Do You Appreciate Sacred Things?
“Pursue peace with all people, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord, carefully watching . . . that there may be no fornicator nor anyone not appreciating sacred things, like Esau, who in exchange for one meal gave away his rights as firstborn.”—HEBREWS 12:14-16.
1. What lack of appreciation do most humans show, but how are Christians different?
JEHOVAH our God is a most generous Provider. He freely supplies the needs of all his creation. The majority of mankind, though, gives little thought to this. They neither thank Jehovah nor acknowledge their great debt to him. Christians, on the other hand, do not take Jehovah’s goodness for granted. They honor him for what he does on their behalf. Because of their devotion to him, Jehovah has entrusted his people with a number of sacred things that are not enjoyed by mankind in general. These are precious things, set apart as holy and having to do with Jehovah’s worship. Do you know what these sacred things are? And do you have a deep, heartfelt appreciation for them?—Psalm 104:10-28; Matthew 5:45; Revelation 4:11.
2. Who showed a notable lack of appreciation?
2 Not all of God’s people have properly appreciated sacred things. Isaac’s son Esau, for example, failed in this regard. Paul spoke of him when he wrote to anointed Hebrew Christians. After urging these ones to “pursue peace with all people,” he warned them to be sure that there would prove to be in their midst “no fornicator nor anyone not appreciating sacred things, like Esau, who in exchange for one meal gave away his rights as firstborn.”—Hebrews 12:14-16.
3, 4. What were the sacred rights of the firstborn that Esau sold to Jacob for a bowl of stew?
3 What were these rights of the firstborn? Jehovah promised Esau’s grandfather, Abraham, that through him and his descendants one eventually would be born who would be the Seed of promise, the Messiah, or the Christ. By means of this Seed all nations would be able to bless themselves, leading to their being delivered from sin and death.—Genesis 22:15-18; Galatians 3:16.
4 Esau, Isaac’s firstborn, had the opportunity to be a part of the line that would produce that Seed. This was part of his birthright. But to his shame, the Bible record states: “Esau despised the birthright.” He impetuously sold it for one meal of lentil stew and some bread. Certainly, we do not want to imitate his lack of appreciation. We should, rather, develop the attitude of Esau’s brother, Jacob. He was next in line for the birthright, which he bought in view of his brother’s evident lack of appreciation. Jacob thus ensured that the right to be an ancestor of the promised Seed was passed on by one who properly valued this sacred thing.—Genesis 25:27-34.
5. What sacred things will we consider, and how can we avoid taking these for granted?
5 Within the Christian congregation, Jehovah has made available many sacred things to keep us spiritually strong and properly equipped for his service. Let us discuss a number of these. Then, individually, we can meditate on them and strengthen our appreciation for them so that we will never take them for granted.
Jehovah’s Name and the Ransom—Most Sacred
6. In what ways can we show that we do not take for granted the sacredness of Jehovah’s name?
6 First on our list of sacred things is Jehovah’s name. How lofty is this name in your mind and heart? In giving the model prayer, Jesus said first: “Let your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9) When we get baptized, we become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10, 11) What an honor! And when we talk about Jehovah’s goodness and his grand purposes, others get to know him by his personal name, and they too want to serve him. But if one neglects to talk about him or, worse still, gets involved in wrongdoing, this brings reproach on Jehovah’s good name and reputation. Jehovah’s faithful Christian Witnesses strive always to sanctify his holy name before others by what they say and do.—Leviticus 22:31, 32; Deuteronomy 5:11.
7. Why should we show utmost appreciation for the ransom sacrifice of Christ?
7 High on the list of sacred things is the ransom sacrifice. How precious is Christ’s sacrifice to you? Only on the basis of complete faith in this perfect human sacrifice can we have our sins forgiven. (1 John 2:1, 2) Paul speaks of the anointed congregation as being “purchased with the blood of [God’s] own Son.” (Acts 20:28; compare 1 Peter 1:17-19.) Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, gave up his position in heaven, lived on earth among sinful men and women, and then offered up his perfect human life in an agonizing death on the torture stake in order that we might have everlasting life. (Matthew 20:28) It would be the height of ungratefulness if one did not daily show deep appreciation for this precious gift of God.—Hebrews 10:28, 29; Jude 4, 5.
