Under Righteous Rule
EVERY society must be under some sort of rule. Members cannot be each one a law unto himself, for that would spell anarchy and not society. There must be some code of behavior to which all subject themselves, and certain members to whom is committed authority to see that all understand and comply with the requirements. Consider, then, in this respect the society of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.
A central authority, consisting of a group of older and mature Christian men who are wholly dedicated to God and to his kingdom’s interests on earth, who are anointed with his spirit and who may be referred to as the governing body, gives recognition to congregations of the Witnesses throughout the world. From its headquarters the governing body furnishes to every congregation material for well-planned Bible study as well as counsel on how to preach the Kingdom message most effectively in the territory allotted to the congregation.—Matt. 24:45-47.
From each congregation the names of suitable and capable men are submitted in recommendatory form to the governing body. Having passed upon and approved such recommendations, the governing body authorizes the men selected to supervise and regulate the activities of the congregation. In all of this there is no selfish competition or ambitious politicking for position. The Scriptural requirements for such men are clearly understood and followed: “Ministerial servants should likewise be serious, not double-tongued, not giving themselves to a lot of wine, not greedy of dishonest gain, holding the sacred secret of the faith with a clean conscience. . . . Let ministerial servants be husbands of one wife, presiding in a fine manner over children and their own households.” “Capable men, fearing God, trustworthy men, hating unjust profit; and you must set these over them as chiefs over thousands, chiefs over hundreds, chiefs over fifties and chiefs over tens. And they must judge the people on every proper occasion.” (1 Tim. 3:8, 9, 12; Ex. 18:21, 22) Congregations may embrace ten, fifty or a hundred or more persons, and a group of congregations, in what is called a circuit, may well include a total of a thousand or more Witnesses.
The function of these appointed men is not to boss or exert undue authority over members of the society, for it is always kept in mind that each one freely volunteered to be a witness for Jehovah. No, rather, their work as servants is to be continually available to assist any members who require help in the carrying out of their dedication to perform God’s will. When members fall into sickness, extreme want, or into severe trials and persecutions because of their faith, these servants endeavor to be prompt to visit and aid them, comforting them and encouraging them to maintain Christian loyalty despite the troubles that assail them. Like good shepherds, they are truly concerned about the flock, not viewing it as their own, but as the flock of God entrusted to their care.—Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2, 3.
These loving overseers are also responsible to guard against any infiltration of evil men or wicked works into the society of Christians. So correction must at times be administered, firmly, but always in love. As directed by God’s Word, these servants must “admonish the disorderly, speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all. See that no one renders injury for injury to anyone else, but always pursue what is good toward one another and to all others.” (1 Thess. 5:14, 15) When circumstances require it they must also be prepared to “reprove before all onlookers persons who practice sin, that the rest also may have fear.” (1 Tim. 5:20) Christian purity must be maintained.
By reason of such righteous rule the climate for cultivation of the fruitage of God’s spirit in every member of the society is made possible. Says the apostle Paul: “The fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) With these qualities abounding among the members of this society there results a degree of productivity in the kingdom-preaching work that is noted and marveled at by those on the outside.
This righteous and beneficial rule of the society of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses in all the earth should not, however, be credited to some man or men. God alone is the One who long ago made provision for it and caused his prophet to write about it for our benefit: “Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes, they will rule as princes for justice itself. And each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” (Isa. 32:1, 2) Who is this king? He is the foreordained one whose “name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end.” (Isa. 9:6, 7) He is no other than Christ Jesus glorified in heaven, God’s choice of king for all the earth.
Bible chronology shows that the year 1914 C.E. marked the time when Christ Jesus commenced his kingdom rule with authority from his heavenly Father. With that just and mighty Ruler directing the society of Christian witnesses from his heavenly throne, we can well understand why princes, or chiefs, or appointed servants in the organization have come to be protectors and refreshers for every member as they strive to serve God amid a hostile and barren system of things. Year by year they have been helped to see more clearly God’s will for his people on earth, and this society under righteous rule has never hesitated to move forward and make the changes that would bring them into closer conformity to God’s purposes. They constitute a happy and purposeful society, grateful that Jehovah has placed them under the direction of a Righteous Ruler who supervises the organization for good and gives them positive and godly leadership in work that is satisfying and beneficial.
How wonderful to be able to pray with confidence as did the psalmist: “Let the pleasantness of Jehovah our God prove to be upon us, and the work of our hands do you firmly establish upon us. Yes, the work of our hands, do you firmly establish it”! (Ps. 90:17) No wonder members of this society under righteous rule are represented in the Scriptures as joyously shouting out: “To the one sitting on the throne [Jehovah God] and to the Lamb [Christ Jesus] be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.” (Rev. 5:13) To them has been opened up an entirely new way of life.