Outstanding Gifts That Reveal the God of Love
HOW do we know that God is good? Why could not the Almighty God just as well be bad, or at least have some bad in him? How do we know he has an altogether benevolent attitude and purpose toward humankind?
2 These are questions that might run through a person’s mind when he considers the psalmist’s statement: “Good and upright is Jehovah,” and Jesus’ words: “Nobody is good, except one, God.”—Psalm 25:8; Mark 10:18.
3-5. (a) What quality would be required for God to be good? (b) What two things would he have to provide for his intelligent creatures? Why?
3 For God to be good, he certainly must be a God who cares about his creation, every part of it. First, he would be a God who makes arrangements for its subsistence.
4 Second, if God is good he must supply more than the mere physical things his creation needs just to keep living. This would be particularly so in the case of humanity, for humans want more out of life than mere existence. God’s intelligent creatures obviously are not made to carry on a drab, monotonous life. So God must provide arrangements for feeding the mind through the five senses. People use these senses for more than keeping alive. They possess the ability to appreciate and enjoy their surroundings. People, in fact, feel pity for a person who is deprived of his sight, hearing or senses of smell and taste, because he is missing pleasures that add to the zest of living.
5 Man’s home the earth, should, accordingly, have the things that make life joyous. Is this what the facts show?
THINGS THAT DELIGHT US
6, 7. How are fruit trees an evidence of the goodness of God?
6 Consider the miracle of a fruit tree. Such trees are literally fruit “factories.” Their boughs are burdened with an amazing crop of their nutritious products. And these fruit “factories” operate quietly and without pollution, smoke, radiation or disturbance. As they produce food, they are at the same time a delight to the eye. It is a pleasure to stroll through an orchard. The trees provide cooling shade, as well as refreshment for the atmosphere, giving off oxygen and, often, exhilarating fragrance.
7 In addition, their fruit is more than mere sustenance. It is delicious, a joy to eat, as is all food that God has provided. What human could ever conceive of or invent the flavor of a peach, an orange, a cherry, an apple, a banana or a mango? At best man can make only poor imitations.
8, 9. How can music be none other than a special gift from a benevolent God?
8 Music is another wonderful gift. It can calm the spirit. It can lift one to the heights of ecstasy. It can cause one to meditate soberly or seriously. It can spur one to action. Certain musical strains recall memories of pleasant places and events.
9 Who can explain exactly why music should have such marked effects on the human mind and heart? That we are able to respond to music, that we have a built-in sense of rhythm and sound distinction so that we can enjoy it, is really an integral gift put into our bodies by a Creator who appreciates beautiful things. Furthermore, those with the talent to produce good music—what pleasure they derive out of this gift of God, being able to entertain their fellowman!
10. Would you say that conversation is a gift from a God who made humankind ‘in his likeness’? Explain.
10 The ability to carry on conversation is one of the most delightful gifts. How terrible it would be if we could not communicate, or if we had only writing, sign language or grunts and growls. The human mind can express itself and find response in conversation more than, for example, in the printed page. Yet, reading and writing are gifts that are also sources of enjoyment.
11. What are some other gifts that are not essential to mere living, but are so valuable to our enjoyment of life?
11 Then there are gorgeous displays of color throughout creation: The beauteous and endless variety of flowers, the marvelous sunsets that no artist can duplicate, besides innumerable other lovely things on earth in the greatest variety. These hundreds of delights are loving gifts for the most pleasurable use of the senses that we were kindly given.
12. What can we answer to those who, doubting that there is a Creator, say that the things we enjoy are actually only for functional purposes?
12 Still, some who doubt creation may object. They may say, for example, that the fragrance and color of flowers are only for the purpose of filling a necessity, for they attract insects that pollinate the plants. That is no doubt partly true. But if that is the only reason for the existence of these outstanding gifts, why is it that they are also a source of human delight? Why do they promote peace of mind and a feeling of well-being in us? And who can name a purely functional reason for beautiful sunsets? Who can say that music is an essential for maintaining existence, and not a pleasure-producing gift?
13. What can we say about the fact that many of the functional things also are a source of enjoyment?
13 The fact that many functional things in life are at the same time the source of great comfort and pleasure speaks well of the amazing economy of God, his diverse wisdom and his love for his creatures.
