We just had to celebrate and rejoice, for your brother was dead but has come to life.—Luke 15:32.
The illustration of the prodigal son is a strong incentive for those who have left the truth to return to Jehovah without delay! They may be spiritually exhausted, and the way back may seem to be embarrassing and difficult. But it is worth the effort—even the heavens will rejoice when they return. Never would we want to be so “overly righteous” that we refuse to welcome repentant sinners back. This would result only in spiritual “ruin.” We can learn another lesson from this. Someone who leaves the congregation should be viewed as “a lost sheep,” not a lost cause. If we meet a person who has strayed from the congregation, will we offer loving and practical help to assist him to return? Will we promptly inform the elders so that they can offer appropriate help? We will if we wisely apply the lesson we learn from Jesus’ illustration.
There is another aspect to consider. The growing numbers of persons leaving the Watchtower are doing so out of disgust for the organization itself. They are sickened by the hypocrisy of the leadership. They are stumbled, as Jesus said many would be. So, unless elders are willing to address the underlying issues such as espoused on the Watchman’s Post, there is very little that elders can do to encourage such persons. In fact, elders themselves are among those who are leaving.