16. With what did John and his fellow disciples respond to God’s fatherly love, and how has the “bond of love” proved to be with regard to the anointed remnant and the “other sheep”?
16 As a spirit-begotten son of God, the apostle John was in a family relationship with Jehovah God and with his Son, “the only-begotten god,” Jesus Christ. John and his fellow Christians responded to God’s fatherly affection with a filial love. That love was a “bond of union” between them and their invisible heavenly Father. It also cemented the spirit-begotten ones together as the spiritual sons of God and as Christian brothers and sisters. As we examine that “bond of union” today we see that it has proved to be “perfect,” for the members of the anointed remnant cleave together inseparably as fellow worshipers and witnesses of Jehovah God. This love keeps them in the family of God and in the Christian brotherhood. Noteworthily, their fellow worshipers at God’s temple, the “great crowd” of Christ’s “other sheep,” display the same unquenchable love that binds Jehovah’s Witnesses of today together so perfectly. Determinedly, may we share the conviction of the apostle Paul that no “creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Romans 8:38, 39.
Whereas the world is in a state of disintegration and the world elements are about to melt due to the intense heat, the “bond of union” based on love from God does not get dissolved. It still holds intact toward God and his approved organization and between the remnant of the “little flock” and the welcome “great crowd” of the “other sheep.” It proves to be “perfect.” Love as the “bond” is a fruit of God’s spirit.
13. Why will love never die?
13 God is the personification of love; and since God never dies, love will never die. It is correctly said, “God is love.”
14. What truth can be restated as to the unifying power of love?
14 As regards the unifying power of love, the inspired truth stated at 1 John 4:8, 16 can be repeated and enlarged upon: “God is love, and he that remains in love remains in union with God and God remains in union with him.”
Clothing Ourselves With Love and Wearing It
1. What is the thing with which to clothe ourselves, and when is the greatest test of it to come?
SINCE love is a “perfect bond of union,” it is the all-important quality with which to clothe ourselves unhypocritically. We must wear it constantly in all sincerity. It is no cloak that disguises one’s real self. For our counsel today the inspired words have been preserved: “Let your love be without hypocrisy. . . . In brotherly love have tender affection for one another.” (Romans 12:9, 10) The greatest test of the genuineness of our love, this “bond of union,” is yet to come—in the near future.
2. Is love attainable without anything preliminary?
2 Now, then, is the opportune time for us to cultivate that love. All the steps that lead up to the attainment of that quality must be taken now. That is why the apostle Paul crowns his recommendation of various things that the dedicated, baptized disciples of Jesus Christ needed to do, by saying: “Besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) So what are “these things” besides which we must clothe ourselves with love?
Overcoming Divisive Factors
3. According to Colossians 3:9-13, what are the steps that need to be taken toward the attainment of love?
3 Back there in the days of the apostles Paul and John there were features, or factors, that might have served as grounds for division. But those onetime valid grounds had now to be ignored, devalued as to their importance and weight. The Christians were all one congregation, one corporative unit under the one spiritual Head, Jesus Christ. All fleshly bases for making divisions had to be brushed aside. The unifying spiritual facts had to be kept to the fore. In keeping with this, the apostle Paul proceeded to say: “Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all things and in all. Accordingly, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.”—Colossians 3:9-13.
4. Why was there need to get along with one another in the first-century congregation, and on what basis might certain things have been ignored?
4 With all the above-mentioned differences in national extraction and religious background, social standing, racial and color features, there were difficulties in getting along with one another in the congregation. There was need for understanding and for making allowances with regard to one another. For, though those things may have mattered with fleshly men, they certainly did not matter with God and with his Son Jesus Christ, who died for all mankind at a time when all these differences had grown up and still persisted. Of course, broad-minded men might, out of their own generosity of soul, have overlooked such differences, doing so on general principles. To do so might even have been good policy, no, rather, plain, downright humanity. Yet pure, unselfish love might be lacking.
5. Beyond what things of an ordinary human kind must Jehovah’s Witnesses go when ignoring divisive things, and thus demonstrate that they are in union with whom?
5 For that reason we dedicated, baptized followers of the One who gave his perfect human life in behalf of all sorts of men must go beyond mere formality, agreeableness, niceness, mannerliness, humane feeling; we must be motivated by sincere, disinterested love as a fruit of the spirit of Jehovah God. This fruit seeks the benefit and the gain of others. It is glad to make a contribution to the spiritual well-being and happiness of others. It demonstrates that we are in union with God, who is the embodiment of love. There is a drawing power in this love. In line with this 1 John 4:19 states: “We love, because he first loved us.”
6. By what are the members of the “one flock” attracted to one another, and on what is the fruit of God’s spirit not based?
6 Consequently, when the varied elements that make up the “one flock” under the “one shepherd” express love toward one another, it draws them tightly together and offsets the divisive influence of the various backgrounds of the members of the “one flock.” They are attracted to one another because of having clothed themselves with the “new personality.” They all have the “one spirit” that emanates from the one divine Source, the God and Life-Giver of all. The heartwarming fruit of his spirit is a love, not based on sex or selfish lustful desire, but based on the heartfelt appreciation of the godlike qualities of the “new personality.” It alone functions as a “perfect bond of union,” preserving harmony and cooperativeness.