Look for the Good in All
“Do remember me, O my God, for good.”—NEHEMIAH 13:31.
1. How does Jehovah act with goodness toward all?
AFTER many cloudy and gray days, sunshine brings a welcome change. Spirits soar, and people experience a good feeling. Likewise, following long periods of blazing sunshine and dry weather, a shower of rain—even a cloudburst—provides refreshment and relief. Our loving Creator, Jehovah, has built into earth’s atmosphere this wonderful gift of weather. Jesus drew attention to God’s bounty when he taught: “Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45) Yes, Jehovah acts with goodness toward all. His servants should strive to imitate him by looking for the good in others.
2. (a) On what basis does Jehovah act with goodness? (b) What notice does Jehovah take of how we respond to his goodness?
2 On what basis does Jehovah act with goodness? Ever since Adam’s fall into sin, Jehovah has not failed to look for the good in humans. (Psalm 130:3, 4) His purpose is to restore obedient mankind to life in Paradise. (Ephesians 1:9, 10) His undeserved kindness has given us the prospect of deliverance from sin and imperfection through the promised Seed. (Genesis 3:15; Romans 5:12, 15) Acceptance of the ransom arrangement paves the way for an eventual return to perfection. Jehovah is now observing each of us to see, among other things, our reaction to his generosity. (1 John 3:16) He notices whatever we do to demonstrate our appreciation for his goodness. “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name,” wrote the apostle Paul.—Hebrews 6:10.
3. What question deserves our consideration?
3 How, then, can we imitate Jehovah in looking for the good in others? Let us consider answers to this question in four areas of life: (1) the Christian ministry, (2) the family, (3) the congregation, and (4) our relationships with others.
In Preaching and Disciple Making
4. How is participation in the Christian ministry an expression of looking for the good in others?
4 “The field is the world,” Jesus explained in answer to his disciples’ queries about the meaning of the parable of the wheat and the weeds. As Christ’s modern-day disciples, we recognize this truth when engaging in our ministry. (Matthew 13:36-38; 28:19, 20) Our field ministry involves the public declaration of our faith. The very fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses are now well-known for their ministry from house to house and on the streets testifies to our diligence in seeking out all who are deserving of the Kingdom message. Indeed, Jesus instructed: “Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving.”—Matthew 10:11; Acts 17:17; 20:20.
5, 6. Why do we persevere in making repeated visits to people in their homes?
5 When making uninvited calls on people, we observe their reaction to our message. Sometimes we find that one member of a household will give us a hearing ear, while another from within the home calls out, “We are not interested,” and the visit ends. How sorry we feel that opposition or lack of interest on the part of one person affects the response of another! What, then, can we do to persevere in looking for the good in all?
6 Our next visit to the home when we preach in that area may provide an opportunity to speak directly to the person who curtailed the earlier visit. Remembering what happened at that time can help us to prepare. The opposer may have acted with good motives, believing that he should stop the responsive one from listening to the Kingdom message. His views were perhaps shaped by false information about our intentions. But that does not prevent us from persisting in preaching the Kingdom good news at that home, tactfully trying to correct misunderstandings. We are interested in helping all to come to an accurate knowledge of God. Then perhaps Jehovah will draw that person to him.—John 6:44; 1 Timothy 2:4.
7. What can help us to be positive when we approach people?
7 Jesus’ instructions to his disciples took into account family opposition. Did he not state: “I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law”? Jesus added: “A man’s enemies will be persons of his own household.” (Matthew 10:35, 36) Yet, circumstances and attitudes change. A sudden illness, loss of a relative, disasters, emotional crises, and countless other factors influence people’s reaction to our preaching. If we have a negative view—that the people to whom we preach will remain unresponsive—are we really looking for the good in them? Why not joyfully revisit their homes on another occasion? We may find a different reaction. Sometimes it is not only what we say but the way we say it that elicits a changed response. Fervent prayer to Jehovah before we start preaching will surely help us to be positive and to present the Kingdom message in an appealing way to all.—Colossians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
8. What can result when Christians look for the good in their unbelieving relatives?
8 In some congregations many members of the same family serve Jehovah. Often what captured the admiration and respect of younger ones was the perseverance of an older relative whose good relationships within the family and within the marriage bond paved the way for a change of heart in the younger ones. Heeding the apostle Peter’s counsel has helped many a Christian wife to win her husband “without a word.”—1 Peter 3:1, 2.
