“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”—JOHN 4:34.
1. How could the selfish attitude of the world affect our humility?
WHY is it difficult to apply what we learn from God’s Word? One reason is that to do what is right, we need to be humble. In these “last days,” it is hard to stay humble, because many people around us are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, haughty,” and “without self-control.” (2 Timothy 3:1-3) As God’s servants, we know this kind of behavior is bad, but it may seem that those who act this way are successful and are truly enjoying their lives. (Psalm 37:1; 73:3) We may even wonder: ‘Is it really worth the effort to put the needs of others ahead of my own? Will people still respect me if I act in a humble way?’ (Luke 9:48) If we allow the world’s selfish attitude to influence us, we could harm our good relationships with our brothers and make it difficult for others to recognize that we are Christians. But when we study the examples of humble servants of God and imitate them, we will have good results.
2. What can we learn from faithful servants of God in the past?
2 What helped faithful servants of God in the past to be his friends? How did they please him? Where did they find the strength to do what was right? When we read about their examples in the Bible and meditate on what we read, our faith will become stronger.
WHAT KEEPS OUR FAITH STRONG
3, 4. (a) How does Jehovah teach us? (b) Why do we need more than knowledge to keep our faith strong?
3 Jehovah provides what we need to keep our faith strong. We receive good counsel and training from the Bible, our Christian publications, our website, JW Broadcasting, and our meetings and assemblies. But Jesus explained that we need something more than knowledge. He said: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”—John 4:34.
4 Doing God’s will was like food for Jesus. Eating healthful food makes us feel good and nourishes our body. In a similar way, doing God’s will makes us feel good and nourishes our faith. For example, have you ever gone to a meeting for field service feeling tired but then returned home after service feeling happy and refreshed?
5. How do we benefit from being wise?
5 When we do what Jehovah asks us to do, we are wise. (Psalm 107:43) And many good things happen to those who have wisdom. “Nothing you desire can compare to it. . . . It is a tree of life to those who take hold of it, and those who keep firm hold of it will be called happy.” (Proverbs 3:13-18) Jesus said: “If you know these things, happy you are if you do them.” (John 13:17) Jesus’ disciples would be happy as long as they kept doing what Jesus told them to do. Following his teachings and example became their way of life.
6. Why do we need to continue to apply what we learn?
6 Today, we too need to continue to apply what we learn. Think of a mechanic who has tools, materials, and knowledge. Those things will help him to be a good mechanic only if he uses them. He may have years of experience, but he needs to keep using what he has learned if he still wants to be a good mechanic. In a similar way, when we first learned the truth, we were happy because we applied what we read in the Bible. But to have lasting happiness, we must continue to apply every day what Jehovah teaches us.
7. What must we do to learn from Bible examples?
7 In this article, we will discuss some situations in which it may be difficult for us to stay humble. We will learn how faithful ones in the past remained humble. But we must do more than just read the information. We must think about it and then apply it in our life.
VIEW OTHERS AS EQUALS
8, 9. What do we learn about Paul’s humility from Acts 14:8-15? (See opening picture.)
8 God wants all sorts of people to “be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) How do you view all those people who have not yet learned the truth? The apostle Paul preached to Jewish people who already knew something about Jehovah. But he also preached to those who worshipped false gods. Preaching to them tested Paul’s humility. How?
9 On Paul’s first missionary journey, he and Barnabas went to the city of Lystra. The Lycaonian people who lived there treated Paul and Barnabas like superheroes and called them by the names of their false gods Zeus and Hermes. Were Paul and Barnabas flattered? Did they view this as a pleasant change from the persecution they experienced in the last two cities they visited? Did they think that all this attention would help more people to hear the good news? No! They were very upset and cried out: “Why are you doing these things? We too are humans having the same infirmities as you have.”—Acts 14:8-15.
10. Why did Paul and Barnabas not feel superior to the Lycaonians?
10 When Paul and Barnabas said that they too were humans, they meant that they were imperfect. They did not mean that their way of worship was the same as that of the Lycaonians. Paul and Barnabas were sent by God as missionaries. (Acts 13:2) They had been anointed with holy spirit and had a wonderful hope. But that was no reason for them to feel superior. They realized that those people could also receive the heavenly hope if they accepted the good news.
11. How can we be humble like Paul when we are preaching?
11 Here is one way that we show we are humble like Paul. We never feel that our assignment of preaching or the things Jehovah helps us accomplish make us special. We can ask ourselves: ‘How do I feel about those in my territory? Am I prejudiced toward certain groups of people?’ All over the world, Jehovah’s Witnesses try to find those who will listen to the good news. Some even make the effort to learn the language or the customs of people whom others view as inferior. But they never feel that they are better than those they preach to. Instead, they try to understand each person in order to help as many as possible accept the Kingdom message.
