[From ws5/17 p. 22 – July 24-30]
What is this article about? The answer is found in paragraph 4.
In this regard, let us consider three areas of life that if not kept in their proper place could weaken our love for the Christ and for spiritual things—secular work, recreation, and material things. – par. 4
This is what we call a “reminder article”. We all need reminders, don’t we? However, if reminders are all we get, then can we really say we’re getting a well-rounded spiritual diet—food at the proper time, as it were?
Spiritual things should come first. We want them too. But what do we mean by spiritual things? What does the Organization mean when it speaks of spiritual things which should come first?
Paragraph 9 asks:
“To help determine whether we have a balanced view of secular matters and spiritual responsibilities, it is good to ask ourselves: ‘Do I find my secular work interesting and exciting but view my spiritual activities as ordinary or routine?’”
I attended meetings from infancy and I’m now nearing 70. There was a time when meetings were interesting. We spent a good deal of time studying Scripture. But that all changed after 1975. Meetings became repetitive and humdrum. There were many “reminder” articles, like this one. Being a witness became about living a particular lifestyle. It was all about better living through the Organization while we wait for God to destroy everybody else and give us the bounty of the earth for ourselves. It was all about hanging in there and making do with the bare minimum so that we could reap the biggest reward ever. We became what might be termed “spiritual materialists”. Brothers and sisters would point to a beautiful house while out in the field service and say, “That’s the house I want to live in after Armageddon.” The motivation wasn’t love of God or love of Christ. It was all about what they were going to get if they followed the rules the Organization was laying down.
There is nothing wrong with believing the Father will reward those earnestly seeking him. in fact, it is an essential requirement of true faith. (See Hebrews 11:6) But if we focus on the reward and not the Rewarder, we become egocentric and materialistic.
So it is little wonder that meetings have become repetitive and boring. Since all we have to talk about is defined by such narrow parameters, we end up listening to the same talks over and over and reading the same repackaged Watchtower articles.
The preaching work isn’t much different. You have the choice to call on the same homes you’ve been calling on for decades and finding most not home, or of standing passively on the street beside a cart and being ignored by passersby for hours on end. Is this anything like the dynamic ministry Paul engaged in? Yet, if you try something different, you’ll be counselled against “running ahead”. As the July Broadcast showed, when the cart work was first being considered, the Governing Body had to first approve a pilot project in France before giving final approval for worldwide deployment.
Paragraph 10 speaks of the occasion when Jesus visited Mary and Martha, and Mary chose the good portion by sitting at the Lord’s feet to learn. What wonderful truths he must have revealed to her. However, most Watchtower studies dwell on Israelite accounts with little attention focused on the deep things of God revealed by our Lord.
I used to love to talk about the Bible when together with my JW friends, but since I’ve learned new things, I’m reticent to do so, because any disagreement with formal teachings just throws a wet blanket over any discussion. So recently, I’ve tried a different tack by letting others initiate the topic of conversation. The result has been illuminating and depressing at the same time. Witnesses do not discuss the Bible when they are together. Any discussion that they would consider to be spiritual is about the Organization: The last Circuit Overseer’s visit, or the circuit assembly program, or a visit to Bethel, or some “theocratic” construction project, or a family member’s appointment to a new “privilege of service”. And of course, the conversation is peppered with remarks about how near the end is and how this or that world event might portend the fulfillment of prophecy showing how very close we are to the Great Tribulation.
If one brings up a true Bible topic, even a safe one, the conversation peters out. It’s not that they don’t want to learn from the Bible, but that they just don’t seem to know what to say to add to the discussion and are afraid to venture too far off the beaten path of JW dogma.
This, it appears to these old eyes of mine, is what we have become. Totally subservient to men. (I say “we” because I still feel a close affinity for my JW brothers and sisters.)
” Witnesses do not discuss the Bible when they are together. Any discussion that they would consider to be spiritual is about the Organization: The last Circuit Overseer’s visit, or the circuit assembly program, or a visit to Bethel, or some “theocratic” construction project, or a family member’s appointment to a new “privilege of service”. And of course, the conversation is peppered with remarks about how near the end is and how this or that world event might portend the fulfillment of prophecy showing how very close we are to the Great Tribulation.” Sadly, it is so true. I had… Read more »
It is remarkable how one of the greatest examples of how to forgive and restore a human being is taken out of context and misused. This account is post resurrection. We need to place ourselves in the context. In Luke 5:8-11, we see Peter recognising that he was not worthy but Jesus extends his hand to him. This would have been early in his 3.5 years of ministry. In Luke 22: 31-34, Jesus prepares Peter for his coming failure. Peter will have none of it. The whole chapter is a fascinating read on the perfect man as opposed to his… Read more »
An excellent summary of what really happened. So much more rewarding than the Organization’s hackneyed refrain about materialism. Thanks, Eleasar.
