That is why Christians should not become slaves to figures or measure their integrity by such goals. That could well lead to boasting in the flesh on the part of some and discouragement on the part of others. They know that the widow mentioned at Luke 21:1-4 who gave a few small coins of little value was approved because she gave ‘all that she had.’ And so they keep in mind the purposes served by their ministry: To bring honor to Jehovah’s name; to help lovers of truth and righteousness to get on the way to life; to warn the wicked, and to prove their own integrity and gain the reward of life.—1 Tim. 4:16.
Against what pitfalls must one guard in order to keep sowing to the spirit?
Among the pitfalls that mature Christian ministers must guard against if they would be sowing to the spirit and reap everlasting life from the spirit are: The tendency to view one’s brothers according to the flesh and perhaps even cherish resentment because of some disagreement. The feeling of jealousy if one has been passed over as regards advancement in the congregation in favor of someone else. Resenting the correction, counsel and encouragement given by a mature fellow Christian. The tendency of the flesh to become weary in well-doing; letting one’s zeal become lukewarm instead of remaining fiery hot.—Rev. 3:16.
Encouraging all to the right kind of sowing, with a view to the spirit, are the words found at Hebrews 6:11, 12: “But we desire each one of you to show the same industriousness so as to have the full assurance of the hope down to the end, in order that you may not become sluggish, but be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Questions From Readers
● How does Jesus’ counsel in Matthew 6:7 against long and repetitious prayers apply to private and public prayers, in view of some of the lengthy prayers recorded in the Bible?—M. F., U.S.A.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus condemned religious hypocrites who liked “to pray standing in the synagogues . . . to be visible to men.” (Matt 6:5) Their motive was bad. Their prayers were not sincere, humble expressions. So Christ counseled: “When praying, do not say the same things over and over again, just as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words.” Or, they “think that God will hear them because of their long prayers.”—Matt. 6:7; Today’s English Version.
By the time Jesus came to earth the hypocritical religious leaders of Judaism had defined every attitude and gesture in prayer, and had fixed, repetitious prayer formulas. With them public prayer had degenerated into a work of self-righteousness by which merit might be obtained and piety displayed. Such leaders may have impressed some gullible men, but they did not impress God. A heavier judgment awaited those hypocrites with their “long prayers.”—Luke 20:47.
It is true that a few of the proper prayers in the Scriptures were of considerable length. As given in the Bible, Solomon’s prayer at the inauguration of the temple might have taken close to ten minutes to offer. (1 Ki. 8:23-53; 2 Chron. 6:14-42) John’s account of a prayer Jesus said on the last night with his disciples takes up twenty-six verses. (John 17:1-26; note also Nehemiah 9:5-38.) These prayers were special public ones, offered at unique times. God heard and approved of Solomon’s, and certainly he did of Jesus’. (2 Chron. 7:12; John 11:42) And we are thankful to have these extended prayers recorded in the Scriptures.
From the examples of acceptable prayers in the Bible we can see that what Jesus was criticizing was not particularly the length of prayers, but the improper motive underlying the long, repetitious, showy prayers. Hence, when Solomon, Jesus or other men with spirituality and balance offered lengthy prayers out of a good motive and with sincerity, Jehovah did not disapprove.
There is no need or Scriptural authorization