“Clothe yourselves with the new personality.”—COL. 3:10.
SONG 49 Making Jehovah’s Heart Glad
1. What primarily shapes our personality?
WHETHER we have been baptized for just a few days or for many decades, all of us want to have the kind of personality that Jehovah loves. To be that type of person, we need to control our thinking. Why? Because our personality is largely shaped by our thoughts. If we regularly think about what appeals to our fleshly desires, we will say and do bad things. (Eph. 4:17-19) On the other hand, if we fill our mind with good thoughts, we will more likely speak and act in a way that pleases our Father, Jehovah.—Gal. 5:16.
2. What questions will we consider in this article?
2 As mentioned in the preceding article, we cannot stop all bad thoughts from entering our mind. But we can choose not to act on such thoughts. Before we get baptized, we need to stop speaking and acting in a way that Jehovah hates. That is the first and most important step in stripping off the old personality. To please Jehovah fully, however, we must also obey the command: “Clothe yourselves with the new personality.” (Col. 3:10) In this article, we will answer the following questions: What is “the new personality”? How can we put on the new personality and keep it on?
WHAT IS “THE NEW PERSONALITY”?
3. Based on Galatians 5:22, 23, what is “the new personality,” and how does a person clothe himself with it?
3 “The new personality” is a way of thinking and acting that reflects Jehovah’s personality. A person clothes himself with the new personality by manifesting the fruitage of God’s spirit, allowing holy spirit to influence his thoughts, feelings, and actions. (Read Galatians 5:22, 23.) For example, he loves Jehovah and His people. (Matt. 22:36-39) Such a person maintains his joy even when coping with trials. (Jas. 1:2-4) He is a peacemaker. (Matt. 5:9) He is patient and kind when dealing with others. (Col. 3:13) He loves what is good and does it. (Luke 6:35) He proves by his actions that he has strong faith in his heavenly Father. (Jas. 2:18) He remains mild when provoked and exercises self-control when tempted.—1 Cor. 9:25, 27; Titus 3:2.
4. To put on the new personality, can we develop the qualities mentioned at Galatians 5:22, 23 just one at a time? Explain.
4 To put on the new personality, we need to develop all the qualities mentioned at Galatians 5:22, 23 and in other Bible passages.* These qualities are not like individual pieces of clothing that we put on one at a time. In fact, aspects of these qualities can be found in other qualities. For instance, if you truly love your neighbor, you will be patient with him and kind to him. And to be genuinely good, you must be mild and use self-control.
HOW CAN WE PUT ON THE NEW PERSONALITY?
5. What does it mean to “have the mind of Christ,” and why should we study Jesus’ life? (1 Corinthians 2:16)
5 Read 1 Corinthians 2:16. To put on the new personality, we need to “have the mind of Christ.” In other words, we must learn how Jesus thinks and then imitate him. Jesus displays the fruitage of God’s spirit perfectly. Like a flawless mirror, he reflects Jehovah’s qualities just as they are. (Heb. 1:3) The more we think like Jesus, the more we will act like him and the more successful we will be in reflecting his personality.—Phil. 2:5.
6. What facts should we keep in mind when trying to put on the new personality?
6 Is it really possible for us to follow Jesus’ example? We may think: ‘Jesus is perfect. I will never be completely like him!’ If you feel that way, remember these facts. First, you were designed to be like Jehovah and Jesus. So you can choose to imitate them, and you can succeed at least to some degree. (Gen. 1:26) Second, God’s holy spirit is the most powerful force in the universe. With its help, you can accomplish things that you could never do on your own. Third, Jehovah does not expect you to display the fruitage of the spirit perfectly now. In fact, our loving Father has set aside 1,000 years for those with an earthly hope to become perfect. (Rev. 20:1-3) What Jehovah requires of us now is to try our best and to rely on him for help.
7. What will we now consider?
7 How, specifically, can we imitate Jesus? We will briefly examine four aspects of the fruitage of God’s spirit. In each case, we will see what we can learn from the way Jesus displayed those qualities. As we do, we will consider some questions that can help us analyze how well we have done with putting on the new personality.
8. How did Jesus show love?
8 Jesus’ deep love for Jehovah moved him to make sacrifices for his Father and for us. (John 14:31; 15:13) Jesus proved the depth of his love for people by the way he lived his earthly life. Each day, he was loving and compassionate, even when some opposed him. A key way he showed his love for people was by teaching them about God’s Kingdom. (Luke 4:43, 44) Jesus also proved his self-sacrificing love for God and for men by willingly suffering an agonizing death at the hands of sinners. He thus opened the way for all of us to gain everlasting life.
9. How can we imitate Jesus in showing love?
9 We dedicated ourselves to Jehovah and got baptized because we love our heavenly Father. So, like Jesus, we should show love for Jehovah by how we treat people. The apostle John wrote: “The one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) We can ask ourselves: ‘Have I developed a deep love for people? Am I compassionate when dealing with others, even if they are rude to me? Does love move me to use my time and resources to help others learn about Jehovah? Am I willing to do this even when most people do not appreciate my efforts or when they oppose me? Can I find ways to spend more time in the disciple-making work?’—Eph. 5:15, 16.
