When Building Disciples, Motivate the Heart
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”—Matt. 12:34.
1. What is included in a Christian’s commission, and to fulfill one’s commission what must be reached?
THE Christian’s commission is not only to teach doctrine, but also to inculcate love, appreciation, humility, faith, in fact, all the fruits of God’s spirit mentioned at Galatians 5:22, 23. The Christian’s work is to aid others to ‘put away the old personality which conforms to their former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; but that they should be made new in the force actuating their minds, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.’ (Eph. 4:20-24) To accomplish this, more than head knowledge is needed. The heart of the Bible student must be reached and motivated in ways of righteousness.
2. What is the heart, in effect, and why is it necessary that we take stock of it?
2 The heart is, in effect, a storehouse of many things. Man can put into the storehouse of his heart good and bad. During a study of God’s Word, the Bible, he is drawing from Jehovah’s inexhaustible storehouse and transferring stock into his own. This is good stock, for ‘God is good.’ (Mark 10:18) At other times, such as when observing the crime and corruption of the world through the medium of television, movies, the theater, newspapers, magazines, and so forth, the mind could be very easily storing up bad thoughts and ideas. Some may object that this is not the case, but the Bible cautions that “every way of a man is upright in his own eyes, but Jehovah is making an estimate of hearts.” (Prov. 21:2) Jehovah will not be deceived when he inspects the storehouse of our heart to find what we have stored therein. What may be stored therein?
3. (a) What did Jesus Christ reveal about the heart? (b) How can a wicked heart be made right?
3 Jesus Christ revealed that the heart is capable of storing up many wicked things. After exposing the religious scribes and Pharisees as fruitless worshipers, worshiping in vain because of their traditions, Jesus gave this illustration, about which the Bible account says: “With that he called the crowd near and said to them: ‘Listen and get the sense of it: Not what enters into his mouth defiles a man; but it is what proceeds out of his mouth that defiles a man.’ Then the disciples came up and said to him: ‘Do you know that the Pharisees stumbled at hearing what you said?’ In reply he said: ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted. Let them be. Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.’ By way of response Peter said to him: ‘Make the illustration plain to us.’ At this he said: ‘Are you also yet without understanding? Are you not aware that everything entering into the mouth passes along into the intestines and is discharged into the sewer? However, the things proceeding out of the mouth come out of the heart, and those things defile a man. For example, out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things defiling a man; but to take a meal with unwashed hands does not defile a man.’” (Matt. 15:9-20) And the only way the heart can be emptied of its wicked contents is by the power of God’s Word having a direct effect on it and replacing the wicked, worthless stock with the fruitage of God’s spirit, which is capable of sustaining one unto everlasting life.
THE MIND, A WAY TO THE HEART
4. What is one line of communication to the heart, and what did the apostle Paul have to say about it?
4 How can the heart be reached with Christian qualities so that it can be set straight? When Jesus said that “out of the heart come wicked reasonings,” he was showing that the mind was the most direct line of communication to the heart and that the mouth was the “spokesman” of the heart. It is in the mind where conclusions are formed. Also, in the mind is where evil is conceived and planned before it is executed into reality. Therefore, the reasoning powers of man, the mind of man, must be reached before the heart can be cleansed, changed and protected. Was not this the apostle’s thought, when he said: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God”? (Rom. 12:2) The mind must be empowered with thoughts that are inspired of God.
5. (a) What is the principal way to communicate to the mind? (b) Why is it wise to fill the heart abundantly with good?
5 The principal way to communicate to the mind is through the senses. What we see, hear, touch, taste and smell definitely influences the mind. This means we must see the Word of God through a study of its pages, and hear it by attending meetings where that Word is discussed. The more we do this and act upon the knowledge gained, the greater our advantage. All of our senses are used if we practice what we learn from the Word of God. The heart will be reached and the mouth will respond, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34) It is the heart filled with an abundance of the inspired Word that speaks and is moved to do good. It is from within the heart that one finds strength of integrity, devotion to godly principles, love of righteousness, joy, love, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and self-control. That is what the heart must be concentrated upon if we wish to build disciples with Christlike qualities.—Phil. 4:6-9.
