Widening Out in Our Love for Mankind
1. As shown by Jesus Christ, what is involved in being complete in showing love for fellowmen?
ARE you widening out in expressing love for fellow humans? Are you making progress in being complete in your love? This involves more than being kind and generous to people who are favorably inclined toward you. Jesus Christ said: “If you love those loving you, of what credit is it to you? For even the sinners [people of bad repute] love those loving them. And if you do good to those doing good to you, really of what credit is it to you? Even the sinners do the same. Also, if you lend without interest to those from whom you hope to receive, of what credit is it to you? Even sinners lend without interest to sinners that they may get back as much. To the contrary, continue to love your enemies and to do good and to lend without interest, not hoping for anything back; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked.”—Luke 6:32-35.
2. How has Jehovah demonstrated kindness and love toward even the unthankful and wicked?
2 Consider how Jehovah God has been kind to the unthankful and wicked. They benefit from the cycles that he has put into operation to make life on earth possible. He does not deprive them of the things vital for their existence—air, sunshine and rain. “He himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things.” (Acts 17:25) “He makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.”—Matt. 5:45.
3. What do Jehovah’s past activities reveal about this ability to withhold sunshine and rain?
3 By choice, Jehovah God is kind and generous. As Creator, he has full control of all things vital for life and can withhold his gifts in a selective way. This is clear from his past activities. In the time of Moses he withheld sunshine from the Egyptians for three days, but during the same period provided light for the Israelites. (Ex. 10:23) Centuries later, when the Israelites were unfaithful to him, Jehovah exercised control of the rainfall. Through his prophet Amos, he reminded them: “As for me, I also withheld from you people the downpour when there were yet three months to the harvest; and I made it rain on one city, but on another city I would not make it rain. There was one tract of land that would be rained on, but a tract of land on which I would not make it rain would be dried up.”—Amos 4:7.
4. (a) Why has Jehovah God not deprived the unthankful and wicked of life’s necessities? (b) How has Jehovah gone far beyond providing necessities in expressing love?
4 But why has Jehovah God not deprived the wicked of sunshine and rain when he could do so? Why has he been kind and loving even to those having no appreciation for his gifts? He has done this to give them opportunity to change, to choose to serve him. In fact, he has gone far beyond allowing them to receive the necessities of life. He made provision for them and all others of mankind to be freed from sin and death. This he did at great cost to himself, sacrificing his only-begotten Son. (John 3:16) “God,” says the Bible, “recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) This act of love laid a legal basis for redeeming humankind from the enslavement to sin that became their lot when Adam forfeited perfect human life for himself and his unborn offspring.
5. To whom does the human race belong, and why?
5 The ransom price was Jesus Christ’s perfect human life. It being his life that was the price, Jesus shares ownership of the human race with Jehovah God, the originator of the arrangement. That is why the Scriptures speak both of God and of Christ as doing the purchasing. We read of the “congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28) And of Jesus Christ, Revelation 5:9 declares: “With your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” That not just the members of the congregation of God are among the bought ones is clear from 1 Timothy 2:6, where Jesus is referred to as giving himself a “corresponding ransom for all.” Is your love for fellow humans continuing to widen out because of your appreciating that all humans are really the property of God and of Christ?
6. How does God value life?
6 Jehovah God considers life as something highly valuable. He does not want those whom he bought with the precious blood of his Son to perish. It is his desire that people everywhere, regardless of their station in life, learn the truth, accept his provision and gain life. (1 Tim. 2:1-4) “He does not desire any to be destroyed,” wrote the apostle Peter, “but desires all to attain to repentance.”—2 Pet. 3:9.
IMITATING GOD’S EXAMPLE
7, 8. What might we ask ourselves in considering whether we reflect God’s attitude toward humankind?
7 In your relationship with others, do you reflect God’s attitude toward humankind? Jehovah God loathes wickedness, but he loves humans as his property and wants only the best for them. Do you treat people as God’s property, wanting them to share in the blessings he has in store for those respecting his ownership rights? If we share God’s view of mankind, there should be evidence that we are working hard to be kind, generous and loving.
