[From ws1/17 p. 17 March 13-19]
“Wisdom is with the modest ones.”—Pr 11:2
The theme text shows there is a strong relationship between wisdom and modesty. If “wisdom is with the modest ones”, it follows that the opposite is also true. Immodest people are neither wise nor discreet.
There are many points we should keep in mind as we review this particular article and the characteristic indiscretion of the immodest is one of them.
The question for the opening paragraphs is: Why was a once modest man rejected by God?
The man under consideration is King Saul of the ancient nation of Israel.
Now, here is an important point to remember. We are talking about the top man in the nation. This man, who governed the entire ancient organization of Jehovah, carried out a “series of presumptuous acts” and as a result things went badly, very badly, for him and for the organization. Paragraph 1 shows that he acted immodestly and presumptuously by doing things “he was not authorized to do.”
Another thing to bear in mind is that Jehovah did make attempts to correct King Saul, but instead of repenting, he made excuses.
So, to review:
- The governor
- Became presumptuous by doing unauthorized things
- Made excuses when warned by God
- Then lost God’s approval, was killed, and the nation suffered.
Does any of this seem familiar? Perhaps not. Let’s continue:
Paragraph 4 defines “presumptuous acts” as “when someone rashly or impertinently does something that he is not authorized to do.” Rounding out our understanding of “presumptuous acts”, paragraph 5 lists three important elements.
- The presumptuous one fails to honor Jehovah.
- By acting beyond his authority he will create conflict with others.
- Embarrassment and humiliation will follow presumptuous acts.
Since a lack of modesty results in presumptuous acts, paragraph 8 tells us that there are warning signs to beware of:
- “We might be taking ourselves or our privileges too seriously.”
- “We might be drawing attention to ourselves in inappropriate ways.”
- “We might be advocating strong opinions solely on the basis of our position, connections, or personal thinking.”
Changing the Focus
This article and the next one focus on how the average Jehovah’s Witness can develop and maintain a modest attitude and avoid presumptuous acts. However, the Bible examples given in the articles all refer to prominent individuals like King Saul. What happens when we turn the spotlight on the prominent individuals in the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses? What happens when we look at the modern-day equivalent of King Saul, those men who today govern a “mighty nation” numbering more than eight million?
Let’s start with the last point: 10) “We might be advocating strong opinions solely on the basis of our position, connections, or personal thinking.”
Does this fit with the opinions or teachings of the Governing Body? Take, for instance, the judicial system which the Governing Body advocates; or the teaching of 1914 as the start of Christ’s presence; or the belief that the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot call Jesus their mediator. Now if you disagreed with any or all of these; and further, if you were able to prove your understanding from the Bible and told others about your findings, what would be the result to you?
According to a letter to the Circuit and District Overseers drafted on September 1st, 1980, you could be disfellowshipped.
“Therefore, if a baptized Christian abandons the teachings of Jehovah, as presented by the faithful and discreet slave [now synonymous with the Governing Body], and persists in believing other doctrines despite Scriptural reproof, then he is apostatizing.”
Punishing someone for disagreeing with you, especially if they are right, surely qualifies as “advocating strong opinions solely on the basis of your position, connections, or personal thinking.”
A supporter of the Governing Body will likely state that these are not opinions, but teachings based on God’s word. If that were the case, then why does the Governing Body not provide the Scriptural foundation for them? An opinion is, after all, an unsubstantiated belief.
Let us continue our discussion on signs of immodesty and presumptuousness.
Returning to our 10 points, we’ve already established that the Governing Body is in a position of authority similar to that of King Saul (Point 1). What about point 2? Have they exceeded their God-given authority? Have they acted presumptuously by doing things Jehovah has not authorized them to do?
Jesus clearly told the disciples that they were not authorized to know the times and seasons of his return as the King of spiritual Israel, the Greater David.
“So when they had assembled, they asked him: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” 7 He said to them: “It does not belong to you to know the times or seasons that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.” (Ac 1:6, 7)
The Governing Body has, throughout the history of the Organization, disregarded this clear injunction. They claimed 1914 would be the start of the Great Tribulation and Armageddon, then claimed that 1925 would mark the return of Christ, then that 1975 would mark the return of Christ, and now claim that the current members of the Governing Body will not die before Christ returns. This is clearly a presumptuous act because they have not been authorized to know these things. This folly has resulted in embarrassment for them and for Jehovah’s Witnesses in general (Point 7) and has brought dishonor on the name of Jehovah, the God they claim to represent (Point 5).
As Jehovah did using such prophets as Jeremiah and Isaiah, the Governing Body has been counselled and warned by spirit anointed Christians of the error of the ways, but they excuse such fiascos (Point 3) as merely the result of well-meaning imperfect individuals all the while continuing headlong on their presumptuous course of action. Proof that there is no repentance comes from the persecution they visit upon any who dissent, using the weapon of disfellowshipping as a tool to silence any voices raised in protest. This presumptuous course creates unnecessary conflict and no end of bad press that again reflects upon the name of God which they presume to carry and represent (Points 5 & 6).
All of the above points as well as 8 and 9 can be seen to apply in recent years to one of the most significant acts of immodesty to have come along in the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses: The presumptuous self-declaration of the Governing Body as the faithful and discreet slave approved of and appointed by Jesus Christ.
Jesus gave us this principle:
“If I alone bear witness about myself, my witness is not true.” (Joh 5:31)
Clearly, neither Jehovah nor Jesus are bearing witness about the Governing Body’s so-called appointment; only they are. Additionally, Jesus makes it clear that the appointment only comes when he arrives, which he has yet to do. To declare themselves publicly as appointed to the highest office ever afforded any human is clearly to take themselves and their privileges too seriously (Point 8) and to draw attention to themselves in inappropriate ways (Point 9).
I cannot recall a more self-condemnatory Watchtower study article in recent memory.
There is a notable piece of irony at the end of paragraph 8: “Often, when we act like this, we may not even be aware that we have crossed the line from modesty to presumptuousness.”
Clearly this self-condemnation is unwitting, but to the perceptive eye, it gives further evidence of how careful we must be about accepting any teaching from these men without careful and thorough Bible scrutiny.