Doing Jehovah’s Work in Jehovah’s Way
“Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and . . . to what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine.”—Phil. 3:15, 16.
1, 2. What twofold activity is required of dedicated Christians today, as shown by what scriptures?
WHAT is Jehovah’s work for those who have dedicated themselves to do his will and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ his Son? It is a twofold work that was both foretold and commanded by Jesus Christ.
2 He prophesied: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) So, to share in preaching this good news of the Kingdom is certainly an important part of doing Jehovah’s work today. Jesus further commanded his early disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) Christians not only must preach, but also must teach people what they themselves have been taught. They should help others to do the things Jesus himself commanded his original apostles and disciples to do.
3. What do the Scriptures show as to how God’s work is to be done?
3 How is Jehovah God’s work to be done? Is each Christian to do this work as he feels like doing it or thinks it should be done? Not at all. Rather, God’s Word commands how we should do it. This principle was illustrated as far back as the days of Moses, for at Deuteronomy 12:8 we read: “You must not do according to all that we are doing here today, each one whatever is right in his own eyes.” On the contrary, we are to do as commanded at Deuteronomy 6:18: “You must do what is right and good in Jehovah’s eyes, in order that it may go well with you.” The apostle Paul shows that these principles also apply to the Christian congregation: “Now I exhort you, brothers, . . . that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” (1 Cor. 1:10) And, at Philippians 3:15, 16, Paul shows that to think, speak and work harmoniously is a mark of mature Christians. This unity of purpose and action is essential in doing Jehovah God’s work in his way.
GIVING GOD’S WORK THE FIRST PLACE
4. (a) What place should God’s work have in our lives? (b) What things rightfully may make demands on our assets?
4 Now what are some of the things included in doing Jehovah’s work in Jehovah’s way? For one thing, we need to give it priority in our lives. As Jesus urged: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33) We have only so much time, so much physical and mental strength or energy and only so much of this world’s goods. There are so many things that rightfully make demands on our time. For example: a father must provide for his family, not only spiritually but also materially, and arrange for a certain amount of recreation for them. All these things are required of him.—Compare 1 Timothy 5:8.
5. (a) How can a Christian put Jehovah’s work first with regard to his secular job? (b) How was one father rewarded for doing so?
5 However, even in regard to such obligations there are areas wherein Christians may be able to choose. For example, in order to put God’s kingdom first in our lives, we may be able to take the kind of employment that will leave us the most possible time for sharing in the preaching and discipling work and in caring for the spiritual interests of our families. One father working as a laboratory technician quit that job and became self-employed, doing all manner of odd jobs, so that he could devote more time to caring for the spiritual interests of his four sons and daughter. The result? The children also grew up to be fine Christian workers.
6. What choice must we make as to the use of our leisure time?
6 Then there is the matter of our leisure time. We all need recreation, but how much? Does it come first in our lives? Do we intensely pursue our favorite form of recreation so much that our spiritual interests suffer? Or, do we first take care of our spiritual needs and then, as time is available, engage in some recreation? Often it is a case of choosing, for usually it is not this AND that, but this OR that. Do we regard God’s work of living and spreading the “good news” as the cream, so to speak, of our lives and the other things as the skim milk? Or, do we thoughtlessly make pleasure the cream of our time, energies and means, and God’s work the skim milk? Are we laying ourselves open to the charge of being “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God”?—2 Tim. 3:4.
BALANCE AND TIMING
7, 8. (a) What does doing Jehovah’s work in Jehovah’s way require of us as to the ways in which we share the “good news” with others? (b) As to timing?
7 Jesus said that he did nothing of his own originality. He followed closely the direction given by his Father. (John 14:10) So we do well to study carefully his example and carry on the preaching of the “good news” in the ways that he did. In this way we will be doing Jehovah’s work in Jehovah’s way. Jesus did not wait for people to come to him, nor did he limit his preaching of the “good news” to persons with whom he was already acquainted. He went “from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God.” (Luke 8:1) Imitating his example, his disciples took the initiative to approach other people with the “good news”; they witnessed to groups in marketplaces and other locations where people congregated. (Acts 16:13-15; 17:17-21) Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the same principles. They take the initiative in sharing the “good news” with others, whether these are acquaintances or strangers. As they go about the affairs of daily life, they have contacts with relatives and neighbors, in business and in school; and they endeavor to use these contacts to share Bible truth in appropriate ways. But not everyone would hear the “good news” if we limited our activity to this. There are some who would never be met if we did not call personally at their homes. Having the kind of love that reaches out to include all sorts of persons, Jehovah’s Witnesses put forth the effort to reach everyone with the Kingdom message. Does your personal share in this activity reflect this balanced Christian outlook?—Matt. 5:46-48; 1 Tim. 2:3, 4.
