“Trust in Jehovah and do what is good . . . and act with faithfulness.”—PS. 37:3.
1. Jehovah created humans with what remarkable abilities?
JEHOVAH created humans with remarkable abilities. He gave us thinking ability to solve problems and plan for the future. (Prov. 2:11) He gave us power to carry out our plans, enabling us to work toward proper goals. (Phil. 2:13) He also created us with a conscience—an inborn sense of right and wrong—that can help us avoid wrongdoing and correct our mistakes when we fall short.—Rom. 2:15.
2. How does Jehovah expect us to use our abilities?
2 Jehovah expects us to put our abilities to good use. Why? Because he loves us, and he knows that it brings us satisfaction when we employ these gifts. Through his Word, Jehovah repeatedly admonishes us to use our abilities for good. For example, in the Hebrew Scriptures, we read: “The plans of the diligent surely lead to success”; and “whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might.” (Prov. 21:5; Eccl. 9:10) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, we are told: “As long as we have the opportunity, let us work what is good toward all”; and “to the extent that each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another.” (Gal. 6:10; 1 Pet. 4:10) Clearly, Jehovah wants us to do what we can to benefit ourselves and others.
3. What limitations do humans have?
3 At the same time, Jehovah knows that humans have limitations. On our own, we can never eliminate imperfection, sin, and death; neither can we control other people, for all have free will. (1 Ki. 8:46) And no matter how much knowledge or experience we gain, we will always be like children in comparison with Jehovah.—Isa. 55:9.
4. What will we consider in this article?
4 In all circumstances, we need to lean on Jehovah for guidance, trusting in him to support us and do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. At the same time, we should do what we can, taking appropriate action to solve problems and help others. (Read Psalm 37:3.) In short, we need both ‘to trust in Jehovah and to do what is good’; we need ‘to act with faithfulness.’ In this regard, let us consider what we can learn from the examples of Noah, David, and other faithful servants of God who relied on Jehovah and took appropriate action. As we will see, this involved distinguishing between what they could not do and what they could do and then acting accordingly.
WHEN SURROUNDED BY WICKEDNESS
5. Describe the situation that Noah faced.
5 Noah lived in a world that was “filled with violence” and immorality. (Gen. 6:4, 9-13) He knew that Jehovah would eventually bring an end to that wicked world. Even so, Noah must have been distressed by such ungodly conditions. In that situation, Noah recognized that there were some things he could not do but other things he could do.
6, 7. (a) What could Noah not do? (b) How are we in a situation similar to Noah’s?
6 What Noah could not do: Although Noah faithfully preached Jehovah’s warning message, he could not force wicked people around him to accept that message, nor could he make the Flood come any sooner. Noah had to trust that Jehovah would keep His promise to end wickedness, believing that God would do so at just the right time.—Gen. 6:17.
7 We too live in a world filled with wickedness, which we know Jehovah has promised to destroy. (1 John 2:17) In the meantime, we cannot force people to accept the “good news of the Kingdom.” And we cannot do anything to speed up the start of the “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:14, 21) Like Noah, we need strong faith, trusting that God will soon intervene. (Ps. 37:10, 11) We are convinced that Jehovah will not allow this wicked world to continue for even one day longer than his purpose requires.—Hab. 2:3.
8. How did Noah focus on what he could do? (See opening picture.)
8 What Noah could do: Instead of giving up because of what he could not do, Noah focused on what he could do. As “a preacher of righteousness,” Noah faithfully proclaimed the warning message he had been given. (2 Pet. 2:5) No doubt, doing so helped Noah keep his faith strong. In addition to preaching, he also used his physical and mental abilities to accomplish the God-assigned work of building an ark.—Read Hebrews 11:7.
9. How can we imitate Noah’s example?
9 Like Noah, we strive to have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58) Such work may include the construction and maintenance of facilities for worship, volunteering to assist at assemblies and conventions, or caring for assignments at a branch office or a remote translation office. Above all, we stay busy in the preaching work, knowing that this work strengthens our hope for the future. One faithful sister put it this way: “When you talk to others about the blessings of God’s Kingdom, you realize that your listeners have absolutely no hope and that they see their problems as permanent.” Indeed, sharing in the preaching work fortifies our positive view of the future and our resolve not to give up in the race for life.—1 Cor. 9:24.
WHEN WE FALL SHORT
10. Describe the situation that David faced.
10 Jehovah described King David as “a man agreeable to [his] heart.” (Acts 13:22) Overall, David’s life course was one of faithfulness. Even so, on occasion he fell into serious sin. He committed adultery with Bath-sheba. To make matters worse, he tried to hide the sin by arranging for her husband, Uriah, to be killed in battle. David even sent what amounted to Uriah’s death sentence by means of the man’s own hand! (2 Sam. 11:1-21) Inevitably, David’s sins came to light. (Mark 4:22) When that happened, how did David react?
