May Jehovah Credit Good to Your Account
1. What helps those dedicated to God to render a fine account to Jehovah?
JEHOVAH’S servants have all the help needed for rendering a fine account to him. Why? Because they have a close relationship with God as part of his earthly organization. He has revealed his purposes to them, and he has given them help and spiritual insight by means of his holy spirit. (Psalm 51:11; 119:105; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13) In view of these special circumstances, Jehovah lovingly calls upon his earthly servants to give him an account of themselves both for what they are and for what they accomplish in his strength and with the help of his holy spirit.
2. (a) In what ways did Nehemiah give a good account of himself to God? (b) With what plea did Nehemiah conclude the Bible book bearing his name?
2 One man who gave a good account of himself to God was Nehemiah, cupbearer to Persian King Artaxerxes (Longimanus). (Nehemiah 2:1) Nehemiah became governor of the Jews and rebuilt Jerusalem’s wall in the face of foes and dangers. With zeal for true worship, he enforced God’s Law and showed concern for the oppressed. (Nehemiah 5:14-19) Nehemiah urged the Levites to purify themselves regularly, guard the gates, and sanctify the Sabbath day. He could therefore pray: “This, also, do remember to my account, O my God, and do feel sorry for me according to the abundance of your loving-kindness.” Appropriately, too, Nehemiah concluded his divinely inspired book with the plea: “Do remember me, O my God, for good.”—Nehemiah 13:22, 31.
3. (a) How would you describe a person who does good? (b) Reflecting on Nehemiah’s course may cause us to ask ourselves what questions?
3 A person who does good is virtuous and performs upright deeds that benefit others. Nehemiah was such a man. He had a reverential fear of God and great zeal for true worship. Moreover, he was thankful for his privileges in God’s service and rendered a fine account of himself to Jehovah. Reflecting on his course may well cause us to ask ourselves, ‘How do I view my God-given privileges and responsibilities? What kind of account am I giving of myself to Jehovah God and Jesus Christ?’
Knowledge Makes Us Accountable
4. What commission did Jesus give his followers, and what did those who were “rightly disposed for everlasting life” do?
4 Jesus gave his followers this commission: “Go . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them . . . , teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) Disciples were to be made by teaching them. Those thus taught and who were “rightly disposed for everlasting life” would get baptized, as Jesus did. (Acts 13:48; Mark 1:9-11) Their desire to observe all the things he had commanded would come from the heart. They would get to the point of dedication by taking in and applying accurate knowledge of God’s Word.—John 17:3.
5, 6. How are we to understand James 4:17? Illustrate its application.
5 The deeper our Scriptural knowledge is, the better is the foundation for our faith. At the same time, our accountability to God becomes greater. James 4:17 says: “If one knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.” This statement is evidently a conclusion to what the disciple James had just said about boasting instead of completely depending on God. If a person knows that he can accomplish nothing lasting without Jehovah’s help but does not act accordingly, this is a sin. But James’ words can also apply to sins of omission. In Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats, for instance, the goats are condemned, not for bad acts, but for not helping Christ’s brothers.—Matthew 25:41-46.
6 One man with whom Jehovah’s Witnesses were conducting a Bible study was making little spiritual progress, apparently because he did not give up smoking, although he knew that he should do so. An elder asked him to read James 4:17. After commenting on the significance of this scripture, the elder said: “Though you are not baptized, you are accountable and must take full responsibility for your decision.” Happily, the man responded, stopped smoking, and soon qualified for baptism in symbol of his dedication to Jehovah God.
Accountable for Our Ministry
7. What is one way to display our gratitude for “the very knowledge of God”?
7 Our heartfelt desire should be to please our Creator. One way to display our gratitude for “the very knowledge of God” is to carry out the commission to make disciples of his Son, Jesus Christ. This is also a way to show our love for God and for our neighbor. (Proverbs 2:1-5; Matthew 22:35-40) Yes, our knowledge of God makes us accountable to him, and we need to view our fellow humans as potential disciples.
8. Why can we say that Paul felt accountable to God for his ministry?
8 The apostle Paul knew that wholehearted acceptance of and obedience to the good news results in salvation, whereas rejection of it can bring destruction. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8) He therefore felt accountable to Jehovah for his ministry. In fact, Paul and his associates appreciated their ministry so much that they carefully avoided even giving the appearance of making financial gain from it. Moreover, Paul’s heart impelled him to say: “If, now, I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!”—1 Corinthians 9:11-16.
