Serving as Jehovah’s Trusting Fellow Workers
“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 modest in walking with your God?”—MICAH 6:8.
1. On what Scriptural basis can all of Jehovah’s servants today be called his “fellow workers”?
THE Christian apostle John wrote: “See what sort of love the Father has given us, so that we should be called children of God; and such we are.” (1 John 3:1) And the apostle Paul said of himself and his companion Apollos: “We are God’s fellow workers.” (1 Corinthians 3:9) Both of these statements were made by and about anointed followers of Jesus Christ. But in principle they apply to all true servants of God. So these could be paraphrased to say: ‘See what sort of love the Father has bestowed upon us in that we should be Jehovah’s fellow workers.’
2. Why is it possible for Jehovah’s servants to be his fellow workers?
2 How is it possible for weak, imperfect humans to be fellow workers of the great Creator, who is infinite in power and wisdom, perfect in justice, and the personification of love? This is possible because our first parents were made in the image and likeness of the Creator and of his fellow worker, the Word, or Logos. (Genesis 1:26, 27; John 1:1) So our first parents were given a measure of wisdom, justice, power, and love. That is why Jehovah could say to his earthly servants by means of his prophet: “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 modest in walking with your God?”—Micah 6:8.
3. What is implied at Micah 6:8, and what is required of a person before he can be one of Jehovah’s fellow workers?
3 When we read the words, “What is Jehovah asking back from you but . . . ?” the implication seems to be that what follows fairly well summarizes ‘earthling man’s’ responsibility toward God and fellow humans. To what extent this really is so will become apparent as our discussion proceeds. Of course, not just anybody can walk with Jehovah. This privilege is reserved for those who ‘have met him by appointment,’ so to speak. (Amos 3:3) How so? By having made an unreserved dedication to Jehovah and symbolized this by water baptism, as indicated in the previous article. So, what does Micah 6:8 mean for these individuals?
4. Basically, what does it mean to “exercise justice”?
4 To begin with, there is the requirement to “exercise justice.” As fellow workers of Jehovah God, we must hold a good conscience. To “exercise justice” basically means to do what is right, what is required of us by God. This means that we must fulfill our obligations, the chief one being to give Jehovah exclusive devotion. (Nahum 1:2) He tolerates no rivalry. We simply cannot slave for two masters.—1 Corinthians 10:22; Matthew 6:24.
5. How did Jesus Christ show that he loved righteousness and hated wickedness?
5 Moreover, to “exercise justice,” we must ‘love righteousness and hate wickedness,’ as Jesus Christ did. Because of his love of righteousness, he kept himself “guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners.” (Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 7:26) And because Jesus hated wickedness, it was with righteous indignation that he castigated the hypocritical and greedy religious leaders of his day.—Matthew 23:13-36; John 8:44.
6. Why do we need to have more than a mere mental assent that we should avoid what is forbidden because it is bad?
6 As can be seen from Jesus’ example, it is not enough to love righteousness. We must also hate—yes, abhor, detest, loathe, have a strong aversion for—what is bad. Because our inclinations are bad from our youth up and our hearts are deceitful, treacherous, we need more than merely a mental assent that what is bad is forbidden. (Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9) Unless we strongly oppose sinful tendencies and temptations, we will succumb to their allurements. We must have the same strong aversion for what is bad that Phinehas displayed when he used a lance to pierce through the couple united in the immoral worship of the Baal of Peor.—Numbers 25:5-8.
7. What testimony do we have that Jehovah does not use as his fellow workers any who are wicked?
7 Jehovah does not want and will not use as his fellow workers any individuals who are wicked. This is made clear at Psalm 50:16-18, where we read: “But to the wicked one God will have to say: ‘What right do you have to enumerate my regulations, and that you may bear my covenant in your mouth? Why, you—you have hated discipline, and you keep throwing my words behind you. Whenever you saw a thief, you were even pleased with him; and your sharing was with adulterers.’”
8. What incident underscores the reproach we can cause by succumbing to wrongdoing?
8 We may keep busy in Jehovah’s service, preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom. But if we are not very careful to exercise self-control, we may transgress because of fleshly weaknesses and bring reproach upon Jehovah’s name. Thus, a few years ago an elder committed adultery with a spiritual sister who had an unbelieving husband. On the evening that the disfellowshipping of the former elder was announced, the infuriated husband strode into the Kingdom Hall with a shotgun and fired shots at the two guilty individuals. Neither of them was killed, but the next day this was front-page news in the largest newspaper in the United States! Truly, wrongdoing brings reproach.—Proverbs 6:32.