HEARTS MOTIVATED BY EXAMPLE
6. What other communication line is there to the heart, and how does Paul speak of it?
6 But before we can build in others, there must first be a building within ourselves. Christ Jesus, the Master Teacher, left us a perfect example to follow. (1 Pet. 2:21, 23) It logically follows that those in whom we are endeavoring to implant Christian qualities should see those very qualities in us. The apostle Paul instructed Titus: “Keep on exhorting the younger men to be sound in mind, in all things showing yourself an example of fine works.” (Titus 2:6, 7) Few things influence the mind like a good example, but our example should be one worthy of imitation. Paul was not afraid to say: “The things that you learned as well as accepted and heard and saw in connection with me, practice these; and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9) Or as he said to the Corinthians: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) If we are to reach and influence the hearts of others, our example must be worthy. Is it?
7. Why does example vitally affect the heart?
7 There must be harmony between what we teach and what we practice, if hearts are to be motivated. Paul writes: Do you, “the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching ‘Do not steal,’ do you steal? You, the one saying ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery? You, the one expressing abhorrence of the idols, do you rob temples?” (Rom. 2:21-24) We could carry this line of reasoning a little farther by saying, You, the one saying, ‘You should study the Bible regularly,’ do you study the Bible regularly? You, the one saying, ‘You must not become materialistic,’ do you live in lavish material surroundings and lounge in the luxury of the material world? The lesson here is one of consistency between what is taught, practiced and observed. There must be example. When there is, the heart will be reached with the needed godly qualities.
DISCIPLINE CORRECTS THE HEART
8. (a) To right the heart, what part does discipline play? (b) How can the heart be disciplined?
8 There is still another aspect involved in communicating to the heart and motivating it. Jehovah, who made the heart, said: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it? I, Jehovah, am searching the heart, examining the kidneys, even to give to each one according to his ways, according to the fruitage of his dealings.” (Jer. 17:9, 10) Since the heart behaves in this manner, the instructor must watch for weak spots or unchristian tendencies and tactfully reveal these to the student so that through discipline they may be corrected. Is the Bible student haughty, prideful? Is he overcritical, unappreciative? What really is the condition of his heart? The instructor, too, keeps examining his own heart in the same way to detect, if possible, any badness taking root. As the Bible study progresses note these weaknesses and work on them. Do not humor weaknesses in oneself or in the student. This will not help. There is a tendency to say, “We’re all imperfect. We all make mistakes.” That is true, but mistakes can be overcome if we work to correct them. Also, it may be necessary to solicit the aid of others to overcome our problem. But spiritual weaknesses can be conquered. Otherwise, God would not have called upon us to make over our personalities into the image of his Son Jesus Christ. Let not the treacherousness of the heart deceive us into thinking that we need no correction or are beyond improvement. Disciplining a Bible student to the heart is done by communicating righteousness to it and insisting that it be motivated by the right.
9. What examples do we have to show that it is proper to advise others of their weaknesses, and what has been the outcome of such counsel?
9 Watch, therefore, for weak spots in the student’s faith. God warned Cain and admonished him what to do. “If you turn to doing good, will there not be an exaltation? But if you do not turn to doing good, there is sin crouching at the entrance, and for you is its craving; and will you, for your part, get the mastery over it?” (Gen. 4:7) Jesus Christ discerned what the weakness of the rich young ruler was and told him to ‘go sell his belongings and give to the poor and he would have treasure in heaven.’ (Matt. 19:21) But neither Cain nor the rich young man heeded the good advice. However, there were countless others who did heed sound advice to become the servants of God.
HOW TO GUARD THE HEART
10, 11. (a) How do we safeguard the heart? (b) What part does one’s attitude play in safeguarding the heart?
