Honor Jehovah by Displaying Dignity
“[Jehovah’s] activity is dignity and splendor themselves.”—PS. 111:3.
1, 2. (a) How would you define “dignity”? (b) What questions will be considered in this article?
WHEN asked to define the word “dignified,” ten-year-old Madison immediately replied, “Well-dressed.” What that young girl may not have known is that the Bible speaks of God as being ‘clothed with dignity.’ (Ps. 104:1) For humans, displaying dignity may sometimes involve being well-dressed. For instance, the apostle Paul desired that Christian women “adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind, not with styles of hair braiding and gold or pearls or very expensive garb.” (1 Tim. 2:9) But dignified conduct that honors Jehovah’s “dignity and splendor” goes further than that.—Ps. 111:3.
2 In the Bible, the Hebrew word for “dignity” can also be translated “splendor,” “majesty,” “glory,” and “honor.” According to one dictionary definition, “dignity” is “the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed.” And no one is worthy of greater honor and esteem than Jehovah. As his dedicated servants, therefore, we should be dignified in speech and action. Why, though, can humans act with dignity? How are Jehovah’s dignity and splendor made evident? How should we be affected by God’s dignity? What can Jesus Christ teach us about displaying this quality? And how can we display godly dignity?
Why We Can Act With Dignity
3, 4. (a) How should we respond to the dignity bestowed upon us? (b) To whom does Psalm 8:5-9 point prophetically? (See footnote.) (c) Upon whom did Jehovah bestow dignity in the past?
3 Because they are made in God’s image, all humans have the capacity to act with dignity. Jehovah dignified the first man by appointing him as caretaker of the earth. (Gen. 1:26, 27) Even after man’s fall from perfection, Jehovah restated man’s responsibility in connection with the earth. Thus, God still ‘crowns’ humans with dignity. (Read Psalm 8:5-9.)a The dignity bestowed upon us requires a dignified response—that of praising Jehovah’s majestic name with reverence and dignity.
4 Jehovah has especially conferred a measure of dignity upon those who render sacred service to him. God dignified Abel by accepting his sacrifice, rejecting the one offered by his brother Cain. (Gen. 4:4, 5) Moses was instructed to ‘put some of his dignity’ upon Joshua, the man who was to succeed him as leader of the Israelites. (Num. 27:20) Concerning David’s son Solomon, the Bible says: “Jehovah continued to make Solomon surpassingly great before the eyes of all Israel and to put upon him such royal dignity as had not come to be upon any king before him over Israel.” (1 Chron. 29:25) God will confer exceptional dignity upon resurrected anointed Christians, who have faithfully declared “the glory of the splendor of his kingship.” (Ps. 145:11-13) In thus extolling Jehovah, increasing throngs of Jesus’ “other sheep” also have a blessed and dignified role.—John 10:16.
Jehovah’s Dignity and Splendor Made Evident
5. How great is Jehovah’s dignity?
5 In a song that contrasts God’s greatness with man’s littleness, the psalmist David sang: “O Jehovah our Lord, how majestic your name is in all the earth, you whose dignity is recounted above the heavens!” (Ps. 8:1) From before the creation of “the heavens and the earth” to beyond the grand fulfillment of God’s purpose to make the earth a paradise and raise the human family to perfection—from eternity to eternity—Jehovah God is the most majestic and dignified Personage in the universe.—Gen. 1:1; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Rev. 21:1-5.
6. Why did the psalmist say that Jehovah is clothed in dignity?
6 How the God-fearing psalmist must have been touched when he beheld the quiet grandeur of the starry night sky, studded with glistening “jewels”! Filled with wonder at how God ‘has stretched out the heavens like a tent cloth,’ the psalmist represented Jehovah as clothed in dignity because of His magnificent creative skill. (Read Psalm 104:1, 2.) The dignity and splendor of the invisible, almighty Creator are evident in his visible works.
7, 8. What evidence of Jehovah’s dignity and splendor do we see in the heavens?
