Loyalty to Jehovah’s Organization
“Incline, O Jehovah, your ear. Answer me, for I am afflicted and poor. O do guard my soul, for I am loyal.”—Ps. 86:1, 2.
1. How does one demonstrate loyalty to God?
LOYALTY means to be faithful, to stick close in unswerving obedience, with devotion so strong that it will act as a powerful adhesive, holding one tight and secure in all kinds of divisive troubles. Loyalty to God is shown by his people when they lovingly stick to him and his organization both when it is easy and when it is difficult, yes, as the old expression puts it, “through thick and thin.”
2, 3. For what is Abraham remembered by Bible writers, and why was he loyal to Jehovah?
2 One can use the faithful man Abraham to illustrate loyalty to God and his organization. In 1943 B.C.E. Jehovah made an important covenant with Abraham. (Gen. 12:4, 7) Abraham was seventy-five years old then, and for the next one hundred years he proved faithful in all kinds of tests. He stuck close to Jehovah; in fact, so close that in the Bible he came to be called “Jehovah’s friend.” (Jas. 2:23) After a hundred years of faithful service Abraham died, one hundred and seventy-five years old (1843 B.C.E), and the Bible, at Genesis 25:8, reports: “Then Abraham expired and died in a good old age, old and satisfied, and was gathered to his people.” Abraham was most contented to remain loyal to his God to the last day. He was outstanding enough to be remembered two thousand years later, when he is mentioned twice in Hebrews chapter 11 for faithfulness to God.
3 Then ponder over the point brought out in that same chapter about Abraham and Isaac and Jacob: “Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God.” (Heb. 11:16) Think of the loyalty practiced by these men to receive such recognition from the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.
4. Why can we say that Jehovah’s witnesses of today are like Abraham?
4 And so it has been with many modern-day witnesses of Jehovah from many parts of the earth. These Witnesses are well known the world over for their sticking close to Bible principles. They will not budge from observing God’s Bible principles, even if it means death to them by their enemies. Persecution from Caesar or close friends, loss of family members, or the enticing lure of materialism is met by the same strong guard, faith based on God’s Word. Records of all kinds from everywhere never fail to magnify this point, that these Witnesses are faithful to their God.
5. Who is responsible for teaching loyalty to Jehovah’s witnesses, and how is it done?
5 Where does this spirit of devotion come from? Who takes the lead in setting the example of unswerving obedience? From where do the Witnesses get their food producing courage? Here we are wise to let the Bible bring to us Jesus’ answer to these questions. “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.” (Matt. 24:45-47) Surely it is not going to be difficult to find this faithful, happy, responsible “slave” in modern times.
6, 7. Where does the “faithful and discreet slave” get his instruction and example?
6 At the start this “slave” was influenced by Christ Jesus and displayed the same qualities, one of such being the attitude that David mentions, at Psalm 40:8: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted.” Dependable? Yes! As the Teacher, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) This “slave” trained those under his care to meet opposition from powerful Jewish authorities, who commanded the Christian apostles “nowhere to make any utterance or to teach upon the basis of the name of Jesus,” with this direct response: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 4:18; 5:29) The “domestics” of the spiritual household of the Lord Jesus Christ were well fed, and congregations of faithful domestics were busy feeding others. “Therefore, indeed, the congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day.”—Acts 16:5.
7 There was only one place recognized by Christ Jesus. One could leave that place, but could one find another faithful “slave” giving out life-giving food under the direction of Christ Jesus? No! Peter answered such a question with the words: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.”—John 6:68.
8. (a) Just how does this “faithful and discreet slave” build up the faith of God’s people? (b) How energetic is this slave in caring for his responsibilities?
