Zealous for “the Work of the Lord”
“Become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Cor. 15:58.
1. Why should the resurrection hope have real meaning for all of us?
THE resurrection hope should be a great stimulus, always, to each one of us. For the enemy death touches the lives of each one of us directly or indirectly, at some time or another. When loved ones die, we may reflect on Jehovah’s grand purposes, so that we “may not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.” We may have faith that the dead will rise again, just as Jesus rose from the dead. (1 Thess. 4:13, 14) Also, we have the assured expectation that, should we ourselves die, Jehovah will remember us in the resurrection, provided we have been faithful in carrying out our dedication to him.—John 5:28, 29; 6:40.
2. In view of Ecclesiastes 9:11, what should be our attitude toward life?
2 As these “last days” move quickly toward their finale, many of us hope to survive the “great tribulation” without ever having to die. (Matt. 24:21; 2 Tim. 3:1) However, even with the swift, the mighty ones, the wise and the understanding ones—“time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.” Unexpected illness, accident or disaster may come our way. In such event, how desirable that we had been expending ourselves in God’s service with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength! For then his approval and our share in the resurrection would be assured. Moreover, our keeping integrity would have been an encouragement and blessing to others who had observed and listened to us, that they too might be saved in the resurrection hope.—Eccl. 9:11; Mark 12:30; 1 Tim. 4:15, 16.
STRENGTHENED BY THE RESURRECTION HOPE
3. (a) On what goal should our eyes be set, and why? (b) In what way should the resurrection hope sustain Christians, whether of the anointed or of the “great crowd”?
3 The apostle Paul stated: “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.” Our faith would be useless, our preaching in vain. But our eyes are firmly set on that assured goal of life in Jehovah’s new order—whether we attain to it by surviving Har–Magedon, or, as in the case of some, by an early resurrection from the dead. In his day, Paul was addressing Christians who had been anointed by God’s spirit, and who were required to undergo a baptism into death, just as experienced by Jesus during the three and a half years down to his execution at Calvary. So Paul asks the question: “If the dead are not to be raised up at all, why are they also being baptized for the purpose of being such?” Yes, the resurrection hope sustained those Christians, enabling them to endure many trials, and it can sustain Christians today, whether their hope is eternal life in the heavenly kingdom or—for the greater number—life in the earthly realm of that kingdom.—1 Cor. 15:13-19, 29.
4. For what reasons should we avoid contamination by Epicurean philosophy?
4 Writing of the situation in his day, Paul goes on to say: “Why are we also in peril every hour? Daily I face death. This I affirm by the exultation over you, brothers, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord. If, like men, I have fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, of what good is it to me? If the dead are not to be raised up, ‘let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.’” In proclaiming the “good news” that focused on the risen Christ, Paul experienced many dangers and persecutions, and through these he had God’s protection and blessing. If the resurrection were merely a hoax, all of this would have been in vain. In that case, like the Epicurean philosophers and their followers, Paul and his Corinthian brothers might have indulged themselves in having a good time.—1 Cor. 15:30-32.
5. (a) How real should the resurrection hope be to us? (b) What fine modern-day examples do we have as we make the Kingdom our goal?
5 However, the resurrection hope and the Messianic kingdom are real. They are intertwined with God’s eternal purpose. Just as Christians in apostolic times were sustained by that hope, so they are sustained today. The modern history of Jehovah’s Witnesses is embellished by the example of thousands of Christians who have faced death unflinchingly, knowing that their integrity assured them of an early resurrection into either the “new heaven” or the “new earth.” There are those hundreds of Witnesses who were beheaded, shot, starved or beaten to death in Catholic Hitler’s concentration camps. More recently, many have endured dangers and persecutions in certain socialistic and newly developing lands. But always their confidence has rested in God’s incoming kingdom. That has been their goal, whether to be attained by survival through the “great tribulation” or by resurrection. It should be the goal of each one of us now!—Rev. 21:1-4.
