Cultivate Love That Never Fails
‘Love endures all things. Love never fails.’—1 COR. 13:7, 8.
1. (a) How is love often presented? (b) On whom and on what do many focus their love?
MUCH has been publicized on the subject of love. This quality has been extolled and romanticized in song. Love is a basic human need. But books and movies have often featured it in made-up love stories, and a glut of such material floods the marketplace. Yet, genuine love of God and neighbor is woefully lacking. We see happening what the Bible foretold about these last days. Men are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, . . . lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.”—2 Tim. 3:1-5.
2. What warning does the Bible give about misguided love?
2 Humans have the ability to show love, yet God’s Word warns us against misguided love. And the Bible describes what happens when such love takes root in one’s heart. (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) Do you recall what the apostle Paul wrote about Demas? Though he was associated with Paul, Demas turned to loving what the world offered. (2 Tim. 4:10) The apostle John warned Christians against this very danger. (Read 1 John 2:15, 16.) Loving the world and its transitory things and ways is not compatible with loving God and what originates with him.
3. We face what challenge, giving rise to what questions?
3 We are no part of this world, though we are still living in it. Thus, we have the challenge of avoiding the world’s distorted view of love. It is vital that we not let ourselves be trapped by misguided or perverted love. For whom, therefore, should we cultivate and demonstrate principled love? What provisions enable us to cultivate love that endures all things and never fails? How does this course benefit us now and affect our future? We need answers from God’s standpoint so that we can be guided accordingly.
Cultivating Love for Jehovah
4. How does love for God grow?
4 To cultivate can imply to prepare and foster the growth of something. Think of a farmer who works hard to prepare the soil and plant the seeds. He expects the seeds to grow. (Heb. 6:7) Similarly, our love for God should grow. What is required for this to occur? We must work the good soil of our heart, where the seed of Kingdom truth was sown. We can do this through diligent study of God’s Word so as to increase our knowledge of him. (Col. 1:10) Regularly attending and participating in congregation meetings will also help us increase in knowledge. Are we individually putting forth constant effort to gain a deeper knowledge?—Prov. 2:1-7.
5. (a) How can we learn about Jehovah’s cardinal attributes? (b) What can you say about God’s justice, wisdom, and power?
5 Through his Word, Jehovah reveals his personality. By studying the Scriptures and progressively taking in knowledge of Jehovah, we can grow in appreciation for his attributes—his justice, power, wisdom and, above all, superlative love. Jehovah manifests justice in all his ways and in his perfect law. (Deut. 32:4; Ps. 19:7) We can reflect on all of Jehovah’s creative works and be in awe of his superior wisdom. (Ps. 104:24) The universe also gives proof that Jehovah is the Source of dynamic energy and inexhaustible power.—Isa. 40:26.
6. How has God’s love been expressed toward us, and how has it affected you?
6 What can be said about God’s dominant quality, his love? It is expansive and affects us all. He expressed that love in providing the ransom for mankind’s redemption. (Read Romans 5:8.) This provision is available to the whole world of mankind, but only those who respond to God’s love and exercise faith in his Son will benefit from it. (John 3:16, 36) God’s offering Jesus as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins ought to stir love within us in return.
7, 8. (a) What is required in order for us to show love for God? (b) Despite what do God’s people observe his commandments?
7 How can we demonstrate our love of God in response to all that he has done for us? The inspired answer is significant: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) Yes, love of Jehovah God motivates us to observe his commandments. That is one reason we bear witness about his name and Kingdom, which benefits others. Doing that out of our heart’s abundance is an evidence that we observe God’s commandments with a pure motive.—Matt. 12:34.
8 Our brothers around the globe persevere in observing God’s commandments despite facing apathy and outright rejection of the Kingdom message. They do not let up in their efforts to accomplish their ministry fully. (2 Tim. 4:5) Likewise, we are moved to share knowledge of God with others as well as to observe all his other commands.
Why We Love Our Lord Jesus Christ
9. What did Christ endure, and what motivated him?
9 In addition to loving God, there are many reasons why we cultivate love for his Son. Though we never saw Jesus, as we learn more about him, our love for him deepens. (1 Pet. 1:8) What are some of the things that Jesus endured? While he was doing his Father’s will, Jesus was hated without cause, persecuted, falsely accused, and reviled. He also suffered other indignities. (Read John 15:25.) Jesus’ love for his heavenly Father motivated him to endure those trials. And motivated by love, his sacrificial death provided a ransom for many.—Matt. 20:28.
10, 11. In view of what Christ did for us, what is our aim?
10 Jesus’ course stimulates a response in us. As we think about what Christ has done for us, our love for him deepens. Being his followers, we should aim to cultivate and keep showing Christlike love so that we will endure in observing his commandment to witness about the Kingdom and make disciples.—Matt. 28:19, 20.
11 In responding to Christ’s love for all mankind, we feel compelled to finish our assignment before the end comes. (Read 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15.) The love Christ displayed was central to his accomplishing what God has purposed for mankind. And the model Christ left for us to follow closely enables each of us to have a part in that divine purpose. This requires that we successfully cultivate love of God to the fullest extent possible. (Matt. 22:37) By observing what Jesus taught and keeping his commandments, we show that we love him and are determined to uphold God’s sovereignty at any cost, just as Jesus did.—John 14:23, 24; 15:10.
