Jehovah Values His Humble Servants – Study 2019/35
“Jehovah … takes note of the humble.”—Psalm 138:6
[From ws 9/19 p.2 Study Article 35: October 28 – November 3, 2019]
The questions discussed in the study article this week are as follows:
- What is humility?
- Why should we cultivate that quality?
- What situations can test our humility?
What is humility?
Proverbs 11:2 reminds us the consequences of how we act. It says, “Has presumptuousness come? Then dishonour will come; but wisdom is with the modest ones”. Proverbs 29:23 adds that “the very haughtiness of earthling man will humble him, but he that is humble in spirit will take hold of glory”.
According to paragraph 3, Philippians 2:3-4 indicates that “the humble person acknowledges that everyone is superior to him in some way”. The definition of “superior” is “higher in rank, status or quality”. Therefore, taking this, according to the Organization, a humble person acknowledges that everyone is higher in rank, status or quality. But is that what Philippians is saying? Jesus reminded his disciples in Matthew 23:2-11, not to be like the scribes and Pharisees who lorded it over others. The disciples were to avoid the Pharisaical thinking and acting, as if they were higher in rank, status and quality than the “people of the earth”. Rather, he taught them “all you are brothers”, “for one is your teacher”, and “the greatest one among you must be your minister [servant, literally: going through the dust]”. Why? Because he knew the trap of prominence and elevating oneself over others. He confirmed this as he went on to counsel that “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”. Clearly, while we should not exalt ourselves over others, is it necessary or even right to exalt others over ourselves? If we do that, could it not lead to problems for others in keeping a humble attitude? Let us now examine Paul’s words more closely to see if the right understanding of Philippians is being given.
A review of a Greek Interlinear translation of Philippians 2:3-4 reads “do nothing according to self-interest or according to vain conceit, but in humility be esteeming one another as surpassing themselves”. “Esteeming” is “to respect and admire others” and “hold in high regard”. A somewhat different meaning to that portrayed by the Watchtower article. “Surpassing” in the Greek literally means “have beyond”. It would be therefore reasonable to understand this verse as saying “in humility, be respecting and admiring others as having qualities beyond their own”. Quite a different understanding!
In fact, is it not true that we can esteem others, respecting and admiring them, and holding them in high regard, even though they may not be capable of doing things better than us? Why? Because we appreciate their hard work, their attitude, doing things to the best of their abilities, making the best of their circumstances. For example one may be better off in a material way than someone else, but that one can respect and admire how well the other person endeavours to make ends meet, and how astute their purchases are. Thus, while being perhaps materially less well-off, they are able to have more per unit of income ($ or £ or €, etc.) than the person with more money.
Indeed, many a good marriage is founded on accepting these principles. As each partner surpasses the other in some qualities and vice-versa and each can take the lead with and use their best qualities for the benefit of the partnership. Neither is superior to the other as all are different, with different qualities in different degrees. Also, respect, and high admiration is absolutely necessary, even though perhaps the wife may be weaker in strength physically, surely her contribution to the marriage is just as vital.
True humility is a state of mind and heart, but unlike many people’s view, it does not preclude someone being confident or forthright. Neither does it mean just showing deference or politeness which can be because of culture, but inside the person may be very prideful.
Why should we cultivate humility?
At least the answer given to this question is scripturally accurate when paragraph 8 says “The most important reason for us to cultivate humility is that it pleases Jehovah. The apostle Peter made this clear. (Read 1 Peter 5:6)”.
1 Peter 5:6 reads “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time”. The Organization then spoils this good start with a quote of its own publication that comments on Peter’s words from the book “Come be My Follower” as if that is some authority.
Paragraph 9 mentions that “Few of us enjoy dealing with people who always insist on their own way and who refuse to accept suggestions from others. By contrast, we find it refreshing to deal with our fellow believers when they show “fellow feeling, brotherly affection, tender compassion, and humility””. So how does that sentiment and true statement reconcile with the following question typically asked of those with doubts about some of the current teachings of the Organization?
A sister recently disfellowshipped for so-called apostasy was asked “Do you think you are the faithful and discreet slave?” for questioning the teachings of the Governing Body on Daniel 1:1 and Daniel 2:1; This was all because she took the Bible statement as truth, rather than the official interpretation of this scripture as given by the Governing Body. The Organization’s interpretation is that the 3rd Year of the Kingship of Jehoiakim was not his 3rd year, but rather was his 11th year. According to one of the elders of her judicial committee “The prophet Daniel is not a channel Jehovah is using today”! What a ridiculous statement to make in an effort to minimize the importance of the book of Daniel and raise the importance of the views of the Governing Body.
