“Now to the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.”—1 Tim. 1:17.
1. How only may the creature gain a right perspective on personal honor?
OF WHAT value is personal honor, if Jehovah’s name is not honored? What merit is there to worldly honor that ignores Jehovah’s right principles? Only by honoring Jehovah, the King of eternity, and the Source of all true honor and glory, may the creature gain a right perspective on personal honor. In honoring Jehovah, he will not seek to make a name for himself. Rather, he will be like-minded with the loyal Son of God, Christ Jesus, who declared: “I honor my Father . . . I am not seeking glory for myself . . . If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifies me.” (John 8:49-54) Self-honor and worldly glory are empty and vain. True honor is to be found in humbly witnessing to the name and kingdom of the great God, Jehovah. “Those honoring me I shall honor.”—1 Sam. 2:30.
2, 3. What does history show concerning human regard for personal honor?
2 Throughout history, earthling man has striven for an undying name and glory. Deeds of heroism have become part of the folklore of most nations. In many parts of the earth, vindicating personal honor has been held in great store. There was el valor Español in classic Spain and die Ehre in medieval Germany. In some places, a person’s name was cleared of insult by dueling with sword or pistol, and in the case of those unskilled in the use of lethal weapons, this used to amount to virtual suicide. But it meant saving face. Webster’s New International Dictionary says “save face” means “to preserve one’s dignity or standing before others.”—Page 2223, column 2.
3 In the Orient suicide has long been regarded as a means of clearing one’s name, the classic example being that of the forty-seven ronin (lordless knights) in Tokyo of the early 1700’s. These paid an account of honor by secretly slaying the high court official who had caused their master’s death. However, this brought them into disfavor with the ruler of Japan. They could redeem their honor only by carrying out seppuku (stomach-cutting), and this they did, all forty-seven disemboweling themselves at the one time. Thus they gained for themselves a name that has been honored by song, dance and pilgrimage down to this day.
4. How extensive is regard for name and honor in modern times?
4 The sensitive regard for name and honor is to be found also in this twentieth century. The Oriental businessman still suicides rather than face the dishonor of failing to pay his debts at the year’s end. Throughout the earth there are those who wear professional pride, distinction of caste or of social standing, and who are slaves to etiquette. With many, their way of life is governed by the thought: How will I look before the local community? In Western lands this sensitiveness often results in living beyond one’s means, in order to be in fashion with the latest model car and the latest home contraptions. Honesty is often sacrificed in order to “keep up with the Joneses.”
5. What does pride in personal honor actually amount to, and what does it result in?
5 What does all this amount to? It amounts to an unjustifiable pride in one’s personal honor. It means that one must make an outward show of respectability, of “being someone,” regardless of the facts. It is an emotional regard for a proud name, even at the cost of sacrificing all principle. It is a matter of putting on face, keeping face and saving face. The unbalanced craving of a good reputation, without regard to honoring Jehovah, has led to speaking and living a lie. It has led to crime and much unhappiness. When practiced in the Christian congregation, face-saving endangers the creature’s relationship to his Creator, and may result in the loss of eternal life. As the Bible record shows, face-saving has no place with God’s true people.
FACE-SAVING IN BIBLE TIMES
6. Where did pride and face-saving honor first appear, and how was it manifested?
6 Almost 6,000 years ago, that wily serpent, the Devil, introduced a false appraisal of honor into the paradise of Eden. The woman Eve was “thoroughly deceived” into thinking that she could make for herself a name, comparable to that of God. Her husband, Adam, became a transgressor with her. (Gen. 3:4-6; 1 Tim. 2:14) Sensing the shame of sin, the guilty couple now attempted to save face. They went to making clothes for themselves, and they hid from Jehovah, in between the trees of the garden. When called to account before Jehovah, the man tried to save face by blaming the woman, and the woman in her turn by blaming the serpent. However, the attempt to salvage personal honor could not bypass divine principle. Justly, Jehovah pronounced sentence in harmony with his previously stated law. Face-saving excuses could not save the pair from disgraceful banishment from Eden, nor from eternal death in the dust of the ground.—Gen. 2:17; 3:7-19.
7. How did Satan try to save face, and what is the proof that he failed?
7 However, what of that wily serpent, Satan the Devil? The Scripture record shows that God will have him crushed out of existence by the ‘seed of his woman,’ Christ Jesus. (Gen. 3:15) In the meantime Satan has tried to save face with the proud boast that, having caused Eve, and then Adam, to deflect from serving Jehovah, he could now turn all mankind away from God. Jehovah has convincingly answered the challenge through olden-time witnesses such as Job, through his perfect Son, Christ Jesus, and through his faithful Christian witnesses. (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-10; Heb. 11:1-12:2) Satan, for his part, has produced a proud “seed” of rebellious men, who have gloried in fame and self-honor, without regard to Jehovah’s name.
