Mildness and Self-Control Yield Peaceable Fruitage
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his right conduct his works with a meekness that belongs to wisdom. Moreover, the fruit of righteousness has its seed sown under peaceful conditions for those who are making peace.”—Jas. 3:13, 18.
1. (a) The peaceable fruitage of God’s spirit consists of what? (b) If there is to be an abundant crop of such fruitage, what precautions must be taken?
IT IS Jehovah’s will that his happy witnesses continually produce an abundant crop of spiritual fruitage. This product of God’s spirit consists not alone of goodness, faith, joy, love and kindness, but also of peace, mildness, long-suffering and self-control. Now, if such delicious fruit as this is to be brought forth, then not only must the seed be sown under the right conditions, but, of equal importance, the right kind of seed must be planted. Jehovah’s ancient law forbade Israel to plant mingled seed or two kinds of seeds together. And Jesus said: “Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit.” So make sure to plant only the good kind, the right kind of seed. “For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit. So let us not give up in doing what is right, for in due season we shall reap by not giving out.” The apostle then adds this significant point: “Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.”—Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:9; Matt. 7:16, 18; Gal. 5:22, 23; 6:7-10.
2. (a) Is it proper for a dedicated servant to seek appointment as an overseer? (b) Before one qualifies for appointment as an overseer what reputation must he have?
2 In the theocratic arrangement of things certain servants of the Lord are placed as overseers of God’s flock. (Acts 20:28) In such positions of responsibility they must take the lead in bearing peaceable fruitage and working what is good toward all, especially toward those related to them, their faithful brothers and sisters in the congregation of God. It is a commendable thing, the Scripture says, for a dedicated servant of the Lord to seek appointment to the office of an overseer. This is because the very highest requirements must be met before one is qualified to serve in this capacity. Among the prerequisites to receiving a stewardship from Jehovah as an overseer a person must “have a favorable testimony from people on the outside,” being “not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, . . . not belligerent.” He must never be pugnacious, never bossy or dictatorial or domineering, never an overbearing browbeater of the flock, never irritable or quarrelsome. Rather, to meet Jehovah’s high standard he must be “moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly.” He must “speak injuriously of no one,” and he must be “reasonable” toward all, understanding other people and their problems, “exhibiting all mildness toward all men.”—1 Tim. 3:1-3, 7; Titus 3:2.
3. What good advice did the overseer Paul give Timothy in First Timothy, chapter six?
3 The young man Timothy was such a qualified overseer in the early Christian congregation, and to him the apostle and overseer Paul gave some good advice on what to do when envy, jealousy and violent disputes broke out. Certain ones would arise in the very midst of the congregation, Timothy was told, who would be puffed up with pride and mentally diseased over doctrinal questions. “From these things,” the apostle said, “spring envy, strife, abusive speeches, wicked suspicions, violent disputes about trifles on the part of men corrupted in mind and despoiled of the truth.” Under such circumstances what was Timothy to do? He was told to have nothing to do with these troublemakers or their poisonous venom. He was to hasten and flee from their wickedness and pursue after “righteousness, godly devotion, faith, love, endurance, mildness of temper.” Here Paul placed mild-temperedness in the same class with the other five essential requirements.—1 Tim. 6:4, 5, 11.
4, 5. (a) To whom were first-century Christians reminded by the apostle Paul to show mildness, and why? (b) In this respect what is required of twentieth-century Christians?
4 Another overseer of the first century, named Titus, was told that it was his responsibility as superintendent to “continue reminding them [of the congregations] to . . . speak injuriously of no one, not to be belligerent, to be reasonable, exhibiting all mildness toward all men. For even we were once senseless, disobedient, being misled, being slaves to various desires and pleasures, carrying on in maliciousness and envy, hateful, hating one another.” (Titus 3:1-3) As a reason for being mild-tempered toward all other men, Titus was to remind the congregations how kind and loving God himself had been to us, saving us not because of any activities of righteousness that we had performed to obligate God to us, but saving us according to his own divine mercy toward us through Jesus Christ, his self-sacrificing Son. What mildness this displayed to an unparalleled degree on the part of the Most High God toward us! Along with this mildness, how long-suffering God has been toward us of humankind throughout the centuries till now! It is not because God is slow or indifferent, but because he does not desire us to be destroyed. He has desired us to have the needed time to come to repentance leading to salvation. Thus we can consider God’s mild patience with us as spelling our salvation.—Titus 3:4-7; 2 Pet. 3:9, 15.