And isn’t it strange how the writers of the same article,who decry materialism are up to it like all the other religions.
Hi Eleasar I went to this meeting on Sunday,the public talk was about copeing with depression and the anxiety it creates.The main scripture was Phil 4:6&7,the speaker went back to it 3 times in the talk,yet not once in the whole talk was anything said about Jesus,he didn’t even read the end of verse7. As for the watchtower,par 2,9 &10 all point to having to “prove” our love of the Christ,as you pointed out Peters conscience was already giving him a hammering,why would Jesus exploit that state of mind and insist he “prove ” his love, and add to his… Read more »
Hi Wild Olive, The verse used as the theme text was actually asking Peter “do you love me more than these?” It could be the fishing business but the context of Peter and the betrayal does not fit. On that evening at the memorial Peter claimed that even if others reject Jesus he would not. In fact he would go to the grave with Jesus. So Jesus was helping him get through the mistakes Peter made. To misinterpret scripture and misapply it shows such a shoddy attitude. See the following commentary points: (UBS Handbooks for New Testament) The purpose of… Read more »
Eleasar, in reading your comment and the citations, I realized something. If the three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him relate to the three times Peter denied him, then that may aid us in weighing in on whether Jesus was referring to Peter’s occupation, or the other disciples when he asked “Do you love me more then these?” Peter had boasted that even if all the others denied Jesus, he would not. (Mark 14:29) In other words, while all fled, Peter’s sin was greater–at least in his mind–because he overtly denied Jesus, and not once, but thrice. So… Read more »
Meleti, The parallels are as follows: 1. Peter is by a ‘charcoal fire’ on the night of Jesus arrest. Jesus has the fish prepared on a ‘charcoal fire’ by the Galilee shore in John 21. 2. The cock crows near the break of dawn. The fisherman came back as day was breaking in John 21. 3. Peter denies him 3 times on the night of his arrest. He wept bitterly. Jesus asks Peter 3 questions to let Peter express his love and affection. So Jesus recreates the physical environment of the failure and then helps him overcome his failure and… Read more »
Thanks Eleasar for that excellent dissertation of those verses,so much meat in just a few words,wonderful.
An excellent observation, Wild Olive.
Meliti, I am a bit late, but may I say that what you said is, as usual, spot on. However, Last week we managed to get the subject of “Chesed – the Hebrew word translated, usually, as “loving kindness” in the old NWT, now “loyal love”, and the dreadful translation as “loyalty” in Micah 6:8. However, we just focused on the meaning of the Hebrew word, well covered on the Internet and also not too badly in the Insight book, how it reflects Jehovah’s loyal love in dealing with Israel and us. Yes there is loyalty in it, as long… Read more »
I am so happy I found this site a year ago. The focus is on Jesus and building a relationship with him, that is what we are admonished to do at Heb 12:2 as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. Not an organization. Because of my new enthusiasm for bible reading and not being afraid to research outside of what the Org tells us we can research. A big thank you for this website and the articles so nicely written with scriptural proof and the comments from all, it is making my spiritual… Read more »
I agree with this sentiment 100%. There’s so much hostility and arrogance – and honestly, atheism – in the ex-JW online community, that’s just not who I am. I’m not trading in one authoritarian regime for a new authoritarian regime. I’ve always been a believer. I’ve always felt a real sense of responsibility toward my Christian heritage – no matter where it happened to come from, it brought me here. I love Meleti’s last sentence because his affinity is the type of affinity I have. It’s an admission of complicity and compassion, which is what it is to be Christian.… Read more »
Secular work, recreation, and material things are not an “instead of” to spirituality. The Society always presents everything as binary – when in reality I carry my Christianity with me in all endeavors. I’m a Christian at work. A Christian when I take my wife to the movies. It’s a part of me that doesn’t slough away the minute I’m not at the Hall or out in Service. The reason the GB present the binary argument is because they need the staff to energize the numbers. They don’t follow the binary code either. They’re GB no matter what they’re doing.
