“You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the Law. But they have heard it rumored about you that you have been teaching all the Jews among the nations an apostasy from Moses […].”
I can’t quite seem to wrap my head around how the elders in Jerusalem sent Paul into clear and present danger based on rumors.
While they must have had the best intentions when ordering Paul to go into the temple, I cannot imagine modern elders ever asking a member of the congregation to make such a bold statement at the risk of his or her life. (Acts 21:4,11,12)
Their decision is all the more surprising because in a way, the people they were trying to win over were immature Christians who were unwilling to part with Jewish customs. (Acts 21:24,27,28; Rom. 2:28,29)
Paul humbly acceded, willing to make just about any personal sacrifice to settle divisiveness. (1 Cor.9:20)
Rather than crouch away from responsibility, he seized the opportunity to try to ‘legally establish the good news’ not only in Jerusalem, but throughout the Roman empire. (Acts 24:10-22; 25:10-12; Php. 1:7)
Most Christians today will never have to put themselves in life-threatening situations to prove their faith in God’s Word, but from time to time our humility is tested when our elders ask us to do something that does not make sense to us.
We should always try to put the congregation’s peace and unity before personal opinions. (Php. 1:8-10)
“I do not consider my own life of any importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God.”
Paul did not feel entitled to the privilege of teaching others about Christ.
He humbly recognized that he was a sinner and attributed the success of his ministry to Jehovah God. (1 Cor. 3:6; 15:9,10; 1 Tim. 1:12,13)
When a need for financial aid struck the congregation in Jerusalem, Paul personally risked his life to carry relief over to them. (Rom. 15:25,26)
He fulfilled his sense of debt towards God, grateful for the ransom sacrifice that allowed him to be God’s friend. (2 Cor. 5:18)
If we have the privilege of sharing God’s good news with others, may we equally treasure it.
“[…] ‘You will search for me with all your heart. And I will let you find me,’ declares Jehovah.”
How do we show God we are sincerely searching for him?
One way is through heartfelt prayer.
“Make me know your ways, O Jehovah; Teach me your paths.” (Ps. 25:4)
Like the psalmist, we need to display humility and recognize we need God’s guidance.
Jehovah invites even those who have strayed from him to come back to him.
“If you search for Jehovah your God from there, you will certainly find him, if you inquire for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in great distress and all these things have happened to you in later times, then you will return to Jehovah your God and listen to his voice. For Jehovah your God is a merciful God. He will not desert you […]” (De. 4:29-31)
But it is not enough to recognize our own sins. (La. 3:41,42)
Seeking Jehovah implies learning about his personality: what God likes and dislikes and then conforming to his standards. (Je. 31:34)
To find God, we must try to imitate his mercy, ridding ourselves of feelings of hatred toward those who have wronged us. (Mt. 6:12)
Then God allows us to find his peace and a solid hope for the future. (Jer. 29:11,12)
“Correct me, O Jehovah, with judgment,
But not in your anger, that you may not reduce me to nothing.”
We all need to be corrected from time to time, either by someone at work, or if we are younger, by our parents or teachers, or we may be counseled by a mature, caring friend.
It is human nature to initially be embarrassed and even to resist the correction.
Jehovah corrected his People through his prophets.
We do not have modern-day prophets, but we can read God’s recorded thoughts in his written Word, and find God’s counsel under prayer through Bible reading.
To accept God’s correction, we need to humbly recognize that, despite having freedom of choice, it is not in our best interest to act independently of God. (Jer. 10:23)
It is easier to accept correction as soon as we realize we are doing something wrong, without needing to wait for someone to blatantly point out our mistakes to us.
But if it comes to that, and we are privately or publicly reproved, let us remember that Jehovah takes the time to discipline those whom he loves and wants to keep by his side.
Everyone needs to be refined by God’s love and he expects you to keep trying. (Heb. 12:5,6)
As one brother put it, it is better to accept correction now than to ‘be reduced to nothing’ on God’s Judgment Day.
”[…] Let us bring our case against each other; Tell your side of it to prove you are in the right.”
Would you be audacious enough to argue against God to his face?
Could you really hope to prove anything to the One who formed you and everything else in the universe? (Is. 44:24)
“Woe to the one who contends with his Maker,
For he is just an earthenware fragment […].
Should the clay say to the Potter: ‘What are you making?’ […]
Would you question me about the things coming
And command me about my sons and the works of my hands?”
God Jehovah is constant and unchanging. (Is. 43:10)
Unlike us humans who wear out and may sometimes have a change of heart, God’s purpose endures forever. (Is. 46:10,11)
It would be very foolish of us to stubbornly refuse God’s means of salvation even if there are some aspects of it we struggle with on a personal level. (Is. 43:11; 46:12,13)
God offers the waters of salvation through his written Word to those who humbly leave behind their former ways. (Is. 43:18-20)
Have you ever felt eager to volunteer but then in practice, felt out of place, as if you could be doing more in a different capacity?
First Chronicles chapter nine, verses 22-34 explains how the Levites were divided into sub-groups to perform specific duties.
There were the temple gatekeepers, there were those in charge of the temple utensils, those in charge of the bread, and the singers.
These duties were assigned by genealogy and all those assigned had to live in Jerusalem.
It did not matter if one of the Levites wanted to be a gatekeeper instead of preparing balsam oil. They accepted their assignment as privilege and their responsibility as heads of household.
They are a good example of humility and cooperation for those of us wishing to offer ourselves up to God for greater service within his organization.
We should not be picky when it comes to realizing assigned tasks, but see our “job” as an honor and do it whole-heartedly.
“[…] In the 11th year, in the month of Bula (that is, the eighth month), the house was finished in all its details and according to its plan. So he spent seven years building it.”
~1 Kings 6:38
King Solomon’s extraordinary wisdom was a blessing from Jehovah (1 Ki. 3:11,12).
Yet, when the time came to carry out the colossal project of building the temple, Solomon did not rely on his own ideas or expertise.
Rather, he humbly put the plans his father David had drawn out for him into effect.
King David had received the plans by divine inspiration through a dream (1 Chron. 28:11,12).
So really, it was Jehovah who was the true architect, and Solomon recognized that.
By not taking creative liberties and altering God’s plan for his own temple, King Solomon set an example of humility and submission.
We, too, should be careful not to overstep instructions in our congregation duties.