Do Not Give Up in Doing What Is Fine
“Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.”—GALATIANS 6:9.
1. What commission did Jesus give to his followers?
WHAT a fine activity Christians perform as part of their worship! It is embodied in the clear command: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them . . . , teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) It was Jesus Christ himself who gave to his disciples the commission to carry out that worldwide teaching work.
2. (a) Why can we say that disciple making was an important work and a fine one? (b) What purposes does the disciple-making work serve?
2 Since the disciple-making commission was one of the last statements Jesus made to his first disciples before ascending to heaven, was it not a most important assignment? Yes, because fulfilling it would save lives. (1 Timothy 4:16) That makes it a fine work. It provides sound Bible education for those heeding the Kingdom message, and the preaching work puts on notice any unresponsive ones. (Luke 10:10, 11) Hence, their doing this work identifies true Christians as much as does their compliance with any other teachings of Jesus.—John 8:31.
3. (a) How did Jesus’ disciples respond to his personal example and command? (b) What attitude did Jesus build in his disciples?
3 As the Great Teacher, Jesus set a superb example for his followers. He taught publicly and made disciples by “preaching the good news of the kingdom.” (Matthew 9:35) In imitation of him, new followers themselves became disciple makers, for a true disciple is “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” Initially, their disciple-making work was confined to Jews and proselytes. Despite adverse reaction in that field, however, did Jesus’ followers carry out his command to “go continually” “without letup”? Why, yes, they went “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” until the first Gentiles became believers in 36 C.E. (Matthew 10:5, 6; Acts 5:42) It was said that the disciples “filled Jerusalem with [their] teaching.” (Acts 5:28) They did not give up their fine work. Instead, they faithfully saw it through.
“The Field Is the World”
4. With what attitude did Jesus’ followers pursue their extended assignment?
4 Jesus indicated that the field would include “people of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19) In a parable about the sowing of Kingdom seed, he had said: “The field is the world.” (Matthew 13:38) Thus, Christians would be Kingdom “witnesses” of him everywhere. They would again “go continually,” this time “to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The apostle Paul was “intensely occupied with the word,” and we can be sure that other Christians were too.—Acts 18:5.
5. How did Jesus show that he expected his disciples to be intensely occupied with the witnessing work until the end of the present system?
5 Jesus expected witnessing activity to occupy Christians intensely until the end of the present system of things. This is shown in what he predicted about the Christian ministry and the territory it would cover. Jesus said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:14.
6. How long will the Kingdom-preaching work be done, and how should this affect our attitude toward it?
6 When Jesus gave the command to engage in Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making activity earth wide, he knew that such fine work would one day reach its climax, just as it did for the Jewish field. But it would accomplish its purpose. “Then,” as he said, “the end will come.” Thus, until the end, Jehovah’s Witnesses confidently and joyfully continue in the work assigned. That helps them to continue in the work in our day until it is finished.
How to Do the Work
7. What theme marked Jesus’ ministry and that of his disciples?
7 Jesus taught his first disciples how to perform their public ministry. They zealously responded to his order to “go.” When training them for their witnessing work, Jesus said: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” (Matthew 10:7) That gave their message the same Kingdom theme that had marked his ministry. It would be good news for honesthearted ones. Once Jesus’ followers started their work, did he quit? No, indeed, for “when Jesus had finished giving instructions to his twelve disciples, he set out from there to teach and preach in their cities.”—Matthew 11:1.
8. (a) Where and how were Kingdom proclaimers to make their approach? (b) Why is it appropriate to take the good news to a person’s house? (c) What advantages are there in properly greeting a householder?
8 Where and how were these Kingdom proclaimers to make their approach? Jesus told them: “When you are entering into the house, greet the household.” (Matthew 10:12) Going to a person’s house with the good news dignifies the householder, giving him an opportunity to deal with the Kingdom message on his home ground. Not only are the customary and accepted forms of greeting the polite and considerate ways to start a conversation but there is also an advantage to be gained from having a friendly and cheerful greeting turn an uninvited call into a welcome one. (Compare Matthew 28:9; Luke 1:28.) The tone of voice and reply of the person at the door also tell you much about his or her attitude. You need to take note of that before continuing because such knowledge makes it easier to adapt your comments to the householder’s needs.—Compare Acts 22:1, 2; 23:6.
9. What shows that not all would hear the Kingdom message with appreciation, and what was to be the reaction to those not showing interest in it?
