Eagerly Declare the Good News
“Be aglow with the spirit. Slave for Jehovah.”—ROMANS 12:11.
1, 2. What attitude do Christians strive to maintain as preachers of the good news?
A YOUNG man is excited about a new job. On his first day at work, he anxiously awaits his employer’s instructions. He looks forward to his first task and takes it very seriously. He is eager to do his best.
2 In a similar way, we as Christians could view ourselves as new workers. Since our hope is to live forever, it could be said that we have just started working for Jehovah. Surely our Creator has numerous tasks in mind for us that will keep us busy into eternity. But the very first commission we received was that of declaring the good news of his Kingdom. (1 Thessalonians 2:4) How do we feel about this assignment from God? Like the young man, we want to carry it out to the best of our ability, with zeal, with joy—yes, with eagerness!
3. What is required in order to succeed as a minister of the good news?
3 Granted, maintaining such a positive attitude can be a challenge. In addition to our ministry, we have many other responsibilities, some of which may tax us physically and emotionally. For the most part, we manage to care for these things while giving adequate attention to the ministry. Still, it can be an ongoing struggle. (Mark 8:34) Jesus emphasized that our success as Christians would require vigorous effort.—Luke 13:24.
4. How may daily anxieties affect our spiritual outlook?
4 With so many things to do, it is easy to feel overwhelmed or weighed down at times. “Anxieties of life” could choke our zeal and appreciation for theocratic activities. (Luke 21:34, 35; Mark 4:18, 19) Because of our imperfect human nature, we might leave ‘the love we had at first.’ (Revelation 2:1-4) Certain aspects of our service to Jehovah could become somewhat routine. How does the Bible provide the needed encouragement for us to keep our zeal for the ministry alive?
Like “a Burning Fire” in Our Hearts
5, 6. How did the apostle Paul view his privilege of preaching?
5 The ministry that Jehovah has entrusted to us is far too precious to be allowed to become commonplace. The apostle Paul considered the preaching of the good news a very great privilege, and he viewed himself as unworthy to be entrusted with it. He said: “To me, a man less than the least of all holy ones, this undeserved kindness was given, that I should declare to the nations the good news about the unfathomable riches of the Christ and should make men see how the sacred secret is administered which has from the indefinite past been hidden in God, who created all things.”—Ephesians 3:8, 9.
6 Paul’s positive attitude about his ministry is an excellent example for us. In his letter to the Romans, he stated: “There is eagerness on my part to declare the good news.” He was not ashamed of the good news. (Romans 1:15, 16) He had the right attitude and was eager to carry out his ministry.
7. In his letter to the Romans, what did Paul warn against?
7 The apostle Paul recognized the need for maintaining a zealous viewpoint, so he admonished the Christians in Rome: “Do not loiter at your business. Be aglow with the spirit. Slave for Jehovah.” (Romans 12:11) The Greek word translated “loiter” carries the thought of being “sluggish, slothful.” While we may not actually loiter in our ministry, all of us need to be alert to any early symptoms of spiritual sluggishness and make appropriate adjustments in our attitude if we perceive such symptoms in ourselves.—Proverbs 22:3.
8. (a) What became like “a burning fire” in the heart of Jeremiah, and why? (b) What lesson can we learn from Jeremiah’s experience?
8 God’s spirit can also help us when we are discouraged. For instance, on one occasion the prophet Jeremiah found himself discouraged, and he considered stopping his prophetic work. He even said of Jehovah: “I am not going to make mention of him, and I shall speak no more in his name.” Was this an evidence of a serious spiritual deficiency in Jeremiah? No. In fact, Jeremiah’s strong spirituality, his love for Jehovah, and his zeal for the truth empowered him to continue prophesying. He explains: “In my heart [the word of Jehovah] proved to be like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I got tired of holding in, and I was unable to endure it.” (Jeremiah 20:9) It is natural that faithful servants of God experience discouragement from time to time. But when they pray to Jehovah for help, he will read their hearts and freely impart to them his holy spirit if, like Jeremiah, they have his word in their hearts.—Luke 11:9-13; Acts 15:8.
