Growing in the Undeserved Kindness
VIEWED in its proper light, everything we enjoy, life, the sunshine, the rain and what not, are all expressions of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. In the beginning, when God created man, gave him a beautiful home, a lovely mate and a mandate to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it and exercise dominion over the lower animals, all of that was just so much unmerited favor, so much of undeserved kindness; even as was God’s permitting our first parents to live for many years after they had rebelled.
It was an undeserved kindness that the human race, as represented by Noah and his family, was spared at the time of the great deluge. And God’s promises and dealings with Abraham and his descendants, the nation of Israel, were further expressions of his undeserved kindness. The greatest expression of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, however, was the gift of his only-begotten Son to be our Savior and Redeemer. Greatest expression both in what it cost the Giver—yes, it did cost Jehovah something to have his Son come to earth, suffer and die, as he well illustrated in the prophetic drama he had Abraham make in offering up his son Isaac—and greatest also in the benefit to the receivers in that it will mean everlasting life for us.—Eph. 1:7, NW.
Next only to that gift is the expression of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness that has come to us in the way of an understanding of his Word, the Bible; the knowledge regarding Jehovah, who he is and what his attributes and purposes are; and particularly the knowledge regarding the vindication of his great name and supremacy by means of his kingdom.
This truth has brought with it further expressions of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, such as the relative freedom of God’s children, the hope of the new world of righteousness and the blessings that come from serving God by honoring his name and bringing comfort to men of good will.
NEED OF GROWING
Having received so much of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, shall we content ourselves therewith, ignoring or refusing to accept the further expressions of his undeserved kindness he keeps on extending to us? May we be satisfied with the measure of growth to which we have attained? Can we stand still?
No, we cannot afford to stand still. We dare not content ourselves with what measure of growth we have attained to, whether still babes, as were those to whom Paul addressed his words at Hebrews 5:11-14 (NW), or more advanced. We may not feel satisfied with such undeserved kindness as we have received, but must keep on growing therein even as the apostle Peter admonishes us: “Be on your guard that you may not be led away with them by the error of the law-defying people and fall from your own steadfastness. No, but go on growing in the undeserved kindness and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”—2 Pet. 3:17, 18, NW.
Since Jehovah continues to extend further expressions of his undeserved kindness to us, failure to accept these would show a lack of appreciation. Such lack of appreciation would soon result in our spurning all of his undeserved kindness. We owe it to our great Benefactor to keep on growing.
And we also owe it to our neighbor to keep on receiving ever more of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. How so? Because we have the obligation to help each one with whom we come in contact as opportunity affords to walk in the way of righteousness, and the more of undeserved kindness we have received ourselves the more we shall be able to help others. “In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as the right kind of stewards over God’s undeserved kindness which is expressed in various ways.”—1 Pet. 4:10, NW.
Additionally, we owe it to ourselves to keep on growing in Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. We are living in perilous times. Iniquity is abounding. The love of many has grown cold. Satan has ever gone about as a roaring lion seeking to devour someone, but now, since he has been cast out of heaven, his rage knows no bounds toward those who observe the commandments of God. Opposition and temptations are increasing. Anyone who thinks he has acquired a firm position will surely fall. Unless we keep on growing we shall not be able to stand. If we do not make progress we shall relapse back into blindness, inactivity and sin. There is no standing still.—Matt. 24:12; 1 Cor. 10:12; 2 Tim. 3:1-7; 1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:17, NW.
However, growing in Jehovah’s undeserved kindness is not only a matter of safety but also one of joy. Jehovah’s bounties are to bring us delight; if we ignore them by not growing in his undeserved kindness we simply do not know what we are missing. The joys of taking in knowledge and growing in understanding far exceed the benefits and joys received from material food. (Ps. 119:162; Job 23:12) And what interesting experiences and satisfaction await us in the ministry if we will but grow in quantity and quality of our service! And what joys of association, of co-operation, of brotherly affection can be ours if we will but grow in ability to get along with others! (Psalm 133) and what returns by making progress in our love for righteousness and our hatred of wickedness can be ours in the way of victories in the exercise of self-control.—Titus 1:15, NW.
