[From ws7/16 p. 7 for August 29-September 4]
“Keep seeking [God’s] Kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
This article is a verse-by-verse commentary on Matthew 6:25 thru 34. No great depth here, but sound counsel from our Lord Jesus, with the usual Watchtower coating.
Paragraph 17 cites Matthew 6:31, 32 which says:
“So never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to wear?’ 32 For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Mt 6:31-32)
One thing we want to be mindful of is the context. Jesus was speaking to Jewish disciples in a Jewish context, so “the nations” he is referring to are the gentile or pagan nations. Today, Witnesses will read this and consider the nations to be other Christians who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. With that in mind, the idea they will carry away is that Jehovah provides only for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but that is not what Jesus said.
Another thing that doesn’t jibe is that this counsel is being given to God’s children. Otherwise, the words, “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things”, would have no meaning. Since this article is directed principally to the millions of Witnesses around the world who are told to consider themselves as God’s good friends, Jesus counsel doesn’t quite fit, does it?
Having said all that, the main thrust of Jesus’ words in this passage is that we should seek first the kingdom of God and let the Father worry about keeping us fed and clothed. Of course, the so-called JW friends of God do not inherit the kingdom any more than the billions of resurrected unrighteous will. They will live under it, but like the unrighteous, will not inherit it. That was Jesus’ point to Peter when he reprimanded him for speaking out of turn regarding the temple tax.
“After they arrived in Ca·perʹna·um, the men collecting the two drachmas tax approached Peter and said: “Does your teacher not pay the two drachmas tax?” 25 He said: “Yes.” However, when he entered the house, Jesus spoke to him first and said: “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth receive duties or head tax? From their sons or from the strangers?” 26 When he said: “From the strangers,” Jesus said to him: “Really, then, the sons are tax-free.” (Mt 17:24-26)
Those who own the kingdom are tax-free. The sons inherit the kingdom from their father, but the subjects of the kingdom are not the inheritors, so they must pay the tax. Jesus’ words about seeking first the Kingdom apply only to the sons.
That being said, as children of God we do want to apply Jesus’ words and avoid materialism, seeking first the Kingdom instead. How to do this? At this point, the Watchtower presumes to tell us how.
“Instead, we should pursue spiritual goals. For example, can you transfer to a congregation where the need for Kingdom publishers is greater? Are you able to pioneer? If you are pioneering, have you thought about applying for the School for Kingdom Evangelizers? Could you serve as a part-time commuter, helping out at a Bethel facility or a remote translation office? Could you become a Local Design/Construction volunteer, working part-time on Kingdom Hall projects? Think about what you might be able to do to simplify your lifestyle so that you can get more involved in Kingdom activities.” – par. 20
All of the spiritual goals that are listed here relate to expanding the Organization. As a Jehovah’s Witness, we would not accept this list if it were applied to another organization. To illustrate, let’s make some minor adjustments:
“Instead, we should pursue spiritual goals. For example, can you transfer to a church where the need for more church ministers and deacons is greater? Are you able to be a missionary? If you are in the ministry, have you thought about applying for our special advanced theological training courses? Could you serve as a part-time commuter, helping out at the church’s head office or branch offices, or perhaps work in translating their literature? Could you become a Local Design/Construction volunteer, working part-time on church construction projects? Think about what you might be able to do to simplify your lifestyle so that you can get more involved in church charities.”
Of course, this is all unacceptable to a Witness because it would mean promoting false religion. And what is false religion? Religion which teaches false doctrine as the word of God—doctrines like the Trinity, Hellfire, the immortal soul, the 1914 presence of Christ, the earthly hope of the other sheep, etc.
If you disagree with this, then the question becomes, “Where do you draw the line between acceptable teaching of falsehoods and unacceptable?”
Will Jehovah condemn Christendom for teaching their particular brand of falsehoods while excusing Jehovah’s Witnesses for teaching theirs?