“Draw Close to God, and He Will Draw Close to You”
1-3. (a) What may we learn about human nature by observing the interaction between parents and their baby? (b) What process naturally unfolds when someone shows us love, and what important question can we ask ourselves?
PARENTS love to see their newborn baby smile. They often put their faces close to that of the infant, cooing and smiling expressively. They are eager to see a response. And before long, it comes—the baby’s cheeks dimple, the lips curl, and a delightful smile appears. In its own small way, that smile seems to express affection, the dawning love of the baby in response to the love of the parents.
2 The baby’s smile reminds us of something important about human nature. Our natural response to love is love. That is simply the way we are made. (Psalm 22:9) As we grow, we mature in our ability to respond to love. Perhaps you can recall from your own childhood how your parents, relatives, or friends expressed love for you. In your heart a warm feeling took root, grew, and blossomed into action. You showed your love in return. Is a similar process unfolding in your relationship with Jehovah God?
3 The Bible says: “We love, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) In Sections 1 through 3 of this book, you were reminded that Jehovah God has exercised his power, his justice, and his wisdom in loving ways to your benefit. And in Section 4, you saw that he has directly expressed his love for mankind—and for you personally—in remarkable ways. Now comes a question. In a way, it is the most important question you can ask yourself: ‘How will I respond to Jehovah’s love?’
What It