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Keep Your Senses When Your Loyalty Is Tested

Keep Your Senses When Your Loyalty Is Tested

“Keep your senses in all things.”​—2 TIM. 4:5.

SONG 123 Loyally Submitting to Theocratic Order


1. What does it mean to keep our senses? (2 Timothy 4:5)

 WHEN we face adversities, our loyalty to Jehovah and his organization can be tested. How can we overcome such challenges? We need to keep our senses and stay awake, standing firm in the faith. (Read 2 Timothy 4:5.) We keep our senses by remaining calm, thinking clearly, and striving to see matters from Jehovah’s perspective. When we do that, our thoughts will not be controlled by emotions.

2. What will we discuss in this article?

2 In the preceding article, we considered three challenges we may face that come from outside of the congregation. In this article, we will consider three challenges from within the congregation that could test our loyalty to Jehovah. They are (1) when we feel mistreated by a fellow Christian, (2) when we receive discipline, and (3) when we struggle to adapt to organizational changes. How can we keep our senses and loyally stick to Jehovah and his organization when faced with such challenges?


3. How might we react if we feel mistreated by a fellow Christian?

3 Have you ever felt mistreated by a fellow Christian, perhaps someone in a position of responsibility? Likely, the brother did not intend to hurt you. (Rom. 3:23; Jas. 3:2) Still, his actions may have upset you. You may have lost sleep thinking about the matter. You may have even wondered, ‘If a brother can act this way, is this really God’s organization?’ That is exactly how Satan wants us to react. (2 Cor. 2:11) Such negative thinking could cause us to separate ourselves from Jehovah and his organization. So if we feel that a brother or a sister has mistreated us, how can we keep our senses and avoid giving in to harmful thinking?

4. How did Joseph keep his senses when he was mistreated, and what lessons can we learn from his example? (Genesis 50:19-21)

4 Do not become embittered. When Joseph was a teenager, his older brothers mistreated him. They hated him, and some of them even wanted to kill him. (Gen. 37:4, 18-22) Eventually, they sold him into slavery. As a result, Joseph faced severe trials that lasted about 13 years. Joseph could have questioned whether Jehovah really loved him. And he could have wondered if Jehovah had abandoned him in his time of need. But Joseph did not become embittered. Instead, he kept his senses by remaining calm. When he had the chance to retaliate against his brothers, he refrained from doing so and showed love for them and forgave them. (Gen. 45:4, 5) Joseph behaved this way because he was able to think clearly. Rather than focus on his problems, he saw the big picture​—Jehovah’s purpose. (Read Genesis 50:19-21.) What is the lesson? If you are mistreated, do not become embittered against Jehovah or wonder if he has abandoned you. Instead, meditate on how he is helping you to endure the trial. Additionally, when others mistreat you, try to cover over their imperfections with love.​—1 Pet. 4:8.

5. How did Miqueas keep his senses when he felt that he had been mistreated?

5 Consider a modern-day experience of an elder from South America named Miqueas. b He recalled a time when he felt that he had been harshly treated by some brothers in positions of responsibility. He said: “I had never experienced that kind of stress before. I was frightened. I could not sleep at night, and I shed tears of helplessness.” Still, Miqueas kept his senses and worked hard to control his feelings. He prayed frequently, asking Jehovah to give him holy spirit and strength to endure. He also looked up information in our publications that could help him. What is the lesson? If you feel mistreated by a brother or a sister, remain calm and try to control any negative feelings that you may have. You may not know what circumstances could have caused the person to speak or act that way. So talk to Jehovah in prayer, and ask him to help you see matters from the other person’s standpoint. Doing so may help you to give your fellow worshipper the benefit of the doubt and to overlook the offense. (Prov. 19:11) Remember, Jehovah is aware of your situation and he will give you the strength you need to endure.​—2 Chron. 16:9; Eccl. 5:8.