7 For instance, consider the Milky Way galaxy. In this vast ocean of stars, planets, and solar systems, planet Earth appears as insignificant in size as one grain of sand on an endless beach. Why, this one galaxy alone contains over 100 billion stars! If you could count one star each second nonstop for 24 hours a day, it would take you over 3,000 years to reach 100 billion.
8 If the Milky Way galaxy alone contains 100 billion stars, what about the rest of the universe? Astronomers estimate that the Milky Way may be one of anywhere from 50 billion to as many as 125 billion galaxies. How many stars are there in the entire universe? The answer surely is mind-boggling. Yet, Jehovah “is counting the number of the stars; all of them he calls by their names.” (Ps. 147:4) Upon seeing Jehovah clothed in such dignity and splendor, are you not moved to extol his great name?
9, 10. How does the provision of bread magnify our Creator’s wisdom?
9 Let us now lower our eyes from the majestic heavens to something as common as bread. Not only is Jehovah “the Maker of heaven and earth” but he is also “the One giving bread to the hungry ones.” (Ps. 146:6, 7) God’s “dignity and splendor” are reflected in his great works, including his provision of plants from which bread is made. (Read Psalm 111:1-5.) Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Give us today our bread for this day.” (Matt. 6:11) Bread was a staple in the diet of many ancient peoples, including the Israelites. Though bread is considered a simple food, the chemical process that transforms a few basic ingredients into delicious bread is anything but simple.
10 When the Bible was being written, the Israelites used wheat or barley flour and water to make bread. Leaven, or yeast, was sometimes used in the bread-making process. These simple substances combine to form an astonishing number of chemical compounds that have active links to one another. The exact relationship between these compounds is not fully understood. Moreover, the way bread is digested in the body is another amazingly intricate process. No wonder the psalmist sang: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made”! (Ps. 104:24) Are you similarly moved to laud Jehovah?
How Are You Affected by God’s Dignity and Splendor?
11, 12. Reflecting on God’s creative works can have what effect on us?
11 We do not have to be astronomers to marvel at the night sky nor chemists to enjoy bread. To appreciate the splendor of our Creator, however, we need to take time to reflect on the works of his hands. What can such meditation do for us? The effect is the same as that of meditating on Jehovah’s works of another sort.
12 Concerning the great acts that Jehovah performed in behalf of His people, David sang: “The glorious splendor of your dignity and the matters of your wonderful works I will make my concern.” (Ps. 145:5) We show concern for these works by studying the Bible and taking time to meditate on what we read in it. What is the effect of this reflection? Our appreciation for God’s dignity and splendor is increased. Surely, then, we are moved to join David in honoring Jehovah and saying: “As for your greatness, I will declare it.” (Ps. 145:6) Meditating on God’s wonderful works should strengthen our relationship with Jehovah and motivate us to tell others about him with enthusiasm and determination. Are you zealously declaring the good news and helping people to appreciate the dignity, splendor, and majesty of Jehovah God?
Jesus Perfectly Reflects God’s Dignity
13. (a) According to Daniel 7:13, 14, with what has Jehovah endowed his Son? (b) As King, how does Jesus treat his subjects?
13 God’s Son, Jesus Christ, zealously proclaimed the good news and honored his dignified and majestic heavenly Father. Jehovah endowed his only-begotten Son with special dignity by giving him ‘rulership and kingdom.’ (Read Daniel 7:13, 14.) Yet, Jesus is not haughty or aloof. Just the opposite—he is a compassionate Ruler who understands the limitations of his subjects and affords them a measure of dignity. Consider one example of how Jesus as King-Designate treated the people he met, especially the unwanted and the seemingly unlovable.
