Showing Appreciation for the Two Greatest Expressions of Love
“As for us, we love, because he first loved us.”—1 JOHN 4:19.
1. What example did Jesus set for us?
HOW can we best show our appreciation for the great love that Jehovah God and Jesus Christ have expressed toward us? A primary way is by imitating Jesus, who tirelessly witnessed to his Father’s name and Kingdom. (1 Peter 2:21) He did so in homes, in synagogues, in the temple, on mountainsides, and at the seashore. Let us consider nine distinct ways that may be open to us.
The House-to-House Activity
2. How can you persevere in the house-to-house work?
2 The first, and perhaps most distinctive, way in which we can show our love and appreciation is by going from house to house with the good news of God’s Kingdom. Doing so requires real freeness of speech because it continually involves direct confrontation with others, many of whom will view us as a bother. It takes genuine love for God and for neighbor to keep going from door to door, though we may meet up with indifference, annoyance, contempt, or direct opposition.—Compare Ezekiel 3:7-9.
3. What Scriptural basis do you have for the house-to-house activity?
3 The Gospel record of Jesus’ instructions to his 12 apostles, and later to the 70 evangelists, clearly indicates that they were to go from house to house preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 10:5-14; Luke 10:1-7) At Acts 20:20 Paul tells of his going from house to house. Those words have been applied to his making shepherding calls, but Ac 20 verse 21 leaves no doubt as to the activity meant, for Paul adds: “I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks”—not to Christian brothers and sisters—“about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” When making shepherding calls, an elder usually does not urge ‘repentance toward God and faith in Jesus.’ Rather, he encourages fellow Christians to have increased appreciation of meetings or the ministry, or he helps them with personal problems.
4. What encourages us to share in preaching from house to house?
4 Not only is there sound Scriptural basis for our going from house to house but the fruits of that activity show that Jehovah’s blessing is upon it. Yes, “wisdom is proved righteous by its works.” (Matthew 11:19) Frequently, those going from house to house have seen evidence of angelic direction that leads them to those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness. The householder has said that he or she had been praying for help and that the Witness’ visit answered that prayer.
5. What fine aid do we have for our house-to-house ministry, and in what various ways can it help us?
5 What great help for the field service we have in the book Reasoning From the Scriptures! It contains many appealing introductions for Bible discussions as well as useful information on numerous Scriptural or religious subjects. So not only carry it but keep referring to it. The pioneers in particular have expressed great appreciation for this valuable field-service aid. Could you manifest your appreciation for God’s love by using this book more fully and more effectively?
6. We stand to gain what personal benefit by going from house to house with the Kingdom message?
6 We should not overlook the fact that we personally stand to benefit greatly by sharing in the house-to-house ministry. As we Christians act on our faith, it becomes more firm; as we speak with conviction, it is strengthened. We cannot tell others about our hope without our own hope becoming brighter. There is nothing like participating regularly in the house-to-house ministry for cultivating the fruits of the spirit mentioned at Galatians 5:22, 23. It simply has to be that way, for the Bible assures us: “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”—Proverbs 11:25, New International Version.
Making Return Visits
7, 8. For what logical and practical reasons should we make return visits?
7 A second way for us to respond to the love that God and Christ have shown us is by making return visits on persons who previously evinced an interest in the Kingdom message. Paul and Barnabas were concerned about those to whom they had preached. (Acts 15:36) In fact, consistency requires that we make return visits. While witnessing from door to door, informally, or on the streets, we are looking for those “conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matthew 5:3) Obviously, giving them, as it were, one glass of spiritual water or one piece of spiritual bread is by no means enough. For them to get on the road to life, they need more help.
8 Our first efforts might be likened to planting seeds of truth. But as the apostle Paul indicated at 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7, more is needed. It was not enough that he planted. The seeds also required water, such as Apollos supplied. Then it could be expected that God would make it grow. This feature of the work is neglected by some, and yet many consider it to be really the easiest feature of the Christian ministry. Why? Because the people we call on have already shown some interest.
