“He that is humble in spirit will take hold of glory.”—PROV. 29:23.
1, 2. (a) What is the significance of the original-language words for “glory”? (b) What questions will we consider in this article?
WHEN you hear the word “glory,” what comes to your mind? The radiant splendor of creation? (Ps. 19:1) The praise and glory given to humans having exceptional wealth, wisdom, or accomplishments? In the Scriptures, the original-language words for “glory” convey the sense of heaviness. In ancient times—when money was made of precious metals—the heavier the coin, the greater its value. Words used to express the idea of weightiness came to be understood figuratively to mean that which is treasured, magnificent, or impressive.
2 While we may be impressed with the power, position, or reputation of another person, what does God look for in humans? The Scriptures actually speak of a glory that God confers on humans. For example, Proverbs 22:4 states: “The result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life.” And the disciple James wrote: “Humble yourselves in the eyes of Jehovah, and he will exalt you.” (Jas. 4:10) What is the glory that Jehovah bestows upon humans? What can hinder us from taking hold of it? And how can we help others to take hold of this glory?
3-5. To what glory may Jehovah lead us?
3 The psalmist expressed confidence that Jehovah would take hold of him by the right hand and lead him to genuine glory. (Read Psalm 73:23, 24.) How does Jehovah do this? Jehovah leads his humble servants to glory by honoring them in numerous ways. He blesses them with an understanding of his will. (1 Cor. 2:7) He bestows upon those who listen to his word and obey him the honor of a close personal relationship with him.—Jas. 4:8.
4 Jehovah also entrusts his servants with the glorious treasure of the Christian ministry. (2 Cor. 4:1, 7) And this ministry leads to glory. To those who use their privilege of service to his praise and to the benefit of others, Jehovah promises: “Those honoring me I shall honor.” (1 Sam. 2:30) Such ones are honored with a good name with Jehovah, and they are likely to be well spoken of by other servants of God.—Prov. 11:16; 22:1.
5 What about the future of those who “hope in Jehovah and keep his way”? They are promised: “He [Jehovah] will exalt you to take possession of the earth. When the wicked ones are cut off, you will see it.” (Ps. 37:34) They look forward to experiencing the incomparable honor of receiving everlasting life.—Ps. 37:29.
“I DO NOT ACCEPT GLORY FROM MEN”
6, 7. Why were many unwilling to put faith in Jesus?
6 What could hinder us from receiving the glory that Jehovah is willing to confer on us? One factor is giving too much weight to the opinions of those who have no standing with God. Consider what the apostle John wrote concerning certain ones in authority in Jesus’ day: “Many even of the rulers actually put faith in [Jesus], but because of the Pharisees they would not confess him, in order not to be expelled from the synagogue; for they loved the glory of men more than even the glory of God.” (John 12:42, 43) How much better it would have been for those rulers had they not given so much importance to what the Pharisees thought.
7 Earlier in his ministry, Jesus had clearly identified why many would not receive him and put faith in him. (Read John 5:39-44.) The nation of Israel had been anticipating the arrival of the Messiah for centuries. When Jesus began teaching, some individuals may have discerned from Daniel’s prophecy that the appointed time for Christ’s appearance had arrived. Months earlier when John the Baptizer came preaching, many were saying: “May he perhaps be the Christ?” (Luke 3:15) Now the long-awaited Messiah was in their midst teaching. But those versed in the Law failed to accept him. Pinpointing the reason, Jesus asked them: “How can you believe, when you are accepting glory from one another and you are not seeking the glory that is from the only God?”
8, 9. Using the illustration of light, show how human glory can obscure divine glory.
8 How human glory can obscure divine glory can be illustrated by comparing glory to light. Our brilliant universe is abundantly glorious. Do you remember when you last looked into the sky on a clear night and found yourself encompassed by thousands of stars? “The glory of the stars” is awe-inspiring. (1 Cor. 15:40, 41) When viewed from the street of a well-lit city, though, how does the same sky appear? Why, city lights make it almost impossible for us to see the light emanating from distant stars! Is this so because the lights from roads, stadiums, and buildings are stronger or more beautiful than starlight? No! This happens because city lights are closer to us and they interfere with what we can perceive of Jehovah’s creation. To witness the wonders of the night sky, we must somehow block out or avoid the interference from artificial light.
9 Similarly, if the wrong kind of glory were too close to our hearts, it could prevent us from appreciating and seeking the enduring glory that Jehovah is willing to bestow. Many fail to accept the Kingdom message because they are afraid of what acquaintances or family members might think of them. But could the desire to receive glory from humans affect even dedicated servants of God? Suppose a young man is assigned to preach in an area where he is fairly well-known in the community but is not yet known as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Will he shrink back in fear? Or what if someone is ridiculed for his pursuit of theocratic goals? Will he allow those without clear spiritual vision to influence his choices in life? Or perhaps a Christian has committed a serious sin. Will he hide his wrongdoing because he is afraid of losing his standing in the congregation or because he does not want to disappoint loved ones? In the latter case, if his foremost thought is to repair his relationship with Jehovah, he will “call the older men of the congregation” and seek their help.—Read James 5:14-16.
10. (a) How may excessive concern about how others view us cloud our judgment? (b) Of what are we assured if we act with humility?
10 It may be that we are progressing toward Christian maturity but a fellow believer counsels us. His honest observations could help us if we do not raise a defensive shield because of pride, the desire to save face, or the temptation to justify our course. Or suppose you are working on a project with a fellow believer. Will your collaboration be influenced by concern over who gets the credit for your good ideas and hard work? If you find yourself in any of these situations, be assured that “he that is humble in spirit will take hold of glory.”—Prov. 29:23.
