Are You Letting Jehovah Be Your Share?
“Keep on . . . seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—MATT. 6:33.
WHEN you read the name Israel in the Bible, what comes to your mind? Do you think of Isaac’s son Jacob, who was renamed Israel? Or do you think of his descendants, the ancient nation of Israel? What of spiritual Israel? When Israel is referred to in a figurative sense, it usually applies to “the Israel of God,” the 144,000, who are anointed with holy spirit to become kings and priests in heaven. (Gal. 6:16; Rev. 7:4; 21:12) But consider the special reference to Israel’s 12 tribes that is found at Matthew 19:28.
2 Jesus said: “In the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down upon his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also yourselves sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” In this verse, “the twelve tribes of Israel” are those who will be judged by Jesus’ anointed disciples and who are in line to receive eternal life in Paradise on earth. They will benefit from the priestly services of the 144,000.
3, 4. What fine example have faithful anointed ones set?
3 Like the priests and Levites of old, anointed ones today view their service as a privilege. (Num. 18:20) The anointed do not expect to be given some territory or location on earth as a possession. Instead, they look forward to being kings and priests in heaven with Jesus Christ. They will continue to serve Jehovah in that assignment, as indicated by what we read at Revelation 4:10, 11 concerning the anointed in their heavenly position.—Ezek. 44:28.
4 While on earth, anointed ones live in a way that gives evidence that Jehovah is their share. Their privilege of serving God is of primary importance to them. They exercise faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice and follow him continually, thus ‘making their calling and choosing sure.’ (2 Pet. 1:10) Their individual circumstances and abilities differ. Yet, they do not use any limitations as an excuse to do only a small amount in God’s service. On the contrary, they give high priority to God’s service, doing all they can. And they set a good example for those who hope to live on a paradise earth.
5. How can all Christians have Jehovah as their share, and why might that be challenging?
5 Whether we have the heavenly hope or an earthly one, we must ‘disown ourselves and pick up our torture stake and continually follow Christ.’ (Matt. 16:24) Millions who look forward to life in Paradise on earth are worshipping God and following Christ in that way. They are not content to do just a little when they sense that they can do more. Many have been impelled to simplify their life and have become pioneers. Others manage to pioneer some months each year. Still others, while unable to pioneer, exert themselves in the ministry. Such ones are like devoted Mary, who poured perfumed oil on Jesus. He said: “She did a fine deed toward me. . . . She did what she could.” (Mark 14:6-8) Our doing all we can may not be easy, for we live in a world dominated by Satan. Yet, we exert ourselves vigorously and put our trust in Jehovah. Consider how we do so in four specific areas.
Seeking First God’s Kingdom
6. (a) How do people in general show that their share is in this life only? (b) Why is it better to have David’s outlook?
6 Jesus taught his followers to seek first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness. People of the world tend to seek personal interests first as “men of this system of things, whose share is in this life.” (Read Psalm 17:1, 13-15.) With no regard for their Creator, many devote themselves to making a comfortable living, raising a family, and leaving behind an inheritance. Their share is in this life only. David, on the other hand, was interested in making “a good name” with Jehovah, as his son later recommended that all do. (Eccl. 7:1, ftn.) Just like Asaph, David saw that having Jehovah as his Friend was far better than putting his own interests foremost in life. He rejoiced in walking with God. In our time, many Christians have put spiritual activities ahead of their secular employment.
7. What blessing did one brother receive for putting the Kingdom first?
7 Consider Jean-Claude, in the Central African Republic. He is a married elder with three children. In that land, finding work is hard, and most people will do almost anything to keep their job. One day, the production manager told Jean-Claude to begin working nights—starting at 6:30 p.m., seven days a week. Jean-Claude explained that in addition to supporting his family materially, he needed to care for their spiritual welfare. He also stated that he had a responsibility to help the congregation. The manager’s response? “If you are fortunate enough to have a job, you must forget all other things, including your wife, your children, and your problems. You must devote your life to your work—nothing but your work. Make your choice: your religion or your work.” What would you have done? Well, Jean-Claude realized that if he lost his job, God would look after him. He would still have plenty to do in God’s service, and Jehovah would help care for his family’s material needs. Thus, he attended the next midweek meeting. After that, he got ready to go to work, not sure if he would even have a job. Just then, he got a phone call. The manager had been fired, but our brother still had his job.
8, 9. In what sense can we imitate the priests and Levites in having Jehovah as our share?
8 Some who have been in a situation where their job seemed at risk may have wondered, ‘How will I fulfill my responsibility to provide for my family?’ (1 Tim. 5:8) Whether you have faced a similar challenge or not, from your own experience you are likely sure that you will never be disappointed if God is your share and you highly treasure the privilege of serving him. When Jesus told his disciples to keep on seeking first the kingdom, he assured them: “All these other things”—such as what to eat, drink, or put on—“will be added to you.”—Matt. 6:33.
9 Think of the Levites, who did not receive a land inheritance. Since pure worship was their primary concern, for sustenance they had to rely on Jehovah, who told them: “I am your share.” (Num. 18:20) Although we are not serving at a literal temple as the priests and Levites did, we can imitate their spirit, having confidence that Jehovah will provide for us. Our trust in God’s power to provide becomes more and more important as we move deeper into the last days.—Rev. 13:17.
Seeking First God’s Righteousness
10, 11. How have some put their trust in Jehovah in connection with their employment? Give an example.
