Working What Is Good Toward Those in the Faith
“Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.”—Gal. 6:10.
1. Is the doing of good restricted to the family circle?
THE preceding article deals especially with husbands, their headship responsibilities and the great good that they can bring to their wives, their children and also to themselves through following the guide of the Word of God in the affairs of their families. Only things that are good are suitable and appropriate to a Christian. Persons who profess to be followers of Christ Jesus, the Head and Founder of Christianity, can extend their doing of good beyond the bounds of the family circle. There are many things extending beyond the immediate family that must be considered by Jehovah’s witnesses and that deserve to be put into practice by these Christians.
2. (a) As shown by Galatians chapter 6, how extensive is the opportunity for doing good? (b) For Christians, what is suitable and essential?
2 Particularly does the sixth chapter of Ga the Bible book Galatians show unlimited opportunity for doing good to other persons generally, and especially to those who have the same faith, who are fellow Christians, Jehovah’s witnesses and their associates. This chapter 6 of Galatians deals considerably with the helpful, loving relationship that exists between Christians and the opportunities that this brings for manifesting that which is good. “Good” is, therefore, that which is appropriate and suitable to the Christian faith and, in fact, essential as evidence of one’s actually conforming to the requirements of God’s Word and the example of Christ Jesus.
3. (a) Due to what important fact do servants of Jehovah have special responsibility now? (b) In what way is motive involved?
3 The first six verses 1-6 of Galatians chapter six speak of helping one another in mildness, in humility and by unselfishly sharing. Then beginning with Ga 6 verse seven: “Do not be misled: God is not to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit.” (Gal. 6:7, 8) Christians, therefore, definitely do have opportunities to “sow” by performing good works. These opportunities expand and increase constantly today because a great crowd of persons are receiving of God’s goodwill and are being brought into association with the Christian congregation. To servants of Jehovah this brings much responsibility, including the responsibility of sowing well, because, as we have read, “whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” For works to be truly good they must be done with the right motive, because, as is stated in Ga 6 verse eight, there can be “sowing with a view to his flesh” or “sowing with a view to the spirit.” Sowing with the good, Scriptural objective, the right motive, enables the Christian thereby to “reap everlasting life from the spirit.”
4. (a) How do the times promote doing of good “toward all”? (b) To what further extent does ’working what is good’ go?
4 Events and developments in the religious world today make this of all times the opportune time for sowing good works. This is the favorable time, now when we have association with many fellow Christians. We have opportunities to preach, ‘working what is good toward all’; but especially now, when we are not separated from our brothers but are with them, associated with them, we have the opportunity to aid our fellow Christians. So, “really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” (Gal. 6:10) Christians, then, have the opportunities to sow good by works of preaching; but ‘working what is good’ goes farther than that, as the above text from Galatians states in emphasizing “those related to us in the faith.”
5. State the purpose of mentioning some specific ways in which we can work what is good?
5 Let us notice now some specific ways in which we can work what is good toward those in the faith. Not that we here pretend to mention all the ways in which this can be done. The list here is certainly not complete, but mentioning some of these good works as space permits may aid us all in seeing that the requirement of Galatians 6:10 in respect to “those related to us in the faith” can be met in many ways.
6. Explain the common objective of Jehovah’s witnesses.
6 As Jehovah’s witnesses we are serving with those related to us in the faith, working together with them in the ministry in the interests of the Christian congregation and in the interests of other persons to whom the message of God’s Word is carried by ourselves and our Christian associates. We all have the same objective, namely, to sow with a view to the spirit and faithfully to serve and worship our God Jehovah and to make certain of our hope for life in his righteous new system of things. In the attaining of this objective we help one another, and much of this assistance is by counsel or suggestion that we receive and that we give, all based upon the Word of God and in line with the efforts of his theocratic organization.
WHEN IS COUNSEL BENEFICIAL?
7. (a) When is counsel beneficial? (b) Give obvious examples. (c) This leads to what conclusion about counsel we may give?
7 You have received during your lifetime counsel and suggestions. When did you benefit from them? Was it not when you took the counsel and conformed to it, following the suggestions that were made for your good and improvement? If you did not respond in this manner, obviously the counsel and suggestions would not have benefited you. That is the way the theocratic suggestions and counsel operate too. So from this fact we can see how important it is that, when we are serving with those who are related to us in the faith, we do so responsively and tactfully, so that we will benefit from counsel and suggestions and so that other persons will benefit from those suggestions that they receive from us. Suggestions and counsel are beneficial to one only if such are accepted, and they are not of benefit when they are rejected. Is this not obvious in regard to such counsel as that given in the Theocratic Ministry School, where kindly, loving suggestions are made for the improvement of those speaking from the platform, preparing to qualify for giving public Bible lectures? Suggestions are made, and the improvement comes when the suggestions are taken and followed. Our Kingdom Ministry contains suggestions and counsel. Overseers in congregations give such counsel and suggestions. The Word of God is abundant in good advice. So, then, in our serving with those related to us in the faith, tactfulness will aid us to be effective and helpful with our counsel.
