Be Clothed With Mildness!
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.”—COLOSSIANS 3:12.
1-3. At Colossians 3:12-14, what did the apostle Paul say about mildness and other godly qualities?
JEHOVAH gives his people the very best figurative clothing. In fact, all who desire his favor must be clothed in a garment having strong strands of mildness. This quality is comforting because it minimizes tension in stressful situations. It is protective too, for it wards off strife.
2 The apostle Paul urged fellow anointed Christians: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.” (Colossians 3:12) The tense of the Greek word rendered “clothe yourselves” denotes action to be taken with a sense of urgency. Anointed ones, who were chosen, holy, and loved by God, were not to delay in clothing themselves with such qualities as mildness.
3 Paul added: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:13, 14) Love, mildness, and other godly qualities make it possible for Jehovah’s Witnesses to “dwell together in unity.”—Psalm 133:1-3.
Mild-Tempered Shepherds Needed
4. True Christians wear a figurative garment woven of what qualities?
4 True Christians strive to ‘deaden their body members as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness,’ and they work at removing any old garment having a fabric of wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk. (Colossians 3:5-11) They strip off “the old personality” (literally, “the old man”) and put on “the new personality” (or, “the new man”), a suitable garb. (Ephesians 4:22-24, Kingdom Interlinear) Their new garment, woven of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering, helps them to resolve problems and to live godly lives.—Matthew 5:9; 18:33; Luke 6:36; Philippians 4:2, 3.
5. What is there about the functioning of the Christian congregation that makes it such a joy to be part of it?
5 Men considered successful in this world are often hard, even cruel. (Proverbs 29:22) How refreshingly different it is among Jehovah’s people! The Christian congregation does not function as some men operate a business—in an efficient but harsh manner that may make people unhappy. Rather, it is a joy to be part of the congregation. One reason is that mildness of temper is a feature of the wisdom displayed by Christians in general and especially by men qualified to teach fellow believers. Yes, joy results from instruction and counsel given by appointed elders who teach “with a mildness that belongs to wisdom.”—James 3:13.
6. Why must Christian elders be mild-tempered?
6 The spirit, or dominant attitude, of God’s people requires that men entrusted with oversight in the congregation be mild-tempered, reasonable, and understanding. (1 Timothy 3:1-3) Jehovah’s servants are like gentle sheep, not obstinate goats, stubborn mules, or ravenous wolves. (Psalm 32:9; Luke 10:3) Being sheeplike, they need to be treated with mildness and tenderness. (Acts 20:28, 29) Yes, God expects elders to be mild, kind, loving, and patient toward his sheep.—Ezekiel 34:17-24.
7. How should elders instruct others or help the spiritually sick?
7 As “a slave of the Lord,” an elder “needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach, keeping himself restrained under evil, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed; as perhaps God may give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:24, 25) Christian shepherds should show tender consideration when trying to help the spiritually sick, for the sheep belong to God. Elders must not treat them as a hireling would but need to be mild-tempered, like the Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ.—John 10:11-13.
8. What happened to mild-tempered Moses, and why?
8 An elder may at times find it difficult to maintain a mild spirit. “Moses was by far the meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground.” (Numbers 12:3) Yet, when the Israelites faced a water shortage at Kadesh, they quarreled with Moses and blamed him for leading them from Egypt into a barren wilderness. Despite all that Moses had meekly endured, he spoke rashly, harshly. He and Aaron stood before the people and directed attention to themselves, Moses saying: “Hear, now, you rebels! Is it from this crag that we shall bring out water for you?” Moses then struck the crag with his rod twice, and God made “much water” come out for the people and their animals. Jehovah was displeased because Moses and Aaron had not sanctified Him, so Moses was not privileged to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.—Numbers 20:1-13; Deuteronomy 32:50-52; Psalm 106:32, 33.
