WT Study: Cherish Your Privilege of Working with Jehovah

– posted by meleti

[A Review of the October 15, 2014 Watchtower article on page 23]

“We are God’s fellow workers.” – 1 Cor. 3:9

The full text of 1 Corinthians 3:9 reads:

“For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building.” (1Co 3:9)

So Paul uses three metaphors in just one verse: Co-workers, a farming field, and a building. The Watchtower we are studying ignores the other two and focuses on the first only. This may well be because the context of 1 Cor. 3 shows that the building—God’s building—that Paul is referring to is God’s temple in which his spirit dwells.

“. . .Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that the spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, and you are that temple.” (1Co 3:16, 17)

Since the article is encouraging greater service from the other sheep, it would not do to focus on Paul’s reference to God’s fellow workers as also being God’s building or temple since we know that is limited to the anointed.
Paragraph 6 tells us that “the work assigned to us today glorifies Jehovah. (Matt. 5:16; read 1 Corinthians 15:58.) Since we are told to read 1 Corinthian 15:58 to prove that our assigned work glorifies Jehovah, let’s do just that.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.” (1Co 15:58)

Who is the Lord spoken of here? 1 Corinthians 8:6 tells us it is Jesus Christ. So when we do the work assigned to us, whom do we really glorify? Does not the slave bring honor to his master—his owner—by his good works? So who owns us?

“So let no one boast in men; for all things belong to you, 22 whether Paul or A·pol′los or Ce′phas or the world or life or death or things now here or things to come, all things belong to you; 23 in turn you belong to Christ; Christ, in turn, belongs to God.” (1Co 3:21-23)

Sure, we can glorify God by our works, but only through our husbandly owner, Jesus Christ. Let us not forget that nor circumvent him by scant praise, or by marginalizing his supreme role as we are often wont to do as Jehovah’s Witnesses. This article makes 37 references to Jehovah, but only 7 to Jesus. We are encouraged to be Jehovah’s fellow workers which we should. It’s a Biblical truth. However, the article makes no reference to being a fellow worker with Jesus. Yet, who is our master? We are slaves of Jesus as well as God, so should we not acknowledge our immediate master as Paul and Timothy did? (Phil 1:1) Who sent workers into the field? And who is the master in Jesus’ parable about the man who hires day laborers? (Mt 9:37; 10:10; 20:1-16) Again, there is nothing wrong with viewing God as our fellow worker in a sense, but why must we constantly ignore Jesus when he is central to any question at hand. (2 Co 1:20)

Maintaining a Positive View of Work Assignments

Now we get to the heart of the matter. Paul was talking to the Corinthians about working with God on the “field under cultivation” and in the work of building up the spiritual temple. (1 Co 3:9, 16, 17) However, when we get do to specifics—to the actual application—we find that the article is looking for donations, specifically donations of time, labor and skills. Noah built the ark. Moses built the tabernacle. We today are to build the world headquarters at Warwick?

“Whether you are working to renovate a local Kingdom Hall or to build our world headquarters at Warwick, New York, cherish your privilege to serve in this way. (See opening image of artist’s rendering.) It is sacred service.”

