In Paragraph 4 of the Watchtower we read: “We find important information in the chapters surrounding the apostle Paul’s words at Romans 5:12, especially in chapter 6. This will help us to understand how Jehovah can forgive us. In chapter 3, we read: “All have sinned…., and it is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:23, 24) What did Paul mean by saying “undeserved kindness”? He used a Greek word that, according to one reference work, has the sense of “a favour freely done, without claim or expectation of return.” It is unearned and unmerited.”
The word they are talking about here is the word χάριs (=charis) which all other popular translations render as “GRACE”. The Watchtower’s rending of the word charis as “UNDESERVED KINDNESS” is unique and we are going to consider its implications on this article.
The doctrine of grace is one of the major doctrines amongst most mainstream Christian denominations but for a Jehovah’s Witness the whole concept is lost due to the rendering of the word as undeserved kindness.
For a start, what is “grace”? There is some much material out there written about Grace so my explanation will be short and I will leave to the reader to do his own personal research on this matter. Grace is a constant theme in the Bible, and it culminates in the New Testament with the coming of Jesus. We read in John 1:17(NIV): “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”. The word translated “grace” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word charis, which means “favor, blessing, or kindness.” We can all extend grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. The only way any of us can enter into a relationship with God is because of His grace toward us. Grace began in the Garden of Eden when God killed an animal to cover the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). He could have killed the first humans right then for their disobedience. But rather than destroy them, He chose to make a way for them to be right with Him. With the coming of Jesus Christ and his death grace can now be applied in its individual Christian through the power of the holy spirit. “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves.” (Ephesians 2:8, NIV)
This is a free gift the God out of love offers to us without demanding it back or begrudging it. The Watchtower’s unique rendering of the Word as undeserved kindness renders the value and the power of this gift obsolete to the point that alters our view of God from a loving God to a demanding hard to please dictator. This spells out why JWs tend to be guilt-ridden messes. Constantly looking to do more than they are currently doing. This gives insight into the control the Governing Body has on the members. The message is almost subliminal and ingrained into the doctrine expertly.
Think of it this way: You are in hard financial times and a good friend bales you out with a great sum of money. You are very grateful. The Watchtower’s “Undeserved Kindness” dwells on the part of the fact that the friend DIDN’T have to give you this MONEY, and reminds you of it whenever he can. Most other Christians apply the doctrine of “Grace” which focuses on the loving aspect of the gift, which requires no payback and never a word of it again. Grace is still underserved, but deserving is a moot point when discussing the application.
If that friend incessantly reminded you that he bailed you out and everything you ever do is a result of his undeserved gift, most humans would end up stop being that person’s friend and likely find a way to pay him back so he would stop holding it over your head.
On the other hand, if the friend never says a thing about the gift again, the relationship can flourish and be strengthened by a true bond of love.
I invite you to take a good look at the “friendship” you have with the Society’s version of God, Jehovah. Does the Society’s God sound like a good friend? A friend that gives because of love and asks nothing in return? Or does their Jesus hold his gruesome tragic death over your head constantly and keep dwelling on the fact that you never deserved that kind of sacrifice?
The difference between “grace” and “undeserved kindness” is that “grace” concentrates on the loving aspect of the gift whereas “undeserved kindness” is all about reminding you what you owe and you can never pay back.
The governing body and its misrepresentation of this amazing gift from God reminds us of one of Jesus’ parables, the parable of the man who owed money to the king. In Matthew 18:23-30: “That is why the Kingdom of the heavens may be likened to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. When he started to settle them, a man was brought in who owed him 10,000 talents. But because he did not have the means to pay it back, his master ordered him and his wife and his children and all the things he owned to be sold and payment to be made. So, the slave fell down and did obeisance to him, saying, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay back everything to you.’ Moved with pity at this, the master of that slave let him off and cancelled his debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves, who owed him 100 denarii, and grabbed him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back whatever you owe. ‘So, his fellow slave fell down and began to beg him, saying, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back. ‘However, he was not willing, but he went and had him thrown into prison until he could pay back what he owed.”
Of course, this parable was told as a way to explain how we should forgive one another. It is all about forgiveness but think about it. In a similar way, Jehovah is applying grace on us because he knows that we cannot attain his perfect standards by our own strength. It is as if he is cancelling a massive debt because Jesus died for us and grace is now available through the power of the holy spirit. The governing body though, as the wicked slave of this parable doesn’t like this idea. They don’t like the idea of a loving God cancelling debts and therefore misrepresent God and his Word by altering words and demanding works and “paying up front” from every enslaved Witness.
In paragraph 10 we read of a covert admission that it can be missed if not read properly: “God applied the ransom to Paul and others of his day. Thus, Jehovah forgave their sins, anointed them with holy spirit, and called them to be his spiritual sons. Then they had the heavenly hope. If they proved faithful, they would live and rule with Christ in heaven.” In other words, the gift of grace and the application of the ransom sacrifice is part and parcel of becoming anointed by the holy spirit and called to be a spiritual son. No one can separate these gifts not even the governing body. This invitation extends to everyone who becomes a Christian not just the governing body. The offer of grace was meant for ALL Christians of the first century as was the anointing from the holy spirit and the fact that every baptized Christian is born by the spirit. You can’t pick and choose what is applied to whom.
In paragraph 18 we read: “To lie is to say something untruthful. However, Jehovah wants his people to go beyond not telling outright lies. He urged the ancient Israelites: “You should be holy, because I, Jehovah your God, am holy.” Then he gave examples of being holy. In part, God said: “You must not steal, you must not deceive, and you must not deal falsely with one another.” (Lev. 19:2, 11) Sadly, a person who makes it a point never to tell outright lies might still resort to deceiving others, dealing falsely with them. This paragraph reminds us Jesus words to his disciples about the Pharisees when he advised them: “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:3) The very men that can stand in front of the camera of jw-broadcasting and lie to 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses, that the paedophilia scandal that has rocked to its core the religion in recent years is just apostates lies ,these are the same people that they want you to go over and beyond to make sure not a single lie or a thought of a lie cross your lips. As Jesus said: “They bind up heavy loads and put them on the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger” (Matt.23:4, NWT)
In conclusion, I’m glad to see that the Watchtower is attempting to explain the doctrine of grace albeit through their twisted version of undeserved kindness. At least for once they concentrate on the New Testament and things that Jesus and the apostles said instead of their fixation with the Old Testament. The article fast unravels though and becomes repetitive as their true intentions are becoming more clear towards the end of the article whereas instead of expanding on the many facets of grace they use their energy for another pointless exercise on telling the rank and file how to avoid minor sins.