[Watchtower study for the week of May 12, 2014 – w14 3/15 p. 12]
Another positive and encouraging Watchtower study, though in part this is damage control. To illustrate, paragraph 2 states: “…some faithful servants of God struggle with negative thoughts about themselves. They may feel that neither they nor their service to Jehovah has much value to him.”
Why would that be? Why do so many Jehovah’s Witnesses feel they aren’t doing enough? Why do we measure our worth to God by the number of hours we devote to the preaching work? How often have different ones expressed a sense of discouragement following a district convention? Could it be that the over-emphasis put on those who pioneer makes others feel unworthy? Pioneers are put on a pedestal, given special meetings, special instruction, and are always featured on assembly and convention platforms. Sisters who manage to raise children, care for a household, provide for a husband and still pioneer are praised as examples to all.
Is there a report in the Bible of anyone ever feeling discouraged after instruction from Jesus? Now there is a model no one can duplicate, yet his followers were always motivated and encouraged, because “his yoke was kindly and his load was light.” How could anyone feel burdened under such a yoke? How could anyone feel unworthy when such love was being expressed to each one? Those who feel depressed, indeed, oppressed had another yoke on their shoulders, a yoke put there by those who would not bear it themselves.
(Matthew 23:4) . . .They bind up heavy loads and put them on the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger.
As we mentioned last week, some articles seem to be written by another element in Bethel, as if there are two forces at work. Even among the Pharisees of Jesus day, there were sincere individuals were closer to the truth than others. (Mark 12:34; John 3:1-15; 19:38; Acts 5:34) In this vein we have the following statement from paragraph 5:
“He urged the congregation in Corinth: “Keep testing whether you are in the faith”…”The faith” is the body of Christian beliefs revealed in the Bible.”
Paragraph 6 adds:
“When you use God’s Word to test yourself to see “whether you are in the faith,” you will be seeing yourself more as God sees you.”
What is noteworthy about this and indeed the entire article is that no mention is made of the publications, nor the Governing Body, nor the “faithful slave”. Only God’s Word is spoken of and we are told to “test ourselves to see if we are in the faith” by using his Word. Whoever wrote this seems to be walking a fine line drawn by the conscience.
In discussing the example of the Widow’s Mite , paragraph 9 asks the question: “Would she be embarrassed at seeing the large donations made by those ahead of her, perhaps wondering whether her offering was really worthwhile?” Yes, in all likelihood, given the attention that the Jews heaped upon the wealthy donators. Again we have the contrast between the Jewish leaders and our Leader, the Christ. We are comparing the widow’s tiny donation with the tiny “donation” in service time that some can contribute. The example is a good one, but if we extend it to fit the context, who would play the part of the Jewish leaders over emphasizing the donation of the wealthy ones so as to make the widow feel unworthy?
In paragraph 11, the writer is kindly trying to show that it isn’t the amount of time we donate, but the quality of that and its measure against our particular circumstances. To be fair to him, he can only work with the cards he’s been dealt. Given this, we can understand the use of a mere hours in the example as still being worthy. But where in the Bible are hours—or any unit of time—used to measure one’s service to God? Jehovah is not a God of punch clocks. Our value to him is measure in intangible ways, ways only he has of measuring. Really, it is high time that we abandon this statistical approach to worship.
Again, perhaps walking that fine line and working with the cards dealt, we have this from paragraph 18:
“…you still share the greatest privilege that any of us can now have—that of preaching the good news and bearing God’s name. Remain faithful. Then, in a sense, the words in one of Jesus’ parables can be said to you: ‘Enter into the joy of your master.’”—Matt. 25:23.” [italics added]
A nod to our teaching that only a select few really enter into the master’s joy in heaven.
All in all, a positive article; one that makes valid points without overtly contradicting our official dogma.