Trust Your Proved, Faithful Brothers
“Be obedient to those who are governing you and be submissive.”—Heb. 13:17, NW.
1. Why does love for Jehovah’s organization not ensure against the possibility of showing disrespect?
A CHILD’S home training is evidenced by his behavior. The favorable record that has been established by the New World society, then, speaks well for the excellent instruction received from the great mother organization above. Outright opposition within the New World society is almost unknown. But that is no cause for complacency. Most children really love their parents, do they not? And yet does that mean they are never disrespectful? Even the best-trained and best-mannered children will offend in small ways once in a while, and children who disobey mother must be disciplined. Can you still hear mother say, “You just wait till your father gets home, young man!”? Well, remember our proverb: “Reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” So when we are disciplined by our heavenly Father through his wifely organization it is to instruct us and help us to grow up and become really mature Christians giving due honor to our Father and mother. Our Father holds mother responsible for our training and that is why Paul wrote: “Be obedient to those who are governing you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account, that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.”—Heb. 13:17, NW.
2. What effect on the organization does our conduct outside have?
2 For this reason Paul admonished Titus, who had oversight of certain congregations: “Continue reminding them to be in subjection and be obedient to governments and authorities as rulers, to be ready for every good work, to speak injuriously of no one, not to be belligerent, to be reasonable, exhibiting all mildness toward all men.” (Titus 3:1, 2, NW) Certainly being “ready for every good work” would include conducting ourselves outside the organization in such a way that we would not bring reproach on our Father’s and our mother’s good name. We do not live our own lives any more. Our lives belong to God, who bought us with the blood of Jesus Christ. We are subject, therefore, to God through Christ, the chief one in God’s wifely organization, which is our mother. Hence, as parents are known by their children, to bring reproach on the visible New World society is to bring reproach on Jehovah God and Christ Jesus and on our mother.
3. How does gossip bring reproach upon the organization?
3 Then Paul says to “speak injuriously of no one.” Gossip puts our mother in a bad light. How is that? Because our brother is a part of God’s New World society, and if we speak of him injuriously it is the same as speaking against Christ, the chief member of the mother organization. Suppose our brother has really done something that is wrong. Will your exposing his nakedness and shame to others add to the respect due our mother? Into which of the two classes Jesus described at Matthew twenty-five do you think this action would fit—that of the “sheep” or that of the “goats,” those who fed and clothed him, or those who left him destitute? Gossip is even worse than just ignoring spiritual need, because to that need it adds reproach and shame. If you think one of mother’s children needs a spanking, do not try to do it behind his back with your own tongue. Take it in the right way to our Father through his organization and let Him administer what correction may be necessary. That is the respectful way. Besides, if you do not, you might even find yourself acting like the “goat” class!
4. Why is belligerence out of place in the New World society?
4 Paul says “not to be belligerent.” Have you ever noticed how some children are always ready for a fight? Nothing any of the other children do pleases them and everything they say is in a bossy, scolding tone of voice. Do you like such children? Certainly you do not. So why should we imitate such unruly adolescent traits as these? Why should we carry a chip around on our shoulder to fight if one knocks it off? Who really wants to be a juvenile delinquent in the New World society?
SUBJECTION IN A PRACTICAL WAY
5, 6. (a) How does criticism of servants demonstrate a lack of trust? (b) As to applying the Society’s counsel, how can making mental reservations be disastrous?
5 No, Paul urges “be reasonable,” that is, try to understand the theocratic way of doing things and get in harmony with it. There are some things that happen in the organization that we may not understand. The servants may take a course of action that we think is wrong. Now the unreasonable attitude would be to criticize. We may not, and most generally do not, know all the facts in the matter; but the unreasonable person will not consider that for a moment. He will immediately conclude that the course is all wrong just because he does not understand it. Well, few of us understand the facts of nuclear physics either, do we? But the hydrogen bomb certainly proves that the conclusions of its makers are real and substantial. So would we not be foolish to invite an explosion of a hydrogen bomb in our own back yard just because we do not understand it? Yet an unreasonable, disrespectful attitude within God’s family can be just as disastrous as setting off a hydrogen bomb.
