Reasonableness Leads to Peace
1, 2. (a) What transformation can result if a person uses his reasoning faculty? (b) How is this emphasized by the apostle Paul?
JEHOVAH God has given reason to man, with the ability to be reasonable. Using this marvelous faculty enables man to serve God because of his appreciation of God’s wonderful qualities—his love, mercy and undeserved kindness, his almightiness, his limitless wisdom and his perfect justice. By reasoning on these things, the wise person can see that he himself has a limited measure of such qualities and that he should work to increase them in himself. He can thus serve God and, by loving and pleasing the God he serves, can become more like God, copying his ways.
2 The apostle Paul, a close imitator of Christ, who imitated and exemplified his Father Jehovah in a perfect way, counseled us: “Consequently I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason. And 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 perfect will of God.”—Rom. 12:1, 2.
3. How is having the quality of reasonableness pleasant and essential? Why?
3 We enjoy association with one having the Godlike quality of reasonableness. Such a person is fair-minded, right-thinking, approachable, so peaceable to be around. But more important than this, reasonableness is essential to please God, who is always reasonable. He extends the invitation to men to use their reasoning power through the apostle, who says: “I entreat you.” In chapter 12 of the Bible book of Romans we are given a full description of what serving with our power of reason means. We find that wisdom, balance, understanding and good sense can be gained by right reasoning. A reasonable person will not think more of himself than is necessary, but will be sound in mind. Ro 12 Verse three tells us: “For through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God has distributed to him a measure of faith.”
4. (a) What study is most vital? Why? (b) Upon what is it most profitable to meditate? Why?
4 In reasoning we relate principles to facts or problems in a deductive way to clarify specific details, or we compare facts with one another in an inductive way to reveal or clarify general principles. But is pure reasoning enough? No. Many thinkers and philosophers are confused and do not know the way of peace. Reasoning must be guided by the Scriptures, not by human standards or by philosophy. We are told to get the mind of Jehovah, to prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. This requires study of God’s Word. We must have spiritual guidance: “But a physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know them, because they are examined spiritually.” (1 Cor. 2:14) We must also meditate. This does not mean to daydream on fanciful ideas of our own. No, our meditation has to be definitely guided by God. Our reasoning must be based directly on the Scriptures. Such meditation can be done even during periods of relaxation. Said the psalmist: “I shall certainly meditate on all your activity, and with your dealings I will concern myself.” (Ps. 77:12) Certainly the best meditation for us is on God’s dealings. In this way we can compare our life’s activity with the Bible standard and apply the spiritual words of Jehovah to spiritual matters affecting our lives. Then, when a difficult decision is to be made, we will be able to recall and to follow Jehovah’s excellent judicial decisions in such matters. By this kind of reasoning we can be sure our course will be guided by right principles.
STUDY AND MEDITATION ESSENTIAL
5. Give an example of meditation on a Scriptural point.
5 As an example of meditation, we can think on the apostle’s words in Romans, chapter 11, in order to understand better what really is the reasonable service that Paul speaks of in Romans 12:1. In Ro chapter 11 he portrays the wonderful opportunity that was offered to Israel of filling all the places in the heavenly Kingdom organization under Christ. He shows how and why they failed, but how Jehovah’s undeserved kindness and unsearchable wisdom provided a way to give people of the outside nations the opportunity to complete the filling up of this glorious governmental body. Then he appeals to Christians to consider not only God’s justice in condemning disobedience, but also his wondrous love, wisdom and power in making provisions for both Jews and Gentiles who want to serve him. He says that as a consequence of reasoning on this they should present their bodies as a living sacrifice, with all their reasoning power. It is really the only reasonable thing to do.
6. (a) How may reasoning be used in preparing for meetings? (b) Give an example.
