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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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THE WATCHTOWER (SIMPLIFIED EDITION) JULY 2016

Seek the Kingdom, Not Things

Seek the Kingdom, Not Things

“Keep seeking [God’s] Kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”LUKE 12:31.

SONGS: 40, 98

1. What difference is there between what we need and what we want?

THERE are only a few things we need in order to stay alive. For example, we need food, clothing, and a place to live. But there is no end to the things that we may want. And many people do not realize that they do not really need all the things they want.

2. What are some things that people want?

2 Someone who lives in a poor country may want something totally different from what a person who lives in a wealthy country may want. In some parts of the world, people would like to have a mobile phone, a motorbike, or a small piece of land. In other places, people want to have lots of expensive clothes, a bigger house, or a more expensive vehicle. But no matter where we live or how much money we have, we could begin to want more and more things that we do not need or cannot afford.

 MATERIALISM CAN AFFECT US

3. What is materialism?

3 What is materialism? It is the attitude of a person who cares more about things than about his relationship with God. He is not satisfied with having just what he needs, but instead he always wants more. Even those who do not have a lot of money or who do not buy expensive things could become materialistic. They may stop putting the Kingdom first in their lives.Hebrews 13:5.

4. How does Satan use “the desire of the eyes”?

4 Satan wants us to believe that we can enjoy life only if we have a lot of things. So he uses his world and “the desire of the eyes” to try to make us always want to have more. (1 John 2:15-17; Genesis 3:6; Proverbs 27:20) We constantly see and hear advertisements that try to convince us to buy new products. Have you ever bought something just because it looked appealing in the store or because you saw it in an advertisement? If so, maybe you later realized that you did not really need it. When we keep buying things that we do not need, we complicate our life. Those things can distract us from serving Jehovah. For example, we may not have enough time left to study the Bible, prepare for and attend meetings, and go out in the ministry regularly. Remember, the apostle John warned: “The world is passing away and so is its desire.”

5. What can happen to those who use most of their energy to get more things?

5 Satan wants us to use our energy to get more money and things instead of using it for Jehovah. (Matthew 6:24) But if we are interested only in getting more things for ourselves, our life will have no meaning. We could become frustrated or get into financial difficulties. Or worse, we could lose our faith in Jehovah and his Kingdom. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10; Revelation 3:17) Jesus said that “the desires for everything else” are like thorns that can stop a seed from growing and producing fruit.Mark 4:14, 18, 19.

6. What lesson do we learn from Baruch?

6 Think for a moment about Baruch, the secretary of the prophet Jeremiah. When Baruch began “seeking great things” for himself, Jehovah reminded him that soon Jerusalem would be destroyed. But he promised Baruch that he would save his life. (Jeremiah 45:1-5) Baruch should not have expected anything more. Jehovah was not going to save the things that people owned. (Jeremiah 20:5) Today, we are living close to the end of Satan’s world. So now is not the time to keep getting more and more things for ourselves. And we should not expect that after  the great tribulation, we will still have the things we own now, even if they are precious to us.Proverbs 11:4; Matthew 24:21, 22; Luke 12:15.

Now is not the time to keep getting more and more things for ourselves

7. What will we consider next, and why?

7 So how can we look after ourselves and our family and still stay focused on what is most important in life? How can we avoid materialism? And what can help us stop worrying too much about getting what we need? Jesus gave us the best advice on this in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 6:19-21) Let us read and discuss Matthew 6:25-34. This will convince us that we must keep seeking the Kingdom, not things.Luke 12:31.

JEHOVAH PROVIDES WHAT WE NEED

8, 9. (a) Why should we not worry too much about the things we need? (b) What did Jesus know about humans and their needs?

8 Read Matthew 6:25. Jesus knew that his disciples were worried about what they would eat, drink, and wear, so in his Sermon on the Mount, he told them: “Stop being anxious about your lives.” Jesus wanted to help them understand why they should not worry about all these things. He knew that if they worried too much, even about things that they really needed, they could forget what is more important in life. Jesus cared about his disciples so much that he warned them four more times about this danger in his sermon.Matthew 6:27, 28, 31, 34.

9 But why did Jesus tell us not to worry about what we will eat, or drink, or wear? Do we not need food and clothing? Of course we do! And if we do not have enough money to get these things, it is normal to worry. Jesus knew that. He knew what people needed. And he knew that “in the last days,” his disciples would be living in very difficult times. (2 Timothy 3:1) In fact, many people today cannot find a job, and things keep getting more expensive. In many places, people are very poor and have little or nothing to eat. But Jesus also knew that a person’s life is more important than food and the body than clothing.

Jesus said that a person’s life is more important than food and the body than clothing

10. When Jesus taught his followers how to pray, what did he say should be most important in their life?

10 Earlier, Jesus had taught his disciples that when they prayed, they should ask their Father in heaven to give them what they needed. They could pray: “Give us today our bread for this day.” (Matthew 6:11) Another time, he told them to pray: “Give us each day our bread according to our daily needs.” (Luke 11:3) But that does not mean that we should constantly think about getting the things we need. In fact, Jesus told his followers that praying for God’s Kingdom to come is  more important than praying for their own needs. (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2) To help the disciples stop worrying, Jesus then comforted them by reminding them of how Jehovah cares for all his creation.

11, 12. What do we learn from the way Jehovah cares for the birds of heaven? (See opening picture.)

