Sacred Service as a Family
“I entreat you . . . to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason.”—Rom. 12:1.
1, 2. (a) To carry on acceptable “sacred service,” what requirements must a Christian family meet? (b) Outline some of the problems that might interfere with the “sacred service” of a Christian family.
IN THE Christian congregation the family is recognized as the basic unit. If there is love, peace and unity in the family circle and an awareness of the importance of performing “sacred service” to Jehovah, then the family can be a fine asset to the Christian congregation. (Rom. 12:1) The challenge is to build and maintain such a family unit.
2 There are many things working against the success of Christian families in our day. For example, a husband and wife often feel it necessary to be employed in order to earn enough to support the family. In this situation, families may tend to drift apart. At times, due to the unequal pull of this system of things, the family may be torn by the desire to live beyond its means, rather than to heed the Bible’s counsel to be content with their “sustenance and covering.” (1 Tim. 6:8) The spirit of independence and the desire of each one to do what he wants, rather than working together, are also factors that separate families instead of bringing them together in unity. Whatever the influence may be, there is a course that, if followed, can be of tremendous assistance to the Christian family.
3. What course is suggested?
3 This course is set out in a statement made in the Sermon on the Mount. The Lord Jesus said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33) This discussion will be concerned with that course. It will not deal with the domestic aspects of family life but with the positive procedures a family can follow in seeking first the Kingdom and promoting those things that result in a happy, loving Christian family, one that can effectively render “sacred service” to God.
“SEEKING FIRST THE KINGDOM”
4. Because of what inherited condition do we need schooling on how to please Jehovah? (Jer. 10:23)
4 If something is first in a person’s life, then it is primary, of No. 1 importance. Jesus said: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake day after day and follow me continually.” (Luke 9:23) To be a true follower of Jesus and disown oneself requires that a person truly ‘seek first the Kingdom.’ Because of our imperfect inclination of mind and heart from birth onward due to inherited sin, we must all be schooled in or taught about what is expected of us in order to please God. (Gen. 8:21; Rom. 5:12) We must be taught to ‘seek first the Kingdom,’ because, left to ourselves, we would invariably seek first our own personal desires and wants. Jehovah has therefore provided instruction that comes to us through his Word and gives proper direction.
5. At Deuteronomy 6:6-9, how extensive was the training program outlined by Jehovah for the ancient Israelites?
5 Jehovah commanded his chosen people, the ancient Israelites, to teach their children his laws and commandments. They were to repeat the teachings at home, when they were away from home, when they were resting and when they were working. (Deut. 6:6-9) That same instruction is appropriate for families today in their rendering of “sacred service” to God. When we are taught to ‘seek first the Kingdom,’ we learn to assume responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is sharing.
6. (a) With what sharing in particular are we here concerned? (b) How great is the responsibility of parents in the matter of sharing? (c) What obstacle did the apostle Paul outline at 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, and what condition can this cause in some?
6 We do not here wish to dwell on the meaning of sharing in a material sense, which, of course, is essential also for true happiness. (Acts 20:35) Our concern is sharing in providing others with the opportunity to have the hope Christians have in God’s kingdom. One of the finest qualities a parent can implant in his child is the desire to share the Kingdom “good news” with others. From an early age children can be taught to have a share in speaking with others about the “good news of the kingdom.” (Matt. 24:14) This takes much effort on the part of the parents because the nature of the Kingdom message is such that it is not readily accepted or desired by the majority of those to whom it is offered. That is because Satan, “the god of this system of things,” has blinded the minds of the people to the “glorious good news about the Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:4) The apostle Paul made a statement about our fulfilling this responsibility and its effects. He said: “God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance. For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost. For those who are being lost, it is a deadly stench that kills; but for those who are being saved, it is a fragrance that brings life.” (2 Cor. 2:14-16, Today’s English Version) The problem is that the vast majority of mankind view this all-important message as something deadly, unacceptable to them. To share in spreading this message to such persons can be difficult and disheartening.