8. 1 Timothy 5:1, 2 gives us what appropriate counsel?
8 Be tactful when counseling or giving suggestions, even though the person to whom such is given may be a mature Christian and, for that reason, should not have to be told. Even though it may seem that “he should know better,” nevertheless, our consideration, courtesy and tactfulness require us to deal lovingly with our brothers in the congregation, just as we would deal lovingly with family members. “Do not severely criticize an older man. To the contrary, entreat him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters with all chasteness.” (1 Tim. 5:1, 2) This is Bible counsel to us so we will have respect for the feelings of our brothers. We need to use tact in our dealings with them so as not to defeat our purpose, which is to do them good, to benefit them and, in the case of counsel and suggestions, to have them receive our counsel and respond to our suggestions. All of this is for their welfare and the advancement of Jehovah’s worship.
9. (a) Why is encouragment often needed? (b) Give an example of ‘comforting and building up.’
9 Should we look for opportunities to offer tactful encouragement to our brothers? Yes, we should. Christians have the privilege to encourage and comfort one another. Encouragement is often needed because discouragement is not uncommon, even among those who are servants of Jehovah God. Our mutual privileges in this respect are pointed out in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore keep comforting one another and building one another up, just as you are in fact doing.” Compliance with this results in personal joy and in more activity for both involved, the one giving and the one receiving comfort and upbuilding help. Continuance in this is admonished. An overseer or other Christian may notice that a brother is depressed and he may make an opportunity to talk with him about it. A private conversation between the depressed Christian and the brother seeking to encourage him might go something like this:
“Brother, I hope that all your family are well and fine in every way. How have you yourself been feeling?”
“I don’t know what’s the matter with me, brother. I am just down and out; I can’t get enthusiastic about anything. I don’t know what I’ve done. I am just beat down. I am just depressed.”
“Well, it’s not unusual to feel upset on occasion and I appreciate your mentioning it to me. To feel bad is not unique. I have felt depressed and despondent myself and if we look in the Scriptures we will find examples there, Peter and Paul to mention two, who felt depressed on occasion, you recall.”
“Yes, I do.”
“So when we feel depressed like that it usually indicates there is a problem and where there is a problem there is a solution. So, have you looked to see what your problem might be?”
“I guess I have not really examined the situation deeply.”
“May I help you examine it?”
“Yes, I would appreciate that.”
“Then, for one thing, is everything going all right here at home?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, how are you and your wife getting along?”
“Oh, fine, good.”
“I know that’s a blessing to you. However, the children—is everything all right there?”
“Yes, very good.”
“All your family are feeling well, then, and are in good health?”
“Our health is good.”
“Is your secular work giving you any difficulty?”
“Well, no more trouble than usual.”
“Oh? What would ‘no more trouble than usual’ be?”
“As you may know, I have secular work that is seasonal and right now is a very peak period and I am working extra hours. I do not find any time to do anything else but just work, work, work! That is all.”
“Many of us are more or less in that situation. So if you feel fatigued from long hours of work, of course this can be a problem. It can wear you down so you would feel depressed, despondent, upset and unnerved. But whatever the problem is, there is a solution, as I mentioned before. You will recall the scripture that is especially encouraging to us when we are despondent and upset. It is Psalm 55:22, advising: ‘Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.’ Now, brother, how could this scripture help you, now that you feel a little blue and depressed?”
“It does mention to throw my burdens upon Jehovah and he will sustain me.”
“All right, and how could you throw burdens upon Him?”
“Right. And he said he would never ‘allow the righteous one to totter.’ Now, what does it mean ‘to totter’?”
“To fall down I guess, or get in a mental state like I seem to be in.”
“What is this mental state in your case?”
“Well, I guess it is simply depressed or discouraged.”
“That is right.”
“Brother, I want you to know that I appreciate the point. I can see that the scripture is really applicable in my case and your calling it to my attention is something I truly do appreciate.”
“I am always benefited very much by that text also. Since it suggests that you throw your burden on him and, as you observed, it can be done in prayer, why do we not ask for Jehovah’s help and express our appreciation and thanks to Jehovah in prayer now?”
“That would be fine.”
And they join in prayer, the visiting brother petitioning Jehovah in behalf of both. In harmony with his prayers, the one with the burdensome problem, which he now sees, must also make real effort to adjust his affairs and change his personal schedule for relief. You can perhaps proceed in a similar way on occasion.
10. Recount an actual experience showing fine results from encouragement given.
10 The actual experience of a congregation in the United States during 1966 is reported, in the words of a member of the anointed remnant:
“Our congregation has enjoyed a 30-percent increase. This has primarily been due to the reactivated who have begun to share again in the harvest work. Encouraging, upbuilding spiritual visits have been put into practice. One brief experience: A sister, inactive for three years, related to the overseer that ‘it is going to be difficult to come back into the truth. I have been away so long. How can I even think of going out in the service or to the meetings?’ She had been caring for her critically ill mother for so long until her death that she, herself, had become spiritually weak and inactive. She was encouraged to feel that she had never really been out of the truth but fulfilling a feature of her ministry so vital to good Christian conduct and love, and that Jehovah had not forgotten her works of love. She was told that brothers in prison could not share in meetings or field service but they weren’t out of the truth. This view of matters helped her tremendously. She is now regular in service and attends meetings. Other enjoyable experiences such as this encourage us to continue showing kindness to our brothers.”