11 Read Matthew 6:26. We should “observe intently the birds of heaven.” Even though birds are small creatures, they eat a lot. In fact, if a bird were as big as a human, it would eat more food than a human does. Birds eat fruit, seeds, insects, and worms. But they do not need to sow seeds and grow their own food. Jehovah provides everything they need. (Psalm 147:9) Of course, he does not put the food in their beaks! They have to go and find it, but it is there for them to find.

12 Jesus had no doubt that if his Father takes care of the birds, he will also take care of people. [1] (See endnote.) (1 Peter 5:6, 7) Of course, like the birds, we should not be lazy. We must work either to grow our food or to earn money to buy it. Jehovah can bless our efforts. And when we do not have enough money or food, he can still provide what we need. For example, others may share what they have with us. Jehovah also provides birds a place to live. He has given them the ability to build nests, and he has made the things that the birds use to build these nests. Jehovah can likewise help us find a suitable place for our family to live.

13. What proves that we are worth more than the birds of heaven?

13 After Jesus reminded his disciples that Jehovah feeds the birds, he asked them: “Are you not worth more than they are?” (Compare Luke 12:6, 7.) When he said this, Jesus likely thought about how he would soon give his life for all humans. Yes, Jesus did not die for the birds or for any other animal. He died for us so that we may live forever.Matthew 20:28.

14. What can an anxious person never do?

14 Read Matthew 6:27. What did Jesus mean when he said that we cannot add one cubit to our life by being anxious? He meant that we cannot make our life any longer by worrying about the things we need. In fact, if we have too much stress, we could get sick and even die.

15, 16. (a) What do we learn from the way Jehovah cares for the lilies of the field? (See opening picture.) (b) What questions might we need to ask ourselves, and why?

15 Read Matthew 6:28-30. We are happy when we have something nice to wear, especially when we go out in the ministry or to our meetings and assemblies. But do we need to be “anxious about clothing”? Once again, Jesus reminded his disciples how Jehovah takes care of his creation. Jesus used the example of “the lilies of the field.” “The lilies” might refer to flowers such as gladiolus, hyacinths, irises, and tulips. None of these have to sew clothes for themselves. But they are so beautiful  that Jesus said that “not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these”!

16 Think about what Jesus said next: “If this is how God clothes the vegetation of the field . . . , will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith?” Of course he will! But Jesus’ disciples needed more faith. (Matthew 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20) They needed to trust that Jehovah wanted to look after them and that he really would do so. What about us? Do we believe that Jehovah will take care of us?

Do we believe that Jehovah will take care of us?

17. What might damage our relationship with Jehovah?

17 Read Matthew 6:31, 32. Many who do not know Jehovah focus their life on having more money and things. But if we did the same, we would damage our relationship with him. We know that Jehovah is our Father and that he loves us. And we are confident that if we do what he asks and put his Kingdom first in our life, he will give us everything we need and much more. We also realize that a good relationship with Jehovah is what will make us truly happy, and this helps us to be satisfied with having just the “food and clothing” that we need.1 Timothy 6:6-8.

IS GOD’S KINGDOM FIRST IN YOUR LIFE?

18. What does Jehovah know about us personally, and what will he do for us?

18 Read Matthew 6:33. If we put the Kingdom first in our life, then Jehovah will provide all that we need. Jesus explained why we can be sure of that promise. He said: “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Jehovah knows what you need even before you realize that you need it. (Philippians 4:19) He knows what clothes we will need next. He also knows what food you will need. And he knows that you and your family need a place to live. Jehovah will make sure that you have what you really need.

19. Why should we not worry about what might happen in the future?

19 Read Matthew 6:34. Once again Jesus told his disciples: “Never be anxious.” Jehovah will provide what we need each day. So we do not have to worry too much about what might happen in the future. If we do, we may start to rely on ourselves, which would damage our relationship with Jehovah. Instead, we must fully trust in him.Proverbs 3:5, 6; Philippians 4:6, 7.

SEEK THE KINGDOM FIRST, AND JEHOVAH WILL LOOK AFTER YOU

Can you simplify your life to focus more on the Kingdom? (See paragraph 20)

20. (a) What is a goal you may set in Jehovah’s service? (b) What can you do to simplify your life?

20 How sad it would be if we did not have enough energy to serve Jehovah  fully because we were trying to get more and more things! Instead, we should give Jehovah our best. For example, can you move to help a congregation that needs more publishers? Can you pioneer? Or if you are already pioneering, have you thought about applying for the School for Kingdom Evangelizers? Could you perhaps spend a few days a week helping at Bethel or at a translation office? Or maybe you could become a Local Design/Construction volunteer and use some of your time to help build Kingdom Halls. Think about what you might do to make your lifestyle simpler so that you can have more time and energy for Kingdom activities. The box “ How to Simplify Your Life” gives some suggestions. Pray to Jehovah to help you decide what you need to do. Then start making the necessary changes.

21. What will help you to draw closer to Jehovah?

 21 Jesus taught us to seek the Kingdom first. When we do so, we avoid worrying too much about the things we need. We draw closer to Jehovah because we trust that he will look after us. We learn to control ourselves and not to buy everything we desire or everything that the world offers, even if we can afford it. If we simplify our life now, it will help us to stay faithful to Jehovah and to “get a firm hold on the real life” he has promised us.1 Timothy 6:19.

^ [1] (paragraph 12) Some servants of Jehovah do not have enough food to eat at times. To understand why Jehovah might allow this to happen, see “Questions From Readers” in the September 15, 2014, standard edition of The Watchtower, page 22.