Finding Contentment with Jehovah’s Organization
“Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.”—John 6:68.
1. Why can Jehovah’s creatures have full confidence in him?
JEHOVAH is and always has been in full control of everything in the universe. It is his almighty power that keeps the stars, sun, moon and planets in their respective orbits and it is he who lovingly maintains and preserves the earth as man’s home. Everything he does is absolutely perfect and because of this his creatures can have full confidence in his sovereign rule and merciful oversight.
2. (a) How does Jehovah exercise his attributes? (b) Why, then, do some complain, and against whom, in fact, are they complaining?
2 Being almighty and all-seeing, Jehovah exercises his unlimited qualities of love, wisdom, justice and power in a perfectly well-balanced way when dealing with his creatures. Never does he carry his justice to the extreme without tempering it with love and mercy. Never does he misuse his limitless power, but always exercises it in love and with wisdom. He never contradicts himself, nor is he inconsistent with himself in the use of his attributes. Since this is true, why do some of his creatures complain at times about his arrangements and ways of doing things? Many times it is because of a lack of understanding of the way Jehovah works out his purposes, or because of having a very shortsighted view of Jehovah’s dealings with his creatures. However, while it may be true that often we do not fully appreciate the reason why Jehovah does certain things, our complaining about this would show a lack of trust and faith in Jehovah God and in his ability to accomplish things in his own way and time. This is a most serious mistake. About 3,500 years ago, when God’s people Israel were traveling in the wilderness in southern Palestine, they began to complain to their overseers, Moses and Aaron, about a lack of food. Moses showed them just how serious their complaining spirit was when he said: “Your murmurings are not against us, but against Jehovah.”—Ex. 16:8.
FINDING JOY IN OUR ASSIGNMENTS
3. What causes some to complain in regard to their preaching work?
3 Some brothers today who have been in the truth for a number of years may begin to show a discontented spirit similar to that shown by the Israelites of Moses’ day. For many years they have been telling their friends and neighbors that the battle of Armageddon is very close. No doubt they have gone to the same houses time after time with the message of God’s kingdom. Now, however, they feel that Armageddon should come quickly and they begin to feel impatient because God does not immediately destroy all wickedness. They begin to utter words of complaint.
4, 5. (a) Relate the Bible account of what happened when Jonah preached to the Ninevites. (b) What was Jonah’s big mistake, and how did Jehovah teach him a lesson in mercy?
4 It would be well for such brothers to remember the prophet Jonah, who was assigned to preach to the people of Nineveh in the ninth century B.C.E. His message was a startling one: “Only forty days more, and Nineveh will be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4) As soon as the people of the city heard this, they immediately repented of their wickedness and turned toward Jehovah. Even the king dressed himself in mourning clothes and instructed all the people to fast and call on God for mercy. He said: “Who is there knowing whether the true God may turn back and actually feel regret and turn back from his burning anger, so that we may not perish?” (Jonah 3:9) Because of this mass expression of repentance and humility, Jehovah did not bring the promised destruction after forty days. How did Jonah feel about this?
5 The inspired Record tells us: “To Jonah, though, it was highly displeasing, and he got to be hot with anger.” (Jonah 4:1) Jonah had a very unbalanced and selfish view of the entire situation. At a time when the lives of tens of thousands of people were at stake, he was more concerned with his own feelings, thinking that he had lost face because his prophecy had not immediately come to pass. He impatiently wanted Nineveh’s destruction to come immediately after forty days, and because of this he forgot the quality of mercy. As he was brooding unhappily over his complaint under the hot sun, Jehovah caused a big plant to come up to shade him. The next day, however, he caused a worm to dry up the plant, and Jonah immediately began to complain again. At this opportune moment Jehovah drove home the point to Jonah: “You, for your part, felt sorry for the bottle-gourd plant, which you did not toil upon or make get big, which proved to be a mere growth of a night and perished as a mere growth of a night. And, for my part, ought I not to feel sorry for Nineveh the great city, in which there exist more than one hundred and twenty thousand men who do not at all know the difference between their right hand and their left, besides many domestic animals?”—Jonah 4:10, 11.
