Education—Use It to Praise Jehovah
“He that speaks of his own originality is seeking his own glory; but he that seeks the glory of him that sent him, this one is true.”—JOHN 7:18.
1. When and how did the process of education have its beginning?
EDUCATION began a long, long time ago. It was soon after Jehovah God, the Great Educator and Instructor, created his firstborn Son that the process of education had its beginning. (Isaiah 30:20; Colossians 1:15) Here was One who could learn from the Great Educator himself! During countless millenniums of intimate association with the Father, that Son—who came to be known as Jesus Christ—received a priceless education in the qualities, works, and purposes of Jehovah God. Later, as a man on earth, Jesus could say: “I do nothing of my own initiative; but just as the Father taught me I speak these things.”—John 8:28.
2-4. (a) According to John chapter 7, what were the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ attendance at the Festival of Tabernacles in 32 C.E.? (b) Why were the Jews puzzled about Jesus’ teaching ability?
2 How did Jesus use the education he had received? Throughout his three-and-a-half-year earthly ministry, he tirelessly shared with others what he had learned. This, however, was with a primary purpose in mind. And what was that? Let us examine Jesus’ words in John chapter 7, where he explained both the origin and the purpose of his teaching.
3 Consider the setting. It was the autumn of 32 C.E., nearly three years after Jesus’ baptism. The Jews were gathered in Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles. During the first few days of the festival, there had been a lot of talk about Jesus. When the festival was half over, Jesus went to the temple and began teaching. (John 7:2, 10-14) As always, he proved himself to be a great Teacher.—Matthew 13:54; Luke 4:22.
4 Verse 15 of John chapter 7 says: “Therefore the Jews fell to wondering, saying: ‘How does this man have a knowledge of letters, when he has not studied at the schools?’” Do you understand why they were puzzled? Jesus had not attended any of the rabbinic schools, so he was uneducated—or so they thought! Yet, Jesus could locate and read sections in the Sacred Writings with ease. (Luke 4:16-21) Why, this Galilean carpenter even instructed them in the Law of Moses! (John 7:19-23) How was this possible?
5, 6. (a) How did Jesus explain the source of his teaching? (b) In what way did Jesus use his education?
5 Jesus explained, as we read in Joh 7 verses 16 and 17: “What I teach is not mine, but belongs to him that sent me. If anyone desires to do His will, he will know concerning the teaching whether it is from God or I speak of my own originality.” They wanted to know by whom Jesus was educated, and he told them plainly that his education was from God!—John 12:49; 14:10.
6 How did Jesus use his education? As recorded at John 7:18, Jesus said: “He that speaks of his own originality is seeking his own glory; but he that seeks the glory of him that sent him, this one is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” How fitting that Jesus used his education to bring glory to Jehovah, “the One perfect in knowledge”!—Job 37:16.
7, 8. (a) How should education be used? (b) What are four basic objectives of a balanced education?
7 We thus learn a valuable lesson from Jesus—education should be used, not to glorify ourselves, but to bring praise to Jehovah. There is no better way to utilize education. How, then, can you use education to bring praise to Jehovah?
8 To educate means “to train by formal instruction and supervised practice esp[ecially] in a skill, trade, or profession.” Let us now consider four basic objectives of a balanced education and how each of these can be used to praise Jehovah. A balanced education should help us (1) to read well, (2) to write clearly, (3) to develop mentally and morally, and (4) to acquire the practical training needed for day-to-day living.
Learning to Read Well
9. Why is it important to be a good reader?
9 Listed first is learning to read well. Why is it so important to be a good reader? The World Book Encyclopedia explains: “Reading . . . is basic to learning and one of the most important skills in everyday life. . . . Skilled readers contribute to creating a prosperous, productive society. At the same time, they themselves enjoy fuller, more satisfying lives.”
10. How does reading God’s Word help us to enjoy fuller, more satisfying lives?
10 If reading in general can help us to enjoy “fuller, more satisfying lives,” how much more so is this true of reading God’s Word! Such reading opens up our minds and hearts to Jehovah’s thoughts and purposes, and a clear understanding of these gives meaning to our lives. In addition, “the word of God is alive and exerts power,” says Hebrews 4:12. As we read God’s Word and meditate on it, we are drawn to its Author, and we are moved to make changes in our lives to become more pleasing to him. (Galatians 5:22, 23; Ephesians 4:22-24) We are also impelled to share with others the precious truths we read. All of this brings praise to the Great Educator, Jehovah God. Surely there is no better way to use our ability to read!
