Are You Fulfilling Your Whole Obligation to God?
“The true God himself will bring every sort of work into the judgment in relation to every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.”—ECCLESIASTES 12:14.
1. What provisions has Jehovah made for his people?
JEHOVAH supports those who keep remembering him as their Grand Creator. His inspired Word gives them the knowledge needed to be fully pleasing to him. God’s holy spirit guides them in doing the divine will and in “bearing fruit in every good work.” (Colossians 1:9, 10) Moreover, Jehovah provides spiritual food and theocratic direction through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) In many ways, then, God’s people have heaven’s blessing as they serve Jehovah and carry out the vital work of preaching the good news of the Kingdom.—Mark 13:10.
2. Regarding service to Jehovah, what questions may arise?
2 True Christians are happy to be occupied in sacred service to Jehovah. Yet, some may get discouraged and think that their efforts are meaningless. At times, for instance, dedicated Christians may wonder if their conscientious efforts are really worthwhile. When reflecting on family study and other activities, questions like these may well arise in the mind of a family head: ‘Is Jehovah really pleased with what we are doing? Are we fulfilling our whole obligation to God?’ The congregator’s wise words can help to answer such questions.
Is Everything Vanity?
3. In keeping with Ecclesiastes 12:8, what is the very height of vanity?
3 Some may think that the wise man’s words are not very encouraging to anybody—young or old. “‘The greatest vanity!’ said the congregator, ‘Everything is vanity.’” (Ecclesiastes 12:8) Actually, it is the very height of vanity to ignore the Grand Creator in youth, to grow old without serving him, and to have only advanced age to show for a long life. All has been vanity, or emptiness, for such a person, even if he dies with wealth and fame in this world that is lying in the power of the wicked one, Satan the Devil.—1 John 5:19.
4. Why can it be said that not everything is vanity?
4 Not everything is vanity for those who lay up treasures in heaven as Jehovah’s faithful servants. (Matthew 6:19, 20) They have plenty to do in the rewarding work of the Lord, and such labors definitely are not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58) But if we are dedicated Christians, are we keeping busy in God-assigned work in these last days? (2 Timothy 3:1) Or have we settled into a life-style that differs little from that of our neighbors in general? They may be associated with various religions and may be quite devout, attending their houses of worship regularly and trying to carry out what their form of worship requires of them. Of course, they are not proclaimers of the Kingdom message. They do not have accurate knowledge that this is “the time of the end” and have no sense of urgency about the days in which we are living.—Daniel 12:4.
5. If the normal pursuits of life have become our chief concern, what should we do?
5 Jesus Christ said of our critical times: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matthew 24:37-39) In moderation, there is nothing wrong with eating and drinking, and marriage is an arrangement originated by God himself. (Genesis 2:20-24) Yet, if we realize that the normal pursuits of life have become our chief concern, why not make this a matter of prayer? Jehovah can help us to keep Kingdom interests first, do what is right, and fulfill our obligation to him.—Matthew 6:33; Romans 12:12; 2 Corinthians 13:7.
Dedication and Our Obligation to God
6. In what important way are some baptized individuals failing to fulfill their obligation to God?
6 Some baptized Christians need to pray earnestly because they are not living up to the ministerial obligations they assumed when they made a dedication to God. Annually, well over 300,000 have been baptized for a number of years now, but the overall number of active Witnesses of Jehovah has not kept pace. Some who became Kingdom publishers have ceased to proclaim the good news. Yet, individuals must have a meaningful share in the Christian ministry before they are baptized. So they are aware of the commission Jesus gave to all his followers: “Go . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) Unless they have the most extraordinary limitations because of health or other factors beyond their control, baptized individuals who are no longer serving as active Witnesses of God and Christ are not living up to their whole obligation before our Grand Creator.—Isaiah 43:10-12.
7. Why should we meet together regularly for worship?
7 Ancient Israel was a nation dedicated to God, and under the Law covenant, its people had obligations before Jehovah. For instance, all males were to assemble for three annual festivals, and a man who deliberately did not keep the Passover was “cut off” in death. (Numbers 9:13; Leviticus 23:1-43; Deuteronomy 16:16) To fulfill their obligation to God as his dedicated people, the Israelites had to gather for worship. (Deuteronomy 31:10-13) Nothing in the Law said, ‘Do this if you can fit it into your life.’ For those now dedicated to Jehovah, surely this adds weight to Paul’s words: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Yes, regularly assembling with fellow believers is part of a dedicated Christian’s obligation to God.
