How do you illustrate poor Asaph, looking in upon “the wicked” and having to stifle a pang of envy? “For I became envious of the boasters, [When] I would see the very peace of wicked people,” says Psalm 73:3.
The trouble with “the wicked” is that “their paunch is fat.” Also, “they are not plagued the same as other men. Therefore haughtiness has served as a necklace to them; Violence envelops them as a garment. Their eye has bulged from fatness; They have exceeded the imaginations of the heart. They scoff and speak about what is bad; About defrauding they speak in an elevated style.” (Psalm 73:3-8)
“They seemed to have it all—wealth, a good life, and no anxieties. Their apparent success so discouraged the psalmist that he said: ‘Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence,’” we all pondered this at the Watchtower study (“Jehovah...Saves Those who are Discouraged,” December 2020)
Asaph figured out his dilemma at the psalm’s end, and therefore so did we, by discerning that their goose was cooked. He didn’t put it that way, of course, but he did put it that they are “on slippery ground,” since “the very ones keeping away from you will perish. You will certainly silence every one immorally leaving you.” (Vs 18, 27)
“To be cured of envy and discouragement, the Levite psalmist needed to see things from Jehovah’s standpoint. On doing so, he was at peace once again, and he was happy,” said the Watchtower. All was well.
But all was not well in the art department. The picture selected to illustrate was that of a fancypants-restaurant window washer gazing with dismay through the window he was washing at “the wicked”—four of them—laughing it up over fine wining and dining (no doubt “scoffing and speaking about what is bad,”) complete with a bow-tied waiter caring for their every whim. “It’s not fair!” you can all but hear our window-washing brother cry.
Instantly all the brothers who have washed windows—and there are quite a few of them, self included—forgot all about the lesson to focus on the picture. You don’t wash windows with sleeved wand in one hand and spray bottle in another! You have a squeegee in that other hand! The spray bottle does the same as the wand—it puts the solution on. What’s going to take it off?
Even during my tweeting the meeting I said this. Of course, I didn’t actually say it during the Watchtower Study itself. I said something to the effect that the window cleaning brother has a life of both challenges and joys, but he doesn’t really know about the braying diners. Maybe they are carefree, but they may also have lives of inner pain and emptiness. I didn’t repeat Sean’s comment, because it was his, and it wasn’t even his—I had heard it before—that “envy is like drinking poison and expecting the other fellow to drop dead.”
No, nobody brought the meeting to a standstill. It went on course and everyone benefited. But afterwards, like a hidden rock ripping out the bottom of the Love Boat, I kept playing with the picture. You don’t wash windows that way! I wouldn’t go so far as to charge “false doctrine,” but...
“Well maybe it was his first job and he’s not yet experienced,” someone said. He looks a little old for it to be his first job. If it is, then maybe I am as doubly wet as his window. Maybe the basic problem is that he is a deadbeat, not that he can’t wash windows.
In no time at all, the meme-makers were at work—we do have some creative people. One labeled the picture, “Pioneers supporting themselves via janitorial work” looking in on “Bethel writers who have never washed a window in their lives.”
But my favorite was submitted by Stephen: “Auxiliary pioneers” looking in on “regular pioneers without an hour requirement.”
Pitch us another one, art department. Give us your best shot.
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