Getting Along with One Another in Love
1. (a) How may you become a part of God’s organization? (b) What command must you then obey?
AS YOU grow in knowledge and appreciation of Jehovah God and his purposes, you will want to associate regularly with persons who share this same faith and hope. By doing so, you will become part of God’s visible organization, a true Christian brotherhood. “Have love for the whole association of brothers” will then be a command you must obey.—1 Peter 2:17; 5:8, 9.
2. (a) What new commandment did Jesus give his followers? (b) What do the expressions “one another” and “among yourselves” clearly show? (c) How important is it to have love?
2 Jesus Christ emphasized how important it is that his followers love one another. He said to them: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another . . . By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:34, 35) The expressions “one another” and “among yourselves” clearly show that all true Christians would be together in one group or organization. (Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:25) And this organization would be identified by the love its members have for one another. If a person does not have love, everything else is useless.—1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
3. How does the Bible emphasize the importance of loving and caring for fellow Christians?
3 Therefore, early Christians were often given such reminders as these: “Have tender affection for one another.” “Welcome one another.” “Slave for one another.” “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate.” “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.” “Keep comforting one another and building one another up.” “Be peaceable with one another.” “Have intense love for one another.”—Romans 12:10; 15:7; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13, 14; 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 13; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 3:23; 4:7, 11.
4. (a) What shows that Christians must love others besides “one another”? (b) Whom especially are Christians to love?
4 However, this does not mean that true Christians are to love only fellow members of God’s organization. They are to love others as well. The Bible, in fact, urges them to increase “in love to one another and to all.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12; 5:15) Giving the proper balanced viewpoint, the apostle Paul wrote: “Let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” (Galatians 6:10) So while Christians must love all, including their enemies, they especially must love fellow members of God’s organization, their spiritual brothers and sisters.—Matthew 5:44.
5. What shows that true Christians, in early times and today, have been noted for their love?
5 Early Christians were well known for this love that they had for one another. According to the second-century writer Tertullian, people would say of them: ‘Look how they love one another, and how they are ready to die for one another!’ Such love is also seen among true Christians today. But does this mean that there are never problems or difficulties among true Christians?
THE RESULTS OF IMPERFECTION
6. Why do even true Christians at times sin against one another?
6 From your study of the Bible you realize that all of us have inherited imperfection from our original parents, Adam and Eve. (Romans 5:12) So we are inclined to do wrong. “We all stumble many times,” the Bible says. (James 3:2; Romans 3:23) And you should know that members of God’s organization are also imperfect and sometimes do things that are not right. This can result in problems and difficulties even among true Christians.
7. (a) Why did Euodia and Syntyche need to be told “to be of the same mind”? (b) What shows that, basically, these were fine Christian women?
7 Consider the situation with two women named Euodia and Syntyche in the early Philippian congregation. The apostle Paul wrote: “Euodia I exhort and Syntyche I exhort to be of the same mind in the Lord.” Why did Paul encourage these two women “to be of the same mind”? Clearly, there was some trouble between them. The Bible does not tell what it was. Perhaps they were in some way jealous of each other. Yet, basically, these were fine women. They had been Christians for some time, years before having shared with Paul in the preaching work. So he wrote to the congregation: “Keep assisting these women who have striven side by side with me in the good news.”—Philippians 4:1-3.
8. (a) What trouble developed between Paul and Barnabas? (b) If you had been present and had seen this trouble, what might you have concluded?
8 At one time trouble also developed between the apostle Paul and his traveling companion Barnabas. When they were about to leave on their second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take along his cousin Mark. However, Paul did not want Mark along, since Mark had left them and gone home during their first missionary journey. (Acts 13:13) The Bible says: “At this there occurred a sharp burst of anger, so that they separated from each other.” (Acts 15:37-40) Can you imagine that! If you had been there and had seen this “sharp burst of anger,” would you have concluded that Paul and Barnabas were not part of God’s organization because of the way they behaved?
9. (a) What sin did Peter commit, and what caused him to act this way? (b) What did Paul do when he saw what was happening?
9 On another occasion the apostle Peter did wrong. He stopped associating closely with Gentile Christians because of fear of being viewed with disfavor by some of the Jewish Christians who were wrongly looking down on their Gentile brothers. (Galatians 2:11-14) When the apostle Paul saw what Peter was doing, he condemned Peter’s improper conduct before all those present. How would you have felt if you had been Peter?—Hebrews 12:11.
SOLVING DIFFICULTIES WITH LOVE
10. (a) How did Peter react when he was corrected? (b) What can we learn from Peter’s example?
10 Peter could have become angry at Paul. He could have taken offense at the way Paul had corrected him in front of others. But he did not. (Ecclesiastes 7:9) Peter was humble. He accepted the correction, and he did not allow it to cause his love for Paul to cool off. (1 Peter 3:8, 9) Note how Peter later referred to Paul in a letter of encouragement to fellow Christians: “Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given him also wrote you.” (2 Peter 3:15) Yes, Peter allowed love to cover over the difficulty, which in this case had resulted from his own wrong conduct.—Proverbs 10:12.
