Questions From Readers
● At Colossians 3:23 Christians are counseled to serve their masters “whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.” Does this mean that secular work done as to Jehovah is part of our sacred service?
The Greek word la·treiʹa, translated “sacred service” in the New World Translation, refers to dedicated worship or service to God. (Rom. 12:1) Jesus himself showed that it involves giving one’s primary allegiance to Jehovah. (Matt. 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8) It is service directed toward advancing the interests of Jehovah’s kingdom.
In ancient times, God’s dedicated nation of Israel rendered “sacred service” in obedience to the requirements of the Law covenant, in order to become to Jehovah “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex. 19:5, 6) This service provided types and shadows of realities to appear later under the New Covenant arrangement, in connection with God’s kingdom by Christ Jesus. (Heb. 8:5; 9:9, 14) Thus anointed Christians are told: “Seeing that we are to receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us continue to have undeserved kindness, through which we may acceptably render God sacred service with godly fear and awe.” (Heb. 12:28) Their companions, the “great crowd,” who look forward to everlasting life on earth, must likewise show godly fear as they perform their assigned “sacred service” in the earthly courtyard of Jehovah’s temple.—Rev. 7:9, 15.
Does this “sacred service” mean simply ‘living a good life,’ being a fine example in raising and providing for one’s family, keeping the house clean, applying oneself at school, and so forth? Hardly, for the Israelites did such things over and above the sacred service that Jehovah commanded them to perform. (Ex. 7:16; 12:25, 26 [la·treiʹa, Greek Septuagint Version]) And though the Sabbath law required them to ‘render service, and do all their work six days,’ certain sacred services were carried on even during the seventh day, such as at festivals and in giving instruction in the synagogues.—Ex. 13:5, 6; 20:9; Acts 13:14, 15; 18:4.
Today, there are people who live clean, moral lives, but who have no interest at all in God or his purposes. Surely their lives cannot be described as “sacred service.” Obviously, this has to do specifically with service to God, done out of appreciation for sacred things—something out of the ordinary that calls for the sacrifice of time and energy. It is different from secular work or everyday living, though with Christians this also should be done “for God’s glory.”—1 Cor. 10:31; Rom. 1:9.
Outstandingly, in this time preceding the “great tribulation” our “sacred service” requires obedience to Jesus’ commands to preach and to teach “this good news of the kingdom,” warning the people and making disciples. (Matt. 24:14, 21; 28:19, 20) It also embraces our assembling for worship, our family studies of the Bible and discussions of the text for each day. It extends to special service in the pioneer and missionary fields, and at Bethel homes operated for supplying spiritual food and providing good organization for the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It includes the services performed by traveling and congregational overseers and ministerial servants, as they care for the spiritual interests of their brothers. (Deut. 31:12, 13; 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4; Acts 1:8; 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2, 3; 1 Tim. 3:1, 12, 13) This “sacred service” of all of God’s organized people is rendered from dedicated hearts, and with the help of Jehovah’s spirit and his holy angels. (Phil. 3:3; Acts 27:23) If we by such service ‘keep on seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness,’ Jehovah will see to it that the daily necessities of life are “added” to us.—Matt. 6:33; Luke 12:31.
Our “sacred service” must be modeled after the kind of service that Jesus did on earth. (1 Pet. 2:21-23) It is performed out of love for God and love for neighbor, the kind of self-sacrificing love in which Jesus set the example. (Mark 12:30, 31; John 13:34; 15:13) This service places emphasis on our public preaching, for we are told: “Let us always [through Jesus] offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.” At the same time, we must “not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others”—no, not as mere charitable works, but from the heart in behalf of fellow worshipers. Thus when our brothers are in need, suffer calamity or are in distress, we will render loving assistance, so that all may be encouraged to hold fast the public declaration of their hope without wavering. “With such sacrifices God is well pleased.”—Heb. 10:23-25; 13:15, 16; Rom. 10:10-15; Jas. 1:27.
Do you have to readjust your viewpoint on “sacred service”? If so, may you do so in the spirit expressed at Second Corinthians 13:11: “Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be readjusted, to be comforted, to think in agreement, to live peaceably; and the God of love and of peace will be with you.”