Showing Love for One Another at Assemblies
CHRISTIAN assemblies are a grand source of spiritual uplift and encouragement in these difficult “last days.” Not only do they enhance our understanding of God’s Word, but they also provide an opportunity for Jehovah’s servants to build up one another by showing Christian love.—Heb. 10:24, 25.
Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) Love, unselfish consideration for others, is essential in operating the assemblies of God’s people. Out of love Jehovah’s servants freely give of their time and energy to prepare the program, provide facilities for feeding and housing, and do much other volunteer work.
This does not mean that only those who perform such volunteer service show love at assemblies. All need to show Christian love, especially when the number attending is larger than anticipated.
While the Watch Tower Society works to arrange assemblies so that all are comfortably accommodated, at times more persons come to a particular assembly than expected, and we are glad that they come. But the facilities at that particular assembly may be heavily taxed.
In such a situation, how would you expect persons to conduct themselves? Well, at a sports event at the same stadium attended by persons not guided by Bible principles, you would not expect much consideration, kindness or patience to be shown. Such crowds usually have the worldly attitude: ME FIRST. But at an assembly of Jehovah’s servants the principle prevailing is that “love . . . does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests.”—1 Cor. 13:4, 5.
CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS
One way to determine how best to show this love in various circumstances at assemblies is to ask ourselves: “What would Jesus have done if he had been in this situation?” You know that he would have done the kind thing, the unselfish thing, the right thing. For instance, if others were waiting in line at a food or literature counter, would he have used the worldly tactic of crowding in front instead of patiently waiting his turn? Rather than do that, Jesus would likely have waited patiently, perhaps even offering his place to someone in need of extra consideration.
Occasionally we may see a person who does not display mature Christian love in such situations. But it is good to appreciate that not all who attend Christian assemblies are mature Christians. Some may have known of Jehovah’s laws and principles for only a short time. Others may be interested persons attending their first assembly. Then there are children who, lacking experience in life, do not always show the same degree of Christian love as one would expect from adult servants of Jehovah. Yet, we want all these persons to attend, for that is where they will further their Christian growth. It is up to those who have made advancement in Christian love to set a fine example, taking the lead in showing it to others. Will you do that?
Christian love can also be displayed in regard to keeping the assembly grounds clean. At a worldly sports event, persons who have no love for Jehovah or their fellowman will often be seen dropping empty paper cups, food wrappers, napkins, and other items on the floor. The quantity of trash left after such events is fantastic!
But at a Christian assembly, what would you expect? You would expect those who are mature to find a receptacle for items that are to be thrown away. Also, you would admire and seek to imitate the example of those who, after the day’s sessions, look under their seats to see if there is any trash there, even though they may not have dropped it, and who then pick it up and dispose of it properly. This is a loving thing to do. How much it is appreciated by those who have volunteered to clean! It enables them to complete their work more quickly and join their friends and families.
Another way to show love is by having a balanced view of the seating arrangements. It is often observed that persons save seats for others at assemblies, and some feel that this should never be permitted. But would this prove practical?
For instance, a married woman may sit down with her children. Her husband who has offered himself in volunteer service plans to join his family as soon as possible after the session begins. Also during intermissions one of the children may need to go to the toilet. The mother may send him with one of the older children. Would it be wrong for the wife to hold those three seats when that family is showing great love by contributing the husband to work at the assembly?
Or perhaps a husband and wife may be seen holding two seats before the session begins. They may be for their son and daughter-in-law who serve Jehovah full time in an assignment distant from the parents’ home and who perhaps also are sharing in volunteer service at the assembly. The family may have arranged ahead of time to sit together so they could have more time with one another. Is it wrong for these parents who have given their sons and daughters in special service to Jehovah to want to sit with them during the assembly?
Then there may be interested persons present for the first time, and kindly Witnesses may have arranged to sit with them to put them at ease, but these persons may be a little late in getting to their seats. Would it not actually be the loving thing for the Christian brother or sister to hold the seats for these newly interested ones, at least for a little while?
Of course, such examples are quite different from saving entire blocks of seats merely to have some available for anyone that one knows who may happen to come that way. Seats should be held only for those who are definitely coming to join one.
However, if after a reasonable length of time the one for whom the seat was being held does not come, then what? The loving thing to do would be to tell the attendant that the seat is available so he can direct someone else to it. Also, for some sessions, such as the public talk, an announcement may be made that no seats should be saved after a certain time so that all can be accommodated before the session begins.
In the matter of seating, it is also good to keep in mind that it is an evidence of Christian love when we show consideration for persons we may never have met before, whether our own Christian brothers and sisters or persons attending for the first time. How it warms the hearts of everyone when a person comfortably seated spontaneously offers his seat to someone who is elderly, a mother with a babe in arms or an individual who is apparently not very strong! If you are alert, you will doubtless be able to share in the happiness that comes from showing such loving concern.
The display of Christian love on the part of Jehovah’s servants in all aspects of assemblies is certainly noticed by others. As a city official said after attending last year’s Kansas City, Missouri, assembly for just one hour: “I know you are God’s people.” But, then, did not Jesus say: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves”? Yes, that will often be the result when we show Christian love to one another at assemblies.