Are You Refreshing to Others?
AT THE southern end of the Anti-Lebanon Mountain range stands Mount Hermon, with its majestic summit rising 9,232 feet [2,814 m] above sea level. For most of the year, Hermon’s peak is snowcapped, and this causes the warm night vapors passing over it to condense and produce dew. The dew descends on the fir and fruit trees on the lower slopes and on the vineyards down below. During ancient Israel’s long dry season, such refreshing dew was the principal source of moisture for vegetation.
In a divinely inspired song, the refreshing unity among Jehovah’s worshippers is likened to “the dew of Hermon that is descending upon the mountains of Zion.” (Psalm 133:1, 3) Just as Mount Hermon supplies refreshing dew to the vegetation, we can spread refreshment to those whom we meet. How can we do so?
Jesus’ Refreshing Example
Jesus Christ had a profound effect on others. Even a brief encounter with him could be very refreshing. For example, the Gospel writer Mark relates: “[Jesus] took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.” (Mark 10:16) How refreshing that must have been for those young ones!
On his last night on earth as a human, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. His humility must have touched their hearts. Jesus then told them: “I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also.” (John 13:1-17) Yes, they too needed to be humble. Although the apostles did not immediately grasp the point and later that night began arguing about which one of them seemed to be the greatest, Jesus did not become provoked. Instead, he patiently reasoned with them. (Luke 22:24-27) Even “when he was being reviled, [Jesus] did not go reviling in return.” In fact, “when he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.” Jesus’ refreshing example is worthy of imitation.—1 Peter 2:21, 23.
Jesus said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) Imagine being instructed by Jesus firsthand. After hearing him teach in their synagogue, those in his home territory were astounded and said: “Where did this man get this wisdom and these powerful works?” (Matthew 13:54) Reading about Jesus’ life and ministry can teach us much about being refreshing to others. Let us consider how Jesus set an outstanding example through positive speech and by having a helpful attitude.
Maintaining Positive Speech
It is much easier to destroy a building than to put up a new one. That same principle of tearing down and building up applies to our speech. As imperfect humans, all of us have faults and shortcomings. King Solomon said: “There is no man righteous in the earth that keeps doing good and does not sin.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) It does not take much to identify another person’s faults and tear him down with cutting remarks. (Psalm 64:2-4) On the other hand, keeping our speech positive requires skill.
Jesus used his tongue to build people up. He offered them spiritual refreshment by proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom to them. (Luke 8:1) Jesus also refreshed those who became his disciples by revealing his heavenly Father to them. (Matthew 11:25-27) No wonder people were drawn to Jesus!
In contrast, the scribes and Pharisees did not consider the needs of others. “They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues,” said Jesus. (Matthew 23:6) In fact, they looked down on the common people, saying: “This crowd that does not know the Law are accursed people.” (John 7:49) There certainly was nothing refreshing about that attitude!
Our speech is often a reflection of what we are inside and how we view others. Jesus said: “A good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart, but a wicked man brings forth what is wicked out of his wicked treasure; for out of the heart’s abundance his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) What, then, can we do to make sure that our speech is refreshing to others?
For one thing, we can pause and think before we speak. Proverbs 15:28 states: “The heart of the righteous one meditates so as to answer.” Such meditation need not be a long-drawn-out process. With a little forethought, we can usually determine how our comments will be received. We could ask ourselves: ‘Is what I am about to say loving? Is it truthful, or is it simply hearsay? Is it “a word at its right time?” Will it refresh and upbuild those with whom I share it?’ (Proverbs 15:23) If we conclude that the thought is negative or untimely, let us make a conscientious effort to dismiss it. Better yet, why not try to replace it with something more positive and appropriate? Thoughtless words are like “the stabs of a sword,” while positive comments are “a healing.”—Proverbs 12:18.
Another help is to focus on what makes our fellow believers precious in God’s eyes. Jesus said: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” (John 6:44) Jehovah sees positive qualities in each of his faithful servants—even those who we may feel have a challenging personality. By putting forth effort to identify their good qualities, we will have reason to speak positively about them.
Jesus fully understood the plight of the oppressed. Indeed, “on seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) But Jesus went beyond seeing their pitiable condition; he did something about it. He extended the invitation: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you.” He also gave this assurance: “My yoke is kindly and my load is light.”—Matthew 11:28, 30.
Today, we live in “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Many people feel weighed down by “the anxiety of this system of things.” (Matthew 13:22) Others have the burden of distressing personal circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:14) How can we supply refreshment to those in need? Like Christ, we can help to lighten their load.
Some people seek to unburden themselves by talking about their problems. If downhearted individuals come to us for help, do we take the time to listen carefully? Being an empathetic listener requires self-discipline. It involves staying focused on what the other person is saying, rather than thinking about how to respond or how to fix the problem. By listening closely, maintaining eye contact, and smiling when doing so is appropriate, we show that we care.
In the Christian congregation, there are many opportunities to encourage fellow believers. For instance, when attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall, we can seek out those who are struggling with health problems. Sometimes all it takes to build them up is a few minutes before or after the meeting to offer them words of encouragement. We might also make a mental note of those who are missing from the Congregation Book Study we attend. Perhaps we can reach them by telephone and express our interest in their welfare or offer assistance.—Philippians 2:4.
Christian elders carry a heavy load of responsibility in the congregation. We can do much to help lighten their load by being cooperative and by humbly following through on any assignment that we may receive. God’s Word urges us: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.” (Hebrews 13:17) By displaying a willing spirit, we can refresh those “who preside in a fine way.”—1 Timothy 5:17.
Abound in Positive Speech and Helpful Deeds
Refreshing dew results from thousands of tiny water droplets that gently descend, seemingly out of nowhere. Likewise, bringing refreshment to others is not as likely to result from just one noble act as it is from the cumulative effects of our displaying Christlike qualities at all times.
“In brotherly love have tender affection for one another,” wrote the apostle Paul. “In showing honor to one another take the lead.” (Romans 12:10) Let us apply Paul’s counsel. By our speech and actions, may we really be refreshing to others.
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The dew of Mount Hermon—a refreshing source of moisture for vegetation
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An empathetic listener refreshes others