10 Jesus also urged his disciples to ‘keep on seeking first God’s righteousness.’ (Matt. 6:33) This means putting Jehovah’s standard of what is right and what is wrong ahead of human norms. (Read Isaiah 55:8, 9.) You may recall that in the past, a number of people were involved in growing tobacco or selling tobacco products, training others in warfare, or producing and selling weapons of war. After coming to a knowledge of the truth, most chose to change their employment and qualify for baptism.—Isa. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:1; Gal. 5:14.
11 Andrew is an example. When he and his wife learned about Jehovah, they resolved to serve him. Andrew took much pride in his job but left it. Why? Because he was working for a nonneutral organization and was determined to put first God’s righteousness. When Andrew left that job, he had two children, no income, and enough money to last just a few months. From a human standpoint, it may have seemed that he had no ‘inheritance.’ He searched for a job, trusting in God. Looking back, he and his family can confirm that Jehovah’s hand is not short. (Isa. 59:1) By keeping their life simple, Andrew and his wife have even had the privilege of being in full-time service. “There have been times when finances, housing, health, and just growing older have made us anxious,” he says. “But Jehovah has always stood by us. . . . We can say without a hint of doubt that serving Jehovah is, without question, the most noble and rewarding human endeavor.” *—Eccl. 12:13.
12. What quality is needed to put God’s standards foremost? Cite local examples.
12 Jesus told his disciples: “If you have faith the size of a mustard grain, you will say to this mountain, ‘Transfer from here to there,’ and it will transfer, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20) Would you be able to put God’s standards foremost if that would result in difficulties? If you are uncertain whether you could do so, speak with other members of the congregation. You will no doubt find it spiritually refreshing to hear their experiences.
Appreciating Jehovah’s Spiritual Provisions
13. When we exert ourselves in Jehovah’s service, what can we expect as to spiritual provisions?
13 If you treasure your privilege of serving Jehovah, you can be sure that he will supply your physical and spiritual needs, just as he provided sustenance for the Levites. Think about David. Though he was in a cave, he could count on God to provide for him. We too can rely on Jehovah even when we see no way out. Recall that when Asaph came “into the grand sanctuary of God,” he gained insight into what was distressing him. (Ps. 73:17) Similarly, we need to turn to the divine Source of our spiritual nourishment. Thus we show appreciation for our privilege of serving God no matter what our circumstances may be. We are thereby letting Jehovah be our share.
14, 15. How should we respond when there is increased light on certain scriptures, and why?
14 How do you react when Jehovah, the Source of spiritual enlightenment, sheds light on “the deep things of God” found in the Bible? (1 Cor. 2:10-13) We have an excellent example in the apostle Peter’s reaction when Jesus told His listeners: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Taking those words literally, many disciples said: “This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?” They “went off to the things behind.” But Peter said: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.”—John 6:53, 60, 66, 68.
15 Peter did not fully understand what Jesus said about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. But the apostle relied on God for spiritual enlightenment. When spiritual light on some matter gets brighter, do you try to understand the underlying Scriptural reasons for the adjustment? (Prov. 4:18) The first-century Beroeans received the word “with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily.” (Acts 17:11) Imitating them will deepen your appreciation for your privilege to serve Jehovah, to have him be your share.
Marrying Only in the Lord
16. How can God be our share regarding the command found at 1 Corinthians 7:39?
16 Another area in which Christians need to keep God’s purposes in mind is in applying the Bible’s direction to marry “only in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:39) Many have chosen to remain single rather than disregard this divine counsel. God kindly takes in such ones. What did David do when he felt lonesome and seemingly lacked any help? “Before [God] I kept pouring out my concern,” he said. “Before him I continued to tell about my own distress, when my spirit fainted away within me.” (Ps. 142:1-3) Similar feelings may have surfaced in the prophet Jeremiah, who served God faithfully for decades as a single person. You may want to study his example as discussed in chapter 8 of the book God’s Word for Us Through Jeremiah.
17. How does one single sister cope with occasional loneliness?
17 “I have never resolved to remain single,” says a sister in the United States. “I am open to getting married when I meet the right person. My unbelieving mother tried to convince me to marry just about anyone who came along. I asked her if she wanted to be responsible if my marriage turned out badly. In time, she saw that I had a stable job, was taking care of myself, and was happy. She stopped pressuring me.” This sister at times feels some loneliness. “Then,” she says, “I try to make Jehovah my confidence. He never forsakes me.” What has helped her to trust in Jehovah? “Prayer helps me sense that God is real and that I am never alone. The Most High of the universe is listening, so how could I not feel dignified and joyful?” Confident that “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving,” she says: “I try to give of myself to help others, not expecting anything in return. When I am thinking, ‘What can I do to help this person?’ I have inner joy.” (Acts 20:35) Yes, she has Jehovah as her share, and she is enjoying her privilege of serving him.
18. In what sense can Jehovah make you his share?
18 No matter what situation you find yourself in, you can let God be your share. As you do, you will be counted among his happy people. (2 Cor. 6:16, 17) That can result in your being Jehovah’s share, as was true of others in the past. (Read Deuteronomy 32:9, 10.) Just as Israel became God’s share among the nations, he can mark you as his and lovingly care for you.—Ps. 17:8.
^ par. 11 See Awake! November 2009, pages 12-14.
How Would You Answer?
How can you let Jehovah be your share
• by seeking first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness?
• by showing appreciation for spiritual food?
• by observing God’s command to marry only in the Lord?
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Jehovah becomes our share when we make his service our primary concern
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Jeremiah’s example is encouraging