11. What should be included in a balanced program of personal study?
11 Whether young or old, we are encouraged to learn to read well, for reading plays an important part in our Christian life. In addition to the regular reading of God’s Word, a balanced program of personal study would include considering the Bible text from Examining the Scriptures Daily, perusing The Watchtower and Awake!, and preparing for Christian meetings. And what about the Christian ministry? Clearly, preaching publicly, making return visits on interested persons, and conducting home Bible studies all require good reading ability.
Learning to Write Clearly
12. (a) Why is it important to learn to write clearly? (b) What was the greatest writing ever done?
12 A second objective is that a balanced education should help us learn to write clearly. Not only does writing convey our words and ideas but it also preserves them. Many, many centuries ago, some 40 Jewish men inscribed on papyrus or parchment the words that came to form the inspired Scriptures. (2 Timothy 3:16) Surely this was the greatest writing ever done! Jehovah no doubt guided the copying and recopying of those sacred words through the centuries, so that they have reached us in reliable form. Are we not thankful that Jehovah committed his words to writing, instead of relying on transmission by word of mouth?—Compare Exodus 34:27, 28.
13. What indicates that the Israelites knew how to write?
13 In ancient times, only certain privileged classes, such as the scribes in Mesopotamia and Egypt, were literate. In sharp contrast with the nations, in Israel everyone was encouraged to be literate. The command at Deuteronomy 6:8, 9 for the Israelites to write upon the doorposts of their houses, though apparently figurative, implies that they knew how to write. At an early age, children were taught how to write. The Gezer Calendar, one of the oldest examples of ancient Hebrew writing, is thought by some scholars to be a schoolboy’s memory exercise.
14, 15. What are some positive and wholesome ways to use the ability to write?
14 But how can we in a positive and wholesome way use the ability to write? Certainly by taking notes at Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions. A letter, even if written “in few words,” can offer encouragement to one who is ill or can say thank-you to a spiritual brother or sister who was kind or hospitable to us. (1 Peter 5:12) If someone in the congregation has lost a loved one in death, a brief letter or card can “speak consolingly” to that person for us. (1 Thessalonians 5:14) A Christian sister who lost her mother to cancer explained: “One friend wrote me a nice letter. That really helped because I could read it over and over again.”
15 An excellent way of using the ability to write is to bring praise to Jehovah by writing a letter to give a Kingdom witness. Sometimes it may be necessary to keep in contact with newly interested people living in isolated areas. Illness may temporarily make it difficult for you to go from house to house. Perhaps a letter can say in writing what you would normally say in person.
16, 17. (a) What experience exemplifies the value of writing a letter to give a Kingdom witness? (b) Can you relate a similar experience?
16 Consider one experience. Many years ago a Witness wrote a letter giving a Kingdom witness to the widow of a man whose death had been announced in the local newspaper. There was no reply. Then, in November 1994, over 21 years later, the Witness received a letter from the woman’s daughter. The daughter wrote:
17 “In April 1973, you wrote to my mother to comfort her after the death of my father. I was nine years old at the time. My mother did study the Bible, but as yet she is not a servant of Jehovah. However, her study eventually led to my association with the truth. In 1988, I started my Bible study—15 years after receiving your letter. On March 9, 1990, I was baptized. I am so thankful for your letter of many years ago and so happy to let you know that those seeds you planted did grow, with Jehovah’s help. My mother gave me your letter to keep, and I would like to know who you are. I do hope that this letter reaches you.” The daughter’s letter, which included her address and phone number, did indeed reach the Witness who had written so many years before. Imagine the young woman’s surprise when she received a phone call from the Witness—who still writes letters to share the Kingdom hope with others!
Developing Mentally, Morally, and Spiritually
18. In Bible times, how did parents care for the mental and moral education of their children?
18 A third objective is that a balanced education should help us to develop mentally and morally. In Bible times the mental and moral educating of children was regarded as one of the primary duties of parents. Children not only were taught to read and write but, more important, were educated in God’s Law, which involved all their activities of life. Thus, education included instruction about their religious obligations and the principles governing marriage, family relationships, and sexual morality, as well as their obligations toward their fellowman. Such education helped them to develop not just mentally and morally but spiritually as well.—Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20, 21; 11:18-21.