Therefore, who are the ones clearly insisting on their own way and refusing to accept suggestions from others? Is it not the Organization?
When was the last time the Governing Body took any suggestions from any Witnesses or others?
Have they changed policies to better protect Witness children from abuse?
No, despite many scripturally well-founded suggestions.
Have they changed their unscriptural policy on disfellowshipping despite being against shunning as practiced by other churches before the 1950’s?
No. Rather they continue in to increase the draconian way in which they encourage Witnesses to apply this shunning policy.
On 1914? No, and we could go on.
What situations can test our humility?
According to the Watchtower article the most important situations to highlight are
- When we receive counsel
- When others receive privileges of service
- When we face new circumstances
These three situations are continually mentioned in articles in relation to humility.
Whether wittingly or unwittingly it is suggesting we swallow any counsel we are given by the elders or the Organization. Sadly though, if we do so, it gives these ones carte blanche (and many take it!) to unscripturally and unnecessarily counsel Witnesses. Many times this leads to interfering in the personal lives of the recipients of the counsel and imposing the will of the counsellor on the Witnesses, yet they have no right to do so.
Others receiving privileges of service is clearly an endemic problem. Why? Is it not because of the artificial pyramid scheme of privileges that the Organization has created to distract and control the brothers and sisters. This could not happen easily in the first Century. There was no hierarchy of unbaptized, baptized, auxiliary pioneer, regular pioneer, ministerial servant, elder, circuit overseer, bethelite, missionary, helper to the Governing Body, and Governing Body member, back then in the first century early Christian congregation.
Paragraph 13 says, “When I see others receive privileges, I sometimes wonder why I was not chosen,” admits an elder named Jason. Do you ever feel that way?”. There could be many reasons. Perhaps some are genuine, perhaps the elder named Jason does not have the required skills or abilities. But, far more likely from experience the simple answer is: Jason is simply not a favourite of those bestowing the privileges. Favouritism is rampant within the elder arrangement, both at congregation level and circuit level. It reaches up through district and country levels, to the headquarters as well. Additionally, if these artificial privileges did not exist then the problem would cease to exist.
Paragraph 15 is the sop of an excuse for the indiscreet planning by the so-called Faithful and Discreet Slave. The reason is that the Organization has proclaimed and guessed wrongly the timing of Armageddon on multiple occasions, (which they should never have attempted to pinpoint anyway). As a result, they have ended up with far too many elderly headquarters staff and elderly circuit and district overseers. These have become too costly to support in their old age, both because of their numbers and their longevity. Hence the cull of the elderly and infirm long-time servants to be replaced by gullible, fresh, younger ones. These will, in turn, be shamelessly culled when they get beyond their primary useful period of youthful years.
Notice the clever wording that these ones were “invited to serve in another form of full-time service”. No mention of the fact that if this invitation was not accepted, it would result in these ones being left on the street to fend for themselves as some have been. The pain all these ones have to go through is glossed over. The inference suggesting that all is well after adjusting for a while and being humble must surely be galling to them!
In reality, the ones who lack humility are the Governing Body for not apologising for consistently proclaiming Armageddon which then fails to come. The ones who lack humility are the Governing Body for not admitting that their own planning was inadequate as they did not humbly plan for their predictions to fail. Finally, is it not also the Organization that is at fault for the pyramid scheme hierarchy of privileges of service and giving elders the impression that unwarranted counsel can be given and responsibility for its results be projected onto the recipients.
This article is a missed opportunity for the Governing body to show humility. It is also a missed opportunity to try and ensure that at least the outcome of their pyramidal privilege scheme is less damaging. They should and could have included some counselling of the elders and the like to show humility in their counselling and their handling of assigning of service privileges.
- This recently disfellowshipped sister is personally known to the review writer. ↑
- Re Daniel 2:1 see Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy Book, p46 Chapter 4 and paragraph 2, published in 1999 by Watchtower, Bible and Tract Society. ↑
- A search of this site will provide many articles discussing this problem and the lack of action by the Organization. ↑
- A very good comprehensive in-depth factual article on the history of Disfellowshipping in the Organization can be read here. https://jwfacts.com/watchtower/disfellowship-shunning.php ↑