Clothing Ourselves With Love and Wearing It
1. What is the thing with which to clothe ourselves, and when is the greatest test of it to come?
SINCE love is a “perfect bond of union,” it is the all-important quality with which to clothe ourselves unhypocritically. We must wear it constantly in all sincerity. It is no cloak that disguises one’s real self. For our counsel today the inspired words have been preserved: “Let your love be without hypocrisy. . . . In brotherly love have tender affection for one another.” (Romans 12:9, 10) The greatest test of the genuineness of our love, this “bond of union,” is yet to come—in the near future.
2. Is love attainable without anything preliminary?
2 Now, then, is the opportune time for us to cultivate that love. All the steps that lead up to the attainment of that quality must be taken now. That is why the apostle Paul crowns his recommendation of various things that the dedicated, baptized disciples of Jesus Christ needed to do, by saying: “Besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) So what are “these things” besides which we must clothe ourselves with love?
Overcoming Divisive Factors
3. According to Colossians 3:9-13, what are the steps that need to be taken toward the attainment of love?
3 Back there in the days of the apostles Paul and John there were features, or factors, that might have served as grounds for division. But those onetime valid grounds had now to be ignored, devalued as to their importance and weight. The Christians were all one congregation, one corporative unit under the one spiritual Head, Jesus Christ. All fleshly bases for making divisions had to be brushed aside. The unifying spiritual facts had to be kept to the fore. In keeping with this, the apostle Paul proceeded to say: “Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all things and in all. Accordingly, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.”—Colossians 3:9-13.
4. Why was there need to get along with one another in the first-century congregation, and on what basis might certain things have been ignored?
4 With all the above-mentioned differences in national extraction and religious background, social standing, racial and color features, there were difficulties in getting along with one another in the congregation. There was need for understanding and for making allowances with regard to one another. For, though those things may have mattered with fleshly men, they certainly did not matter with God and with his Son Jesus Christ, who died for all mankind at a time when all these differences had grown up and still persisted. Of course, broad-minded men might, out of their own generosity of soul, have overlooked such differences, doing so on general principles. To do so might even have been good policy, no, rather, plain, downright humanity. Yet pure, unselfish love might be lacking.
5. Beyond what things of an ordinary human kind must Jehovah’s Witnesses go when ignoring divisive things, and thus demonstrate that they are in union with whom?
5 For that reason we dedicated, baptized followers of the One who gave his perfect human life in behalf of all sorts of men must go beyond mere formality, agreeableness, niceness, mannerliness, humane feeling; we must be motivated by sincere, disinterested love as a fruit of the spirit of Jehovah God. This fruit seeks the benefit and the gain of others. It is glad to make a contribution to the spiritual well-being and happiness of others. It demonstrates that we are in union with God, who is the embodiment of love. There is a drawing power in this love. In line with this 1 John 4:19 states: “We love, because he first loved us.”
6. By what are the members of the “one flock” attracted to one another, and on what is the fruit of God’s spirit not based?
6 Consequently, when the varied elements that make up the “one flock” under the “one shepherd” express love toward one another, it draws them tightly together and offsets the divisive influence of the various backgrounds of the members of the “one flock.” They are attracted to one another because of having clothed themselves with the “new personality.” They all have the “one spirit” that emanates from the one divine Source, the God and Life-Giver of all. The heartwarming fruit of his spirit is a love, not based on sex or selfish lustful desire, but based on the heartfelt appreciation of the godlike qualities of the “new personality.” It alone functions as a “perfect bond of union,” preserving harmony and cooperativeness.
United for a Special Work
7. Since 1914 there is need for what on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and this in behalf of what work?
7 At this late date in “the conclusion of the system of things” since 1914, there is need for concerted action on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are no part of this system of things. It is incumbent upon them to give a worldwide witness to the most important development in all human history. (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10) The situation must take on the outstanding feature that the apostle Paul mentions as notable in his day. Calling attention to this at Colossians 1:23, he said: “The hope of that good news which you heard, and which was preached in all creation that is under heaven. Of this good news I Paul became a minister.” And now, all you ministers of the good news today, what about a similar creation-wide preaching of the good news that has been reserved for our own crucial time?
8. We today see the carrying out of what vision portrayed by John in Revelation 14:6-12?
8 We today see the carrying out of the fulfillment of the vision that was given to the apostle John, which he described in Revelation 14:6-12 in these words: “And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.’ And another, a second angel, followed, saying: ‘She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen, she who made all the nations drink of the wine of the anger of her fornication!’ And another angel, a third, followed them, saying in a loud voice: ‘If anyone worships the wild beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he will also drink of the wine of the anger of God that is poured out undiluted into the cup of his wrath, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever, and day and night they have no rest, those who worship the wild beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name. Here is where it means endurance for the holy ones, those who observe the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’”
9. When was it that Jehovah’s Witnesses saw the carrying out of the vision of the apostle John, and why were they now free to tell the good news everywhere?
9 Has the anointed remnant that was pictured by the apostle John seen the modern-day equivalent of that angel flying in midheaven with “everlasting good news” that was to be declared to all earth’s inhabitants, yes, to every nation, tribe, language and people of whatever color? Yes, from the summer of the postwar year of 1919 onward. Then it was that the mandatory prophecy of Jesus at Matthew 24:14 began to be carried out. Did the surviving remnant then have “everlasting good news” to declare in all creation that is under heaven? Yes, indeed! There were the glad tidings for them to tell about the establishment of God’s Kingdom by Christ in the heavens as having taken place at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. And, oh, what thrilling good news it was to the remnant of spiritual Israelites to be informed by postwar developments that the oppressor of them in particular, namely, Babylon the Great, had fallen, losing its power over Jehovah’s Witnesses! They were now free to proclaim this major item of good news to all peoples in religious bondage, to tell them to get out of Babylon the Great and to help them do so.—Revelation 18:4.