9. What notable debt do all Christians have to discharge?
9 Since we are Jehovah’s dedicated servants, ‘necessity is laid upon us to declare the good news.’ It is our commission to preach the Kingdom message. We accepted that responsibility when we dedicated ourselves to God. (Compare Luke 9:23, 24.) Furthermore, we have a debt to discharge. Paul said: “Both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to wise and to senseless ones I am a debtor: so there is eagerness on my part to declare the good news also to you there in Rome.” (Romans 1:14, 15) Paul was a debtor because he knew that it was his duty to preach so that people could hear the good news and be saved. (1 Timothy 1:12-16; 2:3, 4) He therefore labored to fulfill his commission and discharge his debt to fellow humans. As Christians, we too have such a debt to discharge. Kingdom preaching is also a principal way to demonstrate love for God, for his Son, and for our neighbors.—Luke 10:25-28.
10. By doing what have some expanded their ministry?
10 One way to render an acceptable account to God is to use our abilities to expand our ministry. To illustrate: There has been an influx of people of many national groups into Britain in recent years. To reach such people with the good news, over 800 pioneers (full-time Kingdom preachers) and hundreds of other Witnesses are learning different languages. This has resulted in a fine stimulus to the ministry. Said a pioneer teaching a Chinese class: “I never thought I would ever teach my language to other Witnesses, for them to share the truth with others in this way. It is so satisfying!” Could you expand your ministry in a similar way?
11. What resulted when one Christian witnessed informally?
11 Likely, each one of us would do what we could to save a drowning man. Jehovah’s servants are similarly eager to use their abilities to witness at every opportunity. A Witness recently sat next to a woman on a bus and talked to her about the Scriptures. Thrilled with what she heard, the woman asked many questions. When the Witness was about to get off the bus, the woman implored her to come to her home instead, as she still had many questions. The Witness agreed. The outcome? A Bible study was started, and six months later the woman became an unbaptized Kingdom publisher. Soon she was conducting six home Bible studies of her own. What a thrilling reward for using one’s abilities in Kingdom service!
12. How can our abilities as ministers be put to good use in the field service?
12 Our abilities as ministers can be employed effectively in the field by using such publications as the 192-page book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. By April of 1996, the Writing Committee of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses had approved the publication of the Knowledge book in over 140 languages, and by then 30,500,000 copies of it had already been printed in 111 languages. This book was written with the objective of helping Bible students to learn enough about God’s Word and purposes to make a dedication to Jehovah and get baptized. Since Kingdom publishers will not be conducting a home Bible study with the same student for many years, they can conduct studies with more people or increase their share in the house-to-house work and other forms of the ministry. (Acts 5:42; 20:20, 21) Aware of their accountability to God, they call attention to divine warnings. (Ezekiel 33:7-9) But their main interest is to honor Jehovah and help as many as possible to learn about the good news in the short time yet remaining for this wicked system of things.
Rendering a Fine Account as Families
13. Why should godly families have a regular family Bible study?
13 Each individual and family embracing true Christianity is accountable to God and should therefore “press on to maturity” and become “solid in the faith.” (Hebrews 6:1-3; 1 Peter 5:8, 9) For example, those who have studied the Knowledge book and have been baptized need to round out their Scriptural knowledge by attending meetings regularly as well as by reading the Bible and other Christian publications. Godly families should also have a regular family study, for that is an important way to “stay awake, stand firm in the faith, carry on as men, grow mighty.” (1 Corinthians 16:13) If you are the head of a household, you are especially accountable to God to make sure that your family is well-fed spiritually. Just as nutritious physical food contributes to natural health, so abundant and regular spiritual food is needed if you and your family are to remain “healthy in the faith.”—Titus 1:13.
14. What resulted from the witness given by a well-taught Israelite girl?
14 If there are children in your household, God will credit good to your account for giving them sound spiritual instruction. Such teaching will benefit them, as it did a little Israelite girl captured by the Syrians in the days of God’s prophet Elisha. She became the maidservant of the wife of a leprous Syrian army chief, Naaman. Young though the girl was, she told her mistress: “If only my lord were before the prophet that is in Samaria! In that case he would recover him from his leprosy.” Because of her witness, Naaman went to Israel, finally complied with Elisha’s direction to bathe seven times in the Jordan River, and was cleansed of leprosy. Moreover, Naaman became a worshiper of Jehovah. How that must have thrilled that little girl!—2 Kings 5:1-3, 13-19.
