Are You Letting Jehovah Be Your Share?
“If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and continually follow me.”—MATTHEW 16:24.
WHEN you read the name Israel in the Bible, what do you think of? Do you think of Isaac’s son Jacob, who was later named Israel? Or do you think of his descendants, the ancient nation of Israel? The Bible also talks about spiritual Israel, or “the Israel of God.” They are the 144,000, who are anointed with holy spirit to become kings and priests in heaven. (Galatians 6:16; Revelation 7:4; 21:12) But there is another special use of the name Israel. We read about it 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 live forever in Paradise on earth. The 144,000 will serve as judges and priests for them.
3, 4. What fine example have faithful anointed ones set?
3 Like the priests and Levites in the past, the anointed today think of their service to Jehovah as very precious. (Numbers 18:20) The anointed do not expect to get some territory or place on earth. Instead, Revelation 4:10, 11 shows that they will continue their service to Jehovah in heaven, where they will be kings and priests with Jesus Christ.—Ezekiel 44:28.
4 While on earth, the anointed live in a way that shows that Jehovah is their share. Their service to God is the most important thing to them. The apostle Peter said: “Do your utmost to make the calling and choosing of you sure for yourselves.” (2 Peter 1:10) Those anointed do this by putting faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice and following him continually. They have different abilities and different situations in life, but they do not use their limitations as an excuse to do little in God’s service. Just the opposite, they put God’s service first in their lives and do all they can. Clearly, they are an example for those who hope to live on earth.
5. How can all Christians have Jehovah as their share? Why may that be difficult?
5 Jesus said that every Christian, whether he hopes to live in heaven or on earth, must “disown himself and pick up his torture stake” and follow him continually. (Matthew 16:24) Millions of people who hope to live in Paradise on earth are worshipping God and following Christ in that way. They are not content to do just a little in God’s service if they know that they can do more. Many have made their life simpler and have become regular pioneers. Others make the effort to pioneer some months each year. Still others, not able to pioneer, work hard in the ministry. They are like Mary, who poured perfumed oil on Jesus. Jesus said: “She did a fine deed toward me. . . . She did what she could.” (Mark 14:6-8) We live in a world controlled by Satan, so it may be difficult to do all we can. We need to work hard and put our trust in Jehovah. We will now look at four ways in which we can do that.
SEEK FIRST GOD’S KINGDOM
6. (a) How do people in the world show that their share is in this life only? (b) Why is it better to imitate David?
6 Jesus taught his followers to seek first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness. People in the world usually seek what is best for themselves. The Bible speaks of them as “men of this system of things, whose share is in this life.” (Read Psalm 17:1, 13-15.) These people do not care about Jehovah. Many care only about having a comfortable life, raising a family, and leaving an inheritance for their children. Their share is in this life only. David was different. He wanted to have “a good name” with Jehovah. His son Solomon later said that we should all do the same. (Ecclesiastes 7:1, footnote.) Just like Asaph, David knew that being a friend of Jehovah was the most important thing in life. It made David happy. In our time, many Christians have shown that their service to Jehovah is more important to them than their secular work. They show that Jehovah is their share.
7. What blessing did one brother receive for putting the Kingdom first?
7 Jean-Claude, in the Central African Republic, is a married elder with three children. It is hard to find a job in that land, and most people will do almost anything to keep their job. One day, the production manager told Jean-Claude to begin working nights. Work would start at 6:30 in the evening, seven days a week. Jean-Claude told him that he not only had to care for the material needs of his family but also had to help them have a good relationship with God. He also said that he had to help the congregation. The manager told him: “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 nothing but your work. Make your choice: your religion or your work.” What would you have done? Jean-Claude knew that if he lost his job, God would take care of him. He would still have a lot to do in God’s service, and Jehovah would care for the material needs of his family. So he went to the next meeting. After that, he got ready to go to work even though he did not know if he still had a job. Just then, he got a phone call. The manager had been dismissed from his job, but our brother still had his.
8, 9. In what way can we be like the priests and Levites and have Jehovah as our share?
8 Some of you may have been in a similar situation. You may have worried about how you would take care of your family if you lost your job. (1 Timothy 5:8) But whether that happened to you or not, you probably know from your own experience that God never disappoints those who have him as their share and put his service first in their lives. When Jesus told his disciples to keep on “seeking first the kingdom,” he promised them that God would give them all other things, such as what to eat, drink, or wear.—Matthew 6:33.
9 Think of the Levites, who did not receive a land inheritance. Because their work was to lead the nation in pure worship, they had to trust that Jehovah was their share and would take care of their material needs. (Numbers 18:20) Even though we are not serving at a literal temple as the priests and Levites were, we can have the same trust in Jehovah. As we get closer to the end, it becomes more and more important that we trust in God to take care of us.—Revelation 13:17.
SEEK FIRST GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS
10, 11. How have some shown that they trust in God when they choose work? Give an example.
10 Jesus also told his disciples to seek first God’s righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) This means that we follow what Jehovah thinks is right and what is wrong and not what humans think. (Read Isaiah 55:8, 9.) Some people grew tobacco or sold tobacco products, trained others in war, or made and sold weapons of war before they became Christians. But after they learned the truth, most chose to change their work and qualify for baptism.—Isaiah 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 5:14.