Weigh Your Decisions Carefully!
8. Why should a young dedicated person give prayerful consideration to his sacred service?
8 Perhaps you are a young person dedicated to Jehovah. Rich blessings will be yours if you keep Kingdom interests first in life. (Proverbs 10:22) With prayer and careful planning, you may be able to spend at least your younger years in some form of full-time service—a fine way to show that you remember your Grand Creator. Otherwise, material interests may begin to occupy most of your time and attention. Like people in general, you may marry early in life and go into debt to acquire material things. A lucrative career may absorb much of your time and energy. If you have children, you will have to shoulder family responsibilities for decades. (1 Timothy 5:8) You may not have forgotten your Grand Creator, but it is wise to realize that your early planning, or lack of it, may set the course for your adult life. In later years, you may look back and wish that at least your young adulthood had been more fully spent in sacred service to our Grand Creator. Why not give your prospects prayerful thought right now, so that you will find satisfaction in your sacred service to Jehovah in your younger years?
9. What may be possible for one who has grown older and once shouldered heavy responsibility in the congregation?
9 Consider another set of circumstances—those of a man who once served as a shepherd of “the flock of God.” (1 Peter 5:2, 3) For some reason, he voluntarily relinquished such privileges. True, he has grown older now, and it may be more difficult for him to carry on in God’s service. But could it be that he should again reach out for theocratic privileges? What blessings such a man might bring to others if he is able to shoulder more responsibility in the congregation! And since no one lives with regard to himself only, friends and loved ones will rejoice if he is able to increase his service, to God’s glory. (Romans 14:7, 8) Most of all, Jehovah will not forget what anyone does in his service. (Hebrews 6:10-12) So, what can help us to remember our Grand Creator?
Aids to Remembering Our Grand Creator
10. Why was the congregator in an excellent position to provide guidelines on the matter of remembering our Grand Creator?
10 The congregator was in an excellent position to provide guidelines for our remembering our Grand Creator. Jehovah had answered his heartfelt prayers by granting him extraordinary wisdom. (1 Kings 3:6-12) Solomon made a thorough investigation of the entire scope of human affairs. Moreover, he was divinely inspired to commit his findings to writing so as to benefit others. He wrote: “And besides the fact that the congregator had become wise, he also taught the people knowledge continually, and he pondered and made a thorough search, that he might arrange many proverbs in order. The congregator sought to find the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.”—Ecclesiastes 12:9, 10.
11. Why should we accept Solomon’s wise counsel?
11 The Greek Septuagint rendering of these words reads: “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, because he taught mankind wisdom; that the ear might find what is comely from parables, the preacher made diligent search to find pleasing words and a writing of rectitude—words of truth.” (The Septuagint Bible, translated by Charles Thomson) Solomon endeavored to reach the hearts of his readers with delightful words and truly interesting and worthwhile subjects. Since his words found in the Scriptures are the product of inspiration by holy spirit, we can without reservation accept his findings and wise counsel.—2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
12. In your own words, how would you express what Solomon said as recorded at Ecclesiastes 12:11, 12?
12 Even in the absence of modern printing methods, there were plenty of books available in Solomon’s day. How was such literature to be viewed? He said: “The words of the wise ones are like oxgoads, and just like nails driven in are those indulging in collections of sentences; they have been given from one shepherd. As regards anything besides these, my son, take a warning: To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh.”—Ecclesiastes 12:11, 12.
13. How can the words of those possessing godly wisdom prove to be like oxgoads, and who are like “nails driven in”?
13 The words of those possessing godly wisdom prove to be like oxgoads. How so? They prod the readers or listeners to make advancement in harmony with the wise words read or heard. Moreover, those who occupy themselves with “collections of sentences,” or truly wise and worthwhile sayings, are like “nails driven in,” or solidly fixed. This may be so because the fine words of such individuals reflect Jehovah’s wisdom and can therefore serve to stabilize and support the readers or listeners. If you are a God-fearing parent, should you not make every effort to inculcate such wisdom in the mind and heart of your child?—Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
14. (a) To books of what kind is it not beneficial to give “much devotion”? (b) To what literature should we give prime consideration, and why?
