The Rewards of Serving One Master
As told by Ernest E. Beavor
MANY problems remain unsolved because they are temporarily postponed by compromise, with consequent unhappiness; and compromise can result from trying to serve two masters. Jesus Christ put it so clearly when he said: “No one can slave for two masters . . . You cannot slave for God and for Riches.” And his fleshly half brother James wrote: “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.”—Matt. 6:24; Jas. 4:4.
So there we have it. Very simply, whose friendship do we crave? It is like a war with the world, the flesh and the Devil on one side and Jehovah God and Jesus Christ on the other. (1 John 2:15-17) The choice is ours. But one thing is certain: choosing Jehovah as Master brings the rewards that result in unbounded happiness. That is how circumstances have worked out with me.
SEEDS OF TRUTH ARE SOWN
At the time of my birth in 1902, my parents were Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were known in those days. We used to attend the London Tabernacle, where the Bible Students met. Proving the importance of taking young ones to Christian meetings is my clear recollection of one of the old songs—“A thousand years! earth’s coming glory! ’Tis the glad day so long foretold.” How true! To live forever on that glorious paradise earth—what a reward for many who serve the one Master!
My mother used to read to me—no television in those days. Seeds of truth were sown. Also, my father would chastise me for some disobedience and would say, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you”—a truth I did not appreciate at the time. However, Proverbs 23:13 says: “Do not hold back discipline from the mere boy. In case you beat him with the rod, he will not die.” I did not die and am grateful that dad taught me to serve the one Master.
Seeing the Photo-Drama of Creation at the age of 12 was a thrill. It ran for four evenings and was shown free at the London Opera House. The Photo-Drama firmly planted in my heart the truth of creation, in contrast with the utter falsity of the evolution theory. Memorable, too, was this “drama” when it featured a short motion picture depicting Abraham about to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Thus Abraham proved that he was serving Jehovah God. And how great was his reward, being called “Jehovah’s friend”! “If only I could be!” I thought.—Jas. 2:23.
ENSLAVEMENT TO ANOTHER MASTER
During the first world war years, the Lord’s people had a very disquieting time. My parents were stumbled for some reason, and I went into the world, becoming influenced by its ways. Being patriotic, I attended the armistice ceremony in Whitehall on November 11, 1918, and heard a clergyman say: “These have not died in vain. They have died to make our land fit for heroes.” Was this true? Which master had they served? Doubtless it was disillusionment in subsequent years that helped me to reach proper conclusions when the dark clouds of World War II began to gather.
Meanwhile, the old-world master was taking hold of me. The newspaper business attracted me, and with two worldly friends I started a press photographic agency. This led to worldly associations, smoking, drinking and yielding to fleshly desires. However, ‘You cannot serve two masters’ kept ringing in my ears, and I felt the enslavement of what I was doing.
My father died in 1934. During 1936, a witness of Jehovah called at my mother’s home and she obtained the Bible study aid Riches. She saw how foolish she had been to fall away and was determined to redeem the time. (Compare Colossians 4:5, Authorized Version.) Did she do just that? A frail little woman, she was “always” out preaching Bible truth. She plied me with literature, which I did not read. Although I knew that what she was telling me was right, her words were not heeded because I did not want to change my life.
PERSONALLY FACING SOME FACTS
Prospering materially, I had a fine home built and added many material comforts. My worldly master, however, led me into a fleshly crisis that could have destroyed my family contentment. The stabs of my Bible-trained conscience brought me to a sudden halt. Enemies, one of the books my mother had given me, showed quite clearly the decision that we must all make—to choose which master to serve. The truth was confirmed for me when attending the public lecture “Face the Facts,” given by J. F. Rutherford at the Royal Albert Hall in 1938. His forthright delivery sounded right down into my heart the fact that you cannot serve two masters.
There was so much to learn, fast. We were always a closely knit family doing things together—when I was at home, that is, for my newspaper business often kept me away. Facing facts, I decided to turn my back on the old master and took the family to our first Christian meeting. Imagine the joy on my mother’s face! At one meeting, a brother on the platform was talking about smoking, proving from 2 Corinthians 7:1 that it is a defilement of the flesh. He asked, “Could you imagine Christ Jesus with a cigarette in his mouth, or Adam smoking in the garden of Eden?” I could not. While listening, I had 20 cigarettes in one pocket and a pipe and tobacco in another. They went on the fire that night, August 29, 1939.
SERVING THE RIGHT MASTER
With the commencement of the second world war, everything had to be censored, and practically every photograph produced by my firm featured some aspect of warfare. I was taking money for this. The book Enemies had opened my eyes to see the Bible truth that Satan is the god of this world. (2 Cor. 4:4) No longer wanting to serve the Devil, I was baptized in October 1939 in symbol of my dedication to Jehovah. Henceforth I was serving him, and his dear Son, Christ Jesus.
It had been my thought that our son, Douglas, would learn the press photography business. After his first three days at the office, I asked him how he was progressing. He said: “I want to pioneer.” So right then we took him to the office of the Watch Tower Society to make his application for such full-time witnessing activity. He went through the Gilead School for missionaries in 1950 and has been serving as a circuit overseer in Japan since then. He has also entered into the joys of his Master’s service.
Each day the war of conscience was getting more acute. Regarding material needs, I believed that by ‘seeking first the Kingdom all these things would be added.’ (Matt. 6:25-33) “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart” was the assurance I had. Why ‘limp upon two opinions’? I felt I was limping.—1 Ki. 18:21; Prov. 3:5.
