Be “Zealous for Fine Works”!
“[Jesus] gave himself for us that he might deliver us from every sort of lawlessness and cleanse for himself a people peculiarly his own, zealous for fine works.”—TITUS 2:14.
1. What happens in the temple area when Jesus arrives on Nisan 10, 33 C.E.?
IT IS Nisan 10, 33 C.E., just days before the Passover celebration. Throngs of worshippers in the temple area in Jerusalem are excited. What will happen when Jesus arrives? Three Gospel writers—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—all testify that for a second time, Jesus throws out those selling and buying there. He overturns the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. (Matt. 21:12; Mark 11:15; Luke 19:45) Jesus’ zeal has not lessened since he took similar action three years earlier.—John 2:13-17.
2, 3. How do we know that Jesus’ zeal was not limited to the cleansing of the temple?
2 Matthew’s account indicates that Jesus’ zeal on that occasion was not limited to cleansing the temple. He was also curing the blind and lame who approached him there. (Matt. 21:14) Luke’s record refers to other works that Jesus accomplished. “[Jesus] went teaching daily in the temple.” (Luke 19:47; 20:1) Jesus’ zeal was thus significantly evident in his public ministry.
3 Later, the apostle Paul wrote to Titus and explained that Jesus “gave himself for us that he might deliver us from every sort of lawlessness and cleanse for himself a people peculiarly his own, zealous for fine works.” (Titus 2:14) In what ways can we today be “zealous for fine works”? And how can the examples of the good kings of Judah encourage us?
Zeal for Preaching and Teaching
4, 5. In what ways did four Judean kings prove to be zealous for fine works?
4 Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah all undertook campaigns in Judah to root out idolatry. Asa “removed the foreign altars and the high places and broke up the sacred pillars and cut down the sacred poles.” (2 Chron. 14:3) Jehoshaphat, fired by his zeal for the worship of Jehovah, “removed the high places and the sacred poles from Judah.”—2 Chron. 17:6; 19:3.*
5 Following the solemn seven-day Passover celebration that Hezekiah organized in Jerusalem, “all the Israelites that were found there went out to the cities of Judah, and they proceeded to break up the sacred pillars and cut down the sacred poles and pull down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh until they had finished.” (2 Chron. 31:1) Young Josiah became king when he was only eight years of age. The historical record says: “In the eighth year of his reigning, while he was still a boy, he started to search for the God of David his forefather; and in the twelfth year he started to cleanse Judah and Jerusalem from the high places and the sacred poles and the graven images and the molten statues.” (2 Chron. 34:3) Hence, all four of those kings were zealous for fine works.
6. Why can our ministry be compared with the campaigns of faithful kings of Judah?
6 Today, we similarly engage in a campaign to help people break free from false religious teachings, including the practice of idolatry. Our house-to-house ministry enables us to meet all sorts of people. (1 Tim. 2:4) One young Asian girl remembers how her mother performed rituals in front of numerous images in their home. Reasoning that not all the images could represent the true God, the girl often prayed that she could get to know his real identity. When she answered a knock on the door of her house, she found two Witnesses who were ready to help her learn the true God’s distinctive name, Jehovah. And how grateful she was to learn the truth about idols! Now she demonstrates commendable zeal by sharing diligently in field service, helping other people spiritually.—Ps. 83:18; 115:4-8; 1 John 5:21.
7. What can we do to imitate the teachers who went through the land in Jehoshaphat’s day?
7 When we engage in the house-to-house ministry, how thoroughly do we cover our assigned territory? Interestingly, in the third year of his reign, Jehoshaphat sent for five princes, nine Levites, and two priests. He had them travel through all the cities to teach the people Jehovah’s laws. So effective was their campaign that the people of the surrounding nations began to fear Jehovah. (Read 2 Chronicles 17:9, 10.) By visiting homes at various times on different days, we may be able to speak with several members of a household.
8. How might we widen the scope of our witnessing?
8 Many of God’s servants in modern times have been willing to leave their homes and move to serve where there is a greater need for zealous Witnesses. Can you do so? Some of us who cannot move away may try to witness to people who live in our area but speak a different language. Because of the variety of nationalities he meets in his territory, at 81 years of age, Ron learned greetings in 32 languages! He recently met an African couple in the street and greeted them in their native tongue, Yoruba. They asked Ron if he had ever been to Africa. When he replied no, they asked how he knew their language. This led to a fine witness. They readily accepted some magazines and freely gave him their address, which he passed on to the local congregation so that the couple could enjoy a Bible study.
9. Why is reading from the Bible in our ministry important? Give an example.
9 The teachers who went through the land at Jehoshaphat’s command had “the book of Jehovah’s law” with them. Worldwide we endeavor to teach people from the Bible, since it is the Word of God. We make a special effort to show others the actual words of the Bible, featuring it in our ministry. One householder explained to Linda, a Witness, that her husband had suffered a stroke and needed her attention. The householder lamented: “I don’t know what I have done that God allowed this to happen to me.” Linda responded: “May I assure you of something?” She then read the words of James 1:13 and added: “All the suffering that we and our loved ones experience is not punishment from God.” At that, the householder gave Linda a warm hug. Linda acknowledges: “I was able to give comfort by using the Bible. Sometimes the verses we read from the Bible are ones the householder has never heard before.” That conversation led to a regular home Bible study with the woman.
Youths Who Serve Zealously
10. How was Josiah a good example for Christian youths today?
10 Returning to the example of Josiah, we note that he pursued true worship as a youth and was about 20 years of age when he embarked on his extensive campaign against idolatry. (Read 2 Chronicles 34:1-3.) Countless young people today demonstrate similar zeal in their Kingdom service.