6. What example from Africa contains encouragement for overseers to expend themselves fearlessly?
6 Take as an example the African country of Zimbabwe, which for many years was torn asunder by civil strife. Jehovah’s Witnesses were outstanding in their neutrality, and in their continued preaching of the Kingdom during that era of violence. (John 17:16) It was especially dangerous for the traveling overseers to continue their upbuilding visits to the congregations. But continue they did, taking their lives in their hands. At times these faithful brothers were captured while traveling from one congregation to the next. They were charged with being strangers and spies in the area, and their lives were threatened. One circuit overseer was killed, and his body was left lying by his bicycle as a warning to passersby. However, other circuit overseers continued fearlessly in their service, until the arrival of more peaceful times brought relief from that kind of danger. If we should ever be confronted by similar circumstances, may we be just as fearless in continuing our “sacred service” to God!—Luke 12:4-7; Rom. 12:1, 2.
7. How have our brothers in El Salvador been blessed in holding fast to their hope?
7 Today, there is a similar crisis in El Salvador, where civil strife has flared up throughout the land. Again, Jehovah’s Witnesses are strictly neutral as to the violence. Even so, some of them have been killed in cross fire. But faithful elders have continued to serve congregations and isolated groups, strengthening and encouraging these. (Compare Isaiah 32:1, 2.) Some of them have had remarkable escapes from death, but they are determined to keep right on in their teaching and shepherding work, even at continuing peril of their lives. (1 Pet. 5:1-4) Congregations hold their meetings ahead of curfew, and Jehovah has blessed them richly with a 22-percent increase in publishers during 1981. These 8,242 Kingdom publishers were conducting 13,948 home Bible studies with newly interested persons as the service year drew to its close. How wonderfully our God blesses all those who press on fearlessly, though “in peril every hour”!
8, 9. (a) How have some in affluent countries been misled? (b) How should we react, and why?
8 However, some in more affluent and seemingly “safe” countries have been misled into a spiritually dangerous way of life. They think that they can hobnob with the world and have a good time in the Epicurean style, but at the same time keep one foot, as it were, in God’s organization. They may have been influenced by unwise associations with apostate persons, thus leading to a dimming of appreciation of their privilege of regular, zealous Kingdom service. How foolish! Paul says pointedly to all such: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” Useful theocratic habits of meeting attendance and service to God are so easily replaced by indulgence in the pleasures of a wayward world. The vision of God’s new order fades, and with it the resurrection hope. Similar things happened to Hymenaeus, Alexander and Philetus in Paul’s day. And, sad to relate, such things are happening to some today.—1 Cor. 15:33; 1 Tim. 1:18-20; 2 Tim. 2:15-19.
9 It is shame on any who, at this late hour, remove themselves from wholehearted support of Jehovah’s organization and its service! The present world system is tottering at the brink. Only by standing in the “good news,” by “holding it fast,” we “are also being saved.” It is essential that we continue and increase in knowledge of God. Appropriately, Paul addresses those who have failed in this respect, saying: “Wake up to soberness in a righteous way and do not practice sin, for some are without knowledge of God. I am speaking to move you to shame.”—1 Cor. 15:1, 2, 34.
10. (a) What attitude do both Paul and the modern “slave” class have toward their “beloved brothers”? (b) How does our Yeartext for 1982 tie in with this?
10 Paul concludes his argument in support of the marvelous resurrection hope on a warm, appealing note. “Consequently, my beloved brothers,” he says. He wants his spiritual brothers to reach their goal. Likewise, today, the “faithful and discreet slave” is deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of those millions, worldwide, who are interested in Jehovah’s incoming kingdom. The “slave” wants to see all the “great crowd” qualify for life in the earthly realm of that kingdom. This they do by ‘washing their robes’ and serving God, to come unscathed “out of the great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:45-47; Rev. 7:9, 14) How may that goal be attained? It is by sharing zealously in the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul so indicates, in these words, which become the Yeartext of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 1982:
“Become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Cor. 15:58.
