In the Congregation, Respond to Jehovah’s Tender Affection
“For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.”—Phil. 4:13.
1. What provision in the congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses is available to all, and how is it helping participants?
ONE of the fine provisions found in every congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses is the Theocratic Ministry School, available to all in the congregation. Attending this School enables the participants to apply themselves to the study of specific Bible themes. Are you yourself participating? If so, you are increasing in personal knowledge and understanding, are you not? Also, you are improving in your presentation of the truth to other persons, being spiritually upbuilding to the others in the congregation.
2. What facts concerning God’s Word encourage one to take full advantage of the Theocratic Ministry School?
2 Although the provision is there, some persons in a congregation may not join in and participate in the Theocratic Ministry School. Why? Perhaps because of feeling they lack ability and fear they can never qualify. Would it not be good for such persons to give consideration to the fact that Jehovah wants his people to speak his truth? Abundant benefit comes from the speaking out of the inspired Scriptures. “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for  teaching, for  reproving, for  setting things straight, for  disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be  fully competent,  completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) Fine benefits indeed!
3. What help afforded by the School is also encouraging?
3 There can hardly be any question about Jehovah’s desiring his people to speak the truth and to speak it clearly. This does not mean that all will attain to the same eloquence as speakers from the platform; nevertheless, the Theocratic Ministry School will help all to increase in knowledge, clearness of expression and accuracy of statement and also in the ability to approach other persons. Participation in the School also promotes love and provides encouragement for other brothers and sisters in the congregation. Furthermore, it shows faith on the part of the participants who put forth their best efforts in all confidence and in reliance on Jehovah.
4. Review the experience here related and show how faith is demonstrated therein.
4 This is true even in the cases of some who may not be fluent in the local language of the area in which they live. In spite of such handicap they become quite proficient in the ministry because they sincerely apply themselves in the Theocratic Ministry School. The things accomplished by God’s spirit are truly amazing. Uneducated persons are overcoming their circumstances with the help of this School, as is indicated by the following excerpt from a letter received from the office of the Society’s branch in Dahomey, West Africa:
“The brothers are faced with some difficult problems. Most people are illiterate. Religious superstition is very deep-seated. Then there are many languages, although there is no national language. For example, in the city of Cotonou there are now five congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses and their meetings are held in five different languages. Many languages are unwritten, and so people must be taught to read in a language that is written. Last year 108 persons were taught to read. These attended the literacy class as conducted under the supervision of the congregations. There are still about 600 brothers who do not read, and next year will see them working harder at this problem. Of course, the need of being able to read is great, as related by a publisher who had been illiterate.
“This brother was new and was going in the house-to-house service for the first time. He approached a Protestant man who saw he could not read and so said: ‘Don’t come to preach to me until you yourself can read the Bible.’ Although the new publisher continued trying to talk to the man, he would not listen, saying again that an illiterate person could not teach anything. The publisher now was determined to overcome his problem. Instead of being content just to attend the class for learning to read, he studied additionally every day for six weeks. Wherever he went he took his book and asked those who could read to help him to pronounce words. After six weeks he went back in the service, and who was the first man he called on? Why, the man who had refused to listen to him when he first began to preach. This time the Protestant man was not only amazed to hear this ‘illiterate’ man reading the Bible to him but also became interested in what he was teaching.
“During the coming year we hope that many more will see the importance of being able to read so the ‘good news’ will be preached more effectively in this part of the field in order to ‘make more disciples.’”
5. How can lowly persons support the organization of Jehovah’s people?
5 As indicated in the foregoing experience, and also as shown in experiences recorded in the Scriptures, persons who are lowly ones are often the most blessed if they respond willingly to their privileges and opportunities in Jehovah’s service, doing in faith what they can. If lowly ones are associating with the congregation, they should be encouraged to join in the field ministry, if Scripturally qualified to do so, and should be aided to expand their activity. Their good response in this respect is a support to the organization of Jehovah’s people as they do the best with the abilities with which they are endowed, at the same time retaining their lowliness of mind. This course will contribute to the good result mentioned in Ephesians 4:2, 3: “With complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.”
6. What far-reaching results may be obtained through the faithful efforts of a humble person?
6 A Scriptural account, which shows not just a congregation of Jehovah’s people in one community being assisted, but the entire theocratic nation being supported by the faithful efforts of one lowly person, is contained in the record concerning a victory over the military forces of the enemies of Israel. Israel’s general, Barak, was informed that Sisera, the general of the armies of the forces of Canaan, would be “sold” or delivered, not into Barak’s hand, but into the hand of a woman. It turned out that the woman Jael, the humble wife of a Kenite man, was given this great honor. She was willing and she took courage, even though she was threatened by great danger in doing so. She did all that she could and was rewarded by having God’s vicious enemy delivered into her hand. Also, the record of her accomplishments and her name are contained in the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptural account is found in Judges 4:8, 9, 21-23:
7. In the Bible account of Judges, chapter 4, what points especially impress you?
7 “At this Barak said to [the prophetess Deborah]: ‘If you will go with me, I also shall certainly go; but if you will not go with me, I shall not go.’ To this she said: ‘Without fail I shall go with you. Just the same, the beautifying thing will not become yours on the way that you are going, for it will be into the hand of a woman that Jehovah will sell Sisera.’ With that Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Jael the wife of Heber proceeded to take a pin of the tent and to put the hammer into her hand. Then she went to [Sisera] stealthily and drove the pin into his temples and beat it into the earth, while he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. And, look! there was Barak pursuing Sisera. Jael now came on out to meet him and said to him: ‘Come and I shall show you the man you are looking for.’ So in he went to her, and, look! there was Sisera fallen dead, with the pin in his temples. Thus God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the sons of Israel on that day.” A mighty victory, indeed, by means of a faithful lowly one!
