Friday, December 18, 2009

The Prodigal Son Returns (A Lesson In Forgiveness)

There was some really good material in the article "Christ's Love Moves Us To Love" (which we just studied in the Watchtower last month) that ties in really well with today's text discussion. Also, I just uploaded the drama "Your Brother Was Dead and Came to Life' (from this year's district convention) based on Jesus' parables about 'the lost sheep' that was found, and 'The Prodigal Son' who returns, to my theocratic downloads page.

(illustration of 'the lost sheep' who was found, on pg 8, -11/15/08 WA)

(illustration of 'The Prodigal Son Returns' -on pg 15, 11/15/08 WA)

(photo and info on pgs 16 & 17, of the 9/15/09 WA)

*even though the following info is directed more towards the elders, I thought it was really good advice for all of us to remember, since it can be much more difficult to deal lovingly with a brother or sister who has wronged us if they fail to apologize, or they act defensive after hurting us.

Christ's Love Moves Us To Love
Jesus set the perfect example of love. Everything about him - his speech, his conduct, his teaching, and his sacrificial death - demonstrated his love. To the very end of his life on earth, Jesus showed love toward those whom he met and especially toward his disciples. Jesus' outstanding example of love sets a high standard for his followers to uphold. It also motivates us to show similar love toward our spiritual brothers and sisters as well as toward all others...consider what congregation elders can learn from Jesus about showing love toward those who commit errors, even grave errors.

Display Christ's Mental Attitude Toward Wrongdoers
Like Jesus, elders must uphold Jehovah's righteous standards at all times. In doing so, they reflect Jehovah's mildness, kindness, and love. When someone is truly repentant "broken at heart" and "crushed in spirit" because of error, it may not be difficult for elders to "readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness." (Psalm 34:18; Galatians 6:1) But what about dealing with someone who is defiant and shows little or no remorse? When a wrongdoer rejects Scriptural counsel or tries to shift the blame for his wrong, elders and others may feel indignant. Knowing the damage the person has already caused, they may be tempted to express their own feelings about the individual's actions and attitude. Yet, anger is damaging and does not reflect "the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16; read James 1:19, 20.) Jesus warned some in his day in no uncertain terms, but never once did he say anything that was hateful or was intended to cause pain. (1 Peter 2:23) Rather, he left the way open for wrongdoers to repent and return to Jehovah's favor. Indeed, one of the main reasons for Jesus' coming into the world was "to save sinners." -1 Timothy 1:15

...When elders show a Christlike attitude, they help to smooth the way for the person to have a change of heart and eventually to return. In the future, some of these former wrongdoers may not remember all the Scriptural counsel that the elders gave them, but they will certainly remember that the elders respected their dignity and treated them with love. Elders, therefore, must display "the fruitage of the spirit," principally Christlike love, even under trying circumstances. (Galatians 5:22, 23)...They ought to show that they want erring ones to return to Jehovah.