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"Let all your deeds be done in love."
— 1 Corinthians 16:14.—Diaglott.
GOD is the very personification of sympathy and love. As the Scriptures declare, "God is Love." And all who will be God's children, developed in His likeness, will be loving children. As St. John says, "He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16.) In proportion as we develop strength of character as New Creatures, this quality of love increases. In addition, we should find our judgment also becoming more accurate. Those who are developed in the Spirit of the Lord have better judgment than they formerly had. As the days go by, they know better how to sympathize with the world; how to deal with mankind; they are getting more and more of the wisdom which cometh from above.
Before we became Christians at all, we may have been under-balanced, or over-balanced—we may not have known how to deal properly with our families or our friends. Out of kindness and sympathy we may have been inclined to give them money, or to yield to their wishes in a way that was injurious to them; or we may have been too severe and unyielding. But as we grow in the spirit of a sound mind, we learn better how to deal with others, so as to be in harmony with the Divine will, the Divine Spirit.
When we shall have experienced our change and have become like our Redeemer, all of our powers will be perfect. Our love, our conception of justice, and also our conception of how to deal with others, will then be perfect. Every one who does not develop this character of love, mercy, justice, etc., will be unprepared for the Kingdom work.
The next Age is to be a time of purification, of purgation, to the world; and those of the Lord's people who do not now have character enough to give necessary stripes are not worthy of a position in which authority must be exercised. On the other hand, those who would give too many stripes would not be fit to deal with mankind. Therefore we all need this balance of mind in order to be ready for the work of the next Age.
As we come to see that the whole race of Adam is fallen—some more, some less—we develop a broad sympathy for mankind. We grow compassionate. We desire to lift them up out of their degradation. We would like to help them as much as opportunity affords. Hence we are far from wishing to render evil for evil. We wish to be peacemakers as far as possible. Therefore, unless it would be injustice to refrain from speaking sharply, we should be careful that our words are kind and loving. However, even though our words might not be angry, there are times when sharp utterances might be helpful, but even these should be tempered with love; tempered with the spirit of the Master.
There is a difference between anger that would be righteous indignation and anger that would be unloving, unkind, unjust. We know that God is angry with the wicked, for the Scriptures so tell us. (Psalm 7:11.) This fact shows us that anger of itself does not necessarily imply a sinful condition; for God has no sin, and He judges Himself by the same regulations under which He judges His creatures. Therefore anger in itself is not sin.
In God's case there is no danger that He will make a mistake and be angry with the right or approve the wrong, or that He will be lenient with the wrong and thus oppose the right. His knowledge is perfect; therefore His conduct is perfect. In our case, however, if we feel that anger is proper for us, we should use a great deal of discretion. As the Apostle Paul says; "Be ye angry and sin not."—Ephesians 4:26.
In a case where an innocent person is suffering wrong, and we have full knowledge of the matter, then it might be our duty to manifest anger, righteous indignation. It would be proper to manifest a certain degree of anger if we saw even a dumb brute mistreated. If we saw the principles of righteousness being outraged, it might become necessary to manifest some anger, some indignation.
But these cases would probably be very rare, for the circumstances would not often be a matter of our business. As St. Peter remarks, we are none of us to suffer as busybodies in other men's affairs.—1 Peter 4:15.
If we see a parent doing to his child something that is not right, we should not interfere unless the child's life is endangered. If it is merely a case of switching or a box on the ear, we must not interfere. It is not our business. Let us as the Lord's children, ambassadors of the King of Heaven, seek more and more to exercise the spirit of a sound mind, the spirit of love and reasonableness.