How Happy the Mild-tempered and Peaceable!
1. What history-making convention was held in 1958, and why is it impossible for other organizations to duplicate it?
HAPPINESS and mildness of temper are so inseparably bound together that it is impossible for those who are peaceable to have one without the other. That is why it can truthfully be said, Never in human history has there been a happier assembly of so many peaceable people as when the Divine Will International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses convened in New York city, July 27 to August 3, 1958, for never before had so many mild-tempered individuals gathered together at one time. It is utterly impossible for any other group of people to duplicate a convention like this, for only witnesses of Jehovah are able to reflect on earth the peaceableness, mildness and happiness that constantly radiate from the very personality of the Most High God.
2. (a) Jehovah is the personification of what precious qualities? (b) What is the divine will for Jehovah’s people in this regard?
2 Over and over again the Scriptures tell of how the happy God Jehovah is “slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness.” (Ex. 34:6; Num. 14:18; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nah. 1:3) Having such a mild and controlled temper enables the Sovereign Ruler of the universe to be long-suffering, patient, forgiving, loving and merciful beyond measure and without compare. Certainly, then, his faithful and loyal witnesses must exhibit these godly qualities at all times and under all circumstances, whether isolated, as many of them are in Communist camps of slavery, or congregated, as more than two hundred thousand of them were at their New York city assembly. Their doing this is not discretionary. It is mandatory, for it is Jehovah’s will.
3, 4. By teaching and example what kind of man did Jesus prove to be?
3 Christ Jesus, Jehovah’s Chief Witness, was no exception. In fact, he was the most mild and gentle man ever to walk this earth. When inviting others to take upon them his yoke and become his disciples, Jesus said: “I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” (Matt. 11:29) This one who was so peaceable that he proved fully worthy of the title “Prince of Peace” not only displayed mildness in his personal life and activity but also preached to others that they too should live a life of peace and mildness. Here is how Jesus stated this fundamental Christian principle on one occasion: “I say to you who are listening, Continue to love your enemies, to do good to those hating you, to bless those cursing you, to pray for those who do you injury. To him that strikes you on the one cheek offer the other also.” (Luke 6:27-29) At times Jesus and his traveling companions were exhausted from their walking and talking and they sought a little seclusion and rest. However, the crowds rudely intruded upon their privacy. Instead of harshly rebuking them, Jesus suppressed his own personal feelings and tenderly and compassionately cared for their spiritual and physical needs. (Matt. 14:13-23; Mark 6:31-46) Later, when Jesus peacefully rode into Jerusalem without a fight and presented himself as king, the words of the prophet were fulfilled: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Look! your King is coming to you, mild-tempered, and mounted upon an ass.’”—Matt. 21:4, 5; Zech. 9:9, AS.
4 Throughout his ministry in all his dealings with others this extremely powerful man Jesus was never belligerent against his enemies, never intolerant toward his opposers, never impatient with his associates, never irritable or quick-tempered with others even when under extremely heavy pressure. He never lost self-control. He never flew into a fit of anger. When under the most difficult circumstances, when in the very clutches of his enemies, when they cursed and beat and spit upon him, when even the wild mob had him taken out and fiendishly nailed to a torture stake to die without a cause, through it all Jesus demonstrated a calmness and self-control that proved beyond a question of doubt that he was the very Son of God. He was the wise and happy Son who made his heavenly Father’s heart rejoice by doing the divine will.—Prov. 27:11.
5. (a) What did Peter and James say about self-control, wrath, mildness and meekness? (b) How did Paul demonstrate Christlike gentleness?
5 Surely this “mildness and reasonableness of the Christ” was something for the happy followers and apostles of Jesus to write to others about, and, in their own personal lives, to copy and emulate. (2 Cor. 10:1) Instead of being haughty, hot-tempered and proud boasters, they were humble, mild-tempered and lowly in heart like their Master. Repeatedly these inspired writers spoke of themselves as mere “slaves” of God and of Christ. (Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:1; Jas. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1; Jude 1) Instead of being contentious, quarrelsome, easily provoked and offended, they were gentle and mild and understandingly considerate of other people and their problems. The apostle Peter, for example, wrote: “Supply to your faith virtue, to your virtue knowledge, to your knowledge self-control, to your self-control endurance, to your endurance godly devotion, to your godly devotion brotherly affection, to your brotherly affection love.” (2 Pet. 1:5-7) The writer James also speaks of the virtues of mildness and self-control. “Know this, my beloved brothers. Every man must be . . . slow about wrath; for man’s wrath does not produce God’s righteousness.” “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his right conduct his works with a meekness that belongs to wisdom.” (Jas. 1:19, 20; 3:13) Here is Paul the apostle’s testimony: “We became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us. You are witnesses, God is also, how true to loving-kindness and righteous and unblamable we proved.”—1 Thess. 2:7, 8, 10.
