Why Care What Happens to Other People?
1. (a) What has caused many people to conclude that they ought to look out for themselves and not be too concerned about other people? (b) What has been the result?
UNSELFISH concern about the welfare of others is rare today. It is true that all of us are born with the capacity to love. But when a person finds that others try to take unfair advantage of him, or his own efforts to show love are misunderstood, he may conclude that the best course is simply to look out for himself. Other people, seeing that those who exploit their fellowman for selfish advantage often prosper materially, may think that this is the way to succeed. The result is that most people have very few real friends, if any. There is a spirit of distrust and suspicion. What is the reason for this unhappy state of affairs?
2. (a) How does the Bible identify the root of the problem? (b) What does it mean to “know” God?
2 What is missing is love, the kind of love that is sincere concern for the lasting welfare of other people. And why is it missing? Getting right to the root of the problem, the Bible states: “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Oh, it is true that there are self-seeking individuals who profess to believe in God, even attending church. But the fact is that they do not really know God. To “know” God means to be well acquainted with his personality, to recognize his authority and then to act in harmony with it. (Jeremiah 22:16; Titus 1:16) So, then, to have the true enjoyment of life that is possible only when one freely expresses love and receives it from others, we must get to know God well and apply what we learn.
3. In what manner has God outstandingly shown his love for mankind?
3 “By this the love of God was made manifest in our case, because God sent forth his only-begotten Son into the world that we might gain life through him,” wrote the apostle John. “The love is in this respect, not that we have [first] loved God, but that he loved us and sent forth his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins. Beloved ones, if this is how God loved us, then we are ourselves under obligation to love one another.” (1 John 4:9-11) God did not hold back, letting the unloving conduct of mankind stifle his own love. As stated at Romans 5:8: “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
4. How does that make you personally feel toward God?
4 How many people are there that you love so much that you would be willing to lay down your life for them—people who have never done anything for you? If you are a parent, moved by the natural affection that makes you safeguard your child’s life at the risk of your own, who is there for whom you would be willing to have your child die? That is the kind of love that God showed for us. (John 3:16) How does it make you feel toward God? If we really appreciate what he has done, we will find that it is no burden to obey his commandments.—1 John 5:3.
5. (a) What is the “new commandment” that Jesus gave to his disciples? (b) How is our devotion to God as ruler here involved? (c) What, then, are some of the things we should be doing for fellow servants of God?
5 On the night before his death, Jesus gave his disciples one of those commandments. It would identify them as being different from the rest of the world. He said: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another.” The commandment was “new” in that they were being told to love others, not merely as they loved themselves, but, Jesus said, “just as I have loved you.” That would mean even being willing to lay down their lives for one another. (John 13:34, 35; 1 John 3:16) By our demonstrating this kind of love we also show our devotion to God. How is that? Because we are proving that the Devil is a liar in charging that no human will continue to obey if his own life, his soul, is endangered. (Job 2:1-10) Obviously, obedience to this “new commandment” requires deep concern for one another. It means sparing no effort, not even our own life, to provide spiritual and material help for other servants of God where there is need.—James 1:27; 2:15, 16; 1 Thessalonians 2:8.
6. Toward whom else is love to be shown, and why?
6 Loving deeds are not to be limited to fellow believers, however. Christ died for the world of mankind, not just for those who had become his disciples during his earthly ministry. Thus the Scriptures urge us: “As long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” (Galatians 6:10) There are many opportunities to do this every day of our lives. When we are not narrow, but openhearted and generous in showing love to others, we give evidence that we really are ‘sons of our Father in the heavens, because he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.’—Matthew 5:43-48.
RESPECT FOR THE PERSON AND PROPERTY OF OTHERS
7. What may easily influence how we treat the person and property of other people?
7 We live in the midst of an unloving world. You perhaps realize that you have not always been as considerate of others as you could have been. Even those who know what is right easily pick up bad habits from associates. (1 Corinthians 15:33) So, if a person is to serve God, there is need for a conscientious effort to ‘make his mind over.’ (Romans 12:1, 2) He needs to change his attitude toward the person and property of others.
8. (a) What shows widespread disregard for the property of others? (b) What in the Bible, if applied, would hold a person back from doing such things?
8 In some areas there is shocking disregard for the possessions of other people. Just for a “thrill,” youths destroy both private and public property, or they deliberately deface objects that others have worked hard to acquire. Other people, who may express dismay at such vandalism, contribute to it by discarding litter in parks, on streets or in public buildings, wherever they may be. Are these loving things to do? Are they consistent with Jesus’ admonition: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them”? (Matthew 7:12) Does such conduct demonstrate that one is in full accord with God’s purpose for this earth to become a Paradise?
9. (a) How does stealing affect the lives of everyone? (b) Why is stealing wrong in the eyes of God?