We are told it is a “privilege” and a “sacred service” to build our world headquarters. Now we know that Noah’s work was a sacred service because Jehovah himself told Noah to build the Ark. Likewise, God spoke to Moses face-to-face, and the plans for the tabernacle were drawn up by God himself. You can’t get much more sacred than that. (Ex. 33:11; 39:32) So those working on its construction and those donating their wealth were performing a sacred or holy service.
Are we to believe that God wanted the world headquarters to be built at Warwick? Did he tell the Governing Body to build it? Is it being built at his direct command? What evidence is there of this? Let us test the inspired expression. (1 John 4:1) The Watchtower is comparing the building of Warwick with the work that Noah and Moses performed. It claims that working on or contributing to the construction of our world headquarters is sacred service. That can only be true if Jehovah has directed that the facility be built. We would and have made this same claim about our branch facilities. In the 1980s the organization was short of funds, but wanted to build a printing plant in Spain. This was presented as something that Jehovah was directing the organization to do.  Many came forward with “jewels, rings, and bracelets” to be converted to cash. (“How Is It All Financed?” jv p. 346-347) Then just a couple of decades later, the Bethel was closed, sold, its volunteer staff sent packing, and the profit from the sale was sent to the world headquarters in New York. The apparent reason was to avoid a new requirement being imposed by the Spanish Government for Bethel to provide a pension plan for its workers.
Does it not bring reproach on Jehovah’s name to claim he directed that the Spanish Branch be built only to have it closed and sold a few years later to avoid being forced to provide our volunteers with a pension plan? (Surely the many ex-circuit overseers over 70 trying to get by on the paltry allowance of a special pioneer are wishing they had been enrolled in some Bethel pension plan, but that’s another story.) If asked, we would likely give the excuse that it is all part of a divine plan beyond our comprehension. Of course, a more likely scenario is that it’s just the best laid plans of men going awry. Time and unforeseen circumstances and all that. Not a problem. We all make mistakes. No one is alleging bad nor good intentions here. It simply is what it is. All’s well as long as we don’t try to blame God for it by saying that the original decision was his. But that is exactly what we are doing and our brothers are still buying into that misrepresentation.
For example, one sister invited to move to a Bethel in another country after hers was shut down said, “When I remembered that the invitation came from Jehovah, I accepted it gladly.” She apparently believes Jehovah God invited her to serve in the new Bethel. That would put her a notch above the Apostle Paul who only got his invitation to step over into Macedonia from Jesus Christ. In fact, it seems that in the first century Jesus did all the directing of congregation matters.   Not so today. According to our theology, Jehovah has now taken the reins from his Son.
In our midweek meeting this past week, the brother taking the first part kept referring to Jehovah’s direction and Jehovah’s lead. All the new organizational arranges are, according to him and thousands like him, the will of God. The Pioneer Assist program was Jehovah’s direction and had his blessing. Then, after years of diminishing results, when it was quietly dropped, that too was the will of God.
The Bible tells us, “It is the blessing of Jehovah that makes one rich, And He adds no pain with it.” (Pr 10:22)
I am personally aware of several costly branch initiatives that had hundreds of brothers devoting tens of thousands of man-hours and many tens (even hundreds) of thousands of dollars only to be dropped unceremoniously and with nary a word of explanation. All these freely gave of both time and labor at significant cost to their personal lives and family responsibilities. They did this because they believed they were fulfilling God’s will. When all their work was dumped in the metaphorical trash bin with no reason given as to why, many went away feeling disillusioned and used. If asked, most would acknowledge that our leadership is imperfect and men make mistakes. That is true. However, when asked to do something by these same men, no one suggests that the initiative is from men. It is always from God.
In the world, when a major project fails, heads roll. This doesn’t happen in our organization however. The reason is likely the fact that the organization doesn’t suffer when a large project goes south. The labor and donated funds have usually produced either leasehold improvements or assets in the form of funds and/or equipment. Assets and equipment get sold and there are no workers to be paid, so the organization always wins financially.
In all this, it is our “privilege” to do this holy work for Jehovah.

Continue Enjoying Your Privilege of Working with Jehovah

It was recently brought to my attention that the word “privilege” does not occur in the Bible. In the NWT it shows up about a dozen times, but it appears to be a less-than-accurate rendering of the Greek or Hebrew word. Often “honor” is a better translation. Be that as it may, it is used constantly and extensively within the JW community and its publications to refer to ones with special status. It therefore is often used to establish a distinction between brothers. Those not “privileged” to serve as pioneers, or in Bethel, or as elders are made to feel less worthy. Yet a feeling of privilege or entitlement is not something the Christian should ever want to feel.

“. . .So YOU, also, when YOU have done all the things assigned to YOU, say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves. What we have done is what we ought to have done.’”” (Lu 17:10)

The caption of the illustration on page 26 states: “Our greatest privilege—doing Jehovah’s work!” Half the pictures in that collage show brothers and sisters working in construction or in building maintenance. Where in the Bible does it say that Jehovah’s work is building expensive structures? Is there even one account in the 70 years that span the life and times of the first century congregation where Christians are shown constructing buildings? There is nothing wrong with building a place of worship or a training or manufacturing facility. But if we make the claim that it is Jehovah’s work, then we had better be able to back that up. Do we think the Catholic, Protestant or Mormon churches don’t make the same claim when asking for funds to build another cathedral or temple? A Witness would quickly counter that they are not doing God’s work, because they are all part of false religion. So the criteria is whether a religion teaches truth or falsehood according to our JW criterion.
What happens though if we are found to also be teaching falsehoods?
That is a topic discussed extensively on this site. For now, let’s look at the example of our Lord Jesus.