GROWING IN FOUR WAYS
To grow in knowledge and understanding we must make use of all the helps that God has provided—his Word, his organization and his active force or holy spirit. We need to study privately, both the Bible and Bible aids, as well as assemble for congregational study. All such will make us grow in knowledge, but to grow in understanding we must acquire a heart appreciation of what we learn, causing us to act in harmony with our knowledge. Therefore we should continually ask ourselves, How does this apply to me?
Next we must grow in quantity and quality of our ministerial activity. How much of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness can we expect to experience when we spend but an hour a week in his service? Surely that in itself would seem to indicate a lack of growth, when we can find only one hour out of 168 for preaching the good news of the Kingdom.
Nor is the amount of time the sole or even prime criterion as to how much we are growing in the undeserved kindness. The matter of improving the quality of our service is of even greater importance. By making use of the publications and meetings and the opportunities provided we will be able to grow in the effectiveness with which we preach; in our ability to place literature, to refute arguments with tact, to establish Bible studies in the homes of the people.
And since we owe it to Jehovah God, to our neighbor and to ourselves to grow in the undeserved kindness of our God, let us not be afraid to accept additional privileges of service when such are extended to us. Rather, let us eagerly take hold of such and make the best of them. True, learning to do work in enlarged spheres of service may require training and involve the making of mistakes on our part; but what of that? Shall we weigh our pride against greater opportunities for doing good? Let us not say that we are not qualified. Let that responsibility rest upon the one delegating us added responsibilities and privileges. Keep in mind that the greater our privileges and the better we take care of them, the more of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness we shall be able to enjoy.
To go on growing in the undeserved kindness of Jehovah also means to make progress in our ability to get along harmoniously with our brothers. Paul told the Corinthian brothers that jealousy and strife were evidences that they were still babes. (1 Cor. 3:1-3, NW) Yes, it is childish to magnify every slight or offense, to harbor grudges, to endeavor to retaliate. If we would enjoy ever more of Jehovah’s goodness we must overlook all such trifles and try to help our brother who has erred, instead of trying to punish him.
And finally, to go on growing in the undeserved kindness of Jehovah we must make progress both in our ability to discern right from wrong and in our attitude toward these principles. We must grow in control of our spirit, expressing ever greater love for righteousness and ever greater hatred of wickedness.—Heb. 1:9, NW.
IMPETUS FOR GROWTH
While little can be done to stimulate natural growth, such is not the case regarding spiritual growth. The extent to which we grow in a spiritual sense depends upon our zeal, which is determined by our love, which in turn depends upon our appreciation. And the most fruitful way of expressing our appreciation, love and zeal is by helping another to grow.
In this regard note the servants in a congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses. Are they not all appointed for the very purpose of helping others to grow? Assuredly. And does not their helping others to grow result in their growing themselves? No question about it. For example, does not the brother who conducts the study in The Watchtower profit greatly himself because of his thoroughly preparing his lesson so as to be able to help others? Unquestionably so, for to be able to explain a matter to others we must understand it ourselves.
The same applies to the other servants in the company. So as to be able to help others they have to prepare, they have to be on hand at all meetings and at assembly points for witnessing. By helping others to grow in knowledge and understanding, in quantity and in the quality of their service, in brotherly love and in self-control, they automatically help themselves.
Jehovah God has bestowed much undeserved kindness upon the human race and especially upon those who have dedicated themselves to his service. He has far more in store for us, and we owe it to him, to our neighbor and to ourselves to avail ourselves of it, to keep on growing in his undeserved kindness. To that end let us avail ourselves of every opportunity to expand in knowledge and understanding, in the quality and quantity of our ministerial activity, in ability to co-operate with our fellow ministers, and in our love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness.