Are You a ‘Steward of God’s Undeserved Kindness’?
“In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another take the lead.”—ROM. 12:10.
1. What assurances do we find in God’s Word?
GOD’S WORD repeatedly assures us that Jehovah will come to our aid when we are discouraged or brokenhearted. Note, for instance, these comforting words: “Jehovah is giving support to all who are falling, and is raising up all who are bowed down.” “He is healing the brokenhearted ones, and is binding up their painful spots.” (Ps. 145:14; 147:3) Moreover, our heavenly Father himself states: “I, Jehovah your God, am grasping your right hand, the One saying to you, ‘Do not be afraid. I myself will help you.’”—Isa. 41:13.
2. How does Jehovah provide support to his servants?
2 How, though, does Jehovah, who dwells in the invisible heavens, ‘grasp our hand’? How does he ‘raise us up when we are bowed down’ by heartache? Jehovah God provides such support in various ways. For example, he gives his people “power beyond what is normal” by means of his holy spirit. (2 Cor. 4:7; John 14:16, 17) God’s servants also feel the uplifting power that is exerted by the message found in God’s inspired Word, the Bible. (Heb. 4:12) Is there still another way by which Jehovah fortifies us? We find an answer in the book of First Peter.
“God’s Undeserved Kindness Expressed in Various Ways”
3. (a) What statement about trials is made by the apostle Peter? (b) What is discussed in the latter part of Peter’s first letter?
3 Addressing spirit-anointed believers, the apostle Peter writes that they have good reason to be joyful because a rich reward awaits them. Then he adds: “Though for a little while at present, if it must be, you have been grieved by various trials.” (1 Pet. 1:1-6) Note the word “various.” It suggests that trials will be varied. However, Peter does not stop there, leaving his brothers to wonder if they will be able to cope with such a diversity of tests. Instead, Peter points out that Christians can be sure that Jehovah will help them to cope with each trial they encounter, no matter what its nature may be. That assurance is given in the latter part of Peter’s letter, where the apostle discusses matters related to “the end of all things.”—1 Pet. 4:7.
4. Why are the words of 1 Peter 4:10 comforting to us?
4 Peter states: “In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God’s undeserved kindness expressed in various ways.” (1 Pet. 4:10) Peter again uses the word “various.” He, in effect, says, ‘Trials come in many different forms, but God’s expressions of undeserved kindness come in many different forms as well.’ Why is that statement comforting? It implies that whatever the nature of our trial may be, there will always be an expression of God’s undeserved kindness that will match it. Did you notice in Peter’s statement, though, just how Jehovah’s undeserved kindness is conveyed to us? By means of fellow Christians.
“Ministering to One Another”
5. (a) What should each Christian do? (b) What questions arise?
5 In speaking to all members of the Christian congregation, Peter says: “Above all things, have intense love for one another.” He then adds: “In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another.” (1 Pet. 4:8, 10) Hence, each one in the congregation is to have a share in building fellow Christians up. We have been placed in charge of something valuable belonging to Jehovah, and we are responsible for distributing it to others. So, then, with what are we entrusted? Peter says that it is “a gift.” What is the gift? How do we “use it in ministering to one another”?
6. What are some of the gifts with which Christians are entrusted?
6 God’s Word states: “Every good gift and every perfect present is from above.” (Jas. 1:17) Indeed, all gifts with which Jehovah entrusts his people are expressions of his undeserved kindness. One outstanding gift Jehovah imparts to us is the holy spirit. That gift enables us to cultivate such godly qualities as love, goodness, and mildness. Such qualities move us, in turn, to show fellow believers heartfelt affection and give them willing support. True wisdom and knowledge are also among the good gifts that we acquire with the help of the holy spirit. (1 Cor. 2:10-16; Gal. 5:22, 23) In fact, all our energies, abilities, and talents may be viewed as gifts to be used to bring praise and honor to our heavenly Father. We have the God-given responsibility to use our abilities and qualities as a means of conveying expressions of God’s undeserved kindness to our fellow believers.
“Use It in Ministering”—How?
7. (a) What is indicated by the term “in proportion”? (b) What questions should we ask ourselves, and why?
7 Regarding gifts we have received, Peter also states: “In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it.” The qualifying term “in proportion” indicates that qualities and abilities may vary not only in nature but also in extent. Even so, each one is urged to “use it [that is, any particular gift he has received] in ministering to one another.” Moreover, the expression “use it . . . as fine stewards” is a command. Hence, we should ask ourselves: ‘Do I, indeed, use the gifts with which I am entrusted to fortify my fellow believers?’ (Compare 1 Timothy 5:9, 10.) ‘Or do I use the abilities that I received from Jehovah mainly to benefit myself—perhaps to acquire riches or to attain social status?’ (1 Cor. 4:7) If we use our gifts “in ministering to one another,” we will be pleasing Jehovah.—Prov. 19:17; read Hebrews 13:16.
8, 9. (a) What are some ways in which Christians worldwide serve in behalf of fellow believers? (b) How do the brothers and sisters in your congregation help one another?
8 God’s Word mentions various ways in which first-century Christians ministered to one another. (Read Romans 15:25, 26; 2 Timothy 1:16-18.) Similarly today, the command to use one’s gift in behalf of fellow believers is wholeheartedly carried out by true Christians. Consider some of the ways in which that is being done.
