“Continue . . . forgiving one another freely.”
SONGS: 121, 75
1, 2. How did the Bible foretell the increase of Jehovah’s people?
AROUND the earth, there is an organization made up of people who love Jehovah and want to serve him. Those people are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although they have faults and make mistakes, Jehovah guides his people with his holy spirit. Let us see some ways he has blessed them.
2 In 1914, very few people worshipped Jehovah. But Jehovah has blessed the preaching work. As a result, millions have learned Bible truths and have become his Witnesses. Jehovah described this amazing increase when he said: “The little one will become a thousand and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, will speed it up in its own time.” (Isaiah 60:22) Today we can see clearly that this prophecy has been fulfilled. Jehovah’s people are like a large nation. In fact, there are many nations around the world with a smaller population than the total number of Jehovah’s people.
3. How have God’s servants shown love?
3 During these last days, Jehovah has helped his people to strengthen their love for one another. “God is love,” and they imitate him. (1 John 4:8) Jesus commanded his followers to “love one another.” He also told them: “By this all will know that you are my disciples
4. Why is the increase of Jehovah’s people noteworthy?
4 God’s people continue to increase in number even though they have a powerful enemy, Satan. He is “the god of this system of things.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) Satan controls the political organizations of this world, as well as the news media, and he uses these to try to stop the preaching of the good news. But he cannot stop this work. However, Satan knows that he has only a short time left, so he keeps on trying to stop us from worshipping Jehovah.
WILL YOU BE LOYAL WHEN OTHERS MAKE MISTAKES?
5. Why may others at times hurt our feelings? (See opening picture.)
5 God’s servants learn that it is very important to love God and other people. Jesus said: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:35-39) However, the Bible shows that all humans are born imperfect as a result of Adam’s sin. (Read Romans 5:12, 19.) So at times some in the congregation may say or do something that hurts our feelings. When this happens, what will we do? Will our love for Jehovah stay strong? Will we be loyal to him and to his people? The Bible tells us about some of God’s servants who said or did things that hurt others. Let us see what we can learn from what happened to them.
6. In what sense did Eli fail to discipline his sons?
6 For example, Eli was the high priest of Israel, but his two sons disobeyed Jehovah’s laws. The Bible says: “The sons of Eli were wicked men; they had no regard for Jehovah.” (1 Samuel 2:12) Eli knew that his sons were doing very bad things. Even so, he did not discipline them enough. In time, Jehovah punished Eli and his two sons. And later on, he no longer allowed Eli’s descendants to serve as high priests. (1 Samuel 3:10-14) If you had lived in Eli’s time and had known that he let his sons do terrible things, would you have been stumbled? Would this situation have weakened your faith in Jehovah, and as a result, would you have stopped serving him?
7. How did David sin seriously, and what did God do about it?
7 David had wonderful qualities, and that is why Jehovah loved him very much. (1 Samuel 13:13, 14; Acts 13:22) But even David did something very bad. When Uriah was away fighting in a war, David had sexual relations with Uriah’s wife, Bath-sheba, and she became pregnant. David did not want anyone to know what he had done. So he ordered Uriah to come see him and then tried to convince him to go to his home. David hoped that Uriah would have sexual relations with Bath-sheba so that people would think that Uriah was the father of the baby. But Uriah would not go home. So David made sure that Uriah would be killed in the battle. Because of his serious sins, David and his family suffered very much. (2 Samuel 12:9-12) Yet Jehovah was merciful and forgave him. He knew that David wanted to do what was right. (1 Kings 9:4) If you had lived back then, how would you have felt about what David did? Would you have stopped serving Jehovah?
8. (a) How did the apostle Peter fail to keep his word? (b) After Peter’s mistake, why did Jehovah continue to use Peter?
8 Another Bible example is the apostle Peter. Jesus chose him to be an apostle. Even so, Peter at times said or did things that were not right. For example, Peter said that he would never abandon Jesus even if everyone else did. (Mark 14:27-31, 50) But after Jesus was arrested, all the apostles, including Peter, abandoned him. Then, three different times, Peter said that he did not know Jesus. (Mark 14:53, 54, 66-72) However, Peter felt deeply sad about what he had done. So Jehovah forgave him and continued to use him. If you had been a disciple at that time and had known what Peter did, would you have continued to trust in Jehovah?
