Do You Take the Lead in Showing Honor?
“In showing honor to one another take the lead.”—ROM. 12:10.
1. What is no longer common in many parts of the world?
IN SOME parts of the world, it is the custom for young children to honor adults by kneeling respectfully when in their company. In this way, they do not stand taller than those who are older. In these communities, it is also viewed as an act of disrespect for a child to turn his or her back to an adult. Although respect is shown in different ways in various cultures, such displays of respect remind us of the Mosaic Law. This included the command: “Before gray hair you should rise up [in respect], and you must show consideration for the person of an old man.” (Lev. 19:32) Sadly, in many places it is no longer common to show honor to others. In fact, disrespect is the order of the day.
2. God’s Word tells us to honor whom?
2 God’s Word puts a high value on showing honor. It tells us to honor Jehovah and Jesus. (John 5:23) We are also commanded to show honor to family members and fellow believers as well as to some outside the congregation. (Rom. 12:10; Eph. 6:1, 2; 1 Pet. 2:17) What are some ways in which we show that we honor Jehovah? How do we show honor, or deep respect, to our Christian brothers and sisters? Let us consider these and some related questions.
Honor Jehovah and His Name
3. What is one important way to honor Jehovah?
3 One important way to honor Jehovah is by showing proper respect for his name. After all, we are “a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) It is truly an honor to bear the name of the almighty God, Jehovah. The prophet Micah said: “All the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.” (Mic. 4:5) We “walk in the name of Jehovah” by striving to live each day in a way that reflects well on the name we bear. As Paul reminded the Christians in Rome, if we do not live in harmony with the good news we preach, the name of God is “blasphemed,” brought into disrepute.—Rom. 2:21-24.
4. How do you view the privilege of bearing witness to Jehovah?
4 We also honor Jehovah by our witnessing work. In the past, Jehovah invited members of the nation of Israel to be his witnesses, but they failed to fulfill that role. (Isa. 43:1-12) They often turned their backs on Jehovah and “pained even the Holy One of Israel.” (Ps. 78:40, 41) Eventually, the nation lost Jehovah’s favor completely. We today, though, are grateful for the privilege of bearing witness to Jehovah and making his name known. We do so because we love him and long for his name to be sanctified. How could we refrain from preaching when we know the truth about our heavenly Father and his purposes? We feel as did the apostle Paul when he said: “Necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!”—1 Cor. 9:16.
5. How is having faith in Jehovah related to having respect for him?
5 The psalmist David stated: “Those knowing your name will trust in you, for you will certainly not leave those looking for you, O Jehovah.” (Ps. 9:10) If we truly know Jehovah and look to his name with respect for what it stands for, we will trust in him just as did his faithful servants of old. Having this trust and faith in Jehovah is yet another way to show him honor. Note how God’s Word makes a connection between trusting in Jehovah and respecting him. When ancient Israel failed to trust in Him, Jehovah asked Moses: “How long will this people treat me without respect, and how long will they not put faith in me for all the signs that I performed in among them?” (Num. 14:11) The opposite also holds true. By trusting in Jehovah to protect and sustain us even during trials, we show that we respect him.
6. What moves us to show deep respect for Jehovah?
6 Jesus indicated that respect for Jehovah must come from the inner person. Speaking to those whose worship was not sincere, Jesus quoted Jehovah as saying: “This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me.” (Matt. 15:8) Sincere respect for Jehovah springs from heartfelt love for him. (1 John 5:3) And we also keep in mind Jehovah’s promise: “Those honoring me I shall honor.”−1 Sam. 2:30.
Those Taking the Lead Show Respect for Others
7. (a) Why should brothers holding responsible positions show honor to those under their oversight? (b) How did Paul show respect for fellow believers?
7 The apostle Paul admonished fellow believers: “In showing honor to one another take the lead.” (Rom. 12:10) Brothers who hold responsible positions in the congregation should set the example—“take the lead”—in showing honor to those under their oversight. In that regard, ones with weighty responsibilities do well to follow the example set by Paul. (Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8.) The brothers in the congregations Paul visited knew that he would never ask them to do things that he himself was unwilling to do. Paul showed respect for fellow believers, and in turn he earned their respect. When Paul said: “I entreat you, therefore, become imitators of me,” we can be sure that many willingly responded because of his fine example.—1 Cor. 4:16.
8. (a) What is one important way in which Jesus showed respect for his disciples? (b) How can overseers today follow Jesus’ example?
8 Another way in which a responsible brother shows respect for those under his oversight is by giving them reasons for the requests he makes or the directions he gives. By doing so, he imitates Jesus. For instance, when telling his disciples to pray for more workers to be sent into the harvest, Jesus told them why. He said: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9:37, 38) Similarly, when he told his disciples to “keep on the watch,” he gave them a reason. He said: “Because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Matt. 24:42) Time and again, Jesus told his disciples not only what they should do but also why they should do it. In that way, he showed them respect and dignified them. What a fine example for Christian overseers to follow!
Respect Jehovah’s Congregation and Its Direction
9. Of what is respect for the worldwide Christian congregation and its representatives a reflection? Explain.
9 To honor Jehovah, we also need to honor the worldwide Christian congregation, along with its representatives. When we heed Scriptural counsel from the faithful slave class, we show respect for Jehovah’s arrangement. In the first-century Christian congregation, the apostle John saw the need to censure those who showed a lack of respect for appointed ones. (Read 3 John 9-11.) John’s words show that there was a lack of respect not only for the individual overseers but also for their teaching and direction. Happily, most Christians were not like that. While the apostles were alive, the brotherhood as a whole evidently showed deep respect for those taking the lead.—Phil. 2:12.
