“Thanks be to God for his indescribable free gift.”
SONGS: 121, 63
1, 2. (a) What does God’s “indescribable free gift” include? (b) What questions will we consider in this article?
WHEN Jehovah sent his only-begotten Son to this earth, He gave what would become the greatest possible gift of love! (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9, 10) The apostle Paul called it God’s “indescribable free gift.” (2 Cor. 9:15) Why did he use that expression?
2 Paul knew that all the magnificent promises of God were guaranteed through the perfect sacrifice of Christ. (Read 2 Corinthians 1:20.) Thus, that “indescribable free gift” would include all the goodness and loyal love that Jehovah would extend to us through Jesus. Indeed, that gift is so awe-inspiring that it cannot be fully described in human terms. How should receiving such an extraordinary gift affect us? And in what practical ways should this gift motivate us as we prepare to observe the Memorial of Christ’s death on Wednesday, March 23, 2016?
GOD’S SPECIAL GIFT
3, 4. (a) How do you feel when someone gives you a gift? (b) How might a special gift change your life?
3 When you receive a gift, you are no doubt filled with a range of emotions. However, some gifts may be so special or meaningful that they are truly life-changing. For example, imagine that you were facing execution because you had been implicated in a crime. Suddenly, a person whom you do not know steps out of the crowd and volunteers to accept the penalty for you. He is actually willing to die instead of you! What effect would such an outstanding gift have on you?
4 Receiving such an unselfish expression of love would no doubt compel you to reconsider your actions and even change the way you had been living your life. It would likely move you to be more generous and loving toward others and even to forgive any who had wronged you. For the rest of your life, you would feel indebted to the person who willingly took your place.
5. How is God’s gift of the ransom much greater than any other gift?
5 Yet, what Jehovah has given us through Christ is far greater than the gift described in this example. (1 Pet. 3:18) Consider why. Because of inherited sin, we are all facing the death penalty. (Rom. 5:12) Lovingly, Jehovah arranged for Jesus to come to the earth and “taste death for everyone.” (Heb. 2:9) Not only did Jehovah save our present life but he laid the basis for wiping out the cause of death forever. (Isa. 25:7, 8; 1 Cor. 15:22, 26) All who exercise faith in Jesus will receive everlasting life in peace and happiness as earthly subjects of God’s Kingdom by Christ or, for the anointed, as corulers in that Kingdom. (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 5:9, 10) What other blessings are included in this gift from Jehovah?
6. (a) What blessings of Jehovah’s gift do you look forward to? (b) Name three things God’s gift will motivate us to do.
6 Jehovah’s gift includes the curing of all our sicknesses, the transformation of our earth into a paradise, and the resurrection of the dead. (Isa. 33:24; 35:5, 6; John 5:28, 29) We surely love Jehovah and his dear Son for giving us what is an “indescribable free gift.” Yet, the question remains, What will God’s love move us to do? Let us consider how God’s love moves us (1) to follow the steps of Christ Jesus closely, (2) to express love for our brothers, and (3) to forgive others from the heart.
“THE LOVE THE CHRIST HAS COMPELS US”
7, 8. How should we feel about the love of Christ, and what should it motivate us to do?
7 First, we must be compelled to live our lives for Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul stated: “The love the Christ has compels us.” (Read 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15.) Paul realized that we could not accept the extraordinary love of Christ without being compelled, or moved, to live for him. When our minds fully comprehend what Jehovah has done for us and our hearts are moved by his love, we desire to live our lives whole-souled for Christ Jesus. How do we show that desire?
8 Those who love Jehovah are compelled to imitate Christ’s example, walking as he walked and following his steps closely. (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 John 2:6) Through our obedience, we prove our love for God and Christ. Jesus said: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. In turn, whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will clearly show myself to him.”
9. What pressures do we have?
9 During the Memorial season, we do well to meditate on our life course. Ask yourself: ‘In what areas am I doing well in following in the steps of Christ Jesus? In what areas could I improve?’ This self-examination is vital, as we are constantly being pressured to follow the ways of this world. (Rom. 12:2) If we are not careful, we could become disciples of this world’s philosophers or even of its celebrities and sports heroes. (Col. 2:8; 1 John 2:15-17) How can we resist those pressures?
10. What questions can we ask ourselves during this Memorial season, and what may the answers motivate us to do? (See opening picture.)
10 We can use the Memorial season as an opportunity to look through our wardrobe, our movie and music collections, perhaps even the material stored on our computers, smartphones, and tablets. As you look through your wardrobe, ask yourself: ‘If I were going to a place where Jesus would be present, would I feel uncomfortable wearing this clothing?’ (Read 1 Timothy 2:9, 10.) ‘If I did wear it, would it be obvious to all that I am a follower of Christ Jesus?’ We could ask ourselves similar questions about our choice of movies and music. ‘Would Jesus be entertained by watching this movie or by listening to this music? If he borrowed my cell phone or tablet, would I be embarrassed by what he saw there?’ As you consider the subject matter of a video game, ask yourself: ‘Would I find it difficult to explain to Jesus why I enjoy playing it?’ Our love for Jehovah should compel us to get rid of anything that would be inappropriate for a disciple of Christ, regardless of the cost involved. (Acts 19:19, 20) We promised at the time of our dedication that we would live no longer for ourselves but for Christ. Therefore, we should not cling to anything that could hinder us from following Christ’s steps closely.
