[From ws 07/19 p.20 – September 23 – September 29, 2019]
“I have become all things to people of all sorts, so that I might by all possible means save some.” —1 COR. 9:22.
“To the weak I became weak, in order to gain the weak. I have become all things to people of all sorts, so that I might by all possible means save some.”—1 Corinthians 9:22.
When reviewing other renditions of this verse, I found Matthew Henry’s Commentary intriguing:
“Though he would transgress no laws of Christ, to please any man, yet he would accommodate himself to all men, where he might do it lawfully, to gain some. Doing good was the study and business of his life; and, that he might reach this end, he did not stand on privileges. We must carefully watch against extremes, and against relying on anything but trust in Christ alone. We must not allow errors or faults, so as to hurt others, or disgrace the gospel.” [Bold ours] See link below (https://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/9-22.htm)
That comment provides so many lessons which we could use in preaching to those who do not know God or have any form of religious affiliation.
Let us discuss the points highlighted in bold above:
- Paul did not transgress the law, yet he would accommodate himself to all men: What do we learn from this? When we come across those who do not share our faith or who do not have the same understanding and knowledge of the scriptures as we do, we should accommodate their viewpoints, beliefs and practices provided that they do not go against the law of Christ. This will afford us the opportunity to gain them into the faith. Being dogmatic and unnecessarily overbearing will likely discourage people from engaging on sensitive matters such as religion and faith.
- Watch against extremes and relying on anything but Christ – if we follow this advice, would there be room for relying on any man-made organisation? What about accepting doctrines and rules which impose on the consciences of others?
Paragraph 2 states several reasons why people have become non-religious:
- Some are distracted by pleasures
- Some have become atheists
- Some found the belief in God old-fashioned, irrelevant and incompatible with science and logical thinking
- People rarely hear logical reasons for believing in God
- Others are repelled by the clergy who are greedy for money and power
All these are valid reasons why some people choose to not be part of religious groups.
Do any of these apply to the Organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Well, consider the third point about religion being incompatible with logical thinking. How often do we hear the expression “You have to obey the Faithful and Discreet slave even if you do not understand or agree with their direction”?
What about logical reasoning on matters relating to believing in God? Are we not sometimes puzzled by the countless types and antitypes the Organisation uses which publishers are encouraged to accept without question?
The purpose of this article is, “to help us reach the hearts of all those we meet in the ministry, no matter what their background may be.”
MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
What are some good suggestions we find in the article?
Be positive – not necessarily because many are becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses but more so because we have a positive message to preach. How often can we say that we can tell people about someone who unconditionally gave up his life for us? Think about God’s promises, his awe-inspiring creative power. His beautiful qualities of love and justice. How much we can learn from Jehovah about forgiveness. How he teaches us to have a balanced and successful family life. He provides good advice on managing relationships. God even provides practical advice on matters of money.
Be Kind and Tactful – people not only respond to how we phrase things but what we say is equally as important. We should genuinely try to understand their viewpoint. We should be sensitive to people’s feelings.
The approach suggested by the Watchtower in paragraph 6 is good.
When someone does not appreciate the significance of the Bible, we may decide not to make a direct reference to it. If someone is embarrassed to be seen reading the Bible in public, we may initially make use of an electronic device. Whatever the situation is, we should use our discernment and be tactful in how we handle our discussion
Be Understanding and Listen – Do some research to understand what others believe. Invite people to express their opinions and then listen attentively.
REACH THE HEARTS OF PEOPLE
“We can reach the hearts of people who usually avoid talking about God by discussing something that is already close to them” (Paragraph 9)
Use a variety of approaches “because each person is unique”.
Both suggestions made in paragraph 9 are excellent. The problem comes when we must start conducting a Bible study with these individuals. Then we are instructed to instill the Organisation’s doctrine into them. No longer do we give them the liberty of being individuals. We now tell them what to celebrate, what not to celebrate, what to believe and what not to believe, who to associate with and who not to associate with. We can no longer reason on Bible principles alone and allow the individuals to make up their own minds on matters that are not addressed in the Bible. Rather, they must accept all the JW doctrines in the Organisation’s publications that are allocated for Bible studies.
They cannot progress to being baptised until they have accepted that only one Organisation can tell them what God wants – the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
1 Corinthians 4:6 Paul said “Now, brothers, these things I have applied to myself and Apollos for your good, that you may learn the rule: “Do not go beyond the things that are written,” so that you may not be puffed up with pride, favouring one against the other”
When we tell people what to believe we take away the need for them to exercise faith or to use their conscience.
One can be assured that if a matter was of such great significance that Jehovah and Jesus felt that it could not be left to the individual consciences of Christians, it would be in the Bible.
SHARING THE TRUTH WITH PEOPLE FROM ASIA
The last part of the article is dedicated to preaching to people from Asia. The advice is applicable to all people we meet in the ministry, but the focus on Asians may be because in some countries in Asia religious activity is restricted by the governments which makes it difficult for people to receive the Word.
Paragraphs 12 – 17 provide some practical advice on how to approach people of Asian descent who may not have any religious affiliation:
- Start a casual conversation, show personal interest, and then when appropriate relate how your life has improved when you started applying a specific Bible principle
- Continually build up their belief in the existence of God
- Help them to build faith in the Bible
- Discuss evidence that proves that the Bible is God’s Word
All these are useful tips that could help cultivate people’s interest in God.
Just like the previous article in this Watchtower there are many useful suggestions we can apply in our ministry.
Our resolve should be to ensure that we keep the focus on God’s Word. We want to cultivate people’s interest in the Bible and in God. Once that is the case, we must jealously guard against cultivating in them an unhealthy fear of men or a man-made organisation.
In addition to the suggestions that are made in this article, we need to consider what should be the motivating force for the belief in God and Bible principles?
In Matthew 22, Jesus said the two greatest commandments were:
- To love Jehovah with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with your whole mind;
- To love your neighbour as yourself.
Jesus, in verse 40, went on to say that on these two commandments the whole Law hangs and the Prophets.
Also see 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Since the Law is based on the Love of God and neighbour, our focus when we teach others should be to cultivate a deep Love of God and love of Neighbour.
It would seem to me completely inadequate to address the reasons listed in paragraph 2 with the suggestions in this Watchtower article. Some are distracted by pleasures Some have become atheists Some found the belief in God old-fashioned, irrelevant and incompatible with science and logical thinking People rarely hear logical reasons for believing in God Others are repelled by the clergy who are greedy for money and power. How could talking about Gods existence, his wonderful qualities, or how he can improve ones life be of any benefit if the listener is staunchly convinced that he does not even exist!… Read more »
Paragraph 4 says,
“Every year, there are nonreligious people who become Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many already had high moral standards and felt disgusted by religious hypocrisy.”
From my own standpoint it also seems very true that every year, there are Jehovah’s Witnesses who become non religious people. Some for the same reason stated. They felt disgusted by religious hypocrisy.