“It can’t be pleasing to Jehovah when we fixate on the negative,” was a theme of Anthony Morris’s talk Friday PM at the Regional Convention. It is a choice. An unconscious choice, maybe, and difficult to retrain—but it ought be the aim. The talk was entitled: Close Friendship With Jehovah Brings the Greatest Joy!
“All creation keeps on groaning,” he said, quoting Romans 8:22, but does that mean we should go into it full mode, too? Though the backdrop was unpleasant in Habakkuk’s time, he was set on rejoicing: “Although the fig tree may not blossom and there may be no fruit on the vines; although the olive crop may fail and the fields may produce no food; Although the flock may disappear from the pen, and there may be no cattle in the stalls; Yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah;I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” he said. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Instead, practice being like Jesus in as many ways as possible, was the thrust of the talk. Practice giving and people will give to you—stingy people are never happy—stop judging and you will no means be judged. He didn’t say “Don’t start judging,” but “stop judging,” because they already were. It made me think of how the same speaker had handled the counsel of Jesus at Matthew 6:25: “Stop being anxious about your lives as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear,” and in this case reiterated it as though one might a child: “Just, stop it!” planting the idea that it was not uncontrollable. He didn’t say, “Don’t be anxious,” as though they weren’t already. He said “Stop being anxious,” conceding that they were.
Other points touched on in that talk: Don’t be envious of others, don’t begrudge someone’s material prosperity, because “jeolousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30) Brother Morris has a way of murmuring through his own talks, appearing to reason it out as he goes, so that no one in a thousand years would accuse him of “speechmaking.”
And what to make of 1 Peter 4:15? “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or a wrongdoer or a busybody in other people’s matters.” Most people would rate murderer as super-serious, thief somewhat less so, and busybody so far down the scale as to hardly register, yet Peter mentioned them all in the same breath.
Don’t be a busybody, was his admonition, and being a busybody usually stems from being dissatisfied in one’s own life. “All the days of the aflicted ones are bad”—Morris quoted Proverbs 15:15, so try to dwell on the second half of the verse: “But the one with a cheerful heart has a continual feast,” and strive hard to squeeze out the “poor me” attitude, needlessly focusing on the afflictions. Agonizing over problems that are beyond our control cannot be pleasing to God, instead, try to focus on the more productive things—things that we can do.
It occurred to me afterwards that this year we are not really calling it a ‘Regional Convention.’ With the entire convention moved online due to Covid-19, the “region” it covers is pretty big. This is it is just the “2020 Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses” with the theme “Always Rejoice,” which can be streamed from the jw.org website.