11. What spiritual qualities can we work to develop, and why are they important?
11 Develop spiritual qualities. By reading God’s Word and meditating on it, we can develop wisdom, insight, good judgment, knowledge, thinking ability, and soundness of mind. Such qualities are vital for those taking the lead in true worship. (Prov. 1:1-4; Titus 1:7-9) And as we read our Bible-based publications, we can discern God’s thinking on many matters. Daily, we face issues involving entertainment, dress and grooming, managing money, and getting along with others. By applying what we learn from the Bible, we can make decisions that please Jehovah.
1. Dividends following Bible reading.
"By reading God’s Word and meditating on it, we can develop wisdom, insight, good judgment, knowledge, thinking ability, and soundness of mind."
This first sentence in the paragraph is a positive statement. It reminds me of one of my favourite pieces from the Insight Vol II (page 755) wherein it is said...
"The help of God’s spirit is necessary for real discernment and understanding of God’s Word. (1Co 2:9-16) To get understanding and other benefits, a person must approach the reading of God’s Word with an open mind, throwing aside all prejudice and preconceived opinions; otherwise his understanding will be veiled..... (2Co 3:14-16) Superficial reading is not enough. The reader must put his heart into it, be absorbed in study of the material, meditate deeply upon it, and seek to benefit from it personally.—Pr 15:28; 1Ti 4:13-16; Mt 24:15."
However, to read the Bible so, is to embark upon a road which can disturb considerably as much of the teachings of the WTBTS/GBoJW are not attuned to scripture. When the Bible is read directly (without the vignette of WT literature) and reflected/meditated upon, many WT teachings simply don't add up. This I believe is the process highlighted in Hebrews 4:12 - "For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints from the marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart." So reading the Bible can have the effect of powerfully influencing the JW such that s(he) becomes pierced and gradually sees through the thoughts and intentions of the Watchtower magazine's authors.
In this context, it is understandable why a catechetical examination of the "Bible Really Teach" book is described as a Bible Study! So to is the text considered at the end of JW midweek meetings now called a Bible Study! But these approaches are a consideration of the Bible via the aforementioned WT vignette.
2. Watchtower qualifications for those "reaching out" - a paradox!
The second sentence in the paragraph states: "Such qualities are vital for those taking the lead in true worship. (Prov. 1:1-4; Titus 1:7-9)"
Firstly, I can't imagine King Solomon's being terribly enamoured with WT literature. In the relatively brief duration of its existance, it has changed its policies / doctrines "hither and dither" as they say. The Titus reference too is interesting for at verse 9, one qualification mentioned is that of "...holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching.." If a WT appointee who is "taking the lead" implements the aforementioned part of scripture, his appointment will be ephemeral indeed! Being the recipient of a WT appointment and making application of this qualification is well nigh impossible in today's age!
However, I want to relate some experiences which evidence mere lip service to the scriptural qualifications for WT appointees. During a circuit overseer visit which I recollect many years ago, the CBoE told the CO that we needed a transfer of several elders from neighbouring congregations as we were experiencing a trough among the brothers who were not "reaching out". This request was a de facto instruction for the CO to do some work. He would have had to approach other congregations nearby and ask those BoE's to deplete their WT apointees in favour of a neighbouring congregation. Well, the CO was having none of that! His response?
The CO asked the CoBE for the box of publisher record cards. He flicked through them looking for males who were high hour publishers. Each time he saw such a card, he retreived it, held it in his right hand, and flicked it in the direction of the CoBE so that it impacted his chest/abdomen. This turning of the publisher record card into a little frisbee of sorts, was accompanied by the CO's statement - "What are you doing with him then?" "Why isn't this one doing anything?" (No assigned priviliges despite status of being a high hour publisher). So it went on until the CoBE was firmly put in his place and the CO evidenced that there were a significant number of high hour publishers available for promotion but who weren't seen as candidates by the CoBE an his BoE followers. So the CO was playing a good game of cricket and batting back towards the bowler with vigour! He speedily identified that the BoE were lazy and wanted to benefit from the work of neighbouring BoE's who were more pro-active in encouraging males to reach out. He let the CoBE know that he was the one who had work to do and not the CO!
The point I'm making, is that in all my years experience as a WT appointee, nobody paid any attention to the scriptural qualifications delineated in the Bible. But I might be accused of living in the past. That was then Kopernicus - not now someone might allege! Things have changed old boy! Well not so I would answer. Just last year, a visiting CO took a differrent approach with the publisher record cards. During the WT study, I noted him sitting in the audience strategically placed such that he had a panoramic view of the audience. When a male raised his hand to answer up and his name was called to give an answer, the CO immediately flicked through the box to retrieve the male's publisher record card. He looked at the card, looked at the male, looked at the card, looked at the male and so it went on looking up and down. So even in more recent times, the de facto qualification for even being considered for a WT appointment is that of sufficient hours reported in the WT proselytising work!
3. The WTBTS / GBoJW elevates value/importance of its literature.
"And as we read our Bible-based publications, we can discern God’s thinking on many matters."
This third sentence in paragraph 11 was quite a shock to me. Without too much thinking at all, I thought that they are elevating the WT and other items they publish to a spiritual status that is shameful and/or shameless! Then I began to thbink that they are diluting the Bible via a back door. How is it possible to discern God's thinking on many matters when the policies and doctrines of the GBoJW /WTBTS change with such such rapidity that they can be accused of being capricious. Yet the Bible tells us of our Most High God that “With him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow.” James 1:17
In reality this third sentence does reflect the present WT stance on the Bible - it is an honest statement on the part of the WTBTS / GBoJW. They really do see their publications as so very important. Because the publications cite and quote verses from the Bible it calls their publications "Bible-based". But the approach taken is to make a claim, make an assertion and then cite or quote a verse of scripture in an endeavour to augment the claim / assertion. This approach completely ignores their published study 22 in the "Benefit from .... Ministry School..." text wherein we are counselled to ensure that we use scriptures in context.
Again, much of the WT literature takes a catechetical approach with questions designed to bring out a particular part of a published paragraph, and not necessarily a scriptural thought! In fact, the literature now seldom brings out a scriptural thought! The approach being taken is a flagrant and systemic disregard of their counsel published in the Insight Vol II (page 1070) under Teacher / Teaching... "Since all of God’s Word was written under inspiration (2Ti 3:16), it alone contains the spirit’s teaching." So the message of scripture is to read it and depend on Holy Spirit primarily. There is no practice of teaching the Good News in the first century which can be related to the approach of the WTBTS / GBoJW in this 21st century! Those of the first century would probably be appalled at the WTBTS /GBoJW approach and would likely see the elevation of WT literature as a parallel to God's Word as quite shocking! Neither Jeus nor his disciples read the Watchtower magazine. Holy Spirit - "the helper" is what they relied upon. What's wrong with us doing the same?
4. The author (WTBTS) extolls scripture...
"By applying what we learn from the Bible, we can make decisions that please Jehovah."
So true! Yes indeed. However, considerable caution is needed to discern what the WTBTS / GBoJW actually means by Bible Study!