Let God’s Name Be Sanctified
“Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.”—Matt. 6:9.
1. What should we pray for, as of first importance?
Everyone who claims to be a Christian has read or heard the prayer that Jesus gave as an outline when his disciples asked him: “Lord, teach us how to pray.” As the point of first importance, Jesus stated: “Father, let your name be sanctified.”—Luke 11:1, 2.
2. For what things does the name of Jehovah stand?
2 Of all the names in the universe, the name of the Father, Jehovah, excels in brilliance, dignity and reputation. Not only is he the Creator, almighty and with limitless knowledge, executing perfect justice, but even more than that, his loving-kindness and mercy make his name deserving of the greatest honor and praise, yes, reverence. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, he was directed to go into Mount Sinai, and “Jehovah proceeded to come down in the cloud and station himself with him there and declare the name of Jehovah. And Jehovah went passing by before his face and declaring: ‘Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment, bringing punishment for the error of fathers upon sons and upon grandsons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation.’”—Ex. 33:18-23; 34:4-7.
3. What are God’s dominant qualities, and why does he say that he will not give exemption from punishment?
3 The love and mercy of Jehovah are here shown to be among his dominant qualities. But the Most High will not let the wrongdoer pervert his mercy as an excuse for continued wantonness. Otherwise, he could not govern the universe for the good of those who want to do what is right. One of Christ’s apostles points out about certain men: “Just as they did not approve of holding God in accurate knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting, filled as they were with all unrighteousness.” (Rom. 1:28, 29) Their way of life, with its idolatries and licentiousness, naturally resulted in effects to their offspring. (Rom. 1:21-23) But even these children can receive God’s mercy if they turn to him for help.—Ezek. 18:21, 22.
THE AIM OF OUR LIVES
4. What should we, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, make our real treasure and pride?
4 To us humans, therefore, Jehovah describes what we should make our real treasure. He says: “Let not the wise man brag about himself because of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man brag about himself because of his mightiness. Let not the rich man brag about himself because of his riches. But let the one bragging about himself brag about himself because of this very thing, the having of insight and the having of knowledge of me, that I am Jehovah, the One exercising loving-kindness, justice and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I do take delight.”—Jer. 9:23, 24.
5. How did Jesus keep the sanctifying of Jehovah’s name uppermost in his heart?
5 Therefore, the name of Jehovah and all that it stands for should be uppermost in our hearts. When Jesus was on earth, the things that hurt him most were the reproaches that were brought upon God’s name, particularly by God’s own people, the Jews. He said: “I always do the things pleasing to [God].” (John 8:29) In his ordeal in the Garden of Gethsemane, the greatest concern to him was not that he was going to die. He came to earth, being born as a human for the very purpose of a sacrificial death, and he walked undeviatingly toward that end. But what put such a weight on him that last night before his death was the reproach that his death under the charge of blasphemy against God would bring upon Jehovah’s name—he, the Son of God and God’s representative, dying in this reproachful manner before the whole world. About him it was written: “The reproaches of those who were reproaching you have fallen upon me.”—Rom. 15:3.
6. As shown by the apostle Paul, how should the statement at Romans 15:3 affect us as Christians?
6 The apostle Paul uses this statement to encourage Christians to have in mind something besides the pleasing of themselves—that they should be willing to ‘put themselves out’ to help others. (Rom. 15:1, 2) This was what Christ was living and dying for, taking all the reproaches, so that people would have the right view of his Father, and so that they might come to know and praise God. In addressing Christians, Paul prays: “Have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Rom. 15:5, 6.
BEFORE PERSONS CLOSE AND DISTANT
7. How can the Christian sanctify God’s name (a) privately, (b) in his family, and (c) in the congregation?
7 How can the Christian upon whom Jehovah’s name has been called be sure that he is always sanctifying God’s name? Of course, he does this even in private by holding God’s name as sacred in his heart and mind. He does it in his family by speaking of right things and by showing a loving concern for every member, exhibiting qualities that God shows toward his family. Toward his brothers in the Christian congregation he sanctifies God’s name by helping them at every opportunity, bearing the weaknesses of those not as spiritually strong as he is. (Gal. 6:10) Because Jehovah’s name is called on him, he knows that what he says and does will reflect on the divine name.
8. How can a person sanctify God’s name in the eyes of outsiders, and what attitude of God should he have?
8 How does he sanctify God’s name in the eyes of people outside? By imitating God and letting others know why he does so. So he must love them even as God does. God could have looked at all humankind as worthless, self-seeking, disgusting sinners. He could rightly have manifested only a superior feeling, looking down on their condition of filthiness and degradation, their stupidity and their foolish practices. However, God did not take this position. He saw these things that he did not like. But “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) And Christ died for us “while we were yet weak, . . . while we were yet sinners, . . . when we were enemies.”—Rom. 5:6-10.
9. How can the Christian sanctify God’s name when talking to others who are not in the truth?
9 One of the most direct ways of sanctifying God’s name is by telling others about God’s provision for mankind through Christ. In speaking to these persons, whether they appear to be interested or not, the Christian must always keep in mind the sanctifying of Jehovah’s name. This means that our conduct and speech should be that which will, if possible, encourage the person to have a more friendly viewpoint toward God. We should keep in mind that the person to whom we are speaking does not view matters in the light that we do. He more readily observes our courtesy and our kindly, helpful, sincere attitude than he does our words. If he does not see these things, he will not listen to what we say.
