Why Serve Jehovah?
True, we should keep Jehovah’s day in mind, and survival through the imminent great tribulation does depend on faithful service to God. But should these facts be the main reasons why we render sacred service to Jehovah God? Why do you serve Jehovah?
Need for Proper Motive
If a person does not serve God with the right motive, he may quit if his expectations are not realized within a certain period of time. For instance, some people expected Jesus Christ to return in 1843 or 1844, dates that passed without the realization of their hopes. Interesting in this regard is what was written by George Storrs, publisher of the Bible Examiner and a later acquaintance of Charles Taze Russell, first president of the Watch Tower Society. In the Bible Examiner of September 1846, Storrs wrote:
“The obligation to serve God lies much higher than the mere fact that the day is most over. . . . The reaction that will take place if ’46 and ’47 pass by as they may, without witnessing the advent, will be disastrous beyond all conception. Experience proves this—I mean the experience of ’43 and ’44. Where are the great majority of those now who, professedly, were ‘aroused to serve God’ as they ought by that cry of time for the Lord’s coming? And echo says—WHERE!!! Scarcely one in ten of them are now found walking so as to honor their Christian profession. Why not? They were stimulated by wrong motives. Their selfishness was the principal thing appealed to and excited. They were just like the sinner who thinks himself nigh to death on a sick bed or in a storm at sea. If he must die, he will become a Christian. If he knew he was out of danger, he would be as indifferent as ever.”
Serving With the Right Motives
Selfishness and fear of destruction might move some to go through the motions of doing Jehovah’s will. Others might be so enthralled with the hope of life in Paradise that they would serve God simply for that reason. Yet, if people driven primarily by such motives thought that Jehovah’s day and the great tribulation were not so near, they might not be inclined to serve God zealously.
Of course, it is not selfish to rejoice in God’s promises and foretold blessings. He wants us to be happy about the prospects set before us as followers of his Son, Jesus Christ. “Rejoice in the hope,” said the apostle Paul, adding: “Endure under tribulation. Persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) Coupled with prayer, “the joy of Jehovah” helps us to endure trials and patiently await the realization of God’s promises. (Nehemiah 8:10) Meanwhile, we have many reasons to serve Jehovah. What are some of these?
Duty and Privilege
As the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah deserves and exacts exclusive devotion. (Exodus 20:4, 5) So each Christian has the same degree of obligation to God whether the great tribulation begins tomorrow, next year, or later. He is obliged to serve Jehovah unselfishly because of loving God with his whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30) Some early Christians thought that Jehovah’s day was imminent, but their expectation was not realized, and they died without seeing that event. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5) If they were faithful to death, however, those anointed followers of Christ eventually received the reward of a resurrection to heavenly life.—Revelation 2:10.
Baptized Witnesses of Jehovah should serve him in faithfulness because they have voluntarily assumed the obligation to do his will. Just think! Like the holy angels, we can do the will of the Universal Sovereign. (Psalm 103:20, 21) Jesus so highly esteemed such a privilege that he said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) If we have the same spirit, we will zealously declare Jehovah’s praises and tell others about his purposes, as revealed in the Scriptures. In this way, we are also privileged to help others spiritually. And surely, doing God’s will out of love for him is a wonderful privilege, regardless of when Jehovah’s day begins.
Gratitude Supplies Motivation
Gratitude for God’s love in providing the ransom sacrifice of his Son should also move us to serve Jehovah. At one time we were alienated from Jehovah God because of sin. However, Jesus said: “God loved the world [of mankind] so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Jehovah took the initiative in this regard, as Paul wrote: “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Gratitude for this expression of God’s love should move us to serve him wholeheartedly.
Appreciation for Jehovah’s spiritual and material provisions gives us further reason to serve him faithfully. God’s Word is a sure guide—a light to our roadway. Publications provided through “the faithful and discreet slave” help us to harmonize our lives with the divine will. (Matthew 24:45-47; Psalm 119:105) And because we seek first the Kingdom, Jehovah also provides for us materially. (Matthew 6:25-34) Are you showing your appreciation for these things?
