“Christ suffered for you, leaving a model for you to follow his steps closely.”
1. Why will imitating Jesus draw us closer to Jehovah?
WE USUALLY try to imitate the people we admire. Of all the humans who have ever lived, Jesus Christ is the best person to imitate. Why? Jesus once said: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father also.” (John 14:9) This is because Jesus imitates his Father’s personality perfectly. So when we learn about Jesus, we learn about Jehovah. And when we imitate Jesus, we draw closer to Jehovah, the greatest Person in the universe. What a great honor!
2, 3. (a) Why did Jehovah give us a detailed description of Jesus’ life, and what does our God expect us to do? (b) What will we discuss in this article and in the next?
2 In the Bible, Jehovah has given us a detailed description of Jesus’ life. Why? Because our God wants us to know his Son so that we can imitate him closely. (Read 1 Peter 2:21.) In the Bible, the example Jesus left for us is compared to footsteps. What does that mean? Jehovah wants us to follow in his Son’s footsteps, that is, to imitate Jesus in everything he did. Of course, Jesus was perfect, so Jehovah does not expect us to imitate his Son perfectly. Instead, God wants us to do our very best to imitate Jesus.
3 Let us examine some of Jesus’ beautiful qualities. In this article, we will discuss his humility and tenderness. In the next, we will discuss his courage and discernment. We will answer three questions about each quality: What does it mean? How did Jesus show this quality? How can we imitate him?
JESUS IS HUMBLE
4. What does it mean to be humble?
4 What is humility? Many people who are proud think that humility is a sign of weakness or a lack of confidence. But is that true? Actually, to be humble, we need to be strong and courageous. Humility is the opposite of pride and arrogance. In the Bible, the word “humility” can be translated as “lowliness of mind.” (Philippians 2:3, footnote) To be humble, we first need to have the right attitude about ourselves. For example, one Bible dictionary says: “Humility is to know how lowly we really are before God.” Also, if we are humble, we will not feel that we are better than other people. (Romans 12:3) It is not easy for imperfect humans to show this quality. But we can learn to be humble if we meditate on Jehovah’s greatness and imitate Jesus’ example.
If we are humble, we will not feel that we are better than others
5, 6. (a) Who is Michael the archangel? (b) How did Michael show a humble attitude?
5 How did Jesus show humility? God’s Son has always been humble, both as a powerful angel in heaven and as a perfect man on earth. Let us see a few examples.
6 His attitude. In the Bible book of Jude, we read about Jesus’ life before he came to the earth. (Read Jude 9.) As Michael the archangel, that is, the chief angel, Jesus “had a difference with the Devil” and “was disputing” with that wicked one “about Moses’ body.” After Moses died, Jehovah buried his body in a place where no human would find it. (Deuteronomy 34:5, 6) Perhaps the Devil wanted to tempt the Israelites to use Moses’ body for false worship. Whatever evil the Devil wanted to do, Michael courageously stopped him. One reference book says that the words “had a difference” and “disputing” are also used to describe “a legal dispute” and may suggest that “Michael ‘challenged the Devil’s right’ to take Moses’ body.” Yet, the archangel knew that his authority was limited. So he referred the case to Jehovah, the Supreme Judge, the only one who had the right to judge Satan. What a humble attitude Jesus showed!
Jesus humbly did everything that Jehovah told him to do, even “to the point of death”
7. How did Jesus show humility in his speech and in his actions?
7 When Jesus was on earth, he also showed humility by the way he spoke and by the things he did. His speech. Jesus never wanted unnecessary attention from others. Instead, he wanted his Father to have all the glory. (Mark 10:17, 18; John 7:16) Jesus never spoke to his disciples in a way that made them feel foolish or inferior. Rather, he respected them and showed that he trusted them by commending them for their good qualities. (Luke 22:31, 32; John 1:47) His actions. Jesus chose to live a simple life without many material things. (Matthew 8:20) He was willing to do humble work that others were not willing to do. (John 13:3-15) He also set a perfect example of humility by his obedience. (Read Philippians 2:5-8.) Unlike proud people who hate to obey others, Jesus humbly did everything that Jehovah told him to do, even “to the point of death.” It is clear that Jesus, the Son of man, was “lowly in heart.”
IMITATE JESUS’ HUMILITY
8, 9. How can we show humility?
8 How can we imitate Jesus’ humility? Our attitude. When we are humble, we know that our authority is limited. Therefore, we know that we do not have the right to judge other people. We will not criticize them or doubt their motives. (Luke 6:37; James 4:12) Humility helps us to avoid being “overly righteous.” This means that we will not feel that we are better than those who do not have the same abilities or privileges that we have. (Ecclesiastes 7:16) Humble elders do not think that they are better than their brothers and sisters. Rather, these loving shepherds “consider others superior,” that is, they think of others as more important than themselves.
9 Consider W. J. Thorn, who served as a traveling overseer starting in 1894. After many years, he was assigned to take care of chickens at Kingdom Farm in upstate New York. Whenever he felt that he should be doing more important work, Brother Thorn would tell himself: “You little speck of dust. What have you got to be proud of?” (Read Isaiah 40:12-15.) What a humble attitude!