9 Jesus let his disciples know that not all people in a territory would respond favorably. He said: “Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving.” If all were to accept the Kingdom message, there would be no reason to use the expression “search out.” What was to be the reaction to those who did not show interest in the message? “Wherever anyone does not take you in or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city shake the dust off your feet,” departing in peace and leaving the consequences to Jehovah’s judgment.—Matthew 10:11, 14.
The Situation Today
10. What has been said about the Kingdom-preaching activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
10 In faithful compliance with the Christian commission, Jehovah’s Witnesses are covering the earth with the Kingdom message. Thus, A. P. Wisse, a journalist in the Netherlands, commented: “They are different from other people. Part of this difference is the result of their zealous evangelizing. They view true Christianity not as a religion with cathedrals, with parishioners who each has his own fixed place and whose religion does not ask much more of him than to listen. They speak with Paul’s outspokenness to anyone who will listen.” Such zeal for the ministry surely has been blessed by Jehovah God.
11, 12. (a) What results have been produced in the ministry in recent years? (b) As we grow in numbers, what is happening to available territory in which to preach? (c) What questions are raised?
11 Over 3,000,000 Kingdom publishers now work with zeal in 210 lands. We see a fine increase in new disciples—1,246,204 having been baptized in the last seven years. The blessing of Jehovah on diligent effort is evident. (Isaiah 60:8-10, 22) Why, in at least 40 countries and islands, there is one Witness to every 300 inhabitants or less, or one to about 100 households! Moreover, in some areas of such countries as Canada and Guadeloupe, the ratio is one Witness to 45 or 50 people in a congregation’s territory—only about 15 homes or less for each publisher to call on! Many of these territories are covered every month. Even in lands with higher ratios, some urban areas are getting very frequent coverage in our witness work. In Seoul, Republic of Korea, some city territories are worked every five days! As we grow numerically, and as more and more Witnesses take up the pioneer and auxiliary pioneer work, we will be calling at the doors of our neighbors with increasing frequency. Does that present problems?
12 It must be admitted that there are problems in some areas, both for Jehovah’s Witnesses and for those on whom we call. Adding to the problems is the growing apathy among the people in many lands. Well, as we increase in numbers, do we slowly give up doing our fine work? Do we conclude that our work is almost done and that we have already ‘searched out’ all who will respond and become disciples? Are you personally getting tired and perhaps even frustrated at calling on the same unresponsive people? What can be done to keep up our excellent level of activity?
Maintaining the Right Attitude
13, 14. (a) How should we view the developing situation of frequently worked territory? (b) Why are we not deterred by those who are “unresponsive”? (c) How can we follow the apostolic example in facing those who resent our calls?
13 The solution mainly involves our attitude as witnesses of Jehovah. For one thing, let us always look at the bright side. The more frequent coverage of territory because of a high ratio of publishers to population was sure to develop in many places as our work reaches its climax. But have we not prayed for this? (2 Thessalonians 3:1) What we now see should make us rejoice and should convince us that we are in the final stages of the disciple-making work! The Kingdom is being preached, as Jesus foretold. And even in places where people will ‘not listen to our words,’ they are being put on notice by means of our Kingdom-preaching activity. Remember, besides making disciples, we are proclaiming the good news “for a witness.”—Matthew 10:14; 24:14.
14 Furthermore, it is to be expected that a growing number will reject the Kingdom message as the end nears. The predictions are clear, and the experiences of both Jesus and Paul assure us that there would be those who would be “unresponsive” and whose hearts would be “unreceptive.” So, at this time we must be careful that we are not unresponsive to our commission. Even to those who are unresponsive, we are to go “again and again.” (Isaiah 6:9-11; Matthew 13:14, 15; Proverbs 10:21) True, it takes courage to go often to people who resent our calls. However, no territory situation anywhere should ever say to us, ‘Stop speaking.’ Rather, like the apostles, we should pray for boldness to “keep speaking”—despite resentment or hostility —until the work is done.—Acts 4:18-20, 24-31.
15. What encouragement is given at Galatians 6:9, and how should it affect our view of visiting our neighbors with the good news?
15 Basically, there are only two kinds of people in all our territories—those who at the moment are interested and those who are not. Therefore, we need to keep up the work of ‘searching out the deserving ones.’ Doing this is among the many excellent works that we are to produce as Christians to show our love for Jehovah and our loyalty to him. Therefore, “let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.” (Galatians 6:9) Since we are now so close to the end of this system, it is not the time to give up or get tired of visiting our neighbors with the good news of the Kingdom. Jehovah has not yet said that the work is finished.