Conducting Home Bible Studies
9. Why should conducting a home Bible study be your goal?
9 When return visits are made regularly on persons who have shown an interest in the Kingdom message, the result often is a home Bible study—a third way in which we can show our appreciation. It really can be the most enjoyable and most rewarding feature of our ministry. Why? Well, what a joy it is to see people grow in knowledge and appreciation of Bible truths, to see them make changes in their lives, and to assist them until they dedicate themselves to do God’s will and get baptized! Such ones can truly be viewed as our spiritual children and we as their spiritual parents.—Compare 1 Corinthians 4:14, 15; 1 Peter 5:13.
10. What typical example shows the value of conducting home Bible studies?
10 Consider a typical example. A missionary going from house to house in a Caribbean island met a hippie couple whose home was anything but neat and orderly. Yet they expressed interest. A Bible study aid was placed, and a home Bible study was started with the couple, who were not married although they had several children. As the study progressed, the home began to look more presentable and so did the couple and their children. Before long the couple asked the missionary to marry them, opening the way to their getting baptized. Then one day the new brother happily displayed his auto driver’s license, the first he had ever obtained. Yes, before he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he had not seen the need to get either a marriage license or a driver’s license, but now he was obeying both God’s laws and those of caesar.
11, 12. (a) We have what Scriptural encouragement to share in street witnessing? (b) What reasons are there for our doing so?
11 A fourth way in which we can show our appreciation for what God and Christ have done for us is by street witnessing. When we take part, we are helping to fulfill Proverbs 1:20, 21 in a somewhat literal way: “True wisdom itself keeps crying aloud in the very street. In the public squares it keeps giving forth its voice. At the upper end of the noisy streets it calls out.”
12 There are ever so many good reasons for us to share regularly in this feature of Kingdom preaching. In many areas, it is more and more difficult to find people at home. They are either sharing in some form of recreation, shopping, or working. Also, many people live in exclusive apartment buildings or condominiums, not to mention those living in hotels. But usually there are people to be seen on the streets.
13. Street witnessing can have what results? Illustrate.
13 An elder in the United States currently conducts four home Bible studies with individuals whom he first contacted in the street witnessing activity. Of course, he does not simply stand mute (although in some lands that is all that the law permits). Rather, with a friendly smile and cheerful voice, he approaches people who are standing, waiting for a bus, or walking along leisurely. His ‘utterances are with graciousness, seasoned with salt,’ and he uses discernment as to how to approach each one. (Colossians 4:5, 6; 1 Peter 3:15) Not only has he obtained home Bible studies by such street witnessing but he is also very successful in placing literature with many. Yes, by being neatly groomed and having a friendly smile together with freeness of speech, you can be very effective in street witnessing. In fact, five Witnesses recently placed more than 30 copies of the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? in public shopping areas. Many of the books were obtained by people sitting in their cars.
14. How is the value of informal witnessing evident?
14 A fifth way for us to show appreciation for the great love that God and Christ have expressed to us is by informal witnessing. How effective this has often been, both in finding persons hungering and thirsting for righteousness and in placing literature! It certainly is one way by which we can heed the advice found at Ephesians 5:15, 16, ‘to buy out the opportune time for ourselves.’ A missionary struck up a conversation with a fellow passenger in a taxicab. The man showed interest. Return visits were made and a Bible study was started. Today that man is a Christian elder. Elsewhere an elder started a conversation with a woman who, it turned out, was changing her religion to marry a Jew. She wanted to know who came first, Moses, Noah, David, and so forth. He told her that what she needed was the Bible Stories book, which presents Bible events in chronological order. Although he was a perfect stranger to her, she readily gave him her name and address and the necessary contribution so that he could mail the book to her.
15. What will help us to be alert to opportunities for informal witnessing?
15 Sometimes, for fear we may get rebuffed, we may hesitate to start a conversation with someone traveling next to us. How often, though, we are richly rewarded if we summon up the courage to do so! Appreciation of God’s goodness and people’s need will help us to have the necessary courage. Yes, remember that “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”—2 Timothy 1:7, NIV.
