The world prescribes things like money, higher education, a prestigious career or all of the above as the formula to obtain happiness. However, Jehovah's guaranteed formula for happiness is quite simple: 'There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.'—Acts 20:35
The etymology of the word 'Haughty' comes from a root related to the ideas of high, altitude, lofty. And so the haughty one thinks he is way above others. In this regard, a haughty person can be compared with someone wearing stilts to try to look taller than others.
If pride is a common cold from which we can recover in a few days, haughtiness is a severe type of tuberculosis difficult to treat.
Jesus quoted the Hebrews Scriptures saying 'you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.' (Mark 12:30,31) This came from Deuteronomy 6:4 which says 'you must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength'. So Jesus mentioned four concepts but the Scriptures listed only three. Did Jesus misquote the Bible? No! What happened then? The issue lies in the Hebrew word translated ‘heart.’ This word includes both the Greek concepts of the mind and the heart. In fact, in some versions of the Septuagint, it can be seen that some translators of old faced this translation issue when translating this quote. Some used heart, others used mind, and others included both words. In a sense, they all got it right. What can we illustrate from this profound Bible gem? We can illustrate the conceptual meaning of the term 'heart' as used in the Scriptures. It includes both the concept of thoughts and emotions.
Will you hire a thief as your security guard? No, that will be stupid. The same if we trust the impulses and desires of our treacherous heart.
All rice is food but not all food is rice. The mind and the heart have a distinction, the mind refers to the thoughts, but the heart can be broader as it includes thoughts and emotions. So it can be said that all mind is heart but not all heart is mind.
When conducting a Bible study, think about the things that are close to the heart of the person. Visualize an image of a heart, and then stones around it. Not all the stones are at the same distance. Some are nearer, some are farther. Which points are closer to his heart at this point in time? Sports, children, dating, marriage or something else? If we want to reach the heart, we need to address those concerns as stepping stones to know their motives and stir their emotions. (1 Kings 10:2)
A mail delivery might be all scratched and damaged on the outside. But when opened, the inside surprisingly is still intact. It was well-protected with bubble wrap, so the outer damage didn't affect the inside. If we safeguard our inside —our heart, our relationship with Jehovah, and our spirituality— no tribulation will be strong enough to harm us. (Prov. 4:23) Our inside will remain intact.
Among the students at a college was a young man on crutches. Although not a handsome fellow, he had a talent for friendliness and optimism, and he earned many scholastic honors as well as the respect of his classmates. One day a new student asked him what had caused him to become so severely crippled. 'Infantile paralysis,' replied the genial young man. 'With a misfortune like that,' exclaimed the other fellow, 'how can you face the world so confidently and so happily?' 'Oh,' replied the polio victim, 'the disease never touched my heart.' What lesson can we derive from this story? Our physical limitations do not automatically hinder our mind and spirit. We can still cultivate a pleasing heart to Jehovah.
If we want to enjoy the benefits of electricity, we have to pay for the service every month. If we don't pay the bill, the power company won't punish us with electric shocks, just disconnect the power. Similarly, those who died, even the wicked ones, are not punished with eternal torment in hell. They are just 'disconnected' from the source of life. (Psalm 36:9)
Like a criminal who was released after serving 20 years of imprisonment, would it be reasonable to torture him for the same crime after his release? No! That wouldn't be fair. In the same way, the dead have already paid for their sins. (Romans 6:7) Jehovah is a loving and just father, it is not his desire for people to be tormented after they die.