11. What does it mean to “become steadfast”?
11 The quality of steadfastness is essential to those who desire to ‘make it’ into Jehovah’s new order. To be steadfast means to be constant, firm, unwavering. That is the kind of faith that we must have, an assured expectation of the unseen things that lie ahead, but which, through our study of the Scriptures, have become as real to us as if they were actually here.—Heb. 11:1.
12. What reasons do we have to be unwavering in our service?
12 We know that the Messianic kingdom is at hand, having been established in the heavens in 1914. We have seen the “sign” of Christ’s “presence” in Kingdom glory in the tumultuous events on earth in these “last days.” We have observed the angelic direction of God’s people as they have preached with missionary zeal “in all the inhabited earth,” with literally millions of persons paying attention to the “good news.” Pressures from Satan’s world will no doubt increase, but is this any reason for wavering in our “sacred service,” our precious service to the Sovereign of our lives, Jehovah God? Certainly not!—Matt. 24:3-14; 25:31-34; Rev. 7:15; 14:6, 7.
“BECOME . . . UNMOVABLE”
13. How, like Job, may we show ourselves to be “unmovable”?
13 Paul exhorts us, also, to become “unmovable.” This is akin to being steadfast. It means that, in observing God’s commandments, we must never be shaken in our integrity. That was the attitude of the exemplary integrity-keeper Job, who said of his God and Judge: “After he has tested me out, I shall come forth as gold itself.” Can we express such confidence? We can, if we are able to say of Jehovah, as did Job: “His way I have kept, and I do not deviate. From the commandment of his lips I do not move away. I have treasured up the sayings of his mouth more than what is prescribed for me.” (Job 23:10-12) If we, like Job, will go even beyond what is scheduled for our regular meetings, digging down deep into the Watch Tower Society’s publications for further enlightenment on the modern-day application of God’s Word, we will be helped, indeed, in remaining steadfast, unmovable in the truth.
14. (a) How has The Watchtower been progressive in bringing enlightenment to sincere persons, and with what result? (b) What warning has it echoed, and how have many responded?
14 For more than 100 years now, The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom has been building up, progressively, a body of truth related to Jesus’ ransom, the resurrection hope and the incoming kingdom of our God. Through its pages, it has made the Bible come alive in the minds and hearts of millions of sincere persons. It has helped these to discern the errors taught in Christendom’s religions and indeed in the entire world empire of false religion—“Babylon the Great.” It has called attention to the great spiritual fall of “Babylon the Great” and has echoed the angel’s prophetic command: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Rev. 17:1, 5, 15, 18; 18:2, 4) Many have been helped to do just that, and have become loyal supporters of Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom.
15, 16. (a) What have some failed to appreciate? (b) Who is “that slave” of Matthew 24:46? (c) In connection with the “slave,” when and how did it become clear that God was using only one channel to dispense truth?
15 However, there have always been some who, rather than remain unmovable in their loyal support of the Kingdom, want to drift back to the beliefs and ways of false religion. These do not appreciate that the Master, Christ Jesus, is using the anointed body of his followers on earth as a “faithful and discreet slave” in dispensing spiritual food.—Matt. 24:45-47.
16 It was first in 1895 that some friends of Zion’s Watch Tower suggested that this magazine is identified with “that slave”—“that servant.” (Matt. 24:46, Authorized Version) Enemies aroused violent opposition to this viewpoint of such friends, so that The Watch Tower of October 1, 1909, had this to say:
“Our friends insist that this Scripture indicates that in the end of this Gospel age the Lord would use not many channels for the dissemination of the Truth, but one channel . . . They hold that all of them received their knowledge of Present Truth directly from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society’s publications, or indirectly through those who have received their enlightenment through this channel. They are glad correspondingly to co-operate as ‘fellow-servants’ with the Society’s work, believing that thereby they are following the leadings of the Divine Providence, as well as the instructions of the Divine Word.”