11. What should be our inner response to commendation, and why?
11 Overseers and those “reaching out” for such an office should likewise beware of seeking praise from men. (1 Tim. 3:1; 1 Thess. 2:6) How should a brother respond when he receives sincere commendation for a job well done? Likely he will not erect a monument to himself, as King Saul did. (1 Sam. 15:12) However, does he readily recognize that his achievement was possible only by Jehovah’s undeserved kindness and that any hope for future success still depends on God’s blessing and help? (1 Pet. 4:11) Our inner response to praise reveals which sort of glory we are seeking.—Prov. 27:21.
“YOU WISH TO DO THE DESIRES OF YOUR FATHER”
12. What prevented certain Jews from listening to Jesus?
12 Another factor that can hinder us from taking hold of glory from God is our desires. Wrong desires can prevent us from hearing the truth at all. (Read John 8:43-47.) Jesus told certain Jews that they did not listen to his message because ‘they wished to do the desires of their father the Devil.’
13, 14. (a) What do researchers say about the way our brains process human speech? (b) What determines to whom we listen?
13 What we desire influences how we hear. (2 Pet. 3:5) Jehovah designed us with the remarkable ability to shut out unwanted noise. Pause for a moment and concentrate on how many distinct sounds you can detect right now. Likely you were not conscious of many of them a moment ago. The limbic system of your brain was helping you to focus on one thing while sustaining your ability to hear a variety of sounds. But researchers have found that the task of simultaneously differentiating between many sounds becomes increasingly difficult when it involves listening to human speech. This means that when you hear two voices at the same time, you have to choose which one you will focus on. Your selection will depend on which one you want to listen to. The Jews who wished to do the desires of their father, the Devil, did not listen to Jesus.
14 We receive messages from ‘the house of wisdom’ and from ‘the house of stupidity.’ (Prov. 9:1-5, 13-17) Both wisdom and stupidity keep crying out to us, as it were, and that presents us with a choice. Whose invitation will we accept? The answer depends on whose will we wish to do. Jesus’ sheep listen to his voice and follow him. (John 10:16, 27) They are “on the side of the truth.” (John 18:37) “They do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:5) Such humble ones take hold of glory.—Prov. 3:13, 16; 8:1, 18.
“THESE MEAN GLORY FOR YOU”
15. How could Paul’s tribulations “mean glory” for others?
15 Our perseverance in doing Jehovah’s will helps others to take hold of glory. To the congregation in Ephesus, Paul wrote: “I ask you not to give up on account of these tribulations of mine in your behalf, for these mean glory for you.” (Eph. 3:13) In what sense did Paul’s tribulations “mean glory” for the Ephesians? Paul’s readiness to continue ministering to them despite trials demonstrated to the Ephesians that the privileges they enjoyed as Christians were weighty and of the highest conceivable value. Had Paul given up under tribulation, would that not have conveyed the message that their relationship with Jehovah, their ministry, and their hope were not valuable? Paul’s endurance exalted Christianity and demonstrated that discipleship is worth any sacrifice.
16. What tribulation did Paul experience in Lystra?
16 Think of the effect that Paul’s zeal and endurance had. Acts 14:19, 20 reports: “Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and persuaded the crowds, and they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city [of Lystra], imagining he was dead. However, when the disciples surrounded him, he rose up and entered into the city. And on the next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.” Imagine being left for dead one day and making a 60-mile (100 km) journey the next, and that without modern transportation!
17, 18. (a) In what sense could Timothy have closely followed Paul’s suffering in Lystra? (b) What effect did Paul’s endurance have on Timothy?
17 Was Timothy one of “the disciples” that rallied to Paul’s assistance? The account in the book of Acts does not explicitly say so, but it is possible. Consider what Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy: “You have closely followed my teaching, my course of life, . . . the sort of things that happened to me in Antioch [expulsion from the city], in Iconium [the attempted pelting with stones], in Lystra [the stoning], the sort of persecutions I have borne; and yet out of them all the Lord delivered me.”—2 Tim. 3:10, 11; Acts 13:50; 14:5, 19.
18 Timothy “closely followed” those events and was thoroughly aware of Paul’s endurance. This made a deep impression on Timothy’s mind. When Paul visited Lystra, he found Timothy to be an exemplary Christian, “well reported on by the brothers in Lystra and Iconium.” (Acts 16:1, 2) In time, Timothy qualified to take on weighty responsibilities.—Phil. 2:19, 20; 1 Tim. 1:3.
19. What effect can our endurance have on others?
19 Our persevering in doing God’s will can have a similar effect on others—especially on young ones, many of whom will grow up to be very valuable servants of God. Young disciples not only observe us and learn speech qualities and skills from us in the field ministry but also benefit from seeing how we deal with the indignities of life. Paul ‘went on enduring all things’ so that all who remain faithful ‘may obtain salvation along with everlasting glory.’—2 Tim. 2:10.
20. Why should we continue to seek the glory that is from God?
20 Should we not, then, continue “seeking the glory that is from the only God”? (John 5:44; 7:18) By all means! (Read Romans 2:6, 7.) Jehovah gives “everlasting life to those who are seeking glory.” Moreover, our “endurance in work that is good” incites others to remain steadfast, to their everlasting benefit. Therefore, let nothing hinder you from taking hold of the glory that God gives.