“Through him let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name. Moreover, do not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
– Hebrews 13:15-16
The above words are taken from the final chapter of Paul’s letter “to the Hebrews.” (Hebrews 1:1) In his letter, Paul painstakingly led the Hebrews to Jesus by giving meaning and value to the shadows and types of their religious system. And he emphasized that the sacrifices under the Christian system were not animal offerings, but the offering of praise to God and the doing of good to others. These matters continue to be the ‘more important things’ for Christians today. (Philippians 1:10)
Jesus’ Example of Goodness
Goodness always compels respect, but when it is devoid of grace, it often repels affection. Goodness is effective only when it is attractive; and goodness is universally attractive only when it is gracious. This was the problem with the goodness of the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They were good in their moral conduct and obedience to law, but their form of goodness was stilted and empty. Jesus exemplified a superior quality of goodness.
Jesus spread good cheer everywhere he went. He was full of grace, as well as truth. Those who listened to him never ceased to wonder at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. He spoke from the heart with the conviction of a love-saturated soul.
“Now when Jesus finished these sayings, the effect was that the crowds were astounded at his way of teaching; for he was teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes.”
– Matthew 7:28-29
Jesus really understood men; therefore could he manifest genuine sympathy and show sincere compassion. Never did his familiarity with suffering breed indifference. While his compassion was boundless, his sympathy was practical, personal, and constructive. He may have occasionally pitied man, but he sought practical solutions and was able to minister to distressed souls without increasing their self-pity.
“And Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity. On seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples: “Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”
– Matthew 9:35-38
“But Jesus called his disciples to him and said: “I feel pity for the crowd, because it is already three days that they have stayed with me and they have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away fasting. They may possibly give out on the road.”
– Matthew 15:32
“And, look! two blind men sitting beside the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying: ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ But the crowd sternly told them to keep silent; yet they cried all the louder, saying: ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ So Jesus stopped, called them and said: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ They said to him: ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’ Moved with pity, Jesus touched their eyes, and immediately they received sight, and they followed him.”
– Matthew 20:30-34
Jesus could help men so much because he loved them so sincerely. He truly loved each man, each woman, and each child. He could be such a true friend because of his remarkable insight — he knew so fully what was in the heart and in the mind of man. He was an interested and keen observer. He was an expert in the comprehension of human needs, and clever in detecting human longings.
Jesus was never in a hurry. He had time to comfort his fellow men ‘as he passed by.’ And he always made his friends feel at ease. He was a charming listener. He never engaged in the meddlesome probing of the souls of his associates. As he comforted hungry minds and ministered to thirsty souls, the recipients of his mercy did not so much feel that they were confessing to him as that they were conferring with him. They had unbounded confidence in him because they saw he had so much faith in them. He said:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its strength, how will its saltness be restored? It is no longer usable for anything but to be thrown outside to be trampled on by men.”
– Matthew 5:13
“You are the light of the world. A city cannot be hid when situated upon a mountain. People light a lamp and set it, not under the measuring basket, but upon the lampstand, and it shines upon all those in the house. Likewise let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.”
– Matthew 5:14-16
“Observe intently the birds of heaven, because they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses; still your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are? . . . If, now, God thus clothes the vegetation of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith?”
– Matthew 6:26, 30
He never seemed to be curious about people, and he never manifested a desire to direct, manage, or follow them up. He entrusted his apostles and disciples with the ministry, and trusted they would work to the best of their abilities, even as he illustrated in the parable of the talents. (Matthew 25:14-30) He inspired profound self-confidence and robust courage in all who enjoyed his association. When he turned his attention to someone, that person experienced increased capacity for solving his manifold problems.
The Master could discern saving faith in the gross superstition of the woman who sought healing by touching the hem of his garment.
“Now there was a woman subject to a flow of blood twelve years, and she had been put to many pains by many physicians and had spent all her resources and had not been benefited but, rather, had got worse. When she heard the things about Jesus, she came behind in the crowd and touched his outer garment; for she kept saying: ‘If I touch just his outer garments I shall get well.’ And immediately her fountain of blood dried up, and she sensed in her body that she had been healed of the grievous sickness. Immediately, also, Jesus recognized in himself that power had gone out of him, and he turned about in the crowd and began to say: ‘Who touched my outer garments?’ But his disciples began to say to him: ‘You see the crowd pressing in upon you, and do you say, ‘Who touched me?’ However, he was looking around to see her that had done this. But the woman, frightened and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. He said to her: ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be in good health from your grievous sickness.’”
