Why Put Jehovah’s Service First?
“My own mouth will recount your righteousness, all day long your salvation.”—PS. 71:15.
HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER?
What factors determined the life course of Noah, Moses, Jeremiah, and Paul?
What evaluation on your part will determine how you use your life?
Why are you determined to put Jehovah’s service first?
1, 2. (a) What is indicated by a person’s dedicating himself to Jehovah? (b) How can we profit by considering the choices made by Noah, Moses, Jeremiah, and Paul?
WHEN you become a dedicated and baptized follower of Jesus, you take a very serious step. Your dedication to God is the most serious decision that you as an individual can make. It is as if you are saying: ‘Jehovah, I want you to be my Master in every aspect of my life. I am your servant. I want you to determine how I should spend my time, what my priorities should be, and how I should use my resources and talents.’
2 If you are a dedicated Christian, this is basically what you promised Jehovah. You are to be commended for your decision; it was the right and wise thing to do. What, though, does your recognizing Jehovah as your Master imply as to the way you use your time? The examples of Noah, Moses, Jeremiah, and the apostle Paul can help us to examine that question. Each of them was a whole-souled servant of Jehovah. Our situation is similar to theirs. The decisions they made with regard to their principal pursuits can encourage us to examine how we are using our time.—Matt. 28:19, 20; 2 Tim. 3:1.
BEFORE THE FLOOD
3. How are our days similar to those of Noah?
3 Jesus drew a parallel between Noah’s time and ours. “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be,” he said. They were “eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away.” (Matt. 24:37-39) Most of mankind today go about their lives heedless of the urgency of our times. They take no note of the warnings that God’s servants proclaim. Many even deride the idea of God’s intervening in human affairs—as people did in Noah’s day. (2 Pet. 3:3-7) Yet, in that hostile environment, how did Noah use his time?
4. How did Noah use his time after receiving his commission from Jehovah, and why?
4 After being informed of God’s intentions and receiving his commission, Noah built an ark to preserve men and animals alive. (Gen. 6:13, 14, 22) Noah also proclaimed Jehovah’s impending judgment. The apostle Peter calls him “a preacher of righteousness,” indicating that Noah strove to help his neighbors appreciate the gravity of their situation. (Read 2 Peter 2:5.) Do you think that it would have been reasonable for Noah and his family to focus their efforts on developing a business, getting ahead among their contemporaries, or establishing a comfortable lifestyle? Of course not! Knowing what lay ahead, they avoided such distractions.
THE CHOICES OF AN EGYPTIAN PRINCE
5, 6. (a) The education Moses received was likely meant to prepare him for what? (b) Why did Moses shun the possibilities offered to him in Egypt?
5 Next, let us look at the example of Moses. He was raised in an Egyptian palace as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. As a young prince, he was educated “in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” (Acts 7:22; Ex. 2:9, 10) This education was likely intended to prepare him for a career in Pharaoh’s court. He could have become prominent in the most powerful government of the day, having the luxuries, privileges, and pleasures that such a position would afford him. But was enjoyment of these things Moses’ objective?
6 Because of the training that he received from his real parents early in life, Moses likely knew what Jehovah had promised his ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses exercised faith in those promises. He must have thought carefully about his future and his loyalty to Jehovah. So when the time came to choose between being an Egyptian prince or an Israelite slave, what did he decide? Moses chose “to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin.” (Read Hebrews 11:24-26.) Later, he followed Jehovah’s guidance regarding how he should use his life. (Ex. 3:2, 6-10) Why did Moses do that? Because he believed God’s promises. He concluded that there was no future for him in Egypt. Indeed, that nation was soon thereafter crushed by ten plagues from God. Do you see the lesson in this for those dedicated to Jehovah today? Rather than focusing on a career or any pleasures of this system of things, our focus must be on Jehovah and his service.
JEREMIAH KNEW WHAT WAS COMING
7. How was Jeremiah’s situation similar to ours?
7 Another man who put Jehovah’s service first was the prophet Jeremiah. Jehovah commissioned Jeremiah as his prophet to preach a message of judgment on apostate Jerusalem and Judah. In a sense, Jeremiah lived “in the final part of the days.” (Jer. 23:19, 20) He knew perfectly well that the system in which he lived would not continue as it was.
8, 9. (a) Why did Baruch’s thinking need to be corrected? (b) What should we have in mind when making plans?
8 What was the logical consequence of Jeremiah’s convictions? He did not try to build a future in that doomed system. What sense would there be in doing so? However, for a time Jeremiah’s secretary, Baruch, did not see things clearly. So God inspired Jeremiah to tell his secretary: “Look! What I have built up I am tearing down, and what I have planted I am uprooting, even all the land itself. But as for you, you keep seeking great things for yourself. Do not keep on seeking. For here I am bringing in a calamity upon all flesh, . . . and I will give you your soul as a spoil in all the places to which you may go.”—Jer. 45:4, 5.
9 We cannot be sure what “great things” Baruch was seeking for himself.a We do know, though, that they were things with no future, things that would end when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. Do you see in that a lesson for us? Obtaining life’s necessities requires that we make some plans for the future. (Prov. 6:6-11) But how wise would it be to invest a lot of time and energy in pursuits that are not of lasting value? Granted, Jehovah’s organization continues to plan for new Kingdom Halls, branch facilities, and other theocratic projects. These endeavors, however, do have a future because their objective is that of promoting Kingdom interests. It would be appropriate for all of Jehovah’s dedicated people to set similar priorities when they make plans. Are you convinced in your heart that you are “seeking first the kingdom and [Jehovah’s] righteousness”?—Matt. 6:33.