Pursuing the Surpassing Way of Love
12. What did Paul mean by the expression “a surpassing way”?
12 The apostle Paul was an imitator of Christ. Because of following Christ’s steps closely, Paul had freeness of speech in urging his brothers to become imitators of him. (1 Cor. 11:1) Although he urged Corinthian Christians to keep zealously seeking certain gifts of the spirit that were manifest in the first century, such as healing and speaking in tongues, Paul showed them that there was something better to pursue. At 1 Corinthians 12:31, he explained: “Yet I show you a surpassing way.” The context in the verses that follow shows that this was the surpassing way of love. In what sense was it surpassing? Paul proceeded to illustrate what he meant. (Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.) If he had certain outstanding abilities and accomplished great things but did not have love, what would he amount to? Nothing! Moved by God’s spirit, he drove home this important point. What a powerful impression he made in getting this across to us!
13. (a) What is the yeartext for 2010? (b) In what sense does love never fail?
13 Paul next defines for us what love is and what it is not. (Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.) Now, take the time to examine how you measure up to what love requires. Focus mainly on the last phrase in verse 7 and the first sentence in verse 8: ‘Love endures all things. Love never fails,’ which will be our yeartext for 2010. Note that in verse 8, Paul said that gifts of the spirit, including prophesying and speaking in tongues—used in the infancy of the Christian congregation—would be done away with. They would end. But love will always be. Jehovah is the very essence of love, and he is eternal. So love will never fail, or end. It will continue to exist forever as a quality of our eternal God.—1 John 4:8.
Love Endures All Things
14, 15. (a) How can love help us to endure trials? (b) Why did one young brother refuse to compromise?
14 What enables Christians to endure no matter what trials, difficult situations, and problems they encounter? Basically it is love based on principle. Such love goes beyond just giving up something in a material way. It extends to the point of being willing to maintain our integrity and even to lose our life for the sake of Christ. (Luke 9:24, 25) Reflect on the faithful course of Witnesses who suffered in concentration camps, labor camps, and prisons during and after World War II.
15 A young German Witness named Wilhelm well illustrates this. Rather than compromise, he remained loyal when facing death by a Nazi firing squad. In a farewell letter to his family, he wrote: “Above all we must love God, as our Leader Jesus Christ commanded. If we stand up for him, he will reward us.” Later, in a Watchtower article, a member of his family wrote: “Through the turmoils of time, as a family we have seen to it that our love for God has always come first.” Such is the spirit of many brothers presently enduring imprisonment in Armenia, Eritrea, South Korea, and other lands. These brothers are remaining steadfast in their love for Jehovah.
16. What did our brothers in Malawi endure?
16 In many places, trials of a different sort test the faith and endurance of our brothers. For 26 years Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi endured governmental bans, severe opposition, and many atrocities. Their endurance was rewarded. When persecution broke out, there were about 18,000 Witnesses in that country. Thirty years later their number had more than doubled to 38,393. Similar results have been experienced in other lands.
17. What do some in divided households face, and why could they endure the mistreatment?
17 Frontal assaults against God’s people in general are one thing. When opposition comes upon individual Christians from family members, it is quite different. Stress may be caused by members of the household or immediate relatives. Did not Jesus foretell that this would take place? Yes, and many have experienced the truthfulness of his words. (Matt. 10:35, 36) Teenagers have endured opposition from unbelieving parents. Some have even been ordered out of the home, but they were taken in by kindly Witnesses. Others have been disowned. What enabled such ones to endure mistreatment? Not just their love for the brotherhood but, above all, their genuine love for Jehovah and his Son.—1 Pet. 1:22; 1 John 4:21.
18. How is the love that endures all things a help to married Christians?
18 There are many other situations in life that call for the love that endures all things. Within the marriage union, love enables couples to respect Jesus’ words: “What God has yoked together let no man put apart.” (Matt. 19:6) When experiencing “tribulation in their flesh,” married Christians should remind themselves that Jehovah is a key party in their marriage. (1 Cor. 7:28) His Word says that ‘love endures all things,’ and a husband and wife clothed with this quality are fortified to stick to each other and keep their marriage intact.—Col. 3:14.
19. What has occurred among God’s people after natural disasters?
19 Love helps us to endure all things in times of natural disasters. This was the case when an earthquake hit southern Peru and Hurricane Katrina devastated portions of the Gulf area in the United States. Many of our brothers lost their homes or material possessions in those disasters. Love moved the worldwide congregation to provide relief supplies, and volunteers helped to rebuild homes and repair Kingdom Halls. Such acts prove that our brothers love and care for one another at all times and under any circumstances.—John 13:34, 35; 1 Pet. 2:17.
Love Never Fails
20, 21. (a) Why is love of excelling value? (b) Why are you determined to pursue the way of love?
20 Among Jehovah’s people today, we see the wisdom of pursuing the surpassing way of love. Truly, it excels in any and all situations. Note how the apostle Paul emphasized that truth. First, he pointed out that gifts of the spirit would pass away and that the Christian congregation would grow out of its infancy stage and reach maturity. Then he concluded: “Now, however, there remain faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”—1 Cor. 13:13.
21 Eventually, things that we have faith in will become reality, and therefore the need for faith in them will end. Hope in promises we long to see fulfilled will no longer be entertained after all things have become new. But what about love? That will never fail, or end. It will remain. With everlasting life in view, we will surely see and understand ever more facets of God’s love. By doing God’s will in pursuing the surpassing way of love that never fails, you may remain forever.—1 John 2:17.
How Would You Answer?
• Why must we guard against misguided love?
• Love can help us to endure what?
• In what sense does love never fail?
[Blurb on page 27]
The yeartext for 2010 will be: ‘Love endures all things. Love never fails.’—1 Cor. 13:7, 8.
[Picture on page 25]
Love of God motivates us to bear witness
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Unfailing love enabled our brothers and sisters in Malawi to endure trials