“He was moved with pity for them . . . And he started to teach them many things.”—MARK 6:34.
SONG 70 Search Out Deserving Ones
1. What is one of the most heartwarming aspects of Jesus’ personality? Explain.
ONE of the most heartwarming aspects of Jesus’ personality is his ability to understand the challenges that we imperfect humans face. While on earth, Jesus was able to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep.” (Rom. 12:15) For example, when his 70 disciples returned with joy after completing a successful preaching assignment, Jesus “became overjoyed in the holy spirit.” (Luke 10:17-21) On the other hand, when he saw the effect that the death of Lazarus had on those who loved him, Jesus “groaned within himself and became troubled.”—John 11:33.
2. What enabled Jesus to show fellow feeling for people?
2 What enabled this perfect man to be so merciful and compassionate in his dealings with sinful humans? First of all, Jesus loved people. As mentioned in the preceding article, he was “especially fond of the sons of men.” (Prov. 8:31) That love for people moved him to become thoroughly acquainted with the way humans think. The apostle John explains: “He knew what was in man.” (John 2:25) Jesus had tender feelings for others. People sensed his love for them and responded favorably to the Kingdom message. The more we develop similar tender feelings for people, the more effective we will be in accomplishing our ministry.—2 Tim. 4:5.
3-4. (a) If we have fellow feeling, how will we view our ministry? (b) What will we consider in this article?
3 The apostle Paul knew that he had an obligation to preach, and so do we. (1 Cor. 9:16) However, if we have fellow feeling, we will view our ministry as more than just an obligation. We will want to prove that we care about people and are eager to help them. We know that “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) The more we view our ministry with that in mind, the more we will enjoy it.
4 In this article, we will consider how to show fellow feeling in our ministry. First, we will see what we can learn from the way Jesus felt about people. Then, we will consider four ways that we can imitate his example.—1 Pet. 2:21.
JESUS SHOWED FELLOW FEELING IN THE MINISTRY
5-6. (a) To whom did Jesus show fellow feeling? (b) Why did Jesus feel pity for the people to whom he preached, as foretold at Isaiah 61:1, 2?
5 Consider an example of how Jesus showed fellow feeling. On one occasion, Jesus and his disciples had been preaching the good news tirelessly. They had not had “time even to eat a meal.” So Jesus took his disciples to “an isolated place to be by themselves” and “rest up a little.” However, a large crowd ran ahead to where Jesus and his disciples were going. When Jesus got there and saw the people, how did he react? “He was moved with pity* for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to teach them many things.”—Mark 6:30-34.
6 Note the reason why Jesus felt pity, which can reflect fellow feeling. He observed that the people “were as sheep without a shepherd.” Maybe Jesus saw that some of them were poor and were working long hours to provide for their families. Perhaps others were dealing with the loss of a loved one. If so, Jesus could likely relate to their situation. As discussed in the preceding article, Jesus may have faced some of these problems himself. Jesus was concerned about others, and he felt moved to bring them a message of comfort.—Read Isaiah 61:1, 2.
7. How can we imitate Jesus’ example?
7 What do we learn from Jesus’ example? Like Jesus, we are surrounded by people who are “as sheep without a shepherd.” They struggle with many problems. We have what they need—the Kingdom message. (Rev. 14:6) So in imitation of our Master, we preach the good news because we “have pity on the lowly and the poor.” (Ps. 72:13) We feel for people, and we want to do something to help them.
HOW WE CAN EXPRESS FELLOW FEELING
8. What is one way we can show fellow feeling in the ministry? Illustrate.
8 What can help us show fellow feeling to those to whom we preach? We want to put ourselves in the place of those we meet in the ministry and treat them as we would like to be treated.* (Matt. 7:12) Let us consider four specific ways we can do that. First, consider the needs of each individual. When we preach the good news, our role is similar to that of a doctor. A good doctor considers the needs of each patient. He asks questions and listens carefully as the patient describes his condition or symptoms. Instead of prescribing the first treatment he can think of, the doctor may let time go by so that he can observe a patient’s symptoms and then offer the right treatment. Similarly, we should not try to use the same approach with everyone we meet in our ministry. Rather, we take into consideration the specific circumstances and viewpoints of each individual.
9. What should we not assume? Explain.
9 When you meet someone in the ministry, do not assume that you know what his circumstances are or what he believes and why he believes it. (Prov. 18:13) Rather, draw the person out with tactful questions. (Prov. 20:5) If it is appropriate in your culture, ask about his work, his family, his background, and his viewpoints. When we draw others out, we in effect allow them to tell us why they need the good news. Once we know that, we can show fellow feeling for their specific needs and respond accordingly, just as Jesus did.—Compare 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
10-11. In harmony with 2 Corinthians 4:7, 8, what is a second way we can show fellow feeling? Give an example.
10 Second, try to imagine what their life may be like. In some ways, we can relate to their situation. After all, we are not immune to the problems that all imperfect humans face. (1 Cor. 10:13) We know that life in this present system can be very difficult. We endure only with Jehovah’s help. (Read 2 Corinthians 4:7, 8.) But think of those who struggle to survive in this world without a close friendship with Jehovah. Like Jesus, we feel pity for them, and we are moved to bring them “good news of something better.”—Isa. 52:7.
