Loyally Working With Jehovah
“O God, you have taught me from my youth on, and until now I keep telling about your wonderful works.”—PSALM 71:17.
1. Why can we say that work is a gift from Jehovah?
WORK is one of God’s gifts to man. To our original parents, Adam and Eve, Jehovah said: “Fill the earth and subdue it.” That was a challenging work assignment but one well within their capabilities. The physical and mental effort required would increase their joy of living, beyond anything experienced by the animals that shared their earthly home.—Genesis 1:28.
2, 3. (a) What has work become for many today, and why? (b) What opportunity to do a special work do we need to consider?
2 Even in our imperfect state, “hard work” resulting in “good” is “the gift of God,” as the wise man Solomon wrote. (Ecclesiastes 3:13) Man still needs to occupy his faculties of mind and body. Being out of work is depressing. Yet, not all work is wholesome or worthwhile. For many, work is drudgery, born of necessity to eke out a living.
3 There is, however, a truly rewarding work in which all are invited to share. But there are many opposers and problems to overcome for those who participate in it. Why is it important that we qualify for this work? How do we do so? Before answering these questions, let us consider first:
For Whom Are We Working?
4. What kind of work brought joy and satisfaction to Jesus?
4 Jesus Christ said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) Loyally working for Jehovah brought Jesus much joy and satisfaction. It gave him purpose in life, and at the end of his three-and-a-half-year ministry, he could truthfully say to his heavenly Father: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do.” (John 17:4) Just as physical food is sustaining, so too is work with a spiritual dimension. Jesus stressed this on another occasion when he admonished: “Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting.” (John 6:27) In contrast, work that is spiritually unproductive leads to frustration and death.
5. Who opposed the good work Jesus did, and why?
5 “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” Jesus addressed this remark to the Jews who were criticizing him because on the Sabbath day he cured a man who had been sick for 38 years. (John 5:5-17) Although Jesus was doing Jehovah’s work, religious opposers refused to acknowledge that fact and did everything they could to stop him. Why? Because they were from their father, Satan the Devil, the one who has always opposed Jehovah’s work. (John 8:44) Since Satan can ‘transform himself into an angel of light,’ using “every unrighteous deception,” we need spiritual discernment and clear thinking to recognize his works for what they are. Otherwise, we may find ourselves working in opposition to Jehovah.—2 Corinthians 11:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10.
Opposers at Work
6. Why are apostates “deceitful workers”? Illustrate.
6 Some, like certain apostates today, are disloyally working as Satan’s agents to undermine the faith of newly associated members of the Christian congregation. (2 Corinthians 11:13) Rather than simply use the Bible as the basis for true teachings, they concentrate on trying to discredit the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, as if Jehovah’s Witnesses were wholly dependent on it for support. But this is not so. For the best part of a century, the Witnesses used primarily the King James Version, the Roman Catholic Douay Version, or whatever versions were available in their language, to learn the truth about Jehovah and his purposes. And they used these older versions in proclaiming the truth about the condition of the dead, the relationship between God and his Son, and why only a little flock go to heaven. Informed persons are also aware that Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to use many translations of the Bible in their worldwide evangelizing work. Since 1961, however, they have additionally enjoyed the use of the New World Translation, with its updated, accurate translation and fine readability.
7. (a) Why does Jesus disown many who profess faith in him? (b) Why is it important to heed the counsel at 1 John 4:1?
7 Jesus said he would disown many who profess faith in him. He acknowledged that they might prophesy, expel demons, and “perform many powerful works” in his name. Still, he identifies these as works of “lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23) Why? Because they are not doing the will of his heavenly Father and are worthless as far as Jehovah God is concerned. Unusual, even seemingly miraculous, works today can still originate with the archdeceiver, Satan. The apostle John, writing his first general letter over 60 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, counseled that Christians should “not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.” We need to do the same.—1 John 4:1.
