Treasure Your Place in the Congregation
“God has set the members in the body, each one of them, just as he pleased.”—1 COR. 12:18.
1, 2. (a) What shows that everyone in the congregation can have a place he can cherish? (b) What questions will be considered in this article?
SINCE the days of ancient Israel, the congregation has been Jehovah’s arrangement for nourishing his people spiritually and giving them direction. After the Israelites overthrew the city of Ai, for example, Joshua “read aloud all the words of the law, the blessing and the malediction, according to all that is written in the book of the law . . . in front of all the congregation of Israel.”—Josh. 8:34, 35.
2 In the first century C.E., the apostle Paul told the Christian elder Timothy that the Christian congregation was “God’s household” and “a pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15) God’s “household” today is the worldwide brotherhood of true Christians. In chapter 12 of his first inspired letter to the Corinthians, Paul likens the congregation to a human body. He says that even though each member serves a different function, all are necessary. “God has set the members in the body,” writes Paul, “each one of them, just as he pleased.” He even points out that “the parts of the body which we think to be less honorable, these we surround with more abundant honor.” (1 Cor. 12:18, 23) Hence, the role of one upright person in God’s household is neither better nor worse than that of another faithful Christian. It is simply different. How, then, can we find our place within God’s arrangement and treasure, or cherish, it? What factors may affect the place that we occupy? And how can we make ‘our advancement manifest to all persons’?—1 Tim. 4:15.
Cherish Our Place—How?
3. What is one way to find our place in the congregation and show that we treasure it?
3 One way to find our place in the congregation and give evidence that we treasure it is to cooperate fully with “the faithful and discreet slave” and its representative Governing Body. (Read Matthew 24:45-47.) We need to examine our response to the direction we receive from the slave class. Over the years, for example, we have received pointed direction on dress and grooming, entertainment, and improper use of the Internet. Do we carefully heed this good counsel so that we are spiritually protected? What about the admonition to establish a regular routine of family worship? Have we taken the advice to heart and set aside an evening for that purpose? If we are single, are we making time for personal study of the Scriptures? Jehovah will bless us individually and as families if we follow the guidance of the slave class.
4. What should we take into consideration when making personal choices?
4 Some might reason that areas such as entertainment and dress and grooming are personal matters. For the dedicated Christian who cherishes his place in the congregation, though, personal preferences should not be the sole determining factor when making decisions. Consideration must especially be given to Jehovah’s viewpoint as revealed through his Word, the Bible. Its message should prove to be ‘a lamp to our foot, and a light to our roadway.’ (Ps. 119:105) We are wise also to consider how the choices we make in personal matters affect our ministry and other people, both inside and outside the congregation.—Read 2 Corinthians 6:3, 4.
5. Why should we guard against the spirit of independence?
5 “The spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience” is so widespread that it is like the air we breathe. (Eph. 2:2) That spirit can cause us to think that we do not need guidance from Jehovah’s organization. Surely we do not want to be like Diotrephes, who would not ‘receive anything from the apostle John with respect.’ (3 John 9, 10) We need to guard against developing a spirit of independence. By word or action, may we never challenge the channel of communication that Jehovah is using today. (Num. 16:1-3) On the contrary, we should cherish our privilege to cooperate with the slave class. And should we not strive to be obedient and submissive to those taking the lead in our local congregation?—Read Hebrews 13:7, 17.
6. Why should we examine our personal circumstances?
6 Another way to show that we cherish our place in the congregation is by closely examining our personal circumstances and doing all we can to ‘glorify our ministry’ and bring honor to Jehovah. (Rom. 11:13) Some are able to be regular pioneers. Others serve in such special forms of full-time service as missionaries, traveling overseers, and members of Bethel families throughout the world. Many brothers and sisters assist with Kingdom Hall construction. The great majority of Jehovah’s people are doing their best to care for the spiritual needs of their families and have a full share in the ministry each week. (Read Colossians 3:23, 24.) We can be confident that when we offer ourselves willingly in God’s service and do our best to serve him whole-souled, there is always a place for us in his arrangement.
Factors That Make a Difference
7. Explain how our circumstances can affect the place we occupy in the congregation.
7 It is important to scrutinize our circumstances because, to some extent, our place in the congregation depends on what we are able to do or are in a position to do. For example, the place a brother occupies in the congregation differs in some respects from that of a sister. Age, health, and other factors also influence what we are able to do in Jehovah’s service. “The beauty of young men is their power,” states Proverbs 20:29, “and the splendor of old men is their gray-headedness.” Younger members of the congregation may be able to do more physically because of their youthful energy, whereas older ones benefit the congregation greatly because of their wisdom and experience. We also need to bear in mind that anything we are able to do in Jehovah’s organization depends on God’s undeserved kindness.—Acts 14:26; Rom. 12:6-8.
8. What bearing does desire have on what we do in the congregation?
8 An illustration of two young fleshly sisters highlights another factor that comes into play in determining the place we will occupy in the congregation. Both graduate from high school. They have the same circumstances. Their parents have done their best to encourage both of them to reach out for the regular pioneer service after graduation. After graduating, one enters the pioneer service, whereas the other begins working secularly full-time. What made the difference? It was desire. In the end, each did what she wanted to do. Is that not true with most of us? We need to think seriously about what we would like to do in God’s service. Can we increase the share we are having in it, even if that means adjusting our circumstances?—2 Cor. 9:7.