11. (a) Despite their angry outburst, how did Paul and Barnabas show that they were true Christians? (b) How can we benefit from their example?
11 What about the problem between Paul and Barnabas? This also was solved with love. For later, when Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation, he spoke of Barnabas as a close fellow worker. (1 Corinthians 9:5, 6) And though Paul appears to have had good reason for doubting Mark’s value as a traveling companion, this young man later matured to the point that Paul could write to Timothy: “Take Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministering.” (2 Timothy 4:11) We can benefit from this example of settling differences.
12. (a) Why might we assume that Euodia and Syntyche settled their differences? (b) According to Galatians 5:13-15, why is it vital that Christians work out their differences in love?
12 Well, what about Euodia and Syntyche? Did they settle their differences, allowing love to cover whatever sins they may have committed against each other? The Bible does not tell us what finally happened to them. But, their being good women who had worked side by side with Paul in his Christian ministry, we might reasonably assume that they humbly accepted the counsel given. When Paul’s letter was received, we can just imagine their going to each other and straightening out their problem in a spirit of love.—Galatians 5:13-15.
13. What example in showing love does Jehovah God set?
13 You, too, may find it hard to get along with a certain person, or persons, in the congregation. Although they may have a long way to go in developing true Christian qualities, think about this: Does Jehovah God wait until people get rid of all their bad ways before he loves them? No; the Bible says: “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) We need to follow that example of God and show love to those who do bad and foolish things.—Ephesians 5:1, 2; 1 John 4:9-11; Psalm 103:10.
14. What counsel did Jesus give on not being critical of others?
14 Since all of us are so imperfect, Jesus taught that we should not be critical of others. True, others have faults, but we also have them. “Why, then, do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the rafter in your own eye?” Jesus asked. (Matthew 7:1-5) By keeping in mind such wise counsel, we will be helped to get along with our brothers and sisters.
15. (a) Why is it important that we forgive others even when we have a cause for complaint against them? (b) In his illustration in Matthew chapter 18, how did Jesus teach the need to be forgiving?
15 It is absolutely necessary that we be merciful and forgiving. True, you may have a real cause for complaint against a brother or a sister. But remember the Bible counsel: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.” But why should you forgive others when you have a genuine cause for complaint against them? Because “Jehovah freely forgave you,” the Bible answers. (Colossians 3:13) And if we are to receive his forgiveness, Jesus said, we must forgive others. (Matthew 6:9-12, 14, 15) Jehovah, like the king in one of Jesus’ illustrations, has forgiven us thousands of times, so cannot we forgive our brothers a few times?—Matthew 18:21-35; Proverbs 19:11.
16. (a) According to 1 John 4:20, 21, how is love of God related to love of fellow Christians? (b) What action is necessary if your brother has something against you?
16 We simply cannot be practicing the truth and at the same time be treating our brothers and sisters in an unloving, unforgiving way. (1 John 4:20, 21; 3:14-16) So, then, if you ever have some trouble with a fellow Christian, do not stop talking with him. Do not hold resentment, but straighten out the matter in the spirit of love. If you have offended your brother, be ready to apologize and to ask forgiveness.—Matthew 5:23, 24.
17. What is the proper course to take if someone wrongs you?
17 But what if someone insults you, or wrongs you in some other way? The Bible counsels: “Do not say: ‘Just as he did to me, so I am going to do to him.’” (Proverbs 24:29; Romans 12:17, 18) Jesus Christ advised: “Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other also to him.” (Matthew 5:39) A slap is not intended to injure physically, but only to insult or provoke. Jesus was thus teaching his followers to avoid being drawn into a fight or an argument. Rather than “paying back injury for injury or reviling for reviling,” you should “seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:9, 11; Romans 12:14.
18. What should we learn from God’s example of loving all peoples?
18 Recall that we must “have love for the whole association of brothers.” (1 Peter 2:17) Jehovah God sets the example. He is not partial. All races are equal in his sight. (Acts 10:34, 35; 17:26) Those who will be protected through the coming “great tribulation” are taken from “all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” (Revelation 7:9, 14-17) So, in imitation of God, we should not love others less because they are of a different race, nationality or social position, or have a different skin color.
19. (a) How should we regard and treat fellow Christians? (b) What great privilege can be ours?
19 Get to know well all of those in the Christian congregation, and you will come to love and appreciate them. Treat older ones as fathers and mothers, younger ones as brothers and sisters. (1 Timothy 5:1, 2) It is truly a privilege to be a part of God’s familylike visible organization, whose members get along so well together in love. How fine it will be to live forever in paradise on earth with such a loving family!—1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
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What can we learn from the incident involving Euodia and Syntyche?
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Did the argument between Paul and Barnabas mean that they were not members of God’s organization?
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True Christians let love cover over causes for complaint
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Within God’s organization, Christians are moved by love to get along as equals