True Happiness in Serving Jehovah
“Happy is the one who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Jehovah his God.”—PSALM 146:5.
1, 2. What has been said about the definition of happiness, and what does happiness mean for many people today?
WHAT is happiness? Lexicographers, philosophers, and theologians have been trying to define it for centuries. But they have not provided a definition that meets with unanimous approval. The Encyclopædia Britannica admits: “‘Happiness’ is one of the most elusive of words.” Happiness apparently means different things to different people, depending upon their outlook on life.
2 For many people happiness revolves around good health, material possessions, and pleasant companionship. Yet, there are people who have all of that but who are unhappy. For men and women dedicated to Jehovah God, the Bible provides a concept of happiness that is quite different from the general view.
A Different View of Happiness
3, 4. (a) Whom did Jesus pronounce happy? (b) What can be noted with regard to the happiness factors that Jesus mentioned?
3 In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ did not say that happiness depends on good health, material possessions, and the like. He pronounced truly happy those “conscious of their spiritual need” and those “hungering and thirsting for righteousness.” Related to these two factors needed for true happiness is Jesus’ seemingly paradoxical statement: “Happy are those who mourn, since they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:3-6) Obviously, Jesus was not saying that people would automatically be happy when they lost a loved one. Rather, he was speaking of those who bemoan their sinful state and its consequences.
4 The apostle Paul spoke of human creation groaning under sin on the basis of hope that it would be “set free from enslavement to corruption.” (Romans 8:21, 22) Humans who accept Jehovah’s sin-atoning provision through Christ’s ransom sacrifice and who do God’s will are truly comforted and made happy. (Romans 4:6-8) In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also pronounced happy “the mild-tempered ones,” “the merciful,” “the pure in heart,” and “the peaceable.” He gave the assurance that even though persecuted, such meek ones would not lose their happiness. (Matthew 5:5-11) It is interesting to note that these elevated happiness factors place the rich and the poor on an equal footing.
The Basis for Real Happiness
5. What is the basis for the happiness of God’s dedicated servants?
5 The source of true happiness is not found in material wealth. Wise King Solomon said: “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) For creatures who acknowledge Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, happiness is inseparably related to God’s blessing. The dedicated person who has and feels Jehovah’s blessing upon him or her is truly happy. Viewed Biblically, happiness involves a sense of contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment in Jehovah’s service.
6. What is required of Jehovah’s people for them to be truly happy?
6 True happiness is contingent upon a right relationship with Jehovah. It is based on love of God and faithfulness to him. Jehovah’s dedicated servants subscribe wholeheartedly to Paul’s words: “None of us, in fact, lives with regard to himself only . . . We live to Jehovah . . . We belong to Jehovah.” (Romans 14:7, 8) Therefore, true happiness cannot be achieved apart from obedience to Jehovah and joyful submission to his will. Jesus said: “Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!”—Luke 11:28.
Variable Happiness Factors
7, 8. (a) How may happiness factors be classified? (b) What can be said of marriage and childbearing?
7 The foregoing happiness factors might be termed “basics,” or “constants,” because they are valid for Jehovah’s dedicated servants at all times. Additionally, there are what might be called variables, factors that may result in happiness at one time but little or none of it at another. In the patriarchal and pre-Christian periods, marriage and childbearing were considered indispensable for happiness. This is reflected in Rachel’s poignant appeal to Jacob: “Give me children or otherwise I shall be a dead woman.” (Genesis 30:1) This attitude toward childbearing suited Jehovah’s purpose for that period.—Genesis 13:14-16; 22:17.
8 Marriage and childbearing were considered to be God-given blessings among Jehovah’s people of early times. However, distress was associated with these and other circumstances during calamitous periods in their history. (Compare Psalms 127, 128 with Jeremiah 6:12; 11:22; Lamentations 2:19; 4:4, 5.) It is, therefore, evident that marriage and childbearing are not permanent happiness-factors.
Happiness Without Marriage in the Past
9. Why did Jephthah’s daughter receive yearly commendation?
9 Many of God’s servants have found true happiness without marriage. Out of respect for her father’s vow, Jephthah’s daughter remained single. For a time she and her girl companions wept over her virginity. But what joy she had serving full-time at Jehovah’s house, perhaps among “the women servants who did organized service at the entrance of the tent of meeting”! (Exodus 38:8) For this, she received yearly commendation.—Judges 11:37-40.