8 In examining this matter further, you might ask yourself: When I am in control of my time, assets and abilities, do I use these almost exclusively to benefit myself, my family and my friends? Or, do I think about what I can do for those in unfortunate circumstances or those who might be lonely, even if their personality does not especially appeal to me? Do I make others feel that they are appreciated? Am I inclined to give of myself in behalf of others with no thought of getting anything in return from them? How do I react when someone who has been very unkind to me comes into great physical need? Do I pity him? Do I try to help the person? Would I be willing to aid him or her with household duties—preparing meals, doing shopping, washing clothes, cleaning the home? Would I be willing to lend him money even if I knew that his financial circumstances were so desperate that he might never be able to repay me?—Compare Exodus 23:4, 5.
9. As pointed out by Jesus Christ at Luke 14:12-14, of what can we be certain when we imitate God’s example of generosity?
9 When your generosity, kindness and love go beyond what is expected and include the unfortunate as well as those who may not have treated you well, you are imitating Jehovah God. You are widening out in your love for your fellowmen. You are acting in harmony with the fact that they have been bought by God and Christ. You can, therefore, be certain that God will reward you. Jesus Christ called attention to this, saying: “When you spread a dinner or evening meal, do not [exclusively, as a usual practice] call your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors. Perhaps sometime they might also invite you in return and it would become a repayment to you. But when you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.”—Luke 14:12-14.
10. What good effect can kindness have on an unkind, unloving person?
10 Furthermore, dealing kindly and lovingly toward those manifesting an unkind and unloving spirit can cause them to realize the need to recognize God’s ownership of them. Note what Romans 12:20 says about this: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals upon his head.” As fire melts iron, your kindness may soften his hard attitude toward you, cause him to feel ashamed, to regret the way he has treated you and move him to change his ways. It can open his eyes to what real Christianity is and prompt him to begin taking steps to share with you in true worship.
11. What determines whether one is complete in one’s expression of love, generosity and kindness?
11 Of course, the extent to which we as individuals can do good for others is limited by circumstances. There may be physical and/or financial limitations. So no one needs to feel discouraged because he cannot do as much as someone else. The determining factor of our being complete in expressions of love, generosity and kindness is not quantity. It is a matter of having a dominant spirit of generosity, kindness and love, using to the full our abilities and assets to be a source of encouragement and blessing to others.
12. Is a Christian’s main responsibility toward the world of mankind alienated from God?
12 As Christians we have prior obligations to our families and fellow believers. The Scriptures say: “If anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” (1 Tim. 5:8) “Let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” (Gal. 6:10) So, then, it would be wrong to neglect family members and fellow believers while trying to help others of the world of mankind. Our dealings with those related to us in a fleshly and a spiritual sense should be outstanding in reflecting kindness, love and active concern for their welfare.
13. When would withholding material things from a person be an expression of love for him?
13 There are times, however, when expressions of generosity would not help the recipients. Some people, occasionally even fellow Christians, show themselves to be irresponsible, lazy and unwilling to accept work even when jobs that they would be able to handle are available. Were they to receive material aid, they would not be encouraged to adjust their wrong view of work. In their case the Bible’s injunction at 2 Thessalonians 3:10 would apply: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.” Also, Christians rightly refuse to aid those who would use what is given to them for activities and habits that are divinely condemned. Withholding certain things from a person can actually be an expression of love and concern for him when it serves to impress upon his mind and heart the need to change and not to misuse assets that others worked hard to acquire.