5 Today no less is required of faithful Christian overseers. They too must continually remind the congregations to be in humble subservience and willing subjection to “our Savior, God,” and to imitate him in our conduct toward others in the matter of mildness of treatment. His Son, “Jesus Christ our Savior,” imitated his heavenly Father in this respect, and we should also.
OVERSEERS, SHEPHERD THE FLOCK OF GOD!
6, 7. (a) What animal well illustrates the Lord’s people, and why? (b) How do Peter and Paul admonish those charged with oversight of God’s flock?
6 There are some very good reasons for us to consider why the Scriptures repeatedly refer to and illustrate the Lord’s people as “sheep” instead of other animals, for instance, cows, pigs, mules, bears, wolves, dogs or goats. Sheep are easily led about by their own shepherds. They are mild-tempered, gentle and peaceful creatures not only toward other animals but also among their own kind. All other well-known animals are lacking to varying degrees in these desirable characteristics. And because sheep are so gentle their shepherds must treat them accordingly. To the shepherds over God’s flock who are appointed as such by holy spirit, Peter the apostle writes: “To the older men [overseers] among you I give this exhortation, for I, too, am an older man [an overseer] like them . . . Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly, neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly, neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock.”—1 Pet. 5:1-3.
7 Pay attention, you overseers and ministerial servants, all of you! You appointed servants in the local congregations, you circuit servants, you district servants, you branch servants, you zone servants—all of you mature men of influence whom Jehovah’s holy spirit has appointed to look after and shepherd his happy flock—never forget that you must be exceptionally peaceful, loving, mild, patient, gentle and kind, especially toward the Lord’s tender sheep under your watchcare and keeping. Never forget that these qualifications you must have before and after you are recommended for appointment to your special stewardships in this theocratic society. “An overseer,” it is written, “must be free from accusation as God’s steward, not self-willed [no, but guided by the divine will], not prone to wrath, not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, not greedy of dishonest gain, but a lover of strangers, a lover of goodness, sound in mind, righteous, having loving-kindness, self-controlled, holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict.”—Titus 1:7-9.
8. (a) For what reason was Moses not permitted to enter the land of promise? (b) Why is it most important for an overseer to have complete self-control at all times?
8 Self-control or control of one’s spirit must be self-imposed. Self-control must be vigilantly watched over and guarded and constantly exercised if it is to be effectively useful when needed. Remember the overseer Moses, concerning whom it is written: “The man Moses was by far the meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground”? (Num. 12:3) Yet this same Moses lost out from entering the Promised Land, all because in a single fit of anger he lost control of his temper. This is why an overseer must never become lax and lose control of his temper, not even for a moment. If he is lacking in self-control and has no restraining power over his spirit, then, as Proverbs says, he is “as a city broken through, without a wall.” To the contrary, faithful overseers must be strongly fortified and dependable in time of need, able to give protection, support and defense to the weaker ones in the congregation, and they can do this only if at all times they have mildness with self-control.—Num. 20:9-12; Prov. 25:28.
9. (a) How should rebuke and correction be given to rebellious ones? (b) If opposition arises within or outside the congregation, is not one justified in losing his temper and becoming hotly enraged?
9 As already quoted from the Scriptures, an overseer must hold firmly to the faithful Word of God, and he must be able to exhort by the teaching that is healthful, and “to reprove those who contradict.” It is therefore necessary at times for an overseer to give rebuke and correction to those who become unbalanced and warped in their thinking, to reprove those who contradict the truth. But never should such counsel be given in an overlording or belligerent manner or in a fit of anger. The old world has a theory, ‘fight fire with fire,’ but within Jehovah’s organization this practice is wholly out of place. Much better to fight a literal blaze with cold water than to throw on it a hot explosive mixture. So too, it is divine wisdom and counsel to allay fiery disputes in a congregation with the cooling and refreshing water of truth from God’s Word in a quiet and mild manner. Says divine wisdom: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up. An enraged man stirs up strife, but one that is slow to anger quiets down contention.” “Better is one who is patient than one who is haughty in spirit.” Surely a patient overseer who speaks the truth in a kind and mild manner is fully capable of handling every sort of opposition arising within the congregation, for, of a truth, the tongue he possesses, when controlled and used as Jehovah directs, is a mighty weapon, so powerful, in fact, that “a mild tongue itself can break a bone.” In agreement with these principles of truth the apostle Paul’s theocratic instructions sent out to all overseers say: “A slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be tactful toward all, qualified to teach, keeping himself restrained under evil, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed.”—Prov. 15:1, 18; 25:15; Eccl. 7:8; 2 Tim. 2:24, 25.
