“We all received . . . undeserved kindness upon undeserved kindness.”
SONGS: 95, 13
1, 2. (a) Describe Jesus’ illustration of the owner of the vineyard. (b) How does the story illustrate the qualities of generosity and undeserved kindness?
EARLY one morning, the owner of a vineyard went to a marketplace to hire men to work for him. He offered them a certain amount of money, and the men accepted the offer. But because the owner needed more workers, he went back to the market several times during the day to hire more men. He offered to pay all the men an amount of money that was fair. At the end of the day, the owner gathered the workers in order to pay them. And whether they had worked all day or just one hour, he gave them the same amount of money. However, when the men who had worked all day began to complain, the owner said: ‘Did you not agree to the payment I offered? Do I not have the right to give all my workers whatever I want? Are you envious because I am generous?’
2 Jesus’ story teaches us an important lesson about Jehovah’s “undeserved kindness.”  (See endnote.) (Read 2 Corinthians 6:1.) How? Some may think that the men who worked all day deserved more money than the others. But the owner showed undeserved kindness to the workers who worked only part of the day. One expert said the following about the word for “undeserved kindness” used in the Bible: “The whole basic idea of the word is that of a free and undeserved gift, of something given to a man unearned and unmerited.”
JEHOVAH’S GENEROUS GIFT
3, 4. Why and how has Jehovah shown undeserved kindness toward all mankind?
3 The Bible tells us that God’s undeserved kindness is a “free gift.” (Ephesians 3:7) Because we cannot obey Jehovah perfectly, we do not deserve to receive any kindness from God. In fact, we deserve to die. King Solomon said: “There is no righteous man on earth who always does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) Later, the apostle Paul said: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and “the wages sin pays is death.”
4 Because Jehovah loves humans so much, he sent “his only-begotten Son” to die for us. That was the greatest act of undeserved kindness possible. (John 3:16) Paul said that Jesus is “now crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, so that by God’s undeserved kindness he might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9) Yes, “the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.”
5, 6. What are the results when we are ruled (a) by sin? (b) by undeserved kindness?
5 Why do we sin and die? The Bible says that “by the trespass of the one man death ruled as king.” So because we are Adam’s descendants, we are imperfect and we die. (Romans 5:12, 14, 17) However, we can still choose not to be ruled, or controlled, by sin. How is that possible? When we show faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice, we benefit from Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. The Bible says: “Where sin abounded, undeserved kindness abounded still more. To what end? So that just as sin ruled as king with death, so also undeserved kindness might rule as king through righteousness leading to everlasting life through Jesus Christ.”
6 Even though we are still sinners, we do not have to let sin rule over us. So when we do something wrong, we ask Jehovah for forgiveness. Paul warned us: “Sin must not be master over you, seeing that you are not under law but under undeserved kindness.” (Romans 6:14) How, then, can we benefit from God’s undeserved kindness? Paul said: “The undeserved kindness of God . . . trains us to reject ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.”
UNDESERVED KINDNESS “EXPRESSED IN VARIOUS WAYS”
7, 8. What does it mean that Jehovah’s undeserved kindness is “expressed in various ways”? (See opening pictures.)
7 The apostle Peter wrote: “To the extent that each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God’s undeserved kindness that is expressed in various ways.” (1 Peter 4:10) What does it mean that Jehovah’s undeserved kindness is “expressed in various ways”? It means that whatever difficulties we may have in life, Jehovah will give us what we need in order to endure. (1 Peter 1:6) He will always give us exactly what we need so that we can overcome each trial.
Whatever trials or difficulties we may have in life, Jehovah will always give us exactly what we need to overcome them
8 The apostle John wrote: “We all received from his fullness, even undeserved kindness upon undeserved kindness.” (John 1:16) Because Jehovah shows his undeserved kindness in many ways, we receive many blessings. What are some of these blessings?
9. How do we benefit from Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, and how can we show our gratitude for it?
9 Jehovah forgives our sins. Thanks to his undeserved kindness, Jehovah forgives our sins. But he does so only if we repent and continue to fight against our sinful desires. (Read 1 John 1:8, 9.) Paul explained to anointed Christians of his time how Jehovah forgives sins. He said: “[God] rescued us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, by means of whom we have our release by ransom, the forgiveness of our sins.” (Colossians 1:13, 14) We are so grateful for God’s mercy that we want to praise him. And because Jehovah forgives our sins, we can also receive many other wonderful blessings.
