“Jehovah himself gives wisdom.”—PROV. 2:6.
SONG 89 Listen, Obey, and Be Blessed
1. Why do we all need godly wisdom? (Proverbs 4:7)
IF YOU have ever had to make an important decision, no doubt you prayed for wisdom—and for good reason. (Jas. 1:5) King Solomon wrote: “Wisdom is the most important thing.” (Read Proverbs 4:7.) Of course, Solomon was not talking about just any sort of wisdom. He was referring to the wisdom that comes from Jehovah God. (Prov. 2:6) But can godly wisdom help us deal with the kinds of problems we face today? Yes, it can, as we will see in this article.
2. What is one way that we can become truly wise?
2 One way that we can become truly wise is by studying and applying the teachings of two men who are widely respected for their wisdom. First, we will consider Solomon. The Bible says that “God gave Solomon wisdom and discernment in very great measure.” (1 Ki. 4:29) Second, we will consider Jesus, whose wisdom was unparalleled. (Matt. 12:42) Of Jesus, it was prophesied: “The spirit of Jehovah will settle upon him, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding.”—Isa. 11:2.
3. What will we discuss in this article?
3 Using their God-given wisdom, both Solomon and Jesus gave practical advice on matters that are of interest to all of us. In this article, we will consider three of them: The need to have a balanced view of money, of secular work, and of ourselves.
A BALANCED VIEW OF MONEY
4. How did the economic situation of Solomon differ from that of Jesus?
4 Solomon was fabulously wealthy, and he lived in luxury. (1 Ki. 10:7, 14, 15) Jesus, on the other hand, had few possessions and no permanent home. (Matt. 8:20) Yet, both men had a balanced view of material things because their wisdom came from the same Source—Jehovah God.
5. What balanced view of money did Solomon have?
5 Solomon acknowledged that money is “a protection.” (Eccl. 7:12) With money, we are able to obtain life’s necessities and perhaps a few wants. Yet, as wealthy as he was, Solomon realized that there are more important things than money. For example, he wrote: “A good name [or, “a good reputation,” ftn.] is to be chosen rather than great wealth.” (Prov. 22:1) Solomon also observed that people who love money are seldom happy with what they have. (Eccl. 5:10, 12) And he warned against putting all our trust in money, since whatever money we have can quickly disappear.—Prov. 23:4, 5.
6. What balanced view did Jesus have of material things? (Matthew 6:31-33)
6 Jesus had a balanced view of material things. He enjoyed food and drink. (Luke 19:2, 6, 7) On one occasion, he made wine of the finest quality—the first of his miracles. (John 2:10, 11) And on the day he died, he was wearing an expensive garment. (John 19:23, 24) But Jesus did not allow material things to become the focus of his life. He told his followers: “No one can slave for two masters . . . You cannot slave for God and for Riches.” (Matt. 6:24) Jesus taught that if we seek the Kingdom first, Jehovah will make sure that we have what we need.—Read Matthew 6:31-33.
7. How did one brother benefit from having a balanced view of money?
7 Many of our brothers and sisters have benefited from applying divine wisdom when it comes to money. Consider the example of a single brother named Daniel. He says: “In my teenage years, I decided that I would make spiritual activities the most important thing in my life.” Because he has kept his life simple, Daniel has been able to use his time and skills on many theocratic projects. He adds: “I can honestly say that I have never regretted the path I chose. Sure, I could have earned a lot of money if I had made that the most important thing in my life. But how could money replace the friendships I’ve cultivated? How could it replace the satisfaction I have from knowing that I’m putting the Kingdom first? There’s no amount of money that could equal the blessings Jehovah has given me.” Clearly, we benefit when we focus, not on money, but on spiritual things.
A BALANCED VIEW OF SECULAR WORK
8. How do we know that Solomon had a balanced view of work? (Ecclesiastes 5:18, 19)
8 Solomon called the enjoyment that we can derive from our hard work “the gift of God.” (Read Ecclesiastes 5:18, 19.) He wrote: “There is benefit in every kind of hard work.” (Prov. 14:23) Solomon knew what he was talking about. He was a worker! He built houses, planted vineyards, and made gardens and pools. He also built cities. (1 Ki. 9:19; Eccl. 2:4-6) That was hard work, and no doubt it gave him a measure of satisfaction. But Solomon did not rely on those activities alone to bring him happiness. He also engaged in spiritual pursuits. For example, he supervised the construction of a glorious temple for Jehovah’s worship—a seven-year building project! (1 Ki. 6:38; 9:1) After sharing in all sorts of activities, both secular and spiritual, Solomon realized that spiritual activities are far more important than secular pursuits. He wrote: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments.”—Eccl. 12:13.
9. How did Jesus keep his secular work in its place?
9 Jesus was a hard worker. In his early years on earth, he worked as a carpenter. (Mark 6:3) No doubt his parents appreciated his help as they tried hard to provide for the needs of their large family. And as a carpenter, the perfect man Jesus must have been in high demand! Jesus very likely enjoyed his work. Yet, even while he was applying himself to his secular work, Jesus set aside time for spiritual activities. (John 7:15) Later, as a full-time minister, he advised his listeners: “Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for everlasting life.” (John 6:27) And in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”—Matt. 6:20.
