[From ws 15/01 p. 8 for March 2-8]
“Give thanks to Jehovah for he is good.”-Ps. 106:1
This article is telling us how and why to show appreciation to Jehovah, and how he blesses us for doing so.
“How Many Things Have You Done, O Jehovah”
Under this subtitle, we are made mindful of some of the things that Jehovah and his son Jesus have done for us which give us cause to be appreciative. Paragraph 6 requires us to read 1 Timothy 1:12-14 which explains why Paul was so thankful for the mercy that was shown to him by the Lord Jesus. Before we move on we should consider the principle governing appreciation that Jesus outlined to one of the Pharisees:
“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house. You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.” (Lu 7:41-47 NET Bible)
The appreciation that this fallen woman showed was motivated by an intense love. Forgiveness means reconciliation. Jehovah does not simply forgive and stand off from us like some humans will who say, “I can forgive but I cannot forget.” Human forgiveness is often conditional. This is many times a matter of self-protection because we humans cannot read the heart condition of the apparently repentant one. Not so God, so his forgiveness, when given, is unconditional.[i]
He does not call our sins to mind but wipes them clean. With moving imagery he compares our sins to the color of deep scarlet which he promises to bleach to the whiteness of snow if we only return to him. (Is 1:18)
In the Christian system of things, God’s forgiveness means total reconciliation with him. Adam had lost his place in the family of God. It seemed that there was no hope for us to ever again be reconciled with our Father, to regain what our forefather had thoughtlessly thrown away. Yet, total reconciliation was made possible by the ransom Jesus paid.
The fallen woman that washed Jesus feet with her tears and anointed them with perfumed oil demonstrated deep love and appreciation. Imagine how she must have felt to hear and believe Jesus’ words that one shunned and despised, as she was, could now hope to be called a child of God. What heartfelt appreciation such undeserved kindness engendered in her.
“But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children,” (Joh 1:12 CEB)
Meditation and Prayer – Keys to Maintaining Thankfulness
And so now we come to the article’s great shortcoming. While striving to help us show greater appreciation for all that God has done for us, it strips from us the most important reason to feel appreciative.
“Surrounded by an unthankful world, we too could begin to lose sight of all that Jehovah has done for us. We could begin to take our friendship with him for granted.” – Par. 8
“Our friendship with him”? Not once are Christians called God’s friends. That is because we are given something far greater than friendship. We are given the inheritance accorded sons!
Jesus said that he who is forgiven little, loves little. The fallen women loved much for she experienced the full extent of God’s underserved kindness in forgiving much. Thus her appreciation was so manifest that her story lives to this day. Shall we compare ourselves with her, we who are told by the Governing Body that we are other sheep?
That woman, assuming she remained faithful to death, will be granted the gift of everlasting life in perfection as one of the children of God. Even while alive on earth in her sinful state, she was reconciled with God; even in the fallen flesh, she was called one of God’s children. (Ro 5:10,11; Col 1:21-23; Ro 8:21)
This is the true extent of God’s love, that he calls us to be his children.
“See what sort of love the Father has given us, so that we should be called children of God; and such we are.” (1Jo 3:1)
This sort of love is not for the other sheep according to JW theology. No, there is no reconciliation for them in this life. Their sins are not forgiven so that Jehovah can grant them everlasting life upon their resurrection, even if they die faithful, having passed all the same tests their anointed counterparts have faced. Should they not die prior to Armageddon, they will see their faithful anointed brothers raptured away to their reward, while they are merely granted survivor status but continue as sinners who must gradually be moved toward sinlessness (or perfection as JWs understand it) at the end of the thousand years.
From w85 12/15 p. 30 Do You Remember?
Those chosen by God for heavenly life must, even now, be declared righteous; perfect human life is imputed to them. (Romans 8:1) This is not necessary now for those who may live forever on earth. But such ones can now be declared righteous as friends of God, as was faithful Abraham. (James 2:21-23; Romans 4:1-4) After such ones achieve actual human perfection at the end of the Millennium and then pass the final test, they will be in position to be declared righteous for everlasting human life.—12/1, pages 10, 11, 17, 18.
w99 11/1 p. 7 Prepare for the Millennium That Matters!
Unhindered in their spiritual progress by Satan and his demons, these Armageddon survivors will gradually be helped to overcome their sinful tendencies until finally they reach perfection!
w86 1/1 p. 15 par. 20 Days Like “the Days of Noah”
All who accept the privilege of becoming Jesus’ “other sheep” will be restored to perfection, and on surviving the final test after Christ hands over the Kingdom to his Father, these will be declared righteous for life eternal.
In this, the other sheep do not differ from those who did not know God and who return in the resurrection of the unrighteous.
re chap. 40 p. 290 par. 15 Crushing the Serpent’s Head
However, they [faithful pre-Christian servants] and all others [the unrighteous] who are resurrected, as well as the great crowd of faithful other sheep who survive Armageddon and any children that may be born to these in the new world, must yet be raised to human perfection.
So a faithful Christian who works side by side with one of the anointed and passes all the trials and tribulations that the latter faces and who remains faithful until death will be resurrected with exactly the same status as Genghis Khan and Korah. The only difference is that the Christian will have ‘a good head start’ to hopefully attain to perfection and be granted everlasting life at the end of the thousand years.
Now a thousand years of friendship with God with the hope of reaching the adoption as sons and the inheritance of everlasting life isn’t anything to be sniffed at, but it isn’t what Jesus was offering.
What the Governing Body teaches denies us the full scope—the height and breadth and depth of God’s undeserved kindness. Under JW theology, we are not forgiven as God forgives. This forgiveness is conditional. All the tests we go through in this system of things count for little, as we will still have to prove ourselves for another thousand years along with the resurrected unrighteous before we can even hope to achieve the blessed state that was offered to that fallen woman in Jesus’ day. Our situation is more akin to that of another woman, a Greek of Syrophoenician nationality. She wanted a miracle to be performed so that her daughter could be freed of demonic influence. Jesus held off at first because his commission was to preach only to the children of Israel. However, her faith won him over. She said, “Yes, sir, and yet even the little dogs underneath the table eat of the crumbs of the little children.” (Mr 7:28)
We do not know if this woman became one of the children of God when the opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit was extended to the Gentiles. That door was opened when Peter used the third key of the Kingdom given him by Jesus and baptized Cornelius. Jehovah’s Witnesses tried to close that door in 1935, though in reality no one can close a door that God has opened. (Re 3:8)
In effect, Judge Rutherford was converting us back to the status of that Syrophoenician woman. The other sheep became the little dogs eating the crumbs of the little children. This illustration of Jesus had a temporary fulfillment, because he knew—though he could not reveal it at that time—that this woman would soon have the same opportunity afforded then only to the children of Israel. The Governing Body is attempting to make the illustration applicable again in our day.
I appreciated what God had done for me when I believed my only hope was to survive Armageddon and live another 1,000 years in my sinful state. However, once I learned the true hope, my love and appreciation grew exponentially, for the ‘one forgiven much, loves much.’
[i] By “unconditional forgiveness”, I do not mean to imply that our status before God is assured. If we repent, and he forgives us, there are no conditions. If we sin again, we will again have to repent and he will have to forgive the new offenses for our sins to be blotted out. However, when Jehovah forgives us for what we’ve done in the past, there are no conditions attached. He does not revoke his forgiveness if we commit the same sin again. Any past sins are not kept on the books. His forgiveness wipes them clean.