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How to Keep Our Love for One Another Strong

How to Keep Our Love for One Another Strong

“Let us continue loving one another, because love is from God.”​—1 JOHN 4:7.

SONG 109 Love Intensely From the Heart


1-2. (a) Why could the apostle Paul say that love is “the greatest” quality? (b) What questions will we consider?

 WHEN the apostle Paul was discussing faith, hope, and love, he concluded by saying that “the greatest of these [qualities] is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13) Why could Paul say this? In the future, we will no longer need to have faith in God’s promises about his new world or hope that those promises will be fulfilled because they will already be realized. But we will always need to have love for Jehovah and for people. In fact, our love for them will keep growing forever.

2 Since we will always need to have love, we will consider three questions. First, why should we love one another? Second, how do we show love for one another? Third, how can we keep our love for one another strong?


3. What reasons do we have for loving one another?

3 Why is it important for us to love one another? Among other reasons, love identifies us as true Christians. Jesus told his apostles: “By this all will know that you are my disciples​—if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) Further, having love for one another keeps us united. Paul called love “a perfect bond of union.” (Col. 3:14) There is, however, still another important reason why we should love one another. The apostle John wrote to fellow believers: “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:21) When we show love for one another, we show our love for God.

4-5. Illustrate how our love for God is connected to our love for one another.

4 In what way is our love for God closely connected to the love we show for our brothers and sisters? To illustrate, consider the connection that exists between our heart and other parts of our body. When a physician checks our pulse on our wrist to see if it is weak or strong, he may be able to get some information about the condition of our heart. How could we apply this principle to the topic of love?

5 Just as a doctor is able to get some information about the health of our heart when checking our pulse, we can get some information about the strength of our love for God by checking our love for others. If we notice that our love for fellow believers has weakened somewhat, this may indicate that our love for God is also growing weak. But when we regularly show love for fellow believers, this signals that our love for God is strong.

6. Why should we be concerned if our love for our brothers and sisters is weakening? (1 John 4:7-9, 11)

6 We should be concerned if our love for our brothers and sisters is growing weak. Why? Because it would mean that we are in spiritual danger. The apostle John makes that clear when he reminds us: “The one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) What is the lesson for us? Jehovah is pleased with us only if we “love one another.”​—Read 1 John 4:7-9, 11.


7-8. What are some ways in which we can show our love for one another?

7 Again and again in God’s Word, we find the command to “love one another.” (John 15:12, 17; Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 John 4:11) However, love is a quality of the heart, or the inner person, and no human can see into our heart. So, then, how can we make our love for one another visible? By our words and actions.

8 There are various ways in which we can show our brothers and sisters that we love them. Here are some examples: “Speak the truth with one another.” (Zech. 8:16) “Keep peace with one another.” (Mark 9:50) Take the lead “in showing honor to one another.” (Rom. 12:10) “Welcome one another.” (Rom. 15:7) “Continue . . . forgiving one another.” (Col. 3:13) “Go on carrying the burdens of one another.” (Gal. 6:2) “Keep comforting one another.” (1 Thess. 4:18) “Keep . . . building one another up.” (1 Thess. 5:11) “Pray for one another.”​—Jas. 5:16.

How can we help a fellow believer who is in distress? (See paragraphs 7-9)

9. Why is giving comfort to others an important expression of our love? (See also picture.)

9 Let us consider one of the expressions of our love mentioned in the preceding paragraph. We will examine Paul’s admonition: “Keep comforting one another.” Why is giving comfort to others an important expression of our love? According to a Bible reference work, the word that Paul used for “comfort” means “standing beside a person to encourage him when he is undergoing severe testing.” Thus, by giving comfort, we help a fellow believer who is in distress to get up and to continue walking on the road to life. Each time we offer a brother or a sister a shoulder to cry on, we express our love for our fellow believer.​—2 Cor. 7:6, 7, 13.

10. What is the connection between compassion and comfort?

10 Feeling compassion and giving comfort are closely related. In what way? A compassionate person is moved to comfort others and to try to relieve their suffering. So first we feel compassion; then we give comfort. Note how Paul connects Jehovah’s compassion to the comfort He gives. Paul describes Jehovah as “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort.” (2 Cor. 1:3) As a study note on this verse explains, Paul uses the expression “tender mercies” to describe a feeling of compassion for others. Thus, “God is called the Father, or the Source, of tender mercies because compassion emanates from him.” And that compassion moves him to comfort “us in all our trials.” (2 Cor. 1:4) Just as pure water flowing from a spring brings refreshment to those who are thirsty, Jehovah brings refreshment and comfort to those who are distressed. How can we imitate Jehovah in feeling compassion and in providing comfort to others? One way we can do so is by cultivating qualities in our heart that are related to giving comfort. What are some of these qualities?