In the Family
9, 10. How did both Jacob and Joseph look for the good in their family?
9 The close ties that link members of a family together provide another area in which we can look for the good in others. Consider a lesson from Jacob’s dealings with his sons. At Genesis chapter 37, verses 3 and 4, the Bible indicates that Jacob especially loved Joseph. Joseph’s siblings reacted jealously, even to the point of conspiring to murder their brother. However, note the attitudes of Jacob and Joseph later in their lives. Both looked for the good in their family.
10 When Joseph was serving as chief food administrator in famine-stricken Egypt, he welcomed his brothers. While not immediately revealing his identity, he maneuvered events to ensure that they were well cared for and had food to take back to their aging father. Yes, despite having been the victim of their hatred, Joseph acted in their best interests. (Genesis 41:53–42:8; 45:23) Likewise, on his deathbed Jacob pronounced prophetic blessings on all his sons. Though their wrong actions resulted in the curtailment of some privileges, no one was excluded from receiving an inheritance in the land. (Genesis 49:3-28) What a wonderful expression of enduring love Jacob there demonstrated!
11, 12. (a) What prophetic example emphasizes the importance of looking for the good within the family? (b) What lesson do we learn from the example of the father in Jesus’ illustration of the prodigal son?
11 Jehovah’s long-suffering in dealing with the faithless nation of Israel provides further insight into how he looks for the good in his people. Using the family circumstances of the prophet Hosea, Jehovah illustrated his enduring love. Gomer, Hosea’s wife, committed repeated acts of adultery. Despite that, Jehovah instructed Hosea: “Go once again, love a woman loved by a companion and committing adultery, as in the case of Jehovah’s love for the sons of Israel while they are turning to other gods and are loving raisin cakes.” (Hosea 3:1) Why such instructions? Jehovah knew that from among the nation that had strayed from his ways, individuals would respond to his forbearance. Hosea declared: “Afterwards the sons of Israel will come back and certainly look for Jehovah their God, and for David their king; and they will certainly come quivering to Jehovah and to his goodness in the final part of the days.” (Hosea 3:5) Surely this is a fine example on which to reflect when faced with family difficulties. Your continuing to look for the good in other family members will at least set a fine example in forbearance.
12 Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son offers yet more insight into how we can look for the good in connection with our own family. The younger son returned home after he quit his profligate life. The father treated him mercifully. How did the father react to complaints from the older son who had never left his family? Addressing his older son, the father declared: “Child, you have always been with me, and all the things that are mine are yours.” This was no bitter rebuff but simply confirmation of the father’s love. “We just had to enjoy ourselves and rejoice,” he continued, “because this your brother was dead and came to life, and he was lost and was found.” We can similarly keep looking for the good in others.—Luke 15:11-32.
In the Christian Congregation
13, 14. What is one way to practice the kingly law of love within the Christian congregation?
13 As Christians, we aim to practice the kingly law of love. (James 2:1-9) True, we may accept members of our congregation whose situation differs from ours materially. But do we have “class distinctions” based on racial, cultural, or even religious backgrounds? If so, how can we take James’ counsel to heart?
14 Welcoming all who attend Christian meetings gives evidence of our largeheartedness. When we take the initiative to speak to new ones who visit the Kingdom Hall, any initial nervousness and self-consciousness on their part may well disappear. Indeed, some who attend a Christian meeting for the very first time remark: “Everyone was so friendly. It seemed as though everyone knew me already. I felt at home.”
