“Let each one examine his own actions.”—GAL. 6:4.
SONG 37 Serving Jehovah Whole-Souled
1. What gives us a deep sense of joy?
JEHOVAH wants us to be happy. We know this because joy is an aspect of the fruitage of his holy spirit. (Gal. 5:22) Since there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving, we feel a deep sense of joy when we are fully engaged in the Christian ministry and are helping our brothers in various ways.—Acts 20:35.
2-3. (a) As indicated at Galatians 6:4, what two factors will help us remain joyful in Jehovah’s service? (b) What will we consider in this article?
2 As recorded at Galatians 6:4, the apostle Paul mentions two factors that will help us remain joyful. (Read.) First, our goal should be to give Jehovah our best. If we are giving him our very best, we should be happy. (Matt. 22:36-38) Second, we should avoid comparing ourselves with others. Whatever our health, training, or natural ability enables us to accomplish, we should be grateful to Jehovah. After all, we have received everything we have from him. On the other hand, if others are more effective in some aspect of the ministry than we are, we should rejoice that they are using their talents to praise Jehovah, not to promote themselves or to further their own interests. So rather than compete with them, we should learn from them.
3 In this article, we will see how we can cope when we feel limited in what we can do in our service. We will also consider how we can best use any gifts we may have and what we can learn from the examples of others.
WHEN WE FEEL LIMITED
4. What situation can lead to discouragement? Give an example.
4 Some of Jehovah’s servants have a hard time adjusting to the limitations brought on by advancing age or poor health. That was the case with Carol. She once had the privilege of serving where the need was greater. During that time, she conducted 35 Bible studies and helped several progress to dedication and baptism. Carol had a productive ministry! Then her health failed, and she became confined mostly to her home. “I know that because of my physical limitations, I am unable to do what others can do,” Carol says, “but I feel that I am not as faithful as they are. This is a battle between desire and reality, and it is very hard to endure.” Carol wants to do all she can for Jehovah. Indeed, that is very commendable! We can be sure that our compassionate God appreciates her fine spirit.
5. (a) What should we remember if our limitations discourage us? (b) As seen in the pictures, how has the brother consistently given his best in Jehovah’s service?
5 If you are sometimes discouraged by a limitation, ask yourself, ‘What does Jehovah require of me?’ Your best—whatever that may be right now. Consider this scenario: A sister in her 80’s feels discouraged because she cannot do as much in the ministry as she did when she was in her 40’s. She thinks that even though she is giving her best, it is not pleasing to Jehovah. But is that really the case? Think about it. If this sister gave her best in her 40’s and she is still giving her best in her 80’s, she has never stopped giving her best. If we begin to feel that our service is somehow not enough to please Jehovah, we need to remind ourselves that Jehovah is the one who sets the standard for what pleases him. If we do our best, Jehovah will in effect say to us: “Well done!”—Compare Matthew 25:20-23.
6. What can we learn from Maria’s example?
6 We will find it easier to be joyful if we focus on what we can accomplish instead of on what we cannot do. Consider a sister named Maria, who suffers from a disease that limits how much she can do in the ministry. At first, she was depressed and felt useless. But then she took note of a sister in the congregation who was bedridden, and Maria decided to help. “I made arrangements to preach with her by telephone and by letter,” says Maria. “Every time we worked together, I came home feeling happy and satisfied that I had been able to help my sister.” We too can increase our joy when we focus on what we can do rather than on what we cannot do. But what if we can do more or we do especially well in some areas of Jehovah’s service?
IF YOU HAVE A GIFT—“USE IT”!
7. What practical counsel did the apostle Peter give Christians?
7 In his first inspired letter, the apostle Peter urged his brothers to use whatever gifts and talents they had to build up their fellow believers. Peter wrote: “To the extent that each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God’s undeserved kindness.” (1 Pet. 4:10) We should not hold back from using our gifts to the fullest for fear that others may become jealous or get discouraged. If we were to do that, we would not be giving Jehovah our personal best.
8. According to 1 Corinthians 4:6, 7, why should we avoid boasting about our gifts?
8 We need to use our gifts to the full, but we must be careful that we do not boast about them. (Read 1 Corinthians 4:6, 7.) For example, you may be particularly successful in starting home Bible studies. You should not hold back from using that gift! But it is one thing to use the gift and quite another to brag about it. Suppose you recently had an exciting experience in the ministry that resulted in a study being started. You are eager to tell your service group all about it. When you meet up with the group, though, a sister is relating an experience she had that resulted in placing a magazine. She placed a magazine; you started a study. What will you do? You know that the group will be encouraged by your experience, but you might decide to wait for another appropriate occasion to relate it, so as not to dampen the joy of your sister who placed the magazine. That would be a kindness. But by all means do not stop offering Bible studies. You have a gift—use it!