6. What view did Peter take of God’s mercy, and how can we avoid an impatient, complaining attitude in our ministry?
6 Yes, Jehovah is merciful and abundant in loving-kindness, and any time that he permits before he destroys the wicked at Armageddon is a wonderful expression of his love and patience. “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, . . . but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) What a lofty view of matters! By understanding Jehovah’s mind on this matter and imitating his matchless qualities, we will never become impatient, but will be content to wait upon him and his due time. We will go on preaching with the motive of love, taking advantage of every minute Jehovah allows to aid them to repentance. By doing this we will be full of joy in our ministry and will avoid becoming unhappy complainers.
7. Explain how a complaining spirit can develop in the mind of a missionary.
7 A brother may be sent to a foreign assignment as a missionary and fall into the snare of complaining. How? By having the mental attitude that everything in his new country should be comparable to conditions in his own land. He may expect the same living standards and comforts that he enjoyed at the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in New York city. If he finds that this is not so, he begins to feel unhappy and discontented. This spirit of discontent then quickly spreads to other things, such as the customs, language and habits of the people in whose country he is living. He starts to criticize openly these and many other minor things that he feels are not just right. Some of these may have nothing at all to do with the preaching of the Kingdom good news, but still he is outspoken in complaining about them. He complains about things that he would never normally complain about in his own land, because he now has a dissatisfied, discontented spirit. Such a brother will never be happy in his assignment as long as this attitude persists.
8. Who in ancient times became dissatisfied with their living conditions, and did they really have cause to complain?
8 This reminds us of a mixed crowd of fugitives who left the land of Egypt to travel with the Israelites in the wilderness 1,500 years before the time Jesus walked the earth. They had been traveling for over a year under the direction of Jehovah when they began to complain. They had not gone hungry, nor had their shoes and clothing worn out on the journey. They had sufficient for their daily needs. Yet they were not satisfied with this. They began comparing their nomad life with their life in Egypt previously, and because of this, even the Israelites joined them in crying: “How we remember the fish that we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers and the watermelons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic! But now our soul is dried away. Our eyes are on nothing at all except the manna.” (Num. 11:5, 6) What a lack of gratitude for Jehovah’s provision of miraculous bread from heaven!
9. How is the apostle Paul a fine example for modern-day missionaries and special pioneers, and what will they avoid by imitating him?
9 Instead of imitating this ungrateful mixed crowd and these Israelites, we should endeavor to be like the apostle Paul, who lived under many varied conditions and in many different lands. Referring to his varied experiences as a missionary, he told the Philippian Christians: “I have learned, in whatever circumstances I am, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to be low on provisions, I know indeed how to have an abundance. In everything and in all circumstances I have learned the secret of both how to be full and how to hunger, both how to have an abundance and how to suffer want. For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Phil. 4:11-13) No matter where Paul went he had learned to adapt himself to the conditions there and to be happy and contented in any assignment given him by Jehovah. Missionaries and special pioneers today can learn much from his fine example and will thus avoid the frustrations and heartaches caused by unhappily complaining about their assignments.
RESPECT FOR THEOCRATIC AUTHORITY
10. Why do some have difficulty in respecting theocratic authority, and to what can this lead?
10 Since Jehovah uses imperfect men to represent him within his earthly organization, it becomes difficult for some to recognize and respect theocratic authority. These lose sight of the fact that it is Jehovah who appoints such individuals and they begin to see only the weak, imperfect man. Instead of respecting the position held by a brother, they quickly complain when he makes some minor error because of his inherited shortcomings. This is a grave mistake and can lead to much unpleasantness and discontent in a congregation of Jehovah’s people.
