“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you,’ or again, the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I do not need you.’”—1 COR. 12:21.
SONG 124 Ever Loyal
1. What has Jehovah given to each of his faithful servants?
JEHOVAH has lovingly given each of his faithful servants a place in his congregation. Although our roles are different, we are all valuable and we all need one another. The apostle Paul helps us to recognize this important lesson. How?
2. According to Ephesians 4:16, why do we need to value one another and work together?
2 As recorded in the theme text for this article, Paul emphasized that none of us can look at another servant of Jehovah and say “I do not need you.” (1 Cor. 12:21) If the congregation is to function peacefully, we must value one another and work together. (Read Ephesians 4:16.) When we work together in unity, the congregation thrives and is built up in love.
3. What will we discuss in this article?
3 What are some areas in which we can show respect for other Christians in the congregation? In this article, we will consider how elders can show respect for fellow elders. Next, we will discuss how all of us can show that we value our brothers and sisters who are not married. And finally, we will learn how we can show appreciation for those who may not speak our language fluently.
SHOW RESPECT FOR FELLOW ELDERS
4. What counsel of Paul recorded at Romans 12:10 should elders follow?
4 All elders in the congregation are appointed by Jehovah’s holy spirit. Yet, each one has different gifts and abilities. (1 Cor. 12:17, 18) Some may be newly appointed and relatively inexperienced. Others may be limited because of age and health. Yet, no elder should look at any of his fellow elders and, in effect, say “I do not need you.” Instead, each elder should follow the counsel of Paul as recorded at Romans 12:10.—Read.
5. How do elders show that they respect their fellow elders, and why is it important that they do so?
5 Elders show that they respect their fellow elders by carefully listening to them. This is especially important when the elders meet as a body to discuss serious matters. Why? Note what The Watchtower of October 1, 1988, stated: “Elders will recognize that Christ, by means of the holy spirit, can direct the mind of any elder on the body of elders to provide the Bible principle needed to cope with any situation or make any important decision. (Acts 15:6-15) No one elder has the monopoly of the spirit within the body.”
6. How can elders work together in unity, and how does the congregation benefit when they do so?
6 An elder who respects his fellow elders does not always try to speak first at elders’ meetings. He does not dominate the discussion, and he does not believe that his opinion is always right. Instead, he states his viewpoint humbly and modestly. He listens carefully to the comments of others. More important, he is eager to share Scriptural principles and to listen to direction from “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24:45-47) As elders discuss matters in an atmosphere of love and respect, God’s holy spirit will be present, and it will guide them to reach decisions that strengthen the congregation.—Jas. 3:17, 18.
SHOW RESPECT FOR CHRISTIANS WHO ARE NOT MARRIED
7. How did Jesus view singleness?
7 The congregation today includes married couples and families. Yet, it also includes many brothers and sisters who are not married. How should we view those who are single? Consider how Jesus viewed singleness. During his earthly ministry, Jesus did not marry. He remained single and focused his time and attention on his assignment. Jesus never taught that it was a requirement to get married or to be single. However, he did say that some Christians would choose not to marry. (Matt. 19:11, 12; see study note on Matthew 19:12.) Jesus respected those who were not married. He did not view single people as inferior or lacking in some way.
8. According to 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, what did Paul encourage Christians to consider?
8 Like Jesus, the apostle Paul carried out his ministry as a single person. Paul never taught that it would be wrong for a Christian to marry. He recognized that this was a personal matter. Still, Paul did encourage Christians to consider whether they could serve Jehovah as single people. (Read 1 Corinthians 7:7-9.) Certainly Paul did not look down on single Christians. In fact, he chose young Timothy, a single brother, to care for weighty assignments.* (Phil. 2:19-22) Obviously, then, it would be wrong to think that a brother is more qualified or less qualified based solely on whether he is married or not.—1 Cor. 7:32-35, 38.
9. What can we say about marriage and singleness?
9 Neither Jesus nor Paul taught that Christians must marry or that they must remain single. What, then, can we say about marriage and singleness? The Watchtower of October 1, 2012, stated it nicely when it said: “Really, both [marriage and singleness] can be described as gifts from God. . . . Jehovah does not view [singleness] as a cause for shame or grief.” With this in mind, we need to respect the place of single brothers and sisters in the congregation.
10. How can we show respect for our single brothers and sisters?
10 How can we show respect for the feelings and circumstances of our single brothers and sisters? We do well to keep in mind that some single Christians have made it a personal goal to remain unmarried. Other single Christians would like to marry, but they simply have not found the right person. Still others may have lost their mate in death. In any case, should those in the congregation feel the need to ask single Christians why they are not married or to offer to help them find a mate? Of course, some single Christians might ask for such assistance. But if help is not requested, how might such offers make our single brothers and sisters feel? (1 Thess. 4:11; 1 Tim. 5:13) Let us consider some comments from faithful single brothers and sisters.
11-12. How might we discourage single ones?
11 One single circuit overseer who is very effective in his assignment feels that there are many benefits to being single. Yet, he noted that it can be discouraging when well-meaning brothers and sisters ask him: “Why are you not married?” A single brother serving at a branch office observed: “Sometimes brothers and sisters make me feel that single ones are to be pitied. This can make it seem that singleness is a burden rather than a gift.”