8 When we come down to our day, we find that same strong unshakable faith of the early Christians in the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. We also see these increasing in numbers. They are a happy people. Setting the example for these people are the anointed Christians still on earth who, working together under the direction of Christ Jesus, make up the composite “faithful and discreet slave.” Reflect for a minute on their organization today. Their upholding Bible principles worldwide because of preaching the “good news” has brought these Christians into courts thousands of times, where they say as did their early brothers: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” Preaching “this good news of the kingdom” is their responsibility, and so they go and preach to families everywhere in the earth, now in 194 countries and islands of the sea. Overseers in congregations receive special training to equip themselves to build up the faith of the members of the congregations. Missionaries are trained and sent to the four corners of the globe. Each congregation is assisted by a mature visiting minister every few months to teach individuals in the congregation how to be better ministers. Conventions are arranged for regular feeding on God’s Word and for enjoyment of associating with many others. Five meetings with a faith-building program have been arranged for in each congregation. Books and tracts on many subjects have been printed and distributed in over 162 languages. The Bible has been published in a number of languages in the most convenient form possible to aid the household to use it readily every day.—Matt. 24:14.
9. (a) Why is the Watchtower magazine such an outstanding example of loyalty? (b) What are the results?
9 For over eighty years the “faithful and discreet slave” has published the Watchtower magazine, now in 66 languages and with over 4,250,000 copies printed each issue. This magazine’s loyalty to God’s Word has inspired its subscribers to look forward to its regular visit as a rich spiritual meal. Its first issue, July 1879 (Vol. 1, No. 1, page 1), stated: “It is in bondage to no man, no party, and to no creed, but the Bible,” and it still sticks to the Bible. Like Abraham, this “slave” class has been satisfied with many years of service to God. (Gen. 25:8) Associate with it and worship God indeed!
10. Will this organization get so large that we will lose needed personal attention, and why the answer?
10 While this New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses is a fast-growing organization, having even gained 86,345 new baptized ministers in the one year 1959 (1960 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, page 34), individuals are not lost in the crowd. Careful attention is given to individuals through a regular home Bible study. Personal assistance further acquaints them with the theocratic organization and teaches them how to enjoy the actual house-to-house ministry. Overseers in each congregation go out of their way to get acquainted with each one in the congregation. Jehovah through his Word says it should be this way: “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching,” and, “these things commit to faithful men, who, in turn, will be adequately qualified to teach others.” (1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 2:2) The same effective organization arrangement in operation in Paul’s time is found flourishing today in the congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses. (Eph. 4:11, 12) We see thousands of new ones seeking out this organization and old ones sticking to it.
11. What fact affects our view of this organization, and what two established points are we concerned with in our study now?
11 How, then, will we view the organization? Can we be independent and feel that God will deal with us or use us separate from his organization? If we are to be loyal to it we must recognize it as God’s organization, one that he has arranged for to do a work, to get something done, and to keep at it until Jehovah says it is finished. If Jehovah built the organization, then he is the One who has arranged the different positions of responsibility in it. He left no doubt about it, as stated in Acts 20:28: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” Ephesians 4:11, 12 tells us more about this organization’s work. The Bible books, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus, deal primarily with overseers and their duties in the congregation. This means, then, that we have two things under view here. One is the position of responsibility arranged by Jehovah. The other is the imperfect human creature that has the privilege of serving in that position.
12. (a) Give an example of individuals coming face to face with these facts. (b) How does Jehovah view these matters?
12 It is easy to forget the position and see only the individual. Aaron and Miriam made this mistake. They looked at Moses their brother and forgot who put Moses in his position of responsibility. They felt that they were able to do as well as Moses. It was not hard to find something wrong with Moses. He was imperfect. Did you notice how Jehovah viewed the matter, though? Of Moses, Jehovah said: “He is being entrusted with all my house.” Of Aaron and Miriam, it is said: “And Jehovah’s anger got to be hot against them.” (Num. 12:7, 9) Into this the Bible record comes with advice from Jehovah: “Those honoring me I shall honor, and those despising me will be of little account.” (1 Sam. 2:30) All overseers in the congregations today have faults. You will not have to look hard to find them; no overseers are perfect. (Rom. 5:12) They receive encouraging counsel just like the rest of us, to assist them on to greater maturity. More is demanded of them, and so sometimes their faults may be magnified. (Luke 12:48) They are under close scrutiny at all times.