6 Is it really as serious as that? Think for a moment. Consider what happened to Saul for disobedience. His neglect in discharging his theocratic assignment to vindicate Jehovah’s word and name brought him a just sentence at the hands of Jehovah’s representative, Samuel. (1 Sam. 15:1-3, 11, 22, 23) Ignoring counsel from headquarters or from the servants in the local congregation is negligence and a sign of disrespect for theocratic authorities. We may take the position that some instructions do not apply to us and may make some mental reservations as to the advisability of carrying them out, even though we might recognize that the suggestions embody sound Scriptural principles. In this way we give only partial support to the organization and the commission to preach “this good news of the kingdom.” We may assume that these instructions are only incidentals, that the important thing is ‘bringing the ark of Jehovah up into Jerusalem.’ David learned to his sorrow (and to Uzza’s death) that singing praise to Jehovah and good intentions are not enough to bring the full reward of Jehovah’s blessing. True worship must be performed according to the ordinance of Jehovah, and what might seem like minor details are important if they issue through the channel of God’s organization.—1 Chron. 13:6-10; 15:11-15.
7. (a) How can it be shown that trust in the governing body of God’s visible organization is not misplaced? (b) How is this trust demonstrated by all Kingdom publishers?
7 Respect for Jehovah’s organization means to trust our proved, faithful brothers. These are the ones who through much hardship and experience have demonstrated that the spirit of God is with them. The rich blessing that has been poured out upon the visible organization is evidence that the governing body and those who represent it are deserving of our full support and trust. This we can demonstrate only by accepting every provision as coming from the Lord through the “faithful and discreet slave.” It means that those who are selected as servants in the congregation should gladly accept their appointments as representatives of the Lord through the governing body and that they should faithfully discharge the obligations of their appointments as though it were the governing body itself acting. It means that all in the congregation should perform all their works with a recognition of theocratic counsel emanating from the true channel. It means engaging in the house-to-house work, making back-calls and conducting home Bible studies, and, particularly now, giving our full support to the magazine work. It means preparing ourselves thoroughly to participate in every special literature campaign that is arranged for by the Society. It means for those who are in position to do so to enroll as pioneers and for those who are already enrolled to consider seriously the special pioneer work if the opportunity is opened. It means supporting the Society with our material contributions as well. It means helping one another with a real spirit of brotherly love, constantly on the alert for an opportunity to show our appreciation to Jehovah and his motherly organization for their goodness to us. How better can this be done than by demonstrating our genuine affection for his children, our brothers?
8. How can disrespect for counsel through The Watchtower be shown, and what does it really amount to?
8 We all know we must always seek to advance in theocratic education and conduct. We constantly receive counsel from God’s organization through the columns of The Watchtower telling us how we should conduct ourselves in theocratic living. Now if we immediately forget these things and refuse to apply them in our daily lives—not even making the effort—how disrespectful that is of the teaching or law of our mother! It is not bringing the full tithe into Jehovah’s storehouse, and what rich blessings we miss thereby! (Mal. 3:10) Actually we are spurning Jehovah’s table, ignoring counsel, ‘forsaking our mother’s teaching.’ And while our course may not be sufficient for the visible organization to take action or perhaps even notice, still, our heavenly Father is not shortsighted and whatever action he takes is certain and sure.
UPBUILDING THE COMMUNITY SPIRIT
9. What significant part in helping along the work can each one in the organization play?
9 What an inspiration we have toward responsible ones in the house of God as expressed in the psalm of David: “Jehovah, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwelleth.” (Ps. 26:8, AS) And when Jesus cleansed the temple of the money-changers “his disciples called to mind that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (John 2:17, NW) Some may feel they have an insignificant place in Jehovah’s house of worship, yet they can be reassured of the importance they play if they maintain a prayerful attitude. The words of Paul demonstrate this: “You also can help along by your supplication for us, in order that thanks may be given by many in our behalf for what is kindly given to us due to many upturned faces.” (2 Cor. 1:11, NW) Our trust of our proved, faithful brothers is not misplaced, as they echo the earnest petition of Paul: “Carry on prayer for us, for we trust we have an honest conscience, as we wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.”—Heb. 13:18, NW.
