Exhibit “All Mildness Toward All Men”
“Continue reminding them . . . to be reasonable, exhibiting all mildness toward all men.”
1. Why is it not always easy to display mildness?
“BECOME imitators of me,” wrote the apostle Paul, “even as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) All of God’s servants today try hard to heed this admonition. Admittedly, it is not easy, for we have inherited from our first human parents selfish desires and temperaments that do not conform to Christ’s example. (Romans 3:23; 7:21-25) Nevertheless, when it comes to displaying mildness, all of us can succeed if we put forth the effort. But relying on sheer willpower is not enough. What more is needed?
2. How can we exhibit “all mildness toward all men”?
2 Godly mildness is part of the fruitage of the holy spirit. The more we yield to the leadings of God’s active force, the more its fruitage will be apparent. Then, and only then, will we be able to exhibit “all mildness” toward everyone. (Titus 3:2) Let us examine how we can imitate Jesus’ example and enable those who come in contact with us to “find refreshment.”
In the Family
3. What family situation reflects the world’s spirit?
3 One area where mildness is essential is within the family. The World Health Organization estimates that family violence poses a greater risk to the health of women than traffic accidents and malaria combined. In London, England, for example, a quarter of all reported violent crime is domestic. The police frequently encounter people who vent their feelings with “screaming and abusive speech.” Worse still, some couples have allowed “malicious bitterness” to affect their relationship. All of this is a sad reflection of “the spirit of the world” and as such has no place in Christian families.
4. What effect can mildness have on the family?
4 To counteract worldly tendencies, we need God’s spirit. “Where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) Love, kindness, self-control, and long-suffering strengthen the unity of imperfect husbands and wives. (Ephesians 5:33) Mildness of temper lightens the atmosphere and offers a welcome contrast to the bickering and contention that blight many families. What a person says is important, but it is the way he expresses himself that conveys the spirit behind the words. Concerns and worries expressed with mildness defuse tensions. Wise King Solomon wrote: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.”
5. How can mildness help in a religiously divided home?
5 Mildness is especially important in a religiously divided home. Coupled with kindly deeds, it can help to win over to Jehovah those who are not favorably disposed. Peter counseled Christian wives: “Be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect. And do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and of the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”
6. How can displaying mildness strengthen the bonds between parents and children?
6 The relationship between parents and children can be strained, especially when love for Jehovah is lacking. But in all Christian households, there is a need for exhibiting mildness. Paul counseled fathers: “Do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Ephesians 6:4) When mildness prevails in a family, close bonds between parents and children are strengthened. Dean, one of five children, reminisced about his father: “Dad was mild-tempered. I don’t ever remember having an argument with him
In Our Ministry
7, 8. Why is manifesting mildness in the field ministry vital?
7 Another area where mildness is important is in the field ministry. As we share the Kingdom good news with others, we meet people with different dispositions. Some gladly listen to the message of hope we bring. Others, for a variety of reasons, may react unfavorably. It is here that the quality of mildness is of great help to us in fulfilling our commission to be witnesses to the most distant part of the earth.
8 The apostle Peter wrote: “Sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, 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) Because we hold Christ in our hearts as our Exemplar, we take care to manifest both mildness and respect when witnessing to those who speak harshly. This course of conduct often produces remarkable results.
9, 10. Relate an experience to show the value of mildness in the field ministry.
9 When his wife answered a knock on the door of their apartment, Keith remained in the background. On learning that their visitor was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Keith’s wife angrily accused the Witnesses of cruelty to children. The brother remained calm. Mildly, he responded: “I am sorry you feel that way. May I please show you what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe?” Keith had been listening to the conversation and now came to the door to terminate the brother’s visit.
10 Later, the couple began to feel regret that they had treated their visitor in a harsh way. His mild manner had touched them. To their surprise, a week later the brother returned, and Keith and his wife let him explain the Scriptural basis for what he believed. “Over the next two years, we listened a lot to what other Witnesses said,” they later observed. They agreed to a Bible study, and eventually both were baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah. How rewarding for that Witness who first called on Keith and his wife! The Witness met the couple years later and found that they were now his spiritual brother and sister. Mildness succeeds.
11. In what way can mildness pave the way for someone to accept Christian truth?
11 Harold’s experiences as a soldier caused him to become bitter and to doubt God’s existence. Compounding his problems, a traffic accident caused by a drunk driver left Harold permanently disabled. When Jehovah’s Witnesses called at his home, Harold demanded that they stop visiting him. But one day, a Witness named Bill set out to visit an interested person who lived just two doors away from Harold. By mistake, Bill knocked at Harold’s door. When Harold, supporting himself on two canes, opened the door, Bill immediately apologized, explaining that he had intended to visit a home nearby. How did Harold react? Unknown to Bill, Harold had seen a television news item featuring the Witnesses working together to build a new Kingdom Hall in a very short time. Impressed by seeing so many people working unitedly, he had changed his attitude toward the Witnesses. Touched by Bill’s kindly apology and his appealing, mild manner, Harold decided to accept visits from the Witnesses. He studied the Bible, made progress, and became a baptized servant of Jehovah.