6 Reasoning is also involved in preparing properly for meetings where the Bible is studied. For example, you may be studying The Watchtower in preparation for the weekly study at Kingdom Hall. As you study the questions and prepare comments, reason as to how you can make your comments upbuilding to your fellow Christians. Consider the new ones present. Your comments should be clear, simple, understandable. Encourage others to reason by preparing to comment in your own words instead of merely reading the answer. As an example of meditation in study and preparation, say you are considering paragraph 21 on page 46 of the January 15, 1961, Watchtower. There it states in substance that one may work hard to succeed in some worldly profession, but the highest profession, the most worthy aim, is to meet Jehovah God’s requirements as his minister. To enrich your understanding and your comment on this paragraph you could bring to mind all the study, sacrifices, determination and years of work that a person spends to be successful in any profession or career in the business or political world. Then you could think of the surpassing value of the ministry as a lifetime career and the impelling necessity of devoting even more concentrated energy, zeal and attention, in fact, your very life, to it.
7. How will such reasoning in preparation prove beneficial at meetings?
7 If you do this, as you attend the congregation meetings your reasonableness will encourage others to reason and they will get understanding. The listeners, even newcomers, will be aided, which is the purpose of the meeting, as explained by Paul: “If you are all prophesying and any unbeliever or ordinary person comes in, he is reproved by them all, he is closely examined by all; the secrets of his heart become manifest, so that he will fall upon his face and worship God, declaring: ‘God is really among you.’”—1 Cor. 14:24, 25.
8, 9. Show how the application of reasoning can help us to appreciate our ministry more fully and to help those to whom we preach.
8 We can improve and enlarge our ministry by reasoning on it, by thinking, Why is it beneficial to do the work in this way or in that way? This would be done, not to criticize, but to make progress and to avoid carrying on our ministry merely through a sense of duty or determination, or in a routine way. It will help us to develop love. We are commanded to render our ministerial service with our power of reason, proving to ourselves God’s will by application and experience. We are admonished to do our work whole-souled: “He that distributes, let him do it with liberality; he that presides, let him do it in real earnest; he that shows mercy, let him do it with cheerfulness.”—Rom. 12:2, 8; Col. 3:23.
9 For instance, why do we prepare various sermons on special subjects to deliver at the homes of the people? To encourage people to think, to reason, to fit the Scriptures to the facts of life and to help them to get the pattern of truth. We are advised: “Keep holding the pattern of healthful words . . . with the faith and love that are in connection with Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 1:13) By our sermons on different Bible subjects, each pointing to the Kingdom as mankind’s hope, people in time begin to see a pattern in what we say. Those with good hearts begin to get a full picture of the hope of the righteous new world.
10, 11. (a) With whom must we begin in applying reasonableness? (b) What danger lurks if we do not apply reasonableness to our personal ministry?
10 With whom, then, must we be reasonable? Reasonableness should enter into every facet of our lives. First of all, we must be reasonable with ourselves in our ministry. This means to have a sound mind, balancing time properly among our various responsibilities, not excusing ourselves with specious, plausible-sounding reasoning. We have been given a ministry by Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. The apostle counsels: “Be at this ministry.” He also admonishes: “Let your love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is wicked, cling to what is good.” Are you giving less attention to your ministry than in the past? Have other things caused a cooling off on your part? Reason tells you that to cool off in love for right means to lose abhorrence for sin. This is dangerous. Be reasonable, and make the necessary adjustments to put your ministry back into first place in your life, where it belongs. Jesus was aware of the danger of false reasoning when, after he had explained what was God’s will for him, Peter argued with him from the human viewpoint: “At this Peter took him aside and commenced raising strong objections to him, saying: ‘Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this destiny at all.’ But, turning his back, he said to Peter: ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.’”—Rom. 12:7, 9; Matt. 16:22, 23.
11 In being reasonable with ourselves we will employ reasonableness as to entertainment, reading, thinking, association, secular work, home and family. Our ministry is our full-time occupation, our career. The Christian is commanded: “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.”—1 Cor. 10:31.