“. . .“Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.”” (Mt 8:20)

“. . .“One thing is missing about you: Go, sell what things you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come be my follower.”” (Mr 10:21)

“Why was it this perfumed oil was not sold for three hundred de·nar′i·i and given to the poor people?” 6 He said this, though, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money box and used to carry off the monies put in it.

Jesus had nothing and the funds that were donated to him were used to sustain him and his disciples with the excess going to the poor.
Now when a congregation is dissolved what happens to the money from the sale of the hall that was built by local labor and funds? Is the congregation even given the opportunity to decide? No, the funds go to the local branch or headquarters. They are never given to the poor.
Perhaps if we were to get out of real estate, we could use our funds for purposes more in line with the example Jesus set. Then we might have cause to claim that it is Jehovah’s direction, that we are his fellow workers and that we are engaged in sacred service.

Archived Comments

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  • Comment by yobec on 2014-12-14 18:06:00

    Thanks Meleti. My sentiments exactly. When the apostles appointed "ministerial servants" it was solely to minister the necessities of life to the less "priviliged", not for rel estate purposes.
    A couple of decades ago, the watchtower mentionned that some of our brothers in Africa can only afford to eat once a day.
    Someone should remind the G.B. that they have the wonderful "privilege" to take all of their assets, cash them in and distribute it so that all may eat three times a day.

  • Comment by GodsWordIsTruth on 2014-12-14 22:04:53

    The 144,000 is considered to "vested" .There's no path for the "other" sheep of God to be "vested" in the company. The "other" sheep instead are "slaving" for the "144,000" and not Christ.
    "In the world, when a major project fails, heads roll. This doesn’t happen in our organization however. The reason is likely the fact that the organization doesn’t suffer when a large project goes south. "
    I'll add that slowly but surely the outside "world"seems to be the only persons holding the organization acaccountable.( For all we know they could be ones who are" unknowingly "doing good to Christ's brothers found in the JW religion) Unlike members of other organizations, the members of this organization view it be borderline sinful to question the organization activities and so most will not demand reform. Instead we are told to "wait on Jehovah ". When the "slave" makes theverythiivy to any building projects. After all JW's view it as a "privilege"
    " Jehovah later said to Moses and Aaron: “Because you did not show faith in me and sanctify me before the eyes of the people of Israel, you will not bring this congregation into the land that I will give them.”
    I don't know how much "later" or when exactly Jehovah told Moses this. But if MOSES failings caused him to miss out on the promise land entirely, than on what basis is the GB so sure of their "leadership" abilities?
    BTW -I'm noticing the we are now claiming they are not "100% infallible " - which makes no sense to me.
    Does anyone know if this is a " new "phrase they are using?

    • Reply by Joel on 2014-12-22 09:27:46

      "Instead we are told to “wait on Jehovah “
      The issue for the individual being of course that this is not bad advice, it is just the context of the advice that is wrong. The reasoning goes that we split from the IBSA, who split from the Adventists, who split from the Millerites, who split from mainstream protestantism, who split from Catholicism, who were founded from the Roman empire by those who split from what remained of true Christianty - but NOW we are at the end of the road!
      By saying that it is wrong for an individual to stand up for what a person believes is right, they unwittingly condemn the people who have gone before - it's that simple
      "BTW -I’m noticing the we are now claiming they are not “100% infallible ” – which makes no sense to me."
      I wasn't aware we subscribed to the infallibility doctrine either. Of course, it doesn't really matter to me now, but perhaps if I could have seen an occassional admission of being wrong, I would feel differently. Rather we get just the opposite - everything is "new light" and "truth"

      • Reply by GodsWordIsTruth on 2014-12-22 09:51:23

        So true Joel !
        So which percentage of the publications or their "instructions" should be considered infallible?
        Either you claim infallibility or you do not. What's this weird in between? They are constantly dodging, ducking and creating smoke screens so they can continue to operate in the shadows that they have created. It reminds me of the corporate and political double speak I'm subjected to on my job.
        But they claim to speak for the Almighty God. Does Jehovah need this " margin for error " that the slave is trying to create? You would think so according to them.

