“Where your treasure is, there your hearts will be also.”
1, 2. (a) What are three spiritual treasures that Jehovah has given to us? (b) What will we consider in this article?
JEHOVAH is the wealthiest Person in the universe. (1 Chron. 29:11, 12) As a generous Father, he openhandedly shares his spiritual riches with all who discern their excelling value. How grateful we are that Jehovah has given us spiritual treasures, which include (1) God’s Kingdom, (2) our lifesaving ministry, and (3) the precious truths found in his Word! If we are not careful, though, we could lose appreciation for these treasures and, in effect, throw them away. To hold on to them, we must use them well and constantly renew our love for them. Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there your hearts will be also.”
2 Let us consider how we can develop and maintain our love and appreciation for the Kingdom, the ministry, and the truth. As we do so, meditate on how you personally can deepen your love for these spiritual treasures.
—LIKE A PRICELESS PEARL
3. What was the merchant in Jesus’ illustration willing to do to gain the priceless pearl? (See opening picture.)
3 Read Matthew 13:45, 46. Jesus told an illustration about a merchant who was seeking pearls. Over the years, the merchant had no doubt bought and sold hundreds of pearls. Yet, now he had found the one pearl that was so magnificent that just seeing it made his heart rejoice. But to buy it would mean that he would have to sell everything else that he owned. Can you imagine how precious that pearl was to him?
4. If we love God’s Kingdom as much as the merchant loved the pearl, what will we do?
4 What is the lesson for us? The truth of God’s Kingdom is like that priceless pearl. If we love it as much as the merchant loved that pearl, we will be willing to give up everything in order to become and to remain one of the subjects of the Kingdom. (Read Mark 10:28-30.) Consider two individuals who did just that.
5. How did Zacchaeus show his determination to gain God’s Kingdom?
5 Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector who had become rich by extorting money. (Luke 19:1-9) Yet, when that unrighteous man heard Jesus preach about the Kingdom, he recognized the excelling value of what he was hearing and took immediate action. He exclaimed: “Look! The half of my belongings, Lord, I am giving to the poor, and whatever I extorted from anyone, I am restoring four times over.” He gladly gave up his ill-gotten riches and abandoned his greed for material things.
6. What changes did Rose make to become a subject of God’s Kingdom, and why did she do so?
6 Some years ago, when someone we will call Rose heard the Kingdom message, she was involved in a lesbian relationship. She was president of an organization fighting for the rights of homosexuals. As Rose studied the Bible, however, she discerned the excelling value of the truth about God’s Kingdom. But she realized that she would have to make major adjustments. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) Her heart moved her to resign from her position and to end her lesbian relationship. Rose was baptized in 2009, and the next year, she began to serve as a regular pioneer. Her love for Jehovah and his Kingdom was stronger than any fleshly desires.
7. How can we maintain wholehearted love for God’s Kingdom?
7 Granted, many of us have made life-transforming changes to become subjects of God’s Kingdom. (Rom. 12:2) Even so, our work is not finished. We must remain alert to things that actively compete for our affection, including the desire for material things and any immoral sexual desires. (Prov. 4:23; Matt. 5:27-29) To help us maintain our wholehearted love for God’s Kingdom, Jehovah has given us another priceless treasure.
OUR LIFESAVING MINISTRY
8. (a) Why did the apostle Paul describe our ministry as a “treasure in earthen vessels”? (b) How did Paul demonstrate that he treasured his ministry?
8 Recall that Jesus has assigned us to preach and teach the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matt. 28:19, 20) The apostle Paul recognized the high value of the ministry. He described the ministry of the new covenant as a “treasure in earthen vessels.” (2 Cor. 4:7; 1 Tim. 1:12) Although we are simply imperfect earthen vessels, the message we preach can bring everlasting life to us and to those who listen to us. Knowing this, Paul said: “I do all things for the sake of the good news, in order to share it with others.” (1 Cor. 9:23) Yes, Paul’s love for the ministry moved him to work hard at making disciples. (Read Romans 1:14, 15; 2 Timothy 4:2.) That helped him to endure severe opposition. (1 Thess. 2:2) How can we demonstrate such love for the ministry?
9. What are some ways that we can demonstrate our appreciation for the ministry?
9 One way that Paul demonstrated appreciation for the ministry was by being alert to opportunities to speak to others. Like the apostles and early Christians, we preach informally, publicly, and from house to house. (Acts 5:42; 20:20) As our circumstances allow, we look for ways to expand our ministry, perhaps by serving as an auxiliary or a regular pioneer. We might also learn another language, move to another area in our own country, or even move to another land.
10. How was Irene blessed for her determination to share the good news?
10 Consider the example of Irene, a single sister in the United States. She had a deep desire to preach to Russian-speaking immigrants. When she began doing so in 1993, there were only about 20 publishers in the Russian-language group in New York City. For some 20 years, Irene has worked hard in that language field. “I still do not speak Russian perfectly,” Irene admits. Yet, Jehovah has blessed her zealous spirit and that of others like her. Today, there are six Russian congregations in New York City. Fifteen of those with whom Irene studied got baptized. Some of them serve as Bethelites, pioneers, and elders. Irene says, “When I think of other goals I could have pursued, I can’t imagine one that would have brought me more joy.” Yes, she treasures her ministry!
