The Excelling Value of Divine Education
“I do indeed also consider all things to be loss on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.”—PHIL. 3:8.
1, 2. What choice have some Christians made, and why?
FROM an early age, Robert excelled in school. When he was just eight years old, one of his teachers paid a special visit to his home and told him that there was no limit to what he might accomplish. She expressed the hope that he would one day become a medical doctor. His academic achievements as a high-school student qualified him to attend any of the best universities in his country. But Robert chose to forgo what many viewed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in order to pursue his goal of serving as a regular pioneer.
2 Like Robert, many Christians—young and old—have opportunities for advancement in the present system of things. Some choose not to make full use of those opportunities so that they can pursue spiritual goals. (1 Cor. 7:29-31) What motivates Christians like Robert to expend themselves in the preaching work? In addition to their love for Jehovah, which is the foremost reason, they appreciate the excelling value of divine education. Have you considered lately what your life might be like if you had not come to a knowledge of the truth? Reflecting on some of the outstanding blessings we enjoy as a result of being taught by Jehovah will help us to maintain our appreciation for the good news and to be zealous in sharing it with others.
Privileged to Be Taught by God
3. Why can we be sure that Jehovah is willing to teach imperfect humans?
3 In his goodness, Jehovah is willing to teach imperfect humans. Speaking prophetically of anointed Christians, Isaiah 54:13 says: “All your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” Those words apply in principle to Christ’s “other sheep” as well. (John 10:16) This is clear from a prophecy that is being fulfilled in our day. Isaiah saw in vision people from all the nations streaming to true worship. He describes them as saying to one another: “Let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isa. 2:1-3) What a privilege it is to be taught by God!
4. What does Jehovah require of those whom he teaches?
4 How can we qualify to benefit from divine education? A major requirement is that a person be meek and teachable. The psalmist David wrote: “Good and upright is Jehovah. . . . He will teach the meek ones his way.” (Ps. 25:8, 9) And Jesus said: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have carefully hidden these things from wise and intellectual ones, and have revealed them to babes.” (Luke 10:21) Do you not feel drawn to a God who “gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones”?—1 Pet. 5:5.
5. How only has it been possible for us to come to a knowledge of God?
5 As servants of Jehovah, can we credit ourselves with having the good sense to find the truth? No. In fact, on our own initiative, we would never have come to a knowledge of God. Jesus said: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” (John 6:44) By means of the preaching work and by means of holy spirit, Jehovah is drawing sheeplike individuals, “the desirable things of all the nations.” (Hag. 2:7) Are you not grateful to be one of those whom Jehovah has drawn to his Son?—Read Jeremiah 9:23, 24.
The Power to Improve Lives
6. What remarkable effect can taking in “the knowledge of Jehovah” have on people?
6 Using a beautiful word picture, Isaiah’s prophecy depicts the transformation of human personalities that is taking place in our time. Formerly violent people have become peaceable. (Read Isaiah 11:6-9.) Those who were once at enmity with one another because of differences in race, nationality, tribe, or some other cultural background have learned to dwell together in unity. Figuratively speaking, they have ‘beaten their swords into plowshares.’ (Isa. 2:4) What accounts for these remarkable changes? People have taken in “the knowledge of Jehovah” and have applied it in their lives. Although God’s servants are imperfect, they form a true international brotherhood. The universal appeal of the good news and the fine fruitage it produces testify to the excelling value of divine education.—Matt. 11:19.
7, 8. (a) What are some of the “strongly entrenched things” that divine education helps people to overturn? (b) What shows that divine education brings praise to Jehovah?
7 The apostle Paul likened the ministry of God’s servants to spiritual warfare. He wrote: “The weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” (2 Cor. 10:4, 5) What are some of the “strongly entrenched things” from which divine education frees people? The burden of false teachings, superstitions, and human philosophies, to mention just a few. (Col. 2:8) Divine education helps people to overcome bad practices and to cultivate godly qualities. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) It improves family life. And it gives those without hope a real purpose in life. This is the kind of education that is needed today.
8 One of the qualities that Jehovah helps people to develop is honesty, as the following experience shows. (Heb. 13:18) A woman in India accepted a Bible study and in time qualified as an unbaptized publisher. One day while returning home from working on a Kingdom Hall construction project, she found on the ground near a bus station a gold chain worth eight hundred dollars (U.S.). Although of humble means, she took the chain to the police station and turned it in. The police officer there could not believe his eyes! Later, another officer asked her, “Why did you choose to turn in the chain?” She explained, “Bible teaching has transformed me, so I am an honest person now.” Impressed, he said to the Christian elder who accompanied her to the station: “There are over 38 million people in this state. If you can help ten people to become like this woman, it would be a great achievement.” When we consider the millions of lives that have been improved by divine education, do we not have abundant reasons to praise Jehovah?
9. How is it possible for people to make profound changes in their lives?
9 The transforming power of God’s Word, along with the help that Jehovah provides by means of his holy spirit, enables people to make profound changes in their lives. (Rom. 12:2; Gal. 5:22, 23) Colossians 3:10 says: “Clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.” The message found in God’s Word, the Bible, has the power to reveal what a person really is on the inside, and it can change the way he thinks and even how he feels about things. (Read Hebrews 4:12.) By coming to an accurate knowledge of the Scriptures and by conforming his life to Jehovah’s righteous standards, a person can become a friend of God, with the prospect of living forever.