11. According to Colossians 3:12 and 1 Peter 3:8, what other qualities must we cultivate to maintain the love that moves us to comfort others?

11 What will help us to maintain the love that we need in order to “keep comforting one another” from day to day? We need to cultivate such tender qualities as fellow feeling, brotherly affection, and kindness. (Read Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 3:8.) How will these qualities help us? When feelings of compassion and related qualities become part of our personality, we cannot help but give comfort to those in distress. As Jesus stated, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure sends out good things.” (Matt. 12:34, 35) Giving comfort to our brothers and sisters in need is truly an important way in which we express our love to them.


12. (a) Why do we need to remain alert? (b) What question will we now consider?

12 We all want to “continue loving one another.” (1 John 4:7) However, it is important for us to remember that Jesus warned that “the love of the greater number [would] grow cold.” (Matt. 24:12) Jesus was not saying that this would occur on a large scale among his disciples. Nonetheless, we should remain alert so that we are not influenced by the lack of love in the world around us. With that thought in mind, let us consider this important question: Is there a way to test whether our love for our brothers is strong?

13. What can put our love to the test?

13 One way to determine the strength of our love is to examine how we handle certain situations in life. (2 Cor. 8:8) One such situation is mentioned by the apostle Peter: “Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:8) So the weaknesses and imperfections of others can put our love to the test.

14. According to 1 Peter 4:8, what type of love do we need? Illustrate.

14 Let us take a closer look at Peter’s words. The first part of verse 8 describes the type of love we need to have​—“intense love.” The word Peter used for “intense” literally means “stretched out.” The second part of the verse describes the effect that intense love can have. It covers the sins of our brothers. We could picture it this way: We grasp our love with both hands, as if it were an extendable piece of fabric, and stretch it out more and more until it covers, not one, not two, but “a multitude of sins.” To cover is a descriptive way of saying to forgive. Just as a piece of fabric can cover a stain, love can cover the weaknesses and imperfections of others.

15. If our love for our brothers and sisters is strong enough, what will we be able to do? (Colossians 3:13)

15 Our love for others should be strong enough that we can forgive the imperfections of our fellow believers​—even if that requires considerable effort at times. (Read Colossians 3:13.) When we succeed in forgiving others, we show that our love is strong and that we want to please Jehovah. What can further help us to overlook the irritating traits and mistakes of others?

Just as we keep the best pictures and discard the rest, we cherish the good memories of our fellow believers and refuse to dwell on the bad ones (See paragraphs 16-17)

16-17. What will further help us to overlook the minor sins of others? Illustrate. (See also picture.)

16 Focus on the positive traits of your brothers and sisters, not on the negative. Consider this comparison. Imagine that you are at a gathering with a group of brothers and sisters. You are having a pleasant time and at the end of the gathering, you take a group picture. In fact, you take two more pictures in case the first picture does not turn out well. Now you have three pictures. But in one of them, you notice that a brother is frowning. What do you do with that picture? You delete it because you have two other pictures in which everyone in the group, including that brother, is smiling.

17 Let us compare the pictures we save to the memories we keep. We usually have good memories of times spent with our brothers and sisters. But suppose that on one of those occasions, a brother or a sister says or does something that is unkind. What should we do with that memory? Why not try to delete it just as you would delete one of those pictures? (Prov. 19:11; Eph. 4:32) We can afford to delete that memory of our fellow believer’s minor sin because we have many good memories of pleasant association with that individual. Those are the kinds of memories we want to keep and treasure.


18. What main points about love did we consider in this article?

18 Why do we want to keep our love for one another strong? As we have considered, when we show love for our brothers and sisters, we show love for Jehovah. How do we express our love for fellow believers? One way we do so is by giving them comfort. We will be able to “keep comforting one another” if we are moved by compassion. How can we keep our love for one another strong? By doing our utmost to forgive the mistakes of others.

19. Why is it especially important today to show love for one another?

19 Why is it especially important today to show our love for one another? Note the reason that Peter gives: “The end of all things has drawn close. Therefore, . . . have intense love for one another.” (1 Pet. 4:7, 8) As the end of this wicked world draws ever closer, what can we expect? Speaking about his followers, Jesus foretold: “You will be hated by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matt. 24:9) To withstand such hatred, we need to remain united. As we do that, Satan’s efforts to divide us will fail, for we are held close together by love​—the “perfect bond of union.”​—Col. 3:14; Phil. 2:1, 2.

SONG 130 Be Forgiving

a Now more than ever, it is important for us to show love for our brothers and sisters. Why is that so, and how can we demonstrate our love more fully?