8. What has been fostered by desire for honor, and what was an early example?
8 From earliest times this desire for personal honor has fostered violence and dishonesty. Adam’s first-born, Cain, finding his sacrifice unacceptable to Jehovah, sought to save face by destroying his brother Abel. When Jehovah asked Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” he contemptuously lied in reply: “I do not know. Am I my brother’s guardian?” His face-saving pride brought only Jehovah’s curse, and ultimately eternal death.—Gen. 4:3-16.
9, 10. How was the seeking of name and fame confounded (a) in Noah’s day, and (b) following the Flood?
9 Within sixteen hundred years of the Edenic rebellion, the earth was overrun by a proud, God-dishonoring race of men, together with the hybrid offspring of wicked spirits and human females, “the mighty ones who were of that world, the men of fame.” “So God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth. After that God said to Noah: ‘The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is full of violence as a result of them, and here I am bringing them to ruin together with the earth.’” That proud world community maintained a smug face for a time, mocking Noah, his preaching and his boatbuilding, but it perished in dishonor as a world of the ungodly.—Gen. 6:4, 12, 13; 2 Pet. 3:5-7.
10 Following the Flood, Satan again put it into the hearts of imperfect men to seek a personal name and glory, rather than honor Jehovah. The great-grandson of Noah, Nimrod, “made the start in becoming a mighty one in the earth. He displayed himself a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” Men traveled east, to a valley plain in Shinar. “They now said: ‘Come on! Let us build ourselves a city and also a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a celebrated name for ourselves, for fear we may be scattered over all the surface of the earth.’” What did their “celebrated name” gain for them? In vindication of his own name, Jehovah confused their language and scattered them abroad upon the face of the earth.—Gen. 10:8, 9; 11:1-9.
11, 12. In the case of Egypt’s Pharaoh, how did Jehovah demonstrate the futility of pride in name and glory?
11 More than eight hundred years after the Flood, Jehovah sent Moses to Egypt to deliver His people, Israel. When Moses stated his mission before Pharaoh, that proud ruler of Egypt declared: “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice?” Jehovah humbled Pharaoh by bringing a series of devastating plagues on Egypt. During the course of these plagues, Jehovah told Pharaoh: “But, in fact, for this cause I have kept you in existence, for the sake of showing you my power and in order to have my name declared in all the earth.” It is for this same reason that Jehovah has permitted the god of this wicked world, Satan the Devil, to continue in existence down to the present day.—Ex. 5:2; 9:16.
12 Jehovah showed Pharaoh his power by slaying the first-born of Egypt and leading His own people out safe through the divided waters of the Red Sea. In a last, face-saving attempt to redeem national honor and pride, Pharaoh took his mighty army in pursuit, charging in between the walls of water. Jehovah had prophesied the result: “As for me, here I am letting the hearts of the Egyptians become obstinate, that they may go in after them and that I may get glory for myself by means of Pharaoh and all his military forces, his war chariots and his cavalrymen. And the Egyptians will certainly know that I am Jehovah when I get glory for myself by means of Pharaoh, his war chariots and his cavalrymen.” (Ex. 14:17, 18) The walls of water collapsed, ending Egypt’s glory as a world power. How insignificant are men and nations who magnify self-glory against the glory of the Creator, Jehovah God!
13. Can nations, rulers or clergy save face before Jehovah? What does the Bible record show?
13 From Egypt’s day until now, world powers have arisen in their glory, only to fade with the march of time. The Bible record describes the short-lived glory of some, and Bible prophecy has accurately portrayed the rise and fall of the remainder. (Daniel, chapters 7, 8 and 11) None of the mighty, missile-brandishing nations of this nuclear age will be able to save face, glory or honor when Jehovah executes judgment on them at Armageddon. The proud clergy of Christendom’s sects, together with the “majestic ones” of their flock, will likewise perish in dishonor.—Jer. 25:32-36.
MAINTAINING HONOR BEFORE JEHOVAH
14, 15. (a) Against what must lovers of righteousness guard? (b) What warning should we take from the records concerning Job and Moses?
14 Lovers of true righteousness must stand on constant guard, that they do not become contaminated by the proud spirit of this world. Even faithful servants of God have faltered in this, only to recover themselves when corrected. As we have seen, Job tried to justify self during the days of his testing. This was the reason for Elihu’s righteous anger: “Against Job his anger blazed over his justifying his own soul more than God.” Only by showing himself attentive to God’s wonderful works and by acknowledging correction could Job maintain an honorable position before Jehovah.—Job 32:2; 36:3, 22-26.
