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Why Respect Authority?

Why Respect Authority?

“Honor men of all sorts, have love for the whole association of brothers, be in fear of God, honor the king.”​—1 PETER 2:17.

1, 2. (a) Whose direction do we need to follow? (b) What questions will we discuss in this chapter?

WHEN you were a child, there were probably times when your parents asked you to do something that you didn’t want to do. You loved your parents and knew that you should obey them. Still, you probably didn’t always want to obey them.

2 We know that Jehovah, our Father, loves us. He takes care of us and makes sure that we have everything we need to enjoy life. He gives us the direction we need to be successful. At times, he uses other people to give us direction. We need to respect Jehovah’s authority. (Proverbs 24:21) But why is it sometimes difficult for us to accept direction? Why does Jehovah ask us to follow direction? And how do we show that we respect his authority?​—See Endnote 9.


3, 4. How did humans become imperfect? Why can it be difficult for us to accept direction from others?

3 As humans, we have a tendency to be rebellious. This has been true ever since the first man and  woman, Adam and Eve, sinned. Even though they were created perfect, they rebelled against God’s authority. Since then, all humans have been born imperfect. Our imperfection is one reason why it can be difficult for us to accept direction from Jehovah and from humans. Another reason is that those whom Jehovah uses to give us direction are also imperfect humans.​—Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12.

4 Because we are imperfect, we tend to be proud. Pride makes it difficult for us to accept direction. For example, in ancient Israel, Jehovah chose Moses to lead His people. A man named Korah, who had served Jehovah for many years, became proud and showed great disrespect to Moses. Although Moses was leading God’s people, he was not a proud man. In fact, he was described as the most humble man alive at the time. But Korah could not accept Moses’ direction. He even convinced a large crowd to join him and rebel against Moses. What happened to Korah and the rebels? They were killed. (Numbers 12:3; 16:1-3, 31-35) In the Bible, we find many examples that teach us that pride is dangerous.​—2 Chronicles 26:16-21; see Endnote 10.

5. How have some humans abused their power?

5 You may have heard the expression, “Power corrupts.” Throughout history, many humans have abused their power. (Read Ecclesiastes 8:9.) For example, Saul was a good and humble man when  Jehovah chose him to be king of Israel. But he allowed pride and jealousy to grow in his heart, and this led him to persecute David, an innocent man. (1 Samuel 9:20, 21; 10:20-22; 18:7-11) Later, David became king, and he was one of the best kings Israel ever had. Still, in time, even David abused his power. He had sexual relations with Bath-sheba, the wife of a man named Uriah, and then tried to hide his sin by sending Uriah to be killed in battle.​—2 Samuel 11:1-17.


6, 7. (a) What does our love for Jehovah motivate us to do? (b) What will help us to be obedient even when it is not easy to do so?

6 We respect direction from Jehovah because we love him. Because we love Jehovah more than anything or anyone else, we want to make him happy. (Read Proverbs 27:11; Mark 12:29, 30.) From the time the first human couple lived in the garden of Eden, Satan has wanted people to question Jehovah’s authority. The Devil wants us to think that Jehovah does not have the right to tell us what to do. But we know this is a lie. We agree with these words: “You are worthy, Jehovah our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things.”​—Revelation 4:11.

7 When you were a child, you were probably taught to obey your parents even when you didn’t want to. In a similar way, as servants of Jehovah,  there may be times when it is not easy to be obedient. But we love and respect Jehovah, so we do all we can to obey him. Jesus set the example for us. He obeyed Jehovah even when it was not easy or convenient to do so. That is why he could say to his Father: “Let, not my will, but yours take place.”​—Luke 22:42; see Endnote 11.

8. What are some ways that Jehovah directs us? (See the box “ Listen to Advice.”)

8 Today, Jehovah directs us in different ways. For example, he has given us the Bible. He has also given us the congregation elders. We show that we respect Jehovah’s authority when we respect those he uses to direct us. If we reject their help, in a sense we are rejecting Jehovah. When the Israelites rejected Moses, Jehovah viewed it seriously. He viewed it as if they were rejecting him.​—Numbers 14:26, 27; see Endnote 12.

9. How will love move us to follow direction?

9 When we respect authority, it shows that we also love our brothers and sisters. Think of it this way. When there is a natural disaster, often a relief team works together to save as many people as possible. For the team to be effective, someone needs to organize it and each member of the team needs to follow direction. But what if one person ignores the direction and simply does what he wants? Even if his motives are good, his refusal to listen could cause problems for his teammates, possibly causing them to get seriously hurt. In a similar way,  if we don’t follow direction from Jehovah and those to whom he has given some authority, others may suffer. But when we obey Jehovah, we show that we love our brothers and respect Jehovah’s arrangement.​—1 Corinthians 12:14, 25, 26.

10, 11. What will we now discuss?

10 Whatever Jehovah asks us to do is for our good. When we show respect for authority in our family, in the congregation, and in dealing with government officials, all will benefit.​—Deuteronomy 5:16; Romans 13:4; Ephesians 6:2, 3; Hebrews 13:17.

11 Understanding why Jehovah wants us to show respect to others can help us to do so. Let’s discuss in more detail how we can show respect in three areas of life.


