Why Care About Other People?
1. (a) What has caused many people to look out for themselves and not be too concerned about others? (b) What has been the result?
UNSELFISH concern for others is rare today. Though everyone is born with a capacity for love, when others unfairly seek their own advantage or when one’s own efforts to show love are misunderstood, a person may decide it is better just to look out for himself. Others, seeing that some who exploit their fellowman prosper materially, may think that this is the way to success. The result is that many people have a spirit of distrust and have few real friends, if any. What accounts 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 Love is missing, the kind of love that manifests itself in sincere concern for the lasting welfare of others. 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) Of course, many self-seeking individuals do profess to believe in God and even attend 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 what we know about him. (Jeremiah 22:16; Titus 1:16) So, then, to find the true enjoyment in life that comes only when one expresses love and receives it, we must get to know God well and apply what we learn.
3. How has God shown his great 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 let 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 do you love so much that you would lay down your life for them—people who have never done anything for you? If you are a parent, who is there that you would be willing to have your child die for? That is the kind of love that God showed for us. (John 3:16) How does knowing this 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 involved in it? (c) What, then, does obedience to this “new commandment” require?
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.” Jesus’ commandment was “new” in that he was saying to love others, not merely as they loved themselves, but “just as I have loved you”—to be willing to lay down their lives for one another. (John 13:34, 35; 1 John 3:16) This kind of love shows our devotion to God by proving false the Devil’s claim that no human will obey God at the risk of his own life. (Job 2:1-10) Obviously, obedience to this “new commandment” requires deep concern for one another.—James 1:27; 2:15, 16; 1 Thessalonians 2:8.
6. Toward whom else is love to be shown, and why?
6 But Christ died for the world of mankind, not just his disciples. Thus the Scriptures urge: “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) Opportunities to ‘work good toward all’ arise every day. When our love is not narrow, but openhearted and generous, we imitate God, “since 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 influence how we treat the person and property of others?
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. But if a person is to serve God, there is need for a conscientious effort for him 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 counsel in the Bible, if followed, would hold a person back from doing such things?
8 In some areas there is shocking disregard for what belongs to others. Just for a thrill, youths destroy both private and public property. Or they deliberately deface things that others have worked hard to acquire. Some may express dismay at such vandalism, yet contribute to it by discarding litter in parks, on streets, or in public buildings. Are these actions 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) Such unloving conduct demonstrates that one is not in full accord with God’s purpose for this earth to become a paradise.
9. (a) How does stealing affect the lives of all? (b) Why is stealing wrong in the eyes of God?
9 In many places, concern for one’s life and possessions makes locked doors, barred windows, and watchdogs commonplace. Stores raise prices to compensate for what is stolen. But stealing will have no place in God’s New Order. Hence, any who hope to be there must learn to live now in a way that contributes to the security of their fellowmen. The Bible shows that a “gift of God” is that a man “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) Many people who were dishonest in the past have changed. Not only do they refrain from stealing but they have also 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. (a) How, by the way we speak to others, can we show consideration for them? (b) What will help a person to learn to show love in this way?
10 Often, especially when things go wrong, what others need is not something material, but they need kindness. However, what happens in situations where a person’s failings come to light? There may be angry outbursts, abusive speech, or cutting remarks. Even some who acknowledge that this course is wrong fail to control their tongue. How can a person overcome such a habit? Basically, what is lacking is love, and that indicates a need to get to know God. When a person comes to appreciate the extent of God’s mercy to him, he will find it far less difficult to forgive others. He may even begin to see ways to aid 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 ourselves the object of their 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) Continued kindness on our part may in time soften their attitude and bring out their better qualities. Whatever their reaction, when we continue to display kindness, we show that we uphold God’s 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) Therefore everyone is dependent on the ransom sacrifice of Christ. And the Bible shows that those who will be spared through the coming “great tribulation” come 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 prejudice against people of a certain race or nationality?
14 Attempting to justify his prejudice, a person may call to mind a bad experience that he had with someone of a certain race or nationality. But was everyone of that race or nationality involved in the wrongdoing? And have not people of one’s own race or nationality been guilty of the very same thing? 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 sooner or later comes out of our mouths. As Christ Jesus said: “Out of the heart’s abundance [the] mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) What if remarks reflecting prejudice were to stumble someone who was showing interest in Jehovah’s organization? The matter is so serious that 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 we should show other people?