9 Concern for one’s life and possessions makes it necessary in many places to keep doors locked, or windows barred, or to have a watchdog. Stores have to raise prices to compensate for what is stolen. Stealing is common; but it has no place in the lives of those who are preparing for life in God’s new order. They must learn to act in a way that contributes to the security of their fellowmen. The Bible shows that it is the “gift of God” that a man should be able to “see good for all his hard work.” So it is wrong to try to deprive him of the results of his work. (Ecclesiastes 3:13; 5:18) There are many people who, in the past, were dishonest, but they have changed. Not only do they refrain from stealing; they have learned the joy of giving to others. (Acts 20:35) With a desire to please God, they have taken to heart what is written at Ephesians 4:28: “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.”
10. How, by the way we speak to others, can we show consideration for them? (b) What will aid a person to learn to show love in this way?
10 Often the need of others is not for something material, but simply for kindness to them as individuals, especially when things go wrong. Yet, when one’s failings or errors come to light, what often happens? It is not unusual to hear angry outbursts, screaming, abusive speech or cutting remarks. Even some who acknowledge that this is wrong fail to control their tongue. What can help a person to overcome such a habit? Basically, what is lacking is love, and that indicates there is a need to get to know God. When a person really appreciates the extent to which God has dealt mercifully with him, he will not find it so difficult to be forgiving to others. Moreover, in imitation of God’s example, he may even begin to see ways to come to the aid of the offender, offering kind assistance with a view to improvement.—Matthew 18:21-35; Ephesians 4:31-5:2.
11. Why should we not be abusive in our speech even when others are unkind to us?
11 It is true that other people may not apply this fine counsel from God’s Word in their dealings with us. Despite our sincere motives, we may at times find that we are the object of their cruel abuse. What will we do then? The Bible counsels: “Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.” (Romans 12:17-21; 1 Peter 2:21-23) Unexpected kindness on our part may actually soften their attitude and bring out their better qualities. Whatever their reaction, we can be sure that when we conform to God’s way, we are giving evidence that we uphold His way of ruling, which is based on love.
OVERCOMING RACIAL, NATIONAL, SOCIAL PREJUDICE
12, 13. How does the Bible help a person to eliminate any feelings of racial, national or social prejudice?
12 An individual who has real love is not influenced by race, skin color, nationality or social status. Why not? Because he appreciates the Bible truth that “[God] made out of one man every nation of men.” (Acts 17:26) All humans are therefore related. No race is inherently superior to another.
13 No one has any reason to boast because of his ancestry, race, color, nationality or station in life. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) To attain righteousness, all must depend on the ransom sacrifice of Christ. And the Bible shows that those who do so, and will be spared through the coming “great tribulation,” are taken from “all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.”—Revelation 7:9, 14-17.
14. Why is a bad personal experience not a valid basis for hard feelings against people of a certain race or nationality?
14 Attempting to justify his prejudice, a man may call to mind a bad experience that he had with someone of a certain race or nationality. But it is well to remind ourselves that not everyone of that race or nationality was involved in the wrongdoing. Furthermore, people of one’s own race or nationality have no doubt been guilty of the very same things. If we hope to live in God’s peaceful new order, we need to clean out of our hearts any pride that tends to alienate us from other people.
15. If a person’s comments about race or nationality were to stumble a fellow believer, how would this affect his own standing before God and Christ?
15 What is in our hearts is sooner or later manifest in our speech. As Christ Jesus said: “Out of the heart’s abundance [the] mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) What if speech reflecting prejudice toward people of another race or nationality were to stumble someone who was showing interest in God’s provision for salvation? This could lead to serious consequences for the one who spoke unlovingly. Christ Jesus warned: “Whoever stumbles one of these little ones that believe, it would be finer for him if a millstone such as is turned by an ass were put around his neck and he were actually pitched into the sea.”—Mark 9:42.
16. How did Jesus indicate the impartiality with which we should show that we care about other people?
16 Without regard to race, nationality or station in life, a Christian is under obligation to take an interest in others. (James 2:1-9) Jesus well expressed the point when he said: “When you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you.” (Luke 14:13, 14) When we thus show that we deeply care about other people, we give evidence that we are truly reflecting the qualities of God.
LOVING CONCERN FOR THE ETERNAL WELFARE OF OTHERS
17. (a) What is the most valuable thing that we can share with others? (b) Why should we feel moved to do so?
17 Our concern for others, of course, should not be limited to their present physical needs. Nor would our love be complete simply because we were kindly in our dealings with people of all races, nationalities and positions in life. For life to have real meaning, these persons need knowledge of Jehovah God and his purposes. In prayer to his Father, Jesus Christ said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) If you have read this book from the beginning, you know how to lay hold of that prize. You have seen for yourself what the Scriptures say about the foretold “great tribulation,” and the physical evidences that confirm its nearness. You know that God’s kingdom is the only hope for mankind. Others, too, need this vital knowledge. Does love for Jehovah and for your fellowman move you to want to share it with them?
18. (a) At Matthew 24:14, what work did Jesus foretell for our day? (b) How should we view participation in it?
18 When speaking of the “conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus foretold: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) What a privilege to represent the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, Jehovah himself, as one of his witnesses! Opportunity to share in this special work foretold by God’s Son is still open, but not for much longer.