13. Can we always determine the right course to take? How?
13 Meek and loyal ones will work close together because they realize that God has his organization working to get things done. Those who are meek like sheep will heed the advice of the apostle Paul: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith. Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.” (Heb. 13:7, 17) Because of love these loyal, meek, sheeplike ones focus their attention on the big things pertaining to God’s work. Shortsighted persons may not see these big things, but continued study soon brings more maturity and the vision with which to look up and ahead. This is what Paul earnestly emphasized at Philippians 1:9, 10, saying: “This is what I continue praying, that your love may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment; that you may make sure of the more important things, so that you may be flawless and not be stumbling others up to the day of Christ.”
14. (a) Why do you say overseers are appointed by God’s spirit? (b) Will that one individual care for all the duties in a congregation? Then what is his responsibility?
14 Overseers are appointed by God, for Acts 20:28 says the holy spirit sets these individuals in the place or position of responsibility as overseers. When God makes clear through his Word what the work is and the duties involved, the “faithful and discreet slave” through the theocratic organization can find the individual measuring up to the Scriptural requirements and can appoint him to care for the particular work. Only dedicated brothers are appointed after prayerful consideration has been given. The work is the essential thing, and the one appointed must be productive and accomplish God’s purpose. The flock must be cared for in the way that God purposed it to be done. The overseer in this special position is to do the work, which is described very simply, “Shepherd the congregation of God.” (Acts 20:28) Then there are assistant ministerial servants assigned to this overseer, and these too have the duty of helping to care for all the work that is involved in shepherding the congregation. (Eph. 4:11, 12) There are so many details to care for when it comes to shepherding God’s congregation today. The five meetings held by congregations each week must be prepared, with various ones in the congregation participating. That means study and the rehearsing of parts of the program so it will be instructive and upbuilding. The house-to-house ministry work requires a systematic way of visiting all the families in the community, and that means mapping the congregation’s territory. Subscription records for the Watchtower and Awake! magazines must be reliable to ensure prompt service. There is the need to visit the sick and weak ones in the congregation. The Kingdom Hall, whether owned or rented, requires cleaning and upkeep. One person, the congregation overseer, could never do everything; so others willingly assist in these details, having in mind that the assignment comes from God and is a part of the shepherding work. Jehovah expects the organization, his congregation, to get it done.
15. (a) What are some of the assignments made by the congregation overseer? (b) Should we view these as less important because of being assigned by the overseer?
15 In every congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses there is a training provision to assist all members to greater maturity. More mature ones are assigned by the overseer to help others wanting assistance in study, in preparing house-to-house sermons, or in some part of the preaching activity. This too is a part of the shepherding work that is really arranged by Jehovah. And think of how wonderful it is for anyone to be used to help in this or to be recognized by God as one worthy of shepherding and to receive training. In this same vein one would never look down on the privilege of taking oversight of a small Bible book study group that meets in a home to receive field ministry instructions and to visit the families in that locality. No, Jesus said: “Where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20) There should be the same willing, eager, and loving care for all our assignments that God through his Word exhorts overseers to use in shepherding the flock. Listen to what Peter says: “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. 5:2, 3) The responsibility, care, willingness, eagerness and love are not weakened because we have been assigned by the congregation overseer to care for some of the details of shepherding the flock. Nor did they diminish in Jesus’ case when he trained and sent out the seventy disciples to preach.—Luke 10:1-24.
16. What attitude contributes to happiness and accomplishment in the congregation?
16 Loyalty to Jehovah and, of course, to his organization is demonstrated by action. One having reasons to be loyal to God’s organization would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to keep his mouth shut or to be simply an onlooker toward those preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. Rather, we prepare for a share in some way in the shepherding of the flock by doing as urged by Peter: “Brace up your minds for activity, keep your senses completely; set your hope upon the undeserved kindness that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:13) Think of what could be accomplished in a congregation and the upbuilding enthusiastic conditions that would prevail if the assistants to the congregation overseer and all those receiving some assignment to share in the shepherding of the flock would respond as Paul knew our brother Philemon would: “Trusting in your compliance, I am writing you, knowing you will even do more than the things I say.”—Philem. 21.