      • Reply by GodsWordIsTruth on 2014-12-22 10:06:40

        Joel I read this weird claim in one of the new magazines . I'll post it as soon as I get time.
        Notice what this JW brother is reported as saying :
        The Roman Catholic teaching of apostolic succession claims that there is an unbroken succession of popes in a line extending all the way back to the apostle Peter. (The church misinterprets Jesus’ words that are quoted at Matthew 16:18, 19.) Catholicism also claims that the pope is infallible in matters of doctrine when he speaks ex cathedra, or in an official capacity. I believed this and thought that if the pope, whom Catholics call Holy Father, is infallible in doctrinal matters and has proclaimed the Trinity to be true, then it must be true. But if he is not infallible, then the doctrine may be false. No wonder that for many Catholics the teaching of apostolic succession is the most important teaching, since the correctness or incorrectness of other Catholic teachings hinges on it!
        When I visited the priest, he could not answer my questions, but he pulled from his shelf a book on Catholic doctrine that dealt with apostolic succession. I took it home, as he suggested, read it, and returned with more questions. Finally the priest, not being able to answer my questions, said: “I cannot convince you, and you cannot convince me. . . . I wish you the best!” He did not want to have any more discussions with me."7/15/14 page 18-19
        Why shouldn't the GB be held to the same standard? Don't we view the GB like the Catholics view the Pope?
        At least the Catholics can disagree with doctrine despite the Pope's alleged infallibility claim.

      • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2014-12-22 10:15:23

        I missed that. Where is it that we claim 'not to be 100% infallible'? Would that be the same as claiming that a woman is not 100% pregnant? :)

  • Comment by kev c on 2014-12-15 12:18:33

    Oh meleti ive just read the article and yet again thier application of 1 corinthians 3 v 9 is distorted .as you said the work under progress was the building of the true christian congregation those anointed in holy spirit . Yet its meaning has been stretched to include both making disciples who are not part of the body of christ and even worse to the mundane work of literal physical labour . Oh you poor brothers out there wake up . In the style of the watchtower READ 2 corinthians 11 v 20 . And surrounding context .please . Kev c

    • Reply by kev c on 2014-12-15 13:16:39

      By the way what happened in spain was a disgrace . I was in spain around that time and personally know some of the brothers many of whom are struggling financialy I thought we were suppossed to love our brothers . See 1 john 3 v 17 18 kev

  • Comment by Danny on 2014-12-15 12:41:54

    I just would like finally to express my gratitude for this website, Meleti. I read everyday here and this is my very fist little comment: What they say: Continue Enjoying Your Privilege of Working with Jehovah" taking all together sounds to my ears so much cynical.

    • Reply by GodsWordIsTruth on 2014-12-22 09:56:11

      Welcome :)

  • Comment by hezekiah1 on 2014-12-15 12:44:40

    Thanks very much Meleti for a fine article. I have never really thought about who the Lord was spoken of at 1 Cor 15:58. I was surprised to see it was Christ. I have read that scripture for decades always thinking it was Jehovah. And it was almost always was in reference for doing more for the branch office. I feel in some ways used and manipulated.
    I also noted there was a paragraph that said we should put off our own interests in favor of preaching and building KHs and Branches. How self serving a statement that is!
    I feel this article in the WT is self serving on the whole and i cant bring myself to attend it.

    • Reply by stonedragon2k on 2014-12-15 17:02:56

      Indeed. Neither can I.
      "Get out of her my people........"

  • Comment by on 2014-12-15 15:41:11

    During my meeting about the new "donation" arrangement, an Elder announced that our loan had been "forgiven, and everyone clapped.........except me. I raised my hand and reminded the brothers that we would now be perpetually indebted to the organization, having to forever make this "donation" whether we wanted to or not. The congregation got solemn but they all raised their hands and voted for the "donation.....$750 a month. Where is all this money going? A pioneer sister in the congregation just lost her husband and had to struggle to make funeral arrangements. No check came from Warwick.

    • Reply by BeenMislead on 2014-12-16 09:41:56

      Yes .. Saying that the loan is forgiven is misleading at best, and a lie at worst!
      Per the secret instructions to the Elders, it was just renamed from: Loan to: Donation.
      I commend you for having the courage to raise your hand and say that!

