Intensely Occupied With the Good News
THE apostle Paul was in a predicament not unknown to Jehovah’s Witnesses who are full-time ministers—he was low on funds. So in Corinth he took up the humble tentmaking trade that he had learned as a youth. The work was hard, and at times his hands may have bled from handling the abrasive tent cloth. The income barely provided his sustenance and covering, but he was content, for when his secular work was finished each day, he laid down the tools of his trade and did what he came to Corinth for in the first place—he preached the good news!—Philippians 4:11, 12.
Come the Sabbath, Paul headed for the synagogue. True, Paul at first approached his Corinthian audiences “in weakness and in fear and with much trembling.” (1 Corinthians 2:1, 3) But spurred on by the response of some to his message, Paul went on to “give a talk in the synagogue every sabbath and would persuade Jews and Greeks.”—Acts 18:1-4.
For a while, though, Paul could do little more than preach part-time. Then came Silas and Timothy down from Macedonia with a generous contribution that ‘abundantly supplied his deficiency.’ (2 Corinthians 11:9; Philippians 4:15) Heartening, also, was the news that the brothers in Thessalonica were standing firm in spite of persecution.—1 Thessalonians 3:6.
The effect on Paul? “Paul began to be intensely occupied with the word [“devoted all his time to preaching,” The Jerusalem Bible; Today’s English Version], witnessing to the Jews to prove that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 18:5) Relieved of financial pressures for a while, Paul could not rest until he returned to full-time preaching. He went back to this work with gusto, not only preaching to the Jews but even taking the time to write the first of his inspired epistles—the letter to the Thessalonians!
A Pattern for Us Today
The record of Paul’s intense work in Corinth has been preserved so as to encourage all Christians to be intensely occupied with the good news. Paul realized that the Lord Jesus himself had passed on to his disciples the high honor of being “the light of the world.” They were not to hide this light. Jesus told them: “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) This meant having a full share in the preaching work foretold by Jesus. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20; Acts 1:6-8) The preaching of this Kingdom good news was a principal reason for the existence of the Christian congregation.
Early Christians, like Paul, took this preaching work seriously. Thus, when the enemies of God thought they had extinguished the true light by cruelly putting to death “the Chief Agent of life,” his followers carried on as the light of the world, preaching vigorously. (Acts 3:15) Even persecution did not stifle their efforts. Says the Bible record: “Every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” (Acts 5:42) Nothing could hold them back!
In modern times, Christians have likewise been intensely occupied with witnessing activity. Toward the end of the 19th century, conscientious students of God’s Word began to see the need to share Bible truths with others. Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society—an organization that has become international in scope—was incorporated in 1884. These Bible Students, known since 1931 as Jehovah’s Witnesses, have literally filled the earth with the knowledge of God’s Word. Their intense occupation has resulted in a great army more than four million strong! And no doubt their number will continue to expand under Jehovah’s direction.—Isaiah 60:22.
Are You Doing Your Part?
Jesus said: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37, 38) In 1990 almost ten million people attended the Memorial of Christ’s death. What a marvelous potential exists for an increased worldwide harvest! But while rejoicing in this continued expansion, each one must ask himself, ‘To what extent am I having a share in this grand work? Am I doing so regularly—every week if possible?’
Elders must take the lead in this work as “examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:3) True, most elders have secular jobs. So did the apostle Paul while in Corinth. Yet, he set aside time for regular preaching activity. Many elders today are similarly intensely occupied with spiritual activities on weekends. This can have a powerful and encouraging effect on all in the congregation. In some months when a special effort is put forth, quite a number of congregations have a majority of their publishers in pioneer service. The secret? The elders take the lead both in preaching and in organizing field-service arrangements.
Ministerial servants can likewise be a wholesome influence on the congregation if they regularly participate in field service. Remember, the Scriptures require that they be “serious, . . . men who minister in a fine manner.” (1 Timothy 3:8, 13) Faithfulness in field service is essential for a brother to qualify as an elder or ministerial servant.—Titus 1:8, 9.
Like Paul, some are able to cut back on secular work and thus pioneer. The number of regular, auxiliary, and special pioneers increased from 137,861 just ten years ago to 536,508 in 1990. Surely, only the blessing and approval of Jehovah could have brought this about. Pioneers, though, must take care to make time count, not simply count time. Pioneers, are you well prepared and effective in the ministry? Do you strive to make continual improvement so that your ministry will be truly fruitful?
Rewards of a Balanced Ministry
Do you appreciate the life-sustaining information presented each month in The Watchtower and its companion, Awake!? Doubtless you do. Has your appreciation moved you to have a share in distributing these journals? One sister in Botswana did so. She was formerly opposed to the truth, but her husband read to her from the magazines. In time she had a change of heart and became a Witness. Although unable to read, she is very successful in placing magazines, saying, “I don’t know how to read, but my husband reads these magazines to me. I enjoy them, and I am sure that you will too.”
Why not have a weekly share in this lifesaving work? As soon as you have the spiritual qualifications, the Christian congregation would be glad to help you get started. Placing magazines, however, is just one feature of service. Anyone intensely occupied with the good news endeavors to have a balanced ministry. For example, the Watch Tower Society publishes bound books by the millions, and these are offered to the public as a more permanent source of good spiritual food. Have you become proficient enough in your ministry to place books, such as You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth?
And what about people who show interest? Do you keep good records so as to make return visits on them? Such visits could lead to the feature of service that brings the greatest joy of all—the home Bible study work. Remember, Jesus commanded us at Matthew 28:19, 20 to ‘make disciples, baptizing them.’ That means to study the Bible with them. True, starting a study often requires persistence. One Witness met an elderly couple who heartily agreed to a home Bible study. But they postponed the study three weeks in a row. Eventually the study was started. Then, for a while, the couple canceled the study almost every other week. Finally, though, the wife advanced to the point of baptism. “After being baptized,” the brother recalls, “her eyes were filled with tears of happiness, which brought tears of happiness to both my wife and me.” Yes, being intensely occupied with the good news brings indescribable joy!
Make Yourself Available!
Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul have set fine patterns of devotion for us to imitate. And we have many grand examples among Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern times. The time is ripe for all who know the good news to become fully active in making it known to others. The Bible assures us that all such labor is “not in vain.”—1 Corinthians 15:58.
Like Paul, most have financial obligations to meet. Because of this, many may be unable to pioneer. But with Jehovah’s help, all can follow the good advice given at Romans 12:11: “Do not loiter at your business. Be aglow with the spirit. Slave for Jehovah.” And if circumstances change to allow for more time to be spent in Jehovah’s service, anyone who truly loves Jehovah will, like Paul, seize the opportunity. Be intensely occupied with the good news! Doing so not only will bring blessings now but in the future will result in everlasting life with endless joy and happiness!—Matthew 19:28, 29.