10. How does being overly sensitive or easily offended manifest disrespect and lack of trust?
10 In the other direction, too, Paul says to be reasonable by “exhibiting all mildness toward all men,” or, as he puts it in his letter to the Ephesians (4:2, NW), “putting up with one another in love.” That includes not being touchy, overly sensitive or easily offended. But how would these reactions be disrespectful to the organization? Psalm 119:165 (AS) says: “Great peace have they that love thy law; and they have no occasion of stumbling.” Remember, when you are inclined to be upset by a brother, he may be entirely wrong in what he has done, but two wrongs do not make a right. If we become offended or are stumbled at what he has done, we become sharers in wrongdoing by showing disrespect for God’s law. On the other hand, we can show respect for God’s Word by taking the Scriptural course, going to him personally and straightening it out. If that does not succeed, then we can show confidence in the organization by enlisting the aid of mature brothers or even the congregation servants, if necessary, to clear up the matter.
11. How is the health and spirit of the congregation as a community maintained through proper subjection?
11 Coming out of the old world with its contentions and self-interest we may sometimes be inclined to forget that we are now living as a New World society. That means we are a community to ourselves. We do not need the law courts and arbitration boards of this corrupt and dying world. We have God’s spirit and his love and that will be maintained only if we continue to uphold his arrangements for us. We must take an active interest in all the affairs of the Society, doing our utmost to uphold the community of the congregation by eagerly participating in every feature of its stimulating program of theocratic activity. We are keenly aware of all the factors that make for community health or that lead to a dampening of the community spirit, and we should all strive diligently to maintain the unity of the congregation in the bonds of peace. It is this same spirit of united interest that Paul spoke of when he wrote of the closeness of the anointed remnant: “If one member suffers, all the other members suffer with it; or if a member is glorified, all the other members rejoice with it.” (1 Cor. 12:26, NW) “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” was the song of David. (Ps. 133:1, AS) It was to maintain this spirit that Paul wrote further to the Ephesians (5:21, NW): “Be in subjection to one another in fear of Christ.” How much better to trust our brothers than to show disrespect for the organization by spurning its help and allowing seeds of discord to take root!
12. How is the community spirit built up by proper habits of cleanliness, and how can all share?
12 Jehovah’s witnesses are noted for their cleanliness and orderliness. It has been a source of continual amazement to outsiders to see the way convention grounds are kept. Not only are crews organized to clean up the place, but all in attendance make a special effort to assist by not throwing wastepaper and other refuse around the grounds. Each one assumes a definite responsibility for the reputation of the organization and takes delight in a clean and wholesome atmosphere in which to hold the meetings of praise to Jehovah, recognizing that Jehovah himself is present representatively. This is true of the local Kingdom Halls as well. Sometimes, however, thoughtlessness on the part of some in their local congregation can be a sign of disrespect for the organization. How so? By neglecting to take a turn at regular and systematic cleaning of the hall, or by allowing children to clutter up the aisles with paper. Although such occurrences are rare, children have been seen to scribble on the walls or songbooks belonging to the congregation without interference from the parents, and some older members of the congregation have been known to write on the territory maps. All property of the congregation is Kingdom property and should be treated with the respect that is due all Kingdom interests. With few exceptions those of the New World society are as interested in keeping the Kingdom Hall as clean and neat as they are their own homes, which are always a representation of clean-minded, New-World-living people. Servants of the congregation are always ministering in our behalf; so when they approach us with an opportunity to assist the congregation in one of these additional ways we should do all in our power to co-operate with them. As Paul put it: “May you also keep submitting yourselves to persons of that kind and to everyone cooperating and laboring. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore recognize men of that kind.”—1 Cor. 16:16, 18, NW.