14 Why, though, did Solomon say what he did about books? Well, compared with Jehovah’s Word, the endless volumes of this world contain mere human reasoning. Much of this thinking reflects the mind of Satan the Devil. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Therefore, “much devotion” to such secular material produces little of lasting value. In fact, a great deal of it can be spiritually detrimental. Like Solomon, let us meditate on what God’s Word says about life. This will strengthen our faith and draw us closer to Jehovah. Excessive attention to other books or sources of instruction can wear us out. Especially when such writings are the product of worldly reasoning that conflicts with godly wisdom are they unwholesome and destructive of faith in God and his purposes. So, then, let us remember that the most beneficial writings of Solomon’s day and our own are those that reflect the wisdom of the “one shepherd,” Jehovah God. He has provided the 66 books of the Holy Scriptures, and to these we should give paramount attention. The Bible and helpful publications of the ‘faithful slave’ enable us to acquire “the very knowledge of God.”—Proverbs 2:1-6.
Our Whole Obligation to God
15. (a) How would you express Solomon’s words about “the whole obligation of man”? (b) What must we do if we are to fulfill our obligation to God?
15 Summing up his entire investigation, the congregator, Solomon, says: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man. For the true God himself will bring every sort of work into the judgment in relation to every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14) A wholesome fear of, or reverential regard for, our Grand Creator will protect us, and hopefully our families, from pursuing a foolhardy course of life that could bring untold trouble and sorrow upon us and our loved ones. The wholesome fear of God is pure and is the very beginning of wisdom and knowledge. (Psalm 19:9; Proverbs 1:7) If we possess insight based on God’s inspired Word and apply its counsel in all things, we will be fulfilling our “whole obligation” to God. No, it is not a matter of making a list of obligations. Rather, what is required is that we look to the Scriptures when resolving life’s problems and always do things God’s way.
16. As regards judgment, what will Jehovah do?
16 We should realize that nothing escapes the notice of our Grand Creator. (Proverbs 15:3) He “will bring every sort of work into the judgment.” Yes, the Most High will judge all things, including those hidden from human eyes. Awareness of such factors can serve as an incentive to observing God’s commandments. But the greatest incentive should be love for our heavenly Father, for the apostle John wrote: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) And since God’s commandments are designed to promote our lasting welfare, surely it is not only proper but also truly wise to observe them. This is no burden for lovers of the Grand Creator. They want to fulfill their obligation to him.
Fulfill Your Whole Obligation
17. What will we do if we really want to fulfill our whole obligation to God?
17 If we are wise and truly desire to fulfill our whole obligation to God, besides keeping his commandments, we will have a reverential fear of displeasing him. Indeed, “the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom,” and those observing his commandments have “good insight.” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7) Let us therefore act wisely and obey Jehovah in all things. Especially is this vital now, for the King Jesus Christ is present, and the day of judgment by him as God’s appointed Judge is near.—Matthew 24:3; 25:31, 32.
18. What will be the outcome for us if we fulfill our whole obligation to Jehovah God?
18 Each one of us is now under divine scrutiny. Are we spiritually inclined, or have worldly influences been allowed to weaken our relationship with God? (1 Corinthians 2:10-16; 1 John 2:15-17) Whether young or old, let us do all we can to please our Grand Creator. If we obey Jehovah and keep his commandments, we will reject the vain things of the passing old world. Then we can entertain the hope of everlasting life in God’s promised new system of things. (2 Peter 3:13) What grand prospects these are for all who fulfill their whole obligation to God!
How Would You Answer?
□ Why would you say that not everything is vanity?
□ Why should a young Christian give prayerful consideration to his sacred service?
□ To books of what kind would it not be beneficial to give “much devotion”?
□ What is “the whole obligation of man”?
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Not everything is vanity for those who serve Jehovah
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Unlike many books of this world, God’s Word is refreshing and beneficial