6. Why is it important that we see Jehovah’s discipline as an expression of his love? (Hebrews 12:5, 6, 11)

6 Discipline can be emotionally painful. But if we focus only on the pain, we may begin to minimize the discipline, feeling that it is not justified or that it is too harsh. As a result, we may miss out on something special​—seeing the discipline as an expression of Jehovah’s love for us. (Read Hebrews 12:5, 6, 11.) And if we allow our emotions to control us, we give Satan an opportunity to exploit our feelings. He wants us to reject the discipline and, even worse, to distance ourselves from Jehovah and from the congregation. If you have been disciplined, how can you keep your senses?

Peter humbly accepted counsel and discipline, making himself more useful to Jehovah (See paragraph 7)

7. (a) As shown in the picture, how was Peter used by Jehovah after he accepted discipline? (b) What do you learn from Peter’s example?

7 Accept discipline, and make the needed adjustments. More than once, Jesus corrected Peter in front of the other apostles. (Mark 8:33; Luke 22:31-34) What a humbling experience! However, Peter remained loyal to Jesus. He accepted the discipline and learned from his mistakes. Consequently, Jehovah rewarded Peter’s loyalty and assigned him weighty responsibilities in the congregation. (John 21:15-17; Acts 10:24-33; 1 Pet. 1:1) What can we learn from Peter’s example? We benefit ourselves and others when we see beyond the embarrassment of the discipline, accept the correction, and make the needed adjustments. When we do so, we become even more useful to Jehovah and to our brothers.

8-9. After being disciplined, how did Bernardo initially feel, but what helped him to correct his thinking?

8 Consider what happened to Bernardo, a brother in Mozambique. He was removed as an elder. How did Bernardo initially feel? He says, “I was resentful because I did not like the discipline I received.” He was concerned about how others in the congregation would view him. He admits, “It took me a few months to gain the right view of the situation and to trust in Jehovah and his organization again.” What helped Bernardo to have the right perspective?

9 Bernardo corrected his thinking. He explains: “When I served as an elder, I used Hebrews 12:7 to help others to have the right view of Jehovah’s discipline. Now I asked myself, ‘Who needs to apply this scripture?’ All of Jehovah’s servants​—including me.” Then Bernardo took further steps to rebuild his trust in Jehovah and His organization. He intensified his spiritual routine of Bible reading and deep meditation. Although he felt insecure about how his brothers and sisters viewed him, he worked with them in the ministry and participated in congregation meetings. In time, Bernardo was reappointed as an elder. If, like Bernardo, you have received discipline, try to see past the embarrassment, accept the counsel, and make the needed adjustments. c (Prov. 8:33; 22:4) If you do, you can be sure that Jehovah will reward you for loyally sticking to him and his organization.


10. What organizational change may have tested the loyalty of some Israelite men?

10 Organizational changes can test our loyalty. If we are not careful, we could even allow them to separate us from Jehovah. For example, consider how an organizational change under the Mosaic Law may have affected some Israelites. Before the Law was instituted, family heads performed priestly duties. They built altars and sacrificed to Jehovah on behalf of their families. (Gen. 8:20, 21; 12:7; 26:25; 35:1, 6, 7; Job 1:5) But when the Law was instituted, family heads had to let go of that privilege. Jehovah appointed priests from Aaron’s family to offer sacrifices. After that organizational change was put into effect, if a family head who was not one of Aaron’s descendants began acting as a priest, he could be put to death. d (Lev. 17:3-6, 8, 9) Was this change perhaps one of the reasons why Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and 250 chieftains challenged Moses’ and Aaron’s authority? (Num. 16:1-3) We cannot say for sure. Whatever the case, Korah and his associates failed to remain loyal to Jehovah. If organizational changes test your loyalty, what can you do?

When the Kohathites received a change of assignment, they willingly served as singers, as gatekeepers, or as workers in storehouses (See paragraph 11)

11. What do we learn from the example of some of the Kohathite Levites?

11 Fully support organizational changes. During their travels in the wilderness, the Kohathites cared for a prominent assignment. Each time the Israelites moved camp, some of the Kohathites carried the ark of the covenant before all the people. (Num. 3:29, 31; 10:33; Josh. 3:2-4) What a privilege! However, things changed for them when the Israelites settled in the Promised Land. The Ark no longer needed to be moved regularly. So by the time Solomon ruled as king, some Kohathites were assigned to work as singers, some served as gatekeepers, and others cared for storehouses. (1 Chron. 6:31-33; 26:1, 24) There is no record that the Kohathites complained or demanded a more prominent role because of their rich heritage. What lesson can we learn? Wholeheartedly support changes that Jehovah’s organization makes, including any that affect your assignment. Find joy in whatever assignment you are given. Remember that your assignment does not reflect your worth as a person. Jehovah values your obedience far more than any assignment.​—1 Sam. 15:22.

