Be Yielding, Be Balanced
“Continue reminding them . . . to be yielding.”—TITUS 3:1, 2, ftn.
1, 2. What do the Scriptures say about being yielding, and why is this fitting?
JEHOVAH, our loving heavenly Father, is infinitely wise. As his creatures, we look to him for guidance in our lives. (Ps. 48:14) The Christian disciple James tells us that “the wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, reasonable [“yielding,” ftn.], ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, not making partial distinctions, not hypocritical.”—Jas. 3:17.
2 “Let your reasonableness [“yielding(ness),” Kingdom Interlinear] become known to all men,” exhorts the apostle Paul.a (Phil. 4:5) Christ Jesus is Lord and Head of the Christian congregation. (Eph. 5:23) How important it is for each of us to act in a reasonable way, yielding to Christ’s direction and being yielding in our dealings with other humans!
3, 4. (a) Illustrate the benefits that result when we yield. (b) What will we consider?
3 Benefits result when we are disposed to be yielding in a balanced way. To illustrate: After a suspected terrorist plot was uncovered in Britain, airline passengers in general seemed ready to follow regulations against taking on board items they had previously been allowed to carry. When we drive an automobile, we see the need to yield to other drivers, such as when negotiating traffic circles, to make sure that everyone is safe and traffic flows smoothly.
4 For many of us, it is not easy to be yielding. To help us, let us consider three aspects of being yielding, namely, our motive, our attitude toward authority, and the extent to which we should yield.
Why Be Yielding?
5. Under the Mosaic Law, what could prompt a slave to choose to stay with his master?
5 An example from pre-Christian times focuses on the right motive for being yielding. Under the Mosaic Law, Hebrews who had become slaves were to be set free in the seventh year of their servitude or in the Jubilee year, whichever came first. But a slave could choose to remain a slave. (Read Exodus 21:5, 6.) What could prompt a slave to do this? Love prompted the slave to remain in that situation, under the authority of his considerate master.
6. How is love involved in our being yielding?
6 In a similar way, our love for Jehovah moves us to dedicate our lives to him and then to live up to our dedication. (Rom. 14:7, 8) “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome,” wrote the apostle John. (1 John 5:3) This love does not look for its own interests. (1 Cor. 13:4, 5) When we deal with other humans, love of neighbor inclines us to yield and allow them the first place. Instead of allowing selfishness to rule, we consider the interests of others.—Phil. 2:2, 3.
7. Being yielding plays what part in our ministry?
7 Neither our speech nor our actions should stumble others. (Eph. 4:29) Indeed, love will impel us to avoid doing anything that might hinder people of different backgrounds and cultures from progressing toward serving Jehovah. This often involves our being yielding. For example, missionary sisters accustomed to wearing cosmetics or nylons do not insist on using them in localities where that might call their morals into question and stumble others.—1 Cor. 10:31-33.
8. How can love for God help us to conduct ourselves as ‘lesser ones’?
8 Our love for Jehovah helps us to banish pride. After a dispute among the disciples as to who was the greatest, Jesus stood a young child in their midst. He explained: “Whoever receives this young child on the basis of my name receives me too, and whoever receives me receives him also that sent me forth. For he that conducts himself as a lesser one among all of you is the one that is great.” (Luke 9:48; Mark 9:36) Individually, we may find it a real challenge to conduct ourselves as “a lesser one.” Inherited imperfection and a tendency to be proud may motivate us to seek prominence, but humility will help us to yield.—Rom. 12:10.
9. To be yielding, what must we take into account?
9 To be yielding, we must take into account divinely constituted authority. All true Christians recognize the important principle of headship. The apostle Paul outlined this clearly to the Corinthians: “I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God.”—1 Cor. 11:3.
10. Our yielding to Jehovah’s authority demonstrates what?
10 Yielding to God’s authority demonstrates our trust and confidence in him as our loving Father. He is aware of all that happens and can reward us accordingly. It is helpful to bear that in mind when others do not treat us with respect or they become angry and lose their temper. Paul wrote: “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.” Paul punctuated that advice with this directive: “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’”—Rom. 12:18, 19.
11. How can we show that we are yielding to Christ’s headship?
11 Divinely constituted authority is also a factor within the Christian congregation. Revelation chapter 1 depicts Christ Jesus as holding the “stars” of the congregation in his right hand. (Rev. 1:16, 20) In a general sense, these “stars” represent the bodies of elders, or overseers, in the congregations. Such appointed overseers yield to Christ’s leadership and imitate his kindly way of dealing with others. All in the congregation submit to the arrangement that Jesus made for “the faithful and discreet slave” to provide spiritual food at the proper time. (Matt. 24:45-47) Today, our willingness to study and apply this material demonstrates that we personally are yielding to Christ’s headship, which contributes to peace and unity.—Rom. 14:13, 19.
Yield—To What Extent?
12. Why does being yielding have limits?
12 Being yielding does not, however, mean that we compromise our faith or our godly principles. What stand did the early Christians take when ordered by the religious leaders to stop teaching on the basis of Jesus’ name? Peter and the other apostles said boldly: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 4:18-20; 5:28, 29) So today, when governmental authorities try to force us to cease preaching the good news, we do not stop, although we may adjust our methods in order to handle the situation tactfully. If there are restrictions on the house-to-house ministry, we may seek out alternative ways to contact householders and continue obeying our God-given commission. Likewise, when “the superior authorities” proscribe our meetings, we meet discreetly in small groups.—Rom. 13:1; Heb. 10:24, 25.
