Maintaining Peace to Bear Fruit
ALL servants of Jehovah God have the obligation to bear two kinds of fruit: the fruitage of the spirit and the fruitage of the Kingdom ministry. The fruitage of the spirit is described by the apostle Paul as “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” This is also the fruitage that the disciple James, half brother of Jesus, had in mind when he wrote: “The fruit of righteousness has its seed sown under peaceful conditions for those who are making peace.”—Matt. 13:23; Gal. 5:22, 23; Jas. 3:18.*
Bearing fruit and engaging in strife do not go hand in hand, be that fruit literal farm crops or the fruitage of the spirit. In time of war farmlands used as battlefields do not produce any crops, do they? And how can farmers look after their lands when they are at the front fighting? So also we, as Christian witnesses of Jehovah, cannot produce the fruitage of the spirit nor the fruitage of the ministry when we engage in strife among ourselves. How can there be growth in love, joy, peace, mildness, kindness, goodness and suchlike when there is friction and confusion?
Since we should at all times and in all places be cultivating the fruitage of the spirit, we must at all times seek to preserve peace among ourselves. Yes, “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.” From these words of Paul we see a reciprocal principle at work: mildness and self-control make for peaceful conditions that are conducive to growing the fruitage of the spirit, which very fruitage includes mildness and self-control.—2 Tim. 2:24, 25.
Our obligation to maintain peace works two ways: On the one hand we must exercise care that we do not let what others say and do stir us up to manifest anger, causing strife. And, on the other hand, we must be careful that we ourselves do not say and do anything that will needlessly stir up strife. So, when another says something that offends us, when another becomes emotional and shouts, or loses his temper and wants to strike blows, then in particular is it the time for us, not merely to count to ten, but to be on guard and look to Jehovah for help that we might maintain the peace by not replying in kind. “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.”—Prov. 15:1.
How many are our opportunities to maintain peace! First of all, in our very homes. Does husband or wife wake up feeling grouchy because of a poor night’s rest or otherwise indisposed? Then do not respond in the same manner but exercise self-control, be long-suffering, go out of your way to show mildness, kindness, understanding, and that even though you may think that you yourself feel worse! Or is one’s unbelieving mate continually making slighting or slurring remarks, subtly persecuting? Again, do not retaliate but remember the example Jesus set: “When he was being reviled, he did not go to reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go to threatening.”—1 Pet. 2:23.
In particular do we need to be on our guard to maintain peace within the Christian congregation, in our dealings with our brothers. We must work for peace in our relations with them so that we do not hinder their growth of Christian fruitage, nor our own either. In this regard the overseers and their ministerial assistants have a great responsibility to take the lead by showing how it should be done, by being patient, kind and considerate with those coming to them with problems as well as with the erring ones that need correction. Moses, the overseer of the nation of Israel, was the meekest man in all the earth in his day. Each overseer should be the meekest, mildest and kindest Christian in his congregation.—Num. 12:3.
And, of course, maintaining peace for the purpose of bearing fruit also applies to our relations with those on the outside. As much as he was opposed and persecuted, at no time did Jesus lose his temper. So, “if possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.” “Pursue peace with all people.”—Rom. 12:18; Heb. 12:14.
So let us, one and all, do our utmost to maintain peace in our homes, in our association with our brothers, and with those on the outside, that we might go on bearing unhindered the fruitage of the spirit, so essential to our keeping integrity and to our bearing fruitage in the Kingdom ministry.
For details see The Watchtower, February 1, 1960.