11 Consider the example of a brother named Sergey. Before learning the truth, Sergey was very withdrawn. He struggled to express himself. In time, he accepted a Bible study. “As I studied the Bible, I learned that Christians have an obligation to share their faith with others,” says Sergey. “I sincerely believed that I could never do that.” Still, he thought of those who had not yet heard the truth, and he could only imagine what their life without knowing Jehovah was like. “The new things I was learning brought me great happiness and inner peace,” he says. “I knew that others needed to learn these truths too.” As Sergey’s fellow feeling increased, so did his courage to preach. “To my great surprise,” says Sergey, “telling others about the Bible actually boosted my self-confidence. It also strengthened these new beliefs in my own heart.”*
12-13. Why do we need to be patient with those whom we teach in the ministry? Illustrate.
12 Third, be patient with those whom you teach. Remember, they may never have considered some of the Bible truths we know very well. And many have a strong emotional connection to their current beliefs. They may see their religious views as uniting them with their family, their culture, and their community. How can we help them?
13 Think of this comparison: What happens when an old, rickety bridge needs to be replaced? Often, a new bridge is constructed while the old bridge is still in use. Once the new bridge is ready, the old one can be torn down. Likewise, before we ask people to give up their cherished “old” beliefs, we may first need to help them build a strong appreciation for “new” truths—Bible teachings that at the outset are unfamiliar to them. Only then will they be ready to abandon their former viewpoint. It may take time to help people make such changes.—Rom. 12:2.
14-15. How can we help those who know little or nothing about the hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth? Give an example.
14 If we are patient with people in the ministry, we will not expect them to understand or accept Bible truth the first time they hear it. Rather, fellow feeling moves us to help them reason on the Scriptures over a period of time. As an example, consider how we might reason with someone about the hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth. Many know little or nothing about this teaching. They may believe that death is the end of it all. Or they may think that all good people go to heaven. How can we help them?
15 One brother relates an approach that he finds effective. First, he reads Genesis 1:28. Then, he asks the householder where and in what conditions God wanted the human family to live. Most people answer, “On earth, in good conditions.” Next, the brother reads Isaiah 55:11 and asks whether God’s purpose has changed. Often, the householder will answer no. Finally, the brother reads Psalm 37:10, 11 and asks what mankind’s future will be like. Using this Scriptural reasoning, he has helped a number of people to understand that God still wants good people to live forever in Paradise on earth.
16-17. Bearing in mind Proverbs 3:27, what are some practical ways that we can show fellow feeling? Illustrate.
16 Fourth, look for practical ways to show consideration. For example, have we called at a time that seems to be inconvenient for the householder? We can apologize and offer to return at a better time. What if a householder needs help with a minor task? Or what if someone who is homebound needs someone to run an errand? In such cases, we may be able to help the person.—Read Proverbs 3:27.
17 One sister had good results from a seemingly small act of kindness. Moved by fellow feeling, she wrote a letter to a family who had lost a child in death. The letter included some comfort from the Scriptures. How did the family respond? “I was having a horrible day yesterday,” wrote the bereaved mother. “I don’t think you have any idea what impact your letter had on us. I can’t thank you enough or even begin to describe how much it meant to us. I must have read your letter at least 20 times yesterday. I just could not believe how kind, caring, and uplifting it was. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” Without doubt, we can experience good results when we put ourselves in the place of those who suffer and then do something to help them.
KEEP A BALANCED VIEW OF YOUR ROLE
18. In line with 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7, what balanced view do we want to keep?
18 Of course, we want to keep a balanced view of our role in the ministry. We can play a part in helping others learn about God, but we do not play the most important part. (Read 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7.) Jehovah is the one who draws people. (John 6:44) In the end, each individual will respond to the good news based on his or her heart condition. (Matt. 13:4-8) Remember that most people did not accept Jesus’ message—and he was the greatest Teacher who ever lived! Really, then, we should not become discouraged if many of the people we try to help do not respond favorably.
19. What benefits come from showing fellow feeling in our ministry?
19 We will see benefits when we show fellow feeling in our ministry. We will enjoy our preaching work more. We will experience the greater happiness that comes from giving. And we make it easier for those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life” to accept the good news. (Acts 13:48) So “as long as we have the opportunity, let us work what is good toward all.” (Gal. 6:10) Then we will have the joy of bringing glory to our heavenly Father.—Matt. 5:16.
SONG 64 Sharing Joyfully in the Harvest
When we show fellow feeling, we can increase our joy—and often our results—in the ministry. Why is that so? In this article, we will consider what we can learn from Jesus’ example, as well as four specific ways that we can show fellow feeling for those whom we meet in the preaching work.
EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: As used in this context, pity means to have tender feelings for someone who is suffering or who has been treated harshly. Such feelings may move a person to do whatever he can to help people.
See the article “Follow the Golden Rule in Your Ministry” in the May 15, 2014, issue of The Watchtower.