Avoid Distractions in This “Day of Good News”
THE four lepers reviewed their options. No one had given them alms at the city gate. The besieging Syrians were starving out Samaria. It was no use entering the city; the price of food was exorbitant. A case of cannibalism had already been reported.
‘Why not go to the Syrian camp?’ the lepers thought. ‘We have nothing to lose.’ Under cover of darkness, they started out that evening. When they arrived at the camp, it was silent. There were no sentries. Horses and asses were tied, but there were no soldiers. The four gazed inside a tent. No one was there, but food and drink were available in abundance. They helped themselves. The lepers also spotted gold, silver, garments, and other valuable things. They carried them off, hid them, and came back for more. The whole camp had been abandoned. Jehovah had miraculously caused the Syrians to hear the sound of a military force. Concluding that they were being attacked, the Syrians fled on foot. Everything was left there for the taking!
The lepers were stashing away the valuable items. However, the thought of neighboring Samaria starving began to prick their conscience. They began to say to one another: “It is not right what we are doing. This day is a day of good news!” The lepers scurried back to Samaria and reported the good news of their discovery.
We too are living in what may be termed “a day of good news.” Pointing to an outstanding feature of “the sign . . . of the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:3, 14) How should that affect us?
Personal Concerns Can Weigh Us Down
Overjoyed at their discovery, the lepers temporarily forgot Samaria. They focused on what they could get. Can something similar happen to us? “Food shortages” form part of the composite sign marking the time of the conclusion of the system of things. (Luke 21:7, 11) Jesus warned his disciples: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life.” (Luke 21:34) As Christians, we should be careful that we do not allow personal concerns over day-to-day life to cause us to lose sight of the fact that we are living in “a day of good news.”
A Christian named Blessing did not allow personal interests to weigh her down. She served as a pioneer, completed a period of schooling, eventually married a Bethelite, and was accepted as a member of the Benin Bethel family. She says: “I am a housekeeper, and I really enjoy my assignment.” Blessing can now happily look back on 12 years in full-time service and be glad that she has kept her focus on the “day of good news” that we are living in right now.
Beware of Time-Consuming Distractions
When sending out 70 disciples, Jesus said: “The harvest, indeed, is great, but the workers are few. Therefore beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) Just as delay at harvesttime could lead to the wasting of crops, neglect in carrying out the preaching work could result in the loss of lives. So Jesus added: “Do not embrace anybody in greeting along the road.” (Luke 10:4) The original-language word for “greeting” may mean more than a mere “hello” or “good-day.” It can also include the embraces and long conversation that may take place when we meet a friend. Jesus thus instructed his followers to avoid unnecessary distractions and make the most of their time. The message that they were to preach was urgent.
Think of the amount of time that distractions can consume. For years, television has ruled as the top time-waster in many areas. What, though, about mobile phones and personal computers? A survey of 1,000 adults in Britain found that “the average Briton spends 88 minutes a day on a landline telephone, a further 62 minutes on a mobile telephone, 53 minutes e-mailing and 22 minutes text messaging.” The total amounts to more than twice as much time as an auxiliary pioneer devotes to the ministry each day! How do your communication habits measure up?
Ernst and Hildegard Seliger were mindful of how they used their time. Between them, they spent more than 40 years in Nazi concentration camps and Communist prisons. After they were released, they served as pioneers until they finished their earthly course.
Many wanted to correspond with the Seligers. The couple could have spent most of their waking hours reading and writing letters. However, spiritual matters took top priority in their lives.
Of course, all of us cherish maintaining some communication with our loved ones, and there is nothing wrong with that. Well-chosen variation in our daily routine is beneficial. Nevertheless, we are wise to be alert to curb time-consuming distractions during this day for preaching the good news.
Thoroughly Preach the Good News
What a blessing it is to be living in “a day of good news.” Let us not become sidetracked as the four lepers were at first. Remember that they concluded: “It is not right what we are doing.” Likewise, it is not right for us to allow personal pursuits or time-consuming distractions to prevent us from having a full share in the ministry.
In this regard, we have an excellent example to follow. Reflecting back on the first 20 years of his ministry, the apostle Paul wrote: “I have thoroughly preached the good news about the Christ.” (Rom. 15:19) Paul allowed nothing to dampen his zeal. Let us be as zealous as he was as we declare the Kingdom message in this “day of good news.”
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Blessing did not permit personal interests to interfere with her full-time service
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The Seligers were mindful of how they used their time