8 Closely related to balance is the matter of timing. There is indeed ‘an appointed time for every affair under heaven.’ (Eccl. 3:1-8) In keeping with this principle, when we are at a congregation meeting and a Christian minister is giving a talk, that is not the time to be dozing, whispering or reading something not related to the subject being discussed. Also, the evenings when meetings are held are not the time to make return visits or to engage in other Christian activities that could just as well be taken care of at some other time. It seems that elders especially need to exercise care in this matter of timing. Often they may be tempted to take care of congregation matters right during meetings. With a little better planning, however, these things could well be cared for at some other time.
DOING GOD’S WORK PEACEABLY, JOYFULLY
9, 10. (a) Why should we do Jehovah’s work peaceably? (b) Why is this sometimes a problem?
9 Jesus counseled his apostles: “Keep peace between one another.” (Mark 9:50) After all, is not Jehovah the “God of peace,” and his Son the “Prince of Peace”? (Phil. 4:9; Isa. 9:6) And did not Jesus pronounce happy the peaceable, that is, the peacemakers? (Matt. 5:9, Kingdom Interlinear Translation) This means that we should be concerned and put forth efforts to have peace among ourselves.
10 Why does working together peaceably sometimes present a problem? One reason doubtless is that we all have different personalities. So should we not be willing to make allowances for different ways of thinking and acting, being understanding rather than critical? Another reason why keeping the peace presents a problem at times is that we have a keen desire to see God’s work done in the best possible manner, and we naturally think our way is the best. Sometimes that may be so. But often there is more than one acceptable way to do something. When that is so, it is far more important that we work peaceably together than that something be done in absolutely the most efficient manner.
11. In the interest of peace, what should an elder be willing to do?
11 In particular do elders, when coming together to consider matters relating to the congregation, need to keep in mind the importance of maintaining peace. Where there is no compelling principle involved, and the question is only a matter of taste or a little more or less expense, in the interest of peace the wise one will yield to the one who feels strongly about the matter. If we keep insisting on having our way, we may cause hard feelings and even cause our brothers to be estranged. Then would the victory have been worth it? Of course not! So doing Jehovah’s work in his way also means striving to do it peaceably, calling to mind Psalm 133:1: “Look! How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”
12. Why is doing Jehovah’s work with joy a most reasonable requirement?
12 Still another important aspect of doing Jehovah’s work is that we do it joyfully. Even as an unhappy housewife reflects unfavorably on her husband so would our serving God without joy reflect on him. Most fittingly, the apostle Paul commands: “Always rejoice in the Lord. Once more I will say, Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4) And how many reasons Christians have today to be joyful! The ‘truth has indeed set them free’ (John 8:32); they have forgiveness of sins (Acts 13:38); they see the knowledge of truth becoming ever more abundant (Dan. 12:4); they have fine association with one another (Rom. 1:11, 12); they experience the greater happiness that comes from giving (Acts 20:35); they are enjoying the blessings of a spiritual paradise (2 Cor. 12:4); and by keeping integrity they know that they make even the heart of their great God Jehovah glad.—Prov. 27:11.
DOING GOD’S WORK WITH CLEAN HANDS
13. In what certain respect did ancient Israel often come short, causing Jehovah to command them to do what?
13 One aspect of doing Jehovah’s work in his way is that of doing it with clean hands, that is, virtuously. In this, not a few have fallen short. We may be as busy as possible in Jehovah’s work, but unless we live by the Bible’s moral principles it is all in vain. Jehovah God made that point in connection with his ancient people Israel. He told them that he found their various kinds of formal worship detestable and then said: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the badness of your dealings from in front of my eyes; cease to do bad.”—Isa. 1:13-16.