Hi Joseph anton
Just like Heb12:2 says you are the sacred service,anywhere ,anytime with anybody under a covenant,just wonderful
Hello Dear Brothers and Sisters Yes Meleti you hit the nail square on the head. We want you to know that we are in the same boat with you paddling along. Just this very morning some of us in the group where talking about the very same thing and it can be very frustrating. But we want you to know that we appreciate your good work and the work of the others as well and all the encouraging comments. This has greatly motivated us to do more in Jehovah’s service, of course we all have many goals in this respect.… Read more »
Will do and thanks for the support and encouragement.
Quite true Meleti. The so called “spiritual” discussions we used to have always seemed to be about “organizational activities,” not actually God’s Word and Christ’s precious teachings. In contrast, last night, my wife and I reflected on the Bible reading that we do as a small group. Yesterday, our little group read 2 chapters of Matthew which took about 7 minutes, but before we knew it, the comments and conversations that followed lasted over an hour and a half. Time just flew by. No “publications” or organizational activities were ever mentioned. Only other portions of the scriptures that tied in… Read more »
So very true, Yehorakam. The joy we experience when meeting with others and freely discussing the Scriptures is like nothing I ever experienced at the Kingdom hall. I used to dread the meetings but attended as a matter of obligation and duty. Now I look forward to gathering together.
Enjoyed that comment about personal expression Yehorakam . I feel that even god allowed room for personal expression , when men penned the bible , 1 corinthians 7 v12 , 2 chronicles 18 v 19 and 20 , that attitude toward the brother playing guitar irritates me , it takes all joy away ,that’s not coming from the bible , ephesians 5 v 19 says “sing and make music from your hearts to the lord “
Hi Yehorakam You comment on the music situation brought back memories for me. Not long after I was baptised the elders in my cong asked me and another bro to play guitar for the songs at the meetings,he was a lot older than me so what he suggested I went along with,he decided that some of the songs needed “upgrading” together we gave songs a rock and roll tempo or some we turned into reggae or just played faster,everyone including the elders,enjoyed the music so much,that they would come before the meeting to ask if we had a new rhythm.… Read more »
Wild Olive, I’m actually surprised your ‘gig’ lasted that long. Sad that people with talent got stomped on. Just another experience that shows that if you leave it up to the sheep, wonderful things happen. Leave it up to the organization, and you’re guaranteed rain on your parade. By the way, always meant to tell you I like your name. Thought of using it myself. Haha.
Thanks Yehorakam Ime getting to a stage where an alias name is no longer needed,if Ime “discovered” frequenting an “apostate” web site I no longer care. Just on the music thing,I look back on my early years in the org with lots of satisfaction,I don’t have anything to be ashamed of,it really was a great way of life,but somehow that changed along the way,I believe it’s the process that Jesus puts us through to burn off all that is false till only that which is true remains,the JW movement still has enormous potential,but the amount of things that need revising… Read more »
I enjoyed those comments , wild olive and can relate to them , I also love music and play guitar , I remember doing a little gig for the brothers and sisters years ago , when we had a talent night it was great fun , in the nineties I was very happy to be in the religion, but something happened after 2000 and all the joy went out of it for me and I started to feel crushed , how sad
Wild Olive, I love your comment “I sometimes wonder if the ones in charge ever realize how dead they really are to any emotion that can be expressed in worship”. I don’t think they do. I remember when the new songs, before this new song book came out and I thought oh lord how boring they sound. I don’t think they realize either how emotionless those songs are to people coming from different religions. I have heard so many comments from bible students that the music is awful. But I could always come back and say at least they are… Read more »
I do agree, Meleti and all. I no longer attend the midweek meeting because I was coming home frustrated and agitated. Last week I set myself to read Romans while my husband was at meeting. I always do some personal study but I wanted just to read the Bible this time and intended to read the whole book. Reading in an undertone ☺️ from a different translation was like reading it for the first time. Before long I was making notes and just sitting ? pondering, with joy. I got to chapter 5 and my husband returned. “What was the… Read more »
We have been going through Romans chapter by chapter in our weekly online meeting. Your sold right that it makes one joyful to learn these things; to have the truth virtually spring off the page. What a contrast with the sand-in-place-of-water that is doled out at the midweek meetings.