10. In talking to outsiders, what do we want to avoid and what do we want to stress?
10 Accordingly, in calling from house to house, we do well to have a positive approach. To condemn what the householder believes or the things that he is practicing will not help him. We have to try to help him to see that what we present to him in Jehovah’s name is good. It has to appeal to him as something better, or something that will help, not condemn him.
11. (a) Should we think that because we have the truth we are better than people outside the congregation? (b) What does the apostle Paul say as to the purpose of Christ’s dealing with him when he was such a sinner?
11 Also, our attitude toward him, and toward all persons in the world, should be the attitude displayed by the apostle Paul. Just because he was favored by having the truth, he did not consider himself any better personally as an imperfect human creature than those to whom he preached. He said: “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwells nothing good.” (Rom. 7:18) He told his associate Timothy: “I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who imparted power to me, because he considered me faithful by assigning me to a ministry, although formerly I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man. Nevertheless, I was shown mercy, because I was ignorant and acted with a lack of faith. But the undeserved kindness of our Lord abounded exceedingly along with faith and love that is in connection with Christ Jesus. Faithful and deserving of full acceptance is the saying that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am foremost. Nevertheless, the reason why I was shown mercy was that by means of me as the foremost case Christ Jesus might demonstrate all his long-suffering for a sample of those who are going to rest their faith on him for everlasting life.”—1 Tim. 1:12-16.
12. What may be the situation in a family when one member becomes one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
12 A wide door that is open to most of us for sanctifying Jehovah’s name is in connection with our relatives who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. We may be sincere in presenting the truth, but may not have the advisable consideration for our relatives, who do not know or perceive and accept matters concerning the Bible in the same way that we do.
13. What course might a wife, for example, take when she comes to a knowledge of the truth ahead of her husband and relatives?
13 For example, a wife may come to a knowledge of the truth, and may discern that some of the former practices of herself, her husband and her relatives are wrong. Her husband and relatives are likely to view her as a fanatic if she tries to superimpose her ideas on them. She could come right out and tell them that all these practices, such as observing certain holidays, are wrong, and possibly turn them away from listening. What might be a better way?
14. What is the proper attitude and action of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses toward his relatives not in the truth?
14 Exercise patience, consideration and empathy! Think of the time that you spend calling on strangers at the doors, the time you take studying with them, carefully helping them to get a good foundation before trying to get them to change their ways, their associations, and so forth. So, why be overhasty and make attempts to push your viewpoint on your relatives? Before you either cut off your association with them or cause them to withdraw from you, why not look at the matter as actually one way of serving God while you are still being as friendly, kind, helpful and affable as ever? In this way you will be displaying the attributes of God and sanctifying his name so that when you do have an opportunity to bring to their attention the good things of God’s provisions, they may be ready to give you a hearing, because they see God’s qualities in you.
AVOID THINKING TOO MUCH OF SELF
15, 16. Into what course of unwisdom did Moses let himself go in the wilderness of Zin?
15 With regard to those not in the truth, just as with our Christian brothers, we must always think first: Is what I am doing or about to do putting God’s sanctification first? It is easy to become impatient and irritated or to become a little self-righteous, forgetting to rely wholly on Jehovah. This is a course of unwisdom. Moses made this very sad mistake once. The Israelites were very rebellious and troublesome to Moses. In the wilderness of Zin they began quarreling with Moses because there was no water. Jehovah then told Moses to speak to the mountain crag to bring out water. But Moses said to the people: “Hear, now, you rebels! Is it from this crag that we shall bring out water for you?” Instead of speaking to the crag, he struck it twice after thus calling attention to himself and calling the people “rebels,” and water came out.—Num. 20:1, 2, 7-11.
16 Moses succeeded in getting water for the people. But what did Jehovah say?—“Because you did not show faith in me to sanctify me before the eyes of the sons of Israel, therefore you will not bring this congregation into the land that I shall certainly give them.”—Num. 20:12.
BECOMING A SHARER OF THE GOOD NEWS
17. (a) Do we as Jehovah’s Witnesses owe anything to people on the outside? (b) Analyze what the apostle Paul said at 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, and apply the principle to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
17 God, by favoring us with a knowledge of the truth, has actually put us under obligation to people on the outside, as well as to our brothers. The apostle Paul expressed the matter to the Christians in Rome in this way: “Both to Greeks and to Barbarians [foreigners], both to wise and to senseless [uneducated] ones I am a debtor: so there is eagerness on my part to declare the good news also to you there in Rome.” (Rom. 1:14, 15) Paul also said: “Though I am free from all persons, I have made myself the slave to all, that I may gain the most persons. And so to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those under law I became as under law, though I myself am not under law, that I might gain those under law. To those without law I became as without law, although I am not without law toward God but under law toward Christ, that I might gain those without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to people of all sorts, that I might by all means save some. But I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with others.” Paul did not want to be rejected and lose out on the blessings of the “good news” after he had preached to others.—1 Cor. 9:19-27.
18. How can we follow up our prayer to ‘let God’s name be sanctified’?
18 Consequently, when we pray, “Father, let your name be sanctified,” we are asking God to help us to set all other things aside so that what we do will always glorify his name and cause it to be held sacred. We will then follow up our prayer by seeking not to put anything in front of others to stumble them in their search for the truth. We will watch to be more loving and less critical. We will ever keep in mind that our objective is not to judge, but to ‘become a sharer of the good news and its blessings’ with others.
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For failing to sanctify Jehovah’s name, Moses lost a great favor