Prove Yourself Faithful
“What is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful.”—1 Cor. 4:2.
1. Why should God’s servants be exerting themselves in efforts to help fellow humans?
ALL who are serving Jehovah God as loyal disciples of Jesus Christ have a precious treasure. (Compare 2 Corinthians 4:1-7.) They have in their possession vital knowledge that can mean life to those who begin acting in harmony with it. (John 17:3) Logically, then, they should be exerting themselves in efforts to aid fellow humans spiritually. Also, they should be willing to give material aid to those in need. Such material giving goes hand in hand with spiritual giving. This is because food, clothing and shelter are essential for life, and, without life, a person cannot praise Jehovah God.—Ps. 30:9; 88:10-12.
2. In view of Jesus’ admonition at Luke 12:33, 34, what should his disciples be willing to do?
2 Jesus Christ urged his disciples: “Sell the things belonging to you and give gifts of mercy. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, a never-failing treasure in the heavens, where a thief does not get near nor moth consumes. For where your treasure is, there your hearts will be also.” (Luke 12:33, 34) Thus, there should be a willingness to use one’s time and assets to benefit others. Manifestly, Jesus did not mean that his disciples reduce themselves to poverty and thereafter depend on the charity of others. But these disciples were to be willing to part with possessions to aid persons in real physical or spiritual need.
3, 4. (a) What admonition was Timothy to give to wealthy Christians? (b) In harmony with this admonition, what attitude should they avoid?
3 The spirit of Jesus’ counsel is well illustrated by what the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to tell wealthy Christians. We read: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Tim. 6:17-19) What does this admonition mean?
4 Rich Christians were not to view themselves as superior persons because of their wealth. Nor were they to put their confidence in riches. Because possessions can be stolen, lost or destroyed, they are a very poor foundation on which to build one’s hopes. But the eternal God, Jehovah, merits our absolute confidence. Were it not for the generous provisions that He made for sustaining life on earth, no one could keep himself alive. (Acts 14:16, 17; 17:25) How foolish, then, it would be to ignore the Creator and to center one’s life around material things!
5. How should we use our assets, and why? (Luke 16:1-13)
5 By reason of his Creatorship, Jehovah is the Owner of all things. Hence, it is only right that we worship him and use whatever assets that we may have in a way that is pleasing in his sight. (Ps. 95:3-6) This means our using these assets to help others spiritually and materially. In the case of wealthy Christians, they were urged to make their fine works that went on record just as abundant as their possessions. By using what they had in relieving the distress of others, they would be laying up treasure in heaven. In fact, all devoted Christians, by keeping active in helping persons in spiritual and physical need, lay up treasure in heaven that will yield rich dividends in the form of rewards from Jehovah God.
6. Why should we be careful not to let anything interfere with our laying up treasure in heaven?
6 Unlike material possessions that may be stolen or garments that moths may consume, a record of fine works with God is indestructible. Surely, then, while still living, we should want to do our utmost to guard against letting material possessions, daily cares or pleasures interfere with our making a fine record with Jehovah God. Particularly since life is of uncertain duration, it is urgent that we do not get sidetracked from our main objective—remaining approved servants of Jehovah God and loyal disciples of our Master Jesus Christ. How sad it would be for a person to be overtaken by death without his having made good use of his opportunities to store up treasure in heaven!
7. What can help us to concentrate on laying up treasure in heaven?
7 Therefore, it is very important that we fix our hearts on efforts to increase our treasure in heaven. One thing that will aid us in this is our taking time to reflect appreciatively on what Jehovah God and Jesus Christ have done in our behalf. We are indebted to Jehovah God for our very life. (Rev. 4:11) Despite the thankless attitude of so many of humankind, the Most High has continued to allow all to benefit from his generous provisions for sustaining life. (Matt. 5:45) Then, in expression of his superlative love, Jehovah God did not even spare his dearest Son, Jesus Christ, from dying a shameful death on a stake. This made it possible for us to be liberated from sin and death, finally to become God’s perfect children for all eternity. (Rom. 5:8; 8:32) And Jesus Christ demonstrated his great love by willingly surrendering his life in our behalf. (1 John 2:2) Should not the love that we have been shown compel us to seize every opportunity to prove ourselves thankful by aiding fellow humans spiritually and materially?
USE TIME WELL
8. What might show that a person is spending too much time in pursuing pleasures?
8 Truly, our love for Jehovah and Jesus Christ should move us to make good use of our time. Would we be doing this if pleasures became so important as to suggest that we could not live without them? Obviously not! We should never lose sight of the fact that, for many centuries, millions upon millions of persons lived without radio, television, movies, cars, sports activities, extensive pleasure trips and the like. Reasonably, then, is it not wise to let such things occupy a secondary place in our lives? Hence, if a person finds himself spending more time in the pursuit of pleasure than in matters directly related to true worship, may it not be that he has become a ‘lover of pleasures’? (2 Tim. 3:4) And does he not stand in danger of becoming totally unfruitful in bringing praise to God’s name?—Luke 8:14.
9, 10. (a) Based on the example of Jesus Christ, what is the balanced view of wholesome relaxation? (b) What did Jesus mean when he said, “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work”?
9 Of course, devoted servants of Jehovah God may rightly enjoy various forms of wholesome relaxation or recreation. Even Jesus Christ accepted invitations to meals and banquets and contributed to the joy of a wedding feast by miraculously transforming water into superb wine. (Luke 5:29; 7:36; 14:1; 19:5, 6; John 2:1-11) But Jesus did not make pleasure, including food and drink, the prime thing in his life. Once he told his disciples: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) Do we likewise find our greatest delight in doing God’s will?
