Showing Christian Love at Assemblies
“BY THIS all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) Yes, so important is Christian love that Jesus told his followers it would distinguish them as having the true faith. Christians, therefore, want to follow the example Jesus laid down by diligently cultivating this outstanding quality, love.
Love expresses itself in action, by what it does. It goes much beyond expressions made with the mouth. It backs up this oral profession with activity rooted in unselfish consideration for one’s fellowman. Especially is this unselfish activity prominent among those in the Christian faith.
A grand occasion for displaying sincere Christian love is when God’s people gather together each year at large assemblies. Here, dedicated servants of God, together with many newly interested persons, come together to be taught from God’s Word. They are instructed in Christian doctrine and practice, all of which aids them in their advancement toward Christian maturity. Such gatherings are particularly essential in our time, the last days of this wicked system of things. The apostle Paul counseled: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.”—Heb. 10:24, 25.
One of the most important ways to show love at such assemblies is to concentrate on the instruction being given from the platform. This shows love for Jehovah, his organization, and also for other persons in attendance, as they will not be distracted from listening by unnecessary activity. Of course, a few persons may be carrying on essential assembly work, but this too is kept to the absolute minimum. The main purpose of the assembly must be kept in mind at all times and nothing should detract us from it. Note how the Bible shows what this purpose is: “Congregate the people, the men and the women and the little ones and your alien resident who is within your gates, in order that they may listen and in order that they may learn, as they must fear Jehovah your God and take care to carry out all the words of this law.” (Deut. 31:12) When God’s law is being expounded, this is no time to be walking around or visiting. The program deserves our total attention.
Another practical way to show love at assemblies is for us to be considerate regarding the seating arrangement. Seats should be used the same way they are in any Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses. As we would not put songbooks, newspapers or umbrellas on seats to “reserve” them, so we should not make a practice of that at larger assemblies. As you come in, take the seats that are available or those to which the attendants direct you. A considerate person will not reserve seats and so keep others from using them if he is not yet ready to be seated. Of course, parents should sit with their children, and if one of the family is delayed for a short time caring for responsibilities before an assembly session, it is only natural that the other members of the family would want to find a place for him to sit with the rest of them. But that is quite different from having one person go ahead to reserve seats for a group of friends who are not yet ready to be seated themselves.
When a person leaves his seat after a session, it is also showing consideration if he takes his things with him instead of leaving them on the seat to hold it for later in the day. Of course, if an emergency arises and it is necessary for one to leave for a few moments during a session, but that one will be returning right away, this is a different situation. Then, too, at times some seats are roped off to accommodate assembly workers who have duties that keep them until the last minute, and no one minds this; they appreciate the service these brothers are rendering.
Displaying proper conduct at assemblies also involves other matters. How disrespectful it would be to engage in frivolous activities during the sessions when God’s Word is being expounded! A mature Christian is careful not to engage in conduct that detracts from the dignity of the occasion or that distracts others seated about him. In this connection young persons especially should exercise care that they do not become more interested in associating with one another than in what is being said and done on the platform. Showy public displays of affection, persistent talking, laughing or milling about during sessions, and unnecessarily walking in front of others to get in and out of seats manifest a lack of Christian love. “Love . . . does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests.”—1 Cor. 13:4, 5.
Here parents have a heavy responsibility to maintain proper discipline of their young. They should know where their children are at all times, and during sessions the children should be seated with their parents. If other young ones want to come and sit with your family, then this should be properly arranged with the heads of both families. So seating for minor children, including teen-agers, should not be left up to the discretion of the young, nor should they be left alone without adequate supervision, for “foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy.”—Prov. 22:15.
Christian love is also shown by being considerate and patient when in line for food and literature, or at other times. It is loving, too, to be considerate of those in whose homes we stay. Since they have extended hospitality, we lovingly respond by being careful to set a good example, by not staying up long after we return to our rooms, talking loudly or in any other way disturbing the householder.
Appreciate, too, that not all in attendance have the same degree of maturity. Some are there for the first time, others are young or inexperienced. Therefore, the Christian does not expect the same from all and is generous in overlooking the mistakes of others, for “love is long-suffering.”—1 Cor. 13:4.
By showing a keen desire to put into practical use the love we have been cultivating in the local Christian congregation, we will be doing what the apostle John counseled when he said: “Let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18) And how often others notice this love! Note what a New Zealand newspaper, the Challenge of August 30, 1961, stated when reporting on a large assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses: “National newsmen noticed it, landladies noticed it, coach drivers noticed it, and I have noticed it—the high standard of conduct among Witnesses.”
Yes, show Christian love at assemblies, thereby bringing happiness to yourself and others in attendance, and, above all, bringing honor to God’s name!