Godly Principles Can Benefit You
YOU are no doubt aware that animals are governed by instinct. Many machines are designed to obey instructions. But humans were actually created to be guided by principles. How can you be sure of that? Well, Jehovah, the Originator of all righteous principles, announced when he made the first humans: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” The Creator is a spirit; he does not have a physical body as we do, so we are in his “image” in that we can reflect his personality, displaying a measure of his fine qualities. Humans have the capacity to chart their lives according to principles, that is, according to what they believe to be a code of right action. Jehovah has had many of these principles recorded in his Word.—Genesis 1:26; John 4:24; 17:17.
‘But the Bible contains hundreds of principles,’ one might say. ‘I cannot hope to know them all.’ True. Consider this fact though: While all godly principles are beneficial, some carry more weight than others. You can see that from Matthew 22:37-39, where Jesus showed that among the commandments and corresponding principles of the Mosaic Law, some were more important than others.
Which are the weightier principles? The key principles of the Bible are those that have a direct bearing upon our relationship with Jehovah. If we take these to heart, the Creator becomes the prime influence on our moral compass. Additionally, there are principles that affect our relationships with other people. Applying these will help us withstand me-ism, however it may be designated.
Let us start with one of the most important truths in the Bible. What is that truth, and how does it affect us?
“The Most High Over All the Earth”
One of the writers of the book of Psalms noted about Jehovah: “You alone are the Most High over all the earth.” Ancient King David said: “Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah, the One also lifting yourself up as head over all.” And the renowned prophet Jeremiah was moved to record: “In no way is there anyone like you, O Jehovah. You are great, and your name is great in mightiness.”—Psalm 83:18; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Jeremiah 10:6.
How should we apply those truths about God in everyday life?
It is clear who should really be preeminent in our lives—our Creator and Life-Giver. Would it not be fitting, then, to resist any tendency to draw attention to ourselves—a tendency that may be stronger in some than in others? A wise guiding principle is to “do all things for God’s glory.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) The prophet Daniel set a fine example in this regard.
The historical record tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was once agitated by a dream and demanded to know its meaning. Whereas everyone else was baffled, Daniel accurately told the king what he wanted to know. Did Daniel take credit for this? No, he gave glory to “God in the heavens who is a Revealer of secrets.” Daniel went on: “It is not through any wisdom that exists in me more than in any others alive that this secret is revealed to me.” Daniel was a man of principle. No wonder that in the book of Daniel, he is described three times as being “very desirable” in God’s eyes.—Daniel 2:28, 30; 9:23; 10:11, 19.
You will be benefited when you imitate Daniel. In following Daniel’s example, the decisive factor is motive. Who should get the honor for what you do? Regardless of your situation, you have the ability to act in harmony with this vitally important Bible principle—Jehovah is the Sovereign Lord. Your doing so will make you “very desirable” in his eyes.
Let us now consider two basic principles that can guide us in the field of human relations. In the face of the widespread emphasis on self, this area of life is especially challenging.
“With Lowliness of Mind”
Those who put themselves first are rarely satisfied. Most want an ever better life, and they want it now. For them, modesty is a type of weakness. They consider patience to be something that only others should display. When it comes to their getting ahead, anything goes. Do you think that you have any alternative to behaving as they do?
Servants of God encounter that attitude daily, but it should not rub off on them. Mature Christians accept the principle that it is “not the one who recommends himself [who] is approved, but the man whom Jehovah recommends.”—2 Corinthians 10:18.
Applying the principle at Philippians 2:3, 4 will help. That text encourages you to do “nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind [consider] that the others are superior to you.” Thus you will be “keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.”
Someone who had a healthy attitude about himself and who made a sound appraisal of his own worth, was Gideon, a judge among the ancient Hebrews. He did not seek to be leader of Israel. When he was designated to fill that role, however, Gideon called attention to his unworthiness. “My thousand is the least in Manasseh, and I am the smallest in my father’s house,” he explained.—Judges 6:12-16.
Moreover, after Jehovah gave a victory to Gideon, men of Ephraim picked a quarrel with him. How did Gideon react? Had his own importance been inflated by the triumph? No. He averted disaster by giving a mild reply. “What have I been able to do in comparison with you?” Gideon was lowly in mind.—Judges 8:1-3.
Granted, the events involving Gideon occurred a long time ago. Still, there is value in considering the account. You can see that Gideon had an attitude quite different from what is so common today, and he lived in accord with it, to his benefit.
The prevailing attitude that focuses on self can distort our view of worth. Bible principles correct that distortion, teaching us our true value in relation to the Creator and to others.
By heeding Bible principles, we rise above the mood of the moment. We are no longer swayed by feelings or personalities. The more we learn about righteous principles, the better acquainted we become with their Originator. Yes, taking special note of godly principles when reading the Bible is well worth the effort.—See box.
Jehovah has made humans higher than animals, which are moved primarily by instinct. Following God’s will involves applying divine principles. We thus can keep our moral compass in good order, a compass that will direct us into a new system of God’s making. The Bible gives us reason to expect very soon an earth-wide new system in which “righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:13.
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Some Helpful Bible Principles
Within the family:
“Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1 Corinthians 10:24.
“Love . . . does not look for its own interests.”—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.
“Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself.”—Ephesians 5:33.
“You wives, be in subjection to your husbands.”—Colossians 3:18.
“Listen to your father who caused your birth, and do not despise your mother just because she has grown old.”—Proverbs 23:22.
At school, at work, or in business:
“Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work.”—Ephesians 4:28.
“If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.”—2 Thessalonians 3:10.
“Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah.”—Colossians 3:23.
“We wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.”—Hebrews 13:18.
Attitude toward wealth:
“He that is hastening to gain riches will not remain innocent.”—Proverbs 28:20.
“A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver.”—Ecclesiastes 5:10.
Assessing one’s own worth:
“For people to search out their own glory, is it glory?”—Proverbs 25:27.
“May a stranger, and not your own mouth, praise you.”—Proverbs 27:2.
“I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think.”—Romans 12:3.
“If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving his own mind.”—Galatians 6:3.
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Daniel gave due credit to God
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Dealing with others in line with godly principles contributes to pleasant relations and happiness
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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C./Robert Bridges