Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Carrot And The Whip

I’ve looked far and wide throughout the scriptures and I have found no mention anywhere of Jesus Christ using guilt to motivate His followers.

Yet guilt is a way of life in the Jehovah’s Witnesses and many other religions.

My daughter and I had a really good conversation the other day. She is going through a relationship breakup with her boyfriend.

He is doing his best to make her feel guilty about her true emotions and needs.

I asked her the following question:

“If you do something because you feel guilty or were made to feel guilty is it really sincere or is it a contrived act done out of compulsion?”

She agreed that it would be “fake” and not “from the heart”.

I think a lot of times we do things to pacify our loved ones. Our wives, our parents, even our children have been the recipients of actions that we didn’t necessarily wish to do but we did them because we would be made to feel “guilty” if we didn’t.

One of the most powerful motivators for performance in the JW’s is guilt. Guilt is inflicted from a variety of sources including the elders, our friends and our relatives in the organization.

I’m going to ask you some questions and I want you to answer them honestly to yourself:

If going “door to door” wasn’t a requirement for salvation would you still do it? Would you still get up on a Saturday morning and go knocking on doors?

If regular meeting attendance wasn’t a requirement for salvation would you still do it?

If traveling long distances to attend assemblies wasn’t a requirement for salvation would you still do it?

These are rhetorical questions designed to get you thinking about your true motivations. If you are engaging in the above activities as an act of self preservation or to please the other people in your life then you aren’t doing them for the right reasons.

Let me give you another scenario:

You’re driving to the Kingdom Hall to the meeting and you’re running late. You pass by a car on the side of the road with a blown tire and an elderly woman is out there with her husband trying to help him change it.

Do you stop and help them knowing that it will make you even later for the meeting or do you speed by them rationalizing to yourself that they are “worldly” anyway and that you’ll catch it from the elders and your friends if you come in late?

This question is designed to get you thinking about your true motivation.

The true measure of a Christian isn’t what they do when everyone is watching. It is what they do when nobody is watching.

My message today is to live purely and consciously. This is your life. If you feel compelled to give to a charity then do so! If you feel drawn to help someone monetarily or emotionally then do it! Don’t allow what others might say or think to influence your pure actions! Christ gave everything to us. By giving of ourselves with our time, our money and our love out of a pure heart, we emulate His example.

These pure actions of mercy and love aren’t something you can put down on your “time report”.

Ephesians 2:4-10

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I remember when I was attending the Kingdom Hall that there were many “payoffs” for being active in field service and meeting attendance:

  • It made you feel like you would most probably be protected when Armageddon came. It made you feel “justified”.
  • Your friends and relatives in the Kingdom Hall gave you more love and respect than those who were inactive or didn’t “produce” as much fruit as you .
  • You were noticed by the elders and considered for “being used” in “holding the mics”, serving in high profile parts on the circuit or district assembly, serving as a ministerial servant or possibly even as an elder. All of these were high status posts in the Kingdom Hall and people gave supreme respect to those who held them.
  • You became more “popular” with the “friends” and would be invited to dinner, on vacations, to parties and “get togethers” with the higher ranking members of the group. The higher ranked your circle, the higher you would rise in the group status.
  • If you were an auxiliary pioneer or a full time pioneer you could look forward to having your name announced by the elders on a monthly basis and having the entire congregation clap in appreciation for your work. Not exactly what Christ described when He said to do your good things in secret.
  • If you were single, and had the previous things going for you, you were considered to be a very good “catch” by the other single members of the congregation. You were considered “spiritual” and could help them elevate their status in the congregation if they married you.

None of these things have anything whatsoever to do with the love that Jesus Christ showed for us. In fact He did the opposite. He relinquished His glory that He had alongside the Father and He submitted to being made a little lower than angels. He even washed the feet of His own disciples!

He submitted to being mocked, tortured, and despised for us. He submitted to a horrible death for us. He could have stopped these things at any point. He didn’t have to do this! He did so because He wanted to!

Have you ever seen a child pet a puppy?

There isn’t any payoff for the child is there? There’s no “string attached” to his actions. There is simply pure love between the child and the puppy. It is a pure act and not contrived. It isn’t done because Mommy won’t let him play outside if he doesn’t. This is the kind of love that Jesus Christ wants us to show for others. Not something with a payoff or guilt trip attached!

Yours in Christ,

Doug Shields