13. Why is the habit of coming late to meetings or being inattentive a matter of disrespectful thoughtlessness?
13 Then, too, have you ever seriously considered the habit some have of coming late to meetings or being inattentive during the sessions? Take our example of the child again. Suppose, this time, that Junior made a habit of always coming to the dinner table after the meal was started and after thanks had been given for the food. Suppose he never bothered to wash his hands or comb his hair—was never really prepared for the meal—and then sat at the table and just pushed the food around his plate, food that you had worked so hard to prepare, even refusing to pass anything. Suppose you had a guest for dinner that night; would you feel proud of Junior? Would you not, rather, be mortified at his inconsiderate, disrespectful attitude? And yet, we have a guest, yes, more than a guest, at all our congregation’s spiritual feasts. Not just the stranger or newly interested person of good will who attends, but our Lord Jesus Christ, who said: “Where there are two or three met together in my name, there I am in their midst.” Not one of Jehovah’s witnesses would deliberately insult either our heavenly Father or his motherly organization, would he? Then why should we do it by our thoughtlessness? Our brothers have worked hard and spent many busy hours preparing the spiritual feasts our heavenly Father has provided for us. And they continue to do it gladly, too, because by far the majority of the New World society are heeding Paul’s counsel to the Thessalonians: “Now we request you, brothers, to have regard for those who are working hard among you and presiding over you in the Lord and admonishing you, and to give them more than extraordinary consideration in love because of their work.”—Matt. 18:20; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13, NW.
RELYING ON JEHOVAH’S DIRECTIVE POWER
14. Why is it safe to trust our proved, faithful brothers and what should be our attitude if we believe something has gone wrong?
14 Showing respect for Jehovah’s organization really resolves itself down to our attitude toward God’s visible channel and the trust that we place in our proved, faithful brothers. If we have become thoroughly convinced that this is Jehovah’s organization, that he is guiding and directing his people, then we shall not be unsettled by anything that happens. If something comes up that we do not understand we will wait patiently until it is made thoroughly clear to us. If we feel sure something is wrong we will ‘keep the commandment’ of our Father and take whatever theocratic steps are open to us and then wait on Jehovah. We will not ‘forsake our mother’s teaching’ by immediately beginning to criticize and find fault. We will realize that Jehovah knows what is going on in his organization, and if he is willing to permit it, who are we to insist it should be different? If we really have faith, we will know that if it is wrong he will straighten it out eventually, and we are far safer inside his organization even with these minor difficulties than we would be on the outside where only chaos and destruction await us.
15, 16. What reasons has Jehovah given us for praising him and our motherly organization?
15 When we consider the tender care of our heavenly Father as manifested through his loving, motherly organization, how can our hearts but be refreshed and warmed with an overflowing appreciation? When we taste the rich and sumptuous food he provides and observe the careful attention to detail with which our mother has served it, how can we speak anything but praise for such worthy parents? And when we truly see the great motherly organization of God arrayed with the heavenly light of truth and righteousness, walking in the pathway of divine light, with perfect organizational light brightening and adorning her mind, how happily we can exclaim: ‘This woman is the spouse of the universal King of whom it is written, “God is light,” and in her heavenly position she can worthily bring forth his royal heavenly creation.’ What a privilege to be her children and to share in the beautiful name she bears, “Jehovah our righteousness”! (Jer. 33:16, AS) And what a joy is ours in reflecting on high the divine light beaming down upon us from her royal person as we welcome all lowly-hearted ones from the dark corners of the world to come out into the brightness of Jehovah’s pleasure and bask in the warmth of his smiling approval!
16 With thankful hearts we acknowledge God’s mercy and gratefully and willingly show our respect for Jehovah’s organization, for she is our mother and the beloved wife of our heavenly Father, Jehovah God.