Reasonableness Makes Life More Enjoyable
JEHOVAH GOD wants people to enjoy life. What he has set forth for our guidance in his Word, the Bible, is designed to promote our lasting welfare. So our heeding that Word will definitely contribute toward making life more pleasant for ourselves and others. This is certainly true when we apply the Bible’s admonition: “Let your reasonableness become known to all men.”—Phil. 4:5.
According to the Scriptures, reasonableness is a godly quality. At James 3:17 we read that “the wisdom from above is,” among other things, “reasonable.” Just what does being reasonable mean?
Basically, it means to be yielding, fair, moderate, considerate and forbearing. Reasonable people are well balanced, not given to extremes. They recognize the wisdom of the inspired words: “Do not become righteous overmuch . . . Why should you cause desolation to yourself?” (Eccl. 7:16) Those who are “righteous overmuch” become very narrow and inflexible in their personal views of right and wrong. As a result, even things that are not in themselves improper may look very bad to them. Their conscience is constantly disturbed about what others do or fail to do. Instead of using their powers of reason, their judgment is influenced by prejudice.
The extremes to which being “righteous overmuch” can lead is evident from the way the Pharisees viewed Jesus Christ. In their estimation, he was guilty of a serious crime when he miraculously freed people from their infirmities and afflictions on the sabbath. They lost sight of the whole purpose of the sabbath law. It was to be, not a burden on the people, but a blessing to them. The sabbath served to provide a day for much-needed rest and refreshment. As Jesus Christ pointed out: “The sabbath came into existence for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) Accordingly, Jesus Christ’s performing healings on the sabbath was in full harmony with the merciful spirit of the law. But the Pharisees’ unreasonable insistence on the letter of the law according to their traditional interpretation led to a merciless attitude toward those in need.—Matt. 23:23.
The unreasonable application of God’s law on which the Pharisees insisted put a great burden on people. (Matt. 23:4) As to those not living by the traditional precepts, they were looked down upon. For example, when officers sent to arrest Jesus came back empty-handed because of having been impressed by his teaching, certain Pharisees said, disparagingly: “You have not been misled also, have you? Not one of the rulers or of the Pharisees has put faith in him, has he? But this crowd that does not know the Law are accursed people.”—John 7:47, 48.
The attitude of reasonable persons stands out in stark contrast with that of the Pharisees and other prominent religious leaders of Judaism in the first century C.E. Reasonable people do not have an exaggerated opinion of themselves nor do they look down on others. They are not “hard to please.” (1 Pet. 2:18) They exercise care not to make anyone feel incompetent or ignorant in their presence.
The reasonable person takes into consideration people’s limitations and circumstances when encouraging them to make good use of their capabilities. He is not demanding nor does he expect from others far more than they are capable of doing. So he does not become frustrated and irritated with them. Truly the person who displays the fine quality of reasonableness makes life more enjoyable for himself and his fellows.
When we compare reasonable people with unreasonable ones, it is evident that being reasonable depends largely upon the way a person views himself and others. So if we want to be known as reasonable persons, we need to make sure that our estimation of ourselves and of our fellow humans is in harmony with God’s Word. The inspired apostle Paul cautioned: “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving his own mind.” (Gal. 6:3) “I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind.”—Rom. 12:3.
In the Christian congregation there is no one who is indispensable. Individuals may be a fine source of encouragement to fellow believers. But it is neither natural abilities nor dynamic personalities that are the motivating force behind the work done by the Christian congregation. The work is not that of any man or group of men. It is God’s work. With reference to himself and his associates, the apostle Paul acknowledged: “We are God’s fellow workers.” (1 Cor. 3:9; Acts 5:38, 39) By means of his spirit, Jehovah God is moving his people to do the work that he wants accomplished, to his praise. That spirit is operating on the whole association of brothers throughout the world, not just a few. Since God’s spirit operates upon all, we cannot get along without those related to us in the faith.—1 Cor. 12:14-26.
When devoted Christians view one another as fellow workers and slaves of God and Christ, they avoid having an inflated opinion of themselves and their accomplishments. They heed the Bible’s admonition to manifest “lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior” to them.—Phil. 2:3.
The person who takes this counsel seriously acknowledges that, in certain abilities and qualities, others are superior to himself. Certain fellow Christians may have a better understanding, insight and discernment than do others when it comes to spiritual matters and helping others. Then there may be those who have remarkable zeal, enthusiasm and drive. Still others may be outstanding in their concern and sympathy for people.
When a person recognizes that he can learn from others and that there may be more than one way to look at matters, he will be far less inclined to insist on his own way as right. He will be yielding, not stubborn. He will not lightly dismiss the suggestions and recommendations of experienced people. Nor will he view himself as being above counsel from others. He appreciates that making decisions based on the composite knowledge of qualified people is a mark of true wisdom. Therefore he acts in harmony with the Bible proverb: “In the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.”—Prov. 15:22.
Surely we should want to be reasonable persons. Reasonableness is what Jehovah God desires to see in his servants because he knows that this will contribute to their having pleasant relationships. So may our striving to be reasonable in all things continue to make life more enjoyable for ourselves and fellow humans.