HEAVENLY BACKING AND GUIDANCE
8. (a) How is Christianity more than mere belief? (b) What bearing does 2 Timothy 3:14 have on the matter?
8 Whatever may be the background of Jehovah’s dedicated servants, each at some time in the past started walking in the way of Christianity, which is not merely a belief but a way of life, a path or roadway involving a course of faithfulness. The apostle Paul reminded Timothy to “continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe.” (2 Tim. 3:14) So, too, having started in this way of righteousness, we continue in full confidence, remembering that we at first weighed the truth carefully when we heard it. In time, we were fully persuaded, and this persuasion came not through emotion or pressure, but by irrefutable truth. This being so, we should continue following the way of truth outlined for us in the Bible. In doing so we are assured that we have Almighty God, his Son the reigning King and his holy angels backing us up!
9. Explain how Revelation, chapter 7, reveals heavenly support of those who praise God on earth.
9 You remember that the “great crowd” of Revelation chapter seven “keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Re 7 Vs. 10) The heavenly support of this “great crowd” of praisers of Jehovah is shown in the following words of Re 7 verses 11 and 12: “And all the angels were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell upon their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! [Amen! to what the “great crowd” cried with a loud voice.] The blessing and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honor and the power and the strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’” Yes, indeed, the “great crowd” have heavenly backing!
10. (a) What does guidance by Jehovah involve? (b) Should lowly persons preach and teach as God’s ministers?
10 There is Scriptural evidence also that the lowly persons have guidance along the Christian way of life, for it is written: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.” (Ps. 119:105) Such divine guidance involves the conduct, thinking, practice, attitudes, and ministry of dedicated servants of Jehovah. Even lowly persons among such servants are benefited by the carrying out of the injunction: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all long-suffering and art of teaching . . . keep your senses in all things, suffer evil, do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.”—2 Tim. 4:2, 5.
11. (a) Who, then, must conform to God’s standards? (b) State the best course to follow in respect to opportunities of service to Jehovah.
11 Does it not follow, then, that all “sorts” of persons in the theocratic organization must conform to the requirements, responsibilities and privileges of “The Way” if they are to have Jehovah’s backing and guidance? This includes many persons in “The Way” who are of the sort that are lowly of mind and who often feel that they are not qualified for all that “The Way” involves. (Acts 19:9) However, let such individuals remember, if greater responsibility or privileges are offered, the best course is to respond and to do so with earnestness. God knows our limitations and he can give us sufficient ability to handle the assignment he gives us. “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Phil. 4:13) So if asked to serve in a special capacity in the congregation, we should trustfully respond, leaving matters in the Lord’s hands, and do our best. As the psalmist says: “Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force.”—Ps. 110:3.
12, 13. (a) What discrimination does Jehovah exercise? (b) What persons are cherished by Jehovah?
12 For an individual to have “lowliness of mind” means that he is not haughty, and this is a desirable quality. However, a person who feels lowly because of his background or natural limitations needs to exercise complete confidence in Jehovah.
13 In respect to the haughty and the lowly of mind, Jehovah exercises discrimination, his own Word stating: “For Jehovah is high, and yet the humble one he sees; but the lofty one he knows only from a distance.” (Ps. 138:6) This discrimination is further shown in Isaiah 66:2, where “the utterance of Jehovah” is: “To this one, then, I shall look, to the one afflicted and contrite in spirit and trembling at my word.” Also, Christians are counseled: “All of you gird yourselves with lowliness of mind toward one another, because God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” “God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.” (1 Pet. 5:5, 6; Jas. 4:6) That “lowliness of mind” should be put on as a garment and constantly worn is evident: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.” (Col. 3:12) Our Leader, Christ Jesus, is such a one, for of himself he says that he is “lowly in heart.” (Matt. 11:29) Such humble ones God cherishes.
14. What is God’s purpose toward ones “crushed and lowly”?
14 In cherishing the lowly, Jehovah’s purpose is to strengthen their hearts and spirits. “For this is what the High and Lofty One, who is residing forever and whose name is holy, has said: ‘In the height and in the holy place is where I reside, also with the one crushed and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly ones and to revive the heart of the ones being crushed.’” (Isa. 57:15) Jehovah would reshape those who are misshapen and crushed by the pressures of their backgrounds and their present circumstances.