10 The heart is changed by planned, determined effort to right wrongs in harmony with God’s Word. In the same way it is also guarded. There must be a regular study of God’s Word. This will keep the flow of truth into the mind and heart. Then, too, it is needful to pray so that we draw close to God. In turn, he will draw close to us. Additionally, we must learn to meditate on the Word of God, its sayings and promises, which will keep right thoughts in our minds. Then there is the active ministry that provides the outlet for our emotions, our joy. Earnestly endeavor to develop the fruitage of the spirit by a practice of Christian principles.
11 We will also want to be watchful of our personal attitude toward other persons, places and things. Be upbuilding in the presence of others, possessing a positive outlook. This will aid us to look for the good in our brothers and not simply their weaknesses. In this way we will come to express the love that builds up, the love that always speaks highly of God’s Word, his organization and the brothers in general. We will recommend the ministry, the meetings of God’s people and the joy it is to be his servants in these “last days.”
EXAMPLES OF ENDURANCE
12. What do the Bible and history have to say about the suffering and endurance of Christians, and how do we pronounce those who have endured?
12 History records how Christian people were imprisoned in dungeons, burned at the stake, beheaded before their children, hurled over precipices; their homes and villages were burned; their womenfolk were stripped naked and outrageously violated; their innocent children were massacred. The apostle Paul declared: “In every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, by the endurance of much, by tribulations, by cases of need, by difficulties, by beatings, by prisons, by disorders, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times without food.” (2 Cor. 6:4, 5) In this same letter Paul tells of his own sufferings and how the spirit of God is equal to every situation. (2 Cor. 11:23-28) And it may seem incredible to some, but such trials and sufferings are still being endured in this twentieth century. And God’s spirit is still equal to every trial brought to bear. Therefore, “Look! We pronounce happy those who have endured,” because they have God’s promise of life eternal assured to them.—Jas. 5:11; Rev. 2:10.
PERSECUTION BECAUSE OF NEUTRALITY
13. (a) Why have servants of God suffered because of their neutrality? (b) And what has been the outcome?
13 Christians do not take sides in the political affairs of this world, because they are no part of this world. (John 17:16; Jas. 1:27; 4:4) Since their ministerial commission to preach God’s kingdom originates with God, they cannot, therefore, stop serving God on demand of lower worldly authorities. (2 Cor. 3:5; Acts 4:18-20; 5:27-29) Jesus Christ himself declined to accept a political office when on earth. His footstep followers also avoid all political involvement. Said the book On the Road to Civilization, A World History: “Christians refused to share certain duties of Roman citizens. . . . They would not hold political office.” Also the book World History, The Story of Man’s Achievements says: “Zealous Christians did not serve in the armed forces or accept political offices.” This neutral stand of theirs often brought the wrath of the Roman Empire on them. But the structural quality of their Christianity was equal to all the fury unleashed against them. And we today count those happy who have endured.
14. Who on the modern scene have suffered for their neutrality, and how have they fared?
14 On the modern scene, the magazine Adult Student, in an article on “The Early Church,” said that “Jehovah’s witnesses more nearly resemble the early Christians than do members of the more-regular denominations.” They, too, have suffered severely, because of their neutrality. The Nazis, who were considered masters at breaking the human will, tried desperately to get Jehovah’s witnesses to violate their Christian neutrality, but failed miserably. They could not break the integrity of faithful witnesses of Jehovah. The best seller The Theory and Practice of Hell had this to say: “When the war broke out the Witnesses at Sachsenhausen concentration camp were invited to volunteer for military service. Each refusal was followed by the shooting of ten men from their ranks. After forty victims had been killed, the SS desisted. . . . One cannot escape the impression that, psychologically speaking, the SS were never quite equal to the challenge offered them by Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Totalitarian inquisitions can capture and harass Jehovah’s people if he permits it for a witness; but nothing can imprison Jehovah’s spirit, which makes them conquerors. Jehovah’s witnesses proved that they had Christian qualities in their heart to endure trials unto salvation.