11, 12. (a) After he sinned, what could David not do? (b) If we repent after making serious mistakes, we can trust that Jehovah will do what for us?
11 What David could not do: David could not undo what he had done. And he could not escape the consequences of his mistakes. In fact, some of those consequences would stay with David for the rest of his life. (2 Sam. 12:10-12, 14) Thus, he needed faith. He had to trust that when he truly repented, Jehovah would forgive him and help him endure the consequences of his actions.
12 Being imperfect, all of us sin. Some mistakes are more serious than others. In some cases, we may not be able to undo our mistakes. We may simply have to live with the consequences. (Gal. 6:7) But we take God at his word, trusting that if we are repentant, Jehovah will support us through difficult times—even when those difficulties are of our own making.—Read Isaiah 1:18, 19; Acts 3:19.
13. How did David recover spiritually?
13 What David could do: David allowed Jehovah to help him recover spiritually. One way he did that was by accepting correction from Jehovah’s representative, the prophet Nathan. (2 Sam. 12:13) David also prayed to Jehovah, confessing his sins and expressing a sincere desire to be restored to Jehovah’s favor. (Ps. 51:1-17) Instead of being paralyzed by guilt, David learned from his mistakes. Indeed, he never repeated those serious sins. Years later, he died faithful, his record of integrity firmly sealed in Jehovah’s memory.—Heb. 11:32-34.
14. What can we learn from David’s example?
14 What can we learn from David’s example? If we fall into serious sin, we need to repent sincerely and seek Jehovah’s forgiveness. We must confess our sins to him. (1 John 1:9) We also need to approach the elders, who can offer us spiritual help. (Read James 5:14-16.) By availing ourselves of Jehovah’s arrangements, we show that we trust in his promise to heal and forgive us. Thereafter, we do well to learn from our mistakes, move forward in our service to Jehovah, and look to the future with confidence.—Heb. 12:12, 13.
IN OTHER SITUATIONS
15. What do we learn from Hannah’s example?
15 Likely, you can think of other faithful servants of old who trusted in Jehovah while taking appropriate action. For example, Hannah could not overcome the problem of barrenness on her own. But she trusted that Jehovah would comfort her, so she continued to worship at the tabernacle and pour out her heart in prayer. (1 Sam. 1:9-11) Is that not a good example for us? When we deal with health problems or other challenges beyond our control, we throw our anxiety on Jehovah, trusting that he cares for us. (1 Pet. 5:6, 7) And we do what is within our power to benefit from Christian meetings and other spiritual provisions.—Heb. 10:24, 25.
16. What can parents learn from elderly Samuel?
16 What about faithful parents whose children have gone astray? Elderly Samuel could not force his adult sons to remain loyal to the righteous standards he taught them. (1 Sam. 8:1-3) He had to leave the matter in Jehovah’s hands. Even so, Samuel could maintain his own integrity and please his heavenly Father, Jehovah. (Prov. 27:11) Today, a number of Christian parents find themselves in a similar situation. They trust that like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, Jehovah is ever on the lookout to welcome back sinners who repent. (Luke 15:20) At the same time, such parents work hard to remain loyal to Jehovah, hoping that their example will move their children to return to the fold.
17. Why is the example of the needy widow encouraging?
17 Think, too, of the needy widow in Jesus’ day. (Read Luke 21:1-4.) She could hardly do anything about the corrupt practices being carried on at the temple. (Matt. 21:12, 13) And there was likely little she could do to improve her financial situation. Yet, she voluntarily contributed those “two small coins,” which were “all the means of living she had.” That faithful woman demonstrated wholehearted trust in Jehovah, knowing that if she put spiritual things first, he would provide for her physical needs. The widow’s trust moved her to support the existing arrangement for true worship. Likewise, we trust that if we seek first the Kingdom, Jehovah will make sure that we have what we need.—Matt. 6:33.
18. Give an example of a modern-day servant who had the right outlook.
18 Many of our modern-day fellow believers have similarly demonstrated trust in Jehovah and have taken appropriate action. Consider a brother named Malcolm, who remained faithful until his death in 2015. Over the decades that he and his wife served Jehovah, they experienced ups and downs. “Life is unpredictable at times, uncertain, and even hard to deal with,” he said. “But Jehovah blesses those who lean on him.” Malcolm’s advice? “Pray to be as productive and as active in Jehovah’s service as you can be. Focus on what you can do, not on what you cannot do.”*
19. (a) Why is our yeartext for 2017 fitting? (b) How will you apply the 2017 yeartext in your life?
19 As this system of things goes “from bad to worse,” we can expect to face increasingly greater difficulties. (2 Tim. 3:1, 13) So it is more important than ever that we do not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by such challenges. Rather, we need to cultivate strong trust in Jehovah while taking whatever appropriate action we can. How fitting, then, is our yeartext for 2017: “Trust in Jehovah and do what is good”!—Ps. 37:3.
Our yeartext for 2017: “Trust in Jehovah and do what is good.”—Psalm 37:3