“Love one another intensely from the heart.”—1 PET. 1:22.
SONG 109 Love Intensely From the Heart
1. What specific command did Jesus give his disciples? (See cover picture.)
ON THE night before he died, Jesus gave his disciples a specific command. He told them: “Just as I have loved you, you also love one another.” Then he added: “By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:34, 35.
2. Why is it important to show love for one another?
2 Jesus said that his true disciples would be clearly identifiable if they showed the same sort of love that he displayed. That statement was true in the first century, and it is true today. How important it is that we overcome any challenges and show love for one another!
3. What will we consider in this article?
3 Human imperfection makes it difficult for us to show intense love for one another. Even so, we must try to imitate Christ. In this article, we will consider how love helps us to be peacemakers, to be impartial, and to be hospitable. As you study the material, ask yourself: ‘What can I learn from brothers and sisters who have continued to show love for one another despite challenges?’
BE A PEACEMAKER
4. According to Matthew 5:23, 24, why should we make peace with a brother who has something against us?
4 Jesus taught us the importance of making peace with a brother who has something against us. (Read Matthew 5:23, 24.) He emphasized that we need to maintain good relations with others if we are to please God. Jehovah is happy when we do our best to make peace with our brothers. He will not accept our worship if we hang on to resentment and refuse even to try to make peace.—1 John 4:20.
5. What made it difficult for one brother to make peace?
5 We may find it difficult to make peace. Why? Consider what happened to Mark. * He felt hurt when a brother criticized him and said bad things about him to others in the congregation. How did Mark react? “I lost control and got angry,” he recalls. Afterward, though, Mark regretted his behavior and tried to apologize to the brother and restore peace with him. But the brother rejected Mark’s efforts. Initially, Mark thought, ‘Why should I keep trying if he does not want to make peace?’ However, the circuit overseer encouraged him not to give up. What did Mark do?
6. (a) How did Mark pursue peace? (b) How did Mark apply Colossians 3:13, 14?
6 When Mark analyzed his thinking, he realized that he lacked humility and tended to be self-righteous. He recognized that he needed to change his attitude. (Col. 3:8, 9, 12) He humbly approached the brother again and apologized for his behavior. Mark also wrote letters to the brother, saying how sorry he was and how much he wanted to make a fresh start. Mark even gave the brother small gifts that he thought the brother would like. Sadly, the brother continued to hold a grudge. Nevertheless, Mark continued to obey Jesus’ command to love his brother and to be forgiving. (Read Colossians 3:13, 14.) Even when others do not respond to our efforts to make peace, true Christian love will help us to keep forgiving them and praying for a positive outcome.—Matt. 18:21, 22; Gal. 6:9.
7. (a) What did Jesus urge us to do? (b) What difficult situation did one sister face?
7 Jesus urged us to keep treating others the way we want to be treated. He added that we should not limit our love only to those who show love in return. (Luke 6:31-33) Though it would be unusual, what if someone in the congregation avoids you and refuses to greet you? That is what Lara experienced. She explains: “A sister ignored me, and I did not know why. I felt tense and did not enjoy going to the meetings.” At first, Lara reasoned: ‘I am not at fault. After all, others in the congregation also feel that this sister behaves strangely.’
8. What did Lara do to make peace, and what can we learn from her experience?
8 Lara took steps to make peace. She prayed to Jehovah and decided to talk to the sister. They spoke about the problem, hugged each other, and made peace. Everything seemed fine. Lara relates: “But later, the sister showed the same attitude toward me as she did earlier. I was so discouraged.” Initially, Lara felt that she could be happy only if the other sister changed her attitude. Eventually, though, Lara realized that the best thing she could do was to continue treating the sister with love and “freely forgiving” her. (Eph. 4:32–5:2) Lara remembered that true Christian love “does not keep account of the injury. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13:5, 7) Lara regained her peace of mind. In time, the sister was friendlier with her. When you pursue peace with your brothers and sisters and continue loving them, you can be sure that “the God of love and of peace will be with you.”—2 Cor. 13:11.
9. According to Acts 10:34, 35, why do we need to be impartial?
9 Jehovah is not partial. (Read Acts 10:34, 35.) When we are impartial, we prove that we are his children. We obey the command to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we maintain the peace of our spiritual family.—Rom. 12:9, 10; Jas. 2:8, 9.
10-11. How did one sister overcome her negative feelings?
10 Remaining impartial may not be easy for some. Consider, for example, what happened to a sister named Ruth. When she was a teenager, she had a bad experience with someone who was from a different country. How did it affect her? Ruth admits: “I hated everything about that country. I thought that all people from that place were the same, even the brothers and sisters.” How did Ruth overcome her negative feelings?
