Help People to “Awake From Sleep”
“You people know the season, that it is already the hour for you to awake from sleep.”—ROMANS 13:11.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN?
Why is it so important for Christians to stay awake spiritually?
In the ministry, why should we be alert and listen?
Why should we be kind in our ministry?
1, 2. In what way do many people need to wake up?
EVERY year, thousands of people die because they get sleepy or even fall asleep while driving. Others lose their jobs because they do not wake up in time to go to work or because they fall asleep while at work. But there is a different kind of sleep that is much more dangerous. It is spiritual sleep. The Bible is warning us against this kind of sleep when it says: “Happy is the one that stays awake.”—Revelation 16:14-16.
2 As Armageddon gets closer, mankind in general is spiritually asleep. Even some of the leaders in Christendom have said that their church members are asleep. What is spiritual sleep? Why is it important that true Christians stay awake? How can we help others to wake up from spiritual sleep?
WHAT IS SPIRITUAL SLEEP?
3. How would you describe a person who is spiritually asleep?
3 People who are sleeping are usually not active. In contrast, those who sleep spiritually may be very busy, but they are not busy doing the things that can help them have God’s favor. They may be focusing on the daily cares of life or doing everything they can to have pleasure, fame, or money. They are so busy with these things that they do not think about their spiritual needs. But people who are spiritually awake realize that we live “in the last days,” so they are as active as possible in doing God’s will.—2 Peter 3:3, 4; Luke 21:34-36.
4. What did Paul mean when he said: “Let us not sleep on as the rest do”?
4 Read 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8. Here the apostle Paul told Christians not to “sleep on as the rest do.” What did he mean? We “sleep on” when we do not do what Jehovah says is right and when we do what he says is wrong. Another way we can “sleep on” is by living as if Jehovah’s time to destroy the wicked was not near. We must make sure that the wicked do not influence us to think and act the way they do.
5. What do those who are spiritually asleep think?
5 Some people think that there is no God who will judge them for their actions. (Psalm 53:1) Others think that God is not interested in us, so we have no reason to be interested in him. And others think that belonging to a church will make them friends of God. All those who have these false ideas are spiritually asleep. They need to wake up. How can we help them?
WE MUST KEEP AWAKE OURSELVES
6. Why must we stay awake?
6 We can only help others to wake up if we are awake ourselves. So how can we stay awake? We must avoid the conduct of those who are sleeping spiritually. The Bible says that those who sleep spiritually are doing “works belonging to darkness.” These works include wild partying, drunkenness, immoral sex, loose or shameless conduct, fighting, and jealousy. (Read Romans 13:11-14.) It is very hard not to be like the people around us. We must be alert. Someone who drives a car must remember that if he falls asleep while driving, he could die. How much more should a Christian always remember that spiritual sleep can cause death!
7. What could happen to us if we have the wrong idea about people in our territory?
7 We could start to think that everyone in our territory has rejected the good news and is not going to change. (Proverbs 6:10, 11) We might think, ‘If no one is going to accept the good news, why should we try so hard to help people?’ It is true that many are not listening now, but something in their life may change and they may start to think differently. Some do wake up and accept the good news. And we can help them if we ourselves stay awake. We can do that by trying new ways to make the Kingdom message interesting to people. To help us stay awake, we need to remember why our ministry is so important.
WHY IS OUR MINISTRY SO IMPORTANT?
8. Why is our ministry so important?
8 Always remember that even if people do not listen, our ministry honors Jehovah. Also, he uses the preaching work to fulfill his purpose in these urgent times. Soon, God will judge people by how they react to our preaching. Those who do not accept the good news will be destroyed. (2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9) It would be a mistake to think that we do not have to work hard in the preaching work because “there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) We have learned from God’s Word that those who are judged as “goats” will be destroyed forever. Our preaching is a way God shows his mercy because it gives people the opportunity to change and to live forever. (Matthew 25:32, 41, 46; Romans 10:13-15) If we did not preach, how would people have the opportunity to hear the message that can save their life?
9. How have you and others benefited from the preaching work?
9 We too benefit from preaching the good news. (Read 1 Timothy 4:16.) You will probably agree that speaking about Jehovah and the Kingdom has strengthened your faith and your love for God. It must also have helped you to improve your Christian qualities. And you probably feel happier when you show your love for God by preaching. Many who have taught the truth to others have had the joy of seeing God’s spirit help their students to live a better life.
10, 11. (a) How were Jesus and Paul alert to the needs of others? (b) How can we be alert in our ministry?
10 There are different ways we can make the good news interesting to people. So we must be alert in our ministry. Jesus is our example. Because he was perfect, he knew that a certain Pharisee was angry even though the man had not said anything. Jesus also knew that a woman who was known to be a sinner had repented and that a widow had given everything she had. (Luke 7:37-50; 21:1-4) Jesus could help people because he knew what they needed. But we do not have to be perfect to notice the needs of others. The apostle Paul was an example of that. He preached in different ways so that he could help all people.—Acts 17:22, 23, 34; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
11 If we are alert and notice people’s needs as Jesus and Paul did, we will know how to get their interest. For example, while going to speak to others, look for clues that can give you an idea of what their culture is, what their interests are, or whether they are single, married, or have children. Notice what they are doing at that moment and perhaps say something polite about it when you start your conversation.
12. While we are in the ministry, what do we need to remember about our conversation?
12 If we are alert in the ministry, we will not allow other matters to take our attention away from our work. Even if we have an encouraging conversation with our partner, we need to remember that our purpose is to preach to others. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7) So we should be careful that our conversation does not distract us from our purpose. A good way to keep our thoughts on the preaching work is to talk about what we will say to those we meet. Also, even though a cell phone can be helpful in the ministry, we should make sure that a phone call does not interrupt our conversation with a householder.
