“Love Builds Up”
“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”—1 Cor. 8:1, NW.
1. What texts show the importance of knowledge? of faith? of works?
GOD’S Word, the Bible, attaches great importance to knowledge. It counsels: “Take . . . knowledge rather than choice gold.” It also warns that “people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” The Bible also stresses the importance of faith: “Without faith it is impossible to win [God’s] good pleasure.” “Above all things, take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles.” Nor does God’s Word leave any doubt about the value of works, for “indeed, as the body without breath is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”—Prov. 8:10; Hos. 4:6, RS; Heb. 11:6; Eph. 6:16; Jas. 2:26, NW.
2. How does love compare with knowledge, faith and works?
2 Vitally important as are knowledge, faith and works, there is something of still greater importance, so important, in fact, that without it these would count for nothing. And that is? Love. As the apostle Paul so well expresses it: “If I have the gift of prophesying and understand all the sacred secrets and all knowledge, and if I have all the faith so as to transplant mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my belongings to feed others, . . . but do not have love, I am not profited at all.”—1 Cor. 13:2, 3, NW.
3, 4. (a) How does Jehovah regard love? (b) For what other reasons is love pre-eminent?
3 Clearly, then, love occupies the pre-eminent position. No wonder we read, “God is love.” Note, not just that God is loving in the way that he is just, wise and mighty, but in a unique way God is love. And although he is omnipotent and the rightful Supreme Sovereign, Jehovah God glories in the fact that he rules his intelligent creatures by love. “Yea,” says he, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” That is why all his commandments can be summed up in one word, love; love for him with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and love for our neighbor as for ourselves.—Jer. 31:3, AS; Mark 12:30, 31, NW.
4 Love is also pre-eminent because “love never fails.” Jehovah, having endowed his creatures with the capacity to love, could confidently accept Satan’s challenge regarding creatures, as illustrated by Job’s experience, because he knew that love would enable them to keep integrity in spite of all that the Devil could bring against them. Love, therefore, more than any other quality we might possess, works toward the vindication of Jehovah’s name. And why can love accomplish all this? Because “love builds up.”—1 Cor. 13:8; 8:1, NW; Job, chapters 1, 2 and 42.
WHY AND HOW LOVE BUILDS UP
5, 6. Why does love build up, as shown by what dealings of Jehovah?
5 Love builds up because it “does not look for its own interests.” It prompts each one to ‘keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.’ Love builds up because it hears and sees, it understands and appreciates, it is thoughtful and considerate of others. It notes their good qualities and possibilities, their needs and its opportunities to supply those needs. It is practical and takes the initiative, imitating Jehovah. It does things and gives, unselfishly and generously. Love motivated God to create us in the first place. And how bountifully he provided for us, and with what many capacities he endowed us so that we can enjoy those bounties to the full! “It was because of Jehovah’s loving” the Israelites that he brought them out of bondage into a land flowing with milk and honey. And was it not love, love for the new world, that caused him to give his only-begotten Son?—1 Cor. 13:5; 1 Cor. 10:33; 2 Cor. 8:24; Deut. 7:8; John 3:16, NW.
6 Love further builds up because it is gentle and kind, tender and compassionate. As “great, mighty and fear-inspiring” as Jehovah is, he is not above expressing these heart-warming qualities of love for the upbuilding of his creatures. “Like as a father hath compassion upon his children, so hath [Jehovah] compassion upon them that fear Him.” Even a mother’s compassion may fail, but not His. Yes, “Jehovah is very tender in affection and compassionate.”—Deut. 10:17, NW; Ps. 103:13, Margolis; Jas. 5:11, NW.
7, 8. For what further reasons does love build up, and why can love not be defeated?
7 And there are still other reasons why love builds up. Love builds up because each one of us has need of giving and of receiving love; because we need each other as the various members of the human body do; because it makes us ‘observe Jehovah’s commandments,’ and because it ‘throws fear outside, fear exercising a restraint,’ and fear therefore would interfere with building up. Our efforts may not have been as skillful or as successful as we had hoped or intended, or they may even have been misunderstood and rebuffed, as so often is the case when we offer the good news of God’s kingdom to passers-by on the streets or to householders at the doorsteps; still love builds up because it builds us up, if not also those whom we try to help. There is just no defeating of love.—1 John 5:3; 4:18, NW.
