“He that conducts himself as a lesser one among all of you is the one that is great.”—LUKE 9:48.
1, 2. What did Jesus teach his apostles? Why did he teach them that?
IT WAS the year 32. Jesus and his apostles were in the district of Galilee. A few of the apostles started arguing about who was the greatest among them. The Gospel writer Luke tells us what happened: “A reasoning entered among them as to who would be the greatest of them. Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a young child, set it beside him and said to them: ‘Whoever receives this young child on the basis of my name receives me too, and whoever receives me receives him also that sent me forth. For he that conducts himself as a lesser one among all of you is the one that is great.’” (Luke 9:46-48) Jesus was patiently helping the apostles to understand that they needed to be humble.
2 Was the humble attitude Jesus told his apostles to have similar to the attitude most Jews had at that time? No. In fact, it was the opposite. One book says that it was very important for the Jews to know who deserved more honor in all their relationships, and they were always worried about whether they were giving each person the honor he deserved. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament) Jesus wanted his disciples to be different from most people around them.
3. (a) What does it mean to behave as a lesser one? Why might it be hard for us to act in that way? (b) What questions are we going to answer in this article?
3 The Greek word translated “lesser one” means someone who is less important than other people or who has no power or authority. Such a person is humble and does not think of himself as important. Jesus taught his apostles that they should be humble and modest like children. True Christians today need to learn from the lesson Jesus taught his apostles. It may be hard for us to show humility, especially in certain situations. Our imperfection causes us to have pride and to try to be better than others. Also, Satan’s world may influence us to become selfish, aggressive, or controlling. What can help us to have a humble attitude? What did Jesus mean when he said that a lesser one “is the one that is great”? In what situations should we show humility?
“O THE DEPTH OF GOD’S RICHES AND WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE!”
4, 5. What can help us to become more humble? Give an example.
4 One way we can become more humble is to remember that Jehovah is much greater than we are. The truth is that no one can ever know everything that Jehovah knows. (Isaiah 40:28) The apostle Paul wrote about Jehovah’s greatness: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are!” (Romans 11:33) Humans have learned many things since Paul wrote those words almost 2,000 years ago. But what he wrote is still true. No matter how much we know, we will never stop learning about Jehovah, his works, and his thinking.
It is good for us to remember that Jehovah is much greater than we are and that he himself shows humility
5 For example, what helped Leo to become more humble was realizing that he could never learn everything about God’s creation.* (See footnote.) As a young man, Leo loved science. He wanted to understand the universe as much as possible, so he decided to study it in school. But he realized that science alone cannot help humans understand everything about the universe. So he started studying law instead. In time, Leo became a lawyer and then a judge. Later, he and his wife studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, accepted the truth, and got baptized. Even though he was highly educated, what helped Leo to show humility? He answers, “It is the realization that no matter how much we learn about Jehovah and the universe, there is still much more to discover.”
6, 7. (a) What wonderful example of humility does Jehovah give us? (b) How can God’s humility make a person “great”?
6 Something else that helps us to be humble is to remember that Jehovah himself shows humility. And think about this: “We are God’s fellow workers.” (1 Corinthians 3:9) Imagine that! Jehovah God, the Most High, wants us to work with him. He honors us by giving us an opportunity to use his Word, the Bible, to preach the good news. Although Jehovah is the one who makes the seeds grow, he allows us to have the work of planting and watering them. (1 Corinthians 3:6, 7) In this way, God sets a wonderful example of humility for us. Surely, Jehovah’s example should encourage each of us to behave as a lesser one!
Any qualities, abilities, and special responsibilities we have, we have received from Jehovah
7 God’s example of humility had a powerful effect on David. He sang to Jehovah: “You will give me your shield of salvation, and it is your humility that makes me great.” (2 Samuel 22:36) David knew that he was able to do the great things he did in Israel only because Jehovah had shown humility by paying attention to him and helping him. (Psalm 113:5-7) It is the same with us. Any qualities, abilities, and special responsibilities we have, we have received from Jehovah. (1 Corinthians 4:7) When Jesus said that a humble person becomes “great,” he meant that this person becomes a more valuable servant of Jehovah. (Luke 9:48) Let us see how.
HOW A LESSER ONE BECOMES “GREAT”
8. Why do those who are part of God’s organization need to be humble?
8 Those who are humble are happy in God’s organization and support the way things are done in the congregation. For example, Petra is a young woman who was raised in a family of Witnesses. But she wanted to do things her own way and left the congregation. Some years later, she started to associate with the congregation again. She is now happy to be in Jehovah’s organization and to support the way things are done in the congregation. How did her attitude change? She says, “The two most important qualities I needed to understand and to cultivate were humility and modesty.”
