Jehovah Reveals His Glory to Humble Ones
“The result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life.”—PROVERBS 22:4.
1, 2. (a) How does the book of Acts show that Stephen was “a man full of faith and holy spirit”? (b) What evidence is there that Stephen was humble?
STEPHEN was “a man full of faith and holy spirit.” He was also “full of graciousness and power.” As one of Jesus’ early disciples, he was performing great signs and portents among the people. On one occasion, certain men rose up to dispute with him, “yet they could not hold their own against the wisdom and the spirit with which he was speaking.” (Acts 6:5, 8-10) Stephen clearly was a good student of the Word of God, and he powerfully defended it before the Jewish religious leaders of his day. His detailed testimony, recorded in Acts chapter 7, testifies to his intense interest in the unfolding of God’s purpose.
2 Unlike those religious leaders, whose position and knowledge made them feel superior to the common people, Stephen was humble. (Matthew 23:2-7; John 7:49) Although well-versed in the Scriptures, he was more than happy to be given an assignment to “distribute food to tables” so that the apostles could devote themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Stephen had a fine reputation among the brothers and was therefore chosen to be one of seven certified men who would handle this daily distribution of food. He humbly accepted the task.—Acts 6:1-6.
3. What outstanding demonstration of God’s undeserved kindness did Stephen experience?
3 Stephen’s humble disposition, coupled with his spirituality and integrity, did not go unnoticed by Jehovah. When Stephen was witnessing to the hostile crowd of Jewish leaders in the Sanhedrin, his opposers “saw that his face was as an angel’s face.” (Acts 6:15) His countenance was that of a messenger of God, with the peace that came from the God of glory, Jehovah. After giving a bold witness to members of the Sanhedrin, Stephen experienced an outstanding demonstration of God’s undeserved kindness. “He, being full of holy spirit, gazed into heaven and caught sight of God’s glory and of Jesus standing at God’s right hand.” (Acts 7:55) For Stephen, this spectacular vision reaffirmed Jesus’ position as God’s Son and the Messiah. It fortified humble Stephen and served to assure him that he had Jehovah’s favor.
4. To whom does Jehovah reveal his glory?
4 As the vision given to Stephen illustrates, Jehovah reveals his glory and his purpose to God-fearing individuals who are humble and who appreciate their relationship with him. “The result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life,” says the Bible. (Proverbs 22:4) It is, therefore, vital that we understand what true humility is, how we can cultivate this important quality, and how we benefit by displaying it in all aspects of life.
Humility—A Godly Quality
5, 6. (a) What is humility? (b) How has Jehovah displayed humility? (c) How should we be affected by Jehovah’s humility?
5 It may be surprising to some that Jehovah God, the highest and most glorious one in the universe, is the ultimate example of humility. To Jehovah, King David said: “You will give me your shield of salvation, and your own right hand will sustain me, and your own humility will make me great.” (Psalm 18:35) In describing Jehovah as humble, David drew on a Hebrew root word that means “be bowed down.” Besides the word “humility,” other words that are related to the same root include “lowliness,” “meekness,” and “condescension.” So Jehovah displayed humility when he lowered himself to have dealings with the imperfect man David and used him as His representative king. As the superscription of Psalm 18 shows, Jehovah protected and supported David, delivering him “out of the palm of all his enemies and out of the hand of Saul.” David, in turn, knew that any greatness or glory that he might achieve as king depended on Jehovah’s humbly acting in his behalf. This realization helped David to remain humble.
6 What about us? Jehovah has seen fit to teach us the truth, and he may have granted us special privileges of service through his organization, or he may have used us in some way to carry out his will. How should we feel about all of this? Should we not be humbled? Should we not be thankful for Jehovah’s humility and avoid exalting ourselves, which would surely lead to disaster?—Proverbs 16:18; 29:23.
7, 8. (a) How was Jehovah’s humility manifest in his dealings with Manasseh? (b) In what way does Jehovah, as well as Manasseh, set an example for us to follow in showing humility?
7 Not only has Jehovah shown great humility by having dealings with imperfect men but he has also shown a willingness to extend mercy to those who are lowly in mind, even raising up, or exalting, those who humble themselves. (Psalm 113:4-7) Take, for example, the case of King Manasseh of Judah. He misused his privileged position as king to promote false worship and “did on a grand scale what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah, to offend him.” (2 Chronicles 33:6) Finally, Jehovah punished Manasseh by allowing him to be taken off his throne by the king of Assyria. In prison, Manasseh “softened the face of Jehovah his God and kept humbling himself greatly,” so that Jehovah restored him to the throne in Jerusalem, and Manasseh “came to know that Jehovah is the true God.” (2 Chronicles 33:11-13) Yes, in the end, Manasseh’s humble state of mind pleased Jehovah, who in turn showed humility by forgiving him and reinstating him as king.