“Do Not Put Out the Fire of the Spirit”
9. What could impede the activity of holy spirit in our behalf?
9 The apostle Paul admonished the Thessalonians: “Do not put out the fire of the spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) Yes, actions and attitudes that run contrary to godly principles could impede the activity of the holy spirit in our behalf. (Ephesians 4:30) Christians today have the assignment to preach the good news. We treat this privilege with deep respect. It comes as no surprise to us that those who do not know God treat our preaching work with contempt. But when a Christian purposely neglects his ministry, it might result in extinguishing the fire of God’s motivating spirit.
10. (a) How could the view of our fellowman affect us? (b) What lofty view of our ministry is expressed at 2 Corinthians 2:17?
10 Some outside the Christian congregation may view our ministry as mere distribution of literature. Others may erroneously conclude that we go from house to house simply to receive donations. If we allow such negative views to influence our attitude, this may reduce our effectiveness in the ministry. Rather than allowing such thinking to affect us, let us maintain the view that Jehovah and Jesus have toward our ministry. The apostle Paul voiced that lofty view when he declared: “We are not peddlers of the word of God as many men are, but as out of sincerity, yes, as sent from God, under God’s view, in company with Christ, we are speaking.”—2 Corinthians 2:17.
11. What enabled the first Christians to remain zealous even under persecution, and how should their example affect us?
11 Shortly after Jesus’ death, his disciples in Jerusalem faced a period of persecution. They were threatened and commanded to stop preaching. Yet, the Bible says that they were “filled with the holy spirit and were speaking the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:17, 21, 31) Paul’s words to Timothy some years later demonstrate the positive disposition that Christians should maintain. Paul said: “God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind. Therefore do not become ashamed of the witness about our Lord, neither of me a prisoner for his sake, but take your part in suffering evil for the good news according to the power of God.”—2 Timothy 1:7, 8.
What Do We Owe Our Neighbor?
12. What is the main reason why we preach the good news?
12 In order to have a proper attitude toward our ministry, we must have the right motive. Why do we preach? The main reason is seen in the words of the psalmist: “Your loyal ones will bless you [Jehovah]. 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.” (Psalm 145:10-12) Yes, we preach in order to praise Jehovah publicly and to sanctify his name before all mankind. Even when few listen to us, our faithfully proclaiming the message of salvation brings praise to Jehovah.
13. What impels us to tell others of the hope of salvation?
13 We also preach out of love for people and in order to avoid bloodguilt. (Ezekiel 33:8; Mark 6:34) Related to this are the words of Paul when speaking of those outside the Christian congregation: “Both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to wise and to senseless ones I am a debtor.” (Romans 1:14) Paul felt that he owed it to people to declare the good news to them, since it is God’s will that “all sorts of men should be saved.” (1 Timothy 2:4) Today, we feel the same love for and obligation toward our neighbor. Jehovah’s love of mankind moved him to send his Son to earth to die for them. (John 3:16) That was a great sacrifice. We imitate Jehovah’s love when we expend time and effort telling others about the good news of salvation based on Jesus’ sacrifice.
14. How does the Bible describe the world outside the Christian congregation?
14 Jehovah’s Witnesses view fellow humans as potential members of the Christian brotherhood. We must preach with boldness, yet our boldness is not confrontational. For a fact, the Bible does use strong terms when speaking of the world in general. The word “world” itself is used in a negative sense by Paul when he speaks of “the wisdom of this world” and “worldly desires.” (1 Corinthians 3:19; Titus 2:12) Paul also reminded Ephesian Christians that when they walked “according to the system of things of this world,” they were “dead” spiritually. (Ephesians 2:1-3) These statements and others like them are in harmony with the apostle John’s words: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”—1 John 5:19.
15. Regarding individuals outside the Christian congregation, what do we not do, and why not?
15 Remember, though, that such statements refer to the world in general that is alienated from God, not to individuals. Christians do not presume to prejudge how any individual will respond to the preaching work. They do not have a basis for describing any individuals as goats. It is not for us to say what the outcome will be when Jesus comes to separate “the sheep” from “the goats.” (Matthew 25:31-46) Jesus is the appointed judge; we are not. Besides, experience has shown that some who were deeply involved in even the worst conduct have accepted the Bible’s message, changed, and become clean-living Christians. Hence, while we may not seek association with certain individuals, we do not hesitate to speak to them about the Kingdom hope as the opportunity presents itself. The Scriptures speak of certain individuals who, while still unbelievers, “were rightly disposed for everlasting life.” They eventually became believers. (Acts 13:48) We can never know who is thus rightly disposed until we have offered a witness—perhaps many times. With this in mind, we treat those who have not yet accepted the message of salvation with “mildness” and “deep respect,” hoping that some among them may yet respond to the message of life.—2 Timothy 2:25; 1 Peter 3:15.