15 God’s servant, Moses, tried to save face before Israel. This occurred when he miraculously brought water out from the crag at Meribah, but doing so in anger, and without giving due honor to Jehovah. Though he repented and retained his honored position as prophet with God’s people, this misstep lost for him the privilege of leading Israel into the land of promise.—Num. 20:9-13.
16. For what course did Peter twice receive correction?
16 On two occasions, Peter fell into the same trap of face-saving. When Jesus had been arrested, and Peter followed to the courtyard of the high priest’s house, he three times tried to cover up, in denying that he was Jesus’ disciple. (Luke 22:54 62) Some years later, Paul was called upon to reprimand Peter for ‘putting on a pretense’ before the Jewish Christians that came down to Antioch from James. For the sake of appearances, he withdrew him self from associating with the non-Jews. (Gal. 2:11-14) In both cases Peter suffered correction. He had to learn “the hard way.”
17. What good name should Christians be careful to maintain?
17 While avoiding self-glory and face-saving pride, Christians must at the same time be careful to maintain a reputation that honors God. Overseers should have “a favorable testimony from people on the outside.” (1 Tim. 3:7) All other Kingdom ministers, too, should maintain a good name for honesty, right conduct and care of the family, providing “the right things in the sight of all men.” (Rom. 12:17) This is not a matter of giving themselves an exterior whitewashing, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, in order to ‘appear outwardly righteous to men.’ (Matt. 23:27, 28) It is in order that they may honorably represent Jehovah, by conforming every activity of daily living to His holy will. “In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers.”—2 Cor. 6:3, 4.
18. What attitude should the Christian show within the congregation?
18 Within the congregation, the Christian minister must likewise honor Jehovah by being sincerely appreciative of every kind provision made, that he “may grow to salvation.” (1 Pet. 2:1-3) He must not permit personal pride or face-saving to “put out the fire of the spirit.” He should be attentive to Paul’s admonition: “Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is right. Keep yourselves free from every form of wickedness.”—1 Thess. 5:19, 21, 22.
19. What old-world attitudes are sometimes brought into the congregation, and with what result?
19 Some have tried to bring old-world attitudes into the congregation. For example, they feel shame at being counseled or corrected, ignoring God’s principle that this is necessary for all in growing to spiritual maturity. (Prov. 4:13) They absent themselves during the circuit servant’s visit, or fail to take talks or written reviews in the Theocratic Ministry School. Some immature ones have even gone so far as to falsify their written reviews, their field service reports and otherwise put on a face-saving pretense before the servants of Jehovah’s organization. These cannot deceive Jehovah or his organization, and in due course they find themselves in the same condition as Ananias and Sapphira, because they “have played false, not to men, but to God.”—Acts 5:1-11.
20. What do some men find hard, and what sound advice does the Bible give to such?
20 In some lands, where women do all the menial work, it is damaging to a man’s pride to go from house to house with the Bible. Others find it hard as appointed servants in the congregation to serve the sisters. These should try to cultivate humility in association with God’s people, rather than save face by dropping out of the organization that they know to be the custodian of Jehovah’s Word of truth. “He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be humble in walking with your God?”—Mic. 6:8.
21. Give examples showing where the Christian may not compromise divine principles for face-saving pride or fear.
21 There are times when Christian principles conflict with demands of Caesar or customs of the local community. May the Christian save face before the world by bowing to Caesar’s demands that he violate his Christian neutrality? May he keep face before the community by performing an act of pagan religion at a funeral, by decorating his house with pagan symbols on a feast day, or by otherwise conforming himself to worldly custom? May he indulge in dishonest practices, so as to be able to put on a lavish wedding, and so keep face with the world? May he enter upon consensual marriage or immoral living, because he cannot afford the face-saving expense of an extravagant wedding feast? To all these questions, the Bible answers a resounding No!—Acts 4:18-20; 5:29; 15:29.
HONOR AND THE NEW PERSONALITY
22. (a) For what is there no place in the Christian congregation? (b) Why should we be open and honest with one another, and how?
22 There is no place in the Christian congregation for self-honor, saving face, or covering up by lying. These things may be the custom in the loveless, unhappy nations from which we have come out. However, the apostle tells us: “This, therefore, I say and bear witness to in the Lord, that you no longer go on walking just as the nations also walk in the unprofitableness of their minds, while they are in darkness mentally, and alienated from the life that belongs to God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the insensibility of their hearts.” Our deep love for and appreciation of Jehovah and all his goodness, together with love for our fellow Christians, will cause us to be open and honest with one another, and without fear of man. (Eph. 4:17, 18; 1 John 4:17, 18; 2 Tim. 1:7, 8) As the apostle also says: “Wherefore, now that you have put away falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, because we are members belonging to one another.”—Eph. 4:25.