THE VITAL WORK OF KINGDOM-PREACHING AND DISCIPLE-MAKING
14. Why is the giving of spiritual aid especially urgent today?
14 Of greater importance than material giving is the help Christians can render in a spiritual way. Especially now is this an urgent matter—one involving life and death. How so? Bible prophecy and the physical facts in fulfillment thereof prove that since 1914 C.E. the generation now living is in the “time of the end.” (Matt. 24:3-14, 32-34; Luke 21:25, 26; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Rev. 6:2-8)a This means that all who are not servants of Jehovah God as devoted disciples of his Son stand in danger of losing their lives.
15. In what way does the situation of people today differ from that of those who faced execution during certain earlier divine judgments?
15 People everywhere need to be made aware of this danger. Their situation is different from that of persons who faced execution during certain earlier divine judgments. For example, the thousands who perished when Jehovah God used the Babylonians to execute judgment upon unfaithful Judah and Jerusalem would have died eventually anyway. Their death did not mean total annihilation. But the judgment expressed against those who refuse to know God and obey the “good news” about Jesus Christ in this generation is final. The Bible tells us: “These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength.” (2 Thess. 1:9) “These will depart into everlasting cutting-off.” (Matt. 25:46) And survivors of the destruction will not live just a few years longer and die. No, before them is the prospect of everlasting life, free from sickness, sorrow and pain.—Rev. 7:14-17; 21:3-5.
16. What did Jehovah God do before executing his judgment upon unfaithful Judah and Jerusalem in the time of Ezekiel?
16 Considering what is at stake, do not Jehovah’s Christian witnesses today have reason to put forth their best efforts to reach people with the lifesaving message from God’s Word? Their doing so would show proper regard for God’s desire that all men repent and live in harmony with accurate knowledge. Before Jehovah God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and devastate the land of Judah he had warning given. He considered the few additional years of life to be enjoyed by those heeding the warning as precious. He wanted to spare as many as possible from experiencing a horrible death as a result of war or its effects. He therefore placed a weighty responsibility upon his prophet Ezekiel, saying: “A watchman is what I have made you to the house of Israel, and you must hear from my mouth speech and you must warn them from me. When I say to someone wicked, ‘You will positively die,’ and you do not actually warn him and speak in order to warn the wicked one from his wicked way to preserve him alive, he being wicked, in his error he will die. but his blood I shall ask back from your own hand. But as for you, in case you have warned someone wicked and he does not actually turn back from his wickedness and from his wicked way, he himself for his error will die; but as for you, you will have delivered your own soul.”—Ezek. 3:17-19.
17. What should Ezekiel’s commission help us to appreciate about our commission to preach and make disciples?
17 In view of the far greater danger in which humans are today, should we think that our responsibility for the lives of people is less than Ezekiel’s? Surely not! The commission to preach and make disciples given by Jesus Christ over nineteen centuries ago was to continue in force “until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) Do you keenly sense your responsibility in carrying out this commission?
18. Why will God’s purpose to have the warning sounded not fail due to the unfaithfulness of individuals?
18 Does this mean that people would perish everlastingly were you to fail as an individual? No, for the work is not man’s but God’s. He is opening the hearts of individuals, and it is our grand privilege to be his “fellow workers.” (Acts 16:14; 1 Cor. 3:9) To sound the warning, Jehovah God could cause the ‘stones to cry out.’ (Luke 19:40) So while individuals may fail, nothing will prevent God’s purpose from being carried out to reach people to the extent he desires before the destruction of the present system of things. And Jehovah’s Christian witnesses as a body will not fail to sound the warning. Their love for him and fellowmen is strong enough to move them to do their best in aiding people to find the way of salvation before it is too late. They are willing to arrange their personal affairs, even adjust their circumstances, to accomplish this. No, the stones will not have to cry out.
19. Why will unfaithful ones not be free from bloodguilt?
19 But this will not free from bloodguilt individuals who fail to show real love and concern for fellowmen. To illustrate, if a father neglected his child so that it came into a perilous situation, he would not be without guilt even if someone else rescued the child from death. Similarly, one professing to be a servant of Jehovah but failing in his duty toward others would not be guiltless. His loveless, unconcerned attitude would be tantamount to murder. He would not be able to excuse himself on the basis that he did some preaching, for Jehovah God would know the degree of negligence and would pass judgment accordingly.—Rom. 14:12.