Our Relationship With Jehovah and His Organization
8. How precious is our relationship with Jehovah?
8 This brings us to another very sacred matter, our relationship with Jehovah. How dearly we should cherish this intimacy we have with our heavenly Father. If we ‘draw close to God, he will draw close to us.’ (James 4:8) He loves us very much, and he wants us to love him with all our heart. (Matthew 22:37, 38; John 3:16) David gave his son Solomon sound counsel about his relationship with Jehovah. Included in this was a warning: “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a complete heart and with a delightful soul; for all hearts Jehovah is searching, and every inclination of the thoughts he is discerning. If you search for him, he will let himself be found by you; but if you leave him, he will cast you off forever.” (1 Chronicles 28:9) So “keep yourselves in God’s love, while you are waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with everlasting life in view.”—Jude 21.
9. In what ways do we show that we do not take for granted the privilege of being a part of Jehovah’s organization?
9 Do you appreciate also what a sacred privilege it is to be a part of Jehovah’s organization? All of us must remember that we are in it only by the undeserved kindness of Jehovah. If a person proves unappreciative and becomes an unrepentant wrongdoer, he will lose this privilege. Paul warned: “Consequently let him that thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:6-12) Paul gave this warning after telling of the 23,000 Israelites who perished because of idolatry and immorality. We can show our appreciation for the sacredness of Jehovah’s organization by each of us doing our part to keep it free of uncleanness, immorality, strife, commercialism, and feelings of superiority and prejudice. (2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 1:14-16) We can work at strengthening the bond of brotherly love, while carefully observing theocratic order and cooperating with those taking the lead.—1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 5:12, 13.
God’s Word, Laws, and Kingdom Hope
10. How do we show that we appreciate fully the Holy Scriptures?
10 God’s inspired Word, the Holy Bible, is also sacred. It contains divine pronouncements, instructions, counsel, promises, revelations, yes, all we need to ‘equip us for every good work.’ (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) How can we show appreciation for this? First, by studying it and applying what we learn in our lives. Then, by properly heeding the Bible-based “food at the proper time” that Jehovah is providing through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) And from a practical standpoint, we need to keep our personal copies of the Bible, as well as the Christian publications that we use in our preaching activity, neat and clean. It might bring reproach on Jehovah if we go out witnessing and use a Bible that is badly soiled or unsightly.
11. Why should we not take for granted Jehovah’s sacred laws?
11 In God’s Word are Jehovah’s sacred laws. Do you always view them as sacred, or do you at times tend to take them lightly? Jehovah’s laws are like signs, markers, and safety barriers along the roadway to life. If we obey them, we will travel safely and eventually reach our destination in Jehovah’s new world; but if we take Jehovah’s commands and reminders lightly, we are headed for disaster.—Psalm 119:10, 11, 35, 101, 102; Proverbs 3:1-4.
12. How is our Kingdom hope a sacred thing?
12 Through the Bible, we also learn of a sacred thing that should be dear to our hearts: our Kingdom hope. Speaking of faithful Abraham, Paul says at Hebrews 11:10: “For he was awaiting the city [God’s Kingdom] having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.” Do you have a similar strong, enduring hope in God’s Kingdom? Is your faith so strong that your heart entertains no doubts, and does your zeal remain undiminished while you wait for God’s purposes to be fulfilled in his due time?—Matthew 24:20-22, 33, 34, 42.
Sacred Gatherings and Privileges
13. Why should we not take for granted the benefits of the Christian meetings?
13 “Incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom,” counseled Paul. This indicates that our Christian meetings are another sacred provision not to be taken lightly. At the meetings, we receive vital instruction and warm fellowship that we urgently need. Here we can also make “public declaration of our hope” by speaking from the platform as we have opportunity and by commenting regularly. (Hebrews 10:23-25) And since the Kingdom Hall is where most of our meetings are held, do you regularly contribute funds and work hard to keep it properly maintained?—Exodus 35:21.