19. Why should we not allow any feeling of lack in personal ability to hold us back from sharing in this work?
19 In thinking about the prospect of sharing in this work as one of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, it is good to realize that it is not one’s personal speaking ability, but God who opens the hearts of those who listen favorably to the good news. (Acts 16:14) If you are moved by a willing heart, Jehovah can use you to accomplish his will. The message is his and he is the one who causes it to produce results. (1 Corinthians 3:6) Consider what the apostle Paul said in his own case: “Now through the Christ we have this sort of confidence toward God. Not that we of ourselves are adequately qualified to reckon anything as issuing from ourselves, but our being adequately qualified issues from God.”—2 Corinthians 3:4-6.
20. (a) Will everyone respond favorably to the good news? (b) What good is accomplished by preaching to people who are indifferent or even opposed?
20 We should not expect, of course, that everyone will respond favorably to the good news. Many will be indifferent; some will oppose. Yet they can change. Saul of Tarsus, who was once a persecutor of Christians, became a zealous apostle of Jesus Christ. (1 Timothy 1:12, 13) Whether others know it or not, they need the Kingdom message; so we should present it earnestly. There is need for deep concern about their welfare, not just our own. Such concern calls for wholehearted effort in their behalf, a willingness to expend ourselves to further their lasting welfare. (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8) Even if they do not want the Kingdom message, good is accomplished. The witness is given; Jehovah’s name is magnified; a ‘separating’ of the people is being done.—Matthew 25:31-33.
CARING WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR OWN FAMILY
21. What responsibility does a family head have as to the spiritual well-being of his own household?
21 The effort that you put forth to aid others to benefit from Jehovah’s loving provisions, however, should not be directed only to those outside your own family. A family head, for example, has a primary responsibility toward his own household. Their spiritual growth is directly influenced by the regularity with which he arranges for the family to discuss and study God’s Word together. And when a father’s prayers on behalf of the family show depth of devotion and gratitude, this can mold the attitude of the entire household.
22. Why is it important for a father to discipline his children, and what should motivate him in doing so?
22 His responsibility also includes the administering of discipline. When problems arise, it may seem easier to ignore them. But if discipline is administered only when the father becomes irritated, or if problems are handled only when they become serious, something is missing. Says Proverbs 13:24: ‘The father who loves his son is he that does look for him with discipline.’ It truly is a loving father who, even when he is tired at the end of the day, is consistent in administering discipline. It is a further evidence of love if he patiently explains things to his children and if he takes into consideration the mental, emotional and physical limitations of each one. (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21) If you are a father, do you have that kind of love for your children? Willingness to shoulder this responsibility shows that one has an eye, not merely on the present, but also on the future welfare of one’s family.—Proverbs 23:13, 14; 29:17.
23. How can a mother show that she is keenly interested in the spiritual welfare of her family?
23 By cooperating with her husband in caring for the spiritual condition of the family, the wife, too, makes a major contribution to their welfare. When she cares deeply about the children and makes good use of her time to mold their lives in a godly way, this usually is reflected in their conduct and in their attitude toward her. (Proverbs 29:15) Even in those cases where there is no father in the home, careful teaching from the Bible coupled with a fine example yields good results.
24. (a) If faced with opposition from one’s marriage mate, what issue should the believer keep in focus? (b) Under such circumstances, how would real love be shown for the unbelieving mate?
24 But what if a father who is in the home does not accept God’s Word? He may even subject his wife to persecution. What should she do? If she loves Jehovah, she certainly will not turn her back on God. It is Satan who charged that humans would forsake God if subjected to personal hardship, and she certainly does not want to find herself doing Satan’s bidding. (Job 2:1-5; Proverbs 27:11) At the same time, the Bible urges her to care deeply enough about her husband to seek his lasting welfare. Forsaking what she knows to be the truth would not show such love; the result would no doubt be loss of eternal life for both of them. But if she remains firm in her faith, she may aid him to gain salvation. (1 Corinthians 7:10-16; 1 Peter 3:1, 2) Furthermore, by continuing to honor her marriage vows, even under difficulty, she shows her deep respect for the Author of marriage, Jehovah God.
25. How does the decision of the parent affect the life prospects of children?
25 There is another powerful reason for a believing parent to maintain faithfulness to God even though faced with opposition. That is the children. God views with favor the young children of his devoted servants and gives assurance that these children, if obedient, will be preserved through the coming “great tribulation.” Even if only one parent is a servant of Jehovah, God considerately counts such young children as “holy.” (1 Corinthians 7:14) But what if the parent were to “beg off” from doing the will of God? Such parent would thereby give up, not only for himself or herself, but also for the young children, an approved standing before God. (Hebrews 12:25) What a tragic loss that would be!
26. To act with real benefit to ourselves and others, what do we need?
26 No matter what aspect of life we view, then, it is evident that there is need for us to consider, not just ourselves, but others too. We ourselves will receive love if we make it a practice to act with unselfish concern for others. (Luke 6:38) But to demonstrate genuine love and not to be misled by shortsighted human reasoning, we need to come to know Jehovah God and to enjoy a fine relationship with him. Our doing so, however, involves a choice that we must personally make.