11. What positive results come from continuing to preach despite persecution?
11 If we treasure our ministry, we will be like the apostle Paul, continuing to preach despite persecution. (Acts 14:19-22) During the 1930’s and early 1940’s, our brothers in the United States faced tremendous opposition. Yet, like Paul, they stood firm and continued preaching. To protect our right to do that, the brothers fought many legal battles. In 1943, Brother Nathan H. Knorr, when commenting on one victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, stated: “The victories won are due to your fight. If the publisher had not kept on in the field, there would not be any cases in the Supreme Court; but it is because you, the publisher, the brothers all over the world, keep on and will not quit that the defeat of persecution is brought about. It is this victory of the Lord’s people standing firm that finally brings that decision.” This same firm stand by brothers in other countries has led to similar victories. Yes, our love for the ministry can defeat persecution.
12. What is your determination with regard to your ministry?
12 When we view the ministry as a priceless treasure from Jehovah, we will never be content with simply “counting time.” Rather, we will do everything in our power “to bear thorough witness to the good news.” (Acts 20:24; 2 Tim. 4:5) But what will we teach to others? Consider another treasure from God.
OUR TREASURE STORE OF REVEALED TRUTHS
13, 14. What is the “treasure store” that Jesus referred to at Matthew 13:52, and how do we fill it?
13 A third spiritual treasure is our repository of revealed truths. Jehovah is the God of truth. (2 Sam. 7:28; Ps. 31:5) As a generous Father, he shares divine truths with those who fear him. From the time that we first heard the truth, we have had the opportunity to collect truths from his Word, the Bible, from our Christian publications, and from our conventions, assemblies, and weekly meetings. Over time, we develop what Jesus described as a “treasure store” of old and new truths. (Read Matthew 13:52.) Jehovah will help us to collect precious new truths into our “treasure store” if we search for them as for hidden treasures. (Read Proverbs 2:4-7.) How do we do that?
14 We must develop good personal study habits and do careful research in God’s Word and in our publications. This will help us to discover truths that may be “new” in the sense that we did not know them before. (Josh. 1:8, 9; Ps. 1:2, 3) The very first issue of this magazine, published in July 1879, stated: “Truth, like a modest little flower in the wilderness of life, is surrounded and almost choked by the luxuriant growth of the weeds of error. If you would find it you must be ever on the lookout. . . . If you would possess it you must stoop to get it. Be not content with one flower of truth. . . . Gather ever, seek for more.” Yes, we must be eager to enrich our own treasure store of divine truths.
15. Why might we refer to some truths as “old,” and what are some that you especially treasure?
15 We discovered some priceless truths when we first began to associate with God’s people. These could well be described as “old,” in that we have known and appreciated them from the beginning of our Christian course. What do such precious truths include? We learned that Jehovah is our Creator and Life-Giver and that he has a purpose for mankind. We also learned that God lovingly provided the ransom sacrifice of his Son so that we might be freed from sin and death. We further learned that his Kingdom will end all suffering and that we have the prospect of living forever in peace and happiness under Kingdom rule.
16. What do we need to do when we receive an adjusted understanding of a truth?
16 From time to time, our understanding of a Bible prophecy or some Scriptural passage may be adjusted. When such new understandings are provided, we ought to take time to study the information carefully and meditate on it. (Acts 17:11; 1 Tim. 4:15) We seek to understand clearly not only the major adjustments but also the subtle differences between the old understanding and the new one. In this way, we are certain to place the new truth securely in our own treasure store. Why are such efforts worthwhile?
17, 18. How can holy spirit help us?
17 Jesus taught that God’s spirit can bring back to our mind things that we have learned. (John 14:25, 26) How can this help us as public instructors of the good news? Consider the experience of a brother named Peter. In 1970 he was 19 years old and had recently begun serving at Bethel in Britain. While preaching from door to door, he met a bearded middle-aged man. Peter asked the man if he would like to understand the Bible. Somewhat shocked, the man responded that this was a house of Jewish rabbis. To test Peter, the rabbi asked, “So, my boy, what language was the book of Daniel written in?” Peter replied, “Part of it was written in Aramaic.” “The rabbi,” Peter recalls, “was surprised that I knew the answer
18 If we treasure the wisdom from Jehovah, our heart will motivate us to fill up our treasure store with truths
SAFEGUARD YOUR TREASURES
19. Why must we safeguard our spiritual treasures?
19 Satan and his world are constantly seeking to weaken or destroy our appreciation for the spiritual treasures we have discussed in this article. We are not immune to these tactics. We could easily be enticed by promises of a lucrative career, dreams of a lavish lifestyle, or the desire for a showy display of material riches. The apostle John reminds us that this world is passing away and so is its desire. (1 John 2:15-17) Therefore, we must work hard to safeguard our affections and protect our love and appreciation for spiritual riches.
20. What are you resolved to do to safeguard your spiritual riches?
20 Be willing to give up anything that could replace your wholehearted love for God’s Kingdom. Continue to preach zealously, never losing appreciation for our lifesaving ministry. Earnestly continue to search for divine truths. As you do this, you will build up “treasure in the heavens, where no thief gets near and no moth consumes. For where your treasure is, there your hearts will be also.”