11. (a) What complaint did over 250 Israelites make against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, raising what issue? (b) How did Jehovah express his anger at this lack of respect for his appointed representatives?
11 Many hundreds of years ago, a group of over 250 men made such a mistake in viewing Jehovah’s representatives Moses and Aaron. These men felt that they were equally well qualified to oversee the nation of Israel as these two and so “they congregated themselves against Moses and Aaron and said to them: ‘That is enough of you, because the whole assembly are all of them holy and Jehovah is in their midst. Why, then, should you lift yourselves up above the congregation of Jehovah?”’ They thus improperly accused Moses and Aaron of lording it over the congregation. Dathan and Abiram, two of this group, said to Moses later that he was trying to “play the prince” over them. Was this true? Had Moses and Aaron set themselves in their positions of oversight for their own selfish ends, or had Jehovah placed them there? The next day the entire nation was made to know the answer from Jehovah himself. By splitting open the earth and by fire, Jehovah wiped out the rebels and their families, thus confirming Moses’ statement: “By this you will know that Jehovah has sent me to do all these deeds, that it is not of my own heart.” May we never make such a fatal mistake by complaining against Jehovah’s appointed representatives!—Num. 16:3, 13, 28.
12. What is the danger of viewing appointed servants from a fleshly viewpoint, and how did Jehovah show this in his words to Samuel, at 1 Samuel 16:7?
12 As with those disrespectful rebels long ago, no brother today will enjoy true contentment with Jehovah’s organization as long as he views appointed servants from a fleshly or human viewpoint. They will be constantly noticing the weak points of a servant and will openly complain about the way he handles things, feeling perhaps that they could do it more efficiently themselves. It is good, however, to remember Jehovah’s command to his prophet Samuel, who was charged with the responsibility of anointing the next king in Israel. Samuel took one look at Eliab, one of the sons of Jesse, and felt sure that this must be the one chosen by Jehovah because of his impressive personal appearance. Jehovah warned Samuel, however: “Do not look at his appearance and at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For not the way man sees is the way God sees, because mere man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.” (1 Sam. 16:7) Realizing this, all dedicated Christians will respect Jehovah’s appointment of an individual, even if to all outward appearances and from a worldly viewpoint he does not appear to be the best qualified.
13. What contributes much to the joy experienced by an appointed servant, but what could destroy such joy?
13 Such respect and wholehearted submission and cooperation on the part of publishers and pioneers in a congregation help to make the work of an appointed servant joyful and rewarding. That is why Paul told Hebrew Christians: “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. 13:17) Any complaints made against such brothers in positions of oversight would rob the congregation of much joy. It would be “damaging” to the congregation and would indicate a spirit of discontent with Jehovah’s arrangement of things.
14. What should never be done even if an overseer is becoming neglectful of his duties? Give a Scriptural example to back up your answer.
14 What, though, would be the position if the overseer in a congregation became negligent in arranging for the meetings and failed to take the lead in service? Perhaps it will be two or three more months before the circuit servant is due to visit the congregation. Would it not be proper in this case for a brother publicly to complain about this, even going so far as to have all the publishers sign a petition to send to the Society asking that this brother be removed from his position of oversight? No, this would definitely be out of order! Remember that David did not attempt to usurp wicked Saul’s throne in Israel, although he knew that he was to be the next king. He did not feel justified in taking action to kill Saul, even though Saul was a wicked man who had lost God’s favor. He respected the fact that Saul was “the anointed of Jehovah” and he was willing to submit to this arrangement until Jehovah saw fit to remove him from his position.—1 Sam. 24:6.
15. (a) Show how one who complains against an appointed servant is actually showing a lack of faith in Jehovah. (b) What would a mature brother do in the event an overseer is neglecting his work?