11 Andrew is an example of someone who did that. When he and his wife learned about Jehovah, they decided to serve him. Andrew liked his job very much but left it. Why? Because the organization he worked for was involved in war, and he wanted to do what Jehovah says is right. When Andrew left his job, he had two children and enough money to last just a few months. It seemed that, like the Levites, he had no inheritance. He trusted in God and looked for a job. Now when they think about that time, Andrew and his family can say that these words are true: “The hand of Jehovah has not become too short.” (Isaiah 59:1) Because they kept their life simple, Andrew and his wife have even been able to pioneer. He says that at times they have been anxious about money, a place to live, their health, and just the fact that they are getting older. But Jehovah has always helped them. They can say without any doubt that serving Jehovah is rewarding and that it is the greatest honor a human can have. * (See footnote.)—Ecclesiastes 12:13.
12. What quality do we need to seek first God’s righteousness? Give examples from the area where you live.
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.” (Matthew 17:20) Would you still seek first God’s righteousness if that would cause you difficulties? If you are not sure whether you could do that, speak with others in the congregation. Their experiences about how Jehovah helped them will certainly make your faith stronger.
BE THANKFUL FOR JEHOVAH’S PROVISIONS
13. When we work hard in serving Jehovah, what trust must we have?
13 If you treasure serving Jehovah, you can be sure that he will give you everything you need, just as he did for the Levites. Think about David. Even though he was hiding in a cave, he was sure that God would help him. We too can trust in Jehovah even when it seems that no one can help us. Remember that when Asaph came “into the grand sanctuary of God,” he was better able to understand what troubled him. (Psalm 73:17) In the same way, we must trust in Jehovah to give us what we need to keep our friendship with him. This will show that we value our service to Jehovah no matter what our situation may be. We will let Jehovah be our share.
14, 15. What should we do when there is a change in the way we understand certain scriptures? Why?
14 Do you trust in Jehovah when he helps us to understand “the deep things of God” that are in the Bible? (1 Corinthians 2:10-13) The apostle Peter was an excellent example of someone who did that. Jesus told the Jews: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Many disciples thought that Jesus was talking about literal flesh and blood. They 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 completely understand Jesus’ words. But he trusted that Jehovah was using Jesus to help people understand the truth. When there is a change in the way we understand a Bible truth today, do you try to understand the reasons for the change? (Proverbs 4:18) The Beroeans in the first century “received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily.” (Acts 17:11) If you follow their example, you will value your service to God even more. You will be truly grateful to have Jehovah as your share.
MARRY ONLY IN THE LORD
16. How can single Christians let God be their share, according to 1 Corinthians 7:39?
16 Another way in which Christians keep God’s purposes in mind is by obeying the Bible’s command to marry “only in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39) Many decide to stay single rather than to disobey this command. God takes good care of those who do that. What did David do when he felt lonely and as if he had no one to help him? He asked Jehovah for help. David said: “Before him I kept pouring out my concern; before him I continued to tell about my own distress, when my spirit fainted away within me.” (Psalm 142:1-3) Jeremiah served God faithfully for many years as a single person. He too may have felt lonely. You can study his example in chapter 8 of the book God’s Word for Us Through Jeremiah.
17. What does one single sister do when she feels lonely?
17 A sister in the United States said that she has never made the decision to stay single. She wants to get married when she meets the right person. Her mother, who is not a Witness, did not care whom her daughter married. She just really wanted her to get married. The sister asked her mother if she wanted to be responsible for a bad marriage. But when the mother saw that her daughter had a good job, was taking care of herself, and was happy, she stopped talking so much about it. This sister feels lonely sometimes. She says: “I try to make Jehovah my confidence. He never forsakes me.” What has helped her to trust in Jehovah? She answers: “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?” She trusts what the Bible says: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” So she tries to help others without expecting anything in return. She continues: “When I am thinking, ‘What can I do to help this person?’ I have joy.” (Acts 20:35) She has Jehovah as her share, and she is happy in his service.
18. How can you become Jehovah’s share?
18 No matter what your situation is, you can let God be your share. If you do, you can be among his happy people. (2 Corinthians 6:16, 17) You can then become Jehovah’s share, as other servants of God did in the past. (Read Deuteronomy 32:9, 10.) Just as Israel became God’s share among the nations, he can choose you to be his share and lovingly care for you.—Psalm 17:8.
SOME WORDS EXPLAINED
▪ Secular work: A job or employment
▪ Literal: Something that you can see and touch is literal
WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER?
▪ How can you show that you trust in Jehovah by seeking first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness?
▪ How can you show that you are grateful for what Jehovah gives you?
▪ How can you prove that you trust in God by obeying his command to marry “only in the Lord”?
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Jehovah becomes our share when we put his service first in our life
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Our service to God is more important than our secular work
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Do you trust in Jehovah when there is a change in the way we understand a Bible truth?
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We obey the Bible’s command to marry “only in the Lord”
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Jeremiah’s example encourages God’s people