Missionaries Encouraged to Mirror Godly Qualities
“WHAT do you see when you look into a mirror?” This question set the theme of an address by N. H. Knorr, the Watch Tower Society’s president, on the morning of September 8, 1968. The occasion was the graduation of the 46th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in New York city.
Holding up a large mirror, the president asked the audience of 2,045 persons what they could see when they looked into it. It would be their reflection. But that reflection would be only of one’s physical, or outward, appearance. It would not reveal what a person was really like on the inside.
Then, the president held up an open Bible and asked: “What do you see when you look into this mirror?” When a person looks into this book, does he see himself? By reading the Bible, we listen to Jehovah God talk to us. We will thus see what Jehovah requires of us and can compare what we really are to God’s standards. How much better a Christian can see himself when peering into God’s Word than he can when looking into a literal mirror! The audience appreciated this fine illustration.
From the book of James, chapter 1, it was pointed out that if a person is just a hearer of God’s Word, but not a doer, then “this one is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, and off he goes and immediately forgets what sort of man he is.” (Jas 1 vss. 23, 24) But one who persists in peering into the perfect law of God and who takes to heart its counsel will change his personality to conform to God’s law. Then this person, “because he has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, will be happy in his doing it.”—Jas 1 vs. 25.
This counsel was especially appropriate for the ninety-nine missionaries being sent to other lands after their training at Gilead School. They were reminded that their physical appearance is not what counts with God, for “God does not go by a man’s outward appearance.” (Gal. 2:6) Far more important is what they look like when compared to God’s Word. Since these missionaries will be taking the truths from the inspired Scriptures to persons in other lands, it is vital that they let people see what they are really like, that they uphold God and his Word and live by his laws.
After this address, diplomas were given to the graduates, and the country to which each would be sent was announced for the benefit of the audience. In all, the ninety-nine graduates had come from eight countries and would be sent to thirty-two different lands, most of which would be located in Latin America and Africa.
Earlier, the Society’s vice-president, F. W. Franz, showed that as a person’s literal breath gives evidence of his physical or emotional condition or what he has taken into his mouth, so what a person figuratively ‘breathes out,’ that is, what he gives vent to, is evidence of his personality, or inmost self. (Prov. 20:27) Reference was made to Acts chapter 9, verse 1, where it relates how Saul was “breathing threat and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” But after his conversion to Christianity, he became the apostle Paul and uttered expressions that worked for the benefit of others.
The vice-president pointed out that those who take in the atmosphere of this wicked world under Satan will be influenced to breathe out what works for the hurt of others. But those who continue taking in knowledge of God and applying it in their lives will be influenced to work for the good of others. Their ‘breath’ will be that of love, peace, mercy and a desire for the salvation of others. Missionaries, and others, by breathing out the good news of God’s kingdom will receive God’s favor and be blessed with the literal breath of life forever in God’s new system.
After an intermission for lunch, the program in the afternoon included musical selections and an outstanding discussion on the theme “When Experience Speaks, Do You Listen?” The upbuilding experiences of older Christian brothers and sisters serve as a great encouragement for younger ones as they contemplate full-time work such as missionary activity, or being at Bethel homes such as the one housing the Watchtower Society’s headquarters in New York.
Following this, the program concluded with a striking dramatization of the theme “Maintain Courage Through Trust in Jehovah.” Highlighted was the fact that today, as in times past, Jehovah’s people can have full confidence that what Jehovah has promised will without fail come to pass. Vividly portrayed was the faith that the prophet Daniel had in Jehovah’s promises during the reign of King Belshazzar of Babylon. After this inspiring drama, a final song and prayer brought the graduation exercises to a conclusion. Those in attendance were heard to express deep appreciation for the truly upbuilding information that helps to fortify Christians for the work ahead.