Christians Find Happiness in Serving
“There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—ACTS 20:35.
1. What wrong attitude is prevalent today, and why is it detrimental?
DURING the last decades of the 1900’s, the word “me-ism” was frequently heard. “Me-ism” means, in effect, “me first” and denotes an attitude combining selfishness and greed with a lack of concern for others. We can be sure that in the year 2000, me-ism is by no means dead. How many times do you hear the questions, “What is in it for me?” or, “What will I get out of it?” Such a selfish attitude is not conducive to happiness. It is the very opposite of the principle that Jesus stated: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
2. How is it seen that giving brings happiness?
2 Is it true that giving brings greater happiness than receiving? Yes. Think of Jehovah God. With him is “the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9) He provides everything we need to make us happy and productive. Indeed, he is the Source of “every good gift and every perfect present.” (James 1:17) Jehovah, “the happy God,” is constantly giving. (1 Timothy 1:11) He loves his human creation, to whom he gives so much. (John 3:16) Think, too, of a human family. If you are a parent, you know how many sacrifices, how much giving, it takes to raise a child. And for many years the child is unaware of the sacrifices you make. He takes them all for granted. Still, it makes you happy to see your child flourishing as a result of your unselfish giving. Why? Because you love him.
3. Why is it a delight to serve Jehovah and our fellow believers?
3 In a similar way, true worship is characterized by giving that is based on love. Since we love Jehovah and we love our fellow believers, it is a delight to serve them, to give of ourselves to them. (Matthew 22:37-39) Any who worship with selfish motives end up with very little joy. But those who serve unselfishly, being more concerned with what they can give than with what they hope to receive, find happiness indeed. This truth is discerned by considering how certain Bible words related to our worship are used in the Scriptures. We will discuss three of these words in this and the following article.
Jesus’ Public Service
4. What is the nature of “public service” in Christendom?
4 In the original Greek, one important word having to do with worship is lei·tour·giʹa, which is translated “public service” in the New World Translation. In Christendom lei·tour·giʹa has given rise to the word “liturgy.”a However, the formalistic liturgies of Christendom are not a truly beneficial public service.
5, 6. (a) What public service was performed in Israel, with what benefits? (b) What far grander public service replaced that performed in Israel, and why?
5 The apostle Paul used a Greek word related to lei·tour·giʹa with reference to Israel’s priests. He said: “Every priest takes his station from day to day to render public service [a form of lei·tour·giʹa] and to offer the same sacrifices often.” (Hebrews 10:11) Levite priests rendered a very valuable public service in Israel. They taught God’s Law and offered sacrifices that covered the sins of the people. (2 Chronicles 15:3; Malachi 2:7) When the priests and the people followed Jehovah’s Law, the nation had reasons to be joyful.—Deuteronomy 16:15.
6 Rendering public service under the Law was a real privilege for Israelite priests, but their service ceased to have any value when Israel was rejected because of unfaithfulness. (Matthew 21:43) Jehovah arranged for something far grander—the public service performed by Jesus, the great High Priest. Concerning him, we read: “He because of continuing alive forever has his priesthood without any successors. Consequently he is able also to save completely those who are approaching God through him, because he is always alive to plead for them.”—Hebrews 7:24, 25.
7. Why does Jesus’ public service bring unparalleled benefits?
7 Jesus continues as priest forever, without successors. Thus, only he can save people completely. He performs that unparalleled public service, not in a man-made temple, but in the antitypical temple, Jehovah’s great arrangement for worship that went into operation in 29 C.E. Jesus now serves in the Most Holy of that temple, in heaven. He is “a public servant [lei·tour·gosʹ] of the holy place and of the true tent, which Jehovah put up, and not man.” (Hebrews 8:2; 9:11, 12) Lofty as Jesus’ position is, he is still “a public servant.” He uses his high authority to give, not to take. And such giving brings him joy. It is part of “the joy that was set before him” and that strengthened him to endure throughout his course on earth.—Hebrews 12:2.
8. How did Jesus perform a public service to replace the Law covenant?
8 There is another aspect of Jesus’ public service. Paul wrote: “Jesus has obtained a more excellent public service, so that he is also the mediator of a correspondingly better covenant, which has been legally established upon better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6) Moses mediated the covenant that was the basis of Israel’s relationship with Jehovah. (Exodus 19:4, 5) Jesus mediated a new covenant, which made possible the birth of a new nation, “the Israel of God,” composed of spirit-anointed Christians from many nations. (Galatians 6:16; Hebrews 8:8, 13; Revelation 5:9, 10) What an excellent public service that was! How happy we are to be acquainted with Jesus, a public servant through whom we can render acceptable worship to Jehovah!—John 14:6.