REASONABLENESS WITH THOSE OF LIKE FAITH
12. How can we be reasonable in giving instructions or counsel?
12 The next step is to be reasonable with our brothers, those of like faith. If we are reasonable, we will be calm, kind, considerate, not arbitrary, not inflexible. One of Jehovah’s witnesses will not say to another when giving instructions or counsel: “That’s absolutely the way it has to be done.” Rather, he will follow the apostolic advice: “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another take the lead.” (Rom. 12:10) We should not feel that because someone is dedicated to God we have authority to be demanding with him. Think of the example set by the apostle Paul. With all his apostolic authority he could have commanded, but when writing to the congregation at Corinth about some of their shortcomings, he said: “Now I myself, Paul, entreat you by the mildness and kindness of the Christ.” So the rule is: “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.”—2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 6:10.
13, 14. How will reasonableness help us avoid a mistake? Give an example.
13 We want to help one another. We cannot help by trying to fit others into our circumstances or by expecting them to do the same as we, but we may by reasoning help a person to make the most of his opportunities. “For we do not dare to class ourselves among some or compare ourselves with some who recommend themselves. Certainly they in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves with themselves have no understanding.”—2 Cor. 10:12.
14 For example, a Christian woman may have a husband who is unfavorable toward the truth. She feels her responsibility toward him as a wife and feels she should spend some time with him on weekends when he is at home. Thus she may miss the arrangements for house-to-house preaching on Sunday morning, although she engages in midweek ministerial activity with the group that meets at the weekly Bible study conducted in her locality. Would it not be arbitrary and unreasonable to reprove or criticize her because she did not arrange her schedule to coincide with the schedule of others in the congregation whose circumstances are different?
15. Give an example of kind reasoning with a brother to help him make the most of his opportunities.
15 A congregation overseer might reason with a member of the congregation, however, to help the individual see how he can make the most of his opportunities. He may observe one of his Christian brothers with a family who is not taking the proper lead or helping his children as he should. The overseer could reasonably approach him in a kind manner, saying something to this effect: “It is encouraging and comforting, isn’t it, to know that we are all full-time ministers of God, even though some may have family responsibilities that prevent them from devoting all their time to actual preaching and teaching? However, as a father you have the special privilege of spending some of your dedicated time helping your children, as commanded at Ephesians 6:4: ‘And you, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.’ It requires effort to take full advantage of such opportunities. Paul knew this, for he counseled Timothy: ‘For this very cause I remind you to stir up like a fire the gift of God which is in you.’ (2 Tim. 1:6) There are times when we have to take some action to stir ourselves up just as one stirs up a fire with a poker. In order that we may do this in an orderly and effective way, we are given the rule at 1 Corinthians 14:40: ‘Let all things take place decently and by arrangement.’ It would be good, therefore, to make a schedule of your time so that you can give your children this life-giving attention. I have noticed that you love them very much. God also loves them and counts them sacred to him, so in giving them attention in study and aiding them in the field service of preaching the good news you can be assured of God’s help and of happy results, as Paul said: ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow.’ (1 Cor. 3:6) You will be blessed in seeing them grow up as integrity-keeping ministers of God.” After discussing these scriptures the overseer could offer the brother help in arranging a schedule, extending personal assistance in any way possible.
REASONABLENESS PUTS IMPORTANT MATTERS FIRST
16. In helping and counseling others, how can we keep our eye on the important things? Illustrate.
16 Getting the preaching done is the important thing. Reasonableness will enable us to appreciate those doing the preaching work, and their faith and efforts in doing so. It takes faith to have any part in the proclamation of the good news. Each witness of Jehovah spending a little or much time in preaching has a measure of faith. The Bible says: “Think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God has distributed to him a measure of faith.” (Rom. 12:3) If one by faith is successful in his work, do not try to make him do things a certain way. Perhaps one is newly engaging in preaching from house to house; another may be well along in years of experience. Both may have difficulty in locating Bible texts quickly. In working with these ministers the instructor should not criticize them for not using every text in the sermon being currently presented. In fact, an individual may find that he seems to be able to handle a certain sermon better, explaining certain scriptures with more success. Surely he should not be discouraged or forced to use some other sermon he has difficulty with. Rather, reasonableness will make your counsel, if you are the teacher, encouraging and upbuilding. Give the person help. If you can help the individual to learn and use other sermons, this, of course, is to be desired and will promote progress in his ministry. Thus you are following the Bible’s counsel: “Make sure of the more important things, so that you may be flawless and not be stumbling others up to the day of Christ.” (Phil. 1:10) We are told that it is important to prove to ourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. God counts it important that we keep separate from the world, maintain integrity and preach and teach the good news. If we aid one another to do these things, we will do well.