10 When Jesus said the above words, he was tired and hungry. However, since an opportunity presented itself for giving a witness, he became so absorbed in it that his personal discomfort faded into the background. The joy and satisfaction that resulted from his doing God’s will was as food to Jesus Christ. Surely, we want this to be true in our case. Hence, we should keep pleasures in check so that they will not interfere with our experiencing the far greater happiness that comes from helping our fellowmen spiritually and materially.
11. Are Christians entitled to use time simply for their own pleasure, and what principle can we draw from Isaiah 58:13, 14 in this regard?
11 To avoid becoming selfish in our use of time, we need to keep ever before us the thought that time itself is a gift from Jehovah, to be used in harmony with his will. We are not entitled to use time simply for our own pleasure. This is well illustrated in what Jehovah God expected from the Israelites during the Sabbath day. Through his prophet Isaiah, he declared: “If in view of the sabbath you will turn back your foot as regards doing your own delights on my holy day, and will actually call the sabbath an exquisite delight, a holy day of Jehovah, one being glorified, and will actually glorify it rather than doing your own ways, rather than finding what delights you and speaking a word; you will in that case find your exquisite delight in Jehovah.” (Isa. 58:13, 14) So, besides refraining from work, the Israelites were to view the Sabbath as a day especially devoted to Jehovah. It was not a day simply for pursuing their own pleasures but a time for finding real delight in doing God’s will, keeping spiritual matters in first place. In harmony with the spirit of the Sabbath law, true Christians should be concerned about using each day in a way that will result in praise to Jehovah God.
BE PREPARED FOR THE MASTER’S RETURN
12. (a) As shown at Luke 12:35-40, what other important reason do we have for being busy in Jehovah’s work? (b) In what state should we strive to be each day, and why?
12 There is still another reason for devoted servants of the Master Jesus Christ not to loiter in doing Jehovah’s work. This is highlighted in the following illustration that the Son of God set forth: “Let your loins be girded and your lamps be burning, and you yourselves be like men waiting for their master when he returns from the marriage, so that at his arriving and knocking they may at once open to him. Happy are those slaves whom the master on arriving finds watching! Truly I say to you, He will gird himself and make them recline at the table and will come alongside and minister to them. And if he arrives in the second watch, even if in the third, and finds them thus, happy are they! But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief would come, he would have kept watching and not have let his house be broken into. You also, keep ready, because at an hour that you do not think likely the Son of man is coming.” (Luke 12:35-40) Just as we do not know when our life might end, we do not know precisely the time when Jesus Christ will arrive for executing judgment, though we do know that the event is drawing ever nearer. This means that each day should find us in a state of readiness, awaiting our Master’s return.
13. (a) In Jesus’ illustration, what were the slaves doing during their master’s absence? (b) How does the master reward his waiting slaves?
13 In the illustration, the slaves are doing just that. Their long robes do not hang loose but are pulled up between their legs and are fastened under the girdle. Thus girded, they continue caring for their duties as their lamps provide needed illumination. Though the time for waiting extends into the second watch (about 9 p.m. to midnight) and even into the third watch (midnight to about 3 a.m.), the faithful slaves remain active and alert. Finally, on arriving and seeing the devotion of his servants, the master rewards them in a most unusual way. He makes them recline at the table and begins serving them. He treats them, not as slaves, but as loyal friends. What a fine reward they receive for having continued to work for their master throughout the night while waiting for his return!
14. In view of the many years that have passed since Jesus stated the words recorded at Luke 12:35-40, what questions might be asked?
14 Over 1,900 years have passed since Jesus Christ gave this illustration. So his followers have indeed been waiting a long time for his return to execute judgment on the ungodly world. To many, it may seem as though the second watch has already passed and that we are well along in the third watch. But are some of us getting tired? Or, are we still girded firmly for activity? Are we letting our lights shine through fine conduct and zealous witnessing as we keep ourselves fueled by yielding to the operation of God’s spirit?—Matt. 5:14-16; compare Zechariah 4:2-6.
15. When returning to execute judgment, what will Jesus Christ look for among those professing to be his disciples?
15 What will our Master look for when he returns to execute judgment? He will take note as to whether those professing to be his servants are such in reality. Have they been faithful in obeying the command to “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”? (Matt. 28:19, 20) Do they have a fine record of works displaying active concern for the “least” of Christ’s brothers? When seeing these brothers of Christ in need, did they feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, extend hospitality to strangers, clothe the poorly clad, give help and comfort to the sick and visit those who were unjustly imprisoned? (Matt. 25:35-40) Have they remained spiritually awake, untarnished by the degrading works of the flesh?—Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 21:34-36; 2 Pet. 3:14.
16. Why should we think very seriously about what we are doing in building up a record of fine works with God?
16 All of us should think seriously about our standing before God and Christ now. We do not have endless time to build up a record of fine works. Regardless of our present age, either death or our Master’s return will overtake us. If we are negligent about our Christian responsibilities, then, as a thief, either event could catch us in an unprepared state. May we, therefore, do our utmost each day to live as if it were our last, not allowing personal desires or pleasures to interfere with our faithfully serving Jehovah God and our Master Jesus Christ. In that case, we will never regret the way in which we have used our time, our energies and our material assets. We will have nothing to fear when standing before the judgment seat of Christ as he renders decisions for his Father. (2 Cor. 5:10) May we then be found as persons with abundant treasure in heaven.
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Active help to those in spiritual or physical need brings rich spiritual rewards