11 Ruth recognized that she had to fight her negative thinking. She read experiences and reports from the Yearbook about that country. She says: “I made an effort to think positively about the people of that land. I started to notice that the brothers and sisters had zeal for Jehovah. It became clear to me that they too are part of our worldwide brotherhood.” Gradually, Ruth realized that she needed to do more. She explains: “Whenever I met brothers and sisters from that country, I made a special effort to be friendly with them. I talked to them and got to know them better.” What was the result? Ruth says: “In time, my negative feelings disappeared.”
12. What problem did a sister named Sarah have?
12 Some may be partial without even realizing it. Sarah, for example, thought that she was impartial because she did not judge people based on their race, their financial standing, or their position of responsibility in the organization. But she admits: “I began to realize that I really was partial.” In what way? Sarah came from a well-educated family and preferred to associate with people who had the same background. Once she even told a friend: “I associate with fellow believers who are well-educated. I avoid those who are not.” Clearly, Sarah needed to change her attitude. How?
13. What can we learn from how Sarah changed her attitude?
13 A circuit overseer helped Sarah to analyze her attitude. She relates: “He commended me for my faithful service, good comments, and knowledge of the Scriptures. Then he explained that as our knowledge grows, we also need to cultivate such Christian qualities as humility, modesty, and mercy.” Sarah took the circuit overseer’s words to heart. She says: “I realized that what really matters is that we are kind and loving.” As a result, she began to view her brothers and sisters differently. She explains: “I tried to understand what qualities make them precious to Jehovah.” What about us? Never would we want to feel superior to others because of our education! If we have intense “love for the whole association of brothers,” we will avoid being partial.—1 Pet. 2:17.
14. According to Hebrews 13:16, how does Jehovah feel when we show hospitality to others?
14 Jehovah highly values hospitality. (Read Hebrews 13:16.) He considers it part of our worship, especially when we help the needy. (Jas. 1:27; 2:14-17) Therefore, the Scriptures encourage us to “follow the course of hospitality.” (Rom. 12:13) We express genuine fondness, affection, and friendship when we are hospitable. Jehovah is pleased whether we share with others a snack, something to drink, a meal, or our time and loving attention. (1 Pet. 4:8-10) However, there may be obstacles that can make it difficult for us to be hospitable.
15-16. (a) Why might some hesitate to show hospitality? (b) How did Edit overcome her hesitation to show hospitality?
15 We may hesitate to show hospitality because of our circumstances. Consider the example of a widow named Edit. Before she became a Witness, she preferred to have little contact with others. Edit felt that others were in a better position to be hospitable.
16 After she became a Witness, Edit changed her way of thinking. She took steps to be hospitable. She relates: “When our new Kingdom Hall was being built, an elder told me about a married couple who were coming to help with the project, and he asked me if I could offer them accommodations for two weeks. I remembered how Jehovah blessed the widow of Zarephath.” (1 Ki. 17:12-16) Edit agreed to host the couple. Was she blessed? She explains: “Two weeks turned into two months. During that time, we developed a close friendship.” Edit has also been blessed with close friends in the congregation. She is now a pioneer and enjoys having those with whom she works in the ministry come to her home for refreshments. She says: “Giving makes me feel good! And the truth is that I receive so many blessings in return.”—Heb. 13:1, 2.
17. What realization did Luke and his wife come to?
17 We may already be showing hospitality, but can we improve? For example, Luke and his wife are a hospitable couple. They were in the habit of inviting to their home their parents, relatives, close friends, and the circuit overseer and his wife. However, Luke says, “We realized that we were inviting only those who were close to us.” How did Luke and his wife improve in showing hospitality?
18. How did Luke and his wife improve in showing hospitality?
18 Luke and his wife changed their view after reflecting on Jesus’ words: “If you love those loving you, what reward do you have?” (Matt. 5:45-47) They realized that they needed to imitate Jehovah, who is generous toward all. So they made it a point to invite brothers and sisters whom they had not invited before. Luke says: “All of us now enjoy these occasions so much. Everyone feels encouraged and upbuilt.”
19. How do we prove that we are Jesus’ disciples, and what are you determined to do?
19 We have examined how having intense love for one another can help us to be peacemakers, to be impartial, and to be hospitable. We must overcome any negative feelings and love our brothers and sisters intensely from the heart. If we do, we will be happy and we will prove that we really are Jesus’ disciples.—John 13:17, 35.
SONG 88 Make Me Know Your Ways
^ par. 5 Jesus said that love is the identifying mark of true Christians. Love for our brothers and sisters moves us to be peacemakers, to be impartial, and to be hospitable. This may not always be easy. This article provides practical suggestions on how to continue loving one another intensely from the heart.
^ par. 5 Some names in this article have been changed.
^ par. 57 PICTURE DESCRIPTIONS: A sister’s first attempt to resolve a matter is not successful, but she does not give up. Her continued efforts to show love eventually succeed.
^ par. 59 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: An older brother is feeling excluded by others in the congregation.
^ par. 61 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A sister who initially hesitated to show hospitality changes her thinking, and the change brings her added happiness.