15. Why is it important for parents to give their children fine spiritual training? Illustrate.
15 It is not easy to raise God-fearing children in this morally impoverished world that is lying in Satan’s power. (1 John 5:19) From Timothy’s infancy, however, his grandmother Lois and his mother, Eunice, successfully taught him the Scriptures. (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15) Studying the Bible with your children, taking them to Christian meetings regularly, and eventually having them accompany you in the ministry are all part of the pattern of training for which you must render an account to God. One Christian in Wales, now in her mid-80’s, recalls that in the early 1920’s, her father took her with him when he walked 6 miles [10 km] over a mountain (a round-trip of 12 miles [20 km]) to distribute Bible tracts to villagers in the next valley. “It was during those walks that my father instilled the truth in my heart,” she says with gratitude.
Elders Give an Account—How?
16, 17. (a) What privileges were enjoyed by spiritually mature older men in ancient Israel? (b) Compared with the situation in ancient Israel, why is more required of Christian elders today?
16 “Gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness,” said the wise man Solomon. (Proverbs 16:31) But it is not mere physical age that equips a man for responsibility in the congregation of God’s people. Spiritually mature older men in ancient Israel served as judges and officers for the administration of justice and the maintenance of peace, good order, and spiritual health. (Deuteronomy 16:18-20) Although the same is true of the Christian congregation, more is required of elders as the end of this system of things draws close. Why?
17 The Israelites were a ‘chosen people’ whom God delivered from ancient Egypt. Since they received the Law through their mediator, Moses, their descendants were born into a dedicated nation and were familiar with Jehovah’s precepts. (Deuteronomy 7:6, 11) However, nobody is born into such a dedicated nation today, and comparatively few grow up in godly families well acquainted with Scriptural truth. Especially may those who have recently started “walking in the truth” need instruction on how to live according to Scriptural principles. (3 John 4) What a responsibility therefore rests on the shoulders of faithful elders as they ‘hold to the pattern of healthful words’ and assist Jehovah’s people!—2 Timothy 1:13, 14.
18. What kind of assistance must congregation elders be prepared to give, and why?
18 A young child learning to walk may stumble and fall. He feels insecure and needs parental help and reassurance. An individual dedicated to Jehovah could likewise stumble or fall spiritually. Even the apostle Paul found it necessary to struggle to do what was right or good in God’s sight. (Romans 7:21-25) Shepherds of God’s flock need to give loving assistance to Christians who have erred but are truly repentant. When elders visited one dedicated woman who had made a serious mistake, she said in the presence of her dedicated husband: “I know you will disfellowship me!” But she broke down in tears when told that the elders wanted to know what help was needed to restore the family spiritually. Aware that they must render an account, the elders were happy to assist a repentant fellow believer.—Hebrews 13:17.
Keep On Rendering a Fine Account
19. How can we keep on rendering a fine account of ourselves to God?
19 Congregation elders and all other servants of God need to keep on rendering a fine account of themselves to Jehovah. This is possible if we adhere to God’s Word and do his will. (Proverbs 3:5, 6; Romans 12:1, 2, 9) We especially want to do good to those related to us in the faith. (Galatians 6:10) However, the harvest is still great, and the workers remain few. (Matthew 9:37, 38) So let us do good to others by diligently proclaiming the Kingdom message. Jehovah will render good to our account if we fulfill our dedication, do his will, and faithfully proclaim the good news.
20. What do we learn from considering the course of Nehemiah?
20 Let us therefore continue to have plenty to do in the Lord’s work. (1 Corinthians 15:58) And we do well to consider Nehemiah, who rebuilt Jerusalem’s wall, enforced God’s Law, and zealously promoted true worship. He prayed that Jehovah God would remember him for the good he had done. May you prove to be as devoted to Jehovah, and may he credit good to your account.
What Are Your Answers?
□ What example was set by Nehemiah?
□ Why does knowledge make us accountable to God?
□ How can we render an acceptable account to Jehovah in our ministry?
□ What can families do to render a fine account to God?
□ How do Christian elders render an account?
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Like Paul, we can render a fine account to God as Kingdom proclaimers
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Are your children strong in faith like the little Israelite girl in Naaman’s home?