“He that is humble in spirit will take hold of glory.”—PROVERBS 29:23.
1, 2. (a) What does the Hebrew word for “glory” refer to? (b) What questions will we answer in this article?
WHEN you hear the word “glory,” what do you think of? Do you think of the great beauty of God’s creation? (Psalm 19:1) Do you think of the praise and honor given to those who are rich, wise, or successful? In the Bible, the Hebrew word for “glory” gives the idea of weight. In ancient times, coins were made of metals, such as gold or silver. The heavier the coin was, the more valuable it was. That is why the word translated “glory” can refer to something that has great value or that is very impressive.
2 Humans usually honor those who have power or fame. But for God to give someone glory, what does he look for in a person? Proverbs 22:4 says: “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.” (James 4:10) What is the glory that Jehovah gives us? What might prevent us from receiving this glory? And how can we help others to receive it?
3-5. How does Jehovah give us glory?
3 The psalmist believed that Jehovah would give him glory. (Read Psalm 73:23, 24.) How does Jehovah give glory to obedient humans? He does this by giving them his approval and by blessing them in many ways. For example, he helps them to understand his will, and he allows them to have a close friendship with him.—1 Corinthians 2:7; James 4:8.
4 Jehovah also gives us glory by allowing us to preach the good news. (2 Corinthians 4:1, 7) When we praise Jehovah by participating in the preaching work, we receive glory from him and we benefit others. In return, Jehovah promises us: “Those honoring me I shall honor.” (1 Samuel 2:30) Jehovah honors those who do the preaching work by giving them a good name, that is, his approval. And others in the congregation will speak well of them.—Proverbs 11:16; 22:1.
5 What will the future be for those who obey Jehovah? The Bible promises: “He will exalt you to take possession of the earth. When the wicked ones are cut off, you will see it.” (Psalm 37:34) God’s servants have the extraordinary hope of living forever.—Psalm 37:29.
“I DO NOT ACCEPT GLORY FROM MEN”
6, 7. Why did many not believe that Jesus was the Messiah?
6 Could something prevent us from receiving glory from Jehovah? Yes. For example, we may give too much importance to the opinions of those who do not have a good relationship with Jehovah. This is what some of the rulers in Jesus’ time did. The apostle John wrote that they 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) Those rulers should not have given so much importance to what the Pharisees thought.
We should not give too much importance to the opinions of those who do not have a good relationship with Jehovah
7 Jesus had clearly explained why many did not believe that he was the Messiah. (Read John 5:39-44.) The nation of Israel had been waiting for the Messiah for hundreds of years. When Jesus began preaching, some may have understood from Daniel’s prophecy that the Messiah had arrived. Some months earlier, many even thought that John the Baptizer was the Messiah. (Luke 3:15) But when the Messiah came, those who were teachers of the Scriptures did not believe in him. Why not? Jesus mentioned the reason when he 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. How could glory from humans become more important to us than glory from Jehovah? Use the illustration of light.
8 We can better understand how glory from humans could become more important to us than honor from Jehovah by comparing glory to light. The universe is full of light. Maybe you can remember a time when you looked at the sky on a clear night and you could see thousands of stars. You must have been very impressed by the beauty of those stars. (1 Corinthians 15:40, 41) But in some cities, there are so many lights that it is almost impossible to see the stars. Why? Is it because the lights from roads, stadiums, and buildings are brighter or more beautiful than the light from the stars? No. It is because the city lights are closer to us and make it much more difficult for us to see the stars. So to see the beauty of the stars, we must go somewhere far from the city lights.
Do we value the glory that God gives us?
9 In the same way, the glory from humans can make the glory from Jehovah seem less valuable to us. Many people do not accept the good news because they are afraid of what their friends and family members might think of them. Even servants of Jehovah might worry too much about what others think. For example, a young man is assigned to preach in an area where he knows everyone. Yet, most people there do not know that he is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Will he be afraid and not preach in that area? Another example is someone who wants to do more in Jehovah’s service, but others make fun of his goals. Will he listen to those who do not value Jehovah’s service as much as they should? Or maybe someone has committed a serious sin. Will he hide his sin because he is worried about losing his responsibilities in the congregation or because he does not want to disappoint his family and friends? He will ask the elders for help if his friendship with Jehovah is the most important thing to him.—Read James 5:14-16.
10. (a) What could happen if we worry too much about what others think of us? (b) If we are humble, what can we be sure of?
10 Maybe you feel that you are working hard to become a better Christian, but a brother often gives you counsel. You could accept the counsel and benefit from it. Or you could ignore the counsel because of being proud, being too worried about your reputation, or wanting to make excuses for what you did. Or imagine that you are working on a project with other brothers and sisters. Will you worry about who gets the praise for your good ideas and hard work? If you are ever in one of these situations, remember that “he that is humble in spirit will take hold of glory.”—Proverbs 29:23.