8 And finally, love builds up because it does not become discouraged and quit, it perseveres. “Love is long-suffering,” it “bears all things, . . . endures all things.” Love follows through, like the farmer, to harvesttime. What an example of long-suffering Jehovah has set for us in his dealings with humankind and particularly with the nation of Israel! And it has not been in vain, for because of it he can point to a long line of faithful witnesses and in his due time he will see the complete realization of his purposes regarding the vindication of his name, when he will “be all things to everyone.”—1 Cor. 13:4, 7; 15:28, NW.
9. Why may we not confuse love with sentimentalism?
9 In passing, let it be noted that love is not to be confused with sentimentalism, which is feeling gone beyond the bounds of reason and indulged in for its own sake. Rather than see his child cry, be unhappy, a sentimental parent will grant the child’s every whim and will fail to punish it when necessary. But the parent who truly loves his child will be firm when necessary. Jehovah is love, but he is not a sentimentalist. That is why we read that “whom Jehovah loves he disciplines, in fact he scourges everyone whom he receives as a son.” There is nothing sentimental about scourging, but it is upbuilding, it is loving.—Heb. 12:6, NW.
LOVE BUILDS UP THE FAMILY CIRCLE
10. Why does love for Jehovah build up the family circle?
10 Among the things that love builds up is the family circle. And above all else, love for Jehovah builds up the family circle. How so? Because love for Jehovah is concerned about his good name and that of the New World society. Break down the family circle and the result is separation, adultery and divorce, adult and juvenile delinquency, all of which bring reproach upon Jehovah and the New World society, therefore playing right into the hands of Satan, the Devil. That is why Jehovah is interested in preserving the family circle, and the Devil is interested in destroying it. Just as Christians entered the marital relationship in the first place, not merely to enjoy connubial bliss, but because of love for Jehovah and his righteous requirements; so this same love can furnish the strongest motivation for our wanting to make a success of marriage by building up the family circle.
11. What does it mean to love a person? and how can a husband’s love build up his wife spiritually?
11 As has been well observed, ‘to love a person means to care for and feel responsible for his life and growth and the development of all his faculties and powers.’ Of course, the husband, by reason of his Scriptural position as the head of the wife, has a very definite obligation in this regard, and love will help him to build up his wife. Love for her will help him to set the right example as to the study of God’s Word, zeal for the ministry and proper Christian conduct. Being concerned for her welfare, he will put the emphasis in life where it belongs, on the Kingdom interests, and to that end he will cultivate spiritual-mindedness, directing the conversation in uplifting channels, and seeing to it that his wife also has time for study, meetings and service. And while not neglecting her material needs, he will not overlook the fact that his wife needs love even more than material things, for she can, if need be, supply her own material needs but she cannot provide the love, affection and appreciation that she so much needs. Love will therefore cause the husband to hear and to see his wife’s good qualities and give expression to that appreciation, for do we not read, “a woman that feareth Jehovah, she shall be praised,” and is not the logical one to give that praise, first of all, her husband? Certainly!—Prov. 31:30, AS.
12, 13. How does a loving husband conduct himself in respect to the more intimate marital relationships, and with what benefit to himself?
12 All such is included in the Scriptural injunction: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies.” And more. Love will cause him to be thoughtful and considerate in the more intimate aspects of the marital relationship, showing patience and understanding when she suffers from the vicissitudes peculiar to womankind. The husband also builds up his wife by heeding the counsel at Proverbs 5:15-20 (RS) regarding letting himself be infatuated by his wife and not by a strange woman, for only then can she give her undivided attention to her duties, secure in his constancy.—Eph. 5:28, NW.