“I CONSIDER THEM AS A LOT OF REFUSE”
10, 11. (a) On what had Paul centered his efforts prior to becoming a Christian? (b) Why did Paul’s objective change completely?
10 Finally, let us consider the example of Paul. Before his conversion to Christianity, he had what seemed to be a promising future. He had studied Jewish law with one of the most famous teachers of his day. He had received authority from the Jewish high priest. And he was making greater progress in Judaism than were many of his contemporaries. (Acts 9:1, 2; 22:3; 26:10; Gal. 1:13, 14) Yet, all of that changed when Paul realized that Jehovah was no longer blessing the Jews as a nation.
11 Paul recognized that a career in the Jewish system had no value from Jehovah’s point of view; it had no future. (Matt. 24:2) This former Pharisee went so far as to say that compared with his new, enlightened understanding of God’s purposes and the privilege of the Christian ministry, what he once thought was important he now considered to be “a lot of refuse.” Paul abandoned his pursuits in Judaism and dedicated the rest of his days on earth to preaching the good news.—Read Philippians 3:4-8, 15; Acts 9:15.
EXAMINE YOUR PRIORITIES
12. What did Jesus focus on after his baptism?
12 Noah, Moses, Jeremiah, Paul, and many others like them spent the majority of their time and energy in theocratic pursuits. They are good examples for us. Of course, the greatest of all of Jehovah’s dedicated servants is Jesus. (1 Pet. 2:21) After being baptized, Jesus devoted the rest of his life on earth to preaching the good news and honoring Jehovah. The obvious conclusion for a Christian who recognizes Jehovah as his Master is that serving Him should have priority in his life. Is it yours? And how can the pursuit of theocratic goals be reconciled with necessary secular activities?—Read Psalm 71:15; 145:2.
13, 14. (a) All dedicated Christians are encouraged to consider what? (b) What satisfaction can God’s people enjoy?
13 Over the years, Jehovah’s organization has repeatedly encouraged Christians to consider prayerfully whether they could pioneer. For various reasons, the circumstances of some faithful servants of Jehovah do not allow them to devote themselves to the preaching work an average of 70 hours per month. They should not feel bad about this. (1 Tim. 5:8) But what about you? Is pioneering really beyond your reach?
14 Reflect back on the joy that so many of God’s people had during the Memorial season this year. During March, a special provision allowed auxiliary pioneers to choose whether they would devote 30 or 50 hours to the field service. (Ps. 110:3) Millions shared in auxiliary pioneer service, and congregations seemed to radiate exceptional excitement and joy. Could you arrange your affairs so as to experience similar joy more often? At the end of each day, it gives a dedicated Christian great satisfaction to be able to say, “Jehovah, I did everything I could in your service.”
15. What should be a young Christian’s objective as regards secular education?
15 If you are approaching the end of the schooling required of you, you may find yourself in good health and with few responsibilities. Have you seriously considered entering the regular pioneer ranks? No doubt, school counselors sincerely believe that it is in your best interests to pursue higher education and to plan for a secular career. Yet, their confidence lies in a social and financial system that has no lasting future. On the other hand, by pursuing a theocratic career, you will be pursuing truly worthwhile and lasting goals. And you will be following Jesus’ perfect example. Such a wise decision will make you happy. It will protect you. And it will show that you are determined to live up to your dedication to Jehovah.—Matt. 6:19-21; 1 Tim. 6:9-12.
16, 17. What questions arise concerning secular employment and other pursuits?
16 Many of God’s servants today work long hours to care for the basic necessities of their families. Yet, some may be working more hours than necessary. (1 Tim. 6:8) The commercial world is doing its utmost to convince us that we cannot live without its many products and every new model that comes on the market. But true Christians do not want Satan’s world to dictate their priorities. (1 John 2:15-17) As for those who have retired from secular employment, what better way to use their time than in the pioneer ministry, putting Jehovah’s service first?
17 All dedicated servants of Jehovah can ask themselves: What is my primary objective in life? Am I putting Kingdom interests first? Do I imitate Jesus’ self-sacrificing attitude? Am I heeding Jesus’ advice to follow him continually? Could I adjust my schedule in order to devote more time to the Kingdom-preaching work or to other theocratic pursuits? Even if my circumstances do not at the moment allow me to expand my service, am I continuing to cultivate a self-sacrificing spirit?
“TO WILL AND TO ACT”
18, 19. About what might you pray, and why would such a request be pleasing to Jehovah?
18 The zeal of God’s people is a joy to behold. However, some may not feel particularly inclined to pioneer or qualified to do so—even if their circumstances would allow it. (Ex. 4:10; Jer. 1:6) Then what? Might this not be a suitable subject for prayer? Certainly. Paul told fellow believers that Jehovah, “for the sake of his good pleasure, is acting within you in order for you both to will and to act.” (Phil. 2:13) If you do not feel motivated to expand your ministry, ask Jehovah to give you both the desire and the ability to do so.—2 Pet. 3:9, 11.
19 Noah, Moses, Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus were all devoted men. They used their time and energy to proclaim Jehovah’s warning message. They did not allow themselves to be distracted. The end of the present system of things is imminent; hence, all of us who have dedicated our lives to God need to be sure that we are continuing to do our utmost in following these excellent Scriptural examples. (Matt. 24:42; 2 Tim. 2:15) By doing so, we can please Jehovah and reap his rich blessings.—Read Malachi 3:10.
[Picture on page 21]
People gave no heed to Noah’s warning
[Picture on page 24]
Have you seriously considered entering the regular pioneer ranks?