“Should we not more readily submit ourselves to the Father?”—HEB. 12:9.
SONG 9 Jehovah Is Our King!
1. Why should we submit to Jehovah?
WE SHOULD submit* to Jehovah because he is our Creator. As such, he has the right to set standards for his creation. (Rev. 4:11) But we have another compelling reason to obey him—his way of ruling is the best. Throughout history, many human rulers have had a measure of power and authority over others. In comparison to them, Jehovah is the wisest and the most loving, merciful, and compassionate Ruler of all.—Ex. 34:6; Rom. 16:27; 1 John 4:8.
2. What reasons does Hebrews 12:9-11 give us for submitting to Jehovah?
2 Jehovah wants us to obey him, not primarily because we fear him, but because we love him and we view him as our loving Father. In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul explains that we should “readily submit ourselves to the Father” because he trains us “for our benefit.”—Read Hebrews 12:9-11.
3. (a) How do we show that we submit to Jehovah? (b) What questions will we answer?
3 We submit to Jehovah by doing our best to obey him in all things and by resisting the urge to rely on our own understanding. (Prov. 3:5) We find it easier to submit to Jehovah as we come to know his beautiful qualities. Why? Because these qualities are reflected in all that he does. (Ps. 145:9) The more we learn about Jehovah, the more we will love him. And when we love Jehovah, we do not need a long list of rules telling us what to do and what not to do. We work to bring our thinking and emotions into harmony with what is good and to avoid what is bad. (Ps. 97:10) At times, however, we may struggle to obey Jehovah. Why is that? And what can elders, fathers, and mothers learn from the examples set by Governor Nehemiah; King David; and Mary, the mother of Jesus? This article will provide answers to these questions.
WHY SUBMITTING TO JEHOVAH CAN BE A CHALLENGE
4-5. According to Romans 7:21-23, why can it be a challenge to submit to Jehovah?
4 One reason why we might find it a challenge to submit to Jehovah is that we all inherited sin and are imperfect. So we have rebellious tendencies. After Adam and Eve rebelled against God and ate the forbidden fruit, they set their own standards. (Gen. 3:22) Today, most of mankind still prefer to ignore Jehovah and decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong.
5 Even those who know and love Jehovah may struggle to submit fully to him. The apostle Paul faced this challenge. (Read Romans 7:21-23.) Like Paul, we want to do what is right in Jehovah’s eyes. But we must constantly fight the tendency to do wrong things.
6-7. What is a second reason why it can be a challenge to submit to Jehovah? Give an example.
6 Another reason why it can be a challenge to submit to Jehovah is that we are influenced by the culture in which we were raised. Many human ideas are in conflict with Jehovah’s will, and it can be a constant struggle to free ourselves from common ways of thinking. Consider just one example.
7 It is common in some places to pressure young ones to devote their lives to earning a lot of money. A sister named Mary* faced that challenge. Before learning about Jehovah, she attended one of the most prestigious schools in her country. Mary felt pressure from her family to get a high-paying job in a respected profession. She too wanted that. However, after she learned about Jehovah and came to love him, she changed her goals. Even so, she says: “Sometimes I see attractive business opportunities that could allow me to earn a lot of money but would disrupt my spiritual routine. Because of the way I was raised, I still struggle to say no. I have to beg Jehovah to help me resist the temptation to accept work that could take me away from my service to him.”—Matt. 6:24.
8. What will we now consider?
8 We benefit ourselves by being submissive to Jehovah. But those who have a measure of authority, such as elders, fathers, and mothers, have an additional reason to follow God’s direction; they have the opportunity to benefit other people. Let us consider some examples from the Bible that teach us how to handle authority in a way that pleases Jehovah.
WHAT ELDERS CAN LEARN FROM NEHEMIAH
9. What challenges did Nehemiah face?
9 Jehovah has entrusted elders with the important responsibility to shepherd his people. (1 Pet. 5:2) Elders can learn much from examining how Nehemiah dealt with Jehovah’s people. As governor of Judah, Nehemiah had considerable authority. (Neh. 1:11; 2:7, 8; 5:14) Imagine some of the challenges that Nehemiah faced. He had learned that the people had defiled the temple and were not supporting the Levites financially as the Law directed. The Jews were violating the Sabbath law, and some of the men had married foreign women. Governor Nehemiah would have to handle this difficult situation.—Neh. 13:4-30.
10. How did Nehemiah respond to the challenges he faced?
10 Nehemiah did not abuse his authority by imposing his own standards on God’s people. Instead, he sought Jehovah’s guidance in earnest prayer, and he taught the people Jehovah’s Law. (Neh. 1:4-10; 13:1-3) Nehemiah also humbly worked alongside his brothers, even helping them to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.—Neh. 4:15.
11. According to 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8, how should elders treat those in the congregation?
11 Elders may not have to deal with the same problems that Nehemiah did, but they can imitate him in a number of ways. For example, they work hard for the benefit of their brothers and sisters. And they do not let their authority make them unduly proud. Instead, they treat the congregation tenderly. (Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8.) Their deep love and humble attitude affect how they speak to others. Andrew, an experienced elder, says: “I have found that the brothers and sisters generally respond well to an elder’s kindness and genuine warmth. These qualities motivate the congregation to cooperate with the elders.” Another longtime elder, named Tony, comments: “I try to apply the counsel found at Philippians 2:3 and constantly work at viewing others as superior to me. This helps me to avoid acting like a dictator.”
12. Why is it important for elders to be humble?
12 Elders must be humble, just as Jehovah is humble. Although Jehovah is the Sovereign of the universe, he “stoops down” to raise “the lowly from the dust.” (Ps. 18:35; 113:6, 7) In fact, Jehovah detests those who are proud and arrogant.—Prov. 16:5.