Christians Also Render Public Service
9, 10. What are some types of public service performed by Christians?
9 No human performs a public service as exalted as that of Jesus. When anointed Christians receive their heavenly reward, however, they take their place alongside Jesus and share in his public service as heavenly kings and priests. (Revelation 20:6; 22:1-5) Yet, Christians on earth do perform public service, and they find great joy in doing so. For example, when there was a food shortage in Palestine, the apostle Paul carried donations from brothers in Europe to help alleviate the distress of Jewish Christians in Judea. That was a public service. (Romans 15:27; 2 Corinthians 9:12) Today, Christians are happy to render a similar service, giving prompt assistance when their brothers experience affliction, natural disasters, or other calamities.—Proverbs 14:21.
10 Paul referred to another public service when he wrote: “Even if I am being poured out like a drink offering upon the sacrifice and public service to which faith has led you, I am glad and I rejoice with all of you.” (Philippians 2:17) Paul’s hard work in behalf of the Philippians had been a public service rendered with love and diligence. A similar public service is being rendered today, especially by anointed Christians, who serve as “the faithful and discreet slave,” supplying spiritual food at the proper time. (Matthew 24:45-47) Further, as a group, these are “a holy priesthood,” commissioned “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” and to “declare abroad the excellencies of the one that called [them] out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:5, 9) Like Paul, they rejoice in such privileges even as they ‘pour themselves out’ in fulfilling their responsibilities. And their “other sheep” companions join them and support them in the work of telling mankind about Jehovah and his purposes.b (John 10:16; Matthew 24:14) What a grand and joyful public service that is!—Psalm 107:21, 22.
Render Sacred Service
11. How did the prophetess Anna provide a fine example for all Christians?
11 Another Greek word having to do with our worship is la·treiʹa, translated “sacred service” in the New World Translation. Sacred service has to do with acts of worship. For example, the 84-year-old widow and prophetess Anna is described as “never missing from the temple, rendering sacred service [a Greek word related to la·treiʹa] night and day with fastings and supplications.” (Luke 2:36, 37) Anna worshiped Jehovah with constancy. She is a fine example for all of us—young and old, men and women. Even as Anna prayed to Jehovah earnestly and worshiped him regularly at the temple, our sacred service includes prayer and meeting attendance.—Romans 12:12; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
12. What is a major feature of our sacred service, and how is this also a public service?
12 The apostle Paul mentioned a major feature of our sacred service when he wrote: “God, to whom I render sacred service with my spirit in connection with the good news about his Son, is my witness of how without ceasing I always make mention of you in my prayers.” (Romans 1:9) Yes, the preaching of the good news is not only a public service to those who hear it but also an act of worship to Jehovah God. Whether we find a receptive ear or not, the preaching work is sacred service rendered to Jehovah. Our endeavoring to tell others about the fine qualities and beneficent purposes of our beloved heavenly Father certainly brings us great joy.—Psalm 71:23.
Where Do We Render Sacred Service?
13. What is the hope of those who render sacred service in the inner courtyard of Jehovah’s spiritual temple, and who rejoice with them?
13 To anointed Christians, Paul wrote: “Seeing that we are to receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us continue to have undeserved kindness, through which we may acceptably render God sacred service with godly fear and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28) With confident expectation of inheriting the Kingdom, anointed ones are unmovable in faith as they worship the Most High. Only they can render him sacred service in the Holy compartment and the inner courtyard of Jehovah’s spiritual temple, and they look forward with eager anticipation to serving with Jesus in the Most Holy, heaven itself. Their companions, the other sheep class, rejoice with them in their marvelous hope.—Hebrews 6:19, 20; 10:19-22.
14. How does the great crowd benefit from Jesus’ public service?
14 What, though, of those other sheep? As the apostle John foresaw, a great crowd of them has appeared in these last days, and “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14) This means that, like their anointed fellow worshipers, they exercise faith in Jesus’ public service, his offering of his perfect human life in behalf of mankind. The other sheep also benefit from Jesus’ public service in that they are “laying hold of [Jehovah’s] covenant.” (Isaiah 56:6) No, they are not parties to the new covenant, but they lay hold of it in that they obey the laws related to it and cooperate with arrangements made through it. They associate with the Israel of God, feeding at the same spiritual table and working along with its members, praising God publicly and offering spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to him.—Hebrews 13:15.