9. How may an elder’s mildness be tested?
9 A Christian elder’s mildness may also be tested in various ways. For instance, Paul warned Timothy that there could arise someone “puffed up with pride” and “mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words.” Paul added: “From these things spring envy, strife, abusive speeches, wicked suspicions, violent disputes about trifles on the part of men corrupted in mind and despoiled of the truth.” The overseer Timothy was not to act harshly but was to “flee from these things,” and he was to “pursue righteousness, godly devotion, faith, love, endurance, mildness of temper.”—1 Timothy 6:4, 5, 11.
10. Of what was Titus to remind the congregations?
10 Though elders need to be mild, they must be firm for what is right. Titus was that way, reminding those associated with congregations in Crete to “speak injuriously of no one, not to be belligerent, to be reasonable, exhibiting all mildness toward all men.” (Titus 3:1, 2) Showing why Christians should be mild-tempered toward all, Titus was to point out how kind and loving Jehovah had been. God had not saved believers because of any righteous deeds they had performed but according to his mercy through Jesus Christ. Jehovah’s mildness and patience mean salvation for us too. Like Titus, therefore, present-day elders should remind congregations to be in subjection to God, imitating Him by treating others in a mild way.—Titus 3:3-7; 2 Peter 3:9, 15.
Mildness Guides the Wise Counselor
11. According to Galatians 6:1, 2, how should counsel be given?
11 What if a figurative sheep has erred? Paul said: “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, as you each keep an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted. Go on carrying the burdens of one another, and thus fulfill the law of the Christ.” (Galatians 6:1, 2) Counsel is more effective if it is given in a spirit of mildness. Even if elders are trying to counsel an angry person, they should display self-control, realizing that “a mild tongue itself can break a bone.” (Proverbs 25:15) Someone as hard as a bone may be softened by a mild statement, and his hardness may break down.
12. How does a mild spirit help a counselor?
12 Jehovah is a mild-tempered Instructor, and his mild way of teaching is effective in the congregation. This is especially so when elders find it necessary to counsel those requiring spiritual help. The disciple James wrote: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his fine conduct his works with a mildness that belongs to wisdom.” Mildness springs from respect and gratitude for “wisdom from above,” coupled with modest recognition of one’s own limitations. A mild and humble spirit protects the counselor from making damaging remarks and errors and makes his counsel easier to accept.—James 3:13, 17.
13. How does “a mildness that belongs to wisdom” affect the way counsel is given?
13 “A mildness that belongs to wisdom” precludes a counselor’s being thoughtlessly blunt or harsh. Yet, concern over friendship or having someone’s approval must not move an elder to say things designed to please rather than mildly to present straightforward counsel based on God’s Word. (Proverbs 24:24-26; 28:23) The counsel Amnon received from his cousin satisfied his desire, but it cost him his life. (2 Samuel 13:1-19, 28, 29) Present-day elders must, therefore, not water down Bible principles to ease someone’s conscience, for doing so could imperil his life. Like Paul, elders must not hold back from telling others “all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26, 27; 2 Timothy 4:1-4) A mature Christian counselor shows godly fear and gives righteous counsel with a mildness belonging to wisdom.
14. Why should an elder be careful not to make decisions that others should make themselves?
14 Mildness coupled with heavenly wisdom will prevent an elder from making harsh demands. He should also realize that it is unwise and inappropriate for him to make a decision that another person should make for himself. An elder would be responsible for the results if he made decisions for others, and he would share blame for any bad outcome. An elder can call attention to what the Bible says, but if there is no Scriptural law on a matter, an individual’s own judgment and conscience must determine what he will or will not do. As Paul said: “Each one will carry his own load.” (Galatians 6:5; Romans 14:12) However, an inquirer may be helped toward making a right decision by an elder’s asking questions that assist the person to reason on the scriptures related to optional courses that may be open to him.
15. What should be done if an elder does not know the answer to a question?
15 If an elder does not know the answer to a question, he should not reply just to save face. Mildness that belongs to wisdom would keep him from guessing and perhaps giving a wrong answer that later could cause distress. There is “a time to keep quiet and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7; compare Proverbs 21:23.) An elder should “speak” only when he knows the answer to a question or has done enough research to give an accurate reply. It is wise to leave speculative questions unanswered.—Proverbs 12:8; 17:27; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 2:14.