Gratitude for God-given freedom from false religion furnishes another reason to serve Jehovah faithfully. The religious harlot Babylon the Great “sits on many waters,” meaning “peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.” (Revelation 17:1, 15) Yet, she does not sit on Jehovah’s servants, religiously influencing and controlling them. For instance, they reject the false religious doctrine that the human soul is immortal. They know that man was created “a living soul,” that the dead “are conscious of nothing at all,” and that there will be a resurrection. (Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Acts 24:15) So they neither fear nor worship the dead. Does gratitude for such spiritual freedom make you resist apostasy and cling to the pure worship of Jehovah?—John 8:32.
Appreciation for Jehovah’s daily support should increase our determination to serve him loyally. The psalmist David declared: “Blessed be Jehovah, who daily carries the load for us.” (Psalm 68:19) Elsewhere the psalmist said: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” (Psalm 27:10) Yes, a person faithfully serving Jehovah can throw his figurative burden, such as cares and trials, upon God. Are you showing appreciation for Jehovah’s unfailing support by serving him faithfully?—Psalm 145:14.
Extol Jehovah and His Kingship
A desire to glorify Jehovah should also move us to serve him. Heavenly creatures are represented as glorifying God with the words: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) King David extolled God by saying: “Yours, O Jehovah, are the greatness and the mightiness and the beauty and the excellency and the dignity . . . Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah . . . The riches and the glory are on account of you, and you are dominating everything . . . O our God, we are thanking you and praising your beauteous name.” (1 Chronicles 29:10-13) As Jehovah’s servants, can we do less than glorify him in word and in deed while awaiting the fulfillment of his promises?—1 Corinthians 10:31.
A strong urge to speak about God’s Kingdom furnishes yet another incentive to serve Jehovah. That wholesome motive is well expressed in the psalmist’s words: “All your works will laud you, O Jehovah, and your loyal ones will bless you. About the glory of your kingship they will talk, and about your mightiness they will speak, to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts and the glory of the splendor of his kingship. Your kingship is a kingship for all times indefinite, and your dominion is throughout all successive generations.” (Psalm 145:10-13) Declaring the Kingdom message is the Christian’s commission and the most important work being done in our day. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Do you have a burning desire to laud Jehovah and tell others about his Kingdom?
The sanctification of Jehovah’s name and the vindication of his sovereignty should be of such importance to us that we want to serve him faithfully. We may pray for the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and for the vindication of his sovereignty. (Matthew 6:9) We can back up our prayers by engaging in the Christian ministry regularly and by spreading the truth about such vitally important matters.—Ezekiel 36:23; 39:7.
Joy and Satisfaction
By serving Jehovah faithfully, we have the satisfaction of making his heart rejoice and proving the Devil to be a liar. Though Satan falsely holds that people serve God for selfish reasons, our loyal service to Jehovah, rendered out of love, proves that taunter’s contention to be false. (Job 1:8-12) This gives us good reason to go on doing what is said at Proverbs 27:11: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.” Furthermore, when we serve Jehovah loyally despite all that Satan does to hinder us, our integrity-keeping course is likely to strengthen fellow believers.—Philippians 1:12-14.
The joy and satisfaction of sharing in the spiritual harvest should also prompt us to serve Jehovah faithfully. Jesus found happiness in helping people, especially in spiritual ways. Says Matthew 9:35-38: “Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity. On seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples: ‘Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.’” If the harvest work lasts longer than we expected, this will give us more opportunity to find joy and satisfaction in helping others spiritually. This is also a way to show the love of neighbor that is expected of us.—Matthew 22:39.
Why Do You Serve God?
We have considered only a few of many compelling reasons to serve Jehovah faithfully. It is good to give prayerful thought to our personal reasons for serving God, for each one of us will have to render an account to him. (Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13) And those who persist in having merely selfish motives will not enjoy divine favor.
What can be expected if we are primarily concerned with the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and are rendering sacred service to God with unselfish motives? Why, Jehovah will bless us and our ministry! (Proverbs 10:22) We will also receive life eternal because we have served Jehovah faithfully.
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Thousands serve Jehovah in Japan
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Serving Jehovah in Côte d’Ivoire
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SIX SERMONS, by George Storrs (1855)