CHRISTIAN MILDNESS PRODUCED BY GOD’S SPIRIT
6. By birth and nature what kind of dispositions do modern-day witnesses of Jehovah possess, and why?
6 Leaping nineteen centuries of time, one finds that Jehovah’s anointed Christian witnesses living today are like the happy first-century disciples, “ambassadors substituting for Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:20) It is therefore Jehovah’s will and purpose and pleasure that each one of these substituting representatives possess the same Godlike qualities of mildness and control of temperament that characterized the Chief Ambassador, Jesus. This does not mean or infer that Jehovah’s witnesses are a superior breed of people who are born with inherent mild dispositions and are perfect in self-control. No, not at all. Like all other people of the earth, they are descendants of the willful sinners Adam and Eve. They are conceived in sin and brought forth with error (lawlessness) and their natural dispositions are disagreeable, their tempers unruly by nature.—Job 15:14; Ps. 51:5; 53:2, 3; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:10; 5:12; Jas. 3:2;1 John 1:8.
7. When persons become true Christians how is the radical transformation in their dispositions accomplished?
7 Peaceable mildness, therefore, comes from some other source and by some other means than through the evil bent of imperfect human heredity. That a complete transformation must and does take place when a person becomes one of Jehovah’s witnesses cannot be denied. The question is, How and by what means? For a tree to produce good fruit it takes, first of all, good soil, plus other things. So it is in this case. First there must be “a right and good heart” condition (the soil). (Luke 8:11-15) Then it takes time and effort to sow the seed, to watch over, cultivate, water and nourish the tender planting. This expenditure of much time and toil on the part of the individual himself is necessary, but, as in the case of the natural fruit tree, before the sweet and desirable fruitage of Christian mildness is produced, God’s power or spirit must come into play and activate the heart and the mind. (1 Cor. 3:6, 7) The Scripture definitely says that “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control” are fruitage produced by Jehovah’s spirit.—Gal. 5:22, 23.
8. Why is dedication so important in the life of a Christian?
8 For an individual to have God’s spirit, however, he must first dedicate himself to Jehovah. This means that his personal will is to seek after, find, take up and do the divine will. He then gets baptized in water before witnesses in symbol of his dedication. This newborn babe in the truth then continues further to feed upon God’s inspired Word the Bible, and this, in turn, makes him strong enough to go on to maturity. To those who fail to make progress, Peter writes: “Put away all moral badness and all deceitfulness and hypocrisy and envies and all kinds of backbiting, and, as newborn infants, form a longing for the unadulterated milk belonging to the word, that through it you may grow to salvation.” (1 Pet. 2:1, 2) Paul also counsels: “You should put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; but that you should be made new in the force actuating your mind [this force being Jehovah’s spirit], and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loving-kindness.”—Eph. 4:22-24.
9. Describe the beautiful garments Jehovah’s people are privileged to wear.
9 Thus stripping off the old hereditary, sin-shaped personality with its vicious temper, Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses clothe and adorn themselves with a new, theocratic or godlike personality of mildness, tolerance and self-control. “As God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.” What beautiful garments, identifying and distinguishing the servants of the Most High God!—Col. 3:12.
PERSONALITIES FASHIONED AFTER A NEW SYSTEM OF THINGS
10. What does it mean to be “transformed by making your mind over”?
10 Such a way of life as above outlined and recommended certainly means a radical change in the whole structure of one’s thinking. The individual’s responses to outward influences are completely altered. Reactions to circumstances and surroundings are drastically changed. But the apostle knew that such a complete transformation in mental processes would be necessary, for he writes: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and complete will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) All those making such a transformation in their lives actually become part of Jehovah’s new mild-tempered society, which is altogether different from the Devil’s old bad-tempered society.
11. (a) How do friends and relatives often view those who abandon old-world practices? (b) Is this too high a price to pay?
11 To these who have thus transformed their way of life and cultivated Christlike dispositions, the apostle Peter writes: “For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and idolatries that are without legal restraint. Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you. But these people will render an account to the one ready to judge those living and those dead.” (1 Pet. 4:3-5) As Peter warned, oftentimes relatives and former friends and associates speak abusively of those who begin to break away from this Devil-ruled system, and they do everything possible to discourage life seekers from having their ways of life transformed. But never should those dedicating themselves to the doing of Jehovah’s will feel that because of blood relation or because of financial or social ties they are obligated in any way to continue to live and act like those who are part of the present system. To do so means inescapable death. Jehovah does not compromise on this issue. Neither do his devoted people. “We are under obligation, not to the flesh to live in accord with the flesh; for if you live in accord with the flesh you are sure to die; but if you put the practices of the body to death by the spirit, you will live. For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons.” (Rom. 8:12-14) Surely no fleshly ties or associations could ever be compared with this position. What an indescribable privilege—to be sons forever of the Sovereign Lord and Ruler of the whole universe!
12. By sticking with Satan’s world what kind of harvest is one bound to reap?
12 Satan’s world, instead of producing the fruitage of Jehovah’s spirit, has harvested a bumper crop of wicked works, products of rebellious fallen flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, hatreds, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these. As to these things I am forewarning you, the same way as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (Gal. 5:19-21) Works of the flesh do not give those who indulge in them true joy and real happiness even momentarily under the present conditions, and, as for the future, all those drinking these dregs will die at Armageddon, at the latest. Reasonable persons, therefore, gladly seize the opportunity of replacing the joy-killing works of the flesh with the joy-giving fruits of the spirit.