9. How should we use our gifts?
9 Let us remember that any natural abilities we may have are gifts from God. We should use those gifts to build up the congregation, not to promote ourselves. (Phil. 2:3) When we use our energy and abilities to do God’s will, we will have cause for rejoicing—not because we are outdoing others or proving ourselves superior to them, but because we are using our gifts to bring praise to Jehovah.
10. Why is it unreasonable to compare ourselves with others?
10 If not careful, a person might fall into the trap of comparing his strength with another person’s weakness. For example, a brother may give excellent public talks. That is his strength. In his heart, though, he may look down on a brother who struggles with giving talks. But that brother may excel in showing hospitality, training his children, or being zealous in the ministry. How grateful we are that we have so many talented brothers and sisters who use their gifts to serve Jehovah and help others!
LEARN FROM THE EXAMPLES OF OTHERS
11. Why should we try to follow Jesus’ example?
11 Although we should avoid comparing ourselves with others, we can benefit by learning from the examples of faithful ones. To illustrate, let us consider Jesus. Even though he was perfect, we can learn from his beautiful qualities and ways. (1 Pet. 2:21) When we do our best to follow his example as closely as we can, we become better servants of Jehovah and more effective in our ministry.
12-13. What can we learn from King David?
12 In God’s Word, we find many examples of faithful men and women who despite being imperfect are worthy of imitation. (Heb. 6:12) Think of King David, whom Jehovah called “a man agreeable to my heart” or, as another Bible version renders it, “the kind of person who pleases me most.” (Acts 13:22) Yet, David was not perfect. In fact, he made some serious mistakes. In spite of that, he is a good example for us. Why? Because when he was corrected, he did not try to justify himself. Instead, he accepted the strong counsel he received and was sincerely sorry for what he had done. As a result, Jehovah forgave him.—Ps. 51:3, 4, 10-12.
13 We can learn from David by asking ourselves: ‘How do I respond to counsel? Do I quickly acknowledge my mistakes, or do I try to justify myself? Am I quick to blame others? Do I try hard not to repeat my mistakes?’ You can ask yourself similar questions as you read about other faithful men and women in the Bible. Did they deal with challenges similar to the ones you are facing? What commendable qualities did they display? In each case, ask yourself: ‘How can I be more like this loyal servant of Jehovah?’
14. How can we benefit by observing fellow believers?
14 We can also benefit by observing fellow believers, both young and old. For instance, can you think of someone in your congregation who is faithfully enduring a trial—perhaps peer pressure, family opposition, or poor health? Do you see in this person commendable traits that you would like to cultivate to a greater degree? By considering his or her good example, you may learn practical ways to endure your own trials. How grateful we are to have such living examples of faith to imitate—truly a cause for rejoicing!—Heb. 13:7; Jas. 1:2, 3.
BE HAPPY IN YOUR SERVICE TO JEHOVAH
15. What counsel did the apostle Paul give that can help us continue rejoicing in our service to Jehovah?
15 To promote peace and unity in the congregation, each one of us needs to give his personal best. Consider the first-century Christians. They had a variety of gifts and assignments. (1 Cor. 12:4, 7-11) But this was not a cause for competition and divisions. Rather, Paul urged each one to supply what was needed “to build up the body of the Christ.” Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “When each respective member functions properly, this contributes to the growth of the body as it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:1-3, 11, 12, 16) Those who did so promoted peace and unity—traits that we observe in our congregations today.
16. What should we be determined to do? (Hebrews 6:10)
16 Be determined to avoid comparing yourself with others. Instead, learn from Jesus, and strive to imitate his qualities. Benefit from Bible examples and modern-day examples of faith. As you continue to do your best, be confident that Jehovah “is not unrighteous so as to forget your work.” (Read Hebrews 6:10.) Continue to rejoice in serving Jehovah, knowing that he appreciates your whole-souled efforts to please him.
SONG 65 Move Ahead!
a All of us can benefit from observing the examples set by others. But there are dangers we must avoid. This article will help us maintain our joy and avoid the trap of becoming either proud or discouraged when we consider what others are able to accomplish.
b PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A brother served at Bethel when he was a young man. He then got married and pioneered with his wife. After his children came along, he trained them in the ministry. Now in his old age, he continues to do his best, witnessing by letter.