Preparation for the Future
10. (a) Why is Jehovah in a unique position to prepare us for the future? (b) What dramatic changes will soon affect the entire earth?
10 Jehovah is in a unique position to help us prepare for the future because he knows what lies ahead. He determines what mankind’s future will be. (Isa. 46:9, 10) Bible prophecy reveals that “the great day of Jehovah is near.” (Zeph. 1:14) Regarding that day, the words of Proverbs 11:4 will prove true: “Valuable things will be of no benefit on the day of fury, but righteousness itself will deliver from death.” When the time arrives for Jehovah’s judgment to be executed on Satan’s world, what will matter is our standing with God. Money will be worthless. In fact, Ezekiel 7:19 says: “Into the streets they will throw their very silver, and an abhorrent thing their own gold will become.” That foreknowledge can help us to act wisely now.
11. What is one way that divine education helps us to prepare for the future?
11 One distinct way that divine education prepares us for the coming of Jehovah’s day is by helping us to set proper priorities. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God.” Even if we are not affluent, we can benefit from this divinely inspired counsel. What does it involve? Instead of storing up material riches, we should strive “to work at good” and “to be rich in fine works.” By putting spiritual matters first in our lives, we ‘treasure up for ourselves a fine foundation for the future.’ (1 Tim. 6:17-19) Such a course of self-sacrifice reflects practical wisdom, for as Jesus said, “what benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26, 27) In view of the nearness of Jehovah’s day, each of us does well to consider: ‘Where am I storing up treasure? Am I slaving for God or for Riches?’—Matt. 6:19, 20, 24.
12. Why should we not be deterred if some look down on our ministry?
12 Foremost among the “fine works” outlined in God’s Word for Christians is the lifesaving work of Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) As was the case in the first century, some may look down on our ministry. (Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-21.) But that does not change the value of our message, and it does not lessen the importance of giving everyone the opportunity to put faith in it while there is yet time. (Rom. 10:13, 14) As we help others to benefit from divine education, we put ourselves in line to receive many blessings.
Blessed for Making Sacrifices
13. What sacrifices did the apostle Paul make for the good news?
13 Prior to his becoming a Christian, the apostle Paul was being groomed for success in the Jewish system of things. When he was likely no more than 13 years old, he moved from his native city of Tarsus to Jerusalem to study under the highly esteemed Law teacher Gamaliel. (Acts 22:3) In time, Paul began to stand out among his contemporaries, and had he continued in that course, he might have risen to prominence in Judaism. (Gal. 1:13, 14) When he accepted the good news and took up the preaching work, he left all of that behind. Did Paul regret the choice he had made? No. In fact, he wrote: “I do indeed also consider all things to be loss on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. On account of him I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse.”—Phil. 3:8.
14, 15. We experience what blessings as “God’s fellow workers”?
14 Like Paul, Christians today make sacrifices for the sake of the good news. (Mark 10:29, 30) Do we miss out because of doing so? Robert, mentioned at the outset, speaks for many when he says: “I have no regrets whatsoever. The full-time ministry has brought me joy and satisfaction, and it has allowed me to ‘taste and see that Jehovah is good.’ Whenever I made material sacrifices in order to pursue spiritual goals, Jehovah always blessed me with more than what I had sacrificed. It is as if I did not really sacrifice anything. I have only gained!”—Ps. 34:8; Prov. 10:22.
15 If you have been sharing in the preaching and teaching work for some time now, you too have no doubt had opportunities to taste and see that Jehovah is good. Have there been times when you sensed the help of his spirit as you were presenting the good news? Have you seen others’ eyes light up as Jehovah opened their heart to pay attention to the message? (Acts 16:14) Has Jehovah helped you to overcome obstacles, perhaps opening the way for you to expand your ministry? Has he supported you in times of difficulty, enabling you to continue serving him when you felt that your strength was giving out? (Phil. 4:13) When we personally experience Jehovah’s helping hand as we carry out our ministry, he becomes more real to us and we feel even closer to him. (Isa. 41:10) Is it not a blessing to be one of “God’s fellow workers” in the grand work of divine education?—1 Cor. 3:9.
16. How do you feel about the efforts and sacrifices you make in connection with divine education?
16 Many people hope to accomplish something of lasting significance during their lifetime. We have seen that even outstanding achievements in today’s world are often soon forgotten. However, the modern-day works that Jehovah is accomplishing in connection with the sanctification of his name will no doubt be preserved in a permanent record as part of theocratic history. They will be remembered forever. (Prov. 10:7; Heb. 6:10) May we cherish our privilege of sharing in the history-making work of divine education.
How Would You Answer?
• What does Jehovah require of those whom he teaches?
• How does divine education improve people’s lives?
• In what ways are we blessed for helping others to benefit from divine education?
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Those taught by Jehovah form a true international brotherhood
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Is it not a blessing to be one of “God’s fellow workers”?