“Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah.”—COL. 3:23.
1-3. (a) Did Jesus’ death on the torture stake mean that Jehovah no longer required any kind of sacrifice from us? Explain. (b) What question arises with regard to sacrifices today?
IN THE first century C.E., Jehovah revealed to his people that Jesus’ ransom sacrifice had abolished the Mosaic Law. (Col. 2:13, 14) All the sacrificial offerings that the Jews had been making for hundreds of years were no longer necessary and no longer had any value. The Law had fulfilled its function as a “tutor leading to Christ.”—Gal. 3:24.
2 That is not to say that Christians are no longer interested in sacrifices. On the contrary, the apostle Peter spoke of the need to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5) Moreover, the apostle Paul had made it clear that a dedicated Christian’s life—every aspect of it—may appropriately be considered “a sacrifice.”—Rom. 12:1.
3 So, then, a Christian makes sacrifices for Jehovah, either by offering up certain things to him or by giving up certain things for him. On the basis of what we know about the requirements that existed for the Israelites, how can we be sure that all our sacrifices today are acceptable to Jehovah?
IN EVERYDAY LIFE
4. What must we remember about everyday activities of life?
4 As we go about our everyday lives, it might seem difficult to relate our activities to making sacrifices for Jehovah. Housework, schoolwork, secular work, shopping, and the like might on the surface seem to have little to do with spiritual concerns. However, if you have dedicated your life to Jehovah or hope to do so in the near future, then the spirit with which you approach mundane activities is important. We are Christians 24 hours a day. Scriptural principles need to be applied in every aspect of our lives. Hence, Paul urged us: “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.”—Read Colossians 3:18-24.
5, 6. What considerations should affect our everyday dress and conduct?
5 A Christian’s day-to-day activities are not part of his sacred service. Yet, the fact that Paul urges us to work “whole-souled as to Jehovah” makes us think about our entire course of life. So how might we apply this to ourselves? Do we act and dress with proper decorum at all times? Or while engaging in day-to-day activities, might we be embarrassed to identify ourselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses, either because of the way we behave or because of the way we dress? Never may that be! Jehovah’s people would not want to do anything that might reflect badly on God’s name.—Isa. 43:10; 2 Cor. 6:3, 4, 9.
6 Let us examine how a desire to work “whole-souled as to Jehovah” affects a number of different areas of life. As we do so, bear in mind that all sacrifices that the Israelites presented to Jehovah had to be the very best they had.—Ex. 23:19.
HOW YOUR LIFE IS AFFECTED
7. What is involved in Christian dedication?
7 When you dedicated yourself to Jehovah, you made that decision without reservation, did you not? In effect, you said that in every aspect of your life, you would put Jehovah first. (Read Hebrews 10:7.) That was a good decision. Doubtless you have seen that when you seek Jehovah’s will in a matter and strive to work in harmony with it, the results are excellent. (Isa. 48:17, 18) God’s people are holy and joyful because they reflect the qualities of the One who instructs them.—Lev. 11:44; 1 Tim. 1:11.
8. Of what significance is it to us that Jehovah considered ancient sacrifices to be holy?
8 The sacrifices that the Israelites made to Jehovah were considered to be holy. (Lev. 6:25; 7:1) The Hebrew term translated “holiness” conveys the idea of separateness, exclusiveness, or sanctification to God. In order for our sacrifices to be acceptable to Jehovah, they must be separate from and uncontaminated by worldly influences. We cannot be loving any of the things that Jehovah hates. (Read 1 John 2:15-17.) Clearly, this means that we have to avoid any associations or involvements that would defile us from God’s point of view. (Isa. 2:4; Rev. 18:4) It also means that we cannot allow our eyes to keep looking at that which is unclean or immoral or let our minds fantasize about such things.—Col. 3:5, 6.
9. How important is a Christian’s conduct toward others, and why?
9 Paul urged fellow believers: “Do not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Heb. 13:16) So being good and doing good to others as a matter of course is something that Jehovah views as an acceptable sacrifice to him. Loving concern for others is a distinguishing mark of true Christians.—John 13:34, 35; Col. 1:10.
SACRIFICES IN WORSHIP
10, 11. How does Jehovah view our Christian ministry and worship, and what effect should this have on us?
10 One of the most obvious ways in which we as Christians do good things for others is through “the public declaration of our hope.” Do you seize every opportunity to give a witness? Paul called this essential Christian activity “a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to [God’s] name.” (Heb. 10:23; 13:15; Hos. 14:2) Much could be said about the quantity and quality of the time that we spend preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and many Service Meeting parts are designed to stimulate our thinking on this matter. Briefly stated, however, since our field service and informal witnessing activities are “a sacrifice of praise,” a part of our worship, that sacrifice should be of the very best that we can offer. While circumstances vary, the amount of time that we devote to announcing the good news often reflects our appreciation for spiritual things.
11 Christians regularly spend time in private or group worship. Jehovah requires us to do so. It is true that we no longer have to observe a strict Sabbath rest or make regular trips to festivals in Jerusalem. However, those ancient observances do have their counterparts in Christian life. God still expects us to desist from dead works and to study his Word, pray, and attend Christian meetings. And Christian family heads take the initiative in conducting family worship with the members of their own households. (1 Thess. 5:17; Heb. 10:24, 25) Regarding our spiritual activities, we do well to ask ourselves, ‘Could I improve the quality of my worship?’