9 Many brothers spend hours each month preparing meeting parts. At the meetings, when they convey some of the spiritual gems they have found during their Bible study, their insightful words motivate all in the congregation to endure. (1 Tim. 5:17) Numerous brothers and sisters are known for their warmth and compassion toward fellow believers. (Rom. 12:15) Some regularly visit those who are depressed and pray with them. (1 Thess. 5:14) Others thoughtfully write some heartfelt words of encouragement to fellow Christians who are coping with a trial. Still others kindly help those with physical limitations to attend the congregation meetings. Thousands of Witnesses share in relief work, helping fellow believers rebuild homes that have been struck by disasters. The tender affection and practical assistance rendered by such caring brothers and sisters are all manifestations of “God’s undeserved kindness expressed in various ways.”—Read 1 Peter 4:11.
Which Is More Important?
10. (a) Paul was concerned with what two aspects of his service to God? (b) How do we imitate Paul today?
10 God’s servants are entrusted not only with a gift to be used in behalf of their fellow believers but also with a message to be shared with their fellow man. The apostle Paul recognized these two aspects of his service to Jehovah. He wrote to the congregation in Ephesus regarding “the stewardship of the undeserved kindness of God” that was given to him for their benefit. (Eph. 3:2) Yet, he also stated: “We have been proved by God as fit to be entrusted with the good news.” (1 Thess. 2:4) Like Paul, we too recognize that we are entrusted with the assignment of serving as preachers of God’s Kingdom. By sharing zealously in the preaching work, we strive to imitate the example that Paul set as an untiring proclaimer of the good news. (Acts 20:20, 21; 1 Cor. 11:1) We know that preaching the Kingdom message can save lives. At the same time, however, we also strive to imitate Paul by looking for opportunities to “impart some spiritual gift” to fellow believers.—Read Romans 1:11, 12; 10:13-15.
11. How should we view our assignments to preach and to build up our brothers?
11 Which of these two Christian activities is more important? Asking a question like that is somewhat similar to asking about a bird, Which of his two wings is more important? The answer is obvious. A bird needs to use both wings in order to fly properly. Similarly, we need to share in both aspects of our service to God in order to be complete as Christians. Thus, instead of regarding our assignments to preach the good news and to build up fellow believers as unrelated, we view them just as the apostles Peter and Paul did—as responsibilities that complement each other. In what way?
12. How do we serve as an instrument in Jehovah’s hand?
12 As evangelizers, we employ whatever teaching skills we may have in trying to touch the hearts of our fellow men with the uplifting message of God’s Kingdom. In that way, we hope to help them to become Christ’s disciples. However, we also use whatever abilities and other gifts we may have in trying to warm the hearts of our fellow believers with uplifting words and helpful deeds—expressions of God’s undeserved kindness. (Prov. 3:27; 12:25) In that way, we hope to help them to remain Christ’s disciples. In both activities—preaching to the public and “ministering to one another”—we have the wonderful privilege of serving as an instrument in Jehovah’s hand.—Gal. 6:10.
“Have Tender Affection for One Another”
13. What would happen if we held back in “ministering to one another”?
13 Paul urged his fellow believers: “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another take the lead.” (Rom. 12:10) Indeed, having affection for our brothers impels us to serve wholeheartedly as stewards of God’s undeserved kindness. We realize that if Satan succeeded in holding us back from “ministering to one another,” he would weaken our unity. (Col. 3:14) In turn, a lack of unity would lead to a lack of zeal in the preaching work. Satan well knows that he needs to harm only one of our wings, so to speak, in order to ground us.
14. Who benefit from our “ministering to one another”? Give an example.
14 “Ministering to one another” benefits not only those who receive God’s undeserved kindness but also those who convey it. (Prov. 11:25) Take, for example, Ryan and Roni, a couple in Illinois, U.S.A. When they learned that Hurricane Katrina had destroyed hundreds of homes of fellow Witnesses, brotherly love moved them to quit their jobs, give up their apartment, buy a secondhand trailer, fix it up, and travel 900 miles [1,400 km] to Louisiana. There they lived for over a year while giving of their time, strength, and resources to help their brothers. “Sharing in relief work drew me closer to God,” says Ryan, age 29. “I saw how Jehovah takes care of his people.” Ryan adds: “Working with older brothers taught me much about how to care for the brothers. I also learned that there is much for us younger ones to do in Jehovah’s organization.” Roni, age 25, notes: “I am grateful for having had a share in helping others. I feel happier than I have ever felt in my life. I know that in years to come, I will continue to reap benefits from this wonderful experience.”
15. What good reasons do we have to continue to serve as stewards of God’s undeserved kindness?
15 Indeed, obeying God’s commands to preach the good news and to build up fellow believers brings blessings to all. The ones we help are spiritually strengthened, while we experience the heartfelt joy that only giving can bring. (Acts 20:35) The congregation as a whole grows in warmth as each member takes a loving interest in others. Furthermore, the love and affection that we show for one another clearly identifies us as true Christians. Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) Above all, honor goes to our caring Father, Jehovah, as his desire to strengthen those in need is reflected in his earthly servants. What good reasons we have, therefore, to use our gift “in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God’s undeserved kindness”! Will you continue to do so?—Read Hebrews 6:10.
Do You Remember?
• In what ways does Jehovah strengthen his servants?
• With what are we entrusted?
• What are some ways in which we can serve our fellow believers?
• What will move us to continue to use our gift “in ministering to one another”?
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Do you use your “gift” to serve others or to please yourself?
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We preach the good news to others and support fellow Christians
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Relief workers deserve commendation for their self-sacrificing spirit