“Your eyes should look straight ahead, yes, fix your gaze straight ahead of you.” Proverbs 4:25
[Study 48 from ws 11/20 p.24 January 25 – January 31, 2021]
A reader of this week’s Watchtower Study article may wonder why choose such a theme? It is not even a question such as “Why look straight ahead to the future?”. Rather, the way the theme is worded, the theme is trying to tell us what to do.
The study article is made up of just three main topics which are:
- The trap of nostalgia
- The trap of resentment
- The trap of excessive guilt
Let us look at the context of Proverbs 4:25 to help us understand what the inspired writer of Proverbs was discussing.
Proverbs 4:20-27 reads as follows: “My son, pay attention to my words; Listen carefully to my sayings. 21 Do not lose sight of them; Keep them deep within your heart, 22 For they are life to those who find them And health to their whole body. 23 Above all the things that you guard, safeguard your heart, For out of it are the sources of life. 24 Put crooked speech away from you, And keep devious talk far away from you. 25 Your eyes should look straight ahead, Yes, fix your gaze straight ahead of you. 26 Smooth out the course of your feet, And all your ways will be sure. 27 Do not incline to the right or the left. Turn your feet away from what is bad.”
The message given in this passage is to keep our figurative eyes (as in our mind) straight ahead, but why? So that we do not lose spiritual sight of God’s words as written in his written word the Bible and by implication, as later preached by his Son, Jesus Christ, the Word (or mouthpiece) of God. The reason being is that it would mean good physical health for us, and future life. By putting our faith in Jesus as the savior of mankind, we keep safeguarded in our figurative heart the sayings of everlasting life. (John 3:16,36; John 17:3; Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:46, John 6:68).
In addition, with our “eyes” and hence minds fixed on truth, avoiding crooked speech and devious talk, we would not turn away from serving God and Christ our King. We would also turn away from what is bad.
Does the study article deal with any of these points that the context of Proverbs 4:25 requires?
No. Rather the study article goes off at a tangent to deal with issues in the congregations that are all of the Organization’s own making, either directly caused by or as a result of their teaching and style of teaching.
The first section of the study article deals with the subject of “The Trap of Nostalgia”.
Paragraph 6 states “Why is it unwise to keep thinking that our life was better in the past? Nostalgia can cause us to remember only good things from our past. Or it can cause us to minimize the hardships we used to face.”. Now, this is a true statement, but why raise this point? How many Witnesses do you know who look back with nostalgia to times without modern communications, poorer healthcare, less variety of food, and so forth?
However, no doubt you know of many Witnesses who look back to when they were younger and healthier and were earning sufficient money to pay their way and Armageddon was on the doorstep (whether 1975 or by the year 2000). These same Witnesses though are now facing poor health in their old age, a lack of income to maintain a reasonable standard of living perhaps due to no savings and no pension. Why? The main cause for most of them is because of making life-affecting decisions based on the false hopes they were convinced to believe were real hopes, i.e., that such things like a pension would not be required (because Armageddon would come before they needed one). Now they find themselves in these sad positions and hence look back wishing for the better times they had to be here again. With the Covid Pandemic, many younger ones have likewise been convinced that Armageddon is imminent and right now are making the same mistakes in making life-affecting decisions, based on false hopes.
The reality is that the Organization wants you to put on blinkers, and not look back to when times were better. Many of us had strong faith that Armageddon was near, in part because we believed the lies we were told. Now, we have to look at where these views and beliefs have brought us, in poor circumstances, and left with only a desire or vain hope that Armageddon is really near, rather than strong faith.
Of course, waking up to the reality that we have been misled by the Organization, perhaps for most of our lifetime, can lead to resentment.
No doubt that is the second section of the study article is entitled “The Trap of Resentment”.
Paragraph 9 reads: “Read Leviticus 19:18. We often find it hard to let go of resentment if the person who treated us wrongly is a fellow believer, a close friend, or a relative” or even the Organization we believed had the truth and was the one God was using today.
