|International Bible Studies|
LESSON FOR DECEMBER 6, 1970
Concern for Others
MEMORY VERSE: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” —Galatians 5:22,23
I JOHN 3:11-18, 23, 24
THE very essence of true Christianity is concern for others. It was God’s concern for the sinful and dying human family that motivated him to give his beloved Son to be the Redeemer and Savior of mankind. It was Jesus’ concern for humanity that led him to lay down his life on Calvary’s cross that all might have an opportunity to escape from sin’s condemnation.
Jesus’ emotional concern was displayed at the time of Lazarus’ death. The mourners were gathered in memory of their friend, and of course his sisters, Mary and Martha, were present, weighted down with grief. Jesus’ keen sense of perception took in the situation, and knowing that sadness and grief has been experienced by all mankind throughout the ages, and that it would continue until his kingdom would destroy the Grim Reaper, we are told that “Jesus wept.”—John 11:35
Those present noticed this, and said, “Behold how He loved him.” (John 11:36) True love is always aware of the difficulties and needs of others, and always ready to do what is possible to render aid. Jesus’ loving concern led him to lay down his life for others, and daily throughout his ministry he spent his strength helping others—healing the sick, and even raising the dead, as he did in the case of Lazarus. The consummation of his loving service provided the redeeming merit which guarantees to all an awakening from death.
While Jesus loved the whole world of mankind, his chief interest at the time was in his own disciples, those who had forsaken all to follow him. These were the ones who realized more than did the unbelieving world just how unselfish and self-sacrificing Jesus was on their behalf; how patient and kind he was in his association with them.
Jesus taught his disciples that he wanted them to display the same love toward one another. As John wrote, “This is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (I John 3:11,12) John reminds us of the opposite of this spirit as exemplified in Cain, who, instead of loving his brother Abel, was jealous of him and slew him.
We are not to marvel if the world hate us, for we are out of harmony with the world. But let us not sink to the moral level of the world and hate one another. John wrote, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”—I John 3:14,15
It will be noticed that in verse 16 the words “of God” are in italics. This indicates that these words do not appear in the Greek text. The improper insertion of these two words in the text makes it appear as though God laid down his life. But this is not true. It was Jesus who laid down his life as a manifestation of godlike love, and we should follow in his steps by laying down our lives for the brethren.
How do we display this love? John makes a suggestion: “Whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
As John points out, if we have the true spirit of loving service for our brethren we have this evidence that we are dwelling in Christ, and that he is dwelling in us. Let us manifest this love, first because we have been commanded to do so, and secondly because we want to be like Jesus.
Our memory verse reminds us of the fruitage of the indwelling spirit of God in our hearts, and what wonderful fruitage it is—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and temperance, or self-control. There is no law against bearing this fruit of the Spirit.
How was the concern of God and of Jesus demonstrated toward mankind?
Who during the Gospel Age have been the chief concern of Jesus?
How does a Christian display his concern for others?