Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dignity-Elusive Definition

What is Dignity? How do we dignify ourselves & others & even ideals? I was researching material for an upcoming talk  titled: "How may we display dignity in our worship of Jehovah" when I realized that a definition was hard to come by.

In my research, I was surprised to find that professionals in various fields have actually contested (debated) the definition. The main problem seems to be that they want to define it in secular/social context but no matter what they come up with, someone else disagrees because it infers some degree of morality. They want to remove any inkling of morality from a definition of the word.

That got me curious. If we leave morality IN the definition, where does that lead us? I was surprised how utterly simple the solution was. Before I give the answer I came up with, I'd invite you to offer your reflections. Keep in mind that the definition must include dignifying not only humans, but animals and even concepts such as "service to our God, Jehovah."

1 comment:

  1. Well fiddlesticks! No takers.
    Self-Dignity is act of conducting ourselves (both actions & speech) in the manner that our Creator intended.

    We dignify ourselves in our speech by “not letting a rotten saying proceed out of our mouths.” (Ephesians 4:29) And, from the positive viewpoint, throughout our day, we consider “whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is.” (Phil.4:8)

    We dignify ourselves in our actions by remembering "What sort of persons ought we to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” (2 Peter 3:11-13)

    Dignifying Other People: Once we have the root understanding of how dignity applies to ourselves, it is easy to extend that. We need only remember the second greatest commandment, ‘treat others as you would treat yourself.’ (Matthew 22:39) The apostle John gave a bit more info at 3 John vs.5: “Beloved one, you are doing a faithful work in whatever you do for the brothers, and strangers at that, 6 who have borne witness to your love before the congregation. These you will please send on their way in a manner worthy of God.” Imagine that! We treat others in manner worthy of the way we treat our own Creator. How dignifying that would be if we all did that!

    Dignifying Creation: Proverbs 12:10 says: "The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal, but the mercies of the wicked ones are cruel." Yes, when God told Adam to have “in subjection” the rest of creation, he never intended the indifference & cruelty we see today’s world. Kind care is what was originally intended.

    Dignifying Concepts: Especially related to our Christian responsibilities to preach the word, we dignify our ministry by the way we present ourselves & the message to others. We use speech befitting followers of Christ and not the slang of this world. We dress & groom in a manner that shows we respect that what we are bringing the peoples is God’s message. We give reflective consideration to how we are going to present the message, just as Solomon wrote: “As apples of gold in silver carvings is a word spoken at the right time for it.” (Proverbs 25:11)

    Again, it all comes down to doing & saying things the way God intended us to do. That is true dignity. That is truly dignifying.