14. How did Paul show himself exemplary as to conduct, in keeping with what ancient command?
14 Jehovah God is holy, pure and righteous, and he commands that his servants be likewise holy and pure. “You must be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16) We are all imperfect and, therefore, we have a real struggle to keep holy and pure. At times we may feel as did the apostle Paul when he wrote that the things he wanted to do he did not do, and the things that he did not want to do he did. (Rom. 7:19) But he never quit striving against inherited weaknesses, for he wrote: “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” (1 Cor. 9:27) The Jews returning from ancient Babylon were commanded: “Keep yourselves clean, you who are carrying the utensils of Jehovah.” While this command may have had primary reference to religious cleanness, the principle also applies to moral cleanness.—Isa. 52:11.
15. What added reason is there for watching our conduct?
15 It is most fitting that we keep clean, not only because of the clean message we bear, but also in order not to stumble others. Jesus warned that it is an extremely serious matter to stumble one of his little ones. (Luke 17:1, 2) Paul was careful in this regard, as is evident from his words: “In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, by the endurance of much, . . . by purity, . . . by love free from hypocrisy.” Truly doing Jehovah’s work in Jehovah’s way means our being careful that we do Jehovah’s work with clean hands, lest we bring reproach on Jehovah and his congregation and lest we stumble others.—2 Cor. 6:3-10.
DOING JEHOVAH’S WORK UNSELFISHLY
16. What did King David pray that God should do for him, meaning what?
16 And above all, doing Jehovah’s work will profit us absolutely nothing unless we do it out of love, unselfishly, out of a pure heart. King David appreciated the importance of this, and that is why he prayed: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth. Unify my heart to fear your name.” (Ps. 86:11) To serve with a divided heart would mean to let selfishness enter. It would indicate an ulterior motive. That is why we are commanded to love Jehovah God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength.—Mark 12:29-31.
17. Why is the matter of watching one’s motives not an easy one?
17 This is not an easy thing to do. The Israelites continually were falling short in this regard. Why? Because imperfect human hearts are exceedingly deceitful, treacherous, even as we read at Jeremiah 17:9. And, as Jeremiah goes on to show, only Jehovah God can fully understand the heart. That is why a study of his Word will help us to discern our selfish tendencies or schemings, and to war against them successfully. Yes, the fallen inclinations of our hearts are ever out to vitiate or spoil our good works. Selfish or ulterior motives were the cause of the trouble with the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, for which reason they so opposed Jesus. It is the same with Christendom’s clergy today. Ostensibly they are serving God, but actually they are concerned chiefly with their own interests.—Matt. 23:13-33.
18. How does the apostle Paul drive home the point of our needing to serve Jehovah God unselfishly?
18 How plain does the apostle Paul make the importance of right motive: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a sounding piece of brass or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophesying and am acquainted with all the sacred secrets and all knowledge, and if I have all the faith so as to transplant mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my belongings to feed others, and if I hand over my body, that I may boast, but do not have love, I am not profited at all”!—1 Cor. 13:1-3.
19. What further counsel do the Scriptures give as to the kind of love we must manifest?
19 Most fittingly, therefore, Paul counsels us: “Let all your affairs take place with love.” (1 Cor. 16:14) But does Paul let it go at that? No, appreciating how treacherous our fallen hearts are, he says: “Let your love be without hypocrisy.” (Rom. 12:9) How easy it is to make expressions of love that do not really stem from a rightly motivated heart! That is why Paul made it a point to recommend himself as one of God’s ministers by his “love free from hypocrisy.” (2 Cor. 6:6) Yes, our love needs to be “love out of a clean heart”; and, as the apostle Peter expressed it, ours must be an “unhypocritical brotherly love.”—1 Tim. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:22.
20. To sum up, doing Jehovah’s work in Jehovah’s way requires what of us, resulting in what for us?
20 What a wide field doing Jehovah’s work in Jehovah’s way covers! To give it first place in our lives, to be doing it wisely, peacefully, joyously, with clean hands and pure heart, is what Jehovah God requires of us. Doing so, we can have much joy now and win his approval and endless life in the new system of things so near at hand.
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A well-organized, loving service to God, placing Kingdom interests first at all times, can result in much joy now and in the days ahead