After a series of debates, a clergyman who heard the arguments of brother Russell refuting the doctrine of the hell of fire said he was glad to see brother Russell turn the hose on hell and put out the fire! If we prepare well for service and to conduct studies, when the subject of hell of fire comes up, we will also turn the hose on hell! It will not only be refreshing to you, but also to the householder, as it will take a heavy weight off their minds. (More info: 'Proclaimers' book, page 130)
A Muleteer set forth on a journey, driving before him an Donkey and a Mule, both well laden. The Donkey, as long as he traveled along the plain, carried his load with ease, but when he began to ascend the steep path of the mountain, felt his load to be more than he could bear. He entreated his companion to relieve him of a small portion, that he might carry home the rest; but the Mule paid no attention to the request. The Donkey shortly afterward fell down dead under his burden. Not knowing what else to do in so wild a region, the Muleteer placed upon the Mule the load carried by the Donkey in addition to his own, and at the top of all placed the hide of the Donkey, after he had skinned him. The Mule, groaning beneath his heavy burden, said to himself: 'I am treated according to my deserts. If I had only been willing to assist the Donkey a little in his need, I should not now be bearing, together with his burden, himself as well.' Moral? By assisting one another we assist ourselves. (http://fablesofaesop.com)
A well-intentioned friend wanted to help a sister to wash a sweater that got stained while eating. The friend offered to put it in the laundry machine, although she really didn’t know what she was doing. She put it in the washing machine and put bleach on it. The stain turned into a rainbow of colors, and the sweater now was totally ruined. Lesson? If we offer help, we need to make sure we won’t make things worse. Granted, an extra hand is always welcome, and we should not shrink back from giving and assisting others. At the same time, we want to be modest. Sometimes it takes more than good intentions to offer practical help.
In Matthew 5:22,23 when Peter tried to help Jesus to avoid suffering in Jerusalem, Jesus rebuked and corrected him. This illustrates that sometimes we may think we are helping others but in fact, we may be doing the opposite. For instance, when we recommend medications to others, or when dissuading someone from applying for Bethel service or move to a foreign language group, or when sharing personal ideas as counsel; in all these instances we might adversely affect our brothers and sisters. Although unintentionally, the damage will be real. What's more, we may find ourselves opposing the will of God.
An elderly woman on a busy street corner was confused and hesitant to cross because of the heavy traffic. Finally, a gentleman came up to her and asked if he could cross the street with her. Gratefully she took his arm but grew progressively more alarmed as he zigzagged randomly across the street, to the blare of horns and screech of locked brakes. Finally, on the opposite curb, she growled, 'You almost got us killed! You walk like you're blind.' 'I am,' he replied. 'That's why I asked if I could cross with you.' What's the application? We need to be wise when accepting somebody else's help, especially if the helper doesn't share our beliefs.
A young brother imprisoned in Korea in the 90's due to the neutrality issue had a cellmate that was sentenced to death. This cellmate was very violent. One time he punched our brother and tried to start a fight. At that moment, the brother prayed to God to remind him of a Bible account that could be practical in that situation. He then recalled the account when David was persecuted, and he started to act like he was insane. ( 1 Samuel 21:12-15) So, as he was getting hit, the brother started to act like he was crazy. This threw off the attacker and made him confused and disconcerted. The result? He stopped the violence against our brother. Eventually, the young brother moved to another cell. This brother survived the ordeal, remained faithful and now serves as a full-time servant. Lesson? In the face of trials and opposition Jehovah will sustain us and make us recall exactly what we need to keep our integrity. And that help may come in very unexpected ways.
A Lion was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running over his face. Rising up angrily, he caught him and was about to kill him, when the Mouse piteously entreated, saying: 'If you would only spare my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness.' The Lion laughed and let him go. It happened shortly after this that the Lion was caught by some hunters, who bound him with ropes to the ground. The Mouse, recognizing his roar, came gnawed the rope with his teeth, and set him free, exclaim “You laughed when I said I would repay you,” said the Mouse. “Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion.” Moral? Help can come from unexpected sources. Kindness is never wasted. (http://fablesofaesop.com)
Holding a grudge
Holdings grudge is like holding a hot ember waiting to throw it at someone. While you are holding it, you are burning yourself.
Holding a grudge is like drinking poison, hoping to kill the other person. It will only kill ourselves.
A women received the news that her father is dying in the hospital. As she is driving there, she recalls that they haven't had a word for years. The last words she said to her dad were: 'I hate you.' When she arrived, the father has already passed. He had written a note for his daughter before he died: 'Daughter, I know you love me, and I love you. I hope you forgive me. I already forgave you'. The same women that didn't want to know anything about her bad father, now would give anything to talk to him one last time... but resentment clouded her judgment for many years to her own detriment. Does it need to get to that level when tragedy occurs for someone to swallow his pride and stop holding a grudge? For some very resentful people, it seems like it. But that shouldn't be the case for Christians who abide by Jesus commandment of loving one another.