8 Jehovah’s willingness to forgive and Manasseh’s repentant attitude provide important lessons in humility for us. We should constantly bear in mind that the way we treat those who may have offended us and the attitude we display when we sin can affect the way Jehovah deals with us. If we willingly forgive the transgressions of others and humbly admit our errors, we can look to Jehovah for his mercy.—Matthew 5:23, 24; 6:12.
Divine Glory Revealed to Humble Ones
9. Is humility a sign of weakness? Explain.
9 Humility and related qualities, however, should not be mistaken as a sign of weakness or as a tendency to condone what is wrong. As the Holy Scriptures testify, Jehovah is humble, yet he displays righteous indignation and awesome power when the occasion calls for them. Because of his humility, Jehovah gives favorable attention, or special consideration, to those who are lowly in mind, while he distances himself from those who are proud. (Psalm 138:6) How has Jehovah shown special consideration to his humble servants?
10. What does Jehovah reveal to humble ones, as indicated at 1 Corinthians 2:6-10?
10 In his own due time and through his chosen channel of communication, Jehovah has revealed to humble ones details regarding the outworking of his purpose. These glorious things remain hidden from those who proudly rely on, or stubbornly cling to, human wisdom or thinking. (1 Corinthians 2:6-10) But the humble ones, having been given an accurate understanding of Jehovah’s purpose, are moved to magnify Jehovah because they appreciate his impressive glory all the more.
11. In the first century, how did some show a lack of humility, and how did this prove detrimental to them?
11 In the first century, many, including some who claimed to be Christians, showed a lack of humility and were stumbled by what the apostle Paul revealed to them about God’s purpose. Paul became “an apostle to the nations,” but it was not because of his nationality, education, age, or long record of fine works. (Romans 11:13) Often, fleshly-minded individuals view these as the factors that determine whom Jehovah should use as his instrument. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29; 3:1; Colossians 2:18) However, Paul was Jehovah’s choice, in harmony with His loving-kindness and righteous purpose. (1 Corinthians 15:8-10) Those whom Paul described as “superfine apostles,” as well as other opposers, refused to accept Paul and his reasoning from the Scriptures. Their lack of humility hindered them from gaining knowledge and understanding of the glorious way Jehovah works out his purpose. May we never underestimate or prejudge those whom Jehovah chooses to use to accomplish his will.—2 Corinthians 11:4-6.
12. How does the example of Moses show that Jehovah favors those who are humble?
12 On the other hand, there are many Bible examples that highlight how humble people are favored with a glimpse of God’s glory. Moses, “by far the meekest” of all men, saw God’s glory and enjoyed an intimate relationship with him. (Numbers 12:3) This humble man, who spent 40 years as a lowly shepherd, likely much of it on the Arabian Peninsula, was highly favored by the Creator in many ways. (Exodus 6:12, 30) With the backing of Jehovah, Moses became the spokesman for and chief organizer of the nation of Israel. He enjoyed two-way communication with God. Through a vision, he beheld “the appearance of Jehovah.” (Numbers 12:7, 8; Exodus 24:10, 11) Those who recognized this humble servant and representative of God were also blessed. Similarly, we will be blessed if we recognize and obey the prophet greater than Moses, Jesus, as well as “the faithful and discreet slave” appointed by him.—Matthew 24:45, 46; Acts 3:22.
13. How was Jehovah’s glory revealed to humble shepherds in the first century?
13 To whom did ‘Jehovah’s glory gleam’ with the angelic announcement of the good news of the birth of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”? It was not to the high-minded religious leaders or to the important people in high places but to the humble shepherds “living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks.” (Luke 2:8-11) These individuals were not highly esteemed for their credentials and work. Yet, they were the ones Jehovah took note of and chose to inform first about the birth of the Messiah. Yes, Jehovah reveals his glory to the humble and God-fearing ones.
14. What blessings from God come to those who are humble?
14 What do these examples teach us? They show us that Jehovah favors and reveals knowledge and understanding of his purpose to humble ones. He chooses individuals who may not meet certain human expectations and uses them as his means to communicate his glorious purpose to others. This should motivate us to continue looking to Jehovah, his prophetic Word, and his organization for direction. We can be sure that Jehovah will keep his humble servants informed regarding the unfolding of his glorious purpose. The prophet Amos declared: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.”—Amos 3:7.
