“Let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that build up one another up.”—Romans 14:19
[From ws 2/20 p.14 April 20 – April 26]
Now this is a much more interesting and practical topic compared with most that have been published over recent months in the Watchtower Study Edition. Therefore, let us see if it is any more helpful than usual.
Paragraph 1 refers to the sad situation created by Joseph’s brothers having envy of Joseph’s relationship with his father.
The first comment is that a lot more use could have been made of this example to show clearly the destructiveness of having envy towards others. This would then have highlighted why “In the Scriptures, envy is listed among the death-dealing “works of the flesh” that can disqualify a person from inheriting God’s Kingdom. (Read Galatians 5:19-21.)” and that “Envy is often the root cause of such poisonous fruits as hostility, strife, and fits of anger.”
As all Christians should be striving to inherit God’s Kingdom, surely the reasons for why we should be pausing to think about this subject are highly important (Matthew 11:12). Glossing over reasons as to why we should not envy others makes any personal application of counsel more difficult as the motivation and importance are lessened.
If envy can disqualify us from inheriting God’s Kingdom then it merits our close attention in the same way that avoiding fornication and adultery, and spiritism does. So how does the Organization fare in coverage of this important topic? The last time the subject of envy was discussed in the Watchtower was 2012, 8 years ago, and before that, in 2005, yet another 7 years prior.
Yet, by comparison we have 2 articles about baptism every year including 2020 from 2016 (5 years running), and but for a short break in 2014 and 2015, at least one article every year from 2013 back to 2008 (another 5 years). Study articles on baptism continue backwards through the years although a little intermittently, 2006 had 3 articles!
An article on donations and contributions are in the Watchtower every year, and a talk based on that article is given at least once a year, typically in late November, early December. A search of Watchtower Library revealed an average of 2 to 3 main study articles on preaching per year and rarely an issue without “preaching” mentioned at least once. Yet are donations and preaching one of the fruits of the spirit? No.
In conclusion it seems that the so-called spiritual food that is provided by the Governing Body is heavily lop-sided. The message that comes across seems to be, keep preaching and donating and it does not matter too much about being envious or committing adultery and other works of the flesh.
As a reminder according to Galatians 5:19-21 envy is mentioned along with “fornications, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries and things like these. As to these things I am forewarning you, the same way as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such thing will not inherit God’s kingdom”.
It is also important to note that the 10th commandment of the Mosaic Law was basically unenforceable. Exodus 20:17 records that it was “You must not desire your fellowman’s house. You must not desire your fellowman’s wife, nor his slave man, nor his slave girl nor his bull nor his ass nor anything that belongs to your fellowman”. Desire is usually something hidden within someone, which only manifests itself when wrongdoing is committed like theft or adultery. Yet, what causes desires for something that belongs to someone else? Is it not envy? Does that not show the importance our Father attaches to avoid the cultivation of envy and desire for things that belong to others.
Paragraph 5 discusses the desire to be appreciated. People throughout history became envious when others were appreciated more than they were. For instance, the Pharisees and Sadducees spread lies and slander to ruin Jesus’ good name. Mark 3:22 tells us “Also the scribes that came down from Jerusalem were saying “He has Beelzebub and he expels the demons by means of the ruler of the demons”.
Why did they do that? Mark 15:10 states “for he [Jesus] was aware that because of envy the chief priests had handed him over”. While John 11:48 records the Pharisees as saying “If we let him [Jesus] alone this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation”.
There is no better way to slander those who no longer agree with oneself, just like the Pharisees slandered Jesus, than to call these ones “mentally diseased” and “apostates”, to encourage others to fear these ones. Do you know of people or an Organization who do that, who slander those they disagree with? What about this “Well, apostates are “mentally diseased,” and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings” copied from the Watchtower 2011, 15/7, p16 paragraph 6.
Paragraph 6 deals with so-called theocratic privileges, saying “we too could begin to envy a fellow Christian who receives an assignment that we had hoped to get”. A very simple solution to this problem would be to remove the so-called theocratic privileges which are so similar to fraudulent pyramid schemes in the way these privileges are viewed (as a step up and superiority to others). In the early Christian congregation, there were no auxiliary pioneers, or regular pioneers or special pioneers, or circuit overseers, or bethelites or governing body helpers or governing body members. There were not even elders, there were just older men without a title who helped their fellow Christians with their experience and knowledge of the scriptures.
Paragraph 7 bears repeating “Envy is like a poisonous weed. Once the seed of envy takes root in our heart, it can be difficult to destroy. Envy feeds on other negative feelings, such as improper jealousy, pride, and selfishness. Envy can choke the development of good qualities, such as love, compassion, and kindness. As soon as we see envy starting to sprout, we need to uproot it from our heart”.
Paragraph 8 also says “We can fight envy by cultivating humility and contentment. When our heart is full of these good qualities, envy will have no room to grow. Humility will help us not to think too highly of ourselves. A humble person does not feel that he deserves more than everyone else. (Gal. 6:3, 4) Someone who is content is satisfied with what he has and does not compare himself with others. (1 Tim. 6:7, 8) When a person who is humble and content sees someone receive something good, he is happy for him.”
