“Wisdom is with the modest ones.”
1, 2. Why did God reject Saul? (See opening picture.)
WHEN Jehovah chose Saul to be king, Saul was modest. (1 Samuel 9:1, 2, 21; 10:20-24) But after he became king, he became presumptuous. On one occasion, thousands of Philistines came to fight the Israelites. The prophet Samuel had told Saul that he would come and offer a sacrifice to Jehovah. However, before Samuel arrived, the Israelites became afraid and many of them abandoned Saul. He became impatient, and instead of waiting for Samuel, he offered the sacrifice himself. Saul had no authority to do this, and Jehovah was not pleased.
2 When Samuel arrived, he reproved Saul for disobeying Jehovah. But Saul did not think that he had done anything wrong. He tried to find excuses, and he even blamed others for his mistake. (1 Samuel 13:10-14) From that time on, Saul did many other presumptuous things. So Jehovah rejected him from being king. (1 Samuel 15:22, 23) Saul’s life began well but ended very badly.
3. (a) What do many people think about modesty? (b) What questions will we answer?
3 Many people today feel that they cannot be modest and at the same time have a successful life or career. They boast about themselves to appear better than others. For example, a famous actor and politician said: “Modesty is not a word that applies to me in any way
WHY IS MODESTY IMPORTANT?
4. What is a presumptuous act?
4 The Bible shows that presumptuousness is the opposite of modesty. (Read Proverbs 11:2.) David begged Jehovah: “Hold your servant back from presumptuous acts.” (Psalm 19:13) What is a presumptuous act? It is doing something that we have no right or authority to do, perhaps because we are impatient or proud. All of us at times have done something presumptuous because we are imperfect. But as we learn from King Saul’s example, if this becomes a habit, Jehovah will not be pleased. Psalm 119:21 says that Jehovah will “rebuke the presumptuous.” Why does he do so?
We show respect for Jehovah by being modest
5. Why is a presumptuous act a serious mistake?
5 First of all, if we do something presumptuous, we are showing disrespect for Jehovah, our God and Ruler. Second, when we do things that we have no authority to do, we will likely have arguments and disagreements with other people. (Proverbs 13:10) And third, we may look foolish when others recognize that we have done something presumptuous. (Luke 14:8, 9) Clearly, we can see why Jehovah wants us to be modest.
WHAT DOES MODESTY INVOLVE?
6, 7. How is modesty related to humility?
6 Modesty is closely related to humility. A humble Christian is not proud but considers others to be superior to him. (Philippians 2:3) A humble person is usually also modest. He recognizes that he has limitations, and he humbly admits his mistakes. He is willing to listen to other people’s ideas and learn from them. A humble person greatly pleases Jehovah.
7 The Bible shows that a modest person knows himself and recognizes that there are some things he is not able to do or allowed to do. This helps him to respect others and treat them kindly.
8. To remain modest, what kind of thinking should we avoid?
8 Yet, we could start thinking in a presumptuous way even without realizing it. How may this happen? We may start to feel more important than others because we or those we know well have certain responsibilities in the congregation. (Romans 12:16) Or we may start to draw too much attention to ourselves. (1 Timothy 2:9, 10) We might even start telling others what they should or should not do.
9. Why have some become presumptuous? Give a Bible example.
9 We could start behaving in a presumptuous way if we do not control our wrong desires. Many have become presumptuous because they wanted glory for themselves, were envious of others, or did not control their anger. This happened to some mentioned in the Bible, such as Absalom, Uzziah, and Nebuchadnezzar. Jehovah made it clear to them that they needed to be humble.
10. Why should we avoid judging other people’s motives? Give a Bible example.
10 There may be other reasons why people are not modest at times. Think about the examples of Abimelech and Peter. (Genesis 20:2-7; Matthew 26:31-35) Were these men presumptuous? Or could it be that they did not know all the facts or acted without thinking? Since we cannot read hearts, we should not judge other people’s motives.
YOUR ROLE IN GOD’S ARRANGEMENT
11. What do we need to understand?
11 A modest person understands his role in God’s arrangement. Jehovah is a God of order. He has given each member of the congregation a role. All of us are needed. Jehovah has given each of us different gifts, skills, talents, or abilities, and he allows us to choose how we will use them. If we are modest, we will use our gifts in the way that Jehovah wants us to. (Romans 12:4-8) We realize that Jehovah expects us to use them to honor him and help others.