9, 10. What should we do if we lack the motivation to do more in Jehovah’s service?
9 What if we simply lack motivation to do more in Jehovah’s service and are inclined to coast along in the congregation? In his letter to the Philippians, Paul states: “God is the one that, for the sake of his good pleasure, is acting within you in order for you both to will and to act.” Yes, Jehovah can act within us and affect our will, or desires.—Phil. 2:13; 4:13.
10 Should we not, then, ask Jehovah to make us want to do his will? King David of ancient Israel did just that. He prayed: “Make me know your own ways, O Jehovah; teach me your own paths. Make me walk in your truth and teach me, for you are my God of salvation. In you I have hoped all day long.” (Ps. 25:4, 5) We can do the same by praying that Jehovah will make us want to do what pleases him. When we reflect upon how Jehovah God and his Son feel about what we do in serving their interests, our hearts are filled with appreciation for them. (Matt. 26:6-10; Luke 21:1-4) That feeling of gratitude can move us to beg Jehovah to make us want to make spiritual advancement. The prophet Isaiah has provided an example of the attitude that we should cultivate. When he heard the voice of Jehovah ask: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” the prophet responded: “Here I am! Send me.”—Isa. 6:8.
11. (a) What need is there for brothers to reach out for responsibilities in the organization? (b) How can a brother reach out for service privileges?
11 With 289,678 individuals baptized worldwide during the 2008 service year, there is clearly a great need for brothers to take the lead. How should a brother respond to this need? Simply put, by striving to meet the qualifications for ministerial servants and elders set out in the Scriptures. (1 Tim. 3:1-10, 12, 13; Titus 1:5-9) How can a brother strive to meet such Scriptural requirements? By having an active share in the ministry, by diligently caring for his congregation assignments, by working hard to improve the quality of his comments at Christian meetings, and by taking a personal interest in fellow believers. He thus shows that he treasures his place in the congregation.
12. How can youths demonstrate their zeal for the truth?
12 What can young brothers, especially those in their teens, do to make advancement in the congregation? They can put forth effort to grow in “wisdom and spiritual comprehension” by taking in knowledge of the Scriptures. (Col. 1:9) Being diligent students of God’s Word and having an active share in congregation meetings will certainly contribute to that end. Young men can also reach out by working to qualify to enter the “large door that leads to activity” in various features of full-time service. (1 Cor. 16:9) Pursuing a career in Jehovah’s service is a truly satisfying way of life and a course that results in rich blessings.—Read Ecclesiastes 12:1.
13, 14. In what ways can sisters demonstrate that they cherish their role in the congregation?
13 Sisters too can demonstrate that they treasure their privilege of personally participating in the fulfillment of Psalm 68:11. There we read: “Jehovah himself gives the saying; the women telling the good news are a large army.” One of the most notable ways by which sisters can show their gratitude for their place in the congregation is by participating in the disciple-making work. (Matt. 28:19, 20) Hence, by having a full share in the ministry and by willingly making sacrifices for that work, sisters prove that they treasure their role in the congregation.
14 In writing to Titus, Paul stated: “Let the aged women be reverent in behavior, . . . teachers of what is good; that they may recall the young women to their senses to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sound in mind, chaste, workers at home, good, subjecting themselves to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be spoken of abusively.” (Titus 2:3-5) What a force for good the mature sisters in the congregation can be! By respecting the brothers who take the lead and by making wise decisions in such areas of life as dress and grooming and entertainment, they set a fine example for others and show a high regard for their own place in the congregation.
15. What might a single sister do to cope with loneliness?
15 At times, it may be difficult for an unmarried sister to find her place in the congregation. One sister who has experienced this stated: “A life of singleness can occasionally be a lonely one.” When asked how she copes with the situation, she said: “Prayer and study help me to find my place again. I study about how Jehovah views me. Then I reach out to try to be helpful to others in the congregation. This helps me to get my mind off myself.” According to Psalm 32:8, Jehovah told David: “I will give advice with my eye upon you.” Yes, Jehovah takes a personal interest in all of his servants, including single sisters, and he will help all to find their place in the congregation.
Keep Your Place!
16, 17. (a) Why is accepting Jehovah’s invitation to be part of his organization the best decision we can make? (b) How can we keep our place in Jehovah’s organization?
16 Jehovah has lovingly drawn each of his servants into a relationship with him. Jesus said: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” (John 6:44) Out of all the billions of people on the earth, Jehovah has extended a personal invitation to us to be a part of his congregation today. Accepting this invitation was the best decision we ever made. It has given our life purpose and meaning. And what joy and satisfaction we experience because we have a place in the congregation!
17 “Jehovah, I have loved the dwelling of your house,” said the psalmist. He also sang: “My own foot will certainly stand on a level place; among the congregated throngs I shall bless Jehovah.” (Ps. 26:8, 12) The true God has a place for each of us in his organization. By continuing to follow theocratic direction and by staying busy in God’s service, we can keep our precious place in Jehovah’s arrangement.
Do You Recall?
• Why is it reasonable to conclude that all Christians have a place in the congregation?
• How do we show that we cherish our place in God’s organization?
• What factors can affect our place in the congregation?
• How can Christian youths and adults demonstrate that they treasure their place in God’s arrangement?
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How can brothers reach out for privileges in the congregation?
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How can sisters demonstrate that they treasure their place in the congregation?