15. How can young ones in the congregation be helped to show an interest in the older ones?
15 In some congregations, a few youths may gather together inside or outside the Kingdom Hall at the end of a meeting, shying away from association with older ones. How might something positive be done to overcome this trend? A first step, of course, is for parents to train their children at home, preparing them for meetings. (Proverbs 22:6) They can be given the task of getting various publications ready so that all will have what is needed to take along with them to meetings. Parents are also in the best position to encourage their children to share a few thoughts with older and infirm ones at the Kingdom Hall. Having something purposeful to say to such ones can give children a feeling of satisfaction.
16, 17. How can adults look for the good in younger ones in the congregation?
16 Older brothers and sisters should take an interest in the young ones in the congregation. (Philippians 2:4) They could take the initiative to speak to young ones in an encouraging way. Usually some outstanding points are developed during the meeting. Young ones could be asked if they enjoyed the meeting and whether there were any points that they especially appreciated and that could be applied. As an integral part of the congregation, youths should be given recognition for their attentiveness and commended for any comments they make during the meeting or for any share they have in program parts. The way in which youths interact with older ones in the congregation and the way they take care of simple chores at home will indicate that they can likely care well for greater responsibilities later on in life.—Luke 16:10.
17 By accepting responsibility, some youngsters progress to the point where their spiritual qualities enable them to receive weightier assignments. Having something to do may also help to stifle foolish conduct. (2 Timothy 2:22) Such assignments may ‘test as to fitness’ brothers who are reaching out to serve as ministerial servants. (1 Timothy 3:10) Their ready participation at the meetings and their zeal in the ministry, as well as their caring attitude toward all in the congregation, enable the elders to discern their potential when considering them for additional assignments.
Looking for the Good in All
18. What pitfall as to judging is to be avoided, and why?
18 “The showing of partiality in judgment is not good,” declares Proverbs 24:23. Heavenly wisdom dictates that elders avoid partiality when judging matters in the congregation. James declared: “The wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, not making partial distinctions, not hypocritical.” (James 3:17) Obviously, while looking for the good in others, elders need to ensure that their judgment is not beclouded by personal relationships or emotions. “God is stationing himself in the assembly of the Divine One,” wrote the psalmist Asaph. “In the middle of the gods [“godlike ones,” footnote, referring to human judges] he judges: ‘How long will you keep on judging with injustice and showing partiality to the wicked themselves?’” (Psalm 82:1, 2) Accordingly, Christian elders shun any hint of favoritism where matters involving a friend or relative are concerned. In this way they preserve the unity of the congregation and allow Jehovah’s spirit to flow freely.—1 Thessalonians 5:23.
19. In what ways can we look for the good in others?
19 In looking for the good in our brothers and sisters, we reflect Paul’s attitude when he addressed the Thessalonian congregation. He said: “Moreover, we have confidence in the Lord regarding you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things we order.” (2 Thessalonians 3:4) We will be more inclined to cover over the faults of others when we look for the good in them. We will search out areas in which we can commend our brothers, certainly avoiding a critical spirit. “What is looked for in stewards,” wrote Paul, “is for a man to be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2) The faithfulness not only of those having stewardship of the congregation but of all our Christian brothers and sisters endears them to us. We are thus drawn closer to them, strengthening the bonds of Christian friendship. We adopt a view like that of Paul toward brothers in his day. They are “fellow workers for the kingdom of God” and “a strengthening aid” to us. (Colossians 4:11) We thus manifest Jehovah’s attitude.
20. What blessings will come to those who look for the good in all?
20 Surely we echo Nehemiah’s prayer: “Do remember me, O my God, for good.” (Nehemiah 13:31) How glad we are that Jehovah looks for the good in people! (1 Kings 14:13) May we act likewise in our dealings with others. Doing so offers us the prospect of redemption and life eternal in the new world now so near.—Psalm 130:3-8.
How Would You Answer?
• On what basis does Jehovah act with goodness toward all?
• How can we look for the good in others
• in our ministry?
• in our family?
• in our congregation?
• in all our relationships?
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Despite his brothers’ earlier hatred toward him, Joseph looked for their good
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Opposition does not prevent us from trying to help all
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Despite their past, none of Jacob’s sons were excluded from his blessings
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Welcome all at Christian meetings