7. What encouragement do children need so that they may continue on with what they learn?
7 This makes the role of Christian parents very important in the training of their children to be sharers in this “sacred service.” Such service spreads the “knowledge about Christ,” which is a cause for great joy to a few, but which meets with total rejection by many. Parents have the opportunity and obligation to begin training their children early in life so that they are prepared and equipped to share in this “sacred service,” spreading the message about Christ and the Kingdom to others. Children need much help to appreciate that, even though many view the glorious message from God as death-dealing, the young proclaimers of the “good news” should not lose their joy and zeal. Nor should they slack the hand and stop having a part in rendering “sacred service” to Jehovah.—1 Cor. 9:16, 17.
8. (a) How important is parental example in the performance of “sacred service”? (b) Why is it good for parents to take a direct part in such training?
8 It is readily apparent, then, that parents have a deep and abiding responsibility to reflect in their own lives the zeal and devotion they have by regularly sharing in the work of Kingdom declaration. They must make it a part of their own routine in life to be with their children in Kingdom service, not sending their young ones off to be cared for by others all the time. No one else can shoulder this responsibility for them. Setting a good example is the finest way to inculcate right goals and motives in children. Remember the Scriptural injunction: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” (Prov. 22:6) To give proper training, the father or mother, or both where possible, should be with their children. They should share in “sacred service” as a family.
9. Outline two beneficial results of engaging in sacred Kingdom service.
9 This sharing of the “good news” with others has beneficial results, besides giving one the satisfaction of knowing that he is doing what Jehovah has commanded. It gives one’s children proper goals to work toward in life. The pursuit of empty goals by the great majority of young people does not bring genuine and lasting happiness to them. The pursuit of a goal that is pleasing to Jehovah brings godliness with contentment, the most worthwhile goal of all. While the world in general searches for contentment, godly families in the Christian congregation find it well within reach, if only they will seize it. There are many avenues of satisfaction available.—Eph. 5:15, 16.
10. How can pioneer service be encouraged in the Christian family, and with what benefit?
10 Around the world during the 1980 service year there were over 137,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses who shared in some form of the full-time ministry, the pioneer service. These individuals found great satisfaction in having such a full share in the Kingdom proclamation. This form of “sacred service” brought them many blessings from Jehovah. At times, family members can arrange for one of their number to enter full-time pioneer service. It may require that each one sacrifice to some extent, but the rewards are well worth it. Have you considered the possibility of one of your family members sharing in this field of “sacred service”? Many single persons and married couples who start out in the pioneer service, first as auxiliary pioneers, then as regular or special pioneers, find that they are even in position to expand their ministry into other fields of “sacred service.”
11. (a) Into what other field of “sacred service” have many gone? (b) Of what value has this proved to be in carrying on “sacred service”?
11 For over 38 years the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead has been in operation, training and equipping people to go into foreign fields where they have been able to ‘seek first the Kingdom.’ Many Christian fathers and mothers have been willing to forgo the pleasure of having their children nearby, but have encouraged them to expand their ministry and thus help others in foreign countries. Thousands of single brothers and sisters, as well as married couples, have been blessed with the privilege of taking up missionary service in foreign lands. They have been enriched by many blessings in that form of “sacred service” and have been instrumental in spreading the “good news” to the far-off parts of the earth. To this day there are graduates of the first classes of Gilead School serving in foreign lands and in many instances they form the firm foundation of the work that was started decades ago. In carrying on your “sacred service” as a family, are you in position to encourage any of your children to consider this field of activity?—Mal. 3:10.
