“Taking heed” implies a conscious effort to safeguard the ecclesia from a “falling away” in these perilous last times. Firstly, it is incumbent on all who have “been adopted into the service of the King” to take heed lest we individually loosen our grip on His Truth and secondly, lest His ecclesia suffer a declension from the apostolic Faith. An appreciation of our high and holy calling will stir us to a “diligent introspection” of our state of separate­ness, to discern between things holy and things profane and, enthusiastically, to fully utilise our several talents to edify and encourage our beloved brethren and sisters.

When Adam sinned he defiled both his mental and his moral attributes by thinking upon the word of the serpent, and then doing that upon which his mind had been exercising itself. As a result the Mighty One condemned his physical state to death. Salvation from this sad calamity can only be effected by reversing the process. Man must purify both his mental and his moral attributes according to the decrees of his Maker, and then the compassionate Deity will purify manʼs physical state. The decrees of the Creator are not difficult for any man or woman to obey, but they must be obeyed, in every detail, and without alteration, adulteration, omission or relaxation.

The Son of Deity came into the world and simplified this Word of his Father so that no one has an excuse not to comply with the Divine requirements. Yet down through the ages since, the ecclesia has had to battle with innumerable examples of abject weakness toward this matter of obedience. She had to contend with men who “walked disorderly”; with men who “erred from the belief”; with those who “turned aside after the Adversary”; those who were “lovers of selves, proud, and high-minded”; and in particular respect to the present subject, those who “gave HEED to seducing spirits, hypocrisy, and the speaking of lies”. All who have a serious care about reversing these departures from the Faith, young, old, rich, poor, families and individuals may find some help in the elaboration of certain aspects of this “taking heed”.

“Taking Heed” Defined

There are as many as ten different original words which have all been translated “heed” throughout the Bible. Their meanings in the Hebrew are as follows—to see; to watch; to observe silently; to be warned; to give attention, to give the heart. And in the Greek, to hold towards; to look on, or at; to see to; to mark; to hold the more toward.

The reader will be repaid richly for the contemplation of each of these meanings relating to ʻtaking heedʼ, but we shall consider here just three or four of them.

“To be warned” Heb zehar. The prophet Ezra (4:22) warns against a certain failure: “Take heed now that you fail not to do this.” This was a warning to the officials of Artaxerxes in Judea, and is a warning to the saints today as well, and they should “ Work out their salvation with fear and trembling”. They should take heed to involve themselves in any office for which they have the capacity and do that work with willing hands and smiling face. They shouldtake heed that they fail not” in the performance of their heavenly calling for indolence and cowardice are not characteristics of them who have been adopted into the service of the King greater than the king of Persia.

“To give attention” Heb qusheb. Isaiah saw a vision of the fall of Babylon (21:7) and was commanded to “Go, set a watchman and let him declare what he sees”. And it is revealed that “he hearkened diligently with much heed”.

It is possible that the saints know well enough what are the commandments and doctrines of their Lord, but are indifferent to the performance of them. The saints are all constituted the watchmen of Zion, and they are all enlisted to give diligent attention to the details of their commission. This commission requires attention of the keenest nature to what they have been told and the most rigorous of its performance. This can only be manifest in a completely unfeigned way if this attention to taking heed is motivated by the next example.

“To give the heart” Heb nathan leb. In Ecclesiastes 7:21 Solomon gave wise advice regarding what is heard and the handling of that which is heard. “Take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest you hear your servant curse you.” The ecclesia is no different from the world in respect to the management of the tongue. Unless the tongue is controlled by the spirit of purity and separation it will engage in all manner of gossip provoked by what the heart has heard. The lesson here is to “Take heed to all words that are spoken and to think wisely before replying.

These two Hebrew words nathan leb provide the most prudent advice to all who desire to hear no evil and to speak no evil. Their meaning is “to give the heart”. To give the heart to only the noblest of thoughts. To think before speaking. To control hurt, jealousy, and self-justification. To speak only in love, kindness and forbearance. To give the heart to godliness, and thereby heed all temptations native to the carnal mind.