10. What purpose is served in rebuking those who err from the faith, and so how should spiritually sick ones be treated?
10 The purpose of giving rebuke to those not favorably disposed, or to those who err from the faith, should be to protect the flock of God from corrupting influences and false philosophies, and at the same time to restore, not destroy, those who are erring. “Brothers, even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to restore such a man in a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted.” If healthy sheep must be tenderly cared for, how much more so should sick sheep be given gentle consideration! Overseers, therefore, who are spiritually strong and mature should exercise tender consideration when attempting to aid and help those who are spiritually sick. Let them remember that the sheep are not their own. The sheep are the Lord’s. So never treat them as a hireling, even when for a time they go astray. But when “ravenous wolves” creep in disguised as sheep in order to corrupt the flock, then the overseers as faithful shepherds will speedily deal with them according to what they really are. “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”—Gal. 6:1; Matt. 7:15; John 10:11-13; Acts 20:29, 30; 1 Cor. 5:9-13.
11. Is less required in humility, mildness, self-control and so forth, of one who is not an overseer or ministerial servant?
11 All this wonderful counsel and wisdom from Jehovah’s inspired Word, which is here so pointedly directed to overseers and ministerial servants, applies with equal force to each and every one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Let no novice, no babe in the truth, or, for that matter, let no individual who has been associated all his lifetime with Jehovah’s organization, think for a moment that less is required of him than of those taking the lead when it comes to the quality of fruit they bear. God is no respecter of persons, sex or age. As in ancient Israel, so also today, there is one law for all, overseers and people alike, as well as strangers and aliens. All are in the same contest, the same race, a race for life or death. Let all therefore run as Paul advised: “Every man taking part in a contest exercises self-control in all things. . . . Therefore, . . . I browbeat my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” All true Christians were addressed when Paul wrote to the “faithful ones in union with Christ Jesus,” saying: “I . . . entreat you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace. One body there is.” It takes all members in this congregational body to maintain this Christian peace and unity. So what is required of overseers in the way of mildness of temper, patience, gentleness, self-control, long-suffering, humility, love, and so forth, is also demanded of every one of Jehovah’s dedicated people.—Ex. 12:49; Lev. 24:22; 1 Cor. 9:25-27; Eph. 1:1; 4:1-4.
EXERCISING MILDNESS AND SELF-CONTROL IN THE HOME
12. Where does one find an absence of mildness and self-control, and what has this resulted in?
12 Some of life’s most knotty problems are domestic ones. Witness the staggering number of unhappy married people, the prevalence of parental and child delinquency, the appalling number of broken homes and the rising rate of divorce as evidence of the breakdown and moral decline of this old world’s unhappy society. Husbands and wives squabble and feud both privately and in public. Juvenile delinquency ranges from childish tantrums and petty fits of anger to open assault and murder of parents. It is all too obvious that peace and tranquillity do not inhabit these shattered homes, because there is a complete lack of Christlike mildness and self-control.
13. On the other hand, when husbands and wives carry out the divine will what happy domestic conditions prevail?
13 Where husbands and wives are Jehovah’s happy witnesses one does not find such deplorable conditions. Why not? Simply because the same Christian principles of patience, love, gentleness, long-suffering, tolerance and control of temperament, developed and practiced in the congregation, are carried over into life within the family circle. “You wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord. You husbands, keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them.” And to both husbands and wives this instruction is given: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.” There is absolutely no excuse or reason, and there are no problems so great or emergencies so crucial as to justify married people losing control of their emotions and tempers. If husbands and wives are carrying out the divine will, then they must be mild-tempered, kind, considerate and tolerant toward each other and toward their children at all times.—Col. 3:18, 19, 13.