16 Christians are obligated to show a loving interest in others regardless of their race, nationality, or station in life. (James 2:1-9) As Jesus urged: “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) By taking this kind of caring interest in other people, we reflect the loving qualities of our heavenly Father.
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 should not be limited to their physical needs. Nor would our love be complete simply because we were kind to all sorts of people. For life to have real meaning, people need to know Jehovah and his purposes. In prayer to his Father, Jesus 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 gain that prize. You have seen for yourself what the Scriptures foretell about the “great tribulation,” and the physical evidences that confirm its nearness. You know that God’s Kingdom is the only hope for mankind. But does love for Jehovah and for your fellowman move you to share this vital knowledge with others?
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 24:3, 14) What a privilege it is to represent the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, Jehovah himself, as one shares in this “witness”! Opportunity to take part in this special work 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 When considering the prospect of sharing in this “witness to all the nations,” it is good to realize that it is, not one’s personal ability, but God who causes the message to produce results. (Acts 16:14; 1 Corinthians 3:6) If you are moved by a willing heart, Jehovah can use you to accomplish his will. As the apostle Paul said: “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. 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. (1 Timothy 1:12, 13) Whether others know it or not, they need the Kingdom message. So we need to be concerned about them, willing to expend ourselves to further their lasting welfare. (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8) Even if they do not want the Kingdom message, good is still accomplished. The witness is given, Jehovah’s name is magnified, the ‘separating’ of the people is done, and we demonstrate our own loyalty to Jehovah.—Matthew 25:31-33.
Caring About What Happens to Your Own Family
21. What responsibility does a family head have as to the spiritual well-being of his household?
21 Your efforts to help others to benefit from Jehovah’s loving provisions should also be directed to your own family. A family head, for example, is responsible for the spiritual growth of his family. This is directly influenced by the regularity of his arrangements for family discussion of God’s Word. 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?
22 His responsibility also includes administering 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.’ Hence a loving father administers discipline consistently. He patiently explains things to his children and considers 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? Are you willing to shoulder this responsibility, with an eye not only on the present but also on the future welfare of your family?—Proverbs 23:13, 14; 29:17.
23. How can a mother contribute toward the spiritual welfare of her family?
23 A wife, too, can make a major contribution to the family. Her cooperation with her husband and her wise use of time in molding their children’s lives in a godly way is usually reflected in the conduct and attitude of the children. (Proverbs 29:15) Even 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 love be shown for the unbelieving mate?
24 But what if a father who is in the home does not accept God’s Word, or even persecutes his wife? What should she do? If she loves Jehovah, she certainly will not turn her back on Him. It is Satan who charged that humans would forsake God if subjected to hardship. She surely does not want to be doing Satan’s bidding. (Job 2:1-5; Proverbs 27:11) At the same time, the Bible urges her to seek the lasting welfare of her husband. Forsaking what she knows to be the truth would mean the loss of eternal life for both of them. But if she remains firm in her faith, she may help 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 Another powerful reason for a believing parent to be loyal to God when faced with opposition is the children. God gives assurance that the young children of his devoted servants will be preserved through the coming “great tribulation.” Even if only one parent is a servant of Jehovah, He counts such young children as “holy.” (1 Corinthians 7:14) But if the parent were to “beg off” from doing the will of God, what then? Such parent would give up an approved standing before God not only for himself or herself but also for the young children. (Hebrews 12:25) What a tragic loss that would be!
26. To act with real benefit to ourselves and others, what do we need to do?
26 No matter what aspect of life we view, then, it is evident that we need to consider not just ourselves but others too. We will receive love if we practice showing love to others. (Luke 6:38) But to demonstrate genuine love and not to be misled by shortsighted human reasoning, we need to know Jehovah and to enjoy a good relationship with him. Our doing so, however, involves a choice that we must personally make.
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The kind of love Jehovah’s servants must have obligates them to show genuine consideration for others regardless of race, nationality, or station in life