Why We Need to “Keep Speaking”
16. (a) What are some of the circumstances that can change the response of people in a territory? (b) What local examples of change in response can you give?
16 We will also be helped to maintain a good attitude if we remember that loyalty to Jehovah is displayed by zealous Kingdom-preaching activities. Moreover, territories keep changing in various ways. People move, or their circumstances may change. They may not have been interested the last time we called, but loss of employment, the death of a loved one, a significant change in the struggle between the superpowers, a serious illness—these and other changes can mean that they will be responsive the next time we call. Others, having learned that a friend or loved one has become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, may now want to talk with us to learn what we believe that could have produced this change.
17. How are some now reacting to the Kingdom message? Give any local examples.
17 Remember, too, that those who have grown up in recent years now have families, are taking life seriously, and are asking questions that only God’s Word can answer. For example, one young mother invited two Witnesses into her home and said: ‘As a little girl, I could never understand why my mother turned the Witnesses away and told them she was not interested, when all you wanted to do was talk about the Bible. I made up my mind then that when I grew up, got married, and had my own home, I would ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to come in and explain the Bible to me.’
18. How does the changing religious scene affect the territory in which we preach and teach?
18 Have you noticed that some people who would not talk to us for years and thought they were “saved” are now asking us sincere questions? Why? A change has taken place in their religious thinking. They are saying that they have been quite disillusioned and stunned by exposures of immoral conduct, political activities, and waste of church funds by some prominent television evangelists they once trusted. Likely, there will be more of this as conditions within Babylon the Great continue to deteriorate until the time of her destruction.—Revelation 18:1-8.
19, 20. What shows why we should not feel discouraged about going back again and again to people who reject the message?
19 In any case, we should not become discouraged when most people are unreceptive. After we have left them, probably we are still on their minds. In Canada one householder visited by two Witnesses made it quite clear she was not interested. Later, she started thinking about what they had said and wanted to find them so they could answer questions raised in her mind. She got into her car and went looking for them up and down the streets of her neighborhood but was unable to locate them. Did she give up? No, she stopped at a friend’s house to ask if they had been there. They had not, but the friend said that there was a Witness at her place of work and she would put the interested woman in touch with the Witness. The result was a series of visits at the interested person’s home, to which she invited friends, neighbors, relatives, and fellow workers. As many as 15 persons have been present at times, and some 430 books and Bibles as well as 2,015 magazines have been placed.
20 Many appreciate our calls. In a letter to a branch office of the Watch Tower Society, one woman said: “Thank you for having instilled a great dedication in the hearts of those of your faith. Thank you for coming around . . . and sharing the love of the Lord with others. That simple act does so very much for others. . . . Even though some may be cruel, others indifferent, and others receptive, . . . it truly does a world of good to have someone come by to remind you of spiritual things. I find this thing good, to speak of the Lord one with another.” In another letter, a householder asked us ‘not to give up on people,’ no matter how they treat us. “So let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.” (Galatians 6:9) This work has Jehovah’s approval and blessing, and our participating in it proves our love for him and our neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-39) So let us carry the work to completion.—Compare Philippians 1:6.
21. (a) Where, likely, is at least part of the challenge in going again to frequently worked territories? (b) What will we discuss in the next article?
21 We must face the fact that it may not always be the people that make it seem hard to work territory frequently. Sometimes it is we ourselves. Do we start out with negative ideas, feeling that we know all the people and what their reactions will be? That can affect our attitude and likely our tone of voice and facial expression. Are we still using the same methods and wording we have used for years? Now that the territory is changing, what once had success may not reach other ‘deserving ones.’ Perhaps we need a fresh approach and a new look at our work. Next, let us see what we can do so that we ‘do not give up but may reap in due season.’
Can You Explain?
□ Why should we not “give up” in going to our neighbors with the good news?
□ Who told us to make disciples the way we do, and what are the basic features of that method?
□ What situation has developed in many territories, and what will help us maintain the right attitude about that situation?
□ Why should we “keep speaking” the good news “without letup”?
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WE WILL “NOT GIVE UP” IN KINGDOM PREACHING IF WE REMEMBER:
□ Who gave us the commission and the instruction on how to do the work
□ That Jehovah’s blessing is on what has already been done worldwide
□ To keep the right attitude despite any “unresponsive” ones
□ To pray to “keep speaking” as the apostles did