15 David showed great faith in Jehovah at all times. He knew that Jehovah was in full control and he was content to wait for His due time to act. Unlike David, any brother who democratically arranges for a petition or openly complains against an appointed servant is showing a lamentable lack of trust and faith in Jehovah’s ability to oversee His organization. In effect, such a brother is saying that, since God is not handling the matter speedily enough, he will need to take action instead. What a shortsighted and immature way of viewing things! Jehovah does not always do things the way we think they should be done, but we can rest assured that they will be done properly and at the right time. So the thing to do is to wait upon Jehovah, keep busy in service, lovingly help our brothers, and encourage respect for the theocratic arrangement of things. Any other hasty action would undermine respect for theocratic authority and would cause much spiritual damage to the congregation.
16. Of what can we be confident, and so what should we be busily doing?
16 We can have full confidence that Jehovah knows what is going on in every congregation of his people. “And there is not a creation that is not manifest to his sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.” (Heb. 4:13) He is not asleep and nothing goes unnoticed by him. He does not need to be informed by a complaining brother if something is in need of correction. The Scriptures tell us: “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones.” (Prov. 15:3) With this comforting thought in mind, we can content ourselves with doing our assigned tasks, happy in the knowledge that the Almighty Sovereign himself is in complete control of his visible organization.
17. (a) How may an appointed servant develop a spirit of complaint? (b) Of what has such a brother lost sight, and so what does he need to do?
17 Sometimes even an appointed servant is affected by the spirit of complaint, feeling that he has too much work to do. He may feel overburdened in taking care of the flock of God or he may become impatient with the brothers, complaining that they do not cooperate with him or do not grasp things as quickly as he would like. This brother has lost sight temporarily of the fact that it is Jehovah’s organization he is working with and Jehovah’s “sheep” he is overseeing. He feels as if the entire burden of caring for these “sheep” has fallen on his shoulders. This is not true, however. It is Jehovah who takes on himself the responsibility of caring for his “sheep” and it is Jesus Christ his Son who gave his life for them. No overseer should attempt to take on the responsibility of taking care of Jehovah’s “sheep” alone. He needs to rely heavily upon Jehovah and show complete faith in him. David, who had experience for thirty-three years as the overseer of an entire nation, urged: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Ps. 55:22.
18, 19. (a) How did Moses show a complaining attitude on one occasion, but could we say he was a complainer? (b) Why do overseers today have every reason to be optimistic?
18 Moses, an appointed overseer, once allowed himself to get into a complaining frame of mind while guiding the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness. He even addressed his complaint to God in prayer, saying: “Why have you caused evil to your servant, and why have I not found favor in your eyes, in placing the load of all this people upon me? Have I myself conceived all this people? Is it I who have given them birth, so that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, just as the male nurse carries the suckling’ . . . ? I am not able, I by myself, to carry all this people, because they are too heavy for me. So if this is the way you are doing to me, please kill me off altogether.”—Num. 11:11, 12, 14, 15.
19 Moses was normally a happy, contented servant of Jehovah and certainly was not a habitual complainer. Yet on this occasion the grumbling of the Israelites just became too much for him, and he became infected with the spirit of complaint. However, no human overseer today has such a large congregation to care for, and few have to deal with the difficult problems that Moses handled. Also, overseers today have the loving guidance of the organization to back them up, along with the support of Jehovah and his enthroned King. There is thus no reason to feel overburdened or to complain. By keeping sight of their wonderful privilege and viewing it with joy, they can imitate the “Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus.” By doing this, and by dealing with the brothers in love, not expecting too much from them, an overseer will not give voice to complaints, but, rather, will be optimistic and happy, thus spreading a joyful atmosphere throughout the entire congregation.—Heb. 12:2.
CONTENT WITH REVEALED TRUTH
20. How do some complain about the Society’s explanation of the Scriptures, and why is this dangerous both to themselves and others?
20 At times we hear brothers talking complainingly about the Scriptural explanations and truths published in The Watchtower. Being unable to understand fully why a certain point is made or why a clearer understanding of a particular point has been given, they begin expressing their doubts to others. This, of course, creates confusion among the brothers, especially among the newer ones, and it certainly does not help the complainer in any way. He is showing a spirit of discontent with Jehovah’s channel of communication, in many cases doing so hastily and prematurely without a full knowledge of all the facts involved.
