Examples of Recognizing the Organization
1. What Scriptural example do we have of a missionary’s recognizing the organization, and what was the outcome of this?
CONSIDER a number of good examples of properly recognizing the theocratic organization and its governing body. Not so long after the Christian congregation was organized at Jerusalem rabid persecution by the Jewish religionists scattered the congregation from the city, except the apostles, who remained as the governing body. Philip the evangelist or missionary carried the preaching of the good news north into Samaria and succeeded in establishing a congregation in the city, the members of which he baptized. One important thing the congregation lacked: the holy spirit with its miraculous gifts. Philip wanted the congregation of native witnesses to receive these. Recognizing the theocratic organization and knowing that the miraculous gifts of the spirit could be imparted only by the apostles of the Lamb or in their immediate presence, Philip sent word up to Jerusalem. That was an unselfish, loyal recognition of the theocratic organization by an evangelist or missionary. What was the outcome? The apostolic governing body sent down the apostles Peter and John. Then came the impartation of the spirit and its gifts to the baptized believers in Samaria. As it is written: “And these went down and prayed for them to get holy spirit. For it had not yet fallen upon any one of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they went to laying their hands upon them, and they began to receive holy spirit. . . . through the laying on of the hands of the apostles the spirit was given.”—Acts 8:1-19, NW.
2. How, in the case of Paul and Barnabas, was there a recognition of the organization, and what results followed?
2 Later Barnabas and Paul, as missionaries to the uncircumcised nations, were greatly disturbed by the question of circumcision and the Gentiles. They both had the right understanding of the question, but when dissension arose in the Antioch congregation, “they arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and older men in Jerusalem regarding this question.” (Acts 15:1, 2, NW) Again this recognizing of the theocratic organization brought results. A special meeting of its governing body at Jerusalem was called, the question was thoroughly aired, James was used as God’s mouthpiece in calling attention to the fulfillment of Scripture and in stating the right conclusion to be drawn respecting the uncircumcised Gentile believers, the governing body backed by holy spirit drew up a letter setting out the basic requirements for such believers, and Paul and Barnabas left Jerusalem with the letter. This letter was read to many cities where the question was a moot one. As Paul and his companion traveled about through the cities that had believers, “they would deliver to those there for observance the decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men who were in Jerusalem.” The effect of this was that, instead of the congregations’ continuing shaky and divided in opinion, “the congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day.” (Acts 15:3 to 16:5, NW) Recognition of the theocratic organization is unifying, strengthening, productive of increase.
3. By whom must there be similar recognition of the organization today, and why, and how?
3 Today there must be similar recognition of the theocratic organization by the branch servants and all other special representatives of the organization as well as those who are its appointees to positions of service. Quite like the case of the apostle Paul and his young attendant Timothy, the visible theocratic organization under Christ has laid its hands upon these appointees and representatives, installing them in office. The thing for them now is to accept instructions from the organization and carry them out conscientiously. The thing is to do this with the royal Ruler of Jehovah’s theocratic organization in mind and to do it in ready acknowledgment of the King and for his honor.
4, 5. How did Joab illustrate that we must not try to capture glory for ourselves and put our King in the shade?
4 There should be no endeavor selfishly to capture glory for oneself and put the King in the shade. Take King David’s nephew, General Joab. When in a proper frame of mind toward the king, he displayed the right course of acknowledgment. The kingdom of Ammon had greatly insulted the messengers of King David, and Joab, his field commanding officer, fought against the capital city Rabbah and captured its city of waters, that is, that part of the city containing its water supply or the fort protecting its water supply. With this vital part of the city taken, the capital city could not hold out much longer, but surrender must be unavoidable eventually. Instead of pressing the siege of the city to a successful climax by himself for his personal fame, Joab showed the proper regard for his earthly sovereign and for the theocratic fitness of things involving Jehovah’s anointed king. He preferred to have Jehovah’s anointed king to complete the capture of the enemy’s royal city and to earn the fame for this exploit, even though he, Joab, had done the vital preliminary work.
