‘Continue to Be Readjusted’
“ARE you sure we are not going to miss it?” The passenger directed her question to the ship’s first officer. As the tiny ship swayed and pitched in the grip of the notorious Cape rollers of the South Atlantic, it seemed to her that it would be just short of a miracle for them to reach the tiny dot on the map that was their destination.
So the first officer invited her to the bridge and explained the workings of navigational devices—gyro compasses, radar, satellite signal receivers, and even the ordinary sextant. Although the technical explanations were a bit beyond her comprehension, she did come to understand a basic principle of navigation: course correction. Aided by his navigational gear, the captain could offset the influences of sea currents and wind by making constant readjustments. Without such readjustments, they would miss their destination by many, many miles.
Christians are like ships in the ocean of humanity. Our goal is to be “found finally by [Jehovah] spotless and unblemished and in peace.” (2 Peter 3:14) But as with a ship, there are forces—internal and external—that tend to move us off course. How appropriate, then, the words of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians: “For this we are praying, your being readjusted. . . . Continue to . . . be readjusted.”—2 Corinthians 13:9, 11.
What Readjustment Involves
The Greek term here translated “readjust” refers to bringing something “into proper alignment.” (See footnote of the Reference Bible.) In some Bible texts, it is used to describe restoring something to a proper condition. For instance, at Matthew 4:21, a similar term is used to describe “repairing” nets. (Kingdom Interlinear) What, then, does it mean for Christians to be readjusted?
Well, consider the Christians at Corinth to whom Paul was writing. In a previous letter to them, Paul had pointed out a number of improper situations that existed in the congregation: sectarianism, toleration of sexual immorality, lawsuits among brothers, disrespect for the Lord’s Evening Meal, and even disorderly meetings. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 5:1; 6:1; 11:20, 21; 14:26-33) The Corinthians thus needed to “repair” the situation there, that is, bring it “into proper alignment” with godly principles.
Paul’s second letter to them indicates that they did just that. (2 Corinthians 7:11) However, Paul knew that pressures from the world, from Satan, and from their own fleshly inclinations would continue to push them off course from time to time. Hence, he appropriately counseled them to ‘continue to be readjusted.’
The Need for Readjustment Today
Jehovah’s Witnesses today must likewise continue to be readjusted. Satan the Devil is ‘waging war’ with us, working feverishly to break our integrity. (Revelation 12:17; Ephesians 6:12) We are also surrounded by a worldwide system of things that operates “according to the ruler of the authority of the air.” Our workmates and schoolmates may be people who ‘conduct themselves in harmony with the desires of their flesh, doing the things willed by the flesh.’ (Ephesians 2:2, 3) We also have a constant battle with our inherited sinful tendencies. (Romans 7:18-25) Without constant readjustment, we could easily be driven off course.
An experience of the apostle Peter well illustrates this. After correctly identifying Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Peter was commended with the words: “Happy you are, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in the heavens did.” (Matthew 16:16, 17) Clearly, Peter’s thinking was on track. Yet, within the space of time covered by the next six verses Mt 16:18-23, he had to be severely rebuked by Jesus! Upon learning that Christ would “suffer many things . . . and be killed,” Peter urged Jesus: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this destiny at all.” Jesus swiftly replied: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.”—Matthew 16:21-23.
Peter was thinking from a fleshly point of view. His thoughts and attitude needed to be readjusted. Is not the same true of all of us from time to time? Are we not inclined to see things from our own viewpoint instead of from God’s? So, occasionally we need to be readjusted. Like a ship at sea, such adjustments at times may be small, almost insignificant. But they may mean the difference between reaching our destination and suffering spiritual shipwreck. Indeed, a small adjustment now may prevent having to make major—perhaps painful—adjustments later on.
If a ship’s navigational instruments are not accurately calibrated, proper course corrections cannot be made. Similarly, if we are to keep our lives on course, we need the accurate guidance of God’s Word, the Bible. “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight.” (2 Timothy 3:16) That inspired Word sets forth God’s standards of conduct and thinking. Regularly reading it is essential to following “the tracks of righteousness.”—Psalm 23:3.
Further direction comes from “the faithful and discreet slave” class of anointed Christians. These have been helped by Jehovah’s spirit to understand his will progressively. (Matthew 24:45-47; Proverbs 4:18) Thus, when direction comes from Jehovah’s organization, we can wisely submit to it, knowing full well that Jehovah will only lead us in a way that will be to our everlasting benefit.—Isaiah 48:17.
At times, though, we need personal help to stay on course. Paul exhorted at Galatians 6:1: “Brothers, even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness.” Elders and ministerial servants are among those having such spiritual qualifications. Often they will directly point out to us some area in which we need to make adjustments.
It is not always easy to make the necessary changes in our lives. Again, consider Peter. Born a Jew, Peter grew up sharing the prevailing negative view of people of other races. As he told the Gentile Cornelius: “You well know how unlawful it is for a Jew to join himself to or approach a man of another race.” However, after realizing that it was God’s will that he share the Christian truth with this man and his family, Peter concluded: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:28, 34, 35.
Peter had made a startling change in his thinking and attitude toward other races! But apparently there was a need for him to continue to be readjusted in this regard, for a few years later, Peter yielded to peer pressure and began slighting Gentile believers. The apostle Paul had to reprove him, using the strongest of terms to help him readjust his thinking yet further!—Galatians 2:11-14.
Similarly today, a Christian may have grown up against a background of racial discrimination. After coming into the truth, he may mentally acknowledge that God is not partial but still cling to feelings of racial bias. Though not hostile toward those of another race, he may automatically assume that they have undesirable qualities because of their racial heritage. He may try their patience with racial jokes or remarks that constantly call attention to race, or racial differences. He may even reject spiritual admonition from a fellow Christian who, because of being educationally or socially disadvantaged, fails to express himself in a certain manner. Obviously, it will take real effort for such a one to readjust his thinking in harmony with Jehovah’s!*
But whether the issue is racial prejudice, materialism, social involvements at school and work, or the need to attend Christian meetings, we must be responsive to the direction provided through God’s Word and his organization. Never should we feel that valid Scriptural counsel is not applicable to us and ignore it. Recall that the unfaithful Israelites said: “The way of Jehovah is not adjusted right.” Is it not we who must adjust to Jehovah’s ways?—Ezekiel 18:25.
We rejoice that Jehovah takes a warm interest in the way that we walk before him, providing constant correction for his people. It is as Isaiah prophesied: “And your own ears will hear a word behind you saying: ‘This is the way. Walk in it, you people,’ in case you people should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.” May we, for our part, be sensitive to such loving direction from Jehovah and be “ready to obey.” (Isaiah 30:21; James 3:17) Yes, let us continue to be readjusted so that our course will lead us to the goal of an eternity in God’s favor!
See the articles on prejudice appearing in the November 8, 1984, issue of our companion journal, Awake! See also the May 15, 1988, Watchtower, pages 10-20.