      • Reply by on 2014-12-16 17:58:11

        It amazes me how easy it is for brothers who are at headquarters to direct the personal lives of the hard working, real world friends. Three squares a day plus room and board. Rooms cleaned by others. Free travel to all parts of the world with all the perks to boot. No accountability or transparency. We're told to wait on Jehovah when we get into a finacial bind but they don't do the same thing. If Jesus returned in the flesh today I very much doubt that he would make headquarters his home.

  • Comment by stonedragon2k on 2014-12-15 17:04:19

    BTW Meleti
    Another fine article. Your service to wake those that are sleeping is much appreciated.

  • Comment by search4truth on 2014-12-15 21:42:15

    Yep, very true. Growing up in the Org I've often wondered how they somehow always knew what Jehovah likes or dislikes, ( Sparlock toy being just one recent example ) what he wants or doesn't wants. Now I know, their were making this up all that time to control me.

  • Comment by on 2014-12-16 12:55:42

    I sometimes even doubt whether some of the experiences used in our WT studies are real or made up. The footnote sometimes found in some of the paragraphs, "names have been changed", leads me to that conclusion.

  • Comment by on 2014-12-16 14:22:56

    I would be more than happy to send a one time donation directly, (not through the Branch), to some poor family in Africa. At least I'd know I would be complying with Jesus' words to, "keep the poor in mind."

  • Comment by Uwe Schöning (@wayt0dawn) on 2014-12-16 17:37:39

    great page and great article.
    I'm from Germany and very happy to see more and more brothers and sister waking up.
    One error:
    "Test the inspired expression" -> It is not John, but 1. John 4:1
    Keep doing!

  • Comment by Joel on 2014-12-17 18:27:46

    "Not so today. According to our theology, Jehovah has now taken the reins from his Son."
    A very good point and you would think an especially perplexing idea if you specifically believe that Jesus began to reign in 1914.

    • Reply by on 2014-12-18 10:30:55

      Wow thats right joel they speak of christ reigning as king since 1914 . But thats about it . Time and time again we hear that jehovah has done this or that .its like as if christ has now been relegated to the substitutes bench .and no longer takes partin hardly anything . Kev

    • Reply by on 2014-12-18 11:37:05

      Its like a football match where our captain has been hauled off the pitch in the first half.

    • Reply by Mailman on 2014-12-22 20:44:13

      It's ironical that while our WT publications have published that Christ is the head of the congregation (whilst scantily mentioned), the Messianic King since 2014, yet no mention was made of him as our "fellow worker" or we as his fellow workers.
      Matthew 28:18 is crystal clear that all authority in heaven and on earth was reposed in Christ. Yet WT has delivered messages to convey that it is his, our Father who is directing the Governing Body. I can't get it. There seems to be some disconnect. In effect, our leadership has relegated Jesus on the sidelines. What's the use of being the Messianic King in heaven, head of the christian congregation, and his promise he would be with us till the end of the age?
      Our WT conductor has even emphasized that we have "to obey the elders and Governing Body for they are being used by Jehovah". Oh no, the moment I hear this, I had butterflies with my stomach, almost had an anxiety attack.
      In this edition, WT has used God's name as a substitute to his organization or the Governing Body/FDS. Here's what paragraph 8 on page 25 says: "Nevertheless,we are fully aware of the benefits of cooperating with Jehovah in any adjustments that he sees fit to make. Wow! Shouldn't the term Governing Body, Organization or Faithful & Discreet Slave (FDS) be more appropriate than Jehovah in this instance? Are we not cooperating with God? Does He need adjustments in understanding and executing corporate changes (e.g. closing down of bethel-branches)? Or is the GB that is making the adjustments not God? Isn't it the WT leadership are the ones doing all these things? Why drag our heavenly Father to the corporate or organizational changes especially those ones that had an unproductive outcome?

      • Reply by Mailman on 2014-12-22 20:46:30

        Oh sorry for the oversight. Should have been 1914 not 2014. :)

        • Reply by Joel on 2014-12-23 05:36:48

          I was trying to work the math on that one out! I think 507BCE might be the blankest entry on Wikipedia :)

      • Reply by Wild Olive on 2015-03-23 00:18:44

        Not just the corporate changes that mystify me but also the amount of money that is being turned over by the WTBTS,$250 000 000 a year and growing?
        What is happening to all that cash? That is a LOT of money,I don't see it spent on the rank and file? Has bethel just become a financial white elephant that is just snowballing out of control?

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