Are You a Spiritual Person?
ARE you a spiritual-minded person or are you a physical-minded person? This is a question that all who claim to be servants of Jehovah God would do well to ask themselves. Why? Because of the words of the apostle Paul found at 1 Corinthians 2:14, 15. These show that “a physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him . . . However, the spiritual man examines indeed all things.”
While the “spiritual man” mentioned at 1 Corinthians 2:15 primarily refers to those footstep followers of Christ who have heavenly hopes, in a sense all who truly serve God can be said to be spiritual persons. Such faithful men of old as Abel, Noah, Abraham and the long line of faithful Hebrew prophets and kings can be said to have been spiritual men even though they entertained earthly hopes.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE “SPIRITUAL MAN”
The “spiritual man” referred to by the apostle Paul is not one who all day long wears a sanctimonious or religious expression on his face. Not at all! He does not wear his spirituality on his sleeve, so to speak. He knows that the scribes and Pharisees who opposed Jesus Christ were not spiritual men. They might have had the reputation of being such because of their repeating long prayers in public and wearing conspicuous religious paraphernalia. But those very things stamped them as actually being physical men and hypocrites at that, for they did it solely to be seen of men.—Matt. 6:5; 23:5.
In contrast to all such is the “spiritual man.” He sincerely worships Jehovah God “with spirit and truth,” the only acceptable way. He has faith, he knows that God is, that God lives, for all visible creation testifies eloquently to His existence. (John 4:24; Rom. 1:20) Knowing that God is “the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him,” the spiritual man has dedicated himself to serve God and to follow in the footsteps of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.—Heb. 11:6; Matt. 16:24.
The Creator is very real to the “spiritual man.” Like Moses of old, he walks through life as though seeing Him that is invisible. (Heb. 11:23-28) Because God is so real to him he trusts in Jehovah with all his heart and does not lean upon his own understanding, but in all his ways he takes notice of God. He therefore delights to commune with God in prayer. He appreciates what a precious privilege talking with God is and how much at all times he needs God’s help. So he takes time to begin and end each day with praise, thanksgiving and petitions to his heavenly Father. Nor is he ever in such haste to eat that he cannot take time to thank God for each meal and to pray God’s blessing upon it.—Prov. 3:5, 6; Phil. 4:6, 7.
Yes, the spiritual man is ‘conscious of his spiritual need.’ He appreciates that “man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” Instead of making food, clothing, shelter and worldly pleasures his chief interests, he ‘keeps on seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’ He feels like the psalmist who said: “How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern.” He is drawn to associate with others who are spiritual persons.—Matt. 5:3; 4:4; 6:25, 33; Ps. 119:97; Rom. 1:9-12.
That is why the spiritual man ‘buys out time’ from his daily affairs to study the Word of God. He not only reads God’s Word, the Holy Bible, daily, but he also wants to understand what he reads. He is open-minded to offers of help and finds that the Bible-study aids published by the Watch Tower Society and distributed by the Christian witnesses of Jehovah are of the greatest value in getting to understand God’s Word and purposes. That is why he also wisely takes advantage of the opportunities afforded by the congregation meetings of the Witnesses to increase his understanding of God’s Word.—Acts 8:30-35; Heb. 10:23-25.
Another basic characteristic of the spiritual man is his hope. It is no blind hope. No, he has a solid hope, strong, as an anchor to his soul, based on God’s promises and performances in times past as recorded in His Word. He knows God cannot lie. Because of his hope the spiritual man is not unduly disturbed because of the increase of wickedness and violence and because the future looks so dark. He knows that very soon ‘God’s kingdom will come and his will then will be done upon earth as it is in heaven.’—Matt. 6:10; Heb. 6:18, 19.
Since “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” the spiritual man delights in discussing things relating to God’s Word and purposes. When enjoying the company of others at social gatherings or when together in such activities as building or cleaning a Kingdom Hall or in preconvention work, the spiritual man tactfully causes the conversation to center around upbuilding, spiritual things.—Matt. 12:34.
THE SPIRITUAL MAN IS GOD-ORIENTED
A person may be idealistic and noble-minded and yet not be a spiritual person. How so? Because being a spiritual person involves more than merely having the welfare of man at heart as does the humanist.
The spiritual man knows that to love his neighbor as himself is only the second commandment and that the first and chief commandment is to “love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.”—Mark 12:29-31; Luke 6:31.
Yes, the spiritual man is God-oriented. He looks to God’s Word rather than to mere human reasoning for guidance. He works at his job, ‘not with acts of eye-service, as a man pleaser,’ but “with fear of Jehovah,” “as to Jehovah.” So he not only pays back Caesar’s things to Caesar but is even more concerned with paying back God’s things to God. He therefore gives God exclusive devotion.—Col. 3:22, 23; Matt. 22:21; Ex. 20:5.
THE SPIRITUAL MAN AS OVERSEER
The spiritual man does not lose sight of Christian principles in his relations with fellow Christians. In particular will the spiritual man be careful to be governed by Christian principles if he has oversight of other Christians. For example, an overseer in God’s organization may also have a responsible position in the business world. Dealing all day with persons who not only are driven by purely selfish considerations but also are quick to take advantage of any mildness or kindness shown, a Christian may find himself becoming hard and abrupt.
Unless he is careful he may find himself dealing in that way with his fellow Christians who are unselfishly serving God. How unwise, how ill-advised, how unloving such an attitude would be! Are you avoiding such a mistake? Consider how much work Jesus had to accomplish in just a few short years. Had he been so efficiency-minded, would he have chosen nearly all humble Galileans to be his apostles? And what patience he showed in dealing with them!
The overseer today, whether of a congregation, a convention or a convention department, will do well to follow Jesus’ example in this respect. While concerned with getting things done, you would not want to handle your brothers in a harsh and brusque manner as though you were a ruthlessly efficient executive of a business enterprise, would you? So, even though you may have many things crowding in on your mind, as the apostle Paul did, do not overlook the need to manifest empathy. (2 Cor. 11:29) Instead of giving terse, abrupt commands, why not rather speak to your brothers in a kind tone and ask, “Would you please do this? Would you like to do that?” Why, of course, they would! They want to do all they can to further Jehovah’s work, for they are doing it all out of love. And would it not be better to begin the morning with considering the day’s Bible text and comment than being solely concerned that each one reports for work on time?
Should your Christian brothers be slow in “catching on” or show poor judgment, do not impatiently take the attitude that they should have known better. No, while being exemplary in zeal and efficiency yourself, do not drive others or expect as much of others as you do of yourself. Rather, remember in dealing with your brothers to manifest the fruitage of God’s holy spirit. In particular give thought to love, kindness and mildness.—Gal. 5:22, 23.
Could Christians who are spiritual persons be more fully spiritual than they are at times? There is a tendency on the part of some when engaged in God’s work to let the thinking of a physical man govern their relations with their Christian brothers, especially if they have some serving under them. Pertinent here are the apostle Paul’s words: “Brothers, we request you and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, just as you received the instruction from us on how you ought to walk and please God, just as you are in fact walking, that you would keep on doing it more fully.”—1 Thess. 4:1.
In view of all the foregoing, Are you a spiritual person? It is well if you can answer “Yes” to that question. Then the question remains, Could you be doing it more fully? If so, you and no doubt others will be happier if you do so!