“Walk in modesty with your God!”
1-3. What did a prophet from Judah not do, and what was the result? (See opening picture.)
KING JEROBOAM of Israel had set up an altar for false worship in the city of Bethel. Jehovah sent a prophet from Judah to give Jeroboam a message of judgment. The humble prophet obeyed Jehovah and delivered the message. The king was furious with the prophet, but Jehovah protected him.
2 Jehovah had commanded the prophet not to eat or drink in Israel and to return home by a different road. On his way back, the prophet met an old man who lied to him, saying that he had a message from Jehovah. The old man invited the prophet to come home with him to eat and drink. The prophet disobeyed Jehovah and went with the old man. Jehovah was not pleased. On the road home, a lion attacked and killed the prophet.
3 We do not know why the prophet decided to listen to the old man rather than to Jehovah. But we do know that he did not continue to “walk in modesty” with Jehovah. (Read Micah 6:8.) In the Bible, walking with Jehovah involves trusting in Jehovah, relying on his guidance, and obeying him. A modest person knows that he needs to pray constantly. If the prophet had been modest, he would have asked Jehovah if his instructions had changed. Sometimes we too need to make difficult decisions, and it may not be clear what Jehovah wants us to do. But if we are modest, we will ask Jehovah to guide us so that we can avoid making serious mistakes.
4. What will we learn in this article?
4 In the previous article, we learned what it means to be modest and why this is important for us today. But how can we become more modest? And what situations can test our modesty, that is, show whether or not we really are modest? Let us now discuss three of these situations.
WHEN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE
5, 6. How did Barzillai show that he was modest?
5 The way we react when our circumstances or assignments change can show whether we really are modest. We can learn from the example of Barzillai, King David’s loyal friend. When Barzillai was 80 years old, David invited him to live in the royal court. Even though this was a great honor, Barzillai said that it would be better to give this assignment to a man named Chimham, who may have been his son.
6 Why did Barzillai not accept the invitation? Was it to avoid responsibility or to enjoy an easy life? No, it was because Barzillai was modest. He recognized that his circumstances had changed, and he accepted his limitations. (Read Galatians 6:4, 5.) Like Barzillai, we need to be modest. Instead of focusing on what we want or comparing ourselves to others, we focus on giving our best to Jehovah. This is more important than having a special assignment or being well-known. (Galatians 5:26) If we are modest, we will work together with our brothers to honor Jehovah and help others.
7, 8. How can modesty help us not to rely on ourselves?
7 It can be difficult to remain modest if we are given more responsibility or authority. We can learn from the example of Nehemiah. When Nehemiah heard that the people in Jerusalem had many problems, he begged Jehovah to help them. (Nehemiah 1:4, 11) Jehovah answered Nehemiah’s prayer. King Artaxerxes made Nehemiah the governor of the area. Although Nehemiah was powerful and rich, he never relied on himself. He looked for Jehovah’s direction and regularly read his Law. (Nehemiah 8:1, 8, 9) Nehemiah had authority over many people. But he never used his authority to benefit himself or treat others harshly.
8 Like Nehemiah, if we receive more responsibility or get a change of assignment, we want to make sure that we remain modest. We do not want to rely only on our own abilities or experience. How could a person start to rely on himself? For example, an elder might care for congregation matters without praying first. Or a brother or a sister might make a decision first and then pray for Jehovah to bless that decision. However, a modest person does not rely on himself, even when he is doing something he has done many times before. He always remembers that his abilities cannot compare to Jehovah’s. (Read Proverbs 3:5, 6.) In the world today, many people are selfish and try to get ahead of others. But Jehovah’s servants are not like that. We do not think that having responsibilities makes us better than others in our family or congregation. Instead, we remember our role in God’s arrangement and work together with our brothers and sisters.
WHEN OTHERS CRITICIZE OR PRAISE US
9, 10. How can modesty help us when others criticize us unfairly?
9 It can upset us when someone criticizes us unfairly. This happened to Hannah. Even though her husband loved her very much, Hannah was unhappy. Peninnah, her rival, mocked her all the time. Hannah wanted to have children but was not able to. One day when Hannah was feeling very sad, she went to the tabernacle to pray. High Priest Eli saw her crying and accused her of being drunk! Hannah could have become very angry. Instead, she answered Eli in a respectful way. Later, Hannah said a prayer that showed her faith in Jehovah and her love for him.
10 Modesty can help us to “keep conquering the evil with the good.” (Romans 12:21) Satan’s system is full of evil things. So we should not be surprised when we are treated unfairly. Although this can make us angry, we need to fight that feeling. (Psalm 37:1) It can be even more painful when we have problems with our brothers and sisters in the congregation. If that happens, we want to imitate Jesus. The Bible says: “When he was being insulted, he did not insult in return.” Instead, “he entrusted himself to the One who judges righteously.” (1 Peter 2:23) Jesus was humble and knew that Jehovah would correct any injustice. (Romans 12:19) We also want to be humble and “not pay back injury for injury.”
