Serve Jehovah With a Joyful Heart
“Serve Jehovah with rejoicing. Come in before him with a joyful cry.”—Psalm 100:2.
1, 2. What contrasting views of life are here cited?
“I HAVE messed up my life, and it’s too late to change it . . . When I go walking alone, I think back over my life, and I’m not happy with the way I made it.” So said an older woman who had gained fame as an actress and seemingly had good cause for happiness. But those words evidently did not originate in a truly joyful heart.
2 By contrast, consider a certain man who has been waging a battle against paralysis for over thirty-seven years. Seemingly, such a person has little reason for joy. Yet he speaks of happiness and says that he has found something that “makes life genuinely rewarding and meaningful.”
3. (a) What personal experiences may cause us to wonder whether any human can have true joy? (b) How can joy be defined?
3 Most of us have not had to endure a long, painful struggle against infirmity. Nor have we become world famous as entertainers. Likely, we are common folk who must face the daily anxieties and hardships of life. Our experiences prove that “man, born of woman, is short-lived and glutted with agitation,” and doubtless we agree that “all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together.” (Job 14:1; Romans 8:22) For that matter, we may well wonder whether anyone on earth can have true joy—that “emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something good or satisfying.” What is your thought? Is joy really attainable?
Can You Find It?
4. Who are among the millions experiencing true joy?
4 Millions do experience joy. The righteous heavenly angels joyfully ‘carry out God’s word.’ (Psalm 103:20) They have always served Jehovah God with true joy. Why, at earth’s founding, these “morning stars joyfully cried out together”! (Job 38:4-7) Surely the faithful angel that announced Jesus’ birth had a delightful mission, for he was declaring “good news of a great joy.”—Luke 2:8-14.
5. As regards joy, what has been the experience of God’s only-begotten Son?
5 But what about “the only-begotten Son of God”? (John 3:18) Before becoming the man Jesus Christ he was Jehovah’s “master worker” in heaven. Was that service joyful? Indeed it was, for we are told: “I came to be the one he [Jehovah] was specially fond of day by day, I being glad before him all the time.” (Proverbs 8:22-31) While on earth as a man Jesus found delight in doing God’s will. (Psalm 40:6-8; Hebrews 10:5-10) Moreover, “for the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Now, as “the happy and only Potentate” who soon will make divine judgments felt on earth, Jesus Christ truly serves Jehovah with a joyful heart.—1 Timothy 6:13-16; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.
6. Where can you find joy today?
6 Well, then, can you find joy today? Yes, and the afflicted man mentioned earlier indicates how in saying: “I have found it true that the greatest happiness is in serving God. This makes life genuinely rewarding and meaningful. Being a paralytic has not robbed me of the privileges and blessings of serving the Creator.” Genuine joy is found among those wholeheartedly devoted to Jehovah God. And why not? They declare “good news” from “the happy God”—a heartening message about endless life amid grand blessings under the rule of the “kingdom of the heavens.” (Matthew 24:14; 1 Timothy 1:11; Matthew 5:3) So they have reason to “serve Jehovah with rejoicing,” to “come in before him with a joyful cry.”—Psalm 100:2.
7, 8. (a) Despite their joy, why are persons devoted to Jehovah not always lighthearted? (b) Why is it that life’s hardships do not overwhelm Jehovah’s people?
7 This does not mean that a person devoted to God will always be lighthearted. In imperfect human society, Jehovah’s people do experience some sadness at times. (Romans 5:12) For instance, when Esau took Hittite women as wives, “they were a source of bitterness of spirit to [his God-fearing parents] Isaac and Rebekah.” (Genesis 26:34, 35) Moreover, by outright persecution and indirect “crafty acts,” Satan the Devil endeavors to destroy the Christian’s precious relationship with Jehovah. (Ephesians 6:11, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures) Hence, lovers of God can expect some hardships along life’s pathway. Yet these difficulties do not overwhelm Jehovah’s people. They draw “comfort from the Scriptures” and confidently pray for God’s spirit and aid in cultivating its fruit of joy. (Romans 15:4; Luke 11:13; Galatians 5:22, 23) Despite life’s trials, Christians can have “joy of holy spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6) Especially do blessings from Jehovah contribute to that joy.
8 The blessing of Jehovah truly is enriching. (Proverbs 10:22) But, if you are a Christian, have you counted your blessings? They should make you “rejoice in Jehovah.” (Psalm 32:11) Consider but a few of your blessings and you will find ample reason to serve Jehovah with a joyful heart.