It is true “that Jehovah sees everything. He is aware of all that we go through, including any injustices we experience.” (para 10). “We also want to remember that when we let go of resentment, we benefit ourselves.” (para 11). But that does not mean, nor should we, forget that the Organization has mistreated us or our relatives, and has lied to us. Otherwise, we would fall for their lies yet again and suffer again. Likewise, with the rest of organized religion which we may have left behind when becoming a Witness. Would it be wise to be nostalgic about those times and return to them? Would it not be just exchanging one set of lies for another? Instead, is it not best that we personally build a relationship with God and Christ using what God and Christ have provided to all, the Bible, rather than relying on other’s views and interpretations and who for the most part desire a following.
This reviewer, Tadua, does not have the desire or the intention to become responsible for other’s salvation. There is a big difference between being helpful, by providing the results of research in God’s word for other’s benefit and expecting the readers to always follow and agree with its conclusions. Does not Philippians 2:12 remind us, “keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling”? We can each help one another, just as the early Christians did, as we all have different strengths, but ultimately, we each have an individual responsibility to work out our own salvation. We should not expect others to do so, nor fall into the trap of following everything other say, otherwise, we are taking the easy way out and trying to absolve ourselves of taking personal responsibility.
The third section deals with “The trap of excessive guilt”. How is this a result of the teachings of the Organization?
Given that the articles from the Organization are invariably written in such a way as to instigate fear, obligation, and guilt, in us, it is hardly surprising they need to try and counterbalance the feelings of guilt many Witnesses have. We are always being pushed to do more by the Organization, being presented with so-called experiences of Witnesses who seem to be able to accomplish the impossible, for example, like a single parent with a large number of children, being able to care for them financially, emotionally, and pioneer as well!
We can learn from the causes of nostalgia, resentment, and excessive guilt. How so? We can learn to echo Jesus’ word’s in our mind regarding the future day of Armageddon, “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father”. (Matthew 24:36.)
Whatever the future holds at least “We have the prospect of living forever. And in God’s new world, we will not be plagued with regrets about the past. Regarding that time, the Bible says: “The former things will not be called to mind.” (Isaiah. 65:17)”.
Dziękuję, też tak uważam i powtarzam mężowi cyt “ostatecznie kazdy z nas indywidualnie odpowie” nie organizacja, nie starszy. Trudno jednak skruszyć beton
Here’s the google translation: “Thank you, I think so too and I repeat to my husband the quote “in the end, each of us will answer individually” no organization, not older. However, it is difficult to crush concrete ”
On the one hand, JW.Org has led me to the Bible. I cannot say whether I would have got there without them, but I am grateful for that. The Bible then has helped me see the way to treat people, not to be over opinionated, and many other good things. But, it was me who decided to live by the Bible. Who should I credit ? Obviously God, and if you like, Jesus. (I like). Now I look back, in later life. Am I nostalgic for the past. Not at all. I am nostalgic for what life might have been.… Read more »
Leonardo: My wife feels the same way that you do about having an unfulfilled potential. But she is also grateful (as you are) for being directed to the Bible. Even though she still is technically part of the congregation, and has done nothing wrong, she is being shunned by 98% of the congregation, because of reprehensible rumor was spread about her by several in the congregation. Most assumed it was true just because they heard it from a congregation member. She is horrified that people who call themselves Christians could act in this way. She has been a Witness for… Read more »
Andrew, “ One of the most fascinating storylines of most experiences like hers is that the same attitude of study and research that leads to becoming a Witness is the same attitude that can guide you out and lead you to real truth.” I love this comment. I found it true in my case. I also think that it identifies the people who are really searching for truth rather than being happy to be told what to believe. I’m so happy for you and your wife. Sometimes it takes a shock to the system to wake us up; it did… Read more »
Andrew, Thank you so much for sharing your wife’s experience. It gives me hope that the same could one day happen with my wife. She has been a witness for over 40 years and sincerely believes this is God’s organization despite its imperfections in the same way that Israel was with all of its imperfections and bad rulers. It’s so frustrating to see how the organization has convinced its members that waiting on Jehovah means to stay loyal to the organization, keep looking straight ahead to the future, no matter what happens, no matter what falsehoods are taught, no matter… Read more »
But loyalty to whom? I’m technically still in, but only because I’m not quite sure yet what is the best, most effective way of leaving. That is, ensuring that honest-hearted brothers know about the reason why. So far, I have been thinking about the example of David, when he was chased by Saul for his life. In 1 Samuel 27, we can read how David decided to get out of the boundaries of the nation of Israel, God’s “valley of protection”, to live under the authority and protection of the Philistines. He did that for a year and 4 months,… Read more »
I really appreciate your thoughts on David’s experience. I am going to read that account & give it serious meditation as well. It could help me in my dilemma as to making a permanent break from the Organization.
