“One Jehovah” Gathers His Family
HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN?
What is the purpose of God’s administration?
How do we “observe the oneness of the spirit”?
What will help us to “become kind to one another”?
1, 2. What has Jehovah purposed for the earth and for mankind?
FAMILY. What does that word bring to your mind? Warmth? Happiness? Working together toward a common goal? A safe haven in which to grow, learn, and share ideas? Likely it does if you are part of a caring family. Jehovah himself is the Originator of the family. (Eph. 3:14, 15) He purposed that all his creatures in heaven and on earth enjoy a sense of security, mutual trust, and genuine unity.
2 After they sinned, humans were no longer part of God’s universal family, but Jehovah’s purpose was not thwarted. He will make sure that the Paradise earth will be fully inhabited with the offspring of Adam and Eve. (Gen. 1:28; Isa. 45:18) He has made every preparation to fulfill this purpose. A number of these arrangements are brought to our attention in the Bible book of Ephesians, which has unity as its theme. Let us consider some verses from that book and see how we can cooperate with Jehovah’s purpose to unite his creation.
THE ADMINISTRATION AND ITS WORK
3. What is God’s administration spoken of at Ephesians 1:10, and when did its first stage of operation begin?
3 Moses told the Israelites: “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” (Deut. 6:4) Jehovah’s actions and purpose are harmonious. Thus, “at the full limit of the appointed times,” God put into operation “an administration”—that is, an arrangement for unifying all his intelligent creatures. (Read Ephesians 1:8-10.) This administration will carry out its objective in two stages. The first stage prepares the congregation of anointed ones for life in heaven under Jesus Christ as their spiritual Head. This stage began at Pentecost 33 C.E. when Jehovah started to gather those who would rule with Christ in heaven. (Acts 2:1-4) Since the anointed have been declared righteous for life on the basis of Christ’s ransom sacrifice, they readily acknowledge that they have been adopted as “God’s children.”—Rom. 3:23, 24; 5:1; 8:15-17.
4, 5. What is the administration’s second stage of operation?
4 The second stage prepares those who will dwell in Paradise on earth under Christ’s Messianic Kingdom. The “great crowd” make up the initial part of this group. (Rev. 7:9, 13-17; 21:1-5) During the Thousand Year Reign, they will be joined by billions of resurrected ones. (Rev. 20:12, 13) Imagine how the resurrection will further demonstrate our unity! At the end of the thousand years, the “things on the earth” will be subjected to a final test. Those proving faithful will be adopted as earthly “children of God.”—Rom. 8:21; Rev. 20:7, 8.
5 Both stages of God’s administration are developing today—heavenly and earthly. But as individuals, how do we cooperate now with God’s administration?
“OBSERVE THE ONENESS OF THE SPIRIT”
6. How do the Scriptures indicate that Christians are to associate with one another?
6 The Scriptures indicate that Christians must literally gather themselves together. (1 Cor. 14:23; Heb. 10:24, 25) That involves far more than just spending some time together in the same space, as is done by people who go to a market or to a sports arena. Genuine unity goes beyond that. We attain such unity when we apply Jehovah’s instruction and allow ourselves to be molded by God’s holy spirit.
7. What does it mean to “observe the oneness of the spirit”?
7 Although Jehovah has declared his anointed ones righteous as sons and the other sheep righteous as friends on the basis of Christ’s ransom sacrifice, personal differences will arise as long as any of us are alive on earth in this system of things. (Rom. 5:9; Jas. 2:23) Otherwise there would have been no need for the inspired advice for us to continue “putting up with one another.” How is unity with fellow believers achieved? We need to develop “complete lowliness of mind and mildness.” Moreover, Paul urges that we earnestly endeavor “to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” (Read Ephesians 4:1-3.) Applying this counsel involves yielding to the influence of God’s spirit and allowing it to produce its fruitage in us. That fruitage mends rifts between individuals, in contrast with the works of the flesh, which are always divisive.
8. In what sense do the works of the flesh breed disunity?
8 Note how “the works of the flesh” breed disunity. (Read Galatians 5:19-21.) Fornication separates the one practicing it from Jehovah and the congregation, and adultery can cruelly separate children from parents and innocent partners from marriage mates. Uncleanness affects a person’s unity with God and with those who love him. One who has attempted to glue two things together knows that both surfaces must be clean before a proper bond can be forged. Engaging in brazen conduct demonstrates total disregard for God’s righteous laws. Each of the other works of the flesh separates people from one another and from God. Such conduct is completely out of harmony with the personality of Jehovah.
9. How can we examine ourselves as to whether we are “earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit”?
9 Thus, each of us needs to ask himself: ‘Just how earnest am I in trying “to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace”? How do I respond when problems arise? Do I air my grievances before a wide audience, hoping to get support from several friends? Do I expect the elders to intervene in my behalf rather than my making real efforts to restore a peaceful relationship? Do I avoid others so as not to remind them of whatever it is they have against me, perhaps making sure there is sufficient distance between us?’ Would such actions show that we are acting in harmony with Jehovah’s purpose to gather all things together again in the Christ?
10, 11. (a) How important is it to be at peace with our brothers? (b) What actions will engender peace and spiritual prosperity?
