Zealous of Good Works

“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” —Titus 2:14

THE FAITHFUL PEOPLE of God in every age have been zealous of good works—the good works, that is, which have been authorized by God and blessed by him. Those who have professed to be his people, yet have been lukewarm toward the things he has asked them to do, have not been pleasing to him and are represented as being spewed out of his mouth.—Rev. 3:16

In the Old Testament we find notable examples of zeal in the work of the Lord. One of these is the occasion when, directed by the Lord, Moses called upon the people of Israel to volunteer their services and to donate their valuables to be used in the building and furnishing of the typical Tabernacle. The response to this opportunity was so generous that finally Moses found it necessary to urge the people to cease bringing their things, that more than sufficient had been furnished.

One not understanding how mightily the Spirit of God can work in the hearts and lives of his people might well have been skeptical of the possibility, in that barren wilderness, of erecting the Tabernacle and furnishing it with all its rich trimmings of gold and other rare material. But it was done, not because Moses was a brilliant leader, nor because he held a whip of fear over the heads of the people to make them comply with his request, but because they were stirred by the Spirit of God and rejoiced in the privilege of cooperating with him. Because God worked in and through the people, all the difficulties of the undertaking were overcome, and the Tabernacle was built.—Exod. 35:21-29


Another example of zeal for God and for his work is Nehemiah. The work in hand at that time was that of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after the Jews had returned from their seventy years of captivity in Babylon. There had been much delay in getting this work started, as the enemies of the Jews had thrown hindrances in the way. But finally, Nehemiah, secretary to King Artaxerxes, went to Jerusalem with written authority from the king to proceed with the work and this faithful servant of God did not permit further delay.

The Jews who were loyal to Nehemiah caught the spirit of the occasion and although they hazarded their lives to cooperate in the work, they zealously undertook the project, and the walls were built, “for the people had a mind to work.” (Neh. 4:6) The Lord’s work is never accomplished without difficulty, and certainly Nehemiah and his faithful company of co-laborers had to work in the face of much hardship, and even danger to their lives. Material was not too plentiful, their supply of stones being limited to what they could find in the pile of rubble which was still there from the time the former walls of the city were destroyed.

In addition to this handicap, the enemies of the Jews threatened to attack them in an effort to stop the work. But despite these difficulties the people ‘had a mind to work’. Encouraged by Nehemiah and having confidence in his ability to plan the work properly, they labored on until it was finished. However, confidence in Nehemiah was not their only source of strength and courage, but was, as Nehemiah said, that the real source of their inspiration was God: “We made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them [their enemies] day and night.” (Neh. 4:9) The fact that they prayed indicates that the basis of their confidence, and the inspiration for their zeal, was Israel’s God.

This is the secret of success in every work authorized by God and zealously undertaken by his people, and the assurance of victory in every battle for truth and righteousness. Nehemiah and his coworkers watched and prayed while they worked. As followers of the Master, we are bidden to do the same; for we, too, have a difficult task to perform—hard work to do and loads to lift—and are surrounded by enemies: the world, the flesh, and the Devil.


The work of God during the present Gospel Age has not been the building of literal city walls, but rather the building up of his people in their most holy faith—that is, their spiritual development as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. The foundation upon which we build, Paul explains, is Christ, and we are encouraged to build an enduring structure by the use of “gold, silver, precious stones,” rather than to build a superstructure of character with perishable material such as “wood, hay” and “stubble.”—I Cor. 3:12,13

We are given many illustrations in order that we may comprehend all that is involved in the work we are Divinely commissioned to do. One of these is that of the bride making herself ready for the marriage. The church is the prospective bride, and is preparing herself to be united with the “Lamb,” which is Christ. (Rev. 19:7,8) In this illustration, a collective work is indicated. True, each individual member of the prospective bride class has a work to do, but it is the collective work of all the individuals that makes the bride ready for the marriage—she makes “herself” ready. And who could think of a prospective bride preparing for her wedding who does not have a ‘mind to work’! Her whole heart and soul is in the work, and joyfully so, for she not only wants to be pleasing to her prospective bridegroom, but looks forward with fond anticipation to being with him and sharing his fortunes and his love.