SHOW INTEREST IN THOSE YOU MEET
13, 14. (a) What can help us to know what a person is interested in? (b) In what ways can we start conversations in the ministry?
13 It is important to listen carefully to those you meet in the ministry. What questions can you ask people in your territory so that they will tell you what they think? Are they worried about the number of different religions, the violence in the area, or the failure of governments? Can you help some learn about God by talking about the wonderful way that living things were made or about how helpful the Bible’s advice is? Prayer is something that interests people of most cultures, even people who do not believe in God. Many wonder if there is anyone who listens to prayers. Others may be interested in questions like these: Does God listen to all prayers? If he does not, what should we do to be heard by God?
14 We can learn how to start conversations from those who have experience in the ministry. Notice how they ask questions without making the person feel uncomfortable. Notice how their voice and face reflect that they are trying to understand the householder’s opinion.—Proverbs 15:13.
BE KIND AND USE SKILL
15. Why should we be kind when we do the preaching work?
15 Do you like it when someone wakes you up from a deep sleep? Many do not react well when someone wakes them up suddenly. Most like to be awakened in a gentle way. This is also true when you try to wake people up from spiritual sleep. For example, what should you do if someone gets angry when you visit him in the ministry? Be kind, and show that you respect how he feels. Then thank him for being honest, and calmly leave. (Proverbs 15:1; 17:14; 2 Timothy 2:24) If you treat him kindly now, he may react better the next time a Witness visits.
16, 17. How can we use skill and kindness in our ministry?
16 In some situations, it is possible to continue the conversation even if a person says that he is not interested or that he has his own religion. He may say that just because it is the easiest way to end the conversation. But with skill and kindness, you may be able to ask a good question that will help the householder to become interested in our Bible message.—Read Colossians 4:6.
17 Sometimes when we meet people who feel that they are too busy to listen, it is best to be respectful and leave. At other times, you may feel that you can say something brief and meaningful. For example, some brothers are able to present a Bible message in less than a minute. They read a scripture, and before they leave, they ask the householder a question that they will answer at another time. This short presentation sometimes works so well that the householder decides that he is not too busy for a short conversation. Perhaps you could try to do that the next time you have the opportunity.
18. What can we do to become better at informal witnessing?
18 If we are prepared to do informal witnessing, we can help people we meet every day to become interested in God. Many brothers and sisters carry some literature in their pocket or handbag. They may also be prepared to read a specific Bible text if they have the opportunity. You may want to ask the service overseer or the pioneers in your congregation to help you prepare to do informal witnessing.
KINDLY HELP YOUR RELATIVES TO WAKE UP
19. Why should we keep trying to help our relatives?
19 All of us want to help our relatives to accept the good news. (Joshua 2:13; Acts 10:24, 48; 16:31, 32) If they rejected the message the first time we preached to them, we may not feel very enthusiastic about trying again. We might feel that there is little we can do or say that will change their attitude. But maybe things have happened that changed your relatives’ life or the way they think. Or you may have improved in your ability to explain the truth, so that you may now have better results.
20. How can we show respect for the feelings of our relatives when we speak to them?
20 We should respect the feelings of our relatives. (Romans 2:4) Speak just as kindly to them as you would speak to those you meet in the preaching work. Be mild and respectful. And you may not always have to speak to your relatives about the truth. By your actions, you can show them how the truth has helped you. (Ephesians 4:23, 24) Make it easy for them to see that you live a better life because you have been taught by Jehovah. (Isaiah 48:17) Show your relatives by your example how a Christian should live.
21, 22. Give an example that shows how important it is to keep trying to help our relatives to learn about Jehovah.
21 A sister wrote that she has always tried to witness to her 13 brothers and sisters by her words and actions. She writes each of them every year. For 30 years she was the only Witness in the family.
22 One day this sister called one of her sisters who lives far away. Her sister told her that she asked her preacher to study the Bible with her, but he never did. When our sister told her that she would be glad to help her study the Bible, she answered: “All right, but I am telling you now: I will never be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” She sent her sister the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? and called her every few days, but she had not opened the book yet. The sister continues: “Finally, I asked her to get her book, and for about 15 minutes over the phone, we read and discussed some of the quoted scriptures. After a few more calls, she wanted to study for more than 15 minutes. Then she began calling me for her study, sometimes before I was even out of bed in the morning and sometimes twice a day. The next year, she got baptized, and the year after that, she began pioneering.”
23. Why should we keep trying to help people to wake up from spiritual sleep?
23 We need to use skill and to keep trying to help people to wake up from spiritual sleep. Many are still accepting the good news. On average, more than 20,000 people get baptized each month. So we should follow the advice that the apostle Paul gave to Archippus: “Keep watching the ministry which you accepted in the Lord, that you fulfill it.” (Colossians 4:17) The next article will help all of us to understand what it means to preach with a sense of urgency.
SOME EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED
Spiritually asleep: A person who is spiritually asleep is not doing God’s will. He does not realize that we are living in the last days and that his life is in danger
Alert ministers: Ministers who notice the needs of those they meet in the ministry and keep their thoughts on the preaching work
[Blurb on page 5]
Spiritual sleep causes death, so we must help people wake up!
[Box on page 6]
HOW TO KEEP YOURSELF AWAKE
▪ Keep busy in doing God’s will
▪ Avoid works belonging to the darkness
▪ Remember the danger of spiritual sleep
▪ Have a good attitude about people in your territory
▪ Try new ways to preach to others
▪ Remember the importance of your ministry