GIFTS THAT WE MAY FAIL TO APPRECIATE
14. How are we wrongly prone to view things that are not enjoyable to us?
14 Sometimes we view things that do not appear beautiful to us as unworthy of consideration. This is particularly true of insects, which we may be prone to look upon as “pests.” But here again the Creator has done something fine for us. Some of these very things that we despise are actually a provision saving us endless hours of drudgery so that we can have time to enjoy the finer things.
15. What fine work does the lowly earthworm do in our behalf?
15 Consider, for example, the earthworm. These, little creatures are absolutely harmless. They sometimes number more than two million in one acre of ground. They work incessantly. They move from about seven to as much as eighteen tons (6 to 16 metric tons) of soil per acre (.4 hectare) each year, burrowing to depths of eight feet (2.4 meters) below the surface. Their bodies digest organic matter in the soil, providing a rich source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and nitrates, essential for healthy plant growth. They help to maintain the balance of alkalinity and acidity in the soil. Their burrowing activities bring about aeration and irrigation of the soil and reduce putrefaction. They drag leaves and other vegetation below ground for the enrichment of the soil.
16. How do the earthworm and insects free humans for enjoyment of life?
16 Now, if it were not for the earthworm, it would be up to man to perform all this work. But alas, it would be impossible for the farmer, working day and night, to prepare his land for crops as does the earthworm. And the cost would be far more than the farmer could bear. So just as the fruit trees and vegetation produce for mankind with little or no effort on his part, so does the earthworm. In addition, there is the great army of insects, performing many dull, monotonous chores, releasing man for more intellectual, more pleasurable pursuits.
17, 18. To what extent do insects work for mankind’s good?
17 Regarding the services rendered to mankind by insects, Carl D. Duncan, Professor of Entomology and Botany, San Jose State College, said:
18 “It is not too much to say that insects determine the character of man’s world to a far greater extent than he does himself, and that if they were suddenly to disappear completely the world would be changed so extensively that it is extremely doubtful that man would be able to maintain any sort of organized society whatever.”
WHAT ABOUT “PESTS”?
19, 20. (a) What has actually been a major factor in bringing about a “pest” problem? (b) What natural process results in added difficulty in killing certain animals, insects and disease bacteria?
19 Professor Duncan also cited another scientist, Dr. Frank Lutz, as estimating that not more than one half of one percent of all the insects in the United States can be termed “pests.”
20 In considering the problem of “pests,” it must be acknowledged that man has brought about an imbalance. His filthiness and pollution have played their part in upsetting the ecology. Sometimes man’s killing off certain insects or animals causes an abnormal increase in others. Then, efforts to control such an increase by poisons result in killing the majority, but leaving poison-resistant ones among them to multiply and “take over” the population. This poses a bigger problem, such as the so-called “super rat,” which only very strong and dangerous poisons can kill. Similar problems have been encountered with certain insects and disease bacteria.
21. Why do such “pests” often invade man’s domain?
21 When the so-called “pests” are abnormally increased, they leave their proper habitat and overflow into man’s personal domain. They invade and destroy man’s food supplies and befoul his property. They spread disease, not usually on their own part, but by carrying disease organisms from garbage and sewage. This is especially apparent in big cities, where piles of garbage carelessly thrown about attract and cause multiplication of flies, as well as rats, and now, the “super rats.”
22. How do even “pests” serve to bring a benefit?
22 But even these lowly creatures perform a service by reason of becoming “pests.” Not only do they clean up some of the garbage, but their presence forces man to take some action to keep his surroundings cleaner so that the “pests” will not come around to make his life miserable. In this way there is some curb to man’s carelessness, laziness and uncleanness.
23. What good have animals, among them some viewed as “pests,” done for humankind?
23 The natural “sanitation squad,” made up of insects, microorganisms and larger animals, has done other things that man would never have been able to accomplish. These scavengers work to clear the forest floor of the debris of dead branches and trees. They dispose of the carcasses of dead animals. They thus prevent many devastating forest fires and much pollution and disease.
WHY WE CAN BE HAPPY DESPITE CAUSES FOR GRIEF
24. In what ways are the many gifts just discussed evidence that God is happy and wants us to be happy?
24 All these gifts from God, and many more too numerous to list, lighten man’s burden. They also protect him from diseases and give him pleasure. Hence, they are evidences that God is truly good and is for this reason “the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) God enjoys life, and his purpose in creation is to share that joy with others. (Revelation 4:11) But can we really be happy in this present system of things, enjoying the life that we have?