– Mark 5:25-34
Great things happened not only because people had faith in Jesus, but also because Jesus had so much faith in them. He was always ready and willing to stop a sermon or detain a multitude while he ministered to the needs of a single person, even to a little child.
“Then young children were brought to him, for him to put his hands upon them and offer prayer; but the disciples reprimanded them. Jesus, however, said: ‘Let the young children alone, and stop hindering them from coming to me, for the kingdom of the heavens belongs to suchlike ones.’ And he put his hands upon them and went from there.”
– Matthew 19:13
Jesus cared not only for ‘the lost sheep of Israel,’ but for all people, no matter their opinion of him. And he wants his followers to do likewise.
“You heard that it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous. For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing? You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
– Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus was not hypocritical in his love, and neither does he want us to be. He asks that we pray for our enemies and persecutors; therefore, we must abandon condemning and judging them.
“But the tongue, not one of mankind can get it tamed. An unruly injurious thing, it is full of death-dealing poison. With it we bless Jehovah, even [the] Father, and yet with it we curse men who have come into existence ‘in the likeness of God.’ Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. It is not proper, my brothers, for these things to go on occurring this way.”
– James 3:8-10
His counsel to love our neighbor and pray for our enemies was given in his famous Sermon on the Mount. But most of the really important things Jesus said or did seemed to happen casually, as he went about his daily activities – ‘as he passed by.’ There was so little of the professional, the rehearsed, the well-planned, or the premeditated in the Master’s earthly ministry. He dispensed health and scattered happiness naturally and gracefully as he journeyed through life. It was literally true, Jesus ‘went about doing good.’
Go About Doing Good
Consider the ways our Master Teacher went about his ministry and the mental attitude he brought to it. Then imitate him by seasoning our acts of goodness with the wisdom, love and graciousness of selfless and practical service. In this way, we prove ourselves sons of the Father and worthy heirs of the kingdom.
But how often do we go out of our way to help a stranger? How much of our time and resources are spent in ministering to the needs of our community? Jehovah’s Witnesses engage in a door-to-door ministry of preaching and teaching. That is a commendable self-sacrificing work (though we wish the message was more in line with the plain and open teachings of Jesus). But what many are now discovering is that serving our neighbors requires more than teaching the Bible. It involves taking a personal interest and giving practical help, like the ‘good Samaritan’ of Jesus’ parable who encountered a man of another religion and nationality who had been robbed, beaten and left at the side of the road for dead:
“But a certain Samaritan traveling the road came upon him and, at seeing him, he was moved with pity. So he approached him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine upon them. Then he mounted him upon his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend besides this, I will repay you when I come back here.’”
– Luke 10:33-35
We wonder how many of us would move beyond pity into active assistance. We asked ourselves what we could do beyond preaching and teaching to make our ministry live. So shortly before we started this website, one of us decided to volunteer at the missions in a downtown metropolitan area to serve meals to the homeless, while the other began writing articles for the site. While serving meals at the missions, he casually started conversations about the kingdom of heaven and sonship with God. He was surprised at the eager listening ears, and within a short time, he was conducting classes at the mission on sonship which he continued until he fell seriously ill with lung cancer. Some of the results of that ministry are shared in the articles The Powerful Message of Sonship and What Prevents Me?
These men and women openly accepted their sonship and were empowered to begin their own ministry of teaching and providing practical assistance to others. We recently received an email from a group of these brothers at a mission in Colorado who recently assisted in putting out the rash of fires that burned for two weeks in their community:
“Hello with love and Christian greetings. It’s such a wonderful day to be alive and all of us here hope that you [both] are well. Yesterday we had some military at the [recovery mission] to serve them [meals] and to thank them for being servants for a good purpose in keeping us free so that were able to change the world one person, one block, one community, one city, one state, and so forth, at a time. So many of the [Rehabbers for Christ] are outstanding speakers and just plain talented that once you crack the shell or open the hearts of these men, God comes pouring out. So we are blessed and we continue to thank you and do good works in behalf of the Kingdom. We love you guys and the [Fire Department] really loved our efforts [in helping to put out the fires in Colorado.]”
This is just one example of hundreds that show how sons of the kingdom are reaching out with goodness seasoned with graciousness.
While being treated for lung cancer, our brother continued informal conversations about sonship with doctors, nurses and patients at the various hospitals he visited. These men and women are likewise becoming empowered sons of the kingdom. Many tell us that their newfound or newly strengthened relationship with the Father has made them better doctors, better nurses and better caretakers. We received a recent report that sonship is favorably infecting the medical community nationwide, especially among doctors who practice in the area of cancer and cancer research.
