Follow Jesus Continually
1 On one occasion Jesus said: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and continually follow me.” (Matt. 16:24) We certainly want to respond positively to Jesus’ words. Let us examine what is involved with each phrase of his invitation.
2 “Let Him Disown Himself”: When we dedicate our lives to Jehovah, we disown ourselves. The basic meaning of the Greek word translated “disown” is “to say no.” That means we voluntarily surrender our own ambitions, desires, comforts, and selfish pleasures—being determined to please Jehovah throughout all eternity.—Rom. 14:8; 15:3.
3 “Pick Up His Torture Stake”: The Christian’s life is a life of carrying the torture stake of sacrificial service to Jehovah. One way the spirit of self-sacrifice may be reflected is by exerting oneself in the ministry. So far this year, many publishers have been enjoying the auxiliary pioneer work. Perhaps you are among them and can affirm that the blessings you derive more than compensate for the sacrifices you make. Those who are unable to serve as auxiliary pioneers have frequently arranged to spend more time in the preaching work as congregation publishers. To that end, some congregations are scheduling their meetings for field service a few minutes earlier than they once did. With the arrival of spring, many publishers appreciate having this longer period for field service. Some have had excellent results too when they decided to call on ‘just one more house’ or to work ‘only a few minutes longer.’
4 Another way the spirit of self-sacrifice is displayed is by the setting of personal goals. With careful planning and by adjusting their schedule, some have become regular pioneers. Others have been able to arrange their affairs so as to make themselves available for Bethel or missionary service. Some have moved to an area where there is a greater need for Kingdom publishers.
5 “Continually Follow Me”: Although Jesus’ disciples experienced many trials, they were encouraged by his zeal and endurance in the ministry. (John 4:34) They felt renewed in their spirit by his presence and his message. That is why those who followed him radiated genuine joy. (Matt. 11:29) Let us likewise encourage one another to endure in the all-important work of Kingdom preaching and disciple making.
6 May we all react positively to Jesus’ invitation to follow him continually by cultivating the spirit of self-sacrifice. As we do, we will have great joy now and can look forward to even greater blessings in the future.