Jehovah Blesses Those Who Exert Themselves Vigorously
“Exert yourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow door, because many . . . will seek to get in but will not be able.”—Luke 13:24.
THE tendency of imperfect humans is to follow the course of least resistance. People often want much from life but never achieve their desires because of unwillingness to put forth the required effort. Some are content simply to dream and perhaps to take an occasional chance in a lottery, hoping to obtain the means to fulfill their dreams. Many workers campaign for both higher pay and a shorter workweek. More money for less effort is the ideal of most people today. But some persons realize that there is something far more valuable than material wealth. What is that?
What could be of greater value to any of us than God’s approval leading to salvation? Can we expect to attain that without any exertion? While God has done all that is necessary to save mankind, does this mean that men will receive salvation automatically, without any effort on their part? (Titus 3:4-7) Jesus Christ provided the answer when replying to the question, “Are those who are being saved few?” He said: “Exert yourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be able.”—Luke 13:23, 24.
Are you willing thus to exert yourself to live in God’s righteous new order? Many persons would enjoy life on an earth free from sickness and death. But when these same people are encouraged to study the Bible, they often make lame excuses. And their unwillingness to put forth a genuine effort to come to know God, if persisted in, may debar them from gaining divine approval. All who wish to be approved by Jehovah God should be willing to ‘exert themselves vigorously’ in making progress as his servants, coming to know the Creator better and living in harmony with their knowledge of him. He, of course, will help them by means of his spirit, provided that they seek to be led by it.
Actually, in many situations of life, opportunities can be missed if a person does not exert himself. Proverbs 26:15 gives us an extreme example of this, saying: “The lazy one has hidden his hand in the banquet bowl; he has become too weary to bring it back to his mouth.” With spiritual food, the situation often is very much as the proverb depicts it. Many people who have a Bible in the home are spiritually starved simply because they do not make the effort to take it down from the bookshelf and read it.
Besides a tendency toward laziness, a person must fight negative thinking if he is going to exert himself. For instance, if he feels that calling on people at their homes to share the Bible’s message with them is too hard, this will deter him from even trying. Often, however, were he to try it, he would find that he could accomplish the task with the help of God’s spirit.
On the other hand, sometimes it is the very simplicity of a recommendation that leads people to doubt its worth. It may be that they just cannot see the sense in it. Naaman was a man who almost fell into this trap. He had traveled down to Israel, hoping to be cured of leprosy. As a prominent man, he expected to be treated with special consideration by the prophet Elisha. But Elisha did not even see him in person, merely instructing his servant to tell Naaman to bathe seven times in the Jordan River. Naaman considered it beneath his dignity to bathe in the muddy Jordan. He had expected a spectacular cure. Had he not listened to the advice of his servants, Naaman would have returned to Damascus in his leprous state. But he complied with Elisha’s simple instructions and was healed.—2 Ki. 5:9-14.
Then, again, it may be fear of displeasing someone or of receiving a negative reply from those in authority that hinders people from taking positive action. Nehemiah of the fifth century B.C.E. is a fine example of one who did not allow this fear to restrain him. Though holding the trusted position of cupbearer in the court of King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah did not allow thoughts of the king’s likely refusal or displeasure to silence him. When the opportunity arose, Nehemiah prayed to Jehovah and then respectfully made known his request. Not only did the king grant his request, but he also furnished Nehemiah with letters authorizing his journey back to Jerusalem and the use of timbers from the royal forest to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem.—Neh. 2:1-8.
What about us? Some Christians may be afraid to ask for time off from work to attend assemblies with fellow believers. Though the vacation period may have been granted had they asked, their fear of being refused causes them to miss out on fine spiritual instruction. Certain Christian women sometimes enjoy only half of the congregation’s meetings because they think their unbelieving husbands would disapprove if they attended more. Yet, it may be that some of these never have asked their husbands. However, others in similar circumstances can tell many upbuilding experiences because they did ask. Really, in various matters, if we do not ask, we will not receive.—Compare Matthew 7:7-11.
Yes, if we want Jehovah’s blessing, we need to exert ourselves vigorously. To this end, resist any tendency toward laziness, do not allow yourself to be discouraged by the greatness of a task nor by its seeming simplicity, and do not refrain from asking for fear of receiving a negative reply. When it comes to activity related to true worship, you can be successful with the help of God’s spirit.