10. How can we show humility in our speech and in our actions?
10 Our speech. If we are truly humble, it will affect the way that we speak to others. (Luke 6:45) When we talk with them, we will not focus on our own privileges and the things we have done. (Proverbs 27:2) Instead, we will commend our brothers and sisters for the good that they do and focus on their good qualities and abilities. (Proverbs 15:23) Our actions. Humble Christians do not try to become famous or important in this world. Instead, they choose to live a simple life, even doing humble work, so that they can serve Jehovah as much as they can. (1 Timothy 6:6, 8) Most important, we can show humility by being obedient. We must be humble in order to “be obedient to those who are taking the lead” in the congregation and to accept and follow the direction of Jehovah’s organization.
JESUS IS TENDER
11. What is tenderness?
11 What is tenderness? The word “tender” describes gentle and caring emotions. Tenderness is an expression of love and is similar to emotions such as compassion and mercy. The Bible refers to “tender compassion,” “tender mercies,” and “tender affection.” (Luke 1:78; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Philippians 1:8) One Bible reference says that showing tenderness is more than just feeling sorry for those in need. It says that having tender feelings means that we “care enough to become involved and to help” by doing something that will change other people’s lives for the better. Tenderness is a quality that motivates a person to make a difference in the lives of others.
12. What shows that Jesus felt tender compassion for others, and what did his tenderness motivate him to do?
12 How did Jesus show tenderness? His tender feelings and actions. Jesus felt tender compassion for others. When he saw his friend Mary and others crying because Lazarus had died, Jesus cried with them. (Read John 11:32-35.) Then, the same compassion that made him want to resurrect a widow’s son motivated him to resurrect Lazarus. (Luke 7:11-15; John 11:38-44) This tender act may have given Lazarus the opportunity to receive life in heaven. Earlier, Jesus “felt tender affection” for a crowd that came to him. His tender compassion motivated him “to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34; Kingdom Interlinear) This experience changed the lives of those who followed his teachings! Jesus’ tenderness was more than just a feeling. His tenderness also motivated him to help people in need.
13. How did Jesus speak tenderly to others? (See opening picture.)
13 His tender words. Jesus’ compassion motivated him to speak tenderly to others, especially to the oppressed. The apostle Matthew quoted Isaiah’s words about Jesus. Isaiah said: “No crushed reed will he break, and no smoldering wick will he extinguish.” (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20) What does that mean? Jesus did not abuse or mistreat people. Instead, he spoke in a way that refreshed them. He preached a message of hope to “the brokenhearted.” (Isaiah 61:1) He invited people who were “toiling and loaded down” to come to him so that they could “find refreshment.” (Matthew 11:28-30) He promised his disciples that God had tender concern for each of His worshippers, including the “little ones,” or those whom the world saw as unimportant.
IMITATE JESUS’ TENDERNESS
14. How can we show tender feelings for others?
14 How can we imitate Jesus’ tenderness? Our tender feelings. The Bible tells us to work at showing “the tender affections of compassion,” even if it does not come naturally to us. These feelings are part of “the new personality” that Jehovah expects all Christians to put on. (Read Colossians 3:9, 10, 12.) How can you show tender feelings? The Bible says: “Open your hearts wide.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13) Listen carefully when someone tells you how he feels and what he is worried about. (James 1:19) Use your imagination and ask yourself: ‘If I were in his situation, how would I feel? What would I need?’
15. What can we do to help those who may be grieving or suffering?
15 Our tender actions. Tenderness will motivate us to help others, especially those who are grieving or suffering. How can we help them? Romans 12:15 says: “Weep with those who weep.” Many times, people need comfort more than solutions. They need a friend who is interested in them and who listens to them. One sister who felt comforted by the brothers and sisters after her daughter died says, “I appreciated it when friends came over and just cried with me.” We can also show tenderness by doing practical things to help others. Perhaps there is a widow who needs help with repairs on her home. Or maybe there is an older Christian who needs help getting to the meetings, out in the ministry, or to the doctor. Even a small act of kindness can make a big difference in a person’s life. (1 John 3:17, 18) Most important, we can show tenderness to others by doing as much as we can to preach the good news. This is the best way to make a difference in the lives of sincere people!
16. What can we say to encourage those who are depressed?
16 Our tender words. Our tender feelings will motivate us to “speak consolingly to those who are depressed.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) What can we say to encourage them? We can tell them how much we care about them. We can commend them and help them to see their positive qualities and abilities. We can remind them that Jehovah helped them find the truth, so they must be precious to him. (John 6:44) We can reassure them that Jehovah deeply cares for his servants who are “brokenhearted” or “crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) Our tender words can really refresh those who need comfort.
17, 18. (a) How does Jehovah expect the elders to treat his sheep? (b) What will we discuss in the next article?
17 Elders, Jehovah expects you to treat his sheep with tenderness. (Acts 20:28, 29) Remember, it is your responsibility to teach, encourage, and refresh his sheep. (Isaiah 32:1, 2; 1 Peter 5:2-4) So an elder who is tenderly compassionate will not try to control his brothers, that is, to make rules or to use guilt to pressure them to do more when they are not able to. Instead, an elder wants his brothers and sisters to be truly happy, and he trusts that their love for Jehovah will motivate them to give God their very best.
18 As we meditate on Jesus’ humility and tenderness, we will be motivated to imitate him. In the next article, we will discuss how we can imitate Jesus’ courage and discernment.