10. What do we enjoy because of God’s undeserved kindness?
10 We can have a peaceful relationship with God. We are imperfect, so from the time we are born, we are enemies of God. Yet Paul said: “When we were enemies we became reconciled to God through the death of his Son.” (Romans 5:10) Because of the ransom, we can become reconciled to God, that is, we can be at peace with him and become his friends. Paul explained this and how it relates to Jehovah’s undeserved kindness when he said to his anointed brothers: “Now that we have been declared righteous as a result of faith, let us enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have obtained access by faith into this undeserved kindness in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:1, 2) How grateful we are to enjoy a peaceful friendship with Jehovah!
11. How do the anointed bring the “other sheep” to righteousness?
11 We can become righteous before God. The prophet Daniel wrote that during the time of the end, “those having insight,” that is, the anointed, would bring “many to righteousness.” (Read Daniel 12:3.) How do the anointed do that? They preach the good news and teach millions of “other sheep” Jehovah’s laws. (John 10:16) They help them to be considered righteous before God, which is only possible because of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. Paul explained: “It is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his [God’s] undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus.”
12. How is prayer related to God’s undeserved kindness?
12 We can draw close to God through prayer. Because of his undeserved kindness, we can pray to Jehovah. Paul calls Jehovah’s throne “the throne of undeserved kindness,” and he invites us to approach it “with freeness of speech.” (Hebrews 4:16a) We can pray to Jehovah anytime through Jesus. This is truly a great honor! Paul said: “We have this freeness of speech and free access with confidence through our faith in him.”
13. How can undeserved kindness “help us at the right time”?
13 We can find help at the right time. Paul encouraged us to pray to Jehovah whenever there is a need, “so that we may receive mercy and find undeserved kindness to help us at the right time.” (Hebrews 4:16b) Whenever we have trials or difficulties in our lives, we can beg Jehovah for help. And he answers our prayers even though he does not have to do so. He often uses our brothers and sisters to help us. Jehovah answers our prayers “so that we may be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
14. How does Jehovah’s undeserved kindness benefit our hearts?
14 We can receive comfort for our hearts. It is a great blessing that Jehovah comforts us whenever we are under emotional stress. (Psalm 51:17) When Christians in Thessalonica were suffering persecution, Paul wrote: “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and gave everlasting comfort and good hope by means of undeserved kindness, comfort your hearts and strengthen you.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17, footnote.) How comforting it is to know that out of his undeserved kindness, Jehovah loves and cares for us!
15. Thanks to God’s undeserved kindness, what hope do we have?
15 We have the hope of everlasting life. Because we are sinners, we have no hope without Jehovah’s help. (Read Psalm 49:7, 8.) But Jehovah has given us a wonderful hope. What is it? Jesus said: “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who recognizes the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life.” (John 6:40) So we have the hope of living forever because of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. Paul said: “The undeserved kindness of God has been manifested, bringing salvation to all sorts of people.”
DO NOT TURN GOD’S UNDESERVED KINDNESS INTO AN EXCUSE TO SIN
16. How did some early Christians abuse God’s undeserved kindness?
16 We receive many blessings because of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. However, we should not abuse his kindness, that is, turn it into an excuse to sin. Among the early Christians, there were some who tried to “turn the undeserved kindness of . . . God into an excuse for brazen conduct.” (Jude 4) These unfaithful Christians apparently thought that they could sin and that Jehovah would always forgive them. They even tried to make their brothers join them in their sins. Today also, anyone doing that “has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness.”
17. What strong counsel did Peter give?
17 Satan has tricked some Christians today into thinking that they can commit sins and that Jehovah will automatically forgive them. It is true that Jehovah is willing to forgive sinners who repent; however, he does expect us to fight against our sinful desires. Jehovah inspired Peter to write: “You, therefore, beloved ones, having this advance knowledge, be on your guard so that you may not be led astray with them by the error of the lawless people and fall from your own steadfastness. No, but go on growing in the undeserved kindness and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
UNDESERVED KINDNESS BRINGS RESPONSIBILITIES
18. Because of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, what responsibilities do we have?
18 We are very grateful for Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. Therefore, we should use our gifts to honor Jehovah and to help others. We owe it to them. How can we use those gifts? Paul says: “Since, then, we have gifts that differ according to the undeserved kindness given to us . . . if it is a ministry, let us be at this ministry; or the one who teaches, let him be at his teaching; or the one who encourages, let him give encouragement; . . . the one who shows mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8) So because of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, we have the responsibility to work hard in the ministry, to teach the Bible to others, to encourage our brothers and sisters, and to forgive any who may offend us.
19. What responsibility of ours will be examined in the next article?
19 As those who have been blessed with Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, we should be moved to do our best “to bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God.” (Acts 20:24) We will examine this responsibility in the following article.