15. What discrimination must lowly persons exercise?
15 Even as Jehovah is discriminating between the humble ones and the lofty ones, so lowly persons must be discriminating and must distinguish between necessary, proper Christian humility and false humility, because the latter is not really lowliness of mind but is actually presumptuousness.
16. What examination will aid in making this proper distinction?
16 Lowly ones are assisted in making this distinction by an examination of their confidence in Jehovah. We are acquainted with the proverb: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him [acknowledge him], and he himself will make your paths straight.”—Prov. 3:5, 6.
17. How do the Scriptures distinguish between genuine humility and mock humility?
17 In his writing to the Christians in Colossae the apostle Paul helps us to distinguish between the quality of genuine humility and what may prove to be just plain stubbornness. “Let no man deprive you of the prize who takes delight in a mock humility and a form of worship of the angels, ‘taking his stand on’ the things he has seen, puffed up without proper cause by his fleshly frame of mind. Those very things are, indeed, possessed of an appearance of wisdom in a self-imposed form of worship and mock humility . . . but they are of no value.” (Col. 2:18, 23) Lowly persons must avoid or eliminate a “fleshly frame of mind.” While such may have “an appearance of wisdom,” it would not be true wisdom nor modesty, as Proverbs 11:2 cautions: “Has presumptuousness come? Then dishonor will come; but wisdom is with the modest ones.” Truly modest ones are wise, not those who ‘become discreet in their own eyes.’ (Rom. 12:16) Certainly this gives lowly ones much to think about, much divine counsel for their serious consideration, so that they might not only respond to Jehovah’s tender affection and loving provisions but do so with confidence. “The righteous are like a young lion that is confident.”—Prov. 28:1.
18. What two conclusions can we draw from this article?
18 From all of this we can conclude that anyone may, to a great degree, cultivate the ability to perform any type of assignment of service with the help of Jehovah God. We can also conclude that Jehovah cherishes the lowly ones and that he will prepare them for greater privileges of service if they but seek his guidance and direction and believe his word and accept the privileges of service that are offered to them.
19. What help and counsel is there for self-confident persons?
19 In contrast to those who feel a measure of inability and lowliness, others, because of circumstances, accomplishments or backgrounds, may feel a large measure of self-confidence. Such persons, too, find counsel in the Word of God that is helpful to them. All of Jehovah’s people are “sheep” of his flock, and that includes those who have special privileges and responsibilities in the congregation of God’s people. From among the symbolic sheep, shepherds are taken so they can lead and assist the flock, but they must still remain “sheep” of the flock and must pay attention to themselves that they do not take themselves too seriously and become high-minded. If they are high-minded or become so, Jehovah cannot continue to use them, because he does not favor the proud and the haughty. “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.”—Acts 20:28.
20. What good example did Jesus set for his followers?
20 “His own Son,” even Jesus Christ, did not rely on himself, but said: “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19) The apostles could have felt inferiority before Jesus, but Jesus’ humility and his love brought out the best qualities in them. All those persons who are in responsible positions in the congregation of God’s people should be that way, that is, as was Jesus in his humility and love, reflecting the tender affection and mercy of his Father.
21. What counsel do the Scriptures give proud persons, and why?
21 If a man’s blessings and privileges have made him proud he has lost the needed quality of humility of mind and heart and he will fail unless he changes, “because God opposes the haughty ones.” (1 Pet. 5:5) “Pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. Better is it to be lowly in spirit with the meek ones than to divide spoil with the self-exalted ones.”—Prov. 16:18, 19.
22. What is the right attitude toward: (a) Those with favorable circumstances and abilities? (b) Those who require time and training to progress?
22 God’s attitude toward the humble is evident, and all should adopt it. Some with favorable circumstances and natural abilities apply themselves and make good Christian progress. This advancement is to be commended. A person with such ability, responsibility and privileges should recognize that some other persons do not possess these things. There are others who benefit from training and the operation of Jehovah’s spirit, and in time they progress and receive additional theocratic privileges. That is very fine and it also shows proper Christian progress. Additionally, those many in the Christian congregation who are new or whose circumstances have not yet allowed them to make progress we must view from God’s viewpoint as well. It would be wrong human reasoning to consider these rather backward ones as being unimportant. God is interested in them and he can use such in many valuable ways, and he is doing so.
23. (a) Who should be assisted, and by whom? (b) In agreement with James, what have we all observed as bring true?
23 So, with this proper viewpoint, let all, the lowly as well as others, help one another. This would include the assisting of those who are literally children, young in years. Also those who are elderly, perhaps infirm, and perhaps even persons with a feeling of inferiority should be assisted. All can benefit spiritually from lowly ones who, as they respond to Jehovah’s loving provisions, give support and strength to the organization of the congregation of Jehovah’s people. Congregational association and personal association are valuable in this, bringing all to a realization of the truthfulness of the Scriptural assertion that “God compounded the body, giving honor more abundant to the part which had a lack.” (1 Cor. 12:24) Certainly Jehovah’s servants, one and all alike, agree with the observations of the Bible writer James, when he said: “You . . . have seen the outcome Jehovah gave [to Job], that Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.”—Jas. 5:11.