Make Our Discipleship Known by Brotherly Love
BECAUSE of rioting in a certain Nigerian town a couple fled to Port Harcourt. There the husband, who had recently begun to study the Bible with the witnesses of Jehovah, was able to find shelter among them. His wife, who was very much opposed to the Witnesses, sought in vain to find a haven with the members of her own religion. In the end she was glad to accept the hospitality offered by the Witnesses. Because of this I expression of love, this couple, as well as I the leader of the wife’s erstwhile religious group, have taken their stand for Jehovah and his kingdom.
But is that not the way it should be? It is, for Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:35.a
The Christian Greek Scriptures abound with examples of such love among the early followers of Jesus. It continued for a time after the death of the apostles. Thus historians tell that those Christians considered one another as brothers and were willing even to die for one another.
How can we in this twentieth century show this Christian brotherly love in a practical way? First of all by faithfully attending all the congregational meetings if we are at all able to do so. “Love is long-suffering and kind. . . . It bears all things, believes . . . hopes . . . endures all things.” But how can it do that if a person does not even associate with his brothers? Only by associating with our brothers can we even have the opportunity to show brotherly kindness, as by friendly greetings. When we come together at meetings we can also encourage one another by our comments on the lesson.—1 Cor. 13:4, 7; Heb. 10:23-25.
We can also manifest brotherly love by assisting the weak and inexperienced ones in the ministry. Do not begrudge the time and effort this takes, for, remember, love “does not look for its own interests,” but is willing to inconvenience itself for the sake of helping others.—1 Cor. 13:5.
Still another way of showing brotherly love is by praying for one another. Prayer unites Christians, even as can be seen from the experience Paul had at Ephesus, as well as from his many references in his letters to his praying for others.—Acts 20:36-38; Rom. 1:9-12; Eph. 1:15-19; Phil. 1:3, 4; Col. 1:9-12.
Nor should we overlook the opportunity to show Christian brotherly love by seeking to build one another up at social gatherings. At such times let us take care not to act indecently, and not to rejoice in unrighteousness but to rejoice with the truth. This we can do by means of Bible games and telling of experiences in the ministry, or telling how we became Witnesses.—1 Cor. 13:5, 6.
Brotherly love by which we can make our discipleship known, however, is by no means limited to spiritual assistance. If our brothers are in need of material help because of reverses, sickness, old age or because of the demands that the ministry makes upon their time, let us come to their aid to the extent we are able to do so.—1 John 3:17, 18.
Yes, in all such ways and in other ways too, we can make our discipleship known by brotherly love, by which we can give proof to all that we are indeed Christ’s disciples. The apostle Paul manifested this love by his ministry in person as well as by means of his letters. As he once wrote to Christians who were coming short in this regard: “Our mouth has been opened to you, Corinthians, our heart has widened out. You are not cramped for room within us . . . So, as a recompense in return—I speak as to children—you, too, widen out.” By those words is not Paul implying that love and maturity go hand in hand? So let us show ourselves mature by widening out in our hearts toward our Christian brothers.—2 Cor. 6:11-13.
Truly, “love never fails.” And why does it never fail? Because, as the Shulammite maiden well said: “Love is as strong as death is . . . Its blazings are the blazings of a fire, the flame of Jah. Many waters themselves are not able to extinguish love, nor can rivers themselves wash it away.”—1 Cor. 13:8; Song of Sol. 8:6, 7.
“God is love,” and since he is eternal, love will never end. Being made in his image, we are capable of exercising unselfish love, and only by doing so can we hope to reap life eternal. Brotherly love is something we will always need to exercise, for it is a debt we will never be able to pay in full. But by always paying on this debt we can, during this present wicked system of things, make our discipleship known to unbelievers in a most favorable way.—1 John 4:8; Rom. 13:8.
a For details see The Watchtower, August 15, 1964.