Tenderly Compassionate—Like Our God
JEHOVAH our God is compassionate beyond compare. In all our troubles and difficulties we can have confidence that his view of his erring human children will be tempered by a warm tenderness that moves him to work out ways for alleviating sorrow and bestowing blessings on them. The basis for such confidence is our knowledge of his dealings in the past, as recorded in the Bible.
Whose compassion, do you suppose, was extended to the disobedient people of Israel, giving them warning after warning by a long line of prophets? Even when that people had reached a low ebb, morally and religiously, it was Jehovah who held forth the promise: “I will show compassion upon them, just as a man shows compassion upon his son who is serving him.”—Mal. 3:17.
God’s only-begotten Son, while on earth in the form of a man, demonstrated this same godly quality of tender compassion. The record of his ministry tells how he felt pity for the crowds “because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:35, 36) His was not a pity that was satisfied by mere oral expression. It was a deep compassion that moved him to cure sick ones, to heal the maimed, to feed the hungry, to give sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. But it did not stop there. He well knew that the urgent need of the people was for them to be shepherded, safely led, and protected against the evil influences of a godless world. So he trained his disciples to be compassionate shepherds.
In order to be effective those shepherds serving under Christ must act as he did and from the same motives. They must learn to be tenderly compassionate, particularly toward those conscious of their spiritual need. And this is all the more true in our day, for now we are living in the most distressing times of all. Multitudes are spiritually blind and lame and deaf and hungry, in dire need of the fine shepherding that Jesus had in mind for them. If you are a follower of Christ, do you see yourself following his example in this respect? Are you also keenly concerned about the crowds that are “skinned and thrown about”? Are you taking hold of such practical means as are at your disposal to alleviate their spiritually impoverished condition?
True, you may feel that you are very limited as to opportunities to put your compassion to work. Perhaps you are able to share personally in the preaching of the Kingdom to people in their homes. It is not always easy, but it does show that your pity for the needy ones is more than just talk. And as to the worldwide field, you can reach out and aid multitudes in faraway places too. How? Just as many Christians are doing and have been doing for many decades. They have recognized that one religious organization amid the many operating around the earth stands out in stark contrast. It is an organization whose sole purpose is to promote the shepherding service that Jesus inaugurated nineteen centuries ago. How is it recognized?
It is a body of men and women scattered throughout the nations of earth working together in the service of God’s kingdom, magnifying the name of their God, the compassionate God, Jehovah. They are united in their worship and they pool their resources in a unique manner to support and maintain the work of aiding humble, sheeplike persons who hunger and thirst for peace and righteousness. They use the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, with its central office in Brooklyn, New York, and its many branch offices around the world, as their instrument for getting this vital work done. Their small contributions are sent to that Society in the confident knowledge that they will be used, not for promotional schemes or to pay high salaries to administrative experts, but for the spread of the life-giving message of truth in printed form and by oral communication.
This body of men and women are well aware that the Society’s offices around the world, in some 90 countries and islands, are manned by people who have the same compassionate outlook, who are unsalaried, who gladly give of their time and energies for the advancement of this shepherding work. All together, these Christians, whether inside or outside the Society’s branch premises, give of their means and of their energies generously, for they all worship the same compassionate God and are desirous of sharing to the extent possible in His work of extending peace and hope to all peoples by means of the good news of the Kingdom.
Long ago, by his prophet Ezekiel, the compassionate God foretold this great work of finding lost “sheep” and caring for them. He declared: “Here I am, I myself, and I will search for my sheep and care for them.” (Ezek. 34:11) Again, by his prophet Jeremiah, God spoke these words that now have fulfillment: “I myself shall collect together the remnant of my sheep out of all the lands . . . And I will raise up over them shepherds who will actually shepherd them; and they will be afraid no more, neither will they be struck with any terror, and none will be missing.”—Jer. 23:3, 4.
For well over a half century now there have been indications of the progress of just such a shepherding work among the peoples of all nations. Thereby vast throngs have received the tender care of the compassionate God. They, in turn, have learned to be “tenderly compassionate,” to be “keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just [their] own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.” (Phil. 2:4; 1 Pet. 3:8) That tender solicitude finds expression in their efforts to bear the message of the Kingdom to the homes of their neighbors, and in their money donations toward the advancement of the same service in every continent.
Little wonder that the service of shepherding by means of the worldwide preaching by Jehovah’s servants continues unhindered by any lack of finances. The blessing of the compassionate God is without doubt on their generous-minded activity. He sees that it is in their hearts to reach out with spiritual help to those in need. He observes how they work cooperatively, using the Watch Tower Society as their instrument, to reach into every corner of the earth. He knows that their gifts and services are not out of compulsion or from some sense of duty, but issue forth from hearts that are touched by the urgent need of those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.
For those who compassionately give of their energies and means for the furtherance of the Kingdom-preaching work, there is rich satisfaction. Not at all a selfish satisfaction, for it is the realization that the grateful recipients of their spiritual help will come to appreciate the deep and tender compassions of our God—truly a satisfying reward in itself.