“I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think, but to think so as to have a sound mind.” – Romans 12:3
[Study 27 from ws 07/20 p.2 August 31 – September 6, 2020]
This is yet another article that attempts to deal with too many areas under one theme and thereby does none of them any justice. In fact, because the advice is so broad brush and generalized, those brothers and sisters who hang on to every word from the Governing Body could make serious mistakes in their decisions in life based on this article.
This Watchtower Study article covers three, yes, three, disparate areas to apply this scripture too.
They are (1) our marriage, (2) our privileges of service (within the Organization), and (3) our use of social media!
Show Humility in Your Marriage (par. 3-6)
The subject of humility in marriage is covered in four short paragraphs. Yet marriage is a big subject with many variables to take into account, yet apparently none of these are looked at or even hinted at.
The Organization’s law is laid down in paragraph 4 where it says “We must avoid becoming dissatisfied with our marriage. We realize that the only Scriptural grounds for divorce is sexual immorality. (Matthew 5:32)”. Notice the commanding tone. Would it not be better to say, “As we all desire to make Jehovah happy we should endeavor to avoid becoming dissatisfied with our marriage”.
Also, when we read the cited scripture in context, we see that Jesus was not laying down the law as the Organization seem to be doing. He was not trying to replace the Mosaic Law with even stricter restrictions on ending a marriage. Rather, Jesus was trying to get people to take marriage seriously instead of divorcing for frivolous reasons. In Malachi 2:14-15, some 400 years earlier, the prophet Malachi had already identified the problem. He counseled “you people must guard yourselves respecting your spirit [your thoughts and inner feelings], and with the wife of your youth may no one deal treacherously. For he [Jehovah God] has hated a divorcing”.
Was Jesus (and Jehovah by the Mosaic Law) saying that a physically or mentally abused spouse could not divorce their spouse? Were they saying that a spouse that abused children could not be divorced? Or that a spouse that was a drunkard and drank all the family’s means of financial support, or a drug addict that refused to get help, or a spouse that continually gambled away their family’s income could not be divorced? What about an unrepentant murderer? It would be unreasonable to say that was the case as it would be unjust and Jehovah is a God of justice. Furthermore for a brother or sister reading the Watchtower article and because of the statement in paragraph 4 highlighted above, not separating from or divorcing their spouse, could put their own life in danger, and that of any children of the marriage.
Rather Jehovah and Jesus are against the selfish prideful attitude many had to marriage in Malachi’s time when Jesus was on earth and today.
Paragraph 4 rightly says “we would not want to let pride cause us to begin wondering: ‘Is this marriage fulfilling my needs? Am I getting the love I deserve? Would I find greater happiness with another person?’ Notice the focus on self in those questions. The wisdom of the world would tell you to follow your heart and do what makes you happy, even if that means ending your marriage. Godly wisdom says you should “look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) Jehovah wants you to preserve your marriage, not to end it. (Matthew 19:6) He wants you to think of him first, not yourself.”
Paragraphs 5 & 6 correctly suggest “Husbands and wives who are humble will seek, not their own advantage, but “that of the other person.”—1 Cor. 10:24.
6 Humility has helped many Christian couples find greater happiness in their marriage. For example, a husband named Steven says: “If you are a team, you will work together, especially when there are problems. Instead of thinking ‘what is best for me?’ you will think ‘what is best for us?’”.
However, that is the only helpful advice in the Watchtower article on how humility can help in marriage. There are so many scenarios that could have been discussed as to how showing humility will help a marriage. Such as not insisting that you are right (even if you are!). If there is a limited budget to spend, will you allow your spouse to purchase something they really need, or will you spend the money on a luxury for yourself, etc, etc.
Serve Jehovah with “All Humility” (paragraphs 7-11)
“The Bible contains warning examples of people who thought too much of themselves. Diotrephes immodestly sought to have “the first place” in the congregation. (3 John 9) Uzziah proudly tried to perform a task that Jehovah had not assigned him to do. (2 Chronicles 26:16-21) Absalom slyly tried to win the support of the public because he wanted to be king. (2 Samuel 15:2-6) As those Bible accounts clearly show, Jehovah is not pleased with people who seek their own glory. (Proverbs 25:27) In time, pride and ambition lead only to disaster.—Proverbs 16:18.”