10. What did Jehovah require of Jeremiah, and does it appear that he led an unhappy life as a result?
10 Because of the dramatic times in which the prophet Jeremiah lived, God required that he refrain from marrying and raising children. (Jeremiah 16:1-4) But Jeremiah experienced the truthfulness of God’s words: “Blessed is the able-bodied man who puts his trust in Jehovah, and whose confidence Jehovah has become.” (Jeremiah 17:7) Throughout more than 40 years of prophetic service, Jeremiah served God faithfully as a single man. As far as we know, he never did get married and have children. Yet, who can doubt that Jeremiah was happy, like the faithful Jewish remnant that ‘became radiant over the goodness of Jehovah’?—Jeremiah 31:12.
11. What are some Scriptural examples of Jehovah’s faithful servants who were happy although they did not have a marriage mate?
11 Many other people have served Jehovah joyfully without a marriage mate. They were either single, widows, or widowers. Among them were the prophetess Anna; probably Dorcas, or Tabitha; the apostle Paul; and the greatest example of all—Jesus Christ.
Single but Happy Today
12. For what have some of Jehovah’s happy, dedicated servants made room today, and why?
12 Today, thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses are faithfully serving God without a marriage partner. Some have been able to accept Jesus’ invitation: “Let him that can make room for [the gift of singleness] make room for it.” They have done this “on account of the kingdom of the heavens.” (Matthew 19:11, 12) That is, they have put their God-given freedom to good use by devoting more time and energy to promoting Kingdom interests. Many of them are serving as pioneers, missionaries, or members of the Bethel family at the Watch Tower Society’s world headquarters or at one of its branches.
13. What examples show that a Christian can be single and happy?
13 One dear elderly sister gave her life story the telltale title “Single and Happy as a Pioneer.” (The Watchtower, May 1, 1985, pages 23-6) Another single sister who spent over 50 years serving at Bethel stated: “I am fully satisfied with my life and my work. I am busier now than ever before in a work that I dearly love. I have no regrets. I would make the same decision again.”—The Watchtower, June 15, 1982, page 15.
14, 15. (a) According to the apostle Paul, what is necessary in order to remain single? (b) Why does Paul say that the single person does “better” and “is happier”?
14 Notice that word “decision.” Paul wrote: “If anyone stands settled in his heart, having no necessity, but has authority over his own will and has made this decision in his own heart, to keep his own virginity, he will do well. Consequently he also that gives his virginity in marriage does well, but he that does not give it in marriage will do better.” (1 Corinthians 7:37, 38) Why “better”? Paul explained: “I want you to be free from anxiety. The unmarried man is anxious for the things of the Lord, how he may gain the Lord’s approval. . . . Further, the unmarried woman, and the virgin, is anxious for the things of the Lord . . . But this I am saying for your personal advantage, . . . to move you to that which is becoming and that which means constant attendance upon the Lord without distraction.”—1 Corinthians 7:32-35.
15 Is “constant attendance upon the Lord without distraction” with a view to ‘gaining the Lord’s approval’ happiness related? Apparently Paul thought so. Speaking of a Christian widow, he said: “She is free to be married to whom she wants, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my opinion. I certainly think I also have God’s spirit.”—1 Corinthians 7:39, 40.
Advantages of the Unmarried State
16. What are some advantages enjoyed by unmarried Witnesses of Jehovah?
16 Whether a Christian is single by personal decision or by force of circumstances, the unmarried state brings with it many personal advantages. Single persons generally have more time to study God’s Word and meditate on it. If they take advantage of this circumstance, their spirituality is deepened. Having no marriage mate with whom to share their problems, many learn to lean more heavily on Jehovah and to seek his direction in all things. (Psalm 37:5) This helps to bring about a closer relationship with Jehovah.
17, 18. (a) What opportunities for an enlarged field of service are available for Jehovah’s servants who are unmarried? (b) How have certain unmarried servants of Jehovah described their happiness?
17 Unmarried Christians have opportunities for an enlarged field of service to Jehovah’s praise. The special training now being given at the Ministerial Training School is limited to single brothers or widowers. Single sisters too are freer to reach out for privileges in God’s service. The elderly sister mentioned earlier volunteered to serve in an African country when, to quote her, she was “a somewhat fragile woman over 50 years of age.” And she stayed there, even during a ban, when all the missionaries were expelled. She is still serving there as a pioneer, although she is now over 80 years of age. Is she happy? In her life story she wrote: “I was able to use the extra freedom and mobility that singleness affords to keep busy in the ministry, and this has brought me great happiness. . . . Over the years my relationship with Jehovah has deepened. As a single woman in an African country, I have seen him as a Protector.”