16. Why should we be alert to notice strangers visiting our Kingdom Hall?
16 A sixth way in which we can show our gratitude to God and Christ is by welcoming strangers that show up at our Kingdom Hall. Love for neighbor should make us alert to notice any stranger that visits our place of worship. Let us strive to make him feel at ease, to feel that he is among friends who are sincerely interested in his spiritual well-being. Most likely, more than idle curiosity brought him there. He may truly be hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Our genuine concern for him may result in our starting a home Bible study, helping him on the road to life. (Matthew 5:3, 6; 7:13, 14) In fact, this very thing has happened often. A missionary from the first class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead noted that his two most promising Bible students were those whom he first met at the Kingdom Hall.
Witnessing by Writing Letters
17. Witnessing by writing letters can have what results?
17 A seventh way for us to witness, in response to the love God and Christ have shown us, is by writing letters. Often, those who use this form of witnessing get some very appreciative letters in reply. This is a method employed by some full-time ministers who may temporarily be unable to go from house to house because of physical infirmity. For example: There was a family with 12 children. One day the father came home to find five of them shot in cold blood by one of his daughter’s suitors. In vain he looked for comfort from Christendom’s clergy. Then one day he received a letter from a stranger, a Witness who had read in the press about his tragedy and who wanted to comfort him, enclosing a Truth book. This was just what the man was looking for. Today he, too, is a zealous Witness.*
Making Phone Calls
18, 19. What other avenue for preaching the good news have some found effective, and why?
18 To mention an eighth avenue of witnessing, there is the opportunity to use the telephone in preaching the Kingdom good news. This increasingly is proving to be a pleasant and an effective form of witnessing. More and more Witnesses are becoming skilled in this feature of the ministry, which has much to recommend it. By it we reach some people whom we are unable to meet in the house-to-house activity. When phone witnessing is done discreetly, with kindness, tact, and skill, some have found even better response than from calling on such persons at their homes.
19 A Japanese congregation in an English-speaking country uses the telephone book as part of its territory. Publishers phone up Japanese names and arrange to make a personal call where they find interest. They have started literally dozens of studies by this means.
Witnessing by Good Conduct
20, 21. Our conduct can have what good effects? Illustrate.
20 A ninth way in which we can bring praise to God is by our good conduct. A Russian journalist once stated that our fine conduct was our best sermon. In fact, repeatedly the press has commented on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ high morality. One reported: “Jehovah’s Witnesses are recognizably the most honest people in the Federal Republic of Germany.” At the beginning of her school term, a Witness girl brought the School brochure to her teacher. He bluntly rejected it, saying he wanted nothing to do with the Witnesses. However, in time her fine conduct won her his highest praise and caused an entire change of attitude on his part toward the Witnesses. Of similar import is the letter that Witness parents received from their children’s schoolteacher: “The undeniable measure of the success of your beliefs is your children.”
21 Those in the world cannot say good about Jehovah’s Witnesses without bringing honor to God and Christ. That is the way it simply has to be. Did not Jesus say that we should let our light shine so that men might see our good works and give glory to our heavenly Father? (Matthew 5:16) Truly, by our fine conduct, we can adorn the truth. (Titus 2:10) Surely, the fact that our fine conduct brings praise to God and Christ and helps others get on the way to life is powerful reason for our being deeply concerned that our conduct at all times is above reproach.
22. In which of the ways of showing appreciation will you be striving, and why?
22 As we have seen, there are many ways by which we can show our appreciation for all that Jehovah and Jesus Christ have done for us, particularly in their great expressions of love. In the process, we can prove our neighbor love.—Mark 12:30, 31.
23. In what final way can you show appreciation to God and Jesus?
23 Finally, let us note that we can show our appreciation for the two greatest expressions of love by celebrating the Lord’s Evening Meal. On his last night on earth as a human, Jesus instituted an annual commemorative meal consisting of bread and wine, representing his flesh and his blood. He commanded that this celebration be held in memory of him. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) This year the Lord’s Evening Meal falls on Sunday, April 12, after sundown. Throughout the earth, Jehovah’s Witnesses will be coming together in obedience to Jesus’ command. Do not miss it!
For details, see Awake!, October 22, 1986, pages 12-16.
Questions for Review
□ How and where did Jesus witness?
□ In what ways may we imitate Jesus in showing appreciation for God’s great love?