13. (a) How do the high and the mighty of this system view mildness and self-control? (b) Is the pattern set by the leaders of this old world a good one to follow?
13 In view of all of this it is indeed a strange thing that those clinging to the old system scoff at and ridicule and look down on mildness of spirit and control of temper as spineless, jellyfish weaknesses to be avoided. The so-called successful bosses in the world, the labor leaders, the financial tycoons, the political and judicial men of power, the military and police authorities, the high and mighty rulers, executives and dictators of this satanic system boast themselves in being calloused and hard, easily enraged, quick-tongued, impatient, hotheaded, and most frequently possessing cruel, saw-toothed tempers. And as the leaders set the pattern, so the masses that are led attempt to copy it. Proverbs 29:22 is certainly true when it says: “A man given to anger stirs up contention, and anyone disposed to rage has many a transgression.” Little wonder, then, that with the earth filled with people who are “given to anger” and “disposed to rage” the present system is in such a sorry, unhappy state of affairs, for, indeed, it is a contentious, hateful, warring world, overflowing in crimes and transgressions. And all the tens of millions of aspirin tablets daily consumed, all the tranquilizers and “miracle drugs,” and all the oily balm of the “peace of mind” psychologists have failed to ease the pains and headaches of this dying old world.
14. How is it possible for Christians to live here on earth and yet not share this world’s incurable headache?
14 How refreshingly different conditions among Jehovah’s new and happy world society! They are on the earth, it is true, but instead of imitating the loathsome characteristics of the majority of the people, or following their crooked policies and practices, the Witnesses give heed to the divine instruction written at Proverbs 22:24: “Do not have companionship with anyone given to anger, and with a man having fits of rage you must not enter in, that you may not get familiar with his paths and certainly take a snare for your soul.” The apostle also agreed: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Cor. 15:33.
15, 16. (a) Really, then, is a mild and gentle disposition the earmark of a coward? (b) What example of strength is set by Jehovah’s witnesses both inside and outside of prison bars?
15 Mildness, therefore, instead of being the earmark of a weak coward is one of the identifying characteristics of those who are exceedingly courageous and strong, stronger by far than the mighty military and civilian leaders of this world. “He that is slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and he that is controlling his spirit than the one capturing a city.” (Prov. 16:32) For an example of the strength there is in mildness look at Jehovah’s mild-tempered witnesses living in the totalitarian lands, who were physically restrained from attending the Divine Will Assembly in New York city. Instead of attempting to flee or hide their identity behind a mask of compromises and a cloak of hypocrisy, these happy Witnesses in those dark lands have fearlessly remained steadfast in their God-assigned places as united worshipers of the true God Jehovah, and by their magnificent display of calmness and self-control, even when brutally tortured to the point of death, they have won the respect and admiration of many of their enemies.
16 By following this course the persecuted Witnesses have been doing their heavenly Father’s will, as recorded in his written Word: “If the spirit of a ruler should mount up against you, do not leave your own place, for calmness itself allays great sins.” But whether inside or outside of jails, torture chambers or concentration camps, these happy Witnesses display the same mildness toward all with whom they come in contact. “Always [be] ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.”—Eccl. 10:4; 1 Pet. 3:15.
17. Who are the most happy people on earth today, and why?
17 What are the benefits obtained by following such a narrow and cramped course of Christian discipline as here outlined? Well, no one ever saw a laughing, jubilant person who was at the same time in a fit of anger. The reason is that happiness and anger do not mix or keep company. If one comes in, the other immediately leaves. Now Jehovah’s witnesses are blessed above all others because they are the happiest, most peaceful and contented people on earth. But such immediate benefits are only of secondary importance compared with the final and, by far, the grander blessings bestowed upon these mild-tempered people.
18, 19. What precious blessings are promised to those who are truly mild-tempered and peaceable?
18 In the introduction to Jesus’ famous “sermon on the mount” that great Teacher did not simply say: “Happy are those who are conscious of their spiritual need,” “Happy are the peaceable,” or, “Happy are the mild-tempered ones.” While it is true that a certain amount of happiness accrues to the person who has his spiritual needs satisfied and is mild-tempered and peaceful, yet these are not the big things or the grander blessings that Christ promised. Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was to bear truthful witness concerning Jehovah’s glorious kingdom, and on this particular occasion he did not fail in accomplishing this purpose, for, really, what Jesus said was this: “Happy are those who are conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” “Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God’.” “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”—Matt. 5:3, 9, 5.
19 This, then, gives an expanded understanding and appreciation of the indescribable joy and happiness allotted Jehovah’s faithful witnesses. First of all, to actually witness Jehovah’s furious and unusual battle of Armageddon, when he will in all his mighty glory and strength uproot and destroy forever the wicked, and then, as “sons of God,” personally to receive an assigned place of service as an eternal possession and inheritance under the Kingdom’s peaceful rule—what a great vindication of Jehovah’s Word and name all this will be! That surely will be a most wonderful blessing and a thrilling privilege for the mild-tempered ones, far surpassing the mere freedom they now enjoy from the present turbulence and sorrows plaguing this sick and crying world!