12, 13. What should we remember if we experience changes in our service to Jehovah?
12 What we do in Jehovah’s service may change as time passes. As an example, think of the many changes that Jesus experienced. First, he was alone with his Father. (Proverbs 8:22) Then, he helped Jehovah to make the angels, the universe, and humans. (Colossians 1:16) Later, he was sent to earth. He was born as a human baby and then grew up to be an adult. (Philippians 2:7) After his death, Jesus returned to heaven, and in 1914 he became King of God’s Kingdom. (Hebrews 2:9) And in the future, after he rules as King for a thousand years, Jesus will give the Kingdom back to Jehovah so that “God may be all things to everyone.”
13 We too may experience many changes in our lives. At times our responsibilities may change because of our own decisions. For example, maybe we were single and then we decided to get married. Or we may have children. Later, we may decide to make some changes so that we can serve Jehovah full-time. At other times, our responsibilities may change because of our circumstances. We may be able to do more, or we may have to do less. But whether we are young or old, healthy or not, Jehovah knows how each of us can best serve him. He does not expect more from us than what we can do. And he is very happy with whatever we do for him.
14. How can a modest attitude help us to be content and happy in any situation?
14 Jesus was happy with any assignment Jehovah gave him, and we can be happy with ours too. (Proverbs 8:30, 31) A modest person is content with his assignments and responsibilities in the congregation. He does not focus on what other people are doing. Instead, he is satisfied with his own role in God’s organization. He views it as coming from Jehovah. A modest person also respects others and is happy to support them. He realizes that Jehovah has given them a role too.
THE RIGHT VIEW OF MODESTY
15. What can we learn from Gideon’s example?
15 Gideon is an excellent example of modesty. When Jehovah assigned him to save Israel from the Midianites, Gideon said: “My clan is the least in Manasseh, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house.” (Judges 6: 15) But Gideon trusted in Jehovah and accepted the assignment. Then Gideon made sure that he fully understood what Jehovah required of him and prayed for his guidance. (Judges 6:36-40) Gideon was a strong and courageous man, but he was also wise and cautious. (Judges 6:11, 27) Later, when the people wanted him to rule over them, he refused. After he had done what Jehovah had asked him to do, he went back home.
16, 17. How can a modest person make progress?
16 If a person accepts a new assignment or wants to do more in the congregation, it does not mean that he is not modest. The Bible says that it is good for a servant of Jehovah to want to serve his brothers more fully and make advancement, or progress. (1 Timothy 4:13-15) But do we need to have a new assignment to make progress? No. All of us can keep improving our Christian personality and the abilities Jehovah has given us so that we can better serve him and help others.
17 Before he accepts an assignment, a modest person finds out what will be required of him. He prays about it and carefully considers whether he will be able to do the work. Will he still have enough time and energy to do other important things? If not, can some of the work he is now doing be done by others? After thinking about this, a modest person might decide that he cannot properly care for this new responsibility. If we are modest, we may need to say no.
18. (a) What will a modest person do when he is given a new assignment? (b) How does Romans 12:3 help us to be modest?
18 Jehovah wants us “to walk in modesty” with him. (Micah 6:8) So when we are given a new assignment, we look for his guidance and ask him for help, just as Gideon did. We need to think deeply about what Jehovah tells us by means of the Bible and his organization. Let us remember that whatever we are able to do in his service is not because of any ability we have but because Jehovah is humble and willing to help us. (Psalm 18:35) A modest person will not “think more of himself than it is necessary to think.”
19. Why should we be modest?
19 A modest person knows that Jehovah alone deserves all glory, because he is the Creator and the Most High in the universe. (Revelation 4:11) If we are modest, we will be happy with whatever we can do in Jehovah’s service. We will respect the feelings and opinions of our brothers and sisters, and as a result, we will all be united. A modest person thinks carefully before he does something, and in this way he avoids making serious mistakes. Jehovah is very pleased with those who are modest. For these reasons, modesty is very important to God’s people. In the next article, we will see how we can remain modest when it may be difficult to do so.