If someone says: 'You don't celebrate the holidays because you are too extreme. It may have been a false religion's practice then, but no one thinks of it that way now'. You can reason with him using this illustration: A father that fought against the Nazi regime in the Second World War knows that the swastika was a symbol of that totalitarian government that caused so much harm when it was in power. However, his son knows little about this, so it is not a big deal to him. Would the father now be pleased if the son were now to decorate his room with flags bearing the swastika and neo-Nazi symbols? Maybe it truly means nothing to the son, but what about the father who does know of its origin?
The closer we get to Jehovah the holier we get. This is shown by the designation of the innermost compartment of the tabernacle and, later, the temple: the most holy. It represents heaven, Jehovah’s dwelling place. It was the most holy because Jehovah was there. Hence, anything or anyone close to Jehovah God becomes holy. —Exodus 3:5
Some may think God uses his holy spirit like premium and regular gasoline. Something like: 'Well, to create the sun I’ll use premium, but to help Brother Fu in his talk I’ll just use regular.' It does not work that way. The same spirit that parted the Red Sea, that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and that created the sun, is the same one helping God's servants today, just as promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13. Don’t we feel strengthened knowing that such a powerful force is by our side?
If you go to a store and you see a promotion 'all nails you want for one dollar,' will you order two dollars worth of nails? No! It would be overkill. The same when asking for holy spirit. We don't need to ask for a double portion of it. Why? Because we have an unlimited supply of it, and Jehovah knows how much we need. (Another example can be renting a car with unlimited mileage)
God’s holy spirit is like the favorable wind that is necessary to find when we are sailing. If we are led by it, we will find our way to the new world.
Power can be used in at least two ways: it can be unleashed, or it can be harnessed. The energy in ten gallons of gasoline, for instance, can be released explosively by dropping a lighted match into the can. On the other hand, it can be channeled through the engine of a sports car in a controlled burn and used to transport a person 350 miles. Explosions are spectacular, but controlled burns have a lasting effect, staying power. Jehovah's spirit works both ways. At Pentecost, it was like an explosion: 'tongues of fire' (Acts 2:3). Thousands were affected by one burst of God's Holy Spirit. But it doesn't always need to be so spectacular. The holy spirit also works through the congregation for the 'long haul.' Through worship, fellowship, study and service, Christians are provided with staying power.
The holy spirit is like a librarian, he can help you get any book except the ones that are not in the library. We need to put the scriptures in our mind first; then the spirit will recall it.—John 14:26
There's a big difference between natural abilities and the fruitage of the spirit. Natural virtues are displayed during convenient times but can break down when in adversity. On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is always consistent if we rely on it daily. It doesn’t fail us when under trials and it doesn’t depend on our upbringing, culture or education. Thus, Jehovah expects that we display the fruitage of the spirit ON DEMAND by requesting it to Him.
An electric power plant has a certain location on a certain street in a city. But its electricity is distributed over all the city, providing light and power. And so with Jehovah God. He has a location in the heavens, but his active force, his holy spirit, furnishes enlightenment, and its force can be felt everywhere, over all the universe.
The castaway was adrift in the open ocean. He started swimming in search of dry land, but soon got exhausted and gave up. While he was waiting for his final moments, out of the blue, he spotted a tiny dark-green dot on the horizon... land! At that moment, he regained his power and began to swim, and while swimming, he did not think about how tired he was or how miserable he felt being a victim of a shipwreck. No, he was focused on the dark-green dot, eager to make it ashore. As he kept swimming, the dot got bigger and bigger, until it became his reality. How did this radical change of mind occur? At first, he was hopeless, what he sought was not in sight. But then it appeared right in front of him. He was able to see it. It was real. Our Christian hope follows the same pattern. We may get into the motions of attending meetings and preaching. If what's driving us is just the force of habit and not our love for God and the hope he gives us, spiritual exhaustion will soon fall heavy on us. We may give up on our service thinking ‘why am I doing all this, why all these sacrifices?’ It has happened. After facing spiritual burnout, some of our brothers and sisters have given up on the Truth. But that’s not what Jehovah wants. He doesn’t want us to swim aimlessly in our spiritual journey. We have a dark-green dot right before us. It encompasses all the wonderful promises in the pages of the Bible. Those promises can give us hope, they can push us forward to keep serving God, not focusing on how hard it is, but focusing on the moment we finally get ashore. And that tiny dark-green dot is getting bigger and bigger; soon it will transcend the Bible's pages and will become real. The question is, can you see the tiny dark-green dot?