12. How can a husband show that he respects authority?

12 Jehovah created the family and gave each family member a role. When each member understands what Jehovah expects of him or her, the family arrangement will work well and the whole family will benefit. (1 Corinthians 14:33) Jehovah has made the husband the head of the family. This means that Jehovah expects him to take care of and lovingly guide his wife and children. So a husband must answer to Jehovah for how he cares for them. A Christian husband is kind and loving and treats his family the way Jesus treats the congregation. When a husband does this, he shows that he respects Jehovah.​—Ephesians 5:23; see Endnote 13.

As he cares for his family, a Christian father imitates Christ

13. How can a wife show that she respects authority?

 13 A Christian wife also has an important and dignified role. She supports her husband as he works hard to be a good family head. Together with him, she has the responsibility to train the children. One way she teaches her children to be respectful is by her own example. (Proverbs 1:8) She respects her husband and cooperates with his decisions. Even when she does not agree with him about something, she explains her feelings in a kind and respectful way. When a Christian woman is married to a non-Witness, she has unique challenges. But if she continues to treat her husband with love and respect, perhaps one day he too will want to know Jehovah and worship him.​—Read 1 Peter 3:1.

14. How can children show respect for authority?

14 Children are precious to Jehovah, and they especially need protection and guidance. When children obey their parents, they make their parents happy. Even more important, by being obedient they show respect to Jehovah and make him happy. (Proverbs 10:1) In many families, children are being raised by only one parent. This can be very difficult for both the parent and the children. But when the children are obedient and support their mother or father, family life will be much better. Whatever the situation, no family is perfect. But every family can be happier when each member follows Jehovah’s direction. This brings glory to Jehovah, the Creator of all families.​—Ephesians 3:14, 15.


15. How can we show that we respect authority in the congregation?

15 Jehovah directs us by means of the Christian congregation, and he has given Jesus full authority over it. (Colossians 1:18) In turn, Jesus has given “the faithful and discreet slave” the responsibility to care for God’s people on earth. (Matthew 24:45-47) Today, “the faithful and discreet slave” is the Governing Body. The Governing Body provides what we need at the right time to help keep our faith strong. Elders, ministerial servants, and circuit overseers support congregations around the world and receive direction from the Governing Body. All these brothers have the responsibility to take care of us. They answer to Jehovah for how they handle this responsibility. So when we respect these men, we respect Jehovah.​—Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Hebrews 13:17; see Endnote 14.

16. Why can we say that elders and ministerial servants are appointed by holy spirit?

16 Elders and ministerial servants help the congregation stay faithful and united. Of course, they are imperfect humans just like us. So how are they selected? These brothers must meet the qualifications found in the Bible. (1 Timothy 3:1-7, 12; Titus 1:5-9) Jehovah used holy spirit to help Bible writers explain these qualifications. The elders pray to Jehovah for his holy spirit when discussing who should be appointed as an elder or a ministerial servant. Clearly, the congregations are under the  direction of Jesus and Jehovah. (Acts 20:28) The men appointed to support and care for us are gifts from God.​—Ephesians 4:8.

17. To show respect, what might a sister sometimes need to do?

17 Sometimes there may not be any elders or ministerial servants available to handle an assignment in the congregation. Other baptized brothers can usually help, but if none are available, a sister may need to do a task that would usually be done by a baptized brother. If that is the case, she would wear something to cover her head, perhaps a scarf or a hat. (1 Corinthians 11:3-10) In this way, she shows that she respects Jehovah’s arrangement of headship, both in the family and in the congregation.​—See Endnote 15.


18, 19. (a) What do we learn from Romans 13:1-7? (b) How do we show respect for governments?

18 Today, Jehovah allows governments to have some authority, and we should respect them. They organize countries and communities so that they function smoothly and provide people with necessary services. Christians obey the instruction found at Romans 13:1-7. (Read.) We respect “the superior authorities” and obey the laws of the country or community where we live. These laws may affect our family, business, or possessions. For example, we pay taxes and provide information that the government requires. But what should we do  if the government asks us to do something that goes against God’s laws? The apostle Peter said: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”​—Acts 5:28, 29.

19 If we must deal with a government official, such as a judge or a policeman, we should always be respectful. Young Christians show respect to their teachers and other school employees. At our place of work, we show respect to our employer, even if other employees do not. When we do this, we imitate the apostle Paul, who was respectful to officials although it was sometimes difficult. (Acts 26:2, 25) Even if others do not treat us well, we remain respectful.​—Read Romans 12:17, 18; 1 Peter 3:15.

20, 21. What good things can happen when we show respect for others?

20 All over the world, people show less and less respect for others. But Jehovah’s people are different. We make it our goal to respect everyone. We follow the direction of the apostle Peter: “Honor men of all sorts.” (1 Peter 2:17) When we respect others, they notice. Jesus told us: “Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father.”​—Matthew 5:16.

21 When we show respect in our family, in our congregation, and in other areas of life, our good example may make others want to learn more about Jehovah. And by showing respect to others, we show respect to Jehovah himself. This makes Jehovah happy and shows him that we love him.