21. (a) Why did some of Jesus’ disciples leave off from following him? (b) In contrast to this, what commendable attitude did the twelve apostles take, with what results?
21 This same spirit existed among some of Jesus’ early followers. Once, after listening to Jesus teach them some strong new truths, some said: “This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?” The inspired record tells us the result of this, saying: “Owing to this many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him.” Because of this, Jesus asked his twelve apostles: “You do not want to go also, do you?” Peter promptly answered: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.” (John 6:60, 66-68) The ones who were stumbled became discontented hastily. They did not take the time or make the effort to examine the truths explained to see if they were in harmony with God’s Word. The apostles, however, were content to stay with Jesus and be taught by him gradually. This did not mean that they fully understood everything he told them at that time, since there were many things they could not grasp. However, they had real faith. They knew that Jehovah would not give them a stone if they asked for bread, and therefore were satisfied to listen and learn, asking questions when they did not grasp a point fully. (Matt. 7:9-11) They were richly blessed for this and were given a full vision of Jehovah’s will at that time when they received the holy spirit at Pentecost, 33 C.E.
22. Explain what should be done when we have difficulty in grasping a point of truth, and show why this is the only reasonable course.
22 We can learn much from the example of these faithful men. It is true that some points are difficult to grasp at first, but, instead of complaining or arguing about them, thus in effect pitting our puny knowledge against the almighty wisdom of Jehovah and the experience of his spirit-guided organization, would it not be wiser to look into the matter farther? After studying it carefully yourself, talk to mature brothers about it, not in a complaining manner, but to get their mind on the matter. If, after doing this, you still have difficulty understanding the point, it may be better to leave it for a while, waiting for further clarification, just as the apostles did. Take the matter to Jehovah in prayer, asking for wisdom to understand the point of truth. You will be granted a full understanding in due time as Jehovah reveals it through his organization, providing you stay close to that organization in faith.
23. How can we avoid becoming like the apostates described at 1 Timothy 6:3-5?
23 Certainly we do not want to become like those mentioned by Paul at 1 Timothy 6:3-5: “If any man teaches other doctrine and does not assent to healthful words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor to the teaching that accords with godly devotion, he is puffed up with pride, not understanding anything, but being mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words. From these things spring envy, strife, abusive speeches, wicked suspicions, violent disputes about trifles on the part of men corrupted in mind and despoiled of the truth.” Many have become apostate because of allowing a complaining spirit to embitter them against Jehovah’s organization. To avoid becoming like them, we must avoid complaining even about small things, “trifles,” but need to be content with revealed truth from Jehovah.
24. What lack is betrayed by those who complain against Jehovah’s organization, and how can this be counteracted?
24 As the examples we have discussed show, complaining against the organization is generally caused by a lack of understanding of Jehovah’s way of doing things and a lack of complete faith in him and his arrangements. Therefore, in order to overcome a complaining tendency, we need to build up our faith in Jehovah and his organization, getting a deeper insight and a mature understanding by personal study, prayer and close association with his people.
25. How can we be sure of gaining many joys both now and in the “coming systems of things”?
25 So let us all be content to work in our assigned places within the organization, recognizing Jehovah as the sole Founder and Organizer of his people and appreciating that Jesus Christ is his appointed King now enthroned in the heavens. By doing our work uncomplainingly we will have many joys now along with our brothers in the congregation, and, in the “coming systems of things,” we will enjoy more blessings than our minds can now comprehend as Jehovah unfolds his glorious purposes over the centuries to come. Do not lose out on this delightful future by becoming an unhappy, shortsighted complainer, but enjoy true satisfaction and peace of mind along with Jehovah’s proved, faithful people.—Eph. 2:7.