Joyous Privileges Without Equal
9. What does it mean to know Jehovah, and what bearing does this have on joy?
9 Knowing and serving Jehovah are blessings beyond compare. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God said: “Let the one bragging about himself brag about himself because of this very thing, the having of insight and the having of knowledge of me, that I am Jehovah, the One exercising loving-kindness, justice and righteousness in the earth.” (Jeremiah 9:24) Naturally, just possessing knowledge of the divine name is not enough. Knowing Jehovah means being aware of his qualities, dealings, attitudes and purposes. It means obeying him, recognizing and submitting to his authority. (1 John 5:3) Earnest study of the Scriptures and meditation on the words and actions of God’s Son, who is in absolute harmony with his Father, make it possible to have a close personal relationship with God. (John 1:18; 14:9-11) Those who thus know Jehovah are joyful indeed. In fact, “to the man that is good before him he [Jehovah] has given wisdom and knowledge and rejoicing.”—Ecclesiastes 2:26.
10. What is the most important and satisfying way in which human life can be used?
10 The inestimable privilege of rendering “sacred service” to the true God is another blessing enjoyed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. No human could use life in a more important or satisfying way. Surely, Zechariah (who was the father of John the Baptizer) expressed matters well in blessing Jehovah for granting His people “the privilege of fearlessly rendering sacred service to him with loyalty and righteousness” all their days.—Luke 1:67-79; compare Romans 12:1; Revelation 7:9, 13-15.
11. What joy-producing privilege is associated with rendering God “sacred service”?
11 The privilege of bearing Jehovah’s name as his witnesses is associated with that of rendering God “sacred service.” (Isaiah 43:10-12) That certainly should promote joy, even as Jeremiah said: “Your word becomes to me the exultation and the rejoicing of my heart; for your name has been called upon me, O Jehovah God of armies.”—Jeremiah 15:16.
12. If we are discouraged, reflecting on what contrasts may lift our spirits?
12 If you are serving God but occasionally experience discouragement, brief reflection on some contrasts may lift your spirits. For instance, when we consider that the wicked angels are “reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness” for God’s adverse judgment, the lot of the righteous angels in Jehovah’s service stands out as being all the more joyous. (Jude 6) And what a contrast exists between Jesus’ joyful position and that of Satan the Devil, who faces eternal destruction! (Revelation 20:10, 14) Then, too, Jehovah’s compassionate care and blessings surely make it easy to see “the distinction between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.” (Malachi 3:17, 18) However, consider yet other blessings that provide sound reasons for serving Jehovah with a joyful heart.
True Freedom and Spiritual Light
13, 14. Religiously speaking, what true freedom and spiritual light do Jehovah’s servants enjoy?
13 Liberation from “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, surely is another blessing that promotes joy. True Christians are happy that they will not ‘share in her sins and receive part of her plagues.’ (Revelation 18:2, 4) Additionally, Jehovah’s servants enjoy freedom from the fears and fables of false religion. “You will know the truth,” said Jesus, “and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) That true freedom seems all the more precious when we reflect on the slavery of those in spiritual darkness.
14 For instance, unlike so many adherents of false religion, worshipers of Jehovah do not bow and pray before images that can neither speak, see, hear, smell, feel nor walk. (Psalm 115:4-8) Nor do spiritually free and enlightened Christians fear the dead, as do so many of earth’s inhabitants. The false religious teaching that man has an immortal soul fosters this dread that the deceased may return to haunt or plague the living. But spiritual light from God has dispelled such fears, for true Christians know that the dead “are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) How much more wholesome it is to realize that dead loved ones in God’s memory will experience a resurrection! (John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15) Surely, Jehovah’s devoted witnesses can rejoice that the heavenly Father whom they serve in unison has, by his holy spirit, revealed to them “the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10) Yes, he has granted his people joy-producing spiritual light and truth.—Psalm 43:3.
The Joy of Aiding Others
15, 16. (a) What happened when Jesus’ early disciples ‘let their light shine’? (b) Christians today experience what in disciple making?
15 Reflecting spiritual light is also a blessing. Jesus told his followers: “You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.” (Matthew 5:14-16) What happened as those early disciples ‘let their light shine’ by word and deed? Others benefited, but such activity also brought joy to Christ’s followers themselves. (Luke 10:1, 17-20; Acts 8:4-8) Certainly, those disciple makers were serving Jehovah with a joyful heart.—Matthew 28:19, 20.
16 Christians experience similar joy today in the work of proclaiming the kingdom message. Especially is this true with regard to persons they aid in gaining a knowledge of God’s truth. The apostle Paul had such joy, for he said that the Philippians he had helped were his “joy and crown.” (Philippians 4:1) Respecting those he had aided at Thessalonica, the apostle wrote: “What is our hope or joy or crown of exultation—why, is it not in fact you?—before our Lord Jesus at his presence? You certainly are our glory and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20) Yes, Paul—just like Christians today—found joy in those he had assisted spiritually. Are you exerting yourself in Jehovah’s service and experiencing such joy?