25, 26. Give one example of a sorrow that can be to a great extent overcome by our having a knowledge of God’s purposes.
25 In this upset system of things we have sorrows from time to time. But when we understand God’s good purposes toward us we can, in the overall sense, be happy.
26 For example, death may come in a family. It does indeed bring sorrow, for death is an enemy. (1 Corinthians 15:26) But those who believe in God and his goodness will not be overwhelmed by grief. On this point the apostle Paul wrote: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who are sleeping in death; that you may not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.” Then Paul spoke comfortingly about the resurrection.—1 Thessalonians 4:13.
27. What is our greatest example of one continuing happy under distressful circumstances?
27 We may tend, however, to let sorrows completely destroy our happiness. But in this Jehovah God gives us the greatest example. Think about the greatest expression of his goodness when he sent his Son to earth as a man, to die for us. This was something far beyond normal. It was entirely undeserved kindness on Jehovah’s part. The apostle calls our attention to the extent of this loving act, saying: “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Do you think that this did not cause God grief? What can be more distressful to a father than seeing his own beloved son die? Yet God also gained great happiness in observing his Son’s obedience and faithfulness, and his willingness to die for humankind. God was also happy in contemplating the benefits that this sacrifice would bring to us despite the distress it caused to Him and to his Son. (Isaiah 53:10, 12) Indeed, the gift of God’s own Son is the greatest expression of love of all!
28. Does mankind’s bad condition because of sin have any effect on Jehovah God’s feelings?
28 And have you considered the sorrow to Jehovah’s heart when he sees humankind, his creation, in distress because they have rejected and disobeyed his laws? When men did bad and brought great distress upon themselves and upon God’s servants dwelling among them, God “felt hurt at his heart.”—Genesis 6:6.
JESUS, AN EXAMPLE OF HAPPINESS THROUGH SUFFERING
29. What kind of experience did Jesus have during his life on earth?
29 Jesus Christ, when on earth, reflected perfectly his Father’s personality and way of doing things. Jesus said: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.” (John 14:9) Therefore, men do not have to see God with their literal eyes to understand him. Did Jesus have times of sorrow? He was prophetically spoken of as “a man meant for pains,” and “he was despised, and we held him as of no account.” Nonetheless, he was happy in what he was accomplishing. The same prophecy says: “Because of the trouble of his soul he will see, he will be satisfied . . . [he] will bring a righteous standing to many people.”—Isaiah 53:3, 11.
30. What especially saddened Jesus?
30 Jesus was often saddened that the people of Israel, who should have known God, were alienated from God by man-made religious traditions. He was “grieved at the insensibility of their hearts.” (Mark 3:5) He felt pity for the crowds because “they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Doubtless this brought sorrow to him. When he went to the tomb of his friend Lazarus, who, had just died, “Jesus gave way to tears.”—John 11:35.
31. How did Jesus, despite many saddening things, show that he never lost his joy?
31 So, just as we have, Jesus had occasions for sorrow. But did he let this destroy his happiness in knowing he was doing the work of his Father? Did he not exhibit joy in the disciples whom he taught and associated with for three years? There is no evidence that he went about with a mournful, negative spirit toward them or in their presence. Neither did he weaken or waver in faith or action. He knew that “in his hand what is the delight of Jehovah [would] succeed,” and that he would receive from his Father “the keys of death and of Hades” and in time would therewith undo all the harm that sin and death bring about.—Isaiah 53:10; Revelation 1:18; 20:13.
32. (a) What can we conclude from our consideration of God’s gifts? (b) How can we, in turn, bring gladness to God? (Psalm 149:4)
32 All these things give us a glimpse of the goodness of God. It moves our hearts to imitate him. And the wonderful thing about imitating him is that we can undergo grief in this present time and yet be happy. Moreover, by our obedience to him we can bring gladness to Jehovah himself. (Psalm 149:4; Proverbs 27:11) We can also know that there is a life to come when “neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Revelation 21:4.
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God gave us beautiful sunsets, the smell of flowers, the flavor of food, enjoyment of sound—all to add to the pleasure of living
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Earthworms perform tasks that no farmer could duplicate