11. How should we feel when others praise us? Why?
11 Elders and brothers who are working hard to have more responsibility in the congregation should be careful not to want “glory from men.” (1 Thessalonians 2:6; 1 Timothy 3:1) How should a brother react when others praise him for something he has done? Of course, he will not build a monument for himself, as King Saul did. (1 Samuel 15:12) But does he admit that what he did was possible only because Jehovah helped him and that he will have success in the future only if Jehovah continues to bless and help him? (1 Peter 4:11) The way we feel inside when others praise us shows what kind of glory we really want.—Proverbs 27:21.
“YOU WISH TO DO THE DESIRES OF YOUR FATHER”
12. Why did certain Jews reject Jesus’ message?
12 Something else that could prevent us from receiving honor from Jehovah is our wrong desires. Because of them, we might not want to hear the truth at all. (Read John 8:43-47.) For example, Jesus told certain Jews that they rejected his message because they desired to do the will of their father the Devil.
13, 14. (a) What do researchers say about our brain and the human voice? (b) How do we choose whom we will listen to?
13 We sometimes hear only what we want to hear. (2 Peter 3:5) Jehovah made our brain with the amazing ability to ignore some noises. Stop for a moment and think about how many sounds you can hear right now. You probably did not hear many of them a moment ago. Why not? Even though your brain has the ability to hear all those different sounds, it was helping you to concentrate on only one thing. But it is harder for the brain to do that when we listen to others speak. Researchers have discovered that we can pay attention to only one person at a time. This means that when two people are talking to you at the same time, you have to choose which one you will pay attention to. You will choose the one you want to listen to. The Jews in Jesus’ time wanted to do the desires of their father, the Devil, and that is why they chose not to listen to Jesus.
14 The Bible says that in a way, both “wisdom” and “stupidity” are always trying to get us to listen to them. (Proverbs 9:1-5, 13-17) We have a choice. Whom will we listen to? That depends on whom we want to please. If we are Jesus’ sheep, we will listen to him and follow him. (John 10:16, 27) Jesus says that his followers are “on the side of the truth.” (John 18:37) “They do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:5) Those who humbly follow Jesus will receive glory from God.—Proverbs 3:13, 16; 8:1, 18.
“THESE MEAN GLORY FOR YOU”
15. Why did Paul say that his tribulations meant glory for the Ephesians?
15 How can we help others to receive glory from God? One way is by our example of endurance. Paul wrote to the congregation in Ephesus: “I ask you not to give up on account of these tribulations of mine in your behalf, for these mean glory for you.” (Ephesians 3:13) Why did Paul say that his tribulations meant glory for the Ephesians? By serving his brothers despite problems, Paul showed them that serving God should be the most valuable thing for a Christian. If Paul had given up when he suffered trials, his brothers might have thought that their friendship with Jehovah, their ministry, and their hope were not important. By his example of endurance, Paul showed the brothers that being a disciple of Christ is worth any sacrifice.
16. What happened to Paul in Lystra?
16 Think about how much Paul’s zeal and endurance helped the brothers. Acts 14:19, 20 tells us about what happened to Paul in the city of Lystra: “Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and persuaded the crowds, and they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, 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 how difficult it must have been for Paul to make a trip of 100 kilometers (60 miles) on foot the day after he had almost been stoned to death!
17, 18. (a) How may Timothy have known about Paul’s suffering in Lystra? (b) How did Paul’s example of endurance help Timothy?
17 Was Timothy there when Paul was stoned? Maybe. The account in the book of Acts does not say. But Timothy did know about what had happened. Paul wrote in his second letter to him: “You have closely followed my teaching, my course of life.” Timothy knew not only that Paul was stoned in Lystra but also that the Jews had thrown Paul out of Antioch and that some had tried to stone him in Iconium.—2 Timothy 3:10, 11; Acts 13:50; 14:5, 19.
Our wrong desires can prevent us from receiving honor from Jehovah
18 Timothy knew that Paul had endured in all those difficult situations. Timothy must have learned a lot from Paul’s example. When Paul returned to Lystra, he learned that Timothy was an excellent example in the congregation, “well reported on by the brothers in Lystra and Iconium.” (Acts 16:1, 2) After some time, Timothy was ready to receive even greater responsibilities.—Philippians 2:19, 20; 1 Timothy 1:3.
19. How can our endurance help others?
19 If we continue to do God’s will, our example can help young ones to become even more valuable servants of God. Young ones watch us and learn from the way we speak to people in the field ministry and especially from the way we react to difficult situations in life. Paul said that he had endured many things so that he could help others to receive everlasting life.—2 Timothy 2:10.
20. Why should we continue to seek the glory from God?
20 We have very good reasons to continue “seeking the glory that is from the only God.” (John 5:44; 7:18) Jehovah gives “everlasting life to those who are seeking glory.” (Read Romans 2:6, 7.) Also, our endurance can help others to stay faithful and have everlasting life. So let nothing prevent you from receiving the glory that God gives.