10, 11. Explain from the Scriptures why it is proper that some have a measure of authority in the Christian congregation.
10 Some have reasoned that since Jesus told his disciples “all you are brothers,” there should be no positions of authority in the Christian congregation. (Matt. 23:8) However, both the Hebrew and the Greek Scriptures have numerous examples of men who exercised authority given to them by God. The history of the patriarchs, judges, and kings among the ancient Hebrews provides ample evidence that Jehovah gives direction through human representatives. When the people did not properly honor the appointed individuals, they were disciplined by Jehovah.—2 Ki. 1:2-17; 2:19, 23, 24.
11 In a similar way, first-century Christians acknowledged the authority of the apostles. (Acts 2:42) Paul, for example, gave direction to his brothers. (1 Cor. 16:1; 1 Thess. 4:2) Nevertheless, he also willingly submitted to those who had authority over him. (Acts 15:22; Gal. 2:9, 10) Indeed, Paul had the proper view of authority in the Christian congregation.
12. What twofold lesson regarding authority can we learn from Biblical examples?
12 The lesson we learn is twofold. First, it is Scriptural for “the faithful and discreet slave” through its Governing Body to appoint men to positions of responsibility, and some men are appointed to exercise authority over other appointed men. (Matt. 24:45-47; 1 Pet. 5:1-3) Second, all of us, including appointed men, should honor those who have authority over us. What, then, are some practical ways in which we can honor those who hold positions of oversight in the worldwide Christian congregation?
Showing Respect for Traveling Overseers
13. How can we show respect for modern-day representatives of the Christian congregation?
13 Paul stated: “We request you, brothers, to have regard for those who are working hard among you and presiding over you in the Lord and admonishing you; and to give them more than extraordinary consideration in love because of their work. Be peaceable with one another.” (1 Thess. 5:12, 13) Traveling overseers are certainly to be counted among “those who are working hard.” Therefore, let us give them “more than extraordinary consideration.” One way to do so is by responding wholeheartedly to their counsel and encouragement. When such an overseer conveys to us direction from the faithful slave class, the “wisdom from above” will move us to be “ready to obey.”—Jas. 3:17.
14. How does the congregation give evidence of heartfelt respect for traveling overseers, and what is the result?
14 What, though, if we are directed to do things in a way that is different from what we are used to? Showing respect may at times require that we fight the urge to object, “We don’t do things that way here” or, “That may work in other places but not in our congregation.” Instead, we strive to comply. Keeping closely in mind that the congregation belongs to Jehovah and that Jesus is its Head will help us to do so. When direction from a traveling overseer is received with joy and is implemented by the congregation, it is evidence of heartfelt respect. The apostle Paul commended the brothers in Corinth for the respectful obedience they showed toward the direction that was given by the visiting elder, Titus. (2 Cor. 7:13-16) Today, we can likewise be sure that the willingness with which we apply the guidance received from traveling overseers contributes greatly to the joy we experience in our preaching work.—Read 2 Corinthians 13:11.
“Honor Men of All Sorts”
15. What are some ways in which we show respect for fellow believers?
15 Paul wrote: “Do not severely criticize an older man. To the contrary, entreat him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters with all chasteness. Honor widows that are actually widows.” (1 Tim. 5:1-3) Yes, God’s Word admonishes us to honor everyone in the Christian congregation. What, though, if there is a personal difference between you and your brother or sister? Will that hinder you from carrying out your obligation to respect your fellow Christian? Or could you adjust your attitude by recognizing the spiritual qualities of that servant of God? Those with authority especially should maintain a respectful view of their brothers—never “lording it over . . . the flock.” (1 Pet. 5:3) Indeed, in the Christian congregation, which is identified by the heartfelt love that exists among its members, we have numerous opportunities to honor one another.—Read John 13:34, 35.
16, 17. (a) Why is it important to have respect not only for those to whom we preach but also for opposers? (b) How do we “honor men of all sorts”?
16 Of course, we do not limit our respect to those who are part of the Christian congregation. Paul wrote to Christians in his day: “As long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all.” (Gal. 6:10) Granted, applying that principle can be a challenge if a workmate or a schoolmate treats us unkindly. At such moments, we need to remember the words: “Do not show yourself heated up because of the evildoers.” (Ps. 37:1) Applying that counsel will help us to respond respectfully even to opposers. Similarly, while we engage in the public ministry, a humble view of ourselves can help us to respond to all with “a mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Pet. 3:15) Even our appearance and dress can indicate that we respect those to whom we preach.
17 Indeed, whether we are dealing with our fellow believers or with those outside the congregation, we want to strive to apply the admonition: “Honor men of all sorts, have love for the whole association of brothers, be in fear of God, have honor for the king.”—1 Pet. 2:17.
How Would You Answer?
How can you show proper respect for:
• Congregation elders and traveling overseers?
• Each member of the congregation?
• Those to whom you preach?
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First-century Christians respected the oversight of the governing body
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Elders in every land honor traveling overseers, who are appointed by the Governing Body