18 Noteworthy, too, are the words of a brother who served at the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters for decades. He was happy, though he never got married and though he had a heavenly hope with no prospect of marriage. At the age of 79, he wrote: “Every day I ask our dear heavenly Father in prayer for help and wisdom to keep myself spiritually as well as physically healthy and strong so that I can keep on doing his holy will. During these past forty-nine years in Jehovah’s service I have indeed enjoyed a happy, rewarding and blessed way of life. And with Jehovah’s undeserved kindness I am looking forward to continued service to his honor and glory and to the blessing of his people. . . . [The] joy of Jehovah helps me to keep up the good fight of faith, looking forward to the time when Jehovah’s enemies are no more and all the earth is filled with his glory.”—Numbers 14:21; Nehemiah 8:10; The Watchtower, November 15, 1968, pages 699-702.
On What Does True Happiness Depend?
19. Upon what will our happiness always depend?
19 Our precious relationship with Jehovah, his approval, and his blessing—these are the factors that will bring us true happiness throughout eternity. With this proper outlook on what produces genuine happiness, even married servants of Jehovah realize that their marriage is not the most important thing in their lives. They heed the apostle Paul’s counsel: “This I say, brothers, the time left is reduced. Henceforth let those who have wives be as though they had none.” (1 Corinthians 7:29) This does not mean neglecting their wives. Mature Christian husbands put Jehovah’s service first, and so do their godly, loving, and supportive wives, some even serving full-time as companions of their husbands.—Proverbs 31:10-12, 28; Matthew 6:33.
20. What proper attitude do many Christians have toward their marriage privileges?
20 Married brothers who are traveling overseers, Bethel volunteers, congregation elders—indeed, all married Christians who put Kingdom interests first—do not ‘use the world to the full’; they work to fit their marriage privileges into their dedicated life of service to Jehovah. (1 Corinthians 7:31) Yet, they are happy. Why? Because the overriding reason for their happiness is not their marriage but their service to Jehovah. And many faithful husbands and wives —yes, and also their children—are happy to have it so.
21 The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Let not the wise man brag about himself because of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man brag about himself because of his mightiness. Let not the rich man brag about himself because of his riches. But 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; for in these things I do take delight,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”—Jeremiah 9:23, 24.
22 Whether we are single or married, our greatest source of happiness should be our knowledge of Jehovah and the conviction that we have his blessing because we are doing his will. We are also happy to have insight into what constitutes the true scale of values, the things in which Jehovah takes delight. Much-married King Solomon did not consider marriage the only key to happiness. He said: “Happy is the man that has found wisdom, and the man that gets discernment, for having it as gain is better than having silver as gain and having it as produce than gold itself. It is more precious than corals, and all other delights of yours cannot be made equal to it. Length of days is in its right hand; in its left hand there are riches and glory. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its roadways are peace. It is a tree of life to those taking hold of it, and those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.”—Proverbs 3:13-18.
23, 24. Why can we be sure that all of Jehovah’s faithful servants will be happy in the new system of things?
23 May those of us who are married find eternal joy in doing the divine will. And may our dear brothers and sisters who are single by choice or by force of circumstances endure all their trials and find happiness and contentment in serving Jehovah now and forever. (Luke 18:29, 30; 2 Peter 3:11-13) In God’s coming system of things, “scrolls” will be opened. (Revelation 20:12) These will contain exciting new commandments and regulations contributing to the happiness of obedient humankind.
24 Surely, we can feel confident that our “happy God” has in store for us wonderfully good things that will result in our complete happiness. (1 Timothy 1:11) God will continue to ‘open his hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.’ (Psalm 145:16) No wonder there is and always will be true happiness in serving Jehovah.
How Would You Respond?
□ What is the basis for the happiness of Jehovah’s dedicated servants?
□ In Bible times, who were some of Jehovah’s happy unmarried servants?
□ Why did Paul recommend singleness, and how have some Christians found this to be a happy life?
□ Upon what will our happiness always depend?
□ Why should we be confident that all faithful ones in the new system of things will be happy?
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Many single sisters are happily serving Jehovah as full-time ministers
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Serving Jehovah’s interests is the primary source of happiness