16. What is one reason why we want to develop the “art of teaching”?
16 Developing skills as teachers will enhance our eagerness to declare the good news. To illustrate: An exciting game or sport may be uninteresting to a person who does not know how to play it. But to one who plays it well, it is enjoyable. Similarly, Christians who develop the “art of teaching” increase their joy in the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9) Paul advised Timothy: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.” (2 Timothy 2:15) How can we develop our teaching skills?
17. How can we “form a longing” for Bible knowledge, and how will such knowledge benefit our ministry?
17 One way is by taking in additional accurate knowledge. The apostle Peter encourages us: “As newborn infants, form a longing for the unadulterated milk belonging to the word, that through it you may grow to salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2) A healthy baby instinctively longs for milk. However, a Christian may need to “form a longing” for Bible knowledge. This can be done by cultivating good study and reading habits. (Proverbs 2:1-6) Effort and self-discipline are required if we are to become skillful teachers of God’s Word, but such efforts bring rewards. The delight that comes from examining God’s Word will make us aglow with God’s spirit, eager to share with others the things we learn.
18. How can Christian meetings equip us to handle the word of the truth aright?
18 Christian meetings also play a vital role in our skillful use of God’s Word. When Bible texts are read during public discourses and other Scriptural discussions, we do well to follow along in our own Bibles. We are wise to pay close attention to meeting parts, including those that deal specifically with our preaching work. Never should we underestimate the value of demonstrations, perhaps allowing ourselves to become distracted. Again, self-discipline and concentration are needed. (1 Timothy 4:16) Christian meetings build up our faith, help us form a longing for God’s Word, and train us to be eager proclaimers of the good news.
We Can Count on Jehovah’s Support
19. Why is a regular share in the preaching work vital?
19 Christians who are “aglow with the spirit” and who are eager to declare the good news strive to share regularly in the ministry. (Ephesians 5:15, 16) True, circumstances vary, and not all can spend the same amount of time in this lifesaving work. (Galatians 6:4, 5) Yet, perhaps more important than the total amount of time we spend in the preaching work is the frequency with which we speak about our hope to others. (2 Timothy 4:1, 2) The more we preach, the more we will appreciate the importance of this work. (Romans 10:14, 15) We will grow in compassion and fellow feeling when we regularly come in contact with sincere people who are sighing and groaning and who are without hope.—Ezekiel 9:4; Romans 8:22.
20, 21. (a) What work is still ahead of us? (b) How is Jehovah supporting our efforts?
20 Jehovah has entrusted us with the good news. This is the first commission that we receive from him as his “fellow workers.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9) We are eager to fulfill this God-given responsibility whole-souled, to the best of our ability. (Mark 12:30; Romans 12:1) There are still many rightly disposed people in the world who hunger for the truth. There is much work to do, but we can count on Jehovah’s support as we fully accomplish our ministry.—2 Timothy 4:5.
21 Jehovah offers us his spirit and equips us with “the sword of the spirit,” God’s Word. With his help we can open our mouths “with freeness of speech to make known the sacred secret of the good news.” (Ephesians 6:17-20) Let it be said about us what the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica: “The good news we preach did not turn up among you with speech alone but also with power and with holy spirit and strong conviction.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5) Yes, let us declare the good news with eagerness!
A Brief Review
• Because of the anxieties of life, what could happen to our zeal in the ministry?
• In what way should our desire to declare the good news be like “a burning fire” in our hearts?
• What negative attitudes toward the ministry should we avoid?
• In general, how should we view those who do not share our beliefs?
• How does Jehovah help us to maintain our zeal in the preaching work?
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Christians imitate the zeal of Paul and Jeremiah
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Our eagerness in the ministry is motivated by love of God and neighbor