“Make sure of the more important things” – Philippians 1:10.
[From ws 5/19 p.26 Study Article 22: July 29-Aug 4, 2019]
The opening paragraph states:
“It takes a great deal of effort to earn a living these days. Many of our brothers work long hours just to provide the necessities of life for their families.”
This is accurate. Most brothers and sisters have to work long hours. Sadly, one major contribution to this problem is the Organization’s effective ban on higher education. While, like any major decision in life, there are many factors to be considered, especially cost and suitability, nonetheless the effective blanket ban enforced in many countries on pursuing higher education, contributes greatly to the problem.
In many first world countries, lack of qualifications excludes many Witnesses from large areas of the job market, especially the better paying ones.
The subtle claims start in paragraph 2 where it says, “The fact is, though, that we must find time to study—really study—God’s Word and our Christian publications. Our relationship with Jehovah and our everlasting life depend on it! (1 Tim. 4:15)”.
Let us state it clearly and unequivocally, our relationship with Jehovah and Jesus and our everlasting life does not depend on studying the Organization’s publications. There is no scriptural justification for this claim.
It also wrongly elevated the traditions of the Organization on a par with the Bible. Are other Christian denominations any different when they put their publications on the same level as God’s Word?
What is certain is that we need to take time to study God’s Holy Word, as it will affect our relationship with Him. What is also vitally important is that we give due attention to Jesus Christ as God’s means of salvation. Without that, no amount of Bible Study will give us everlasting life. (Psalm 2:11-12, Hebrews 5:7-10, Psalm 146:3, 2 Timothy 3:15)
Furthermore, the scripture cited in support of the errant claim states:
“Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” (1 Timothy 4:16)
In context, Timothy was being encouraged to pay constant attention to his teaching to ensure it did not deviate from the message delivered by the apostles and written in what would become the Christian Greek Scriptures.
So, following the thought in line with the theme scripture of Philippians, what does the Organization view as the most important things? You already have a clue from Paragraphs 1 and 2.
Paragraphs 3 and 4 highlight how brothers and sisters struggle to keep up with reading and studying all the Organization’s literature.
Then, except for Paragraph 5 which commendably recommends studying the Bible every day, the next 9 paragraphs up to and including paragraph 13, all discuss Organization literature and media. This is clearly showing what the Organization views as more important: it’s own teachings, rather than getting spiritual truths direct from the original source, God’s Word.
Paragraphs 14-18 give suggestions as to how to make bible study more interesting, but contain no real serious suggestions as to how to study properly.
Therefore we will highlight some suggestions we personally have found very helpful in studying God’s word in more depth.
• Always review the immediate context surrounding a scripture that is of particular interest or importance or is difficult to understand.
• Do not forget the overall context of the rest of the Bible, and in particular other Bible books that were written around the same time period.
• Think about or do research on the historical context in which the passage of scripture was written. You will almost certainly get a better understanding of what readers in those times would have understood.
• Within your financial means, have multiple translations available, in particular interlinear translations if possible. Much is available for free on the internet.
• Bible dictionaries in your language for both biblical Hebrew and Greek are also invaluable. Both translations and dictionaries help one get a better understanding of the flavour of what was written rather than focusing too much on a particular word in the language we speak.
• For English speaking readers, sites like www.biblehub.com hold invaluable free resources.
• Above all, set out to enjoy it. Sometimes bite-size chunks are easier to digest and can be savoured for longer.
• Consider making notes of your findings in an ordered manner, whether by subject matter or by Bible book and chapter for easy future reference. Memories are fallible, especially for small details that can make all the difference in understanding.
Finally, let us reiterate that the only more important things mentioned in Philippians are those taught by the inspired Word of God, which we can feed on directly. It is far healthier and tastier to do that. Why would anyone want to partake of regurgitated spiritual food from a man-made Organization, which has been contaminated with their own agenda and interpretations and rules.