20. Why is this no time for token service? Illustrate.
20 Now is no time for anyone to try to get by with mere token service or to involve himself with cares of life or business ventures to such an extent that he has no time for people. The greatest lifesaving work in the history of mankind is rapidly drawing to a close. Is it not right, therefore, for us to make sacrifices, to forgo personal pleasures and desires? Is that not what people do during times of disaster? They do not allow the clock to govern their rescue work but continue putting forth their best efforts as long as there is a need and they have a reasonable measure of strength.
21. What questions might be asked about the way we feel toward Kingdom-preaching?
21 Is that the way you feel about the vital work of Kingdom-preaching? As you call on people at their homes, does your heart move you to keep on as long as you reasonably can, without losing sight of the need for rest and refreshment as well as fulfilling your other Scriptural obligations? Or, do you look forward to quitting and perhaps engaging in some form of recreation or diversion? At other times, do you make use of opportunities—in school, at work or in other daily contacts—to talk to people about the truth? Are you really concerned about getting the Bible’s message to relatives and acquaintances? Are you also alert to discern when it is better to let fine conduct rather than the spoken word give a witness?
22. What is involved in making disciples?
22 Be it also remembered that the commission Jesus Christ gave is not just a matter of preaching or declaring God’s truth. People need to be taught to become his disciples. Do you make a reasonable effort to revisit those manifesting some interest and try to start home Bible studies with them? People need to know, not only what the Bible says, but also how they can live in harmony with it. Because he had done his utmost in teaching the truth, the apostle Paul could say: “I am clean from the blood of all men, for I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26, 27) Do you, like Paul, make certain that your teaching is not defective in vital areas and that those whom you teach understand God’s requirements fully? Surely we would not want to contribute toward someone’s wrongdoing by holding back information he needs to know.
23. Using 2 Corinthians 3:2, 3, show the attitude one should have toward those being taught and the good effect of proper teaching.
23 Important, too, are deep concern and love for those whom we teach. Of himself and his fellow workers, the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “You yourselves are our letter, inscribed on our hearts and known and being read by all mankind. For you are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers, inscribed not with ink but with spirit of a living God, not on stone tablets, but on fleshly tablets, on hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:2, 3) When we have deep love and concern for those whom we teach, the taught ones will be like ‘letters’ inscribed on our hearts. As we rely on the help of God’s spirit and do our utmost within the limits of our capabilities, responsive ones will become like letters of Christ, inscribed by God’s spirit on hearts. Yes, the effect of God’s spirit on their hearts will move them to display a Christian personality, which observers can see or “read.” Are you exerting yourself vigorously as God’s ‘fellow worker’ in efforts to produce such ‘letters’?
24. What effect might thinking seriously about our activity as servants of Jehovah have on us?
24 As you think about your activity as a servant of Jehovah God, you can doubtless recall many joys. True, you may wish you could do more and you may see areas wherein you could improve. You may even feel bad at times because you cannot definitely point to any living ‘letters.’ But if you have exerted yourself in efforts to fulfill the Christian commission to preach and to teach, you can rest assured that Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are pleased with your devoted service. It is only natural to sense more keenly our responsibilities toward others now than we did when we were spiritual “babes.” This is good. If, on the other hand, some among us have been somewhat selfish, they should think seriously about widening out in being complete in showing kindness, generosity and love for fellow humans. Oh, may the day of divine vengeance find us deserving of protection because we have acted in harmony with the love that Jehovah God and Jesus Christ have for mankind!
a For details establishing the period from 1914 C.E. onward as the “last days” of this system, see the book True Peace and Security—From What Source?, pages 73-89.
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Just as Ezekiel delivered God’s warning before Jerusalem’s destruction, so Jesus’ disciples have the responsibility to warn people of the far greater danger that humans face today