10. How was Jesus a peacemaker?
10 Jesus was a peaceable man. When people treated him badly, he did not return evil for evil. But he did more than that. He took the initiative to make peace and encouraged others to settle their disputes. For example, he taught them that they must make peace with their brother if they wanted Jehovah to accept their worship. (Matt. 5:9, 23, 24) And he repeatedly helped the apostles to settle their dispute over which one among them was the greatest.—Luke 9:46-48; 22:24-27.
11. How can we be a peacemaker?
11 To be a peacemaker, we need to do more than just avoid causing conflicts. We need to take the initiative to make peace with others and to encourage our brothers and sisters to settle their differences. (Phil. 4:2, 3; Jas. 3:17, 18) We can ask ourselves these questions: ‘What am I willing to sacrifice in order to make peace with others? When a brother or a sister hurts my feelings, do I hold a grudge? Do I wait for the other person to take the initiative to restore peace, or do I take the first step, even if the other person seems to have caused the problem? When appropriate, do I encourage those who have a dispute to make peace with each other?’
12. How did Jesus show kindness?
12 Jesus was kind. (Matt. 11:28-30) He showed kindness by being gentle and yielding, even under difficult circumstances. For instance, when a Phoenician woman begged him to heal her child, he declined her request at first, but when she showed great faith, he kindly healed her child. (Matt. 15:22-28) Although he was kind, Jesus was not overly sentimental. Sometimes he showed kindness by being firm with those he loved. For instance, when Peter tried to discourage Jesus from doing Jehovah’s will, Jesus rebuked him in front of the other disciples. (Mark 8:32, 33) He did this, not to humiliate Peter, but to train him and to warn the other disciples not to be presumptuous. No doubt Peter felt some embarrassment, but he benefited from the discipline.
13. How can we be genuinely kind?
13 To be genuinely kind to those you love, at times you may have to speak frankly to them. When you do so, imitate Jesus by basing your counsel on principles found in God’s Word. Be gentle. Assume the best about them, trusting that those who love Jehovah and love you will respond well to your caring counsel. Ask yourself these questions: ‘Do I have the courage to speak up when I see someone I love doing something wrong? If I do need to give counsel, do I speak kindly, or do I speak harshly? What is my motive for giving counsel? Do I offer it because I am irritated by the person, or am I acting in his best interests?’
14. How did Jesus display goodness?
14 Jesus not only knows what is good but also does it. Jesus loves his Father, so he always does the right thing with the right motive. The quality of goodness becomes evident by the effect it has on others. It is an active quality that we can manifest by doing helpful deeds. It is not enough to know what is the right thing to do; we must do the right thing and with the right motive. Someone might ask, ‘Is it possible to do the right thing with the wrong motive?’ Yes, it is. For instance, Jesus spoke about those who gave alms to the poor but made sure that others knew about their gifts. Those seemingly good works were of little value to Jehovah.—Matt. 6:1-4.
15. How can we be genuinely good?
15 We can be genuinely good only if we do the right thing for unselfish reasons. So you might ask yourself: ‘Do I not only know what is the right thing to do but also follow through and actually do it? What is my motive for doing good things?’
HOW CAN WE KEEP OUR NEW PERSONALITY IN GOOD CONDITION?
16. What should we do each day, and why?
16 Let us not conclude that the work involved in putting on the new personality ends at baptism. We need to keep our beautiful “new garment” in good condition. In part, we can do that by looking for ways each day to display the fruitage of God’s spirit. Why? Because Jehovah is a God of action, and his spirit is an active force. (Gen. 1:2) So every aspect of the fruitage of the spirit can and must move us to action. For example, the disciple James wrote: “Faith without works is dead.” (Jas. 2:26) The same could be said of all the other aspects of the fruitage of God’s spirit. Each time we display them, we give evidence that God’s spirit is active in us.
17. How should we react when we fail to display the fruitage of the spirit?
17 Even Christians who have been baptized for many years at times fail to display the fruitage of the spirit. The important thing, though, is not to give up. Consider this illustration. If you tore your favorite garment, would you immediately throw it out? No. Most likely you would carefully repair the damage if that is possible. And you would be more careful thereafter. Likewise, if on occasion you fail to act in a kind, patient, or loving way toward someone, do not become discouraged. A heartfelt apology can repair the damage, so to speak, and put you on the path to restoring your good relationship with the person. Be determined to do better in the future.
18. Of what can we be certain?
18 How thankful we are to have the example set by Jesus! The more we imitate his thinking and attitude, the easier it will be for us to act like him. The more we act like Jesus, the better we will be at clothing ourselves with the new personality. In this study, we have looked at only four aspects of the fruitage of God’s spirit. Why not spend some time reviewing other aspects of the fruitage of the spirit and reflecting on how well you are displaying those qualities? You will find a list of articles on this topic in the Research Guide for Jehovah’s Witnesses under the subject “Christian Life” and then “Fruitage of the Spirit.” You can be certain that if you do your part, Jehovah will help you to put on the new personality and keep it on.
SONG 127 The Sort of Person I Should Be
No matter what our background is, we can put on “the new personality.” To do so, we must continue to adjust our way of thinking and strive to be like Jesus. This article will consider examples of Jesus’ thinking and actions. It will also show how we can continue to imitate him after we get baptized.