Hi Meleti The book of romans was the beginning of the end for me,for years I would read Rom 8:1 and wonder why I felt that even at the peak of my service in the org I felt condemned. I would look at that scripture and it would just go through my head over and over,but why the feeling of condemnation? Well eventually the Holy Spirit drilled through the wood and it just hit me like a cyclone,I was not “in union ” with Christ,I can’t even describe the rush of the revelation,just finding that one thing opened a flood… Read more »
This is where I’m at. I get more out of meetings not by paying attention, but by opening up my bible and reading it. I was talking to my wife about how Bethel is really courting disaster when it comes to meeting attendance by pushing so many videos. If we can learn anything from the collapse of Tower Records and Borders Books is that a physical copy can’t compete with something folks can download at home. Why am I driving thirty minutes in each direction to watch videos I can get on my iPhone and watch (if I felt like… Read more »
Maybe that is all part of the plan. Make it possible for brothers to meet in small groups in private homes but still under the influence of the Governing Body. Sell them on the idea that persecution from “The Assyrian” is imminent, and that all Kingdom Halls should be sold and the brothers need to meet “underground”. The sale of tens of thousands of properties worldwide now owned exclusively by the Organization will garner billions in revenue.
I wouldn’t count it out. I think that would be the death knell though. One new addition is visual “aids” along with the talk outlines for the Sunday talk. They look nice, until you realize that there’s no longer any creativity allowed in any talk we hear at the KH. Some of the best talks from my youth were from extremely gifted and creative public speakers. People who understood the power of illustrations and creating images for the audience to latch onto. Now it’s all been sanitized with visual references stamped on for flair. No wiggle room. Dull. Dull. Dull.… Read more »
You’re right. It would be the death knell. But I’m expecting something stupid. They seem to do this in fifty year cycles. There was Rutherford’s “Millions now living will never die” in 1918 which culminated in the 1925 fiasco. Then Franz’s seventh creative day calculation in 1967 which ended with the 1975 failure. And now in 2017 they’re measuring the length of a generation based on the age of the Governing Body which makes 2025 seems attractive. They’ve promised us they will be giving instructions that may seem unsound and not good strategy. They’re nailing their colors to the mast.… Read more »
Pluralistic Ignorance: In social psychology, pluralistic ignorance is a situation in which a majority of group members privately reject a norm, but incorrectly assume that most others accept it, and therefore go along with it.
“Pluralistic ignorance”. Thanks for sharing this.
The first article I read here you discussed that very 50 year cycle. I save “The Rise and Fall of JW.org” to my phone.
I’d forgotten that article. Thanks for the reminder. The little grey cells are again. 🙂
I also remember gifted speakers from my youth,one in particular gave a talk about the last few days of Jesus life,it was at an assembly,and no joke there was not one dry eye in an audience of 7000, I remember being riveted by talks like that,not any more all history now .
Just an alternative view on what might happen to assets. The present world is ruled more than ever by powerful corporations,this is the first time in history that big businesses can manipulate government,they are the true rulers,members of state are just a facade. It wouldn’t surprise me if the GB was approached by one or some of these corporations and asked to “donate” in lieu of permitting the org to exist,in other words pay your way into our favour. I would imagine a lot of property been sold under that circumstance,after all I can’t see any of the GB going… Read more »
Your well on your way now Joseph , that’s exactly what I used to do , just read my bible , and when they used to cherry pick the verses ,read the whole chapter, the meetings take on a whole new dimension then , you just get a different feel altogether .
I read every chapter around the scriptures quoted. The most enlightening one this week was getting the full illustration behind this Watchtower chestnut – Luke 16: 10 “He who is faithful in little, is faithful in much.” I discovered that it’s translated “trusted” in most editions, and that sure runs in sync with the illustration Christ was using. This exact scripture has been used on me – and others I’m sure – to chastise my growing a beard.
Haven’t looked at the verse for ages , but as far as I can remember , the context is speaking of money and riches , and the faithful in least is how we use what earthly gifts we have to help those in need . I’ll have a look at that again later . And update the comment if I have to . I’m pretty sure it’s got nothing to do with beards .anyway , haha
It doesn’t. 😉
It seems like the steward was shrewd, cut out his commission on money owed to his master to win favor with future employers. Sacrificing income now, for a job in the future. Jesus even speaks that the people in the world are much shrewder in business than the “children of light.” I’m just trying to tie in what the “Faithful in little” portion could mean.