But the real key to overcoming this destructive trait is the help of God’s holy spirit, and the determination that we want to act in a way that our Father would approve. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:16 “Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all”.
Paragraph 10 makes the point that “Moses did not become envious of the attention these two men [older men of Israel] were getting from Jehovah, instead he humbly rejoiced with them in their privilege (Numbers 11:24-29)”.
Geoffrey Jackson, a member of the Governing Body gave this answer under oath to the Australian Royal High Commission on Child Abuse[i]:
“Q. Does the Governing Body, or do the members of the Governing Body – do you see yourselves as modern-day disciples, the modern-day equivalent of Jesus’s disciples?
- We certainly hope to follow Jesus and be his disciples.
- And do you see yourselves as Jehovah God’s spokespeople on earth?
- That I think would seem to be quite presumptuous to say that we are the only spokesperson that God is using. The scriptures clearly show that someone can act in harmony with God’s spirit in giving comfort and help in the congregations, but if I could just clarify a little, going back to Matthew 24, clearly, Jesus said that in the last days – and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe these are the last days – there would be a slave, a group of persons who would have responsibility to care for the spiritual food. So in that respect, we view ourselves as trying to fulfil that role.” [ii]
We therefore need to ask, in the light of this admission by a Governing Body member, why is it that anyone of Jehovah’s Witnesses who questions any of the actions or teachings of the Governing Body, is liable to find themselves in front of a judicial committee of elders and disfellowshipped for apostasy? Especially if it is “quite presumptuous to say that we [the Governing Body] are the only spokesperson that God is using”. Note what the prophet Samuel said. “pushing ahead presumptuously [is] the same as using uncanny power and teraphim” (1 Samuel 15:23).
Could it be because the Governing Body are envious of the attention that might be given to those who question the Governing Body? Could it be that they “too could begin to envy a fellow Christian who receives an assignment that we [the Governing Body] had hoped to get”?
Paragraphs 11-12 deal with situations envy could arise because of Theocratic privileges. (see comment above on Paragraph 6 for the simple solution)
Paragraph 14 suggests that we “show respect for the authority that Jehovah has given others” referring to the appointed men in the congregation. The problem is Jehovah has not given them any such authority. He did not even give 1st Century Christians such authority as the Organization suggests. The paragraph gives Acts 21-20-26 to suggest that Paul accepted and respected such authority. True, the apostle Paul accepted and respected the suggestions of the elder men in Jerusalem, but there is no proof that they had authority over the Apostle Paul. They did not direct his missionary tours for example. The Organization then use their usual misapplication of Ephesians 4:8 to suggest that God gave the congregation “gifts in men”. However, an examination of the context of this verse reveals that Paul had just been discussing the different gifts given to all Christians (not older men). Furthermore, a closer look at the original Greek shows us that this verse is mistranslated in the NWT. The correct translation is “and gave gifts to men”[iii]. Every single English translation on BibleHub, some 28 versions, read the same way “and gave gifts to men”.[iv]
Paragraph 16 suggests (correctly) that “Our attitude and actions can have a big influence on others. The world wants us to make a “showy display” of the things we own. (1 John 2:16) But that attitude promotes envy. We can avoid nurturing envy in others if we choose not to talk constantly about the things we own or plan to buy. Another way we can avoid promoting envy is by being modest about the privileges we have in the congregation. If we draw attention to the privileges that we have, we create fertile ground in which envy can grow.”.
The Governing Body should heed its own advice. “When I was a young warthog” I could not name all the members of the Governing Body and would probably not have recognised any but the President, if I passed by them at an assembly. Now, we see their “showy display”, of being on JW Broadcasting on a very frequent basis, with attention given to their position, by being introduced as Bro xxx yyyy of the Governing Body, (or, a Governing Body member).
Given the toxic environment created in the Congregations, where elders can frame other elders unjustly so as to maintain their own perceived power and authority, and that anything encouraging article written about the Bible or Creation is rejected by the congregations if it is not from the Governing Body then envy will abound and continues to be fermented.
To conclude this topic of envy, which is definitely caused among congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses because of this false teaching; that the Governing Body and elders have God-given authority over us as members of the congregation, please read what Jesus said about having authority over others in Matthew 20:20-28. In particular, v25-27, where Jesus said (speaking to his disciples) “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and the great men wield authority over them. This is not the way among you. …. whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave”. When did a slave ever have God-given or any other authority over others? A faithful and discreet slave would not wield authority over others nor would they have the authority to do so. They have to serve others.
In summary, sadly a missed opportunity to help genuine Christians, which most Witnesses are. A missed opportunity to have one less temptation to develop envy, by removing all the so-called theocratic privileges fabricated by men, which in fact just serve to foster a toxic environment of envy.
[ii] Page 9\15937 Transcript Day 155.pdf
[iv] While weight of numbers are not everything, (after all the 28 translations could be wrong and the NWT correct), the problem is that there is no contextual or valid option for translating “in” instead of “to”.