10 Jesus said: “If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and you there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away; first make your peace with your brother, and then, when you have come back, offer up your gift. Be about settling matters quickly.” (Matt. 5:23-25) James wrote that “the fruit of righteousness has its seed sown under peaceful conditions for those who are making peace.” (Jas. 3:17, 18) Thus, we cannot maintain righteous conduct in the absence of peace.
11 To illustrate, it is estimated that in some war-ravaged countries, 35 percent more land could be cultivated if the inhabitants did not have to worry about the presence of land mines. When a mine is detonated, fields are abandoned by farmers, villages are robbed of their livelihood, and cities are deprived of their food. In a similar way, our growth in spiritual matters is hindered if we have personal traits that could disrupt peace with our brothers. But by being quick to forgive and by working for the well-being of others, we engender conditions that result in true prosperity.
12. How can elders help us to be united?
12 Furthermore, “gifts in men” can be a real force for unity. They have been given to help us to “attain to the oneness in the faith.” (Eph. 4:8, 13) When elders work along with us in sacred service and offer perceptive observations based on God’s Word, they assist us to make progress in putting on the new personality. (Eph. 4:22-24) Do you see in their counsel Jehovah’s efforts to prepare you for life in the new world under the rule of his Son? Elders, do you try to readjust others with that objective in view?—Gal. 6:1.
“BECOME KIND TO ONE ANOTHER”
13. What would be the result if we did not heed the counsel found at Ephesians 4:25-32?
13 Ephesians 4:25-29 identifies conduct that we should specifically avoid. This includes speaking falsehood, being wrathful or lazy, and uttering rotten speech rather than sayings that are good and upbuilding. If a person were to fail to heed this counsel, he would grieve God’s spirit, for holy spirit is a force that promotes unity. (Eph. 4:30) Application of what Paul wrote next is also essential for peace and unity: “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all badness. But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.”—Eph. 4:31, 32.
14. (a) What is suggested by the words “become kind”? (b) What will help us to be kind?
14 The words “become kind” suggest that at least to a certain degree, we may not have been kind and that we may need to improve. How appropriate that we train ourselves to consider the feelings of others ahead of our own! (Phil. 2:4) Perhaps something we are thinking of saying would evoke a laugh or would make us appear intelligent, but would it be kind? Giving thought to this matter in advance will help us to “become kind.”
LEARNING LOVE AND RESPECT IN THE FAMILY
15. To what facet of Christ’s dealings with the congregation was Paul alluding at Ephesians 5:28?
15 The Bible compares Christ’s relationship with the congregation to that of a husband with his wife. This should at once impress on us the direction a husband should give and the love and care he needs to exercise—as well as the subjection the wife should manifest—within the marital union. (Eph. 5:22-33) When Paul wrote: “In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies,” about which “way” was he speaking? (Eph. 5:28) His preceding words drew attention to the way in which “Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it, . . . cleansing it with the bath of water by means of the word.” Indeed, to work in harmony with Jehovah’s purpose for gathering all things together again in the Christ, a husband must be alert to feed his family spiritually.
16. What results when parents fulfill their Scriptural responsibilities in the home?
16 Parents do well to remember that they are carrying out an assignment from Jehovah. Sadly, in the world today, many have “no natural affection.” (2 Tim. 3:1, 3) Countless fathers shirk their responsibilities—to the dismay and detriment of their children. But Paul counseled Christian fathers: “Do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Eph. 6:4) Where but in the family do children form their first impressions of love and authority? Parents who have taught those lessons successfully have worked in harmony with Jehovah’s administration. By making our homes havens of love where we put away all anger and wrath and abusive speech, we are teaching our children vital lessons about how to show love and how to respect authority. This will prepare them for life in God’s new world.
17. What is needed in order for us to resist the Devil?
17 We need to realize that the Devil, the one who first disrupted universal peace, will strongly oppose our efforts to do God’s will. No doubt Satan’s purposes are served as the divorce rate soars, marriage is dispensed with in favor of living together, and marriages between homosexuals are tolerated. We do not pattern our behavior or attitudes after trends observed in modern society. Christ is our model. (Eph. 4:17-21) Thus, we are admonished to “put on the complete suit of armor from God” to resist the Devil and his demons successfully.—Read Ephesians 6:10-13.
“GO ON WALKING IN LOVE”
18. What is the key to our Christian unity?
18 The real key to our Christian unity is love. With hearts full of love for our “one Lord,” for our “one God,” and for one another, we are determined “to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3-6) Jesus prayed about such love: “I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word; in order that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us . . . And I have made your name known to them and will make it known, in order that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them.”—John 17:20, 21, 26.
19. What are you determined to do?
19 If we are experiencing inner conflict on account of our imperfection, may love move us to pray as did the psalmist: “Unify my heart to fear your name.” (Ps. 86:11) Let us be determined to resist the Devil’s efforts to distance us from our loving Father and those he approves. Work diligently to “become imitators of God, as beloved children, and go on walking in love”—in the family, in our ministry, and in the congregation.—Eph. 5:1, 2.
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Leaving his gift at the altar, he goes to make peace with his brother
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Parents, teach your children to show respect