This ministry that began with volunteering to feed the homeless in one community has grown and positively impacted the work in recovery missions, hospitals and churches around the world. Pastors and counselors who learned of the success of the ministry of sonship are duplicating this ministry in their missions and churches. And those who were treated for various addictions at the missions carry the message of sonship to their communities and churches. We are told that missionaries from differing religions take printouts of the articles on this website into the jungles of Africa, the outbacks of Australia, and the war-torn areas in the Middle East. At present, due to the dangerous conditions surrounding Christians in many of these area, we cannot publicly share specifics about this ministry. But we can say with absolute confidence that the plain and open teachings of Jesus are uplifting Christians and non-Christians all over our planet.
We share these matters, not to draw attention to ourselves, but to show the power of the message of sonship, and the great good that can result from ‘going about doing good.’ We want to encourage others to reach out into their communities and share the message of sonship in word, but especially in deed. Several of our brothers and sisters in Nevada are doing just that. We received this email from a former Circuit Overseer of Jehovah’s Witnesses:
“PREACH, PREACH, PREACH!” That used to be the saying. But now we “preach, TEACH, TEACH!” We had the greatest time today in the ministry. We talked to both young and old, believers and non-believers. Oh dear friends, we just talked about the good nature of our heavenly Father and how he has a Kingdom just waiting for honest lovers of goodness, and fairness and most of all lovers of one another. So me and my wife and [two other elders and their wives] and two other couples went to open businesses and introduced ourselves in casual clothing and said “Sir, you look like a man of faith and so are we, and we just wanted to meet our brother.” And we met with nothing but success. Oh dear friends, it was wonderful, please you have to try it. Well we have got to eat now, but thank you brother and our dear sister for the encouragement. And from all of us to you, may the Heavenly Father of All continue with you!!”
These brothers and sisters abandoned the suits and ties that formalize their service. They stopped converting and started conversing. They dropped the air of religious superiority and separatism which gave them free reign to draw close to their neighbors even as Jesus drew close to those in his community.
“Next, while passing along from there, Jesus caught sight of a man named Matthew seated at the tax office, and he said to him: ‘Be my follower.’ Thereupon he did rise up and follow him. Later, while he was reclining at the table in the house, look! many tax collectors and sinners came and began reclining with Jesus and his disciples. But on seeing this the Pharisees began to say to his disciples: ‘Why is it that your teacher eats with tax collectors and sinners?’ Hearing [them], he said: ‘Persons in health do not need a physician, but the ailing do. Go, then, and learn what this means, ‘I want mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came to call, not righteous people, but sinners.’”
– Matthew 9:9-13
Really, if we are to love our neighbors and pray for all people, how can we know what to pray for unless we come to know their needs?
We often receive emails from our brothers who do not have a fellowship for one reason or another. They feel alone in their service and feel compelled to substitute virtual relationships for real human contact. We hear from people who no longer feel satisfied with going to church, but want to have a share in the ministry of the true good news. And we receive emails asking for practical suggestions on how to let their lights shine. To all three groups, we offer this same proposal – ‘go about doing good’ in your communities by casual acts of kindness, sharing a smile and a good word, and possibly volunteering where there is a need. You can go on line and search for ‘places to volunteer’ in your city and state. You may be surprised at how many opportunities there are to assist. These small acts can mushroom into a full blown fellowship of like-minded sons of the kingdom as it did in our case.
Sons of the kingdom are encouraged to let our lights shine to enlighten all those nearby so that they, too, can give glory to our Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16) It is good to shine our lights in our homes and our churches, but why not also in our communities? We can only do that by drawing close to them in loving service. Such acts of goodness seasoned with wisdom, love and graciousness are part of our ‘holy acts of conduct and our deeds of godly devotion.’ (2 Peter 3:11-12) They serve to expand the spiritual brotherhood and the borders of ‘the kingdom of the son of his love.’ (Colossians 1:13) And, brothers, it’s a lot of fun, too!
Imagine you are a candle in a dark room. Move closer to other candles and share your flame. As each candle ignites, the room is bathed in spiritual light. Brothers, we are not figurative lights, we are the literal spiritual lights of the world. When we exercise faith in the promises of the Father, His spirit that dwells within us ignites. Can you imagine the view from heaven as the angels look on? Let’s make it a breathtaking view!
As such, brothers, it behooves all of the Master’s followers, no matter where we are situated on this beautiful blue planet, to learn to minister as ‘as we pass by’ and to unselfishly go about doing good.