5 “Joab sent messengers to David, and said, ‘I have fought against Rabbah; moreover, I have taken the city of waters. Now, then, gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it; lest I take the city, and it be called by my name.’ So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah, and fought against it and took it. And he took the crown of their king [or, the crown of Milcom] from his head; the weight of it was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone; and it was placed on David’s head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city, a very great amount.”—2 Sam. 12:26-30, RS; 2 Sa 10:1-7.
6, 7. (a) How does an appointed servant keep from using his assignment of service as a steppingstone to personal fame? (b) Instead of personal fame, he aims and works in favor of what?
6 Likewise, today, a representative or appointee of the theocratic organization may be given a special assignment of work to do. He sets to work to do it. Jehovah God blesses him with success. The work nears completion or, finally, it needs publication. If the organization’s representative or appointed agent were seeking publicity, he would try to carry through till the work accomplished was brought forth to public attention and have his own name attached to it and called upon it and thus gain flattering fame for himself. But he sensibly appreciates that he is just a theocratic slave given a privileged work to do in the organization and that he deserves no public praise for the work that he was honored with doing and that he was able to do only with the help of Jehovah and his King Jesus Christ. He was not using this privileged assignment of work as a steppingstone to selfish, personal glory that would draw public notice to himself and eclipse the importance of the theocratic organization of which he is a slave.
7 So he keeps himself out of the limelight. He keeps his own part in the work out of the public eye. He steps aside to let his superior in the organization follow up his work with the necessary steps that need to be taken to crown the whole transaction with final success that brings it before the public notice. Thus he allows the glory for the accomplishment to go to the royal Head of the organization, Jesus Christ. He prefers to have the organization credited with the accomplishment and to have this accomplishment publicly recognized as a specimen of the work of the entire theocratic organization. Let the organization have the commendation, let appreciation of the organization be what is built up among the public, let the public have the organization prominently in mind and speak of it and have confidence in it rather than pay adulation to some incidental member of it, some mere slave in it. This curbs the entrance of personal pride that leads to a fall, and it means the humbling of oneself under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt the faithful one in due time.—Jas. 4:6, 7; 1 Pet. 5:6.
8. How did General Joab balk King David’s use of General Abner, and how did he disobey the king in connection with Absalom?
8 If General Joab had only been theocratically minded like that all the time! But he was not. A number of times he was moved with envy toward others and resentment at the king’s appointments. This moved him to rebellious actions toward his king, the final one costing him his life. After King Saul died, the tribe of Judah made David king at the city of Hebron. The other eleven tribes chose Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, as their king. Civil war ensued. After a time General Abner, falling out with Ish-bosheth, entered into negotiations with King David, to bring the rest of the tribes over to David as Jehovah’s anointed. But General Joab, nursing revenge against General Abner, balked this by tricking Abner and killing him. (2 Sam. 2:1 to 3:39) Years afterward David’s own son Absalom rebelled against him, forced him to flee from Jerusalem across the Jordan River, and then went out with a superior army to fight him and to put him to death and take over the throne of Israel. When Joab and his fellow officers went out to the fight, the fugitive David commanded them: “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, with Absalom!” But when Absalom was reported hung by his hairy head in the branches of a tree while he was trying to escape from defeat, Joab went there and deliberately thrust three weapons into helpless Absalom to his death, and much to the king’s grief.—2 Sam. 15:1 to 19:4, AT.
9. How did Joab thwart David’s advancement of General Amasa, and how did he go contrary to the divine purpose respecting Solomon?
