viewing these matters, why should we face difficult jobs or problems with courage and confidence?
18 After reading such an account, how can any one of us think, on any occasion, that we must rely on our own power, position or ability to accomplish something in God’s service? It serves as refreshing encouragement to know that if we put implicit trust in Jehovah and obey him, just as Abraham did, we need not worry about the outcome, no matter how difficult the job or problem before us. It may be a matter of providing the necessities for our family. Or, a widow with young children may have her hands full trying to bring them up in “the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Eph. 6:4) Or, perhaps, the problem is finding time for field service. Some may feel trepidation about going from door to door and about teaching people from the Bible. Remember that ‘you can do all things through him that imparts power to you.’ (Phil. 4:13) Keep in mind that Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are by your side. You can endure “as seeing the One who is invisible,” just as Moses did when he was faced with the mountainous task of leading some three million Israelite slaves out of Egypt, through a desolate wilderness—a task entirely beyond human capability. (Heb. 11:27-29) Moses had to ‘roll his entire burden upon Jehovah.’ Then Jehovah did the work. Certainly our problems are no harder than the one Moses faced.
19 That is why the Bible advises us to “pray incessantly” and to “persevere in prayer.” In this way we can ‘roll our works upon Jehovah,’ continuing to look to him to cause our plans to be firmly established. (1 Thess. 5:17; Rom. 12:12) As Jesus did, we will then sanctify Jehovah’s name and acknowledge him as actually bringing the results, giving him the credit and praise for what is accomplished.
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God makes our bodies to function and food to grow with little or no effort on our part
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So, too, it is God who brings forth spiritual growth