12. How did Zaina feel when she was reassigned from Bethel?

12 Consider the example of Zaina, a sister in the Middle East, who received a change of assignment and lost a cherished privilege. She was reassigned to the field after serving at Bethel for more than 23 years. She says: “My change of assignment was a big shock. I felt useless and kept asking myself, ‘Where did I fail?’” Sadly, some brothers and sisters in the congregation added to her pain by telling her: “Had you been good enough, the organization would not have let you go.” For some time, Zaina felt so downhearted that she cried every night. But she says: “I never allowed myself to doubt the organization or Jehovah’s love.” How was Zaina able to keep her senses?

13. What did Zaina do to overcome her negative feelings?

13 Zaina was able to overcome her negative feelings. How? She read articles in our publications that addressed her personal challenge. The article “You Can Cope With Discouragement!” in the February 1, 2001, issue of The Watchtower helped her a lot. That article explains how the Bible writer Mark may have struggled with similar feelings when he received assignment changes. Zaina recalls, “Mark’s example was my medicine for overcoming discouragement.” Zaina also stayed close to her friends. She did not isolate herself; nor did she give in to feelings of self-pity. She concluded that Jehovah’s spirit operates through his organization and that those taking the lead cared for her deeply. But she also realized that God’s organization must do what is best to get Jehovah’s work done.

14. Vlado struggled to adapt to what organizational change, and what helped him?

14 Vlado, a 73-year-old elder in Slovenia, struggled when his congregation merged with another congregation and the Kingdom Hall that he attended was closed. He says: “I did not understand why such a beautiful Kingdom Hall would be closed. I felt hurt because we had recently renovated the hall. I am a carpenter, and I had built some of the new furniture. Also, the reorganization required many adjustments that were not easy for us older publishers.” What helped Vlado to support the direction? He explains: “Adapting to changes made by Jehovah’s organization always brings blessings. These refinements are preparing us for even greater changes in the future.” Are you struggling with the adjustments that come with a congregation merge or an assignment change? Be assured that Jehovah understands your feelings. When you support such changes and loyally stick to Jehovah and the organization that he is using, you will surely be blessed.​—Ps. 18:25.


15. How can we keep our senses when we face challenges from within the congregation?

15 As we get closer to the end of this system of things, we can expect challenges to come from within the congregation. Those challenges could test our loyalty to Jehovah. So we must keep our senses. If you feel mistreated by a fellow Christian, do not allow yourself to become bitter. If you receive discipline, look beyond the embarrassment, accept the counsel, and make the needed adjustments. And when Jehovah’s organization makes changes that affect you personally, wholeheartedly accept them and obey the direction.

16. How can you maintain your trust in Jehovah and his organization?

16 You can maintain your trust in Jehovah and his organization when your loyalty is tested. But to do so, you need to keep your senses, that is, to stay calm, think clearly, and see matters from Jehovah’s perspective. Be determined to study about Bible characters who successfully coped with similar issues and meditate on their examples. Pray to Jehovah for help. And never isolate yourself from the congregation. Then, come what may, Satan will not be able to separate you from Jehovah or His organization.​—Jas. 4:7.

SONG 126 Stay Awake, Stand Firm, Grow Mighty

a Our loyalty to Jehovah and his organization could be tested, especially when we face challenges within the congregation. This article will discuss three of these challenges and what we can do to stay loyal to Jehovah and his organization.

b Some names have been changed.

c You may find further helpful suggestions in the article “Did You Once Serve? Can You Serve Again?” in the August 15, 2009, issue of The Watchtower, p. 30.

d The Law required that family heads who wanted to slaughter a domestic animal for meat take the animal to the sanctuary. Exceptions were made for family heads who lived too far away from the sanctuary.​—Deut. 12:21.