10. What challenge may some face in their secular work?
10 Godly wisdom helps us to have a balanced view of our secular work. As Christians, we are taught to do “hard work . . . , good work.” (Eph. 4:28) Employers often notice our honesty and our industriousness, and they may tell us how much they value our work ethic. With the best of motives, we could begin to work longer hours, hoping to give our employer an even more favorable impression of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Soon, though, we might realize that we are starting to neglect our family responsibilities and theocratic activities. We need to make a change—to find our balance.
11. What did one brother learn about having a balanced view of work?
11 A young brother named William has observed firsthand the value of keeping secular work in its place. Regarding an elder who formerly employed him, William says: “[This brother] is a great example of someone with a balanced work ethic. He works hard, and he has a good rapport with his clients because of the quality of his work. But at the end of the day, when the job is done, he knows how to leave his work behind and focus on his family and his worship. And you know what? He’s one of the happiest people I know!”b
A BALANCED VIEW OF OURSELVES
12. How did Solomon demonstrate that he had a balanced view of himself, but how did he lose it?
12 When he was a faithful worshipper of Jehovah, Solomon had a balanced view of himself. As a young man, he modestly acknowledged his limitations and asked for Jehovah’s guidance. (1 Ki. 3:7-9) Early in his reign, Solomon was also aware of the danger of becoming prideful. He wrote: “Pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18) Sadly, Solomon later failed to apply his own advice. Some time into his kingship, he proudly began to ignore God’s requirements. For example, one of the laws stated that a Hebrew king should not “take many wives for himself, so that his heart may not go astray.” (Deut. 17:17) Solomon disregarded that law and acquired 700 wives and 300 concubines, many of whom were pagan! (1 Ki. 11:1-3) Perhaps Solomon felt that he had “everything under control.” Whatever the case, in time, Solomon suffered the consequences of his drawing away from Jehovah.—1 Ki. 11:9-13.
13. What can we learn from meditating on Jesus’ humble attitude?
13 Jesus maintained a balanced and humble view of himself. In his prehuman existence, Jesus built up a marvelous record in Jehovah’s service. By means of Jesus, “all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth.” (Col. 1:16) At his baptism, Jesus evidently recalled things he had accomplished when he was with his Father. (Matt. 3:16; John 17:5) But that knowledge did not cause Jesus to become prideful. On the contrary, he never exalted himself above anyone. He told his disciples that he had come to the earth, “not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) He also admitted modestly that he could not do a single thing of his own initiative. (John 5:19) What humility Jesus displayed! Jesus provided an excellent example for us to follow.
14. What can we learn from Jesus about having a proper view of ourselves?
14 Jesus taught his followers to have a proper view of themselves. On one occasion, Jesus assured them: “The hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matt. 10:30) That statement is very comforting to us, especially if we tend to have a negative view of ourselves. It means that our heavenly Father is deeply interested in us—that we have value in his eyes. We would never want to call into question Jehovah’s judgment by concluding that we are unworthy of being his worshippers and of receiving life in his new world.
15. (a) What balanced view of ourselves did The Watchtower recommend that we develop? (b) As shown in the pictures on page 24, if we are too focused on ourselves, what blessings are we missing out on?
15 Some 15 years ago, The Watchtower recommended that we develop this balanced view of ourselves: “Certainly, we would not want to think too highly of ourselves to the point of becoming conceited; nor would we want to go to the other extreme and think nothing of ourselves. Rather, our aim should be to cultivate a reasonable view of ourselves, one that takes into consideration our strengths as well as our limitations. A Christian woman put it this way: ‘I’m not the epitome of evil; nor am I God’s gift to others. I have both good points and bad points, and so does everyone else.’”c Can you see how beneficial it would be for us to cultivate a balanced view of ourselves?
16. Why does Jehovah give us wise guidance?
16 Through his Word, Jehovah gives us wise guidance. He loves us, and he wants us to be happy. (Isa. 48:17, 18) The wise course—the course that brings the greatest happiness—is to put Jehovah’s interests first in our life. When we do, we will avoid many of the problems experienced by those who focus too much on money, secular work, or themselves. May each of us be determined to be wise and make Jehovah’s heart rejoice!—Prov. 23:15.
SONG 94 Grateful for God’s Word
a Solomon and Jesus possessed great wisdom. The Source of that wisdom was Jehovah God. In this article, we will see what we can learn from the inspired counsel of both Solomon and Jesus about having a balanced view of money, of secular work, and of ourselves. We will also see how some of our fellow believers have benefited from wisely applying Bible-based counsel in those areas.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: John and Tom are two young brothers who are in the same congregation. John spends much time caring for his car. Tom uses his car to assist others to share in the ministry and to attend congregation meetings.
e PICTURE DESCRIPTION: John is working overtime. He does not want to disappoint his boss. So whenever his boss asks him to work late, John agrees. That same evening, Tom, who is a ministerial servant, accompanies an elder on a shepherding visit. In the past, Tom explained to his boss that he reserves several evenings in the week for activities related to his worship of Jehovah.
f PICTURE DESCRIPTION: John is focused on himself. Tom, who puts spiritual pursuits ahead of his own interests, widens out his circle of friends as he helps in renovating an Assembly Hall.