The final word comes from Hebrews 2:1 where the apostle exhorts his readers to fulfill the advice given in the previous example. He had just finished explaining the function of the angels, calling them “ministering spirits” on behalf of him who bears a “sceptre of righteousness”. Knowing that these angels are hidden powers working on behalf of the saints (and, for that matter, against them as well), the ecclesial members “ought to give the most earnest heed to the things which they have heard, lest at any time they should let them slip”. The Greek words are two very strong words indicating that the “we” of Paulʼs statement should “hold the more towards”. So it is that every brother should shoulder whatsoever load is placed upon him and happily and dutifully carry his load. He should not only believe the doctrines, but he should also live his life in accordance with those doctrines: denying self at all times and, being a constant observer of the condition of his spiritual family, love his neighbour as himself and “die daily” for that familyʼs benefit. Conscious all the while of the words of the apostle (Heb 6:12) “not to be slothful, but imitators of them who, through belief and patience inherit the promises”. Or, as he wrote to the Ephesian ecclesia, ʻBe ye therefore, imitators of God, as dear children, and walk in love” (Eph 5:1,2).

Using Our Talents to the Profit of the Ecclesia

One of the biggest questions in the minds of Christʼs followers concerns the allocation of talents. It seems so difficult to discover how many of these talents the Master has given to each of his servants. Too many perceived talents leads to superiority and pride in self and indifference and disdain towards others. Too few perceived talents leads to envy, lassitude and hopelessness. The first can destroy an ecclesia through an overbearing pomposity, and the latter can destroy it through a failure to do anything for its edification and security.

No brother or sister has received no talents. Therefore something can be achieved for the welfare and promotion of the ecclesia as a whole. Only a smile can transform sadness or loneliness into a strengthening joy. A brother who berates his lowly manual abilities stifles the upbuilding of his fellow-labourers. A brother who has scholastic training ought to give his talents to that side of ecclesial management. Every member of an ecclesia has something to give, just as every body has so many parts to enable it to function efficiently.

Every destructive element within an ecclesia has its root in the failure to perceive and apply these talents correctly. Jealousy, greed, gossip, haughtiness, forgetfulness, pride and a host of other ungodly traits can all be traced back to a lack of appreciation, and full occupation with, these divinely given attributes.

Taking Heed to Separateness

Giving heed implies the virtual surrender of a person to that to which he gives heed. Fortunately, evil is not the sole domain of this giving heed. Man can just as earnestly give heed to a good cause and reap the benefit therefrom offered by the Deity to Adam—the victory of the seed of the woman over the seed of the serpent. So it is not surprising that the seed of the woman is given many, many examples in the pure and separated Word of Deity of a wise “taking heed to”.

But as the ecclesia is composed of individuals, and can only be truly assessed by the mental and moral righteousness of these individuals, it is obvious that everything depends on what those individual brethren and sisters think, say, and do, in their calling to the purity and separateness belonging to, and loved by, both the Father and the Son. This is where the problem begins to show itself. A searching of the Scriptures will reveal many areas in which ecclesial members must exercise diligent introspection to determine the degree of purity and separation they have allowed (or attained) in their lives.

In these latter days, when knowledge has been increased, it is very easy to be drawn away from the “simplicity which is in Christ,” and compromise the Divine edict of total separation from all things called worldly. The ecclesia of the living Deity is suffering from this decline in ardent, zealous, unconditional obedience to the way of life (eternal), for the sake of the joys of life (temporal). As each generation comes and goes the line of demarcation between the holy things of Deity and things profane becomes further blurred. As the time of the reappearance of the pure and separated Son of Deity draws ever closer, it becomes an absolute necessity for the ecclesia to be a chaste virgin, to take diligent heed to this most important aspect of her character. The ecclesia, as a whole, must take heed to the doctrines delivered her and determine that they have not been diluted by the philosophies of the world about her. She must also take heed to the works which these doctrines demand of her, so that in her mental and moral exercises, she will be applauded by her Lord at the time of his appearing and his judgment of her.

“Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it” (Col 4:17).