11, 12. (a) How can we remain modest when others praise or flatter us? (b) How can we show we are modest by how we dress and behave?
11 It can also test our modesty when people praise or flatter us. Esther received much praise and flattery. She was one of the most beautiful women in Persia. For a year she was pampered with special beauty treatments, together with many young women who were all competing to be noticed by the king. Then the king chose Esther to be his queen. But all this attention did not change her. Esther did not become self-centered. She remained modest, kind, and respectful.
12 If we are modest, we will dress and behave in a way that shows that we respect others as well as ourselves. Instead of boasting or trying to impress people, we try to have a “quiet and mild spirit.” (Read 1 Peter 3:3, 4; Jeremiah 9:23, 24) The way we feel about ourselves will eventually show in our speech and actions. For example, we might try to make others think that we are special because of what we do, what we know, or whom we know. Or we might try to make it seem as if we did something important on our own, even though others actually helped. But think of Jesus. He could have impressed people with how wise he was. Instead, Jesus often quoted from God’s Word. He did not want people to give him glory. He always wanted the glory to go to Jehovah.
WHEN WE MAKE DECISIONS
13, 14. How can modesty help us to make good decisions?
13 We need to be modest when we make decisions or when others make decisions that affect us. When the apostle Paul was staying in Caesarea, he wanted to go to Jerusalem to finish the work Jehovah had given him. But the prophet Agabus told Paul that if he went, he would be captured. He might even be killed. The brothers begged Paul not to go. But Paul decided to go to Jerusalem. Was it because he relied on himself? No, Paul was modest and trusted completely in Jehovah. The brothers too were modest. So they supported Paul’s decision and let him go.
14 Being modest will help us to make good decisions even when we cannot know or control exactly how things will turn out. For example, we may be thinking about starting in the full-time service. But what will happen if we get sick? What if our parents get sick and need help? What will we do when we get old? We cannot answer all these questions, even if we pray and think about them. (Ecclesiastes 8:16, 17) But if we trust in Jehovah, we will recognize and accept our limitations. We will examine the facts, ask for advice and, most important, pray for guidance. Then we need to follow the direction of Jehovah’s spirit. (Read Ecclesiastes 11:4-6.) Jehovah can bless our decisions, or he can help us change our plans.
HOW WE CAN BE MORE MODEST
15. How does meditating on Jehovah help us to stay humble?
15 How can we be more modest? We will discuss four ways. First of all, we need to meditate on Jehovah, thinking deeply about the kind of God he is. When we compare ourselves to Jehovah, we realize how small we are and how little we know. (Isaiah 8:13) Remember that we serve the Almighty God, not a human or an angel. Meditating on this will help us to humble ourselves “under the mighty hand of God.”
16. How does meditating on God’s love help us to be modest?
16 A second way we can be more modest is to meditate on how much Jehovah loves us. Paul compared the congregation to the human body. Jehovah made all parts of the body to be valuable. (1 Corinthians 12:23, 24) Each one of us is also valuable to Jehovah. He does not compare us to others, and he does not stop loving us when we make mistakes. We can feel safe knowing that Jehovah loves us.
17. How will we benefit if we look for the good in others?
17 Third, we will be more modest when we look for the good in others, as Jehovah does. Instead of always trying to be the center of attention or telling others what to do, we will ask them for advice and be willing to accept their ideas. (Proverbs 13:10) We are happy for our brothers and sisters when they receive special assignments. And we thank Jehovah that he allows all of us to serve him.
18. How will training our conscience help us to be more modest?
18 Fourth, we will be more modest when we use Bible principles to train our conscience. These principles teach us how Jehovah feels and thinks. When we learn to see things from Jehovah’s viewpoint, we can make decisions that please God. As we study, pray, and apply what we learn, our conscience will become stronger. (1 Timothy 1:5) We learn to put others first. If we do these things, Jehovah promises that he will ‘finish our training,’ including helping us to be more modest.
19. What will help us to remain modest forever?
19 Do you remember the prophet from Judah we discussed at the beginning of this article? He lost his life and his friendship with Jehovah because he did not remain modest. But we can remain modest even when it is difficult to do so. The examples of many faithful servants of Jehovah prove that this is possible. The longer we serve Jehovah, the more we should rely on him. (Proverbs 8:13) No matter what our circumstances are, we can still walk with Jehovah. This is the greatest honor we can have. So let us do everything we can to remain modest and walk with Jehovah forever.