9 Incidentally, Absalom had made Amasa of the tribe of Judah his general in the revolt. (2 Sam. 17:24, 25) After Absalom’s death the tribes of Israel showed the desire to have King David brought back to Jerusalem, although the tribe of Judah was slow about making the move to do so. In view of General Joab’s rebellious acts King David sent word to Amasa, promising that he should become commander of the king’s army instead of disobedient Joab. Characteristically, Joab deeply resented this. Some time after David’s return to Jerusalem and commissioning Amasa, Joab met Amasa. Joab, like Judas toward Jesus, made a deceptive gesture to give Amasa a kiss, and with Amasa thus unsuspectingly off guard Joab whipped out his sword and stabbed him, disemboweling him. (2 Sam. 19:8-15; 20:3-13, 23-25) Joab displayed himself to be a murderer, “avenging in time of peace blood which had been shed in war, and putting innocent blood upon the girdle about his loins, and upon the sandals on his feet.” (1 Ki. 2:5, RS, mar.) When David’s son Adonijah tried to get ahead of Jehovah’s appointment of Solomon to succeed King David and called a select group of men to set him up as king, Joab accepted the invitation and followed and supported Adonijah. To thwart Adonijah’s presumptuous usurpation of the throne, King David had his beloved son Solomon officially crowned.
10. How did Joab meet his end, and why thus?
10 David’s final instructions to King Solomon concerning Joab were: “Act therefore according to your wisdom, so that you do not allow his hoary head to go down in peace to Sheol.” (1 Ki. 2:6, AT) When the time came for Solomon to carry out those instructions, Joab fled and sought sanctuary by grabbing hold and hanging onto the horns of Jehovah’s altar. At that holy place it became necessary for him to be struck dead, because, to quote Solomon, “he fell upon two men more righteous and honorable than he, and slew them with the sword, without the knowledge of my father David: Abner, the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa, the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah.” (1 Ki. 2:28-35, AT) Joab’s becoming disgruntled and trying to keep better men than he from taking over the office he had abused led to disaster for him.
11. What course by a servant works to the best results, and, if demoted, what should he not do?
11 It works to the best results for any appointed servant in the organization today to stay loyal to Jehovah’s anointed King, the Greater David, and to give to his position of service the best that he can render, thus making proper recognition of the theocratic organization. If changes are made in a branch or in any other division of the service organization and you are demoted, beware of acting resentful like Joab and begrudging the new appointee his position. Do not try to retard, impede or burden the new servant now in your former position and do not withhold your sincere wishes that he may have more success than you had in the position, because it is the time for God’s organization and his work to prosper.
12. To avoid ending up like Joab or being like Diotʹrephes, what should one do when the Society makes a change affecting one?
12 To counteract any feeling disgruntled and taking umbrage at the Society’s making the change, humbly accept the lesson to be conveyed by the change and correct yourself and improve yourself in whatever respects you should do so. In a chastened spirit, work on loyally with the organization and alongside the brother that replaces you, for the good and the advancement of the organization. Avoid a dreary end like that of Joab. Never defy the theocratic organization and its governing body as Diotʹrephes did, of whom the apostle John wrote: “I wrote [as a member of the governing body] something to the congregation, but Diotʹrephes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us with respect. That is why, if I come, I will call to remembrance his works which he goes on doing, chattering about us with wicked words. Also, not being content with these things, neither does he himself receive the brothers with respect, and those who are wanting to receive them he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation. Beloved one, be an imitator, not of what is evil, but of what is good.” (3 John 9-11, NW) So humble yourself and be loyally submissive to the organization’s appointments of servants.