How can the hope of future blessings help us today? We can illustrate it this way: Imagine you have a boss that makes your life miserable. He doesn't like you. He bullies you every time he can. But one day, a co-worker of yours shares some news: your boss has being transferred to the satellite office in the middle-east! Now, how would you feel? You'll be so happy! The date still not public but it is certain he will go away. Now your evil boss gets to know everybody knows the 'secret.' He comes and discharges all his negativity on you by insulting you. Of course, you don't like what he says, but inside what do you think? Loser! You are out of here!!! Satan is the biggest loser in history. His evil plan of a rival sovereignty has been foiled. He is already sentenced to the abyss. He will be out of here very soon. Even Jesus 2000 years ago was already imagining and enjoying Satan's fall! (John 16:11; Luke 10:18) Our lives may be miserable now, but inside we are longing for the time our enemy will be no more. That hope strengthens us even now.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition that causes distant objects to look blurry while close objects appear normal. Some may develop a similar condition, but spiritually. Spiritual myopia can blind us from the consequences of our acts. It can make us see only what's in front of us, prompting us to make decisions to find quick solutions instead of looking for ways to solve problems in a lasting way. Even worse, it can blur the wonderful future promises found in the Scriptures. We need to examine ourselves regularly in the light of the Bible to make sure our spiritual vision is still in line with God's.
Two men are digging a hole —a prisoner and a hunter. The prisoner is digging the hole because it is part of his punishment and he does not anticipate any joyful outcome from doing it. That is hopelessness. The hunter, on the other hand, is digging the hole because he believes it will lead him to the hideout of some rabbits which meat he would use for dinner when caught. That is hope. We don't feel hopeless in the truth. God's promises are certain. If we hope in Jehovah there can't be any hopeless situation.
Hope is not a dream. It's a sure anchor. (Hebrews 6:19)
How can we promote the spirit of hospitality? One way is by accepting the hospitality of others. Some may not accept it because it's not well seen in their culture, or they don't want to give the impression they are taking advantage of others, or perhaps they don't need it at the moment. But if we resist the hospitality of others, wouldn't that kill the spirit of giving? Even if we don't need it, can we think of other people and use that surplus to give to those we know are in need? Moreover, if a person wants to practice giving but always get rejected, he may stop giving. If we do our best to promote a spirit of hospitality, we will strengthen others.
The Bible is like frozen holy spirit. We need to warm up to our brothers and sister, creating the needed warmth or heat to melt it and let it flow. (Romans 12:10, 11) The Bible states that “the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) Only if we warm up to our brothers and sisters, we can truly enjoy the waters of the spirit of truth.
While visiting his Grandfather, a young boy found a small land turtle and promptly attempted to examine it. The turtle immediately closed its shell like a vise. Thus the boy seized a stick and tried in vain to pry the shell open. Observing the boy's actions, the Grandfather quickly interrupted. That's not the way, he said. Let me show you how. Taking the turtle into the house, he set it on the hearth. In a few minutes, the creature began to grow warm, stuck out its head and feet and started to crawl. Turtles are something like people, said the old man. Never try to force a fellow into anything; just warm him up a little with ordinary human kindness, and more than likely he'll come your way.
On Feb. 14, 1990, renowned scientist Carl Sagan shared an incredible perspective on our home planet that had never been seen before. As NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft was about to leave our Solar System in 1989, Sagan pleaded with officials to turn the camera around to take one last look back at Earth before the spaceship left our solar system. The resulting image, a grainy, low-resolution snapshot, with the Earth as a speck less than 0.12 pixels in size, became known as 'the pale blue dot'.
According to the Kingdom Interlinear translation, the word translated 'puffed up' literally means 'having been made to smoke.' Yes, being puffed up with pride is like nicotine, is like a drug that gives you a false sense of well-being and relaxation. Putting others down, looking down on them can make us feel we are better than others, thinking we are important. But in reality, it is killing our spiritual lungs. Just like quitting smoking is extremely difficult, swallowing our pride is very hard. Many arrogant individuals never change. A good example of that is Satan. But many have and will change. Jehovah can help them to become humble.