13. Why does an elder need to “keep a tight rein on his tongue”?
13 An elder who submits to Jehovah needs to “keep a tight rein on his tongue.” Otherwise, he may speak unkindly if someone is disrespectful to him. (Jas. 1:26; Gal. 5:14, 15) Andrew, quoted earlier, says: “At times, I have felt like responding unkindly to a brother or sister who seemed to be disrespectful. However, I have meditated on examples of faithful men in the Bible, and that has helped me learn the importance of being humble and meek.” Elders show their submission to Jehovah by being loving and gracious when talking with those in the congregation, including their fellow elders.—Col. 4:6.
WHAT FATHERS CAN LEARN FROM KING DAVID
14. What role has Jehovah assigned to fathers, and what does he expect of them?
14 Jehovah has assigned the father as head of the family, and God expects him to train and discipline his children. (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 6:4) But a father’s authority is limited—he must answer to Jehovah, the one to whom every family owes its name. (Eph. 3:14, 15) Fathers show their submission to Jehovah by using their authority in a way that pleases God. They can learn much by studying the life of King David.
15. Why is King David a good example for fathers to consider?
15 Jehovah appointed David as head not only of his family but also of the entire nation of Israel. As king, David had a lot of power. At times, he misused that power and made serious mistakes. (2 Sam. 11:14, 15) But he showed his submission to Jehovah by accepting discipline. He poured out his heart to Jehovah in prayer. And he tried his best to obey Jehovah’s counsel. (Ps. 51:1-4) In addition, he was humble enough to accept good advice not only from men but also from women. (1 Sam. 19:11, 12; 25:32, 33) David learned from his mistakes and centered his life on serving Jehovah.
16. What lessons can fathers learn from David?
16 Consider just some of the lessons that fathers can learn from King David: Do not abuse the authority that Jehovah has given you. Admit your mistakes, and accept Bible-based counsel from others. If you do, your family will respect you for your humility. When praying with your family, pour your heart out to Jehovah—let them hear how much you depend on him. And above all, build your life around your service to Jehovah. (Deut. 6:6-9) Your good example is one of the most valuable gifts that you can give to your family.
WHAT MOTHERS CAN LEARN FROM MARY
17. What role has Jehovah assigned to mothers?
17 Jehovah has assigned the mother an honorable role in the family, and he has given her a measure of authority over her children. (Prov. 6:20) In fact, a mother’s influence on her children can be profound and lifelong. (Prov. 22:6) Note what mothers can learn from Mary, the mother of Jesus.
18-19. What can mothers learn from Mary’s example?
18 Mary knew the Scriptures very well. She had developed a deep respect for Jehovah and had formed a strong personal friendship with him. She was willing to submit to Jehovah’s direction, even though it involved changing her entire life course.—Luke 1:35-38, 46-55.
19 Mothers, you can imitate Mary in a number of ways. How? First, by maintaining your own friendship with Jehovah through personal Bible study and private prayers. Second, by being willing to make changes in your life to please Jehovah. For example, you may have been raised by parents who easily lost their temper and spoke harshly to their children. So you may have grown up thinking that this was a normal way to raise a family. Even after learning Jehovah’s standards, you might find it a challenge to remain calm and patient with your children, especially if they misbehave when you are tired. (Eph. 4:31) At such times, you need more than ever to rely on Jehovah in prayer. A mother named Lydia says: “Sometimes, I have had to pray intensely so that I did not speak angrily when my son disobeyed me. I have even stopped myself mid-sentence and silently prayed for Jehovah’s help. Prayer keeps me calm.”—Ps. 37:5.
20. What challenge do some mothers face, and how can that challenge be overcome?
20 Some mothers may face a related challenge—they find it difficult to express their love for their children. (Titus 2:3, 4) Some women have been raised in a household where their parents did not have a warm relationship with their children. If that is how you were raised, you do not have to repeat your parents’ mistakes. A mother who submits to Jehovah’s will may have to learn how to express love for her children. It may be difficult for her to change her way of thinking, feeling, and acting. But it can be done, and those changes will benefit both her and her family.
CONTINUE SUBMITTING TO JEHOVAH
21-22. According to Isaiah 65:13, 14, what benefits do we receive from submitting to Jehovah?
21 King David knew the benefits of submitting to Jehovah. He wrote: “The orders from Jehovah are righteous, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine. By them your servant has been warned; in keeping them, there is a large reward.” (Ps. 19:8, 11) Today, we can see the contrast between those who submit to Jehovah and those who reject his loving counsel. Those who do submit to Jehovah “shout joyfully because of the good condition of the heart.”—Read Isaiah 65:13, 14.
22 When elders, fathers, and mothers readily submit to Jehovah, their lives improve, their families are happier, and the entire congregation is more united. Most important of all, they make Jehovah’s heart rejoice. (Prov. 27:11) What greater reward could there be?
SONG 123 Loyally Submitting to Theocratic Order
This article will discuss why we should submit to Jehovah. It will also consider what elders, fathers, and mothers—all of whom have some authority—can learn from the examples of Governor Nehemiah; King David; and Mary, the mother of Jesus.
EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED: The words submit and submission have a negative meaning for those who are forced to obey someone. However, God’s people choose to obey him, so they do not view the concept of submission in a negative way.
Some names in this article have been changed.
PICTURE DESCRIPTIONS: An elder works along with his son in Kingdom Hall maintenance, just as Nehemiah personally assisted with rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A father represents his family in earnest prayer to Jehovah.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A boy spent hours playing video games and has not completed his chores or schoolwork. His mother, tired from work, disciplines him without losing her temper or using harsh language.