We can be absolutely sure that Jehovah will always do what is right and just
9. Why do you trust that God is always just?
9 From these examples, we see that some servants of Jehovah have done bad things and have hurt others deeply. When this happens today, what will you do? Will you stop going to the meetings or even abandon Jehovah and his people completely? Or will you realize that Jehovah is merciful and that he may be waiting for a person to repent? But there may be times when someone who is guilty of serious sins does not feel sorry about what he has done. Will you trust that Jehovah knows this and that he will do something about it at the proper time? He may even remove that person from the congregation if necessary. Do you believe that Jehovah will always do what is right and just?
10. What did Jesus understand about the faults of Judas Iscariot and Peter?
10 In the Bible, we read about many who remained loyal to Jehovah and his people even though others around them made serious mistakes. Jesus is the best example. After spending a night praying for his Father’s help, he chose the 12 apostles. But one of them, Judas Iscariot, later betrayed him. Also, the apostle Peter said that he did not know Jesus. (Luke 6:12-16; 22:2-6, 31, 32) Jesus did not blame Jehovah or the rest of the disciples when some disappointed him. Jesus stayed close to his Father and continued to serve him loyally. As a result, Jehovah rewarded him by resurrecting him and later making him King of the Kingdom in heaven.
11. The Bible foretold what about Jehovah’s servants in this time?
11 Jesus’ example teaches us to be loyal to Jehovah and his people. And we have good reasons to do so. We can see that Jehovah is guiding his servants in this time of the end. He is helping them to preach the truth worldwide, and they are the only ones doing this work. They are also truly united and happy because of all that Jehovah is teaching them. Jehovah described this when he said: “Look! My servants will shout joyfully because of the good condition of the heart.”
It would be unwise and unfair to leave Jehovah and his people just because someone makes a mistake
12. How should we view the faults of others?
12 We are truly happy because Jehovah guides us and helps us to do many good things. In contrast, people in Satan’s world are not happy and have no real hope for the future. How unwise and unfair it would be to leave Jehovah and his people just because someone in the congregation does or says something that is not right! Instead, we must remain loyal to Jehovah and follow his direction. We also need to learn how to view and react to the faults of others.
HOW SHOULD YOU REACT?
13, 14. (a) Why should we be patient with one another? (b) What promise do we want to remember?
13 What should you do if one of your brothers says or does something that hurts your feelings? The Bible gives this advice: “Do not be quick to take offense, for the taking of offense lodges in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9) All of us are imperfect and make mistakes. So we cannot expect that our brothers will always say and do the right thing. And it would not be good for us to keep thinking about their mistakes. If we did, we might no longer feel happy while serving Jehovah. Even worse, our faith in him might weaken, and we might leave Jehovah’s organization. Then, we could not serve Jehovah or hope to live in his new world.
14 So, what can help you remain happy serving Jehovah when others do something that troubles you? Always remember his comforting promise: “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, nor will they come up into the heart.” (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13) Jehovah will give you these blessings if you remain loyal to him.
15. What did Jesus say we should do when others make mistakes?
15 Of course, we are not yet in the new world. So if someone hurts our feelings, we need to meditate on what Jehovah wants us to do. For example, Jesus said: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” And when Peter asked Jesus whether we should forgive “up to seven times,” Jesus replied: “I say to you, not up to seven times, but up to 77 times.” Jesus taught us that we should always be willing to forgive others.
16. What good example did Joseph set?
16 Joseph’s example teaches us how to react when others disappoint us. Joseph and his younger brother were the only sons of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob had ten other sons, but he loved Joseph more than all of them. This made them very jealous of Joseph. In fact, they hated him so much that they sold him as a slave, and he was taken to Egypt. After many years, the king of Egypt made Joseph the second most powerful person in that country because he was very impressed with Joseph’s good work. Later, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food as a result of a famine. When they saw Joseph, they did not recognize him, but he knew who they were. Although they had treated him badly, he did not punish them. Instead he tested them to find out if they had truly changed. When Joseph realized that they had changed, he told them that he was their brother. Later, he comforted them and said: “Do not be afraid. I will keep supplying you and your little children with food.”
17. What do you want to do when others make mistakes?
17 Remember that since everyone has faults, you too may offend others. So if you realize that you have upset someone, follow the Bible’s advice. Ask him to forgive you, and try to make peace with him. (Read Matthew 5:23, 24.) We like it when others forgive us. So we should do the same for them. Colossians 3:13 tells us: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely even if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Just as Jehovah freely forgave you, you must also do the same.” If we really love our brothers, we will not keep feeling upset about something they have done in the past. (1 Corinthians 13:5) And if we forgive others, Jehovah will forgive us too. So when others make mistakes, may we be merciful with them just as our Father, Jehovah, is merciful with us.