12 A single sister who serves at Bethel said: “Some publishers assume that all single people are seeking a mate or that all single people view every social setting as an opportunity to find a mate. Once when I traveled to another part of the country for an assignment, I arrived on a meeting night. The sister who was hosting me told me that there were two brothers in the congregation who were my age. She assured me that she was not trying to set me up. But as soon as we got inside the Kingdom Hall, she pulled me over to meet the two brothers. Needless to say, that was quite an awkward situation for the three of us.”
13. What examples encouraged one single sister?
13 Another single sister who serves at Bethel observed: “I know older single pioneers who are well-grounded, focused, self-sacrificing, and content in their service and who add so much to a congregation. They have a balanced view of their singleness, feeling neither superior because they have stayed single nor deprived because they do not have a mate and family.” That is the beauty of a congregation in which you feel respected and valued. You feel neither pitied nor envied, neither ignored nor put on a pedestal. You just know that you belong.
14. How can we show that we respect single ones?
14 Our single brothers and sisters will be grateful if we value them based on their fine qualities and not on their marital status. Instead of feeling sorry for them, we do well to appreciate their faithfulness. As a result, our single brothers and sisters will never feel that we are saying to them: “I do not need you.” (1 Cor. 12:21) Instead, they will know that we respect them and value their place in the congregation.
SHOW RESPECT FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE FLUENTLY
15. What adjustments have some made to expand their ministry?
15 In recent years, many publishers have made it their goal to learn another language so that they can expand their ministry. Doing so means making adjustments. These brothers and sisters have left a congregation that uses their mother tongue in order to serve in a congregation where another language is spoken and where there is a greater need for Kingdom publishers. (Acts 16:9) This is a personal decision that these Christians make in order to advance Kingdom interests. Although it may take years for them to become fluent in the new language, they accomplish much good. Their fine qualities and experience strengthen and stabilize the congregation. We value these self-sacrificing brothers and sisters!
16. On what basis do elders evaluate the qualifications of brothers to serve as elders and ministerial servants?
16 A body of elders would not hold back from recommending a brother to serve as an elder or a ministerial servant simply because he is not yet fluent in the language of the congregation. The elders will evaluate a brother based on the Scriptural qualifications for elders and ministerial servants and not on how well he speaks the language of the local congregation.—1 Tim. 3:1-10, 12, 13; Titus 1:5-9.
17. What questions do some families face when moving to another country?
17 Some Christian families have moved to another country to seek refuge or to find employment. In such cases, their children may now be educated in the main language of their new country. The parents may also need to learn the main language in order to find employment. What if there is a local congregation or group in their mother tongue? Which congregation should the family attend? Should it be a congregation in which the main language of the country is spoken or a congregation in which the family’s mother tongue is spoken?
18. In harmony with Galatians 6:5, how can we show respect for the decision of the family head?
18 The family head must decide which congregation his family will attend. Because this is a personal matter, he must consider what is in the best interests of his family. (Read Galatians 6:5.) We need to respect the decision of the family head. Whatever he decides, let us accept his decision and welcome the family as a valued part of our congregation.—Rom. 15:7.
19. What should family heads prayerfully consider?
19 In other cases, families may be serving in a congregation that uses the mother tongue of the parents, but the children may not be fluent in that language. If that congregation is located in an area where the national language is spoken, it might be that the children struggle to understand the meetings and do not progress spiritually. Why? Because the children may attend a school that uses the national language and not their parents’ mother tongue. In such cases, family heads should prayerfully consider what they need to do to help their children to draw closer to Jehovah and his people. Either they will need to help their children to become fluent in their mother tongue or they will need to consider moving to a congregation that uses a language that their children clearly understand. Whatever the family head decides, the congregation in which he chooses to serve should make him and his family feel respected and valued.
20. How can we show that we respect our brothers and sisters who are learning a new language?
20 For all the reasons we have discussed, in many congregations, there will be brothers and sisters who are struggling to learn a new language. It might be difficult for them to express their thoughts. Yet, if we look beyond their language skills, we will see their love for Jehovah and their desire to serve him. If we see these beautiful qualities, we will deeply value and respect these brothers and sisters. We will not say “I do not need you” simply because they do not speak our language fluently.
WE ARE PRECIOUS TO JEHOVAH
21-22. What wonderful privilege do we have?
21 Jehovah has given us the wonderful privilege of having a place in his congregation. Whether we are male or female, single or married, young or old or we speak a certain language well or hardly at all, we are precious to Jehovah and to one another.—Rom. 12:4, 5; Col. 3:10, 11.
22 May we continue to apply the many wonderful lessons we have learned from Paul’s illustration of the human body. In that way, we will look for even more ways to treasure our place and the place of others in Jehovah’s congregation.
SONG 90 Encourage One Another
Jehovah’s people come from a variety of backgrounds and fill different roles in the congregation. This article will help us see why it is important that we respect each member of Jehovah’s family.
We cannot say for certain that Timothy never married.