17. (a) How, formerly and now, have some sought to discredit the truth? (b) Why should we be happy to remain “unmovable” in association with the “slave”?
17 Then, referring to those enemies of truth, The Watch Tower said:
“They seek to turn the minds of the enlightened ones in another direction by telling them that ‘each should dig’ the jewels of Divine Truth for himself; that the Society’s publications merely gave them the start on which now they should improve, so that eventually its teachings would be far in the background. These disloyal ‘fellow-servants’ suggest further that there is danger of worshipping the Society and that to avoid so doing it is practically necessary to give it a kick or to turn their backs upon it. They say, Let us have a Bible study, but let us exclude the Society’s publications!”
That was written 72 years ago, and to this day there are a few who would try to discredit the body of truth that Jehovah has built up progressively, using his one channel. As the light of truth grows ever brighter, how happy we should be to remain “unmovable” in our association with the Master’s ‘faithful slave’!—Col. 1:21-23.
“ALWAYS HAVING PLENTY TO DO IN THE WORK OF THE LORD”
18. (a) What is a recipe for keeping spiritually healthy, and how does Proverbs indicate this? (b) What are some avenues for “having plenty to do in the work of the Lord”?
18 Yes, have “plenty to do,” not in ‘doing one’s own thing,’ but in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therein lies a recipe for keeping spiritually healthy. Spiritual laziness can lead to doubts. It can be fatal, as Proverbs 19:15 indicates: “Laziness causes a deep sleep to fall, and a slack soul goes hungry.” In the case of persistent spiritual laziness, spiritual starvation and death are the result. Let us, then, be busy—preaching regularly from house to house (even in unreceptive territories), witnessing informally at every opportunity, making return visits on sheeplike persons and conducting with them regular home Bible studies in one of the Society’s publications. Some of us may be able to serve as “pioneers,” or full-time Kingdom proclaimers, in this work of the Lord Jesus, who is, indeed, the “pioneer” of our faith.—Heb. 12:2, Moffatt; Isa. 6:8-10.
19. What spirit may all of us show, but how may some have a greater share in the work?
19 Whether we are enrolled as pioneers or not, all of us can perform our “sacred service” joyfully, in a true pioneer spirit. This may lead many of us to do “auxiliary pioneer” work from time to time, and if the joy derived from this can encourage some of us to become regular pioneers, how much greater will be our share in “the work of the Lord”!—Rom. 12:1, 2.
20. (a) With whom are we privileged to be co-workers? (b) With what assurance should we press on toward the goal? (c) Finally, what words of Paul should we want to make our own, and why?
20 This work of the Lord Jesus, following in his footsteps, is also “the work of Jehovah.” (1 Cor. 16:10; John 5:17) How privileged we are to be co-workers with the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, the Lord Jesus Christ and the heavenly angels at “the conclusion of the system of things”! (1 Cor. 3:9; Matt. 25:31-33; 28:19, 20) For we know that our labor is “not in vain in connection with the Lord.” Whether we reach the New Order by resurrection or by survival through the “great tribulation,” may we be able to say, in the words of the faithful apostle Paul, at 1 Corinthians 15:57: “Thanks to God, for he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” Yes, victory over death, leading on to the grand blessings of eternal life!
Do you appreciate these points?
▪ Why it is necessary at all times to be fully alive to the resurrection hope
▪ What encouragement the resurrection hope provides for our brothers who have to face death daily
▪ Why those who associate with doubters or apostate thinkers should be ‘moved to shame’
▪ Why the quality of steadfastness is essential in order to ‘make it’ into Jehovah’s new order
▪ How meaningful is the statement made about “one channel” in “The Watch Tower” more than 70 years ago
▪ How pioneering or otherwise “having plenty to do in the work of the Lord” can serve for our protection
[Picture on page 22]
Some fearless overseers serve “in peril every hour”
[Picture on page 23]
Good habits of meeting attendance and the field service help us to keep zealous for God’s kingdom