17. Although we should not be demanding with others, what should we strive to do, nevertheless?
17 On the other hand, each one should be reasonable in conforming to instructions in doing the work, serving in harmony with God’s ministers all over the world. He may need to make a change in his preaching methods. He may find he is not really teaching effectively. He may be directing attention to himself rather than to the truth or to the congregation, showing individuals the need of associating with others of like faith. He must think of the example he is setting for others. Reasonableness will help him to see that the things we are instructed to do now are in preparation for the future and will stand us in good stead later on as new conditions and responsibilities face us.
18. How will the reasonable person react when he is corrected in an error?
18 An especially vital time to reason is when a question or controversy arises. In such circumstances one should display reasonableness and mildness. Perhaps you have made an error. It is reasonable and conducive to peace and to your own well-being to be ready to listen, to change your view or course of action when proof is shown. Lowliness and humility of heart will induce you to be ready to reason rather than to be stubborn or opinionated. If you are reasonable you will not become angry or discouraged, worrying that you might “lose face” when corrected. You will give regard to the Bible advice: “I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think . . . Be minded the same way toward others as to yourselves; do not be minding lofty things, but be led along with the lowly things. Do not become discreet in your own eyes.” Reasonableness will make you thankful there is someone to correct you before your error grows to bigger proportions.—Rom. 12:3, 16.
19. What will the reasonable person keep in mind when correcting another?
19 Perhaps the position is reversed and you are correcting another person. Then reasonableness will keep you mindful of the wise admonition: “‘Do not go beyond the things that are written,’ in order that you may not be puffed up individually in favor of the one against the other. For who makes you to differ from another? Indeed, what do you have that you did not receive? If, now, you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?” (1 Cor. 4:6, 7) You will give the correction in love and mildness, ‘keeping an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted.’—Gal. 6:1; Titus 3:2.
REASONABLENESS TOWARD THOSE NOT OF LIKE FAITH
20. How will reasonableness make us more helpful ministers to those we are trying to teach?
20 Are there yet others toward whom we must show reasonableness? Yes. The Scriptural admonition is: “Let your reasonableness become known to all men.” (Phil. 4:5) In the house-to-house ministry, in calling back on interested persons, in conducting Bible studies, as one teaches he must reason with great patience, being able to put himself in the other person’s place. He can then help the individual because he knows why certain points are hard for the person to grasp. He will recognize good-will persons whom he is teaching as the Lord’s flock, which Jesus described as “skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” He will realize that such individuals have been confused by false teachings and by lack of knowledge of God’s Word. He will exercise love and hospitality, displaying empathy, fellow feeling, as described by Paul: “Follow the course of hospitality. Rejoice with people who rejoice; weep with people who weep.”—Matt. 9:36; Rom. 12:13, 15.
21. What does teaching with reasonableness do for the one taught?
21 Anyone teaching with reasonableness provides a basis for others to become reasonable toward God’s Word, for he fits the Bible’s description of a true minister: “A slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach, keeping himself restrained under evil, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed; as perhaps God may give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth, and they may come back to their proper senses out from the snare of the Devil, seeing that they have been caught alive by him for the will of that one.”—2 Tim. 2:24-26.
22. To what extent should reasonableness be exercised toward family members who are not believers?
22 Sometimes the greatest test of our reasonableness is when members of our own family are not believers. In such case, no less love and kind consideration should be given to these close to us by fleshly ties and beloved to us, but in some respects even more consideration and certainly more reasonableness is required. Time must be taken with them. A serious responsibility toward them rests on us. This means that reasonableness must be exercised in arranging a balanced schedule of time and responsibilities in order to give attention to the spiritual welfare of our family as well as to our public ministry.
