Appreciate Your Sacred Service
TO ACHIEVE any worthwhile goal, we must be prepared to pay a price. To become a doctor takes years of study and determination, as well as money. A successful gymnast has spent most of his youth working on progressively more difficult routines in a relentless pursuit of perfection. A skilled pianist can similarly look back on years of dedicated practice.
There is, however, one goal that brings returns far in excess of any price that has to be paid. What is that? It is the privilege of being a servant of the Most High, Jehovah God. Whatever sacrifices we make in the way of time, money, or energy, the privilege of rendering sacred service to our Creator brings rewards beyond compare. The words of the apostle Paul are true: “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) Let us see how that is true.
When We First Learn About God
Most who respond favorably to the good news and begin to study the Bible likely do not realize the extent of the changes that will result in their lives. First, the new Bible student may lose some friends who cannot understand why he no longer goes along with them in pursuits he now recognizes to be God-dishonoring. (1 Peter 4:4) Some may experience family opposition and may be hurt to see those they love manifest a dislike, even a hatred, for Jehovah. (Matthew 10:36) That can be a difficult price to pay.
At work or at school, there will also be a price to pay. The new Bible student will in time stop sharing in worldly parties and other celebrations. He will no longer listen to the unclean talk of his workmates or schoolmates, nor will he swap obscene jokes with them. Rather, he will try to put into practice the admonition found at Ephesians 5:3, 4: “Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people; neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting, things which are not becoming, but rather the giving of thanks.”
Such changes may make the Bible student an outsider. That can be difficult, particularly for a youth still in school. Having one holiday after another to contend with, as well as anti-God teachings, such as evolution, and constant pressure to go along with the crowd, young Christians must put up a constant fight for the faith. Following God’s ways will make them different and may result in ridicule from classmates and teachers. This is particularly difficult to accept during the sensitive teen years, but God’s approval is worth that price.
Are They Really Sacrifices?
Other things that at first appear to be sacrifices turn out to be blessings. Some have to give up the tobacco habit. (2 Corinthians 7:1) This can be a struggle, but what a blessing when that obnoxious vice is finally overcome! The same can be said about overcoming addiction to other drugs or to alcohol. How much better life is without such destructive habits! Others have to get their marital affairs straightened out. Those living together without the benefit of marriage must either marry or cease living together. (Hebrews 13:4) Those living with a number of wives must retain only the wife of their youth. (Proverbs 5:18) Such adjustments involve sacrifice, but they bring peace to the home.
Think of the Rewards
Indeed, anyone who obeys Jehovah’s laws truly benefits. For the first time in his life, the Bible student starts to address his Creator by His name, Jehovah. (Psalm 83:18) The student comes to love Jehovah as he learns about the wonderful things He has done and will yet do for mankind. In countries where fear of the dead is common, he loses this superstitious fear, knowing that the dead are asleep, awaiting a resurrection. (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) And what a relief to realize that Jehovah does not torture people forever in hell! Yes, the truth really does set him free.—John 8:32.
As the student conforms his life more and more to Jehovah’s standards, he gains a clean conscience and self-respect. Learning to live as a true Christian helps him to care better for his family, which brings great contentment and joy. Then there is the attending of meetings at the Kingdom Hall. What a delightful experience! Here are people who really practice the warm love that the Bible says should identify God’s people. (Psalm 133:1; John 13:35) Their speech is clean and upbuilding as they speak “the magnificent things of God.” (Acts 2:11) Yes, coming into contact with “the whole association of brothers” is a source of happiness. (1 Peter 2:17) Such fine fellowship helps the Bible student to “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—Ephesians 4:24.
The Step of Dedication
As an individual progresses in knowledge, he is eventually motivated by love for Jehovah to dedicate his life to him and symbolize this dedication by water baptism. (Matthew 28:19, 20) Jesus’ counsel is that before taking this step, his disciples count the cost. (Luke 14:28) Remember, a dedicated Christian puts Jehovah’s will first and turns his back on the things of the flesh. He works hard to give up “the works of the flesh” and cultivate “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Galatians 5:19-24) The counsel found at Romans 12:2 now plays a fuller role in his life: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Thus, a dedicated Christian lives his life with a renewed sense of purpose.
Consider, though, what he receives. For one thing, he is now in a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. He is declared righteous with a view to being a friend of God! (James 2:23) With much deeper meaning, he addresses God as “our Father in the heavens.” (Matthew 6:9) Another blessing for the newly dedicated one is knowing that life really does have a purpose and that he is living his life in harmony with that purpose. (Ecclesiastes 12:13) Following the lead of Jesus, he can prove the Devil a liar by remaining faithful. What joy that brings to Jehovah’s heart!—Proverbs 27:11.
Of course, as a Christian endures in the path of faithfulness, there are further sacrifices to be made. It takes time to engage in meaningful personal and congregation study of God’s Word. (Psalm 1:1-3; Hebrews 10:25) Time for the field ministry has to be bought out from other activities. (Ephesians 5:16) Time and effort are also required to attend meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and to travel to their assemblies and conventions. It may call for self-sacrifice to share in financing the Kingdom Hall and the worldwide preaching work. However, as millions of Christians can testify, wholeheartedly participating in such things brings happiness. Jesus said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
The rewards of supporting Jehovah’s work come to far outweigh the costs. As we grow in maturity, our ministry becomes more fruitful and joyous. Indeed, nothing can bring as much satisfaction as teaching someone else Bible truth and seeing that one take up the worship of Jehovah. And if the new worshiper is a family member, perhaps a child that has been trained “in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah,” that brings a special joy. (Ephesians 6:4) We see God’s rich blessings on our efforts to be his “fellow workers.”—1 Corinthians 3:9.
Other Rewards for Faithful Service
True, we will have problems as long as this system of things lasts. Likely, the problems will become more severe as the Devil’s time grows shorter. We may have to suffer persecution or endure temptation. But the knowledge that God is with us comforts us and gives us the strength to endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Timothy 3:12) Some fellow Christians have endured years of harsh treatment, but they persevere because of their love for God. Those who successfully endure trials of various kinds feel as the apostles did when they were flogged and then released. Acts 5:41 relates: “These, therefore, went their way from before the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to be dishonored in behalf of his name.”
The reward for endurance far outweighs the cost even now. But remember, godly devotion “holds promise” not only of “the life now” but also of “that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) How rich the prospects of one who endures! If you are faithful, you will survive the great tribulation that marks the end of this system of things. Or if you die ahead of that epoch-making event, you will be resurrected into the new world that will follow. (Daniel 12:1; John 11:23-25) Think of the feeling of exultation you will then have when you are able to say: “With Jehovah’s help, I made it!” How thrilling to inherit a share in that earth, which “will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9.
Yes, it costs something to serve God. But compared with the rewards, the cost is minimal. (Philippians 3:7, 8) In view of all that God does for his servants now and will do in the future, we echo the words of the psalmist: “What shall I repay to Jehovah for all his benefits to me?”—Psalm 116:12.