12. (a) The offering of incense in ancient worship can be compared to what today? (b) How should this comparison affect the content of our prayers?
12 King David sang to Jehovah: “May my prayer be prepared as incense before you.” (Ps. 141:2) Think for a moment about your prayers—about their regularity and their quality. The book of Revelation likens “the prayers of the holy ones” to incense in that acceptable prayers rise to Jehovah like a sweet-smelling and pleasant odor. (Rev. 5:8) In ancient Israel, the incense that was regularly offered on Jehovah’s altar had to be carefully and precisely prepared. It was acceptable to Jehovah only if offered according to the guidelines that he had established. (Ex. 30:34-37; Lev. 10:1, 2) If our heartfelt prayers are similarly formulated, then we can be sure that they are acceptable to Jehovah.
GIVING AND RECEIVING
13, 14. (a) What service did Epaphroditus and the Philippian congregation perform for Paul, and how did the apostle feel about it? (b) How can we follow the example of Epaphroditus and the Philippians?
13 Financial contributions made to support the worldwide work can be likened to a sacrifice, whether we offer much or little. (Mark 12:41-44) In the first century C.E., the congregation in Philippi sent Epaphroditus to Rome in order to care for Paul’s physical needs. That envoy of the Philippians evidently carried with him a monetary gift from the congregation. This was not the first time that the Philippians had shown generosity to Paul. By their kindness they intended to free Paul of financial worries so that he could devote more time to the ministry. How did Paul view the gift? He called it “a sweet-smelling odor, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.” (Read Philippians 4:15-19.) Paul truly appreciated the Philippians’ kind gesture, and so did Jehovah.
14 Likewise today, Jehovah deeply appreciates our contributions to the worldwide work. Moreover, he promises that if we continue to put Kingdom interests first in our lives, he will take care of all our needs, spiritual and physical.—Matt. 6:33; Luke 6:38.
SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION
15. What are some of the things for which you are grateful to Jehovah?
15 It would take a long time to enumerate the many reasons we have for being grateful to Jehovah. Is it not true that we should thank him each day for the gift of life? He gives us all that we need to sustain ourselves—food, clothing, and shelter as well as every breath that we take. Moreover, our faith, based on accurate knowledge, gives us hope. It is appropriate that we worship Jehovah and offer sacrifices of praise to him, simply because of who he is and what he has done for us.—Read Revelation 4:11.
16. How should we respond to Christ’s ransom sacrifice?
16 As we have seen in the preceding article, an especially precious gift of God to mankind is Christ’s ransom sacrifice. This is an outstanding manifestation of God’s love for us. (1 John 4:10) What is the appropriate response to it? Paul declared: “The love the Christ has compels us, because this is what we have judged, that one man died for all; . . . and he died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.” (2 Cor. 5:14, 15) In effect, Paul was saying that if we appreciate God’s undeserved kindness, we will use our lives to honor Him and His Son. Our love and appreciation for God and Christ is expressed through our obedience and by our desire to preach and make disciples.—1 Tim. 2:3, 4; 1 John 5:3.
17, 18. In what ways have some increased their sacrifice of praise to Jehovah? Give an example.
17 Would it be possible for you to improve the sacrifice of praise that you offer to God? After reflecting on all the good that Jehovah has done for them, many have been moved to organize their time and activities to increase their participation in the Kingdom-preaching work or other theocratic activities. Some have been able to auxiliary pioneer for one or more months each year, while others have been able to enter the ranks of the regular pioneers. Still others have engaged in Kingdom construction projects. Are not these excellent ways to show one’s appreciation? If performed with the right motive—to show gratitude and give thanks—these acts of sacred service are acceptable to God.
18 Many Christians have felt a debt of gratitude to Jehovah and have been motivated by it. One such person is Morena. She searched for answers to her spiritual questions in Catholicism, the religion in which she was raised, and in Asian philosophy. But she found no satisfying answers in either. Only when she began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses was her spiritual thirst quenched. Morena was so grateful for the Scriptural answers to all her questions and for the stability that those answers gave to her life that she wanted to thank Jehovah by using all her energies in his service. She began auxiliary pioneering on a regular basis immediately after her baptism, and as soon as her circumstances allowed for it, she became a regular pioneer. That was 30 years ago, and Morena is still in full-time service.
19. How might it be possible for you to increase your sacrifices to Jehovah?
19 Of course, there are many faithful servants of Jehovah whose circumstances do not allow them to serve as pioneers. Whatever we can do in Jehovah’s service, all of us can offer acceptable spiritual sacrifices to him. In our conduct, we need to observe righteous principles carefully, mindful that we represent Jehovah at all times. In faith, we put full trust in the outworking of God’s purposes. In fine works, we help spread the good news. Out of our heart’s abundance and out of appreciation for all that Jehovah has done for us, let us continue to make whole-souled sacrifices for Jehovah.
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Does Jehovah’s goodness motivate you to improve your sacrifice of praise?
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Do you seize every opportunity to give a witness?