Are You Doing God’s Will?
IN THEIR house-to-house ministry, two of Jehovah’s Witnesses met a priest of the Episcopal Church. He seemed to be a pleasant man, bearded, about 60 years old, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of his church. In a single breath, he said: “I wish our church members were as zealous as you are in spreading the Word, but I’ll have to ask you not to call at my home anymore.”
Yes, there are many people who admire the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses and commend them for their zeal and enthusiasm. Yet, they are not the least bit interested in what the Witnesses are doing, nor would they consider doing the work themselves. This apparently contradictory state of affairs, however, is nothing new. It was noted by Jesus in his day, and he drove home the point by means of a thought-provoking illustration.
“What do you think? A man had two children. Going up to the first, he said, ‘Child, go work today in the vineyard.’ In answer this one said, ‘I will, sir,’ but did not go out. Approaching the second, he said the same. In reply this one said, ‘I will not.’ Afterwards he felt regret and went out. Which of the two did the will of his father?”—Matthew 21:28-31.
The answer is obvious. Like the crowd who heard Jesus, we would reply, “The latter.” But beyond the obvious, by means of that illustration, Jesus was calling to our attention that doing what the father wanted was what counted. Although the second son said that he did not want to go, he did anyway and was commended for it. Doing the right kind of work is equally important. The second son acted by working in the father’s vineyard; he did not go out and work in his own vineyard.
What implication does all of this have for us? What does God require of worshipers today? What can we learn from Jesus’ life that will help us to do his Father’s will? These are important questions, and our finding the right answers will mean our everlasting welfare, since “he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:17; Ephesians 5:17.
What Is the “Will of God”?
The noun “will” is listed more than 80 times in the Comprehensive Concordance of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. In about 60 of these instances (or about 75 percent of the time) the reference is to God’s will. Expressions such as “will of God,” “will of my Father,” and “God’s will” occur over 20 times. From this we can see that the divine will should be of primary importance to us. The doing of God’s will should be the chief concern of our lives.
In English the noun “will” means ‘desire, wish, determination, something desired, especially a choice or determination of one having authority or power.’ So then, Jehovah, the Supreme Authority, has a will, a desire or determination. What is it? The Scriptures tell us that in part “[God’s] will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) Jesus Christ and the early Christians worked whole-souled to bring this accurate knowledge to others.—Matthew 9:35; Acts 5:42; Philippians 2:19, 22.
Who is doing God’s will today? Among the nearly two billion people who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, how many are like the younger son in Jesus’ illustration, who went out and did the will of his father? The answer is not hard to find. True footstep followers of Jesus Christ would be doing the work that he said they would do: “In all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) Jehovah’s Witnesses, numbering over four and a half million worldwide, are actively preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom and teaching others, pointing to the Kingdom as mankind’s only hope for peace and security. Are you having a full share in doing God’s will? Are you preaching the Kingdom good news as Jesus did?—Acts 10:42; Hebrews 10:7.
Finding Joy in Doing God’s Will
While there is joy in learning what the Father’s will is, there is greater joy in teaching others God’s will. Jesus found joy in teaching people about his Father. It was like food to him. (John 4:34) We too will enjoy true happiness if we do as Jesus did, namely, preach and teach the things he taught, the things he received from his Father. (Matthew 28:19, 20) As Jesus promised, “if you know these things, happy you are if you do them.”—John 13:17.
To illustrate: A mother who recently reentered the full-time pioneer ministry said: “To see the face of a Bible student light up as various Bible truths touch the heart is so exciting! It is such a joy to me to see one particular student write out in longhand all the scriptures before the study and take notes during the study so that she can answer any review questions later.” Another of her Bible students had had some contact with the truth in her early teens. Now married and concerned about some personal problems, she was longing to find the Witnesses. How happy she was when the pioneer sister found her! The young woman was elated to resume her Bible study.
Maintaining the Joy of Doing God’s Will
King David of ancient Israel was one who sought to do God’s will all his life. In spite of the many hardships and pressures brought against him, he was inspired to say: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts.” (Psalm 40:8) Doing Jehovah’s will was in David’s very soul, in his very being. That was the secret of his unfading joy in serving Jehovah. Doing God’s will was not a hardship to David. Rather, it was a delight, something that came from his heart. All through his life, he struggled to do his best to serve his God, Jehovah, even though he did sometimes sin and fall short.
On occasion, our joy may wane. We may become fatigued or downhearted. Perhaps our past haunts us, our conscience troubling us over some wrong act committed long in the past. Often, we can conquer these feelings by a more thorough study of God’s Word. We can aim to inscribe God’s law on our “inward parts,” as David did. If we try to do the will of God whole-souled, that is, to the best of our ability, he will reward us accordingly because he is faithful.—Ephesians 6:6; Hebrews 6:10-12; 1 Peter 4:19.
Interestingly, at Hebrews 10:5-7, the apostle Paul quoted David’s words at Psalm 40:6-8 and applied them to Jesus Christ. In doing so, Paul pointed out how close Jesus was to his Father. The Hebrew word for “will” carries the thoughts ‘delight, desire, favor, or pleasure.’ Therefore, Psalm 40:8 may read concerning the Christ: “To do your pleasure, O my God, I have delighted.”* Jesus wanted to do what pleased his Father. Jesus went beyond doing what was asked of him. He did what was close to his Father’s heart, and he enjoyed doing it.
Jesus’ whole life revolved around teaching others what God’s will is and what they must do to gain God’s blessing. He was a full-time preacher and teacher and found great joy in doing that work. Therefore it follows that the more we do Jehovah’s work, the more joy we will receive. Can you too serve full-time in the preaching work so that your joy may also abound?
A further aid in maintaining joy in doing God’s will is to keep the future in sharp focus. That was what Jesus did. “For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame.” For him, the joy was proving faithful to God to the end and then gaining the reward of kingship at his Father’s right hand.—Hebrews 12:2.
Imagine the future joy that will come to those who continue to do God’s will. They will see the destruction of those who insist on doing their own selfish will even if this causes suffering to those who endeavor to do God’s will. (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8) Think of the joy of resurrected loved ones in gaining the opportunity to learn and do God’s will. Or consider God’s purpose to restore the earth to Paradise. And finally, imagine the freedom that will result from the complete destruction of Satan, the opposer of Jehovah’s will.
Yes, doing God’s will today can bring much joy now and endless happiness in the future. Regardless of the response that we receive in the preaching work, let us imitate Jesus’ example in taking pleasure in doing his Father’s will.
See footnote on Psalm 40:8.