IMPATIENCE LEADING TO PRESUMPTION
13. How may a servant show a failure to wait upon Jehovah after he has been reproved by the organization?
13 In recognizing the theocratic organization one must not fail to obey the advice: “Wait for Jehovah, and keep his way.” “Wait for Jehovah: be strong, and let thy heart take courage; yea, wait thou for Jehovah.” (Ps. 37:34; 27:14, AS) For one thing, this means not running ahead of the organization in various ways. One may do this in a negative way. How? One may receive from the organization a reproof for having made a misstep or for wrong conduct in one’s position of service. If the reproved one says to himself, “They do not appreciate my service,” he is overestimating himself, taking himself too seriously, and he fails to see the point of the reproof. If he feels keenly hurt at the reproof he may persuade himself that he is of no use in the position of service or he may feel he should retaliate. So, taking matters into his own hands, he abruptly quits the position without giving notice and moves out without any orders from the organization’s governing body to do so, and thus leaves the position of service to take care of itself. That is hasty, ill-advised action. A reproof is not a discharge from a position; it is a correction for the benefit of the position and the one occupying it. The right thing to do is to take the reproof as something deserved and to cause one to do better, to act correctly in carrying out organization instructions, and then wait upon the organization for its next move, whether to discharge the reproved one or to retain him in the same position in view of adopting a changed course. Remember: “The reproofs [or, admonitions] of discipline are the way of life.” (Prov. 6:23, RS; AT) Benefit by the reproofs, wait upon Jehovah as represented by his theocratic organization, and live.
14. How do some, feeling precocious or superfaithful, try to run ahead, as during the judgment trials of 1917 and 1918?
14 Sometimes some feel precocious, that is, they feel themselves to be especially early in their development mentally or spiritually, or feel superfaithful in comparison with most others in the congregation, who seem to be backward, retarded, unprogressive. They think too highly of themselves and become impatient with the others and even with the entire theocratic organization. Feeling they must take the lead and show the organization what real progress is and what real advanced thought and understanding are, they break away, taking along as many so-called “progressives” as they can, and part company with the theocratic organization. They then set up their own supposedly superior, more advanced society. During the heavy judgment trials of 1917 and 1918 a number of prominent ones in the Watch Tower Society did just that thing and a number of separate organizations of their own were set up. But after these thirty-six years where are they today, and where, on the other hand, is Jehovah’s theocratic organization today?
15. How does Moses’ example rebuke those who forsake Jehovah’s organization for one of their own making?
15 There are good Scriptural examples against such a heady, impatient course. Take Moses, for instance. Moses had an opportunity not of his own making to have Jehovah God himself start a new typical theocratic organization with Moses as the patriarchal head to replace the faithless nation of Israel that had broken their Law covenant with God and had turned to licentious calf-worship. Provoked, Jehovah said to Moses: “So now let me be, that my anger may blaze against them and I may exterminate them, and let me make you into a great nation.” But Moses did not have in mind exalting himself; he had larger considerations. For Jehovah to destroy there in the wilderness the people whom he had gloriously delivered from Egypt would bring reproach upon His name. It would give Egyptians and other pagans the opportunity to jeer at Jehovah’s name or to impute wrong, malicious motives to him. Moses remembered Jehovah’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as it affected their offspring, the nation of Israel. Instead of hungrily grasping at the opportunity to have himself glorified in a new organization of Jehovah, he pleaded with Jehovah to feel sorry for his wayward people and to consider the faithful remnant for his own name’s sake. (Ex. 32:1-14, NW) How Moses’ unselfish course rebukes those who forsake Jehovah’s organization for one of their own making!
16, 17. How were Joshua and Caleb tried as to waiting upon Jehovah, but what did they do?
16 Joshua and Caleb are also shining examples of waiting upon Jehovah with continued faithful service and not trying to run ahead of him. In the second year of their exodus from Egypt and after the twelve spies returned from reconnoitering the promised land of milk and honey, ten of the spies twisted the facts about the land and discouraged the people from following Jehovah God and at once marching in under him, executing the condemned pagan inhabitants and taking possession of the land in vindication of Jehovah’s covenant. However, Joshua and Caleb gave a faithful report and magnified Jehovah’s power over the enemy, to embolden the nation of Israel to go forward into the land to victory. For Israel’s lack of faith in Almighty God and for openly rebelling against him on this occasion Jehovah sentenced the faithless complainers to die in the wilderness and the entire nation to wander in the wilderness for forty years before he would bring the survivors into the Promised Land.
