The Joy Found in New World Associations
UPON hearing a Witness give his doorstep sermon, a householder said: “I could tell right away that you were one of Jehovah’s witnesses. You people are so happy!” The observation was by no means unique. Time and again the public press has commented upon the happiness of the Witnesses at their assemblies, that they seem to get so much joy out of their religion.
Their joyful state being noticed by men of goodwill toward God attracts these to the New World society. Like the psalmist, they long to ‘see the goodness to God’s chosen ones, that they may rejoice with the rejoicing of his nation.’ As these progress they feel about New World associations as did David: “I rejoiced when they were saying to me: ‘To the house of Jehovah let us go.’”—Ps. 106:5; 122:1.a
This is as it should be, for in ancient times Jehovah’s people were specifically commanded to rejoice: “You must . . . rejoice in every undertaking of yours, you and your households, because Jehovah your God has blessed you.” And the apostolic command to Jehovah’s Christian witnesses is: “Always rejoice in the Lord. Once more I will say, Rejoice!”—Deut. 12:7; Phil. 4:4; 3:1.
No question about it, Jehovah God has blessed his people in modern times. He gives them many reasons for rejoicing. To mention but a few of them: The establishment of God’s kingdom, the manifestation of Christ’s presence, the return to their “land” of pure worship from bondage to modern Babylon, the holy spirit poured out upon God’s people, the appearance of a “great crowd” of desirable ones from all nations, the ever-increasing light and the prosperity of the New World society.—Hag. 2:7; Rev. 7:9; 11:15.
Knowledge alone is not sufficient to have enduring joy. For joy to continue it must be cultivated. It must have the right soil. It is the result of a right course of conduct in the climate of peace and harmony with God’s people. Among the things that will cause one to have joy is generosity. At the same time generosity is the result of joy. Israel’s generosity in contributing material for the temple brought them joy; the joy of the brothers of Macedonia caused them to manifest generosity.—1 Chron. 29:9, 14; 2 Cor. 8:1, 2.
And so we find it today. Joyful Witnesses are eager to help; helping results in further joy. When they build a Kingdom Hall, work at an assembly or voluntarily give of their time and means on other occasions, joy results. Jesus said that there was more happiness in giving, and this is especially true of giving the truth about God’s kingdom to men of goodwill from house to house and in their homes by means of Bible studies.—Acts 20:35.
Association is another great aid to joy. All of us need it, for it is not good for us to be alone. But let us exercise care that seeking association of others is not from any materialistic motives.
True, one may have preferences and there is nothing wrong with that since even Jesus had preferences. The twelve apostles were preferred by Jesus to the rest of his disciples; but even of these Jesus preferred three: Peter, James and John; and of these three one was Jesus’ favorite: the beloved apostle John. But Jesus freely spent himself for all as he had opportunity and as they appreciated their need.—Mark 6:31-34.
So let us also be concerned with others in seeking association. Let us take note of the weak, the irregular ones, the shy, the backward and humble “lambs” and go out of our way to greet them with a smile, a cheery handshake and edifying, upbuilding conversation. And, best of all, let us try to draw them out, to get them to express themselves and so receive the greater joy of giving.—1 Thess. 5:14.
For our New World associations to be conducive to joy they must be kept wholesome. The human heart is deceitful, the flesh is weak, and unless we are careful we can easily be ensnared by our weaknesses, to our lasting regret. We also want to guard against becoming burdensome to others or letting our associations be limited to mere mundane things such as food and drink.
And finally, for our associations to be joyful let us make allowances for others, not rejecting any because of immaterial peculiarities, and being natural ourselves. All of this makes for true joy in New World associations.
a For details see The Watchtower, May 15, 1961.