11. (a) How does our love for Jehovah and Jesus motivate us in the preaching work? (b) How can our love motivate us to help others in the congregation?
11 Our love for Jesus also moves us to work whole-souled in the preaching and disciple-making work. (Matt. 28:19, 20; Luke 4:43) During the Memorial season, we will have the opportunity to serve as an auxiliary pioneer and spend 30 or 50 hours in the preaching work. Could you arrange your circumstances to do so? One 84-year-old widower did not feel that he could auxiliary pioneer because of his age and poor health. Nonetheless, the pioneers in his area rallied to his aid. They provided transportation and carefully chose territory that he could work, so that he could meet his 30-hour goal. Could you reach out and help someone in your congregation so that he or she could share in the joy of auxiliary pioneering during the Memorial season? Of course, not all of us may be able to auxiliary pioneer. Even so, we can use whatever time and energy we have to increase our sacrifice of praise to Jehovah. By doing this, we show that we, like Paul, are motivated by the love of Christ. What else will God’s love move us to do?
WE ARE OBLIGATED TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER
12. God’s love motivates us to do what?
12 Second, God’s love would compel us to express love for our brothers. The apostle John recognized this. He wrote: “Beloved ones, if this is how God loved us, then we are also under obligation to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11) Yes, we cannot properly accept God’s love without recognizing our obligation to love our brothers. (1 John 3:16) How can we demonstrate our love in practical ways?
13. What example did Jesus set in loving others?
13 Consider the example of Jesus. During his earthly ministry, he gave special attention to lowly ones. He reached out to those with physical infirmities
14. What can you do to show love for your brothers?
14 The Memorial season provides an opportunity to imitate Jesus by taking time to consider the brothers and sisters in your own congregation. As you do so, you will no doubt see some who could benefit from your love. Perhaps there are elderly brothers and sisters who need help. Could you visit these dear ones? Could you bring them a meal, help them with a household chore, offer them a ride to the meeting, or invite them to share with you in the ministry? (Read Luke 14:12-14.) We must let God’s love move us to reach out and express our love for our brothers.
SHOW MERCY TO OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS
15. What must we recognize?
15 Third, Jehovah’s love must compel us to forgive our brothers and sisters. As children of the first man, Adam, we have all inherited sin and its penalty, death. Not one of us can say, “I do not need the ransom.” Even the most faithful servant of God is completely dependent on Jehovah’s undeserved kindness through Christ. Each of us must recognize that we have been forgiven an enormous debt. Why is this important? The answer is found in one of Jesus’ parables.
16, 17. (a) What should we learn from Jesus’ illustration of the king and the slaves? (b) After meditating on Jesus’ illustration, what are you determined to do?
16 Jesus related how a king had forgiven his slave a huge debt of 10,000 talents, or 60,000,000 denarii. Yet, that slave who was forgiven so much was not willing to forgive the much smaller debt of his fellow slave, 100 denarii. The king was furious when he learned of the hardheartedness of the slave he had mercifully forgiven. The king said: “Wicked slave, I canceled all that debt for you when you pleaded with me. Should you not also have shown mercy to your fellow slave as I showed mercy to you?” (Matt. 18:23-35, ftn.) Yes, the extraordinary mercy of the king should have compelled that slave to forgive his fellow slave. Similarly, what should Jehovah’s love and mercy compel us to do?
17 The Memorial season provides us with an opportunity to consider if we are harboring some resentment against any of our brothers or sisters. If so, what a fine time this would be to imitate Jehovah, who is “ready to forgive.” (Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:5) If we appreciate what Jehovah has done for us in canceling our own enormous debt, then we will want to forgive others from our heart. We simply cannot receive the love and forgiveness of God unless we love and forgive others. (Matt. 6:14, 15) While it is true that forgiving will not change the past, it will certainly change our future for the good.
18. How did God’s love help one sister to put up with the imperfections of another sister?
18 For many of us, daily “putting up with” our brothers and sisters may be a challenge. (Read Colossians 3:13, 14; Ephesians 4:32.) For example, Lily is a single sister in the congregation who willingly helped a widow named Carol.  Lily provided Carol with transportation, ran errands for her, and demonstrated kindness in many other practical ways. In spite of all that Lily did, Carol was consistently critical and hard to deal with. Nonetheless, Lily focused on Carol’s good qualities. She continued to assist her for several years until Carol became seriously ill and died. “Even so,” Lily says, “I look forward to seeing Carol in the resurrection. I want to know her when she is perfect.” Yes, God’s love can compel us to put up with our brothers and sisters and to look forward to the time when human imperfection will be gone forever.
19. How will God’s “indescribable free gift” motivate you?
19 We have truly received an “indescribable free gift” from Jehovah. May we never take this precious gift for granted. Instead, especially during this Memorial season, may we meditate appreciatively on all that Jehovah and Jesus have done for us. Yes, may their love compel us to follow the steps of Jesus closely, to reach out and express our love for our brothers, and to forgive our brothers from the heart.
^  (paragraph 18) Some names in this article have been changed.