'If I have seen farther, it was by standing on the shoulders of giants.' Lesson? Do you have a tutor you can learn from? Do you learn from the more experienced ones? That is a great way to show humility. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/movingwords/shortlist/newton.shtml)
A young brother went up to the platform to give a talk with a smirk on his face and an air of confidence. Sadly, his overconfidence made him neglect his preparation. A minute into his discourse, his voice turned shaky, started to sweat profusely, and got stage fright. He barely made it to the conclusion. He came down the stage looking crestfallen and humiliated. Later on, an older brother approached him and gave him this counsel: 'If you would have gone up like you came down, you would have came down like you went up.' Overconfidence is a manifestation of our treacherous heart. The antidote to overconfidence is to be humble and modest, acknowledging our limitations.
The way the wheat plant grows furnishes a good lesson for us. The more it grows and mature, the more inclined or slanted it gets.
What’s the difference between a star and a planet? Stars emit light of their own whereas planets shine by reflecting the light from a star. For instance, the sun produces its own light and the earth reflects that light. And the earth depends on that light to host life. It makes us wonder, how do we see ourselves in the congregation? Like a planet or a star? Do we love to be the center of attention, having everybody gravitating around us? Jehovah is the source of spiritual light, our sun. In fact, he is the Father of the celestial lights. (James 1:17) We humans don’t emit light of our own but we can shine with Jehovah's light if we are humble and redirect the credit and glory we may receive to our Father. (http://keydifferences.com/difference-between-stars-and-planets.html)
Humility is an elusive quality. Once you think you have it, at that moment you lost it!
Giant Sequoias have very specific climate requirements, so specific that they grow naturally only in a narrow 260-mile strip on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains, primarily between 5,000 and 7,000 feet in elevation. Outside this range of altitudes, it would be too dry or too humid for them. This illustrates an important requirement to be a spiritual giant: the balance between pride and low self-esteem. The narrow strip of humility where spiritual giants grow and develop requires we don't think too highly of ourselves. Arrogance and haughtiness are detestable to God. (1 Peter 5:5) At the same time, we should not think too low of ourselves. Humility and low self-esteem are not the same. Low self-esteem can make us feel worthless, limit our service, and can make us devaluate the ransom sacrifice making us think it is not sufficient to cover our sins. However, that is a horrible lie. We need to raise our dignity high; we need to feel the benefit of the ransom in our lives, feeling happy for being servants of the Almighty God, Jehovah. That's essential to continue growing spiritually. (Mat. 5:3, Jer. 9:24; https://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/16-spectacular-facts-about-giant-sequoias.html)
You should never be ashamed to admit you have been wrong. It only proves you are wiser today than yesterday (http://www.azquotes.com)
Pride grows like weeds; humility has to be cultivated and maintained
We should not feel like a big fish in a small bowl of water with no room for growth —assumedly because other people are holding us back— but like a small fish in a big ocean. There we can grow steadily with no excuses. If we conduct ourselves as a lesser one in Jehovah’s Organization, He will help us to grow spiritually.”
Would you reject a valuable antique just because it is inside a humble container? Not if you can see past its appearance! Interestingly, 2 Corinthians 4:7 says: "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not that out of ourselves." Thus God chooses to present his lifesaving Word of truth to us in a seemingly unsophisticated container, a vessel practically made of dirt. However, the treasure inside is still a treasure! Humility, modesty, and meekness are required to perceive its true value and not just the "earthen vessels" or human agencies conveying it to us.
Noah’s ark was built by humble amateurs, the Titanic by proud professionals that claimed it was unsinkable. Which one do you want to embark on? When serving in any facet of the ministry or special service, do we let our humility outshine our ability? (https://www.historyonthenet.com/the-titanic-why-did-people-believe-titanic-was-unsinkable)
According to the footnote in Psalm 113:7, Jehovah symbolically comes to the garbage dump of sin, to lift us from the dirt to draw us closer to him. Why? Because of love. What an excellent example of humility!