15. Where does the great crowd render sacred service, and how does this blessing affect them?
15 Thus, the great crowd are seen “standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes.” Further, “they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.” (Revelation 7:9, 15) In Israel, proselytes worshiped in the outer courtyard of Solomon’s temple. In a similar way, the great crowd worships Jehovah in the outer courtyard of his spiritual temple. Serving there causes them to rejoice. (Psalm 122:1) Even after the last of their anointed associates receives his heavenly inheritance, they will continue to render sacred service to Jehovah as his people.—Revelation 21:3.
Sacred Service That Is Unacceptable
16. What warnings are given regarding sacred service?
16 In the days of ancient Israel, sacred service had to be rendered in harmony with Jehovah’s laws. (Exodus 30:9; Leviticus 10:1, 2) Likewise today, there are requirements to observe if our sacred service is to be acceptable to Jehovah. That is why Paul wrote to the Colossians: “We . . . have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the accurate knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual comprehension, in order to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him as you go on bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the accurate knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9, 10) It is not up to us to determine the proper way to worship God. Accurate Scriptural knowledge, spiritual comprehension, and godly wisdom are vital. Otherwise, things can go terribly wrong.
17. (a) How was sacred service perverted in the days of Moses? (b) How could sacred service be misdirected today?
17 Remember the Israelites in the days of Moses. We read: “God turned and handed them over to render sacred service to the army of heaven.” (Acts 7:42) Those Israelites had seen Jehovah’s powerful acts in their behalf. Yet, they turned to other gods when they thought this would be to their advantage. They were not loyal, and loyalty is a must if our sacred service is to be pleasing to God. (Psalm 18:25) True, few today would turn from Jehovah to worship stars or golden calves, but there are other forms of idolatry. Jesus warned against serving “Riches,” and Paul called covetousness idolatry. (Matthew 6:24; Colossians 3:5) Satan promotes himself as a god. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Such kinds of idolatry are rampant and are a snare. Think, for example, of someone who claims to follow Jesus but whose real goal in life is to become wealthy or whose real trust is in himself and his own ideas. Who is he really serving? How different is he from the Jews of Isaiah’s day who swore in Jehovah’s name but credited his great acts to unclean idols?—Isaiah 48:1, 5.
18. How has sacred service been wrongly performed in the past and today?
18 Jesus also warned: “The hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God.” (John 16:2) Saul, who became the apostle Paul, doubtless thought that he was serving God when he ‘approved the murder of Stephen’ and ‘breathed threat and murder against the disciples of the Lord.’ (Acts 8:1; 9:1) Today, some perpetrators of ethnic cleansing and genocide also claim to worship God. There are many people who claim to worship God, but their worship is really directed to the gods of nationalism, tribalism, wealth, self, or some other deity.
19. (a) How do we view our sacred service? (b) What kind of sacred service will bring us joy?
19 Jesus said: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Matthew 4:10) He was speaking to Satan, but how vital it is that all of us heed his words! Rendering sacred service to the Sovereign Lord of the universe is an elevated, fear-inspiring privilege. And what can be said about performing public service that is linked to our worship? Doing this in behalf of our fellowman is a joyful work that brings great happiness. (Psalm 41:1, 2; 59:16) Still, such service brings real happiness only if it is offered wholeheartedly and in the right way. Who are really worshiping God properly? Whose sacred service does Jehovah accept? We can answer such questions if we consider the third Bible word that has to do with our worship. This we will do in the following article.
a Christendom’s liturgies are generally either worship services or specific rituals, such as the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church.
b At Acts 13:2, it is reported that prophets and teachers in Antioch were “publicly ministering” (translating a Greek word related to lei·tour·giʹa) to Jehovah. Likely, this public ministering included preaching to the public.
How Would You Answer?
• What grand public service did Jesus perform?
• What public service do Christians perform?
• What is Christian sacred service, and where is it performed?
• What must we acquire if our sacred service is to please God?
[Picture on page 10]
Parents find great joy in giving
[Pictures on page 12, 13]
Christians render public service when they assist others and when they proclaim the good news
[Picture on page 14]
We need accurate knowledge and understanding to be sure that our sacred service is acceptable to God