“Christ Jesus . . . gave himself for us that he might . . . cleanse for himself a people peculiarly his own, zealous for fine works.”
1, 2. What special honor do Jehovah’s Witnesses have? How do you feel about that?
PEOPLE feel honored when they are given an award for doing something special. For example, some are given honor when they help two nations to have peace with each other. But it is a much greater honor to be sent by God to help people to be at peace with him!
2 As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we are the only people who have that special honor. God and Christ direct our work to help people to “become reconciled to God,” that is, to become his friends. (2 Corinthians 5:20) So Jehovah uses us to draw people to him. As a result, millions in more than 235 lands have become God’s friends and have the hope of everlasting life. (Titus 2:11) We show zeal in our preaching work and invite “anyone that wishes” to learn the truth. (Revelation 22:17) We are “zealous for fine works,” that is, we love what we do for Jehovah and do the best we can to please him. (Titus 2:14) We will now learn how our zeal can help others to come to know Jehovah. One way is by our preaching work.
IMITATE THE ZEAL OF JEHOVAH AND JESUS
3. Why does the “zeal of Jehovah” give us confidence?
3 Isaiah 9:7 tells us that God’s Son would be King and that he would do good things for mankind. All of this happens because of the “zeal of Jehovah of armies.” Zeal is a burning desire to do something. So the words of that verse give us confidence that Jehovah truly wants mankind to be saved. We should be enthusiastic and zealous for the preaching work because Jehovah God is zealous. As one of God’s fellow workers, are you doing all you can to preach the good news?
Are you doing all you can to preach the good news?
4. How did Jesus set a perfect example of staying zealous in the ministry?
4 Jesus set a perfect example of staying zealous in the ministry. Even though many opposed him and wanted to kill him, he was zealous until the end of his life on earth. (John 18:36, 37) Because he knew that he would soon suffer and die, he worked even harder to help people come to know Jehovah.
5. How was Jesus like the worker in the illustration of the fig tree?
5 In the year 32, Jesus gave an illustration about a man who had a fig tree that did not produce figs. After three years, the man told his worker to cut it down, but the worker asked for more time to try to make the tree produce fruit. (Read Luke 13:6-9.) When Jesus said this, only a small number of people had become his disciples. But Jesus’ illustration showed that he wanted to work harder in the short time before he died. So he preached with more zeal in Judea and Perea for about six months. A few days before he died, Jesus wept because most did not accept his message.
6. Why do we need to try to do more in the ministry?
6 We need to try to do more in the ministry because we are very close to the end. (Read Daniel 2:41-45.) It is a great honor to be Jehovah’s Witnesses! We are the only people on earth who can tell others how mankind’s problems will be solved. A newspaper writer recently said that it is impossible to know why bad things happen to good people. But the Bible tells us why, and it is our responsibility and privilege as Christians to tell others. We should be “aglow with the spirit” as we do Jehovah’s work. (Romans 12:11) Jehovah will bless our work, and we can help people come to know and love him.
OUR SACRIFICES HONOR JEHOVAH
7, 8. How do our sacrifices honor Jehovah?
7 Paul endured many problems as he preached, such as “sleepless nights” and “times without food.” (2 Corinthians 6:5) Our brothers and sisters make similar sacrifices for the ministry. The pioneers view the ministry as their most important work, but many of them also have to have a job. Think, too, of the missionaries who work hard to help people in foreign lands. (Philippians 2:17) The elders sometimes have to miss meals or lose sleep to take care of the members of the congregation. Older ones and sick ones in the congregation do their best to attend the meetings and to go in field service. It is encouraging to see how these servants of God are willing to make sacrifices for their ministry. But even people outside the congregation notice how important our ministry is to us.
Because we are willing to make sacrifices to preach, we honor Jehovah God
8 In a letter to a newspaper in the United Kingdom, a non-Witness reader said: ‘People are losing their faith in religions. I don’t know what the church leaders are doing. They certainly do not go out as Christ did and meet the people. The only religion that seems to care is Jehovah’s Witnesses, who go out and meet people and are preaching the truth.’ Most people in the world are not willing to make sacrifices for others. But because we are willing to make sacrifices to preach, we honor Jehovah God.
9. What can help us to be zealous for fine works in our ministry?
9 What should we do if we do not have the zeal we used to have for the ministry? We should think of all the good that results from the work Jehovah gives us to do. (Read Romans 10:13-15.) In order for people to be saved, they must have faith in Jehovah and call upon his name. But they cannot do that unless we preach to them. Knowing this should make us want to be zealous for fine works and do the most we can in preaching the good news of the Kingdom.
GOOD CONDUCT HELPS PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW GOD
10. How does our good conduct make people want to know God?
10 Our zeal for the ministry is not enough to make people want to know God. The second thing that helps them is our good Christian conduct. Paul explained why our conduct is important by saying: “In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with.” (2 Corinthians 6:3) Our clean speech and good conduct may make other people want to worship Jehovah. (Titus 2:10) In fact, we often hear that people respond to the truth when they see how we imitate Christ.