8. How should we feel about the works of the flesh?
8 Even if we are not engaging in spiritually counterproductive work, our labors are worthless if they continue to cater to the desires of the fallen flesh. The apostle Peter said that we have spent long enough working out “the will of the nations . . . in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries.” (1 Peter 4:3, 4) This does not mean, of course, that all who are now dedicated Christians engaged in such activities, but it does mean that the attitude of those who have done so should have changed rapidly as their spiritual vision developed. The world will speak abusively of them because of their conversion; that is to be expected. Yet, they must change if they are to become loyal workers in Jehovah’s service.—1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
9. What do we learn from the experience of the Witness who began to train as an opera singer?
9 Jehovah has given us many gifts for our enjoyment, music among them. However, since “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” Satan the Devil, does this not include the world of music? (1 John 5:19) Yes, music can be a subtle snare, as Sylvana discovered. She had the opportunity to train in France as an opera singer. “I still had a strong desire to serve Jehovah,” she explains. “I was enjoying auxiliary pioneering and was hoping to reconcile these two things in my life. But the first problem I had to face in pursuing my career was immorality. Initially, my associates looked upon me as naive when I would not go along with their immoral talk and example. Later, the corrupt environment began to desensitize me, making me tolerant of things Jehovah hates. One of my teachers kept urging me to make a religion of my singing, and I was taught to be aggressive on the stage and to think I was superior to everyone else. All of this made me very uneasy. Eventually, I had to prepare for a special audition. I prayed to Jehovah to make it clear to me which way I should go. Although I sang well and felt confident, I was not among those chosen. Subsequently, I learned why—the results had secretly been predetermined long before the contest. But I had a clear answer to my prayer and decided to leave the operatic stage to teach singing at home.” This sister later married an elder in a Christian congregation, where both now serve loyally to advance Kingdom interests.
10. What do you conclude from Jesus’ words at John 3:19-21?
10 Jesus said: “He that practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, in order that his works may not be reproved.” On the other hand, “he that does what is true comes to the light, in order that his works may be made manifest as having been worked in harmony with God.” (John 3:19-21) What a blessing to be working in harmony with Jehovah’s will and purpose! But to do it successfully, we must always allow our works to be scrutinized in the light of God’s Word. We are never too old and it is never too late to change our way of life and to accept the invitation to take up Jehovah’s worthwhile service.
Doing “Good Works” Today
11. What do many pursue as “good works,” and why can such lead to frustration?
11 Work that is worthwhile today must reflect the urgency of our times. Many sincere people agree and busy themselves with works that are often described as “good works,” performed for the benefit of mankind in general or for one cause specifically. Yet, how frustrating this kind of work can be! In Britain, CAFOD (Catholic Fund for Overseas Development), reporting on its campaign for famine relief, said: “Three years ago . . . millions of pounds were raised for relief aid. Thousands of lives were saved. Now those lives are at risk once more . . . But why? What went wrong?” Continuing its account, the CAFOD Journal explains that long-term problems were never tackled and that “resources desperately needed for human development have been used to fuel the conflict [civil war].” Doubtless, you have heard like sentiments echoed by charities engaged in similar work.
12. What is the only answer to the problems facing the world today?
12 Famine is an urgent problem. Yet, who are identifying today’s tragedies of famine and war as fulfilling Jesus Christ’s prophecy, pointing to the end of the present system of things? (Matthew 24:3, 7) Who has published evidence linking these events with the ride of the four horsemen vividly portrayed in the Bible book of Revelation, chapter 6? Consistently, Jehovah’s Witnesses have loyally done so in this journal. Why? To show that it is beyond the reach of man to fashion any lasting remedy. This does not mean that Christians are indifferent to the world’s problems. Far from it. They are compassionate and will do all they can to alleviate suffering. Still, they realistically face the fact that without divine intervention, the world’s problems will never be resolved. Like the poor, these problems will remain as long as Satan is permitted to continue as the ruler of this world.—Mark 14:7; John 12:31.