PRAY FOR OTHERS BY NAME
12. How did Epaphras show that he truly cared about others?
12 Another way that we show we are humble is by praying for our brothers and sisters, who have already “acquired a faith as precious as ours.” (2 Peter 1:1) This is what Epaphras did. The Bible mentions him only three times. When Paul was under house arrest in Rome, he wrote to the Christians in Colossae, saying about Epaphras: “He is always exerting himself in your behalf in his prayers.” (Colossians 4:12) Epaphras knew the brothers well, and he cared for them deeply. Paul called him a “fellow captive,” so Epaphras had problems of his own. (Philemon 23) But he still cared about the needs of others, and he did something to help them. Epaphras prayed for his brothers and sisters, and we can do the same, even mentioning their names. Such prayers are very powerful.—2 Corinthians 1:11; James 5:16.
13. How could you imitate Epaphras when you pray?
13 Think about someone you can pray for by name. You may know of friends in the congregation or families who are dealing with challenges. Perhaps they have difficult decisions to make or temptations to resist. You can also pray for brothers whose names are in the jw.org article “Jehovah’s Witnesses Imprisoned for Their Faith.” (Look under NEWSROOM > LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS.) You can also pray for those who have lost loved ones in death, those who have survived recent disasters or wars, and those who have financial problems. There are so many brothers and sisters who need our prayers! When we pray for them, we prove that we are thinking not only about our own needs but also about the needs of others. (Philippians 2:4) Jehovah hears such prayers.
“BE QUICK TO LISTEN”
14. How is Jehovah the best listener?
14 Another way that we show we are humble is by being a good listener. James 1:19 tells us to “be quick to listen.” Jehovah is the best listener. (Genesis 18:32; Joshua 10:14) For example, read the conversation found at Exodus 32:11-14. (Read.) Even though he did not need Moses’ opinion, Jehovah allowed Moses to express how he felt. Would you listen patiently to someone who has been wrong in the past and then follow his suggestion? Yet, Jehovah listens patiently to all humans who pray with faith.
15. How can we imitate Jehovah by giving honor to others?
15 Ask yourself: ‘If Jehovah is so humble that he can listen to people the way he listened to Abraham, Rachel, Moses, Joshua, Manoah, Elijah, and Hezekiah, should I not try to do the same? Can I give more honor to all my brothers by listening to them and following their suggestions when possible? Is there someone in my congregation or in my family to whom I could give more attention? What am I going to do about that?’—Genesis 30:6; Judges 13:9; 1 Kings 17:22; 2 Chronicles 30:20.
“PERHAPS JEHOVAH WILL SEE MY AFFLICTION”
16. How did King David react when Shimei treated him badly?
16 Humility also helps us to show self-control when others treat us badly. (Ephesians 4:2) We see an excellent example of that at 2 Samuel 16:5-13. (Read.) Shimei, a relative of King Saul, insulted and attacked David and his servants. David could have stopped Shimei, but instead he patiently endured his insults. How did David manage to have such self-control? We can find out by examining the third Psalm.
17. What helped David to have self-control, and how can we imitate him?
17 David composed the third Psalm when his son Absalom was trying to kill him. It was during this time that Shimei attacked David, but David found the strength to remain calm. How? At Psalm 3:4, we read David’s words: “I will call aloud to Jehovah, and he will answer me from his holy mountain.” When we are treated badly, we need to pray as David did. Then Jehovah will give us his holy spirit so that we can endure. Could you have more self-control or be more forgiving when someone treats you badly? Are you confident that Jehovah cares about your suffering and will help and bless you?
“WISDOM IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING”
18. How will we benefit from applying Jehovah’s instruction?
18 When we do what we know is right, we will be wise and Jehovah will bless us. At Proverbs 4:7, the Bible says: “Wisdom is the most important thing.” Although wisdom is based on knowledge, it involves more than understanding facts. Wisdom involves the decisions we make. Even ants show wisdom by storing food for the winter. (Proverbs 30:24, 25) Christ, who is called “the wisdom of God,” always does what pleases his Father. (1 Corinthians 1:24; John 8:29) God will reward us when we too show wisdom by choosing to do what we know is right and remaining humble. (Read Matthew 7:21-23.) So keep working to make the congregation a place where all can serve Jehovah humbly. It takes time and patience to apply what we know is right. But doing so shows humility, and humility will make us happy now and forever.