11. Why should we think and pray about the way our conduct affects others?
11 Just as our good conduct can make people want to learn the truth, bad conduct can make people not want to know Jehovah at all. So whether we are at work, at home, or in school, we should make sure that we do nothing that would turn someone away from Jehovah. If we were to “practice sin willfully,” we would lose our relationship with Jehovah forever. (Hebrews 10:26, 27) This should make us think carefully and pray about our conduct and how it affects others. As the world’s conduct keeps getting worse, it should be easier for people to see the difference “between one serving God and one who has not served him.” (Malachi 3:18) Yes, our good Christian conduct is an important way to help people want to become friends of God.
12-14. How does the way we endure opposition affect how others view the truth? Give an example.
12 In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul explained that he had been persecuted, beaten, and put in prison because people opposed his ministry. (Read 2 Corinthians 6:4, 5.) When we endure opposition, others may be moved to accept the truth. Several years ago, some in Angola wanted to get rid of all of Jehovah’s Witnesses in their area. They whipped 2 baptized Witnesses and 30 interested ones until their flesh was cut and bleeding. They even whipped the women and children. They wanted others to be afraid to listen to Jehovah’s Witnesses, so they forced the local people to watch. But later many of these people asked the Witnesses for home Bible studies! As a result, the preaching work continued, more people came into the truth, and the brothers were blessed.
13 This example shows that when people see that we are courageous during a test, they might decide to accept the truth. The courage of Peter and the other apostles may have encouraged others to become God’s friends. (Acts 5:17-29) Our schoolmates, workmates, or family members may accept the truth because they see that we have courage when we experience opposition.
14 There are always some of our brothers who are being persecuted. Right now, for example, about 40 brothers in Armenia are in prison because of their neutrality. And many more in that country will likely be put there in the near future. In Eritrea, 55 Witnesses are in prison, and some of them are over 60 years old. In South Korea, about 700 Witnesses are in prison because of their neutrality. For 60 years our brothers there have been sent to prison. We should keep praying that the faithfulness of these brothers who are persecuted will honor God and help others to accept the truth.
Our good Christian conduct is an important way to help people want to become friends of God
15. Give an experience that shows how our honesty can make others want to know the truth.
15 The fact that we are honest may also make people want to learn the truth. (Read 2 Corinthians 6:4, 7.) For example, a sister was putting money into a ticket machine on a bus when a friend told her that she should not pay for a ticket because the ride was so short. The sister explained that the right thing to do was to pay for the ticket, even for just one stop. After that, her friend got off the bus. Then the bus driver asked the sister, ‘Are you one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?’ She said ‘Yes. What made you ask?’ ‘I heard your conversation about paying for the bus ticket, and I know that Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the very few people who pay for tickets and are honest in all things.’ A few months later, a man approached the sister at a meeting and said, ‘Do you know me? I’m the bus driver who talked to you about paying for the ticket. After I saw how honest you were, I decided to begin studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.’ When people see that we are honest, they trust the good news that we preach.
MAKE SURE THAT YOUR ATTITUDE AND CONDUCT HONOR GOD
16. What can happen when we are long-suffering, loving, and kind? Give an example of what false religious leaders do.
16 When we are long-suffering, loving, and kind, we may make other people want to learn about Jehovah, his purposes, and his people. The attitude and conduct of true Christians honor God. Some religious leaders pretend to have a good attitude and good conduct. But they lie to their followers and take money from them. Some have even used that money to buy expensive homes and cars for themselves. One even built a doghouse that had air conditioning! They do not follow Christ’s command to “give free.” (Matthew 10:8) Instead, they are like the bad Israelite priests. They teach “just for a price” and teach wrong ideas about God. (Micah 3:11) When they act like that, they do not help anyone to become God’s friend.
17, 18. (a) How can we honor Jehovah with our conduct? (b) Why do you want to stay zealous for fine works?
17 But people want to become God’s friends when they recognize that we are teaching the truth and see that we treat our neighbors kindly. For example, one pioneer spoke to an elderly widow at a door, but she quickly told him that she was not interested. She said that when he rang the doorbell, she was on a ladder in the kitchen, trying to replace a lightbulb. “It isn’t safe for you to be doing that alone,” he said. The brother then changed the bulb and went to the next door. When the woman’s son learned about what had happened, he was so impressed that he tried to find the brother to thank him. Eventually, the son accepted a Bible study.
We are zealous for fine works because we love Jehovah and others
18 Why do you want to stay zealous for fine works? Perhaps it is because you know that if you are zealous for the ministry and have good conduct, you will honor Jehovah and help others to be saved. (Read 1 Corinthians 10:31-33.) Another reason for our zeal in preaching and our good conduct is that we truly want to show our love for God and for others. (Matthew 22:37-39) If we are zealous for fine works, we will have real joy and satisfaction now. And we can look forward to the time when all mankind will be happy to worship and honor our Creator, Jehovah.