Calling a directors’ meeting of my firm, I resigned, renouncing all my holdings so as to be absolutely free. Having signed the last document to that effect, I went straight to the Bethel home and enrolled as a pioneer. The freedom and joy of that moment still lives with me. That was June 1, 1940. I bought a new bicycle and a portable Gramophone, then used in our door-to-door witnessing activity.
From that day to this, Jehovah has provided in such a bountiful way. I have learned how “godliness with contentment is great gain” and how the true Master rewards those who faithfully serve him.—1 Tim. 6:6, AV.
“Compromise” has always been a hateful word to me. Consequently, everything is either black or white to me. But I needed to learn to be balanced. As Paul told young Timothy: ‘A slave of the Lord needs to be gentle toward all.’ (2 Tim. 2:24) My wife, Jessie, did not accept the truth readily. One day while I was out in the field service, a sister said to me: “You know, Ernie, your wife will get the truth despite you!” That shook me. I said: “Is it as bad as that?” “Yes!” she replied. That sister has since died, but I am so grateful that she was not afraid to speak the truth. Some of us need that kind of talk. Jessie was baptized a year later.
The call to pioneer service was very strong in those war years, and as a family we were constantly talking about it. The only course for a true Christian was that of strict neutrality. (John 15:19) Pioneer service was a God-given privilege for those Scripturally free to accept it. Douglas enrolled in 1939. Our daughter Gwen was the youngest pioneer to be enrolled at the national assembly at Leicester in 1941. She was 14 at the time and is still in full-time service, having been a missionary in Lebanon and Nigeria and now serving at the London Bethel home. Our younger daughter, Anne, became a pioneer in 1942. She also served as a missionary in Lebanon, where she married a spiritual brother, and is now in the United States with three fine daughters, inculcating in them the desire to serve the one true Master.
PUTTING THE MASTER’S SERVICE FIRST
Back to 1940. Having severed my Fleet Street connections, I was no longer exempt from military service, and therefore received my calling-up papers. I had read the Watch Tower booklet God and the State, which quoted Blackstone’s commentary on English law. It states that no law of man is valid unless based on God’s law. Determined to use this as my defence, I appealed my first sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment. I was warned that if I lost the appeal my sentence would be doubled. During my trial before a jury, the judge flatly refused my application to read Blackstone, reminding me that the country was at war and that the Defence of the Realm Regulations then in force superseded all previous laws. I was sentenced to two years with hard labour. But I needed that two years to make the truth my own. I read the Bible right through for the first time. What a joy from the Master!
During that time, other brothers and I witnessed to inmates and prison personnel alike. The result was that three prison officers accepted the truth and were baptized. One has died and the other two are elders in their respective congregations. Interestingly, I now have the privilege of being the minister appointed to visit that same prison’s inmates who desire to have discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society. My gardener grew fine chrysanthemums for which I was awarded bronze medals. I pondered this. I did not grow the flowers; my gardener tended them. Even so, it was Jehovah that made them grow and it was to him that the credit should have gone—certainly not to me. As chairman of the local horticultural society, it was a privilege to explain this to the members when tendering my resignation. Not that there was anything wrong with being a member of a horticultural society; but, as chairman, the duties were taking up far too much of my time, especially since I was pioneering.
Our home was a center of theocratic activity, always open to spiritual brothers, young and old. Conversations and relaxation centered around Christian principles. Meeting attendance was a joyous must, regardless of wartime blackouts and air raids. We always did things together. After the war, as a family we offered to go anywhere the Watch Tower Society would suggest. We chose Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where we had the joy of seeing the congregation grow from 12 to 70 persons in two years. Asked to go to Brighton in Sussex, we did and watched the congregations grow from one to five in just three years. The Master made it grow.—1 Cor. 3:5-9.
Then came 1950 and that unforgettable Theocracy’s Increase Assembly at Yankee Stadium, New York city. Knowing that we planned to attend as a family, the Society invited our three children to attend the Gilead missionary school. It was very hard to say good-bye to them all as we returned to England. Our flat at Brighton seemed so empty. But Jehovah opened his hand once more, and I was invited to serve as a circuit overseer. Jessie would have to become a pioneer, I was told. She agreed, and how happy this made me! Thus we commenced the most joyous period of our lives. For 18 years we travelled in England and Northern Ireland, the brothers lovingly extending hospitality and we sharing Kingdom truths and service with them.
CONTINUING IN THE MASTER’S SERVICE
Our son and daughters were married in three different localities in the earth. We were not able to attend any one of the weddings. But we always looked to our Master, who promises the fulfillment of that grand line in Kingdom Song No. 119, “When loved ones never have to part.”
Over the years, we have made friends of so many loving brothers and sisters. Experience brings very personal memories and lessons. Jehovah chastens those whom he loves. To sanctify his beautiful name must be our constant prayerful endeavour.
At the age of 74, Jessie could no longer take the rigour of circuit work. So I asked to be relieved, and a kind brother offered a room in his large house. I am still pioneering, with a little less vigour, as I am now 77. My wife, now 84, is caring for me with household duties while I busy myself with overseer’s privileges, shepherding Jehovah’s dear ones.
What lies ahead? The most wonderful and stupendous events of human history. How we exult in Jehovah’s promise, “The nations shall know that I am Jehovah”!—Ezek. 39:7, American Standard Version.
My final word? Keep humble, be balanced and make sure of the important things. And always remember that serving the one true Master assures rewards now and forever.