The Work of Greatest Value
13. What is the most urgent work today, and who are doing it?
13 The most urgent need today is to preach the good news that the Kingdom of Jehovah God will soon replace all worldly governments and bring the relief for which God-fearing persons long. (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 24:14) Jesus Christ made the preaching of the heavenly Kingdom his main purpose in life, though his preaching was limited to the land of Palestine. Today, the extent of this preaching is worldwide, just as Jesus said it would be. (John 14:12; Acts 1:8) To have a share, even a small one, in God’s work, is a privilege beyond compare. Men and women, old and young alike, who at one time never dreamed of being preachers of the good news are in the forefront of the evangelizing work being accomplished by Jehovah’s Witnesses today. Like Noah and his family, they are loyally doing God’s work under commission from Him, and therefore in His strength, as a prelude to the end of this system of things.—Philippians 4:13; Hebrews 11:7.
14. How is preaching lifesaving and at the same time a safeguard?
14 The witnessing work by Jehovah’s Witnesses during these last days is lifesaving for those who listen and who act upon the good news they hear. (Romans 10:11-15) It is also a safeguard for those who preach. By being sincerely interested in helping people who have problems greater than our own, we are less likely to become overly concerned with problems we may have. We realize that this world of declining standards would have us conform to its ways. So filling our minds with God’s thoughts during our preaching is more than faith-strengthening; it is in our best interests. As one Witness put it: “If I do not try to change the people I meet, they could change me!”—Compare 2 Peter 2:7-9.
Working With the Congregation
15. What responsibilities devolve upon undershepherds today, and how should male members of the congregation feel in view of 1 Timothy 3:1?
15 When newly interested ones come to the congregation, they come under the care of the Great Shepherd, Jehovah God, and his Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ. (Psalm 23:1; John 10:11) These heavenly Shepherds are represented here on earth by loyal undershepherds of the flock, men appointed within the congregations. (1 Peter 5:2, 3) To hold such an office is a priceless privilege in these last days. The shepherds’ work is a weighty one, including not just taking the lead in teaching in the congregation and in evangelizing but also protecting the flock from spiritual predators and the buffetings of the stormlike atmosphere of the world in which we live. There is no more worthwhile work for which male members of the congregation could be reaching out than that of helping to care for the spiritual welfare of members of the expanding Christian congregation.—1 Timothy 3:1; compare Isaiah 32:1, 2.
16. In what ways do Christian shepherds complement one another?
16 We must never forget, however, that such shepherds are human, with differing personalities and failings like the rest of the flock. Whereas one may excel in a certain aspect of shepherding, another’s gifts will benefit the congregation from a different angle. Their works as Christian elders complement one another to strengthen the congregation. (1 Corinthians 12:4, 5) Never should a spirit of competition enter in among them. Together they work to safeguard and advance Kingdom interests, “lifting up loyal hands” in prayer to Jehovah, seeking his blessing and guidance on all their deliberations and decisions.—1 Timothy 2:8.
17. (a) What obligation do we have? (b) What things do we need to avoid if we are to discharge our obligation adequately?
17 The work of preaching is now taking on added urgency as the end of Satan’s empire draws near. Having the truth of Jehovah God’s Word, as his Witnesses, we have an obligation to spread the good news at every opportunity. The work at hand is more than enough to keep us busy, right up to the end. We must never allow ourselves to be sidetracked by hedonistic, immoral pleasure-seeking or to be weighed down by materialism. We should not get involved in speculative thinking, debating about words, for this can prove to be unprofitable and time-consuming. (2 Timothy 2:14; Titus 1:10; 3:9) When the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” Jesus redirected their thinking to the important task at hand, saying: “You will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” That commission extends to this day.—Acts 1:6-8.
18. Why is working with Jehovah so rewarding?
18 Working with Jehovah, preaching with his worldwide congregation today, brings happiness, contentment, and real purpose to our lives. It is an opportunity for each lover of Jehovah to manifest devotion and loyalty to him. This work in its many aspects will never be repeated. With the prospect of everlasting life clearly ahead, may we loyally continue to “render God sacred service with godly fear and awe,” to his praise and for our own salvation.—Hebrews 12:28.
What Is Your Answer?
□ From what work did Jesus gain joy and satisfaction?
□ Who are opposed to Jehovah’s work, and why?
□ How do worldly “good works” and the preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom compare?
[Picture on page 18]
Jesus commissioned his disciples to go forth preaching