You reminded me of Hayden Covington’s words as recalled in Ray Franz book, In Search of Christian Freedom :-
Unity at all costs. Based on enforced acceptance of false prophecy was conceded to be true.
I really appreciated your comments here. I feel so much as your wife does, very similar situation. Please send give her my Christian love .
I will. Thank you for replying.
I’m happy for your wife and for realizing that her potential is still there. You are right, she now has the freedom to pursue it. For ever.
Yes, she does. And she is exploring lots of things that in the past she felt she couldn’t. Ironically, one of these things is the idea that she really could be a child of God. She still is struggling against the idea that this is only for the “anointed” and that she cannot ever be good enough. Overcoming this indoctrinations takes time.
Dear Andrew, thank you for your response. I agree with you, this takes time. The WT uses typical mind programming techniques to indoctrinate people. It is strong weapon, but our Lord Jesus is stronger than anything is. You wrote, your dear one feels that she could be the God’s child. But she IS the God’s child, because Jesus “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12; also see 1 John 5:1,5). When I pray, every my prayer starts with words: “My Father in heaven …… ” exactly… Read more »
Thank you for the encouragement. I have ready my wife 1 John 5:1 many times, and it is slowly starting to make a difference.
Leonardo, my feelings echo yours exactly.
Greetings and love from lockdown up North.
Why did I think you were in Os ?
I have no idea…. I must be successful in covering my tracks!?
In addition to my other comment: I feel lost potential due to my youth, but not because of being part of the brotherhood. It has greatly changed me for the better in quite a number of ways. However, more than that is how Jehovah and Jesus view our past in this respect, as says Luke 12:47, “Then that slave who understood the will of his master, but did not get ready or do what he asked (…)”. It tells me that if you were somehow not able to do the Master’s will, he will look at whether or not you… Read more »
Your comments reflect what I have been thinking as well. If we give at least some credit to sincere, God-loving people in other Christian religions, we have to do the same with JWs who are still in. All my family are still in and would never think any other way; they are all (mostly) sincere, loving people. The problem is that none of them would ever think that other sincere, God-loving people outside the Organization can be right with God. This results in the shunning attitude when others don’t agree with the Organization thus the many here that are, like… Read more »
Wonderful expressions! I actually feel appreciative for how the JWs taught me to benefit from the Bible, how to use it & all the practice advise as to how to apply its council & principles in my life. But, I also feel this same resentment for my past 32 years of not living up to my potential, for all my attempts to brain wash my children with the JW teachings & putting them through such ridicule & loneliness without real friends. I lived on the edge everyday , wondering if Armageddon was coming, I couldn’t plan for any practical future… Read more »
Hi Leonardo, Thank you for sharing your experience and your inner feelings. I have experiences similar to yours. The JWs taught me a lot about the Bible, about God and His Son. With respect to my profession I appreciated the systematic nature of the study and the analysis of information. And I’m grateful to them for that. At that time we were behind so called “iron curtain” in Eastern Europe and have almost zero real information about Org; we know nothing about 1975 fiasco, for example. And, of course, we were under strong police pressure (up to 1989). The first… Read more »