Treasures from God’s Word and Digging for Spiritual Gems – “Healing on the Sabbath.” (Mark 3-4)
Two good questions are asked here.
- Do others view me as being rule-oriented or as being compassionate?
- When I see someone in the congregation who needs help, how can I imitate Jesus’ compassion to a greater degree?
The problem for most brothers and sisters would be answering honestly, because of the environment in which they live which has affected them without knowing it. The Organization is rules-oriented and this is transmitted down to the appointed men in the congregation. This extends to the minutest detail, many times even going way beyond the multiplicity of rules provided by the Organization, such that they may be local rules.
For instance, any brother used on any assignment in the congregation meetings must be wearing a suit, and must wear the jacket when performing the assignment regardless of how hot the weather or the brother may be. Other congregations have gone so far as to insisting on a public speaker wearing a white shirt, as evidenced by comments in Watchtower articles that this should not be required. The Service Committee claims the authority to decide who studies with children of congregation members, etc., etc. Sadly, the example to be rule-oriented comes from the top of the organization as evidenced by the selling off of Kingdom Halls despite the extra inconvenience to the congregation members that now have to travel farther.
As to helping someone in the congregation who needs help, often even this is ruled by the congregation. Many brothers don’t help because they view it as the elders’ responsibility to make these arrangements. Brothers have actually been called “into the back room” for providing help without going through the elder arrangement. Christian initiative motivated by love has been stifled. Such behaviour is often classified as ‘running ahead’ of the organization.
Even the organization’s counsel that only spiritual things be discussed in the Kingdom Hall, has been turned into a rule that even arranging a Bible based tour of a Museum individually with brothers and sisters cannot be conducted in the Kingdom Hall, but outside, potentially in the rain, or snow or hot sun.
Let the one who has ears to listen, listen
The video and the discussion on the Keep Yourselves in God’s Love book is all about being humble to accept counsel from those in authority [in the congregation] even if one feels it is not justified, or not given in a loving or tactful way.
There are at least two problems with this.
- There is no scriptural justification for any man to claim authority over a fellow Christian. (Mt 23:6-12)
- There also seems to be little or no scriptural justification for giving counsel to others in an official capacity.
- If one cannot give counsel in a loving way, then surely it is better not to give it at all, as it will prove counter-productive.
Of course as friends and spiritually mature ones, this does not exclude us from encouraging others on a personal level to think again about a particular choice or action. Galatians 6:1-5 says that if a brother “takes some false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness,” but the following verses warn us against thinking too much of ourselves and our own opinion, and that we each has to “prove what his own work is”; i.e. we are responsible ourselves for our own actions. Even this passage of Scripture conveys no special authority on anyone, but is directed not to official appointees but to all who have “spiritual qualifications”. The action is recommended out of kindness, so that the other person is aware of the potential danger and there it stops. Once the other person is aware of the potential danger, it is their responsibility to decide how to act and deal with the situation.
In fact, Jesus made it quite clear that Christians had no authority over others in Matthew 20:24-29 when he said “You know that the rulers of the nation’s lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them. This is not the way among you, but whoever wants to become great among you must be your minister, and whoever wants to be the first among you must be your slave.” Since when does a slave have authority over anyone? He doesn’t even have authority over himself. Also older men in the Christian congregation in the first century were to be shepherds, not watchdogs. Even the oft misquoted and misapplied scripture in Isaiah 32:1-2 (used to support the elder arrangement, which is actually a prophecy about the millennial reign) talks about being “a hiding place from the wind, place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land” all of which is imagery of protection and refreshment, not giving out hurt through imperfect counsel.
Jesus, The Way (jy Chapter 18) –Jesus increases as John decreases
Nothing of Note.