17. Why, despite limited results in some areas, do Jehovah’s Witnesses find joy in their disciple-making work?
17 Despite limited results when witnessing in some areas today, Jehovah’s Witnesses find joy in knowing that they are pleasing and praising their God. That is true even if certain householders are not happy to see the Witnesses at their doors. Jehovah’s servants are not discouraged by this, for they realize that serving God is the finest privilege anyone on earth can enjoy.
Even Persecution Brings Joy
18. Why can Christians be joyful even though suffering persecution?
18 Christians serve Jehovah with a joyful heart even though they often suffer persecution. Jesus pronounced happy those persecuted for his sake, and the apostle Peter stated: “Go on rejoicing forasmuch as you are sharers in the sufferings of the Christ, that you may rejoice and be overjoyed also during the revelation of his glory. If you are being reproached for the name of Christ, you are happy.” Why? “Because,” says Peter, “the spirit of glory, even the spirit of God, is resting upon you.” (1 Peter 4:13, 14; Matthew 5:11, 12) Experiencing persecution for being a Christian may not seem to be a blessing. But if you are enduring such suffering you have evidence of God’s spirit and approval—and, surely, that promotes joy.
19. How did one victim of Nazi persecution express himself?
19 Because of having God’s holy spirit and the strength that Jehovah imparts, persecuted Christians can maintain their joy under extreme circumstances. (Philippians 4:13) Some years ago, from a Nazi concentration camp, a young Witness unjustly sentenced to death wrote his parents: “It is already past midnight. I still have time to change my mind. Ah! could I be happy again in this world after I had denied our Lord? Surely not! But now you have the assurance that I leave this world in happiness and peace.” Yes, persecuted Christians do serve Jehovah with a joyful heart.
Other Reasons for Joy
20. How is joy affected by associating with fellow believers?
20 In spite of the persecution endured by Jehovah’s Witnesses, they experience true joy in association with their fellow believers. What a blessing! In a world filled with dishonesty, lies and wrongdoing, how good it is to have honest, truthful, upright associates who have put on the “new personality”! (Colossians 3:8-11) Then, too, there is deep satisfaction in knowing that one’s own conduct makes Jehovah’s heart rejoice.—Proverbs 27:11.
21. What are some ways to promote the interests of true worship joyfully?
21 It is also a blessing to promote the interests of true worship joyfully, perhaps by sharing in the construction, maintenance and support of a Christian meeting place. (Exodus 36:1-7; 2 Kings 12:4-15) Certainly, such efforts bring a person joy of heart. And how can anyone fully evaluate the blessings and joys of regularly meeting with Jehovah’s people, as well as cooperating with them in God-given witnessing work?—Psalm 122:1; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9.
22. Faithfulness in performing godly deeds results in what?
22 Faithfulness in performing godly deeds also results in a rich blessing—the prospect of salvation and a joyous future in God’s promised new system of things. (2 Peter 3:11-13) What a difference there is between the hope-filled servants of Jehovah and persons ‘who have no hope and are without God in the world’! (Ephesians 2:11, 12) Surely, with David, Jehovah’s people today can say to God: “As for me, in your loving-kindness I have trusted; let my heart be joyful in your salvation.” (Psalm 13:5) Indeed, when Christians count their blessings, they find many reasons to serve Jehovah with a joyful heart.
Continue to “Serve Jehovah With Rejoicing”
23. Rather than allowing growing pressures to dominate our thinking, what should we do?
23 Although witnesses of Jehovah now enjoy many blessings, they cannot escape the growing pressures from this old system of things. These must be met courageously at work, in school and elsewhere, and such factors can be discouraging. But, rather than letting these disagreeable things dominate our thinking and disturb us constantly, we are wise to shift our thoughts to positive, upbuilding matters. Yes, instead of being discouraged or sorrowful, let us be “zealous for fine works” and reflect on our blessings as Jehovah’s servants. (Titus 2:14) Then we will be cheerful, as though we were enjoying a continual feast. As Proverbs 15:15 puts it: “All the days of the afflicted one are bad; but the one that is good at heart has a feast constantly.”
24. (a) How can your life have a rewarding purpose? (b) What question appropriately is raised?
24 Admittedly, many people are not happy with their lot in life. But if you love and obey God, zealously persevering in his service, your life has a rewarding purpose. Moreover, with Jehovah’s help, life’s problems and pressures can be endured successfully. So be of good courage and continue to cherish the blessings God bestows upon you as you serve Jehovah with a joyful heart. (Psalm 100:2) But what is required to continue rejoicing in the worship of Jehovah?
Do you recall these points?
□ Why are Jehovah’s people not overwhelmed by life’s hardships?
□ What does it mean to know Jehovah, and what bearing does this have on joy?
□ Disciple making has what relationship to joy?
□ How can we joyfully promote true worship?
[Blurb on page 11]
Those enjoying spiritual light from Jehovah do not fear the dead. Instead, they look forward to the resurrection of persons who are in God’s memory