Value of a Multitude of Counselors
16, 17. Why is it appropriate for elders to consult with one another?
16 Prayer and study will help elders to answer questions and handle difficult problems, but it should be remembered that “in the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.” (Proverbs 15:22) Consulting with other elders results in a valuable pooling of wisdom. (Proverbs 13:20) Not all elders have equal experience or Bible knowledge. Hence, mildness that belongs to wisdom should move a less-experienced elder to consult with elders having greater knowledge and more experience, especially when a serious matter needs to be handled.
17 When elders are chosen to handle a serious matter, they still may confidentially seek help. To assist him in judging the Israelites, Moses selected “capable men, fearing God, trustworthy men, hating unjust profit.” Though they were elders, they did not have as much knowledge and experience as Moses did. Hence, “a hard case they would bring to Moses, but every small case they themselves would handle as judges.” (Exodus 18:13-27) If necessary, then, elders handling a hard case today can properly seek the help of experienced overseers, though they make the final decision themselves.
18. In handling judicial matters, what are the decisive factors ensuring proper decisions?
18 The Jewish Mishnah says that in Israel those making up village courts varied in number according to the gravity of the case. There is true value in the multitude of counselors, though numbers alone do not guarantee rightness, for a majority can be wrong. (Exodus 23:2) The decisive factors ensuring that proper decisions will be made are the Scriptures and God’s spirit. Wisdom and mildness will move Christians to submit to these.
Witnessing With Mildness
19. How does mildness help Jehovah’s people to witness to others?
19 Mildness also helps Jehovah’s servants to witness to people of various dispositions. (1 Corinthians 9:22, 23) Because Jesus taught with mildness, humble ones did not fear him, as they did the harsh religious leaders. (Matthew 9:36) Of course, his mild ways attracted “sheep,” not wicked “goats.” (Matthew 25:31-46; John 3:16-21) Though Jesus used strong terms in dealing with goatlike hypocrites, Jehovah’s Witnesses must be mild when declaring God’s judgment messages today because they do not have the same insight and authority that Jesus had. (Matthew 23:13-36) As they hear the message of the Kingdom preached with mildness, ‘those rightly disposed for everlasting life become believers,’ as did sheeplike ones who heard Jesus.—Acts 13:48.
20. How does a Bible student benefit when he is taught with mildness?
20 Good results are attained by witnessing and instructing others with mildness and by appealing to them on the basis of logic, Bible principles, and truth. “Sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts,” wrote Peter, “always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) A student who is being taught in a mild way can concentrate on the material instead of being distracted or possibly even stumbled by a harsh, argumentative manner. Like Paul, ministers instructing with mildness can say: “In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with.” (2 Corinthians 6:3) Even opposers sometimes respond favorably to those instructing with mildness.
Mildness Required of All
21, 22. How does mildness benefit all of Jehovah’s people?
21 Christian mildness must not be put on just to impress those outside Jehovah’s organization. This quality is also vital in relationships among God’s people. (Colossians 3:12-14; 1 Peter 4:8) Congregations are built up spiritually when mild-tempered elders and ministerial servants work together harmoniously. Displaying mildness and other godly qualities is important for every one of Jehovah’s people because there is “one law” for all.—Exodus 12:49; Leviticus 24:22.
22 Mildness contributes to the peace and happiness of God’s people. It should, therefore, be part of the fabric of qualities making up the garment worn by all Christians at home, in the congregation, and elsewhere. Yes, all servants of Jehovah need to be clothed with mildness.
How Would You Answer?
□ Why must Christian elders be mild-tempered?
□ How does mildness guide the wise counselor?
□ What is the value of a multitude of counselors?
□ Why is it beneficial to witness with mildness?
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Jehovah’s people are sheeplike and need to be treated with mildness
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Mildness enables Jehovah’s people to witness to people of various dispositions