15. Why were the Christian witnesses of Jehovah barbarically mistreated in Malawi, and what quality of faith did they manifest?
15 As recently as October 1967, the refusal to join a particular political party and the failure to carry a party card identifying one with the party, resulted in a barbaric wave of torture heaped upon Jehovah’s witnesses in the Central African country of Malawi. An unknown number of women witnesses of Jehovah were raped. Forty of these were pregnant. Due to the way they were abused, each one suffered a miscarriage. Because they refused to buy a political card, they were beaten severely, sexually assaulted and their property was destroyed. Yet President Banda of Malawi could not get them to break integrity and renounce their God Jehovah. These Witnesses were motivated from the heart. They had true Christian qualities built in them.
16. (a) What other trials did Jehovah’s witnesses in Malawi suffer? (b) What questions should we ask ourselves, and why?
16 When a Christian witness of Jehovah of Ntifinyire Village was beaten for refusing to purchase a political card, Banda’s youths took a knife and made cuts encircling his arms and then his legs and inflicted many cuts on his head. Other Witnesses had six-inch nails driven into their feet, bicycle spokes were forced through their legs and then these Christians were told to run. Still others were tortured with a burning stick placed against their arms, legs, head and entire body. Still these Witnesses refused to compromise their religious beliefs or deny their God Jehovah under such barbaric torture. Do you have the quality of Christian endurance in you to stand such tests? You may be called upon someday to prove your faith. How will your faith stand up?
PERSECUTION FROM FAMILY MEMBERS
17. How have wives and husbands suffered, what promise can they put trust in, and why?
17 From the time of Christ until this hour wives have had to endure the abuse of their unbelieving husbands because of their Christian faith, and husbands of unbelieving wives have had to do the same. In the United States a husband ordered his wife to stop studying the Bible or he would leave her. After enduring hardship for over a year the husband had a change of heart. Shortly thereafter she became a baptized witness of Jehovah. On the other hand, in Bremerton, Washington, a husband endured his wife’s abuse. In time she had a change of heart and now they both study the Bible together. In New York an alcoholic and a chain smoker broke these bad habits, only to find that his wife was displeased with the marvelous change that came over him. She was furious and accused him of being “bewitched” by this “new religion.” What had angered her most was that she had been trying for twelve years to make him break his bad habits without success. Now that he finally overcame them with the help of God’s spirit, she became displeased and did everything in her power to try to break his integrity, even resorting to physical attacks. Then one day she gave him an ultimatum: he was to choose between her and Jehovah. Of course, he chose to serve Jehovah. From that moment on she refused even to wash his clothes or to cook his meals. When this did not break his integrity, she left him. He has endured much, and we count those happy who endure. He knows he will face many problems in the future. None of Jehovah’s people can escape trials as long as this wicked world exists and Satan is still loose. But, whatever the problem, know that God’s spirit is equal to it. “God is faithful,” assures the apostle Paul, “and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13) With that promise rest confidently in Jehovah, putting complete trust in him.—Prov. 3:5-7.
18. (a) Why must the quality of endurance be inculcated into the heart? (b) What hope is ours if we do cultivate the quality of endurance?
18 The quality of endurance is absolutely necessary and it must be inculcated in the heart if we dedicated, baptized disciples of Christ are to survive the “great tribulation.” It is needed, not only to survive the fiery tests now and in the “great tribulation,” but also in the righteous earthly new order of God’s making. (Matt. 24:21, 22) Against the good things of God’s spirit there is no law, and they will endure indefinitely. Jehovah, who has provided us with the giant sequoia trees as a living testimony of endurance, has also seen to it that by means of his Word, spirit and organization, we of his intelligent creation can acquire the quality of endurance for our salvation. By building that quality into our hearts as well as into the hearts of those with whom we study the Bible to help them to become dedicated, baptized disciples of Christ, we will be endowed with the most precious of all possessions, an endlessly enduring life.