13 And perhaps nothing more truly indicates a husband’s love for his wife and his concern to build her up than his attitude regarding marital dues, his most vulnerable spot as regards selfishness. Not only will he “render to his wife her due,” since “the husband does not exercise authority over his own body, but his wife does,” but, remembering Matthew 7:12, he will be thoughtful and considerate of her emotional nature, and not abuse his rights simply because “the wife does not exercise authority over her own body, but her husband does.” That a husband’s considerateness in these matters will build up his wife spiritually Peter implies when he wrote: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with them according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one, since you are also heirs with them of the undeserved favor of life, in order for your prayers not to be hindered.” And that moderation and self-control in this matter can even build up the husband intellectually and spiritually is a fact recognized by medical science as well as implied by Paul’s counsel on the subject. (See 1 Corinthians 7:1, 5.)—1 Cor. 7:3, 4; 1 Pet. 3:7, NW.
LOVE ALSO BUILDS UP THE HUSBAND
14. How can a wife’s love build up her husband?
14 Although the wife is the “weaker vessel” her love can build up her husband. If it is his privilege to “work hard in speaking and teaching,” she will be among the first to account him “worthy of double honor.” Instead of trying to boss her husband she will remember that God’s Word requires wives to be subject “to their husbands in everything.” Her love can build up her husband, not by preparing his talks for him or by criticizing him, but by letting him study under the most favorable conditions possible, by not taking herself too seriously, by not bothering him with every little problem or petty annoyance, by being honest with him when he asks her opinion and by properly looking after his creature comforts.—1 Tim. 5:17; Eph. 5:24, NW.
15. How should she view herself, and why will love make a wife discreet?
15 Love will make a wife devoted, loyal and understanding, all of which strengthen her husband, particularly in time of stress. It will help her to see herself in the right light, neither as her husband’s head nor as his doormat, but as his helper at his side, neither pushing herself forward nor being too diffident to offer help when it is needed, for which occasions love will also give her the insight. Love will make a wife discreet and modest, which also builds up her husband: “A good wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.” And shame an indiscreet wife does bring: “Like a gold ring in a swine’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.”—Prov. 12:4; 11:22, RS.
16. (a) How can a wife’s love build up her husband as regards marital dues? (b) If not from her husband, from whom is she certain to receive her reward?
16 And as with the husband, perhaps the acid test of her love is a wife’s willingness to co-operate with her husband in regard to marital dues. If she loves her husband she will not tyrannize over him because of his need, choosing to ignore what a burden she represents to him and that the only Scriptural reason at the present time for his assuming to carry such a burden is the attraction that God placed in the sexes for each other. Rather, she will be thankful that she can contribute so much to his mental, emotional and physical well-being. On the other hand, love will keep her from becoming frustrated because, at times, for the sake of God’s service ‘those having mates need be as though they had none.’ And, whether it is fully appreciated or not, love will cause the Christian wife to do her part to build up her husband, confident that she will receive a reward from Jehovah, and knowing that by such a course she builds up herself.—1 Cor. 7:28, 29, NW.
17. Recognition of what facts will help husband and wife the better to appreciate each other?
17 Yes, love will cause both wife and husband to build each other up. And among still other ways in which they can do this is by being patient and forgiving with each other’s weaknesses, hiding them from outsiders, for do we not read that “love covers a multitude of sins”? Love will also help them to appreciate that God created Eve to be “as a complement of” Adam. The loving husband will therefore not expect his wife to reason always on problems as clearly as he would like, nor will the loving wife expect of her husband the same degree of sensitive feeling that she may be capable of. At the same time love will enable each to see in the other’s strong points opportunities for self-improvement. What opportunities husbands and wives have to build each other up!—1 Pet. 4:8; Gen. 2:18, NW.
LOVE BUILDS UP THE CHILDREN
18. What scientific evidence shows that love builds up children?
18 Perhaps nowhere is the truth that “love builds up” brought home more forcibly than in the rearing of children. Modern medical research has found not only that a mother’s love is indispensable to the mental and physical growth of infants and young children, but that lack of mother love is the greatest factor in juvenile delinquency. Graphically illustrating love’s power to build up is an experiment certain scientists made with baby rats. For a few minutes each day the scientists nestled the baby rats close to their chests and gently stroked them from the back of the head to the base of the tail. Those that were thus fondled gained more weight, grew larger bones and were less fearful of strange conditions than were other rats. When, as adults, the rats were put under severe stress, such as being held immobile for forty-eight hours and without food and water, the fondled rats showed far less damage to their organisms than did the ones not receiving such special care. (Science News Letter, January 2, 1954) That the same is true of humankind is the report on a group of 165 housewives, professional and business people who regularly visit one of New York city’s largest hospitals, Bellevue, to bring neglected children patients love, “a medicine the best hospitals cannot buy,” which “works wonders,” and is “a vitamin without which babies weaken or lapse into idiocy and older children tend to fade or turn delinquent.”—Saturday Evening Post, July 30, 1955.