In the Congregation
12. What worldly traits should members of the Christian congregation resist?
12 A third area where mildness is vital is in the Christian congregation. Confrontation is commonplace in today’s society. Debates, arguments, and wrangling are the norm among those who look at life in a fleshly way. Occasionally, such worldly traits creep into the Christian congregation and manifest themselves in contentions and fights with words. Responsible brothers are saddened when they have to deal with these situations. Nevertheless, love for Jehovah and for their brothers prompts them to try to win back the erring ones.
13, 14. What can be the result of “instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed”?
13 In the first century, Paul and his companion Timothy encountered difficulties from some within the congregation. Paul warned Timothy to be on guard against brothers who resembled vessels for “a purpose lacking honor.” “A slave of the Lord does not need to fight,” Paul reasoned, “but needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach, keeping himself restrained under evil, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed.” When we maintain a mild temper even under provocation, dissenters are often moved to reassess their criticisms. In turn, Jehovah may, as Paul further writes, “give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:20, 21, 24, 25) Notice that Paul links gentleness and restraint with mildness.
14 Paul practiced what he preached. When dealing with the “superfine apostles” in the Corinthian congregation, he urged the brothers: “Now I myself, Paul, entreat you by the mildness and kindness of the Christ, lowly though I am in appearance among you, whereas when absent I am bold toward you.” (2 Corinthians 10:1; 11:5) Paul truly did imitate Christ. Note that he made his appeal to these brothers “by the mildness” of the Christ. He thus avoided an overbearing, dictatorial attitude. His exhortation no doubt appealed to those in the congregation who had responsive hearts. He smoothed over strained relations and laid the basis for peace and unity in the congregation. Is this not a course of action that all of us can strive to imitate? Elders especially need to pattern their actions on those of Christ and Paul.
15. Why is mildness important when giving counsel?
15 The responsibility to help others is certainly not limited to times when the congregation’s peace and unity are threatened. Long before strained relations occur, brothers need loving guidance. “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,” urged Paul. But how? “In a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) Maintaining “a spirit of mildness” is not always easy, especially because all Christians, including appointed men, are subject to sinful tendencies. Nevertheless, it is mildness that will help make the erring one’s readjustment bearable.
16, 17. What may help counteract any reluctance to apply counsel?
16 In the original Greek, the word translated “readjust” can also refer to the realignment or setting of broken bones, a painful procedure. The reassuring doctor who sets a broken bone speaks positively of the benefits of the procedure. His calm manner is comforting. A few words in advance help soothe the worst of the discomfort. Likewise, a spiritual readjustment may be painful. But mildness will help make it more acceptable, thus restoring pleasant relations and paving the way for the erring one to change his course. Even when there is initial resistance to counsel, mildness on the part of the one who offers help may break down any reluctance to follow sound Scriptural advice.
17 When helping others to readjust, there is always the danger that the counsel may be construed as criticism. One writer puts it this way: “Never are we in greater peril of undue self-assertion, and therefore in greater need of meekness, than in reproving others.” Cultivating mildness that springs from humility will help the Christian counselor to avoid this danger.
“Toward All Men”
18, 19. (a) Why may Christians find it difficult to exhibit mildness in dealing with secular authorities? (b) What will help Christians exhibit mildness toward those in authority, and with what possible result?
18 One area where many find it difficult to exhibit mildness is in dealing with secular authorities. Admittedly, the way some in authority act betrays harshness and a lack of fellow feeling. (Ecclesiastes 4:1; 8:9) However, our love for Jehovah will help us recognize his supreme authority and give governmental authorities the relative subjection that they are due. (Romans 13:1, 4; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2) Even when those in high station seek to limit the public expression of our worship of Jehovah, we gladly look for ways that are still open to offer our sacrifice of praise.
19 Under no circumstances do we resort to belligerence. We strive to be reasonable while never compromising righteous principles. In this way, our brothers succeed in pursuing their ministry in 234 lands around the world. We heed Paul’s counsel to “be in subjection and be obedient to governments and authorities as rulers, to be ready for every good work, to speak injuriously of no one, not to be belligerent, to be reasonable, exhibiting all mildness toward all men.”
20. What rewards are there for those who exhibit mildness?
20 Abundant blessings are in store for all who exhibit mildness. “Happy are the mild-tempered ones,” Jesus declared, “since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) For Christ’s spirit-anointed brothers, maintaining mildness ensures their happiness and the privilege of ruling over the earthly domain of the Kingdom. As for the “great crowd” of “other sheep,” they continue to manifest mildness and look forward to life in Paradise here on earth. (Revelation 7:9; John 10:16; Psalm 37:11) What wonderful prospects lie ahead! Let us, then, never neglect the reminder Paul gave to the Christians in Ephesus: “I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, entreat you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with complete lowliness of mind and mildness.”
• What blessings come from manifesting mildness
• in the family?
• in the field ministry?
• in the congregation?
• What rewards are promised to those who are mild-tempered?
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Mildness is especially important in a religiously divided home
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Mildness strengthens family bonds
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Make a defense with mildness and deep respect
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A counselor’s mildness may help an erring one