14. Where there is a divided household what divine counsel should be followed by the Christian mate?
14 This is all very well, some may say, in a theocratic home where both the husband and wife are dedicated servants of God, but how about the home where, perhaps, a Christian wife is married to a man who is not in the truth? There are many such homes today, and when the head of the home is not a true Christian he is bound to lose his temper and be unreasonable and downright mean at times. This, however, does not justify the wife’s abandoning her happy state to join her husband in his unhappy state of mind. Under such circumstances the dedicated mate should follow the divine will, to wit: “You wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any [husbands] are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives . . . let your adornment be . . . the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.” Doing this, the dedicated, mild-tempered wife will enjoy a happiness and contentment not shared by her harsh-tempered husband.—1 Pet. 3:1-4.
15. What Scriptural counsel must parents with minor children follow if they want their home blessed with peace and contentment?
15 Not only must parents in the Christian home be mild in temper toward each other, but they must also have the same mental disposition toward their children. “You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.” Discipline of children is absolutely necessary, for Jehovah’s advice is: “The rod and reproof are what give wisdom; but a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame. Chastise your son and he will bring you rest and give much pleasure to your soul.” It is an act of love, not hatred or ill will toward the child, for the parents to administer corrective discipline. “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.”—Eph. 6:4; Prov. 29:15, 17; 13:24.
16. How important is parental correction to you children who want to live in God’s new world?
16 Now you children, and this also includes all you teen-agers, have in mind that this discipline prescribed by Jehovah is medicine for your good, because disobedience, stubbornness and fits of anger are the ways of sin and death, and they are bound up in your heart from your very birth. It you want to live under God’s kingdom rule, these devilish hereditary tendencies must be forcefully rooted out and supplanted with godly qualities, and the parental rod of correction will help to do this. “Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy; the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him.”—Prov. 22:15.
17. (a) Explain why there were no juvenile delinquents in ancient Israel when Jehovah’s laws were enforced (b) Why is the problem of delinquency practically nonexistent among Jehovah’s witnesses today?
17 There may be rare instances where a child is so hardened in its stubbornness that even the rod of correction cannot drive it out. In the days of Israel parents were instructed by Jehovah to take such a rebel to the city fathers and they, in turn, took the incorrigible one out and stoned him to death. There were no juvenile delinquents under such a system. (Deut. 21:18-21) So also today, the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses can not and will not tolerate juvenile delinquency to exist in its midst. So, to avoid a possible death-dealing blow by being disfellowshiped from the congregation, wise theocratic children give heed to and follow what God’s Word says: “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous.” “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything [this leaves nothing out], for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” “Listen to your father who caused your birth,” the Proverb says, “and do not despise your mother just because she has grown old.”—Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20; Prov. 23:22.
18. In what respects is the organization of Jehovah’s witnesses like the garden of Eden in its beautiful fruitage, and how is this made possible?
18 So whether married or single, whether adults or juveniles, of the remnant or of the “great crowd,” overseers or not, one and all of Jehovah’s witnesses with the aid of God’s holy spirit, and by exercising mildness and self-control, are able to produce an abundant and never-ending crop of peaceable fruitage. Under Jehovah’s loving watchcare their organization in the beauty of peace and unity is like the garden of Eden. This is because each one has deep respect and love for Jehovah’s laws and commandments, together with zeal and devotion in carrying out the divine will in everything. “My son, my law do not forget, and my commandments may your heart observe, because length of days and years of life and peace will be added to you.” “Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law, and for them there is no stumbling block.”—Prov. 3:1, 2; Ps. 119:165.
19. How only may those who love peace and contentment be assured of enjoying it forever and ever?
19 All persons everywhere who are of good will and who love peace and unity, if you want to share in the all-surpassing happiness and live in everlasting peace and contentment in a paradise garden under the rule by God’s kingdom, then quickly associate yourselves with Jehovah’s peace-loving witnesses, and together with them be mild-tempered, calm, lovingly patient, self-controlled. Continue to obey the divine will, which includes Psalm 37: “Do not show yourself heated up because of the evildoers. . . . For like grass they will speedily wither . . . Let anger alone and leave rage . . . For evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. And just a little while longer and the wicked one will be no more, and you will certainly give attention to his place and he will not be. But the meek ones [the mild-tempered ones] themselves will possess the earth and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:1, 2, 8-11.