The work of God in this age is in preparation for what he has promised to do in the next age, that is, the blessing of all the families of the earth. So we are being trained for that future work. Through the application of the Divine principles of righteousness in our own lives, we are being prepared to administer God’s law to the poor groaning creation in the time of the world’s trial, or judgment day. And how wonderfully Divine wisdom is displayed in the arrangements he has made for our training to be kings and priests unto God—the arrangements by which we are brought into actual contact with the people in our work of proclaiming the glad tidings of the kingdom!

As we have seen, our work of ‘building’ is an individual one as well as collective. Collectively we work, for example, in our local groups, or congregations. When we are faithful in evangelistic efforts, they usually result in attracting newly interested persons to our meetings. These mingle with us, and we seek to help them grow spiritually. Some make progress, and remain. Others do not, because they lose interest.

Thus it has been that throughout the Gospel Age every group of the Lord’s people has been a mixed one, and it is still so. In Paul’s day, for example, he indicated the varying degrees of spiritual development which existed in the various churches of that period. He did not, however, suggest that evangelistic efforts cease so that all in the congregations could ultimately become fully matured in Christ, and thus enjoy one another’s fellowship the more. No. Instead, he wrote to the church at Rome, admonishing that those who were strong should bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to “please themselves.”—Rom. 15:1

In what better way could the saints be trained to deal with all the various classes of society in the next age than by coming into actual contact with them now and endeavoring to help them understand something of the great principles of the Divine character! It is the experience of all Christians who are faithful in trying to help their fellows understand the truth, that never is the message of God’s love so precious to them and such a great power of regeneration in their own lives, as when they tell it to others. Never is a congregation of God’s people more alive, more joyful in the Spirit, more enthusiastic for the truth and more spiritually healthy, than when there are ‘beginners’ to care for and to build up in the most holy faith!


Admonishing the church as collective groups, Paul writes, “We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.”—Rom. 12:5-8

After emphasizing that all these services should be rendered in love, Paul adds, “Not slothful in business; fervent in Spirit; serving the Lord.” (Rom. 12:11) The ‘business’ here referred to is unquestionably the Lord’s business, his work, the various phases of which the apostle had just outlined. And to this ‘business’ we are to be ‘fervent in Spirit’, which is Paul’s way of describing that zeal for the work of God which Nehemiah referred to in his co-laborers as ‘having a mind to work’.

The essential services in the church are today as they were when Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans. The use of printing and other advantages of these ‘last days’ (Dan. 12:4) facilitate the work a great deal, but do not deprive any of the privilege of helping. All, for example, can be evangelists through the use of the printed page. Greater distances can be traveled to visit those who may need special encouragement. The point is that if we have ‘a mind to work’—first of all in applying the principles of the truth in our lives, and then in helping to reach and serve others—we will find something to do, some part of the ‘wall’ on which we can work.

When Nehemiah and his coworkers had nearly completed the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls—all except erecting the gates—their enemies subtly made overtures to Nehemiah asking to have a conference with him. But Nehemiah sent messengers to them saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” (Neh. 6:3) This is a good thought to apply in our own lives. While the Gospel Age work of preparing the church to live and reign with Christ a thousand years is nearly complete, we are highly honored with the privilege of still doing some ‘building’. But more than ever before, the enemies of the Lord, the truth, and his people, are endeavoring to attract us away from the job—all sorts of temptation to ease, and myriads of misleading sophistries are being presented. But in response to all these, may we always have the courage to say, ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down’.

Ours is not the boasted great and “wonderful works” of those to whom the Lord says, “I never knew you,” but the work of keeping “these sayings” of the Master. (Matt. 7:22-24) By keeping ‘these sayings’ we will be preparing ourselves and one another for glory, honor, and immortality in the kingdom with Jesus, whose image we are endeavoring to reflect as we lay down our lives as his ambassadors of light.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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