17 At this divine decision what did Joshua and Caleb do? Did they say, ‘This nation is too slow, too cowardly for us, and we will go ahead for ourselves’? Did they clear out of Israel because they were not progressive, not plucky enough but easily frightened, so that they were penalized with a thirty-nine-year postponement of entering the Promised Land and were kept at a standstill for that time? Did they feel superfaithful, superrighteous, and determine that they were not going to hang around with such a nation for all those years of delay? No; but they trusted in Jehovah’s promise that he would preserve them out of the condemned generation and would favor them with an entry into the land at the postponed date. They humbled themselves under his mighty hand and stuck with the national organization because Jehovah himself did and because Moses also did, Moses pleading again with God not to blot the nation out and to make of him a “nation greater and mightier than they are.”—Num. 13:25 to 14:38, NW.
18. In what way did they not lose anything because of choosing that course, and of what are they examples?
18 Caleb and Joshua did not lose anything because of choosing to suffer the consequences of the nation’s bad conduct along with them and not presuming to pick up and march ahead for themselves into the Promised Land. No; but during those thirty-nine years of delay they saw further mighty works of Jehovah with his people and built up a valuable experience. At Jehovah’s due time they were exceptionally admitted by Him into Canaan along with the faithful Levites, Joshua as Moses’ successor in the national leadership and Caleb as his faithful fellow warrior for the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty. Think of how valuable Joshua and Caleb were to the visible theocratic organization then! What examples they were of faithfulness, of theocratic submission, of competence for God’s work and of his reward for loyalty and devotion to God! They are also worthy examples to us during our trials today.
HONOR TO THOSE RENDERING HONOR
19. (a) For the expansion of what should we work, and how should we help native believers to see the breadth of the organization? (b) How can we be powerful examples of the right course toward it?
19 God’s Word, the Bible, being an organizational book, it sets forth every inducement and encouragement to place the theocratic organization ahead of self and to recognize it and to stick to it loyally through thick and thin. Our endeavor should be to expand the organization and see it prosper under God’s blessing instead of merely enlarging our own selves in its affairs and in the esteem and influence of those inside the organization. Why not be like Rahab who covenanted with the Israelite spies not for just her own protection and preservation at the miraculous fall of Jericho but for the protection and preservation of all her relationship who would exercise faith and seek security in her house? (Josh. 2:1-21) We should try to help others to see the theocratic organization with which we are associated and of which we are both servants and symbols, just as Jehovah’s witnesses were in the mammoth convention in July of 1953 at Yankee Stadium, New York city. If we are working as branch servants or as missionaries in lands foreign to our own, we should help native believers and witnesses to develop a keen appreciation of the theocratic organization, which takes in more than merely their own local organization, helping them thus to rise up above a limited, provincial view of what organization means. Our own unbreakable unity and harmony with the organization, our own compliance with its arrangements, our own working steadily with it as diligent publishers of the Kingdom news will be a powerful example. Out of love for it we shall want to see it stay clean, always fit for the pure use of its great Creator and Builder, Jehovah God. Our love for it will not let fiery persecution sever us from it.
20. For what course shall we receive the needed help from the organization, and for doing what will exaltation eventually come?
20 One thought we should always treasure, that if we humbly and loyally recognize the theocratic organization by zealous, faithful submission and co-operation, it will recognize us, support us, work for us and retain us in its divine service. The rule that its own expert Creator and God follows is this, in his own words: “Them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” (1 Sam. 2:30, AS) By honoring God and showing the highest esteem for him through devotedly recognizing his approved organization we shall continue in happy, gratifying relationship with it and enjoy many privileges of service with it now. In the end there will be a suitable reward from Jehovah God through Jesus Christ inside his theocratic organization in the new world after the battle of Armageddon. This means that the theocratic organization, without which we could never get along successfully, will help us to keep our integrity toward God and to share in vindicating his sovereignty over the universe and his kingdom under Christ. With everlasting life we shall be exalted then for humbling ourselves now under the mighty hand of God.