23. What attitude should Christians have when persecuted and opposed, and what counsel should they follow?
23 Perhaps the richest rewards of exhibiting reasonableness will be found when we are suffering adverse conditions, opposition and persecution, or when preaching in lands where there is official disfavor toward our ministerial work of teaching the good news of the Kingdom. If reasonable, the minister will understand why persecutions come. He will have the positive, optimistic viewpoint. He will realize that such things are to be expected by the Christian. It is in fulfillment of prophecy. It is often due to misinformation on the part of the persecutors. Thus reasonably viewing matters and realizing that these are misled, he will not be vengeful or vindictive toward his persecutors. He will remember that it is the Devil who really blinds people to the light of the good news. The warfare of the Christian, therefore, is not against men and his weapons are not those of men: vindictiveness, harshness, reviling and carnal weapons. (2 Cor. 4:4; 10:4, 5; Eph. 6:11, 12) The Christian will reason on the Scripturally advised course of action described at Romans 12:14, 17, 19-21: “Keep on blessing those who persecute; be blessing and do not be cursing. Return evil for evil to no one. Provide fine things in the sight of all men. If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’ But, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals upon his head.’ Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.”
24. How can we conquer evil with good?
24 Do not let evil make you quarrelsome, sour and disgusted. Rather, conquer the evil with good, even when it may be in your power to return evil. Elisha the prophet set an example of this when a band of Syrians had come to take him captive and in protection of him Jehovah had smitten them with temporary blindness. The king of Israel wanted to kill these Syrians on the spot, but Elisha corrected him, saying: “You must not strike them down. Are those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow the ones that you are striking down? Set bread and water before them that they may eat and drink and go to their lord.” This accomplished more than returning evil would have done, for the record adds: “And not once did the marauding bands of the Syrians come again into the land of Israel.”—2 Ki. 6:14-23.
25. What can we do now to be able to follow fully Peter’s advice at 1 Peter 3:15, and with what hope?
25 Sometimes, rather than a kind, inquiring question asked by a person of good will, it may be a harsh demand that will confront you from one in an official position. The apostle Peter says that in such cases you should be “always 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.” (1 Pet. 3:15) It is in harmony with sound reasoning to prepare in advance for such things by study of God’s Word NOW and by activity in his service in harmony therewith. This is the reasonable time to act. The Bible shows that Satan the Devil will make his final attack on God’s people in the near future. Reasonableness convinces us that we cannot enjoy the things of this world to the full now. It is a time of warfare for Christians. The scene of this world is changing. We have the glorious New World hope ahead. In view of this and its nearness, the words of the apostle apply more than ever: “Rejoice in the hope ahead. Endure under tribulation. Persevere in prayer.”—Rom. 12:12; 1 Cor. 7:29-31.
26. How will reasonableness on a Christian’s part have the effect of bringing peace to the congregation?
26 Reasonableness, therefore, will bring peace, not only to oneself, but more importantly, to the Christian congregation. Our actions affect the congregation because of the close relationship described at Romans 12:4, 5: “For just as we have in one body many members, but the members do not all have the same function, so we, although many, are one body in union with Christ, but members belonging individually to one another.” Reasonableness helps the congregation to maintain the perfect peace and unity described at 1 Corinthians 1:10: “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”—1 Cor. 12:26.
27. In what ways does reasonableness bring peace?
27 Reasonableness results in peace of mind, peace with God, peace with our neighbors, peace in our ministry and peace with those not Christian believers, as far as it depends upon us; as the Bible commands: “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.”—Rom. 12:18.
28. Whom are Christians trying to please, and with what prospects in view?
28 Jehovah God is the One whom Christians are trying to please. At Proverbs 16:7 the principle is stated: “When Jehovah takes pleasure in the ways of a man he causes even his enemies themselves to be at peace with him.” By following Jehovah’s way with our power of reason we will conquer evil. What could we then have but good? Reasonableness is a part of the wisdom from above. Directed by God’s Word, it will lead us into the happy condition that Paul desired for Christians when he said: “Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be restored, to be comforted, to think in agreement, to live peaceably; and the God of love and of peace will be with you.”—2 Cor. 13:11; Jas. 3:17.