Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Through this yearly letter you are assured of our love and our prayers. Despite the
trials, we have lived through another year under the grace and the goodness of God, for He
has shown us abundant kindness in the many things which He has given to us
To you all who “know how . . . to behave . . . in the house of God, which is the church
of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), I have nothing new
to teach in this letter. As the Apostle John stated, “Brethren, I write no new commandment
unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old
commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning” (1 John 2:7)
We live in a world which is a brutal demonstration of contempt, hatred and strife in
the midst of all kinds of distresses. And yet, God put us on this earth in order to teach us a
way of life which is quite different. We are told by Jesus Christ, “A new commandment I
give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another”
(John 13:34). “Love one another as I have loved you,” says Christ. So our love for one
another is measured against the love which Jesus Christ had for us when He gave His life for
the forgiveness of our sins, and against the love which He continues to manifest by His
willingness to live His life within us. “Christ in you . . . [is] the hope of glory” (Colossians
1:27). The ones who are developing such warm fellowship with God the Father, with His
Son Jesus Christ and with one another include only those who have come to recognize their
natures and who have set about subjugating them forcefully in order to put on the divine
nature. They are the ones who are working vigorously to become converted
“[As] I have loved you . . . love one another.” In the evaluation of our achievement,
Jesus Christ will not be deceiving Himself. Then He adds, “By this shall all men know that
ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). So we were called to be
a united people. Such oneness will be a valuable lesson for the world, because someday our
love, tolerance, patience and affectionate feelings toward one another will be noticed. The
people of the world will become aware of our example because they are heading farther and
farther in the opposite direction. Their behavior reflects anger, divisions and self-centeredness. Lying, hypocrisy and all kinds of artificial elements are part of their lifestyles.
That is the reason why at some point in the future the depth of our love for one another will
stand out and be known. We are manifesting something which is true and sincere, a genuine
love and respect for one another, because its source is Christ living in us. It is incumbent
upon us to have the firm resolve, the will, to be disciples of the love of Jesus Christ rather
than yielding to the wicked tendencies of our human natures. “If ye keep my
commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments,
and abide in his love” (John 15:10). And one of His commandments is, “[A]s I have loved
you . . . love one another.”
What is the result? “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain
in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). It is then one of those instructions that
Jesus Christ gave which is the source of our joy. “[T]hat my joy might remain in you, and
that your joy might be full.” When we are doing what Jesus Christ requires of us, we are
walking in the way of happiness, satisfaction, confidence, contentment and thankfulness.
Each one is provided with all the help he needs to be able to walk in such a beautiful way.
Jesus Christ says to us, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John
15:14). When we let Jesus Christ fulfill in us the very life that He lived Himself, we have
within us the source of the joyful and endless life which we will receive at His return.
To do what Jesus Christ commands us requires a spiritual character that is far beyond
our capabilities. The manifestation of such love does not come naturally to us. And yet,
Jesus Christ, the perfecter of our salvation, exhorts us to have that degree of love for one
another. The standard is the love of Jesus Christ, for He says, “Greater love hath no man
than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). It is the crucifixion of
our natural impulses—the impulses of the arrogance and contempt of our carnal minds. To
lay down one’s life is to divest oneself of the vanity of the natural mind and to give the
benefit to anyone else. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling
of the law” (Romans 13:10). The basis of our love is obedience to the law of God.
Therefore, the unity which God wants to see in our social relationships with one another can
be achieved only if we are determined to do what Jesus Christ commands us. For He says,
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” That oneness of mind can be
attained in no other way.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the
transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away
our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not [does not
practice sin]: whosoever sinneth [practices sin] hath not seen him, neither
known him (1 John 3:3–6).
It is an individual responsibility. The standard is the law of God, for sin is the
transgression of the law. If Jesus Christ is living in us through the Spirit of God, He does not
justify sin, because He came to destroy sin. And as an active agent in our lives, He continues
to destroy sin. “[H]e that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John
3:7). Jesus Christ living in us wants every one of us to gain the mastery over his own nature
as He Himself did when He lived in His own flesh body.
Let all men know your forbearance [or your gentleness]. The Lord is at hand.
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of
God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in
Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if
there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these
things (Philippians 4:5–8, Revised Standard Version).
Let us remember that when God called us, He taught us a way of life. So, what we
are given, what we learn in Jesus Christ and practice, is for the purpose of making our
direction and our union perfect. Then the God of peace can be with us.
To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen
of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,
an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus
Christ (1 Peter 2:4–5).
Someone who is begotten of the Spirit of God and who offers up spiritual sacrifices,
acceptable to God, loves to hear things that are true, honorable, right, pure, kind, admirable,
virtuous and praiseworthy. He finds no satisfaction in animosity or in malicious talk about
other people. “[A]s I have loved you . . . love one another.” The “as” tells us that we must
keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ. It is then only that no circumstance will separate us
from the love of God and from our love for one another.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ
sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on
things on the earth (Colossians 3:1–2).
To set our affection on things above is to be determined to keep our affection for God
the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the priceless way of life which we were given and
taught. And the result is warm human relationships in a united and constant endeavor within
the Body of Jesus Christ. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples . . .” (John
It is not something that is achieved overnight. It requires an unwavering will on the
part of everyone. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding
therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6–7). It truly depends upon the effort that each puts
forth in his own life through resolve and determination.
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies,
kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one
another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even
as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity
[love], which is the bond of perfectness (Colossians 3:12–14).
Put on! It is the duty of each one of us; it is an individual work. “[P]ut on [love],
which is the bond of perfectness.” What is the source of such love? God the Father and His
Son Jesus Christ. It is a love that is contrary to the nature with which we were born. That
is why it is incumbent upon us to put on that love. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you
richly . . .” (Colossians 3:16). We strive to rid our hearts and minds of the wicked things
inherent to our carnal natures. Having the life of Christ within us, let us combine our efforts
in order to achieve that goal fully. Being one Body, we will then extol, by our behavior, the
greatness of our God—His perfection and His character.
How often do we recognize that we should not conduct ourselves in some way or
other and yet weaken and fail to do what we should? Though the Spirit of God guides us into
all truth—it shows us the way to the Kingdom of God, the decisions and the changes that we
must make in our lives—how often are we disappointed and frustrated in some situation or
other because we let our human natures prevail? Therefore, we must admit our failures and
bury them under the shed blood of Christ so that we can be forgiven once again. Then, with
a little more effort on our parts, we must not be weary in well doing.
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As
obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in
your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all
manner of conversation [conduct]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am
holy (1 Peter 1:13–16).
We all know that Jesus Christ is coming back. But, as we wait for that day, let us
allow Him to live in our lives fully and abundantly. Let us develop our faith and our
confidence in the grace that is to be brought to us when Jesus Christ returns. Though the
times in which we live are becoming more and more critical, do not give up, but
courageously manifest a will and an assurance in your belief in the purpose of God. “[S]et
your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1
Peter 1:13, English Standard Version). Ask for it every day in your prayers. God will be
with you, He will hear and answer, and your reward will be abundant.