A humble person supports the elders and the way things are done in the congregation
9. How does a humble person feel about the Bible and our publications? Why does that make him more valuable?
9 A humble person is truly grateful for all the good things Jehovah gives his people, including the help he gives them to learn about him. That is why a humble person regularly and carefully studies the Bible and reads the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Many servants of Jehovah read each new publication before putting it away in their library. If we show that we are humble and grateful by reading and studying our publications, we will have a stronger friendship with God, and he will be able to use us to do more in his service.—Hebrews 5:13, 14.
10. How can we show humility in the congregation?
10 There is another way a humble person can become “great,” or valuable to God. Jehovah uses his holy spirit to appoint men as elders in every congregation. These men organize meetings and field service and shepherd the congregation. When we show humility by willingly cooperating with the elders, we help the whole congregation to have joy, peace, and unity. (Read Hebrews 13:7, 17.) And if you are serving as an elder or a ministerial servant, do you show humility by being grateful for the responsibility Jehovah has given you?
11, 12. What attitude will make us more valuable to Jehovah’s organization? Why?
11 A humble person becomes more valuable to Jehovah’s organization because his attitude makes him a good and useful servant of God. Jesus had to remind his disciples to behave as lesser ones because some of them were thinking like the proud people of that time. Luke 9:46 says: “A reasoning entered among them as to who would be the greatest of them.” Could we also begin to think that we are better than our brothers or than other people? We should be different from most people in the world around us, who are proud and selfish. If we are humble and put Jehovah’s will first, our brothers and sisters will feel encouraged when they are around us.
12 When we understand Jesus’ counsel to behave as a lesser one, we are motivated to show humility in all situations in life. Let us talk about three situations.
DO YOUR BEST TO BEHAVE AS A LESSER ONE
13, 14. How should a husband or a wife behave as a lesser one? How can that help their relationship?
13 In marriage. Many people today care only about their own rights. The rights of others are not important to them. But a humble person has the kind of attitude that Paul encouraged the Christians in Rome to have. He wrote: “Let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another.” (Romans 14:19) A person who behaves as a lesser one makes an effort to keep peace with everyone and especially with his or her marriage mate.
14 For example, what a husband likes to do for recreation may be different from what his wife likes to do. Perhaps the husband likes to stay at home and read a book during his free time, but the wife likes to go out for a meal or to visit friends. It will be easier for the wife to respect her husband if he has a humble attitude and thinks not only of what he likes but also of what she likes. And the husband will love and value his wife even more if she is not always trying to get what she wants but thinks of what he wants as well. The relationship between husband and wife becomes stronger when both of them are humble.—Read Philippians 2:1-4.
15, 16. According to Psalm 131, what did David encourage the Israelites to do? How can we do the same in the congregation?
15 In the congregation. In the world, many feel that they must have what they want right away. They have little patience and hate waiting for anything. When we have a humble attitude, it becomes easier to wait for Jehovah, or to trust in him. (Read Psalm 131:1-3.) If we are humble and wait for Jehovah, we will be blessed. We will feel safe, comforted, and happy. So we can understand why David encouraged the Israelites to wait patiently for their God!
If we are humble and put Jehovah’s will first, we become more encouraging to our brothers and sisters
16 You can feel comforted as David did when you humbly wait for Jehovah. (Psalm 42:5) Perhaps you would like to serve as an elder so that you can do more to help the congregation. (1 Timothy 3:1-7) Of course, with the help of the holy spirit, you should first do all you can to have the qualities needed to be an elder. But what if you have to wait a little longer than others had to? The person who behaves as a lesser one waits patiently to receive more responsibilities in the congregation. He will continue to serve Jehovah and the congregation joyfully in whatever way he can.
17, 18. (a) If we forgive others and ask others to forgive us, what is the result? (b) What is the advice at Proverbs 6:1-5?
17 In our relationships with others. It is difficult for most people to say that they are sorry. But servants of God do their best to show humility by admitting their mistakes and asking for forgiveness. They are also ready to forgive others for their mistakes. When people are proud, there are often serious problems among them, but when they are willing to forgive, there is peace in the congregation.
18 We may need to show humility by sincerely saying that we are sorry. For example, we may have made an agreement with someone but, for a good reason, are not able to do what we said we would. In this situation, we should think about our own mistakes and admit them, even though what happened may not have been completely our fault.—Read Proverbs 6:1-5.
19. Why should we be grateful that the Bible encourages us to behave as a lesser one?
19 We are very grateful that the Bible encourages us to behave as a lesser one. It may at times be hard to be humble. But if we think about how much greater Jehovah is than we are and remember that Jehovah himself shows humility, we will want to show this wonderful quality. By doing that, we will become more valuable servants of Jehovah. So let us all do our best to behave as a lesser one.
Names have been changed.