14. What will help us appreciate that our Christian ministry is a sacred treasure?
14 The privilege Christians have of preaching the good news is likened by Paul to “treasure in earthen vessels.” (2 Corinthians 4:1, 7) Yes, the Christian ministry is also a sacred thing that we deeply appreciate. While most of the ones we preach to are indifferent, we should keep reminding ourselves of the lofty privilege we have of telling others about Jehovah and his purposes. Thus we will fulfill our commission to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom and to make disciples. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Watching new disciples make progress is a further cause for joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20) If we treasure the ministry, we will not be irregular or inactive in declaring the good news.
15. Why is the caring for privileges within Jehovah’s organization not to be taken lightly?
15 Privileges within Jehovah’s organization are also sacred. Actually, such privileges are a sacred trust. (Compare Acts 20:28.) Whether the responsibility involves oversight, shepherding, teaching, or some other service to fellow Christians, give it extraordinary care. Even if a task seems insignificant, do not take it lightly, but do it well, promptly, as unto Jehovah. Remember, “the person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.”—Luke 16:10.
Marriage and the Family
16. In what ways may we show that we consider marriage and the family to be sacred things?
16 In listing sacred things, do not forget to include marriage and the family. True, non-Christians also get married, but Christians view marriage as sacred, involved in their worship of Jehovah. (Compare 1 Peter 3:1-7.) How do they show respect for this sacred thing? The Bible says at Hebrews 13:4: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” Jesus warned that looking at a woman continuously so as to have a passion for her would amount to committing adultery in the heart. (Matthew 5:27, 28) If you choose to marry, do so honorably. Then, never take your marriage for granted. Build up genuine love and deep respect every day. If you have children, ‘bring them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.’ In this way your family will be “holy.”—Ephesians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 7:14.
Jehovah’s Holy Spirit and Prayer
17. Why can we not take for granted God’s holy spirit?
17 We need all of Jehovah’s provisions, and one important help from Jehovah is his holy spirit. (John 14:26) We do not always know the ways Jehovah uses his holy spirit in our behalf, but one thing is certain: We cannot get along without it. We should pray for holy spirit to help us understand true teachings and to endure trials. We need it to help us cultivate the fruits of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) And we are warned at Ephesians 4:30 that we should “not be grieving” the holy spirit, getting involved in things that restrict its flow to us. May we ever appreciate Jehovah’s holy spirit.
18. Why is prayer a sacred privilege?
18 The last sacred thing we will discuss, prayer, is certainly not the least in importance. What a privilege we have to communicate with the Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah! Obviously, we should approach him respectfully, reverentially, never lightly. We can be confident that he will hear and answer our prayers that are offered in harmony with his will. “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) Prayer will keep us appreciative of sacred things.
19. What blessings come to those who properly appreciate sacred things?
19 We have discussed just 13 sacred things that we should never take for granted. Many more could be mentioned. If we appreciate such things, we will keep a good relationship with our God, Jehovah, and have his daily blessing. What peace of mind this brings, along with a good conscience! Never take that precious relationship for granted! Love Jehovah with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and he will always love you. (1 John 4:16) Nothing except your own unfaithfulness can break that bond of love.—Romans 8:38, 39.
20. How can we successfully walk on the road to life in Jehovah’s new world?
20 Let us also keep busy in Kingdom service, caring well for all privileges and appreciating all spiritual provisions. With hearts ever full of gratitude, may we be alert to obey all of Jehovah’s sacred laws and reminders, appreciating that they have been posted to guide us safely on the road to life. And, as we keep walking on that narrow road to life, it is likely that Jehovah will not only preserve us alive through the great tribulation but give us eternal life with endless blessings in his new world, now so very near. All of this because we appreciated sacred things.
What Answer Would You Give?
□ How can we avoid taking Jehovah’s name and the ransom sacrifice for granted?
□ What may betray that we do not appreciate our relationship with Jehovah and his organization?
□ What are some things that demonstrate our appreciation for God’s Word and laws, and the Kingdom hope?
□ How may we show that we do not take Christian meetings and theocratic privileges for granted?
□ What are some additional sacred things for which we should cultivate a deep appreciation?