So, brothers and sisters, who have “the first place” in the worldwide congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses today?
Is it not the Governing Body? In recent years they have accentuated this position, especially since the July 2013 Watchtower. Is it not so that they have become like “Diotrephes immodestly sought to have “the first place” in the congregation”?
What happens if you question anything the Governing Body teaches, however illogical, like the “overlapping generation”?
You will be labeled a “mentally diseased” apostate and disfellowshipped, thrown out of the congregation. (See 15 July 2011 Watchtower p16 para 2)
What did Diotrephes do? Exactly the same.
3 John 10 says that he spread “malicious talk about” about others. “Not being content with this, he refuses to welcome the brothers with respect; and those who want to welcome them, he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation.”
What evidence is there that Jesus chose the Governing Body as his faithful slave in 1919?
None. They have proudly self-appointed themselves.
What did Uzziah do?
“Uzziah proudly tried to perform a task that Jehovah had not assigned him to do. (2 Chronicles 26:16-21)”.
The Governing Body also were like Absalom as they slyly won the support of the Witnesses for increasing their authority, by articles in the Watchtower teaching that the Governing Body’s teachings should not be questioned, even if it seems strange.
Yes, the Governing Body should heed their own counsel, “As those Bible accounts clearly show, Jehovah is not pleased with people who seek their own glory. (Proverbs 25:27) In time, pride and ambition lead only to disaster.—Proverbs 16:18.”
Paragraph 10 appears to be designed to perpetuate the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak of no evil” mentality so prevalent among the brothers and sisters. “Leave it to Jehovah to sort out” is the message when you see “that there are problems in the congregation and you feel that they are not being dealt with properly” or at all, which is often the case. The suggestion is to “ask yourself: ‘Are the problems that I see really so serious that they need to be corrected? Is this the right time to correct them? Is it my place to correct them? In all honesty, am I really trying to promote unity, or am I trying to promote myself?” Yes, the Watchtower Study article writer tries to get you to doubt the prodding of your conscience, with the inference that the Organization has everything under control. Like the growing scandal about child abuse. Oh yes, the police may not have been informed as legally they should have, but do not rock the boat, it is not your responsibility to get involved, the elders and the Organization know better they are suggesting.
NO, THEY DO NOT. To protect yourself and others, especially other children, examine your conscience. To paraphrase Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees, To him, that calls for the tax, render tax, and to the authorities that demand reporting of a crime, whether there are two witnesses or not, report the crime (Matthew 22:21). We must all remember that molesting a child is a crime, just as shoplifting or mugging someone or burglarizing a house is a crime. If you should report the shoplifting, or mugging or burglary, you should also report the allegation of child abuse. If you fail to do so, rather than not bringing reproach on Jehovah’s name, you will bring more, as that which is hidden always comes to light sooner or later, with worse consequences.
Show Humility when using social media (paragraphs 12-15)
Paragraph 13 tells us that “Studies have found that people who spend a lot of time scrolling through social media postings might actually end up feeling lonely and depressed. Why? One possible reason is that people often post on social media photos that depict the highlights of their lives, showing selected images of themselves, their friends, and the exciting places they have been. A person who views those images might conclude that, by comparison, his or her own life is ordinary—even dull. “I started feeling discontent when I saw others having all this fun on the weekends and I was at home bored,” admits a 19-year-old Christian sister”.
It would be nice to know what studies found this, and to what degree. As usual, there is no reference. However, it is likely true for the reason given. One could argue that the 19-year-old sister mentioned should not become envious. But, likewise, those Witnesses posting such photos are not bearing in mind the principle of not making a showy display of one’s means of life. This principle is highlighted in paragraph 15 when it quotes 1 John 2:16. This section at least is sound counsel.
Think so as to have a sound mind (paragraphs 16-17)
The Governing Body like “proud people are contentious and egotistical. Their thinking and actions often cause them to hurt themselves and others. Unless they change their way of thinking, their minds will be blinded and corrupted by Satan.”.
Let us be humble people rather than proud but let us not confuse humbleness with blind unquestioning obedience. God created each one of us with a conscience, he expects us to use it in accord with his word, and not to let other humans tell us how to exercise it.