11-13. What lessons can we learn from modern-day youths who serve Jehovah with zeal?
11 Hannah, who lives in England, was 13 years old and studying the French language at school when she heard that a French-speaking group had been formed in a nearby town. Her father agreed to accompany her to attend the meetings there. Now 18, Hannah zealously witnesses in French as a regular pioneer. Could you too learn a foreign language and help other people learn about Jehovah?
12 Rachel thoroughly enjoyed viewing the video presentation Pursue Goals That Honor God. Commenting on her thinking when she began serving Jehovah back in 1995, she says: “I thought I had made the truth my own.” Then she adds: “After watching that drama, I now realize that I have simply cruised along for many years. I have to fight for the truth and put real thought and effort into my service and personal study.” Now Rachel finds that she is serving Jehovah with more zeal. What has she experienced as a result? “My relationship with Jehovah has deepened. My prayers are more meaningful, my study deeper and more satisfying, and Bible accounts more real to me. As a result, I am enjoying the ministry so much and find real satisfaction as I see Jehovah’s words comforting others.”
13 Luke is a youth who was encouraged by another dramatization, Young People Ask—What Will I Do With My Life? After watching this presentation, Luke writes: “I feel moved to reassess my situation in life.” He admits: “In the past, I was pressured to pursue financial security through higher education first and after that to focus on spiritual goals. Such pressure is not conducive to spiritual progress; rather it tears one down.” Young brothers and sisters, why not see whether you can use what you learned in school to expand your ministry as Hannah did? And why not take a leaf out of Rachel’s book, so to speak, by zealously pursuing goals that truly honor God? Follow Luke’s example, avoiding the dangers that have proved to be a snare to many youths.
Zealously Heed Warnings
14. What kind of worship does Jehovah accept, and why is maintaining this such a challenge today?
14 Jehovah’s people need to be clean if their worship is to be acceptable to him. Isaiah warns: “Turn away, turn away, get out of there, touch nothing unclean; get out from the midst of her [Babylon], keep yourselves clean, you who are carrying the utensils of Jehovah.” (Isa. 52:11) Many years before Isaiah wrote those words, good King Asa vigorously pursued a campaign to root out immorality in Judah. (Read 1 Kings 15:11-13.) And centuries later, the apostle Paul told Titus that Jesus gave himself to cleanse his followers to make them “a people peculiarly his own, zealous for fine works.” (Titus 2:14) In today’s vice-ridden society, it is not easy—especially for youths—to keep morally clean. For instance, all of God’s servants, young and old alike, must battle to keep free from the contamination of pornography that is displayed on billboards, on the TV screen, in films, and particularly on the Internet.
15. What can help us to develop a hatred for what is bad?
15 Our zeal in heeding God’s warnings can help us to develop a hatred for what is bad. (Ps. 97:10; Rom. 12:9) We need to abhor pornography in order to “break free from its powerful, magnetic pull,” as one Christian expressed it. To pry apart pieces of magnetized metal, one needs a force that is stronger than the attraction holding them together. Similarly, it takes strong effort to resist the lure of pornography. But understanding how much damage pornography can do to us will help us to develop a loathing for it. One brother made strenuous efforts to break his habit of visiting pornographic sites on the Internet. He moved his personal computer to a location where it was in full view of the rest of his family. Along with that, he personally became more determined to cleanse himself and be zealous for fine works. He even took another step. Because he had to use the Internet for his business, he resolved to access it only when his wife was beside him.
The Value of Good Conduct
16, 17. What effect can our good conduct have on those who observe us? Give an example.
16 What a fine spirit exists among young men and women in Jehovah’s service, and how this impresses onlookers! (Read 1 Peter 2:12.) One visitor to London Bethel changed his whole outlook on Jehovah’s Witnesses after he spent a day servicing a printing machine there. His wife, who was studying the Bible with a local Witness, noted her husband’s change of attitude. Previously, he had not wanted the Witnesses to visit his home. But he came back from doing that work at Bethel full of praise for the kind way he had been treated. He commented that no one used bad language. Everyone was patient, and the atmosphere was peaceful. He was particularly impressed that the young brothers and sisters worked zealously and for no wages, volunteering their time and energy to help publish the good news.
17 Similarly, brothers and sisters who work secularly to care for their families go about their business in a whole-souled way. (Col. 3:23, 24) This often results in improved job security, as employers value their conscientious attitude and do not want to lose them as employees.
18. How can we be “zealous for fine works”?
18 Our trust in Jehovah, our obedience to his instructions, and the care we take of our meeting places are among ways that we demonstrate zeal for Jehovah’s house. In addition, we want to have as full a share as we can in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. Whether we are young or old, by our strenuously upholding the clean standards associated with our worship, we shall reap many benefits. And we will continue to be known as a people “zealous for fine works.”—Titus 2:14.
Asa may have removed the high places associated with the worship of false gods but not those where people worshipped Jehovah. Or it may be that high places were rebuilt in the latter part of Asa’s reign and that these were removed by his son Jehoshaphat.—1 Ki. 15:14; 2 Chron. 15:17.
From both Bible and modern-day examples, what did you learn about
• how to manifest your zeal by preaching and teaching?
• how Christian youths can be “zealous for fine works”?
• how to break free from corrupting habits?
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Do you regularly use the Bible in your ministry?
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Learning to speak another language while in school may help you expand your ministry