13. What did Jesus say about yielding to those in authority?
13 In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed out the need to yield to authority: “If a person wants to go to court with you and get possession of your inner garment, let your outer garment also go to him; and if someone under authority impresses you into service for a mile, go with him two miles.” (Matt. 5:40, 41)b Consideration for others and a desire to help them also move us to go the extra mile, so to speak.—1 Cor. 13:5; Titus 3:1, 2.
14. Why should we never yield to apostasy?
14 Never should our desire to be yielding, though, lead us to compromise with apostates. Our clear, firm stance in this regard is needed to preserve the purity of the truth and the unity of the congregation. Regarding “false brothers,” Paul wrote: “To these we did not yield by way of submission, no, not for an hour, in order that the truth of the good news might continue with you.” (Gal. 2:4, 5) In the rare instance that apostasy does appear, devoted Christians will remain firm for what is right.
Overseers Need to Be Yielding
15. In what way can Christian overseers be yielding when meeting together?
15 One of the qualifications for those appointed to serve as overseers involves being willing to yield. Paul wrote: “The overseer should therefore be . . . reasonable [“yielding,” ftn.].” (1 Tim. 3:2, 3) This is especially vital when appointed men meet to consider congregation matters. Before a decision is reached, each one present is free to express himself clearly, though it is not required that every elder make some comment. During a discussion, an individual’s view may change as he hears others direct attention to Scriptural principles that apply. Rather than resisting and holding to a personal view, a mature elder yields. At the outset, there may have been differing views, but prayerful reflection promotes oneness among modest and yielding elders.—1 Cor. 1:10; Read Ephesians 4:1-3.
16. What spirit should a Christian overseer display?
16 In all his activity, a Christian elder should strive to uphold theocratic order. That spirit ought to carry over even in his shepherding of the flock, helping him to show consideration and gentleness to others. “Shepherd the flock of God in your care,” wrote Peter, “not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly.”—1 Pet. 5:2.
17. How can all in the congregation show a yielding spirit in dealing with others?
17 Elderly members of the congregation appreciate the valuable help of those younger in years and treat them with dignity. In turn, youths respect older ones who have years of experience in serving Jehovah. (1 Tim. 5:1, 2) Christian elders seek out qualified men to whom they can delegate certain responsibilities, training them to help care for God’s flock. (2 Tim. 2:1, 2) Each individual Christian ought to value Paul’s inspired advice: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive [“yielding under,” ftn.], for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.”—Heb. 13:17.
Being Yielding as Family Members
18. Why is a yielding spirit appropriate within the family?
18 A yielding spirit has a place within the family arrangement too. (Read Colossians 3:18-21.) The Bible outlines the respective roles of the various members of a Christian family. The father is both head of his wife and the one primarily responsible for directing the children. The wife is to recognize the authority of her mate, and the children should strive to be obedient, a course that is well-pleasing to the Lord. Each member of the family can contribute to the unity and peace of the household by being yielding in a proper and balanced way. The Bible contains some examples that help to illustrate the point.
19, 20. (a) Contrast the example of Eli and that of Jehovah in being yielding. (b) What lessons can parents learn from these examples?
19 When Samuel was just a boy, Eli served as high priest in Israel. However, Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were “good-for-nothing men” who did not “acknowledge Jehovah.” Eli heard bad reports about them, including the fact that they were committing fornication with women who served at the entrance of the tent of meeting. How did he react? Eli told them that if their sin was against Jehovah, there was nobody to pray for them. But he failed to correct and discipline them. As a result, Eli’s sons continued in their bad course. Finally, Jehovah justly determined that they merited the penalty of death. Upon hearing the news of their deaths, Eli himself died. What a sad outcome! Clearly, Eli’s improperly yielding to their wicked actions—in the sense that he allowed them to continue—was not right.—1 Sam. 2:12-17, 22-25, 34, 35; 4:17, 18.
20 By way of contrast, consider God’s dealings with his angelic sons. The prophet Micaiah had a remarkable vision of a meeting of Jehovah and His angels. Jehovah asked which of the angels could fool King Ahab of Israel to bring about the downfall of the wicked king. Jehovah listened to the suggestions of various spirit sons. Then one angel declared that he would do it. Jehovah asked him how. Satisfied, Jehovah commissioned the angel to carry it out. (1 Ki. 22:19-23) On a human plane, cannot family members learn from that account lessons about being yielding? A Christian husband and father does well to consider the ideas and suggestions of his wife and children. Conversely, wives and children should see that if they have offered an opinion or a preference, they may then need to be yielding in respecting direction from the one Scripturally authorized to decide.
21. What will be considered in the next article?
21 How grateful we are for Jehovah’s loving and wise reminders to be yielding! (Ps. 119:99) Our next article will consider how being yielding in a balanced way contributes to finding joy in marriage.
a The apostle Paul used a word that is difficult to render with a single English word. One reference work notes: “Involved is the willingness to yield one’s personal rights and to show consideration and gentleness to others.” So the word has the sense of being yielding and reasonable, not insisting on carrying out the letter of the law or demanding one’s rights.
b See the article “If You Are Impressed Into Service,” in The Watchtower of February 15, 2005, pages 23-6.
How Would You Answer?
• What good fruitage can being yielding produce?
• How can overseers display a yielding spirit?
• Why does a yielding spirit have a place in family life?
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Elders imitate Christ’s kindly way of dealing with others
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When congregation elders meet, prayerful reflection and a yielding spirit promote unity