14. How were lepers viewed in ancient Israel?
14 People afflicted with leprosy in ancient times often experienced a heartbreakingly slow death. Little by little, the victim’s body parts became diseased. Curing a leper was considered to be as difficult as raising a person from the dead. (Num. 12:12; 2 Ki. 5:7, 14) Lepers were declared unclean and were abhorred and banished from society. When approaching people, they were to call out the warning: “Unclean, unclean!” (Lev. 13:43-46) A leper was like someone dead. According to rabbinical records, a leper was allowed to come within only about six feet [1.7 m] of anyone. It was reported that when a leper was seen, even at a distance, a certain religious leader threw stones to keep him far away.
15. How did Jesus deal with a certain leper?
15 Noteworthy, however, is Jesus’ reaction to a leper who came to him and pleaded to be cured. (Read Mark 1:40-42.) Instead of sending the leper away, Jesus dealt with the shunned man in a compassionate and dignified manner. What Jesus saw was a pitiful human with a need for relief. With heart stirred, Jesus turned his feelings of compassion into prompt action. He reached out, touched the leper, and healed him.
16. What lesson have you learned from Jesus’ manner of dealing with others?
16 As Jesus’ followers, how can we imitate the manner in which Jesus reflected the dignity of his Father? One way is by appreciating that all humans—regardless of status, health, or age—deserve due honor and respect. (1 Pet. 2:17) Especially do those in positions of oversight, such as husbands, parents, and Christian elders, need to dignify those in their care and help them to preserve their self-respect. Stressing that this is a requirement for all Christians, the Bible states: “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another take the lead.”—Rom. 12:10.
Displaying Dignity in Worship
17. What can we learn from the Scriptures about displaying dignity when approaching Jehovah in worship?
17 Special attention should be given to displaying dignity when we approach Jehovah in worship. “Guard your feet whenever you go to the house of the true God,” says Ecclesiastes 5:1. Both Moses and Joshua were commanded to remove their sandals when in a holy place. (Ex. 3:5; Josh. 5:15) They were to do this as a gesture of respect or reverence. Israelite priests were obliged to wear linen drawers “to cover the naked flesh.” (Ex. 28:42, 43) This prevented indecent exposure when they served at the altar. Every member of a priest’s family was to uphold the godly standard of dignity.
18. How is dignity displayed in our worship of Jehovah?
18 Dignity in worship, then, involves honor and respect. To be worthy of honor and respect, we must act respectfully. The dignity we display must be more than a pretense or a mere robe of identification. It should go beyond what human eyes see to what God sees—our heart. (1 Sam. 16:7; Prov. 21:2) Dignity should become part of us and affect our behavior, our attitude, our relationship with others, even the way we view and feel about ourselves. Indeed, dignity should be evident at all times and in everything we say and do. When it comes to our conduct, demeanor, and dress and grooming, we take to heart the words of the apostle Paul: “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) We “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God, in all things.”—Titus 2:10.
Keep On Displaying Godly Dignity
19, 20. (a) What is a fine way to dignify others? (b) With regard to dignity, what should be our resolve?
19 Dignity is displayed by anointed Christians, who are “ambassadors substituting for Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:20) The “other sheep,” who loyally support them, are dignified envoys for the Messianic Kingdom. An ambassador or an envoy speaks boldly and with dignity on behalf of his government. Therefore, we should speak with dignity and boldness in support of God’s government, the Kingdom. (Eph. 6:19, 20) And when we bring to others “good news of something better,” are we not according them dignity?—Isa. 52:7.
20 We should be resolved to glorify God by conducting ourselves in accord with his dignity. (1 Pet. 2:12) Let us always show deep respect for him, for his worship, and for our fellow worshippers. And may Jehovah, who has clothed himself with dignity and splendor, be pleased with our dignified manner of rendering worship to him.
How Would You Answer?
• Appreciating the splendor of Jehovah’s dignity should have what effect on us?
• What can we learn about dignity from the way Jesus responded to a certain leper?
• How can we honor Jehovah in dignified ways?
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How did Jehovah dignify Abel?
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Jehovah’s great works are evident even in the provision of bread
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What did you learn about dignity from the way Jesus dealt with a certain leper?
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Dignified worship involves honoring Jehovah