19. Of what should fathers, in particular, be cognizant?
19 Love will cause parents to see their children’s needs and how they can supply those needs, especially their spiritual needs, distinguishing, of course, between what their children want and what really are their needs. Love will make parents the cheerful, poised and wholesome companions of their children, and especially will love make fathers the much needed companions of their sons. Scientific research indicates that one of the main reasons why many boys form into destructive “gangs” is lack of wholesome adult male companionship. So you fathers in particular, note God’s command through Moses: “You must inculcate [my words] in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.” To inculcate means “to impress upon the mind by repeated and emphatic repetition or admonition.”—Deut. 6:7, NW.
20. Why should parents not begrudge their children the time they require to be trained properly?
20 Parental love builds up because it does not begrudge children the time it could spend in worldly diversions. It does not hire a baby sitter to substitute for it. Love will not even begrudge children the time spent with them that could be spent in other theocratic activities. Time is a prime essential in bringing up children “in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah,” and parental obligations come first. Should that seem to be a strong statement, let fathers remember that neglecting their children can disqualify them for a servant’s position! Love will make you even more concerned about the spiritual welfare of your children than you are regarding the spiritual progress of the ones with whom you are conducting home Bible studies.—Eph. 6:4; 1 Tim. 3:4, 5, NW.
21. By doing what will parental love build up children spiritually?
21 Parental love will help you to build up your children because it will enable you to understand them, to reason patiently with them and to make certain that they grasp the import of what you are endeavoring to teach them. Just as love enables a wife and mother to note at once if her husband or children are not well physically, so love should enable you to detect any spiritual weakness in your children so that you can remedy it before it is too late. By studying the lessons for congregational meetings together, by supervising their preparation of program assignments, and by letting them accompany you in all the features of the Christian ministry you will be laying a good foundation for their career as Christian ministers. Show tenderness, gentleness and compassion, yet do not become sentimental. Bear in mind that “he who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Nor overlook that even on such occasions love “does not become provoked.”—Prov. 13:24, RS; 1 Cor. 13:5, NW.
THE CHILDREN’S PART
22. What obligation do children have regarding their own upbuilding?
22 In building up the family circle you children can also share, in fact, must, if you are to be built up. You can also lighten the burdens of your parents, giving them more time and energy to build up themselves. No matter how hard your parents try, unless you have the right heart condition they will not be able to build you up spiritually. “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, whether what he does is pure and right.” Love for Jehovah and love for your parents will make you willingly “obedient to your parents in everything.” Love will cause you to work with your parents, not against them, in their efforts to build you up. Love will help you to see their correction of you in the right light, as something given for your own good.—Prov. 20:11, RS; Col. 3:20, NW.
23. How can children have a share in the upbuilding of their parents?
23 Nor is that all. As Christian witnesses of Jehovah your parents have many obligations to meet besides providing for you materially and spiritually. By loving obedience and willing co-operation you can lighten their load of looking after you. Additionally, love will help you to see what needs to be done around the home and will make you help all you can, not waiting to be told and then grumbling because such duties take you away from play. Such thoughtfulness helps build up your mother for it will leave her with time and strength for Bible study, congregational meetings and Christian ministry. And by being careful not to make needless demands upon your father as regards his money, time or patience, you can also have a part in building him up. In all such ways you show yourselves wise, and wise children make happy parents. (Prov. 15:20; 27:11) Yes, each member of the family circle, husband, wife, parent and child, has an obligation toward the others and, by manifesting love, can build them up as well as himself, all to Jehovah’s praise.