Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remaining in God’s Favor Despite Changes

Remaining in God’s Favor Despite Changes

ARE you facing changes in your life? Are you finding it hard to accept those changes? Most of us have been or will be in that situation. Some real-life examples from the past can help us to identify qualities that will be useful.

For example, consider David and the many changes he had to deal with. He was a mere shepherd boy when Samuel anointed him as future king. While still young, he volunteered to fight the Philistine giant Goliath. (1 Sam. 17:26-32, 42) Young David was invited to live at the royal court of King Saul and was appointed as head of the army. David could not even have imagined all these changes in his life; nor could he have anticipated what would happen next.

David’s relationship with Saul became extremely strained. (1 Sam. 18:8, 9; 19:9, 10) To save his own life, David had to live as a fugitive for several years. Even when he was reigning as king over Israel, his circumstances changed drastically, especially after he committed adultery and, in an effort to cover up that sin, murder. As a result of his own sins, he had calamities within his family. Among other things, David experienced the rebellion of his son Absalom. (2 Sam. 12:10-12; 15:1-14) Still, after David repented of his sins of adultery and murder, Jehovah forgave him and David was restored to God’s favor.

Your circumstances may also change. Health problems, economic hardships, or family difficulties—even our own actions—produce changes in our lives. What qualities can help us be better prepared to cope with such challenges?

Humility Helps Us

Humility involves having a submissive attitude. Real humility enables us to see ourselves as we really are and others as they are. By not playing down others’ qualities and successes, we will better appreciate who they are and what they do. Similarly, humility may enable us to understand why something has happened to us and how to deal with it.

Jonathan, Saul’s son, is a good example. His circumstances were changed by events beyond his control. When Samuel told Saul that Jehovah would take the kingdom away, he did not say that Jonathan would take over as king. (1 Sam. 15:28; 16:1, 12, 13) God’s choice of David as the next king of Israel excluded Jonathan. In a sense, Saul’s disobedience had a negative effect on Jonathan. Even though he bore no responsibility, Jonathan would not succeed his father. (1 Sam. 20:30, 31) How did Jonathan react to this situation? Did he harbor a grudge because of the lost opportunity, becoming jealous of David? No. Despite being much older and more experienced, Jonathan loyally upheld David. (1 Sam. 23:16-18) Humility helped him understand who had the divine blessing, and he did ‘not think more of himself than was necessary to think.’ (Rom. 12:3) Jonathan understood what Jehovah expected of him and accepted His decision in the matter.

Real humility enables us to see ourselves as we really are

Of course, many changes produce some kind of difficulty. At a certain point, Jonathan had dealings with two men who were close to him. One was David, the future king, his friend who had been designated by Jehovah. The other was Saul, his father, who had been rejected by Jehovah yet was still ruling as king. This situation must have caused Jonathan emotional stress while he tried to keep Jehovah’s favor. The changes that we have to face may cause us some worry and apprehension. But if we try to understand Jehovah’s viewpoint, we will be able to continue serving him loyally while coping with the changes.

The Importance of Modesty

Modesty involves being aware of one’s limitations. Modesty and humility should not be confused. A humble person may not be fully conscious of his limitations.

David was modest. Although Jehovah had chosen him to be king, for years David was unable to assume the throne. We do not read that David received any explanation from Jehovah as to the reason for this apparent delay. Yet, this situation, while seemingly frustrating, did not disturb him. He was aware of his limitations, and he understood that Jehovah, who was allowing that situation, had matters under control. Thus, even in order to save his own life, David would not kill Saul, and he stopped his companion Abishai from doing so.—1 Sam. 26:6-9.

Sometimes a situation may develop within our local congregation that we do not understand or that does not seem, from our point of view, to be handled in the best or most organized way. Will we modestly recognize that Jesus is Head of the congregation and that he works through the body of elders appointed to take the lead? Will we display modesty, knowing that to keep Jehovah’s favor, we need to wait on him to lead through Jesus Christ? Will we modestly wait even though this is challenging?—Prov. 11:2.

Meekness Helps Us to Be Positive

Meekness is mildness of temper. It enables us to endure injury with patience and without irritation, resentment, vindictiveness. Meekness is a difficult quality to cultivate. Interestingly, in one Bible text, the “meek ones of the earth” are invited to “seek meekness.” (Zeph. 2:3) Meekness is related to humility and modesty, but it also embraces other qualities, such as goodness and mildness. A meek person can grow spiritually as he shows himself to be teachable and lets himself be molded.

How can meekness help us deal with new phases of our life? You have likely observed that many tend to view changes in a negative light. In actual fact, they can be opportunities for us to be further trained by Jehovah. Moses’ life illustrates that.

Moses had to face challenges that refined his meekness
At 40 years of age, Moses already possessed excellent qualities. He had proved to be sensitive to the needs of God’s people and displayed a spirit of self-sacrifice. (Heb. 11:24-26) Yet, before being assigned by Jehovah to lead Israel out of Egypt, Moses had to face changes that refined his meekness. He had to flee Egypt and live in the land of Midian for 40 years, working as a shepherd, out of the limelight. What was the result? This change made him a better person. (Num. 12:3) He learned to put spiritual interests ahead of personal ones.

Meekness is indispensable to our individual growth

To illustrate Moses’ meekness, let us consider what happened when Jehovah said that He wanted to reject the disobedient nation and have Moses’ descendants become a mighty nation. (Num. 14:11-20) Moses interceded for the nation. His words show that his concerns were God’s reputation and the well-being of his brothers, not his own self-interest. A meek person was needed for Moses’ role as leader of the nation and mediator. Miriam and Aaron murmured against him, yet the Bible record says that Moses was “by far the meekest of all the men.” (Num. 12:1-3, 9-15) It seems that Moses meekly put up with their insults. How would things have turned out if Moses had not been meek?

On another occasion, Jehovah’s spirit settled upon some men, causing them to prophesy. Joshua, Moses’ attendant, felt that these Israelites were acting improperly. Moses, on the other hand, meekly saw things from Jehovah’s viewpoint and was not worried about losing his authority. (Num. 11:26-29) Had Moses not been meek, would he have accepted this change in Jehovah’s arrangement?

Meekness enabled Moses to make good use of the great authority given him and the role God assigned him. Jehovah invited him to go up on Mount Horeb and stand before the people. God spoke to Moses through an angel and appointed him as mediator of the covenant. Moses’ meekness enabled him to accept this great change in authority and yet remain in God’s favor.

What about us? Meekness is indispensable to our individual growth. All who have been entrusted with privileges and authority among God’s people need to be meek. It prevents us from being proud when we are faced with changes and enables us to deal with situations with the right attitude. Our reaction is important. Will we accept the change? Will we view it as an opportunity to improve? It may turn out to be a unique chance to cultivate meekness!

We will constantly find ourselves facing changes in our lives. Sometimes it is not easy to understand why things happen. Personal limitations and emotional tension may make it difficult for us to maintain a spiritual outlook. Still, such qualities as humility, modesty, and meekness will help us to accept the changes and remain in God’s favor.

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