Cultivate Humility and Enjoy God’s Favor
15. Why must we work at maintaining humility, and how is this highlighted in the case of King Saul of Israel?
15 To enjoy lasting divine favor, we must remain humble. Once humble does not mean always humble. It is possible for a person to abandon humility and give way to pride and self-exaltation, which lead to presumptuousness and disaster. Saul, the first one anointed as king of Israel, did just that. When he was first chosen, he felt ‘little in his own eyes.’ (1 Samuel 15:17) However, after having ruled for only two years, he acted presumptuously. He disregarded Jehovah’s arrangement for offering sacrifices through the prophet Samuel, and he fabricated excuses for taking things into his own hands. (1 Samuel 13:1, 8-14) This was the beginning of a chain of events that unmistakably betrayed his lack of humility. The result was the loss of God’s spirit and favor, which eventually led to his ignominious death. (1 Samuel 15:3-19, 26; 28:6; 31:4) The lesson is clear: We must work at maintaining humility and submissiveness and stifle feelings of self-importance, thus avoiding any presumptuous acts that result in Jehovah’s disfavor.
16. How can reflecting on our relationship with Jehovah and with our fellowman help us to cultivate humility?
16 Although humility is not listed as a part of the fruitage of God’s spirit, it is a godly quality that must be cultivated. (Galatians 5:22, 23; Colossians 3:10, 12) Since it involves a state of mind—that is, how we view ourselves and others—developing humility requires deliberate effort. Reasoning and meditating on our relationship with Jehovah and with our fellowman can help us to stay humble. In God’s eyes, all imperfect flesh is as green grass that grows for a time, then dries up and withers. Humans are like mere grasshoppers in a field. (Isaiah 40:6, 7, 22) Does one blade of grass have reason to be proud just because it is a little longer than other blades of grass? Does a grasshopper have cause to vaunt its prowess just because it can hop a little farther than other grasshoppers? It is absurd even to think so. Thus, the apostle Paul reminded his fellow Christians: “Who makes you to differ from another? Indeed, what do you have that you did not receive? If, now, you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7) Reflecting on Bible texts such as these can help us to cultivate and display humility.
17. What helped the prophet Daniel to cultivate humility, and what can help us do the same?
17 The Hebrew prophet Daniel was declared a “very desirable man” in God’s eyes because of his “humbling” himself, that is, because of his humility. (Daniel 10:11, 12) What helped Daniel to cultivate humility? First of all, he displayed uncompromising reliance on Jehovah, regularly turning to him in prayer. (Daniel 6:10, 11) Additionally, Daniel was a diligent and rightly motivated student of God’s Word, which helped him to keep God’s glorious purpose in focus. He was also willing to acknowledge his own shortcomings, not just those of his people. And he was truly interested in promoting God’s righteousness, not his own. (Daniel 9:2, 5, 7) Can we learn from Daniel’s outstanding example and endeavor to cultivate and demonstrate humility in all aspects of our life?
18. What glory awaits those who display humility today?
18 “The result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life,” states Proverbs 22:4. Yes, Jehovah favors those who are humble, and the result is glory and life. After almost giving up in his service to God but then having his thinking readjusted by Jehovah, the psalmist Asaph humbly acknowledged: “With your counsel you will lead me, and afterward you will take me even to glory.” (Psalm 73:24) What about today? What glory awaits those who display humility? In addition to enjoying a favored and blessed relationship with Jehovah, they can look forward to seeing the fulfillment of King David’s inspired words: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” A glorious future indeed!—Psalm 37:11.
Do You Recall?
• How is Stephen an example of a humble person to whom Jehovah revealed His glory?
• In what ways has Jehovah God displayed humility?
• What examples show that Jehovah reveals his glory to humble ones?
• How can Daniel’s example help us to cultivate humility?
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Strong yet Humble
At the 1919 Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A., convention of the Bible Students (known today as Jehovah’s Witnesses), 50-year-old J. F. Rutherford, who was then overseeing the work, gladly volunteered as a bellhop, carrying luggage and escorting conventioners to their rooms. On the last day of the convention, he electrified the audience of 7,000 with the words: “You are an ambassador of the King of kings and Lord of lords, announcing to the people . . . the glorious kingdom of our Lord.” While Brother Rutherford was a man of strong convictions, known for speaking out forcefully and without compromise for what he believed to be the truth, he was also genuinely humble before God, often reflecting that in his prayers at morning worship in Bethel.
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Stephen, well-versed in the Scriptures, humbly distributed food
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Manasseh’s humble state of mind pleased Jehovah
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What made Daniel a “very desirable man”?