10. With what have those who have got out of Babylon the Great associated themselves, and into what bond of union have they come?
10 Already a “great crowd” of freedom lovers have responded to the “everlasting good news” and have acted upon the timely call to get out of the Babylonish worldwide empire of false religion. They have flocked to the side of the liberated remnant of spiritual Israelites. Thus they have associated themselves with Jehovah’s visible organization and have themselves become Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have come within that “perfect bond of union,” the love that is a fruit of the spirit of Jehovah God.—Colossians 3:14; Galatians 5:22.
11. The love practiced by Christendom has been for whom, and when will Jehovah’s Witnesses exultantly take up the words of Revelation 19:1, 2?
11 The dominant part of Babylon the Great is the so-called Christendom. Despite her name she does not practice true Christianity, and her hundreds of millions of members are not held together by the “perfect bond of union,” as witness her disunity in the form of many hundreds of religious sects and denominations. The love with which Christendom has clothed herself is the love for the paramours of Babylon the Great, the political and social elements of this world, with whom she has committed religious fornication. Great indeed will be the joy when, not just the fall, but the utter destruction of Babylon the Great, including Christendom, takes place at God’s time for settling accounts with her. Then his witnesses will exultantly take up the words of Revelation 19:1, 2: “Praise Jah, you people! The salvation and the glory and the power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous. For he has executed judgment upon the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged the blood of his slaves at her hand.” Her destruction as by fire will be endless, “forever.”—Revelation 19:3.
12. Till Babylon the Great’s destruction the situation calls for Jehovah’s Witnesses to exercise what quality, and what kind of front must they present against the foes of the light?
12 In the meantime, during the continued existence of Babylon the Great by Jehovah’s permission, the earthly situation of those “who observe the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” obliges them to exercise “endurance.” (Revelation 14:12) They have reason to apply to themselves Jesus’ words in his prophecy on “the conclusion of the system of things,” at Matthew 24:13, namely: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” Those words followed immediately on Jesus’ preceding statement: “Because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off.” (Matthew 24:12) Love on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses will enable them to endure to the end of this old system of things. The more that they exercise love among themselves and toward those seeking to come into relationship with Jehovah God the stronger that “perfect bond of union” becomes. So onward, you witnesses of Jehovah, with the worldwide witnessing to the Kingdom in the 205 lands in which you are already working, with other lands in view into which to expand! It is the time to present a united front to the enemy. We must close ranks and unitedly battle against the forces of the darkness of this world.
13. What agency used by God merits our continued loyal support?
13 For nearly a century now the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., has been a unifying agency that Jehovah has used in behalf of his witnesses. It has been a mighty instrument that the “faithful and discreet slave” class has used to give Jehovah’s Witnesses their spiritual “food at the proper time.” (Matthew 24:45-47) Jehovah’s blessing is manifestly upon it with its 95 branch organizations throughout the earth. It continues to merit our loyal support and cooperation for as long as Jehovah God is pleased to use it. How indebted we are to that instrument!
Keep United by Love
14. What kind of clothing should we keep wearing, and so by what quality must Jehovah’s people show that they are his witnesses?
14 Satan the Devil and his hostile world will keep on trying to break up our ranks, but the love that is the dominant fruit of God’s spirit will continue to prove its perfection as a “bond of union.” In putting on the “new personality,” we clothe ourselves with love, as the apostle Paul told us to do, and we must wear it continually as a part of our personality that bears the image of God. When giving final instructions to his disciples, the Son of God said: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:34, 35) How appropriate those words were from the Son of God, for his heavenly Father, Jehovah, is love personified, and we must make known to all mankind that we are truly His witnesses by cultivating the fruit of His spirit, which is love!
15. In expression of their love for God, whom also must Jehovah’s Witnesses love?
15 To be consistent with our love for Jehovah, we must love our fellow witnesses. In verification of this, 1 John 4:20, 21 reminds us: “If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should be loving his brother also.”
16. Why can Jehovah’s Witnesses not keep from loving one another, and why will love never be stamped out of the earth?
16 In exemplification of that principle, Jehovah’s Witnesses of today, regardless of whether they belong to the spirit-begotten joint heirs of the King Jesus Christ or they belong to the “great crowd” of the “other sheep” with their earthly Paradise hope, sincerely love one another. How could we keep from loving those who are lovers of Jehovah God and his beloved Son Jesus Christ? We do love them and by this we are bound together with that “perfect bond of union.” Despite all that Satan the Devil and his wicked world may strive to do to destroy this fruit of Jehovah’s spirit, love will never be stamped out of the earth. Those who keep clothed with love down to the destruction of this devilish system of things will be protected by their loyal God through the “great tribulation” such as this earth has never yet experienced. (Matthew 24:21; Galatians 5:22) In this way only lovers of God and of his family, his organization, will survive and enter into the cleansed earth that is to be transformed into a glorious Paradise. That Paradise will never be wiped out but will evermore be inhabited and beautified by human personifications of love. Love will gain an eternal triumph to the glory of the divine Source of love, Jehovah God.
Did You Note?
□ Why could first-century Christians get along despite being from different backgrounds?
□ How does love affect the two groups making up the “one flock” of Christians today?
□ How is Revelation 14:6-12 being carried out today?
□ What agency has God used in aiding his people?
□ In the light of Colossians 3:14, what must you be determined to do?
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Under angelic direction . . .
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. . . Jehovah’s Witnesses today have “everlasting good news to declare”