23. (a) What do Christians renounce? (b) How do shame and face-saving go hand in hand? (c) If a Christian commits a sin, what should he not then do? What should he do?
23 There is no place in Jehovah’s New World society for the improper attitudes of the old world. “That is why, since we have this ministry according to the mercy that was shown us, we do not behave improperly, but we have renounced the underhanded things of which to be ashamed, not walking in craftiness neither adulterating the word of God, but by making the truth manifest recommending ourselves to every human conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor. 4:1, 2) Those who walk with God renounce the underhanded ways and craftiness of this world, and stand openly in favor of truth. They do not live in a condition of shame, requiring continual face-saving. This face-saving is based on emotions of pride and fear, and not on Bible principle. It is allied to shame and is a pretense for removing shame, no matter what the cost in principle, just so the individual may look right. Even if a Christian commits a sin, should he save face by hibernating in a condition of shame? No, but he should confess his sin before Jehovah, and again make straight paths for his feet. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9; 2:1, 2; Ps. 32:1, 5.
24. How may we be completely freed from the crafty ways of the face-saving world?
24 Humility, Christian love and heartfelt appreciation of our relationship to Jehovah will keep us walking in paths of righteousness. This is what the apostle entreats, to “walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love.” Through the congregation Christ has made “gifts in men” to teach and train all who share in Jehovah’s undeserved kindness through his Son. Let us accept this training joyfully, advancing with Jehovah’s organization to full Christian maturity, so that we will “no longer be babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of craftiness in contriving error. But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ.” (Eph. 4:1, 2, 8, 11-16) Any who have been contaminated by the crafty ways of the old world must make their minds over completely, becoming filled with the accurate knowledge of God’s will, “in order to walk worthily of Jehovah.”—Rom. 12:1, 2; Col. 1:9-12.
25. How may we put on the new personality, and with what result?
25 This means putting on the Christian personality, the new personality, which is so different from the old-world personality with its warped way of thinking. Therefore the apostle admonishes “that you should put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; but that you should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loving-kindness.” (Eph. 4:22-24) If we have put on the new personality through diligent study of and obedience to God’s Word, then our minds will be activated by God’s spirit. Thus we will seek always to be an honor to Jehovah’s great name, as his witnesses, and never strive for self-glory, a name among men, or to maintain face-saving pride.—Matt. 5:16; Luke 16:15.
26. What face-saving exploits has Satan schemed, but with what final result?
26 The face-saving pride of “lofty eyes” is detestable to Jehovah. (Prov. 6:16-19) It originates with Satan the Devil, who tried to make for himself a proud name, greater than Jehovah’s, and to lift up his throne “above the stars of God.” He became dazzled by his own “beaming splendor.” (Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:17) Now that his splendor faces extinction at Armageddon, he pursues a vicious policy of “rule or ruin.” He blindly plots a further face-saving exploit, in trying to lead all humankind over the brink into a nuclear abyss. He spurs world leaders on to prepare racial suicide on a colossal scale. In this he shall fail! Despite the wrath of worldly nations, Jehovah will fight for and deliver his own people, and “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Joel 2:32; Rev. 11:18) Satan will be thrown away in dishonor “like a detested sprout, . . . like a carcass trodden down. . . , because you brought your own land to ruin.”—Isa. 14:19, 20.
27. (a) What responsibility supersedes all others? (b) Who may be pronounced happy? (c) What glorious day is now at hand?
27 The survivors of this universal battle will be the ones who, like faithful Job, Christ Jesus and the remnant, refuse to break integrity, even in the face of Satan’s final, vicious assault on the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. (Ezek. 38:14-16) They will be the ones who appreciate that, whatever is involved in honor, there is a responsibility that supersedes all earthly duties and obligations, a responsibility to honor the great Giver of life, the One who set our earth spinning through space and created man upon it. (Acts 17:24-28; Ps. 36:9) As the Supreme Sovereign of the universe, he requires exclusive devotion of his intelligent creatures, and this we should gladly give. (Deut. 5:9, 10) Happy are we if we seek Jehovah’s glory above all else, exulting in his grand purpose that now, in our day, and by wonderful works of which only He is capable, his grand name is to be forever vindicated. Speed the day when that peerless name will “be exalted above the heavens” and the entire earth will be “filled with the knowing of the glory of Jehovah”!—Ps. 57:5; Hab. 2:14.