[From ws8/17 p. 3 – September 25-October 1]
“You too exercise patience.”—James 5:8
(Occurrences: Jehovah=36; Jesus=5)
After discussing how difficult it can be to wait, especially due to the “pressures of living in these ‘critical times’ that are so ‘hard to deal with’”, Paragraph 3 reads:
But what can help us when we come face-to-face with such difficult circumstances? The disciple James, Jesus’ half brother, was inspired to tell us: “Be patient then, brothers, until the presence of the Lord.” (Jas. 5:7) Yes, we all need patience. But what is involved in having this godly quality? – par. 3
According to James, we only have to be patient until the presence of the Lord. According to the Governing Body, the Lord’s presence begin in 1914. So doesn’t that render the remainder of this discussion moot? By the reckoning of the Organization, we’ve been in the presence of Christ for almost a century, so according to James, we no longer have a need for patience, since the reality is here. (Now we have another square peg to try to fit into a round hole.)
What Is Patience?
In paragraph 6, the study quotes from Micah. This quote is often misused by Jehovah’s Witnesses. How?
The conditions we face today are similar to those in the days of the prophet Micah. He lived during the reign of wicked King Ahaz, a time when all sorts of corruption prevailed. In fact, the people had become “expert at doing what is bad.” (Read Micah 7:1-3.) Micah realized that he could not personally change these conditions. So, what could he do? He tells us: “As for me, I will keep on the lookout for Jehovah. I will show a waiting attitude [“I will wait patiently,” ftn.] for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” (Mic. 7:7) Like Micah, we too need to have “a waiting attitude.” – par. 6
The wicked conditions that Micah could not change existed within the nation of Israel, or to put it in terms all Witnesses can understand, these wicked conditions existed within Jehovah’s earthly organization of the day. Micah knew he couldn’t change them, so he decided to “wait on Jehovah”. When confronted with disturbing conditions in the modern Organization, Jehovah’s Witnesses often use a similar line of reasoning and acknowledge that since they can’t change what’s wrong in the Organization, they will be patient and “wait on Jehovah” to fix it.
The problem with this line of reasoning is that it is used to justify inaction and compliance with wrongdoing. We know it is wrong to teach a lie. We know it is wrong to support and carry on a lie. (Re 22:15) We also know that false doctrine—by the organization’s own definition—constitutes lying. So if “waiting on Jehovah” means that a witness can continue teaching a falsehood reasoning that he must wait until Jehovah corrects the wrong, he is missing out on the historical lesson from Micah.
Micah was Jehovah’s prophet. He continued to proclaim God’s message of truth. True, he didn’t take it upon himself to correct things, but that didn’t mean he allowed himself to practice worship that was not acceptable to Jehovah. (2 Ki 16:3, 4) He didn’t reason that this false worship was promoted by the Governing Body of his day, King Ahaz. In fact, he openly condemned such practices.
So if we are to take these words to heart, we would not want to condone nor propagate any false teachings or practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses even should we chose to remain a member of the Organization. Additionally, we should be willing to speak the truth when the occasion presents itself, even if this means running the risk of persecution. For example, let’s say that a victim of child abuse rejects the Organization. The elders read out an announcement to the effect that so-and-so is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is code for “all must shun this person”.
Will we comply with such an unscriptural practice, or will we continue to give loving support to someone who needs it due to being horribly victimized? A wait-on-Jehovah attitude may seem like a safe course, like we are not making a decision, but deciding to do nothing is a decision in itself. Any decision, even deciding to remain passive, carries a burden of consequences before the Lord. (Mt 10:32, 33)
In closing, paragraph 19 reads:
Remember, too, what helped Abraham, Joseph, and David to wait patiently for the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promises. It was their faith in Jehovah and their trust in his dealings with them. They did not focus just on themselves and their personal comfort. As we contemplate how well things worked out for them, we too will be encouraged to show a waiting attitude. – par. 19
Why does this type of article dominate the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Why do Witnesses seem to need such constant reminders? Surely they are no less patient than their counterparts in the rest of Christendom?
Could it be that there is a need for these articles because of the emphasis put on how near the end? We are a people constantly looking for signs to interpret. (Mt 12:39) At this year’s regional conventions, Governing Body member Anthony Morris III used the term “imminent” to speak of how close the Great Tribulation is. “Imminent” means “about to happen”. It is a word that has been used to imbue Jehovah’s Witnesses with an artificial sense of urgency for 100 years—one I’ve heard my whole long life.
From the December 1, 1952 The Watchtower:
A WORLD does not end every day! Not since the great flood of Noah’s time has a “world” or system of things for governing the affairs of all mankind passed out of existence. But now, by occurrence of every detail of the great sign Jesus gave, we know that we face the imminent end of the present world system.
Yes, we must be patient and we do eagerly await the end of wickedness and the still-future presence of Christ, but let us not be like those who focus on the end and the reward to the virtual exclusion of all other things. That road only leads to disillusionment. (Pr 13:12)