“Greet One Another”
HOW different the New World society is from the cold and loveless old world! Each worldling looks out for his own interests and cares not how his neighbor fares. Each distrusts and envies his neighbor even though the two may belong to the same family, church, lodge or labor union. But is not that just what we should expect with men “having no natural affection” and being “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God”?
No wonder there is no unity in the world! In striking contrast thereto stands the New World society, which has unity and the things that make for unity. In fact, time and again men of good will toward God are drawn to the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses because of the warmth and love displayed by its members. That is the way it should be, for they are Christians and Jesus said regarding his followers: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:34, 35.
There are many ways of showing love, and especially in times of stress and adversity do we show it. But are we equally as thoughtful and concerned about expressing love in all our weekly associations at the congregation meetings and our various assemblies; or could it be that here we might “keep on doing it more fully”?—1 Thess. 4:1.
For example, the matter of greeting one another. The Christian Greek Scripture writers must have thought it important, for greetings are mentioned upward of fifty times and in over half of the books. In the last chapter of Romans alone some thirty-five persons are either sent greetings or send them, in addition to several households and congregations.
A cheery greeting is a simple thing and yet it makes for happiness because it is an expression of thoughtfulness and love. It may merely be: “Glad to see you! How are you?” or something can be added such as, “Had any interesting experiences recently?” or something of a more personal nature, depending upon our familiarity with the brother. Or perhaps we have had or heard an interesting experience that we can relate. A greeting can also be coupled with an upbuilding comment on the spiritual food that has been enjoyed.
No doubt all in the New World society do extend greetings—but to whom? Are we prone to get into a thoughtless habit of greeting the same ones at each meeting, perhaps those with whom we have a little more in common, such as being of the same age, race, nationality? Or it may be that similarity in spiritual maturity or in service positions causes us always to greet certain ones and to overlook others.
Most likely we have learned to take an interest in the stranger, or those of good will who are beginning to associate with us, and in particular if they should happen to be the ones with whom we are studying the Bible. But what about the rest? Some of these may be helped by a friendly greeting even more than a stranger.
In this matter of extending greetings of welcome the principle Jesus enunciated relative to feasts would apply: “When you spread a dinner or evening meal, do not call your friends” and relatives. “But when you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind.” Yes, we should show loving consideration for all. “If you greet your brothers only,” that is, if you follow the line of least resistance or natural inclination, “what extraordinary thing are you doing?”—Luke 14:12, 13; Matt. 5:47.
So let us come to our congregational meetings with the resolve to take notice of all our brothers. This would certainly include those poor in this world’s goods. Let us exercise care that we do not come under the censure that James directed toward certain ones in his day because they slighted the poor while being attentive to the rich!—Jas. 2:1-9.
Therefore, instead of greeting only certain ones at each meeting, let us seek out the weak: “We, though, who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to be pleasing ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor in what is good for his upbuilding.” Since each Christian congregation is like the human body, ‘where each member is indebted to all the rest,’ all “the members should have the same care for one another,” remembering that “if one member suffers, all the other members suffer with it.”—Rom. 15:1, 2; 1 Cor. 12:12-26.
Do we see an older brother or sister sitting alone? Instead of waiting for him to come to us, let us go to him, greet him and show that we appreciate having him in our midst.—Prov. 16:31.
Nor may we overlook the young folks. By taking note of a young child we encourage it in the way of righteousness. As Jesus himself said: “Let the young children come to me and do not try to stop them. For the kingdom of God belongs to such kind of persons.” Jesus’ apostles thought that their Master could not be bothered with children, but how mistaken they were!—Luke 18:16.
Especially if we sense that a brother or sister is lonely or depressed should we make it a point to speak to that one. He may be bearing a burden that we can lighten; our very interest will make him feel better. Yes, “go on carrying the burdens of one another, and thus fulfill the law of the Christ.” “Speak comfortingly to the depressed souls, support the weak.”—Gal. 6:2; 1 Thess. 5:14.
Rich will be the rewards if we heed the Scriptural advice as to our greeting one another. Certainly thereby we cause “many expressions of thanks to God” to arise on the part of those in whom we take interest. They will be made stronger and happier, for the two go together: “The joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.” Further, thereby the unity of the New World society is strengthened, the unity that is so essential now in this divisive world. We will be “harmoniously joined together” as each one “gives what is needed.”—2 Cor. 9:12; Neh. 8:10; Eph. 4:16.
Our own personal reward will be great also, even now. If we ‘do not just look out for our own interests,’ if ‘we keep seeking, not our own advantage, but that of the other person,’ if ‘we keep an eye, not in personal interest on just our own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of others,’ then we will appreciate to the full such promises as these: “The generous soul will itself be made fat, and the one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.” “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” So make it a point to “greet one another.”—1 Cor. 13:5; 10:24; Phil. 2:4; Prov. 11:25; Acts 20:35.