19. Where can we find education that shows us the best moral values to live by and that helps us to develop spiritually?
19 What about today? A good secular education is important. It helps us to develop mentally. But where can we turn for education that will show us the best moral values to live by and that will help us to develop spiritually? Within the Christian congregation, we have access to a program of theocratic education that is not available anywhere else on earth. By means of our personal study of the Bible and Bible-based publications as well as the instruction provided at congregation meetings, assemblies, and conventions, we can receive this priceless, ongoing education—divine education—free of charge! What does it teach us?
20. What does divine education teach us, and what results therefrom?
20 When we begin to study the Bible, we learn basic Scriptural teachings, ‘the primary doctrines.’ (Hebrews 6:1) As we continue, we take in “solid food”—that is, deeper truths. (Hebrews 5:14) More than that, though, we learn godly principles that teach us how to live as God wants us to live. For example, we learn to avoid habits and practices that ‘defile the flesh’ and to have respect for authority and for the person and property of others. (2 Corinthians 7:1; Titus 3:1, 2; Hebrews 13:4) In addition, we come to appreciate the importance of being honest and industrious in our work and the value of living by Bible commands on sexual morality. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Ephesians 4:28) As we make progress in applying these principles in our lives, we grow spiritually, and our relationship with God deepens. Moreover, our godly conduct makes us good citizens, no matter where we live. And this may move others to glorify the Source of divine education—Jehovah God.—1 Peter 2:12.
Practical Training for Day-to-Day Living
21. What practical training did children receive in Bible times?
21 A fourth aim of a balanced education is to provide a person with the practical training needed for day-to-day living. Parental education in Bible times included practical training. Girls were taught household skills. The last chapter of Proverbs 31:10-31 shows that these must have been many and varied. Thus, girls became equipped to do spinning, weaving, and cooking and to care for general household management, trading, and real-estate transactions. Boys were usually taught their father’s secular occupation, either agriculture or some trade or craft. Jesus learned carpentry from his adoptive father, Joseph; thus, he was called not only “the carpenter’s son” but also “the carpenter.”—Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3.
22, 23. (a) For what should education prepare children? (b) What should be our motive in choosing further education when that may appear necessary?
22 Today, too, a well-balanced education includes preparation to care for the needs of a family some day. The apostle Paul’s words found at 1 Timothy 5:8 indicate that providing for one’s family is a sacred obligation. He wrote: “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” Education, then, should prepare children for the responsibilities that they will take on in life as well as equip them to become hardworking members of the community.
23 How much secular education should we pursue? This may vary from country to country. But if the job market calls for training in addition to the minimum required by law, it is up to parents to guide their children in making a decision about supplementary education or training, weighing both the potential benefits and the drawbacks of such additional studies. What, though, should be one’s motive in choosing further education when that may appear necessary? Certainly not riches, self-glory, or praise. (Proverbs 15:25; 1 Timothy 6:17) Remember the lesson we learned from Jesus’ example—education should be used to bring praise to Jehovah. If we choose further education, our motivation should be the desire to support ourselves adequately so that we can serve Jehovah as fully as possible in the Christian ministry.—Colossians 3:23, 24.
24. What lesson learned from Jesus ought we never forget?
24 Let us, therefore, be diligent in our efforts to acquire a balanced secular education. May we take full advantage of the ongoing program of divine education that is provided within Jehovah’s organization. And may we never forget the valuable lesson we learned from Jesus Christ, the best-educated man ever to walk this earth—education should be used, not to glorify ourselves, but to bring praise to the greatest Educator of all, Jehovah God!
What Is Your Answer?
□ How did Jesus use his education?
□ Why is it important to learn to read well?
□ How may we use the ability to write to bring praise to Jehovah?
□ How does divine education help us to develop both morally and spiritually?
□ What practical training should a balanced education include?
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Practical Help for Educators
At the “Joyful Praisers” District Conventions during 1995/96, the Watch Tower Society released a new brochure entitled Jehovah’s Witnesses and Education. This 32-page, full-color brochure has been published especially for educators. Thus far it has been translated into 58 languages.
Why a brochure for educators? To help them better understand the beliefs of students who are children of Jehovah’s Witnesses. What does the brochure contain? In a clear and positive tone, it explains our views on such issues as supplementary education, birthdays and Christmas, and the saluting of the flag. The brochure also reassures educators that we want our children to make the most of their schooling and that we are committed to cooperating with educators, taking an active interest in our children’s education.
How may the Education brochure be used? Since it was prepared for educators, let us share it with teachers, principals, and other school officials. May this new brochure help all such educators to understand our views and beliefs and why we at times claim the right to be different. Parents are encouraged to use the brochure as a basis for personal discussion with their children’s educators.
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In ancient Israel education was held in high esteem