9. According to Proverbs 4:23, what must we safeguard, and why?
9 Fittingly, therefore, we are counseled: “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Yes, we must discipline ourselves as to what we let our figurative hearts dwell on. More and more, television, magazines, and other forms of the media feature unclean things, including pornography. Therefore, we must be very selective about what we watch, listen to, and read. Personal thought control is so important! For instance, it might be easy to derive pleasure from conjuring up in our minds sexual fantasies, things that we would not think of trying to act out in real life. (Matthew 5:28) But often such thinking does result in bad actions. Instead of mentally dwelling on such matters, then, let us display the holy spirit’s fruit of self-control and dwell on the things listed at Philippians 4:8.—Galatians 5:22, 23.
10, 11. (a) What distinction can be made between faithfulness and loyalty? (b) How did God’s Son display faithfulness and loyalty?
10 The second requirement mentioned at Micah 6:8 is that we “love kindness.” “Love loyalty” is the way The New English Bible reads here. A footnote in the New World Translation Reference Bible shows that the Hebrew word cheʹsedh, rendered “kindness,” could also be rendered “loving-kindness” or “loyal love.” According to lexicographers, “loyal implies a firm resistance to any temptation to desert or betray.” “Loyal adds to faithful the idea of wanting to stand by and fight for the person or thing, even against heavy odds.” Interestingly, in the Scriptures we also find a slight difference in the use of these words. For example, the term “loyalty” is never used of inanimate things. But the word “faithful” repeatedly is. Thus, the moon is called “a faithful witness in the skies.” (Psalm 89:37) Then, too, God’s words are said to be faithful, that is, dependable.* (Revelation 21:5; 22:6) Loyalty, however, is attributed only to Jehovah God and his approved servants. Accordingly, concerning Jehovah, we read: “With someone loyal you will act in loyalty.”—2 Samuel 22:26.
11 The Son of God was faithful and loyal to Jehovah in heaven. On earth, he underwent testings as the man Jesus Christ and proved by his obedience that he was both faithful and loyal as a human. This is indicated by Hebrews 5:7-9, where we read: “In the days of his flesh Christ offered up supplications and also petitions to the One who was able to save him out of death, with strong outcries and tears, and he was favorably heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered; and after he had been made perfect he became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.”
Tests of Loyalty
12. At times, what may test our loyalty, and how have some reacted to such tests?
12 Loyalty to Jehovah God requires that we also be loyal to his servants on earth, our fellow Christians. The apostle John makes this clear when he reminds us: “He who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) The imperfections of others may test our loyalty in this regard. For instance, when they have been offended, some have manifested a weakness in their loyalty to Jehovah’s organization by staying away from Christian meetings. Another test of our loyalty to our brothers arises when those whom Jehovah is using to take the lead err in judgment. Now and then, such mistakes have been used by some as an excuse to take umbrage and disassociate themselves from Jehovah’s visible organization. But is their course of action justified? By no means!
13. Why is separating from Jehovah’s organization not justified, and what alternatives present themselves to such disloyal ones?
13 Why are such persons not justified in leaving God’s organization? Because his Word assures us: “Abundant peace belongs to those loving [Jehovah’s] law, and for them there is no stumbling block.” (Psalm 119:165) Moreover, we are commanded to “have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8; Proverbs 10:12) Furthermore, suppose a person was to separate himself from Jehovah’s people. Where could he go? Is he not faced with the same issue that confronted Jesus’ apostles when he asked them if they also wanted to leave him? The apostle Peter rightly replied: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.” (John 6:68) There is nowhere else to go but to “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, or into the clutches of Satan’s political “wild beast.” (Revelation 13:1; 18:1-5) Largely, disloyal ones who have left Jehovah’s visible organization have made common cause with those in God-dishonoring “Babylon the Great.”
“Be Modest in Walking With Your God”
14, 15. (a) What meanings does the English word “modest” have? (b) With which meaning of “modest” are we concerned here, and for what reasons? (c) Why should Christians ‘place a moderate estimate on their abilities or worth’?
14 The English word “modest” has several meanings. It can refer to that which is unpretentious, “limited in size, amount, or scope.” Or it can have the meaning of chasteness, “observing the proprieties of dress and behavior.” (1 Timothy 2:9) Then there is the meaning of “modest” with which we are especially concerned, that is, being aware of one’s limitations or “placing a moderate estimate on one’s abilities or worth.” We could never be one of Jehovah’s fellow workers if we had too high an opinion of ourselves, drawing attention to ourselves instead of drawing primary attention to Jehovah God.