17. To share in shepherding the congregation means what kind of attitude toward congregation organization?
17 Rather than seek for the easiest course possible in study or sharing in any of the congregation’s activity, why not “ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons”? (1 Tim. 4:15) Search out opportunities to grow to greater maturity in God’s organization, rather than cater to the easygoing desires of the flesh. If everyone in a congregation would decide to go according to his likes and choose the most convenient territory to preach in or the easiest congregation Bible study group to associate with, it would be difficult for the overseer to shepherd the flock. How different when everyone puts God’s Word and work first and is willing to share in building up the organization! Such a course is advised at Ephesians 4:15: “Let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ.”
18. How is it possible to learn Jehovah’s mind, and what congregation program reflects this to us?
18 Faithful meeting attendance is a mark of loyalty, coming together with others of God’s organization to examine faith-building information from the Bible. The meetings held in each congregation are a very definite part of God’s organization in action. The loyal Christians have first on their schedule the provision for attendance at these meetings. Paul tells us why: “Not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25) We have the opportunity to share by expressing ourselves at these meetings. It builds us up little by little to be able to explain these Scriptural points until they become a part of our thinking. Being with the organization through meetings, conventions, field ministry activity, association with other more experienced ones and study of the many publications results in our talking like the organization. Closer and closer we draw to it, acting, talking and rejoicing with it in all its activity. Because the organization is following its teacher Christ Jesus, we are drawing nearer to his thinking. We will then come to have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16) Since Jesus reflects his Father’s will (John 5:30), we can learn Jehovah’s mind and learn to walk in his ways. (Isa. 2:1-4) How else could it be accomplished? It is only by sticking to the instruments Jehovah uses, even as is pointed out at Colossians 3:10: “Clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.”
19. How does God’s organization need our protection?
19 Then we have the responsibility to protect the organization. We are a part of it. We recognize it worldwide as of God’s making. It works and is being used by the “faithful and discreet slave” in caring for earth-wide interests. (Matt. 24:45-47) It feeds us food at the proper time. It does not go on strike. It is not divided but remains strong and solid as it leads in Kingdom activity. It gives us care day and night. We do not view it as a huge corporation or giant to exploit. When we see others trying to take advantage of it, we will not shrug it off with “Oh, what’s it to me?” With the growth of the organization, vast amounts of property, machines, Kingdom Halls, convention equipment, publications and supplies are used, and here we do not follow worldly practices of taking these things for ourselves and concluding that the organization is big and will never miss them. The same is true of cleanliness of the organization. We will not shrug it off and think, “Why get excited about someone committing some unclean act? Why hurt someone’s feelings? The organization is big; it does not matter.” But it does matter. The organization is God’s. With deep-rooted concern we see ourselves being hurt and, more, we see God’s arrangement being tampered with.
20. What reasons do we have for happiness now?
20 Take a look around in the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. Living at this tense time with greater obstacles to world unity than ever before, we have peace springing from love, so deep-rooted that powerful nations cannot root it out. Materialism and nationalism are not able to break the theocratic society up or to wean away its affection for its maker, Jehovah God. We see people being fed upbuilding spiritual food that brings growth and maturity. As Jesus instructed Peter, ‘the sheep are being fed.’ (John 21:15-17) The organization is mature and is getting more so each day. We have knowledge of sure doctrine, with no need to be uncertain about our relation to God or wavering about what his will is. There is food, spiritual food in abundance. We have the best of equipment to work with, in publications, Bibles, instructions and encouraging counsel. Surely in the theocratic society is a flourishing, thriving, prosperous, safe and secure place to live, and Isaiah 32:18 describes it well: “My people must dwell in a peaceful abiding place and in residences of full confidence and in undisturbed resting places.” This condition is to go on forever. Yes, like Abraham, we can be satisfied. In this New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses we are surrounded by people loyal to God; they are his friends and he is not ashamed to be called their God. Stick to Jehovah, then, live according to his Word, work with his people, yes, live with Jehovah’s organization forever.
[Picture on page 466]
‘Why did you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?’