Watch Your Strength!
WE ARE usually on guard against our weaknesses, lest we fall. But did it ever occur to you that we should watch our strong qualities? Good traits carried to excess can become foibles that cause our downfall.
It is written in the Bible: “Do not be over-righteous, and be not excessively wise; why should you ruin yourself? The best way is to take the one line, and yet not avoid the other; he who stands in awe of God shall avoid both extremes.” (Eccl. 7:16, AT; Ec 7:18, Mo) We should strive to do what is right, and avoid the extremes of unrighteousness and self-righteousness. We should seek knowledge, but not ambitiously to outshine others and become wise in our own conceit. That would be to our ruin.
Unity and harmony should reign in Jehovah’s organization. But to push this into rigid uniformity would be wrong. Organizational unity does not call for crushing variety and individuality. We should have courage to be ourselves.
Jehovah’s people should show friendliness and be sociable. But extreme sociability wastes time and makes one seem lost when alone. One who cannot be alone is shallow. Small wonder that he is bored by his own company. A person of inner wealth often desires privacy and retires to be alone for study, meditation and prayer. Jesus did. Remember?
Theocratic training should give us confidence, but we should not become overconfident and exhibit arrogance. Our conviction in the truthfulness of Jehovah’s Word should be strong and we should explain it with confidence, but to become inflexible and dogmatic would be an unwise extreme. We should speak with the gentleness and modesty of mature wisdom that does not need to be bolstered by arbitrariness.
Some are naturally candid, frank and outspoken, which only commends them. But they must guard against becoming tactless, blunt and cutting. Others are very tactful, know where to draw the line. If we become overtactful we may become vague and evasive, watering down Jehovah’s message until it loses its point.
If one of your strengths lies in conscientiousness as to duty, beware of self-tormenting overconscientiousness and perfectionism. You are a hard worker. That is commendable. But do not be so fussy that you go far beyond the practical requirements of a matter, exhausting yourself needlessly, and perhaps bringing on a breakdown. Restless activity not balanced by reasonable and natural periods for relaxation of mind and body is slow suicide, not sacrifice.
Follow the simple rules of healthful living that you have learned work for you, and enjoy life. Apply these rules too strictly and you will become a self-centered faddist constantly fretting and talking about your health, food and drink, vitamins and minerals.
If you are of a loving and affectionate nature, be careful that your affection does not turn into sweetish and unprincipled sentimentality. Do not limit your friendly affection to a few favorites. Do not be partial. You have many brothers. Widen your heart and numberless good friends will find room in it. True, Jesus loved John particularly, drawn to him because of inner kinship, both of them being loving and fearless. But Jesus did not limit his friendship to John alone, did he? Neither should you limit yours.
Not a few of you are eloquent and of a ready tongue, gifted with a free flow of thoughts and words. Control this gift. Do not let the words flow unchanneled or in unnecessary detail. Do not monopolize conversations. A good conversationalist is also a good listener. Do not talk too much and say too little. Rather than say little with many words, say much with few. “He who spares his words has true wisdom.” So count your words and you will make your words count. Bubble over with truth, yes; but do not babble. Remember, even silence can be eloquent at times. “Even a fool is counted wise, if he keep silent—intelligent, if he close his lips.”—Prov. 17:27, 28, AT.
So while guarding against our weaknesses let us watch over our strengths, remembering: “He who stands in awe of God shall avoid both extremes.”