15 ‘Placing a moderate estimate on our abilities or worth’ is the apparent meaning we should attach to the Hebrew word rendered “modest” at Micah 6:8. This is evident from the way the word is used in its only other occurrence in the Hebrew Scriptures. At Proverbs 11:2 it is contrasted not with sexual uncleanness but with presumptuousness, which results from thinking too highly of oneself. There we read: “Has presumptuousness come? Then dishonor will come; but wisdom is with the modest ones.” Being modest goes hand in hand with having the fear of Jehovah, which is also associated with wisdom. (Psalm 111:10) A modest person has the fear of Jehovah because he realizes what a great difference there is between him and God, between Jehovah’s righteousness and power and his own imperfection and weaknesses. Therefore, the modest person works out his salvation with fear and trembling.—Philippians 2:12.
16. What are some scriptures that show why Christians should be modest?
16 There are ever so many reasons why Jehovah’s fellow workers should be modest! Regardless of the wisdom we may have, the physical strength we may be endowed with, or how much material wealth we may possess, we have no grounds for boasting. (Jeremiah 9:23) Why not? Because of the principle stated at 1 Corinthians 4:7: “Who makes you to differ from another? Indeed, what do you have that you did not receive? If, now, you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?” We also do not have any reason for boasting because of the fruits of our ministry, for what do we read at 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7? There Paul said: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow.” Jesus’ words at Luke 17:10 should also help to keep us modest, for he said: “When you have done all the things assigned to you, say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves. What we have done is what we ought to have done.’”
17. Why is being modest truly the course of wisdom?
17 Being modest truly is the course of wisdom. Modesty enables us to be content wherever we are privileged to serve. If we are modest, we will not ambitiously try to shine but will be content to conduct ourselves as “a lesser one.” (Luke 9:48) Then, too, we will have the attitude of the psalmist, who declared: “A day in your courtyards is better than a thousand elsewhere. I have chosen to stand at the threshold in the house of my God rather than to move around in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10) Moreover, if we are modest, we will have the love that will move us to take the lead in showing honor to others.—Romans 12:10.
Modesty Becoming to Youth
18. (a) Why is modesty especially fitting for youths? (b) The need for modesty is borne out by what record involving modern-day youths?
18 Especially is it fitting that Christian youths adorn themselves with the garment of modesty. What a fine example Elihu furnished for them! Although he had the right answers, he was willing to wait respectfully until the older men had spoken. (Job 32:6, 7) Often, youths are prone to feel self-confident, to be little aware of their limitations. Because they have physical strength and have acquired some knowledge, they may tend to look down on their elders. But knowledge is not synonymous with wisdom, which is the application of knowledge. Typical is the sad record that modern youths are making in the United States. There, 63 percent of arrests for major crimes involve young people up to 24 years of age, with 30 percent of arrests being of those under age 18. It also is reported that “drunk or drug-impaired driving is the chief cause of death among Americans aged 15-24.” In that land, “more and more teenage marriages are ending in divorce,” whereas it is reported that “marriages are more likely to last if the bride and groom have a few more years of wisdom behind them when they go to the altar.”
19. What Scriptural counsel do youths do well to take to heart?
19 How wise, then, the counsel of God’s Word! Appropriately, it instructs youths to honor their father and their mother, being obedient to them in everything. (Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20) Especially should youths take to heart the wise counsel: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
20. What rewards can all dedicated and baptized persons expect if they heed Micah 6:8?
20 What rewards can all of us expect if, after having demonstrated trust in Jehovah by means of dedication and water baptism, we ‘exercise justice, display loyal love, and are modest in walking with our God’? Most important of all, we will have Jehovah’s approval because of meeting his requirements and will thus make his heart glad by sharing in the sanctification of his great and fear-inspiring name. (Proverbs 27:11) Moreover, we will realize in our own lives the truth of the principle that “godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Timothy 4:8.
In the western part of the United States, there is a geyser that for many years, on an average, erupted once every 65 minutes. It thus earned its name, Old Faithful.
What Are Your Answers?
□ In harmony with Micah 6:8, what is required to “exercise justice”?
□ What bearing does loyalty to Jehovah have on our relationship with fellow Christians?
□ Why should we be ‘modest in walking with God’?
□ Why does modesty especially befit Christian youths?
[Picture on page 17]
Do you safeguard your heart by being selective about what you watch, listen to, and read?
[Picture on page 18]
Peter knew that there was nowhere else to go because Jesus had “sayings of everlasting life.” Are you as determined to remain loyal to Jehovah’s organization?