11. Are there good works involving material things?
11 Good works involving material things also result in a spiritual blessing and benefit. This is implied by Galatians 6:10, and it means generously sharing material resources with our brothers. What is demonstrated by generous giving is really love of God, about which there can be no doubt in the light of 1 John 3:13-18, the seventeenth verse of which says: “But whoever has this world’s means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassions upon him, in what way does the love of God remain in him?” Further bearing this out and examining into the motive, 1 Joh 3 verse eighteen says: “Little children, let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth.” Contrasting deeds with words shows that generously sharing is Christianity in practice and not just in theory.
12. (a) To whom can material generosity be shown? (b) On what “days” may Christians give of their material resources? (c) For what are expressions of appreciation appropriate?
12 To whom can this material generosity be shown? To all brothers. Not just needy persons are the recipients of the generous love of their brothers, but all are and should be. Among men in general there is much formal giving, as, for example, during worldly holidays. Here, however, there is often a competitive spirit, a jealous comparing of gifts. Generosity practiced by true Christians waits for no formal occasions. Gifts can be given as a demonstration of one’s appreciation for faithful service at any time and to any deserving ones, as, for instance, to older persons. They need not be confined to expressions of love between husband and wife but can extend to the expression of love to children and by children to their parents who are instructing and training them in living by godly principles. Also, such can extend to a brother whom we are thanking for perhaps doing something for us, some courtesies or favors or benefits theocratically. True Christians do not need “Mother’s Day,” “Father’s Day,” “Christmas Day,” “Easter Day” or other holidays that are outlined by the world because, while it is true that some persons might in all sincerity give on these occasions out of love, when they become Christians they refrain from having their giving marred by association with any holidays of pagan origin. Gifts of love can be expressions of appreciation for many different things, such as faithful service by pioneers, for example. The receiver is blessed and the giver is blessed more greatly. All are benefited, built up in the faith, and all gain, the elderly ones as well as the youthful ones. “Even until old age and grayheadedness, O God, do not leave me, until I may tell about your arm to the generation, to all those who are to come, about your mightiness.” (Ps. 71:18) Generously sharing with our beloved brothers helps draw all together in strong bonds of love.
13. How can personal visits work what is good?
13 In the foregoing paragraphs we observed a likely conversation between a brother who was perhaps paying a visit on another and the one who was being visited, for the purpose of encouragement. In fact, visiting those who are related to us in the faith is one of the means that we can use to work what is good toward the Christian brotherhood. We are encouraged to visit others so by our active interest in them. This is especially true when there is some need for our special attention, such as when one of the family is ill or, as before mentioned, perhaps discouraged. Jesus, in Matthew 25:35-40, utilized this principle in his discussion of the symbolic sheep and symbolic goats, stating: “I was in prison and you came to me.” Our visits to those related to us in the faith can help by our very presence, our loving interest being thereby manifested, also by the encouragement we can give, perhaps practical assistance of helping with the children, doing the housework, providing something to eat and in so many ways giving real assistance with our personal presence. This visiting of brothers should be as a spontaneous expression of mutual love and not just when it is thought to be absolutely necessary for the purpose of fulfilling responsibility. On this basis we do not feel that we must visit a brother only when that person is missing from the meetings or from the service. Rather, our Christian association is something to be cherished and certainly is of great spiritual benefit for the visited and the visitor. “For I am longing to see you, that I may impart some spiritual gift to you in order for you to be made firm; or, rather, that there may be an interchange of encouragement among you, by each one through the other’s faith, both yours and mine.”—Rom. 1:11, 12.
14. Summarize the features of Christian living considered above.
14 We have mentioned some things that we can do as examples of working what is good toward those who are of our faith, things such as tactfully serving with them, encouraging them to continue their good works, sharing materially with our brothers, visiting them for mutual spiritual benefit. In this we will be very blessed by God. This is because the congregation is built up and strengthened by such good works. A stronger bond of unity and of love exists when brothers are tactful, encouraging and generous and when they take time to visit. These things are all part of life and especially are they part of a Christian life, a life of love of God and love of fellowman.
15. Summarize the results of these good things of life.
15 A wonderful result does come with Jehovah’s blessing on such good works. It is a blessing of peace, strength and comfort, which is certainly a point made at Acts 9:31: “Then, indeed, the congregation throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria entered into a period of peace, being built up; and as it walked in the fear of Jehovah and in the comfort of the holy spirit it kept on multiplying.” Peace is built upon righteousness and brings this blessing of Jehovah. Due to it the congregation and all the individuals in it are in a better position to work what is good toward all, toward outsiders. What fine results there are from working what is good toward those in the faith!