My comeback is that for arguably the most important meeting of Christian times, the outpouring of holy spirit at Pentecost, the count was about 120. About?? They were so concerned by numbers yet they couldn’t get even that count down accurately? I don’t think so.
Yes meleti that talk was at a hall my son was at , the talk at our hall the brother quoted acts where it said “around ” 3 thousand souls were added , and then said that shows the importance of accurate reporting , hahaha I’m thinking what ? After that I just started putting approximates down , and never really took it seriously again , oh dear ,
It was used on me to try to encourage/bully me into putting in a report.
The best one I heard about reports , was about Gideon s 300 men , and the brother then said so numbers do matter to god , so it’s important to put an accurate report in , hahahahaha urgh,
Ha! Do we have the same elders?
It’s probably again that outline is coming from the watchtower Martha , but it’s possible if you are from he UK .
Very true Martha. It was never really solid food. It was just the impression we were given because the WT studies were 40 paragraphs long and the explanations were so complicated and they left our heads spinning! Much like the all “Bible Schools” the org arranges. Hours and hours and hours of homework. What was it…homework to read chapters of the Bible to discuss the next day? Nope! Pages and pages of WT’s and KM’s to discuss the next day.
It was never good food, just reheats of leftovers from the publications. ?
“Do You Love Me More Than These?” meaning, not more than the fishes, nor the net and boat, but the question is, whether he loved Christ more than the rest of the disciples loved him: the reason of which was, because he had some time ago declared, though all the disciples were offended at Christ, and should deny him, he would not. Paragraph 18 – 18 When Jesus asked Peter: “Do you love me more than these?” he was reminding Peter of the need to put spiritual things first in his life. Peter, whose name means “A Piece of Rock,”… Read more »
A strange thing happened at the KH – the bottom fell out of the w study discussion. At paragraph 2 – “So it seems that Jesus was asking him where his true affection lay. Did he have greater affection for the fish and the fishing business than for Jesus and the things that he taught? “SO IT SEEMS…”- they are not even sure of their interpretation. Yet it was a gungho discussion about secular work, recreation or materialism. My comment at paragraph 18 – “Peter had previously declared that though other disciples may stumble and deny Christ, he would not.… Read more »
Another good article Meleti. I have to say I was one of those who on the ministry saw a lovely house and said “I reserve that one for after Armageddon”! However, when you think about what we were taught it’s not surprising that we say these things as I was not raised in the ‘Truth’, and had lived life as a single mum struggling for most of my life when I started studying with the Witnesses. The scriptures in Psalms and Isaiah are studied in the publications as a reward for obeying Jehovah aren’t they. In fact we are offered… Read more »
You’re right Meleti,the teaching in the KH is boring, we are in spiritual anorexia,we eat almost nothing but we boast we are full. When i do talks in the congregation, the elders warn me to only use WT articles and even i must said which year and page of the article i use ,all this is to keep the congregation in the WT teaching, and this is boring because my job is to do a reminder. Most of the time when i feel to deviate and use refreshing teaching, i’ve found that the hostility of the elders is proportional to… Read more »
I had a similar experience, Chris, when I used to attend regularly. I often had brothers come up to me after the meeting to thank me for my comments. To me it proves that many are very hungry for real spiritual food, but they just do not know how to get it. The elders on the other hand became very suspicious. The Bible speaks about the spirit within us and the light within us. Paradoxically, that light can be darkness. (Mt 6:23) Since we cannot see the spirit from God, nor that which originates with the evil one, but can… Read more »
Just reread oh and again (twice this week with audio in addition ) The letter to the Ephesians which so with joy restates the “gentiles” being now included into the citizenship of “Israel” and just how clear it is with regard to our “hope in Christ” and the message of truth “the gospel of our salvation” this letter so clearly sets forth the hope of salvation and the Love we are to have “in Christ Jesus” the ONE hope. I remember during my “active” years when reading the scriptures , wondering how anyone could read them and not think they… Read more »
“spiritual materialists”. so true we have gone so far away from the Gods word and entrenched ourselves into an organization controlled by men and being controlled forever dangling that carrot in from of our eyes to keep us in but it drags us away from what truth is that is the Salvation of Christ the gift that nothing else can compare.