12. What part can Bethel play in the “sacred service” of some families?
12 Throughout the earth at the branch offices of the Watch Tower Society there are Bethel homes in operation where wholly dedicated young men and women can serve their Creator in the days of their young manhood and womanhood. (Eccl. 12:1) This form of “sacred service” also brings many joys to those who qualify for it, since they are able to render a service in behalf of their brothers and sisters who are in the preaching and teaching ministry. Many families are blessed with the privilege of having children or relatives serving in a Bethel home. While this field of full-time activity does not allow for one to share in the public ministry to the same extent that the pioneer or missionary work does, still those serving at Bethel share in preaching from house to house and spreading the Kingdom message. (Acts 20:20) Moreover, they are providing essential services that help keep the worldwide ministry moving forward.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
13. What opportunity continues to be available to Christian families?
13 Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian congregation, wrote that he was staying on in Ephesus for a time because ‘a large door that leads to activity had been opened to him.’ (1 Cor. 16:9) Before Jehovah’s people today there continues to be a large door of activity, “sacred service,” that is open. We are living in the days of the final fulfillment of many Bible prophecies dealing with the “time of the end” when the good news of the Kingdom is to be preached in all the world for a witness. (Dan. 12:4; Matt. 24:14) What will the Christian families of Jehovah’s Witnesses do? The urgency is there, for the time is limited. The provisions are there, for Jehovah has provided his Word the Bible and publications furnished by the “faithful and discreet slave” for the benefit of God-fearing ones. (Matt. 24:45-47) The families are there, and Jehovah has continued to add thousands to the ranks of those sharing in Kingdom proclamation.—Compare Isaiah 60:22.
14. (a) What pertinent questions can families ask themselves? (b) How is it that we can be considered qualified to share in “sacred service”?
14 So the questions are: What are you doing? Are you seizing the opportunity you now have, both as a family and individually, to render “sacred service” to the Creator? Are you encouraging others to do so? Is your family unit one of those in the congregation that gives evidence of being based on a solid foundation, desiring to produce the fruits of the Kingdom? When speaking about being a sweet-smelling incense that spreads among both those being saved and those who are being lost, Paul further said: “Who, then, is capable of such a task? We are not like so many others, who handle God’s message as if it were cheap merchandise; but because God has sent us, we speak with sincerity in his presence, as servants of Christ.”—2 Cor. 2:16, 17, TEV.
15, 16. (a) How may some be able to increase their share in advancing Kingdom interests? (b) What are the blessings of increased “sacred service”?
15 By promoting love, peace and unity in the family circle, by giving primary importance to ‘seeking first the Kingdom,’ by sitting down and counting the cost, Christian families may find they will indeed be able to increase the share they are having in advancing the most important message ever proclaimed on this earth, the “good news” of God’s established kingdom. For their sincere, united efforts the blessing of Jehovah will be theirs, and he adds no pain with the blessings he grants.—Prov. 10:22.
16 Why not sit down together as a family and consider what you are doing and what you can do? Honesty will no doubt force most of us to admit that with a little more effort we could expand the part our family has in sharing in Jehovah’s “sacred service.” Remember that Jehovah does not ask us to do more than is reasonable. Our love for him, for our family and for mankind in general should prompt us to examine ourselves and determine what we might do. Think about the various features of your “sacred service,” your glorious ministry as Christ’s disciple. (2 Cor. 4:7) Take the matter to Jehovah in prayer, asking his direction and help in connection with the efforts you make. The blessings are many now with godly contentment, and the future holds promise of life that is life indeed, in God’s new system of things.—Matt. 25:34; 1 Tim. 6:6, 17-19.
POINTS TO DISCUSS AS A FAMILY
• Beyond our personal application of Jesus’ words at Matthew 6:33, why should families be concerned about unitedly applying those words?
• How can you have a greater part in the family program to teach children to share the Kingdom message with others?
• What practical adjustments can you think of that can be made in your family so that children can have a fuller share in this work?
• What special features of “sacred service” might be reasonable goals for you or some member of your family?
• How might your family work together so that at least one of you might reach such a goal?
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Youths can learn vital lessons about sharing while they accompany a parent who is sharing the Christian message
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Many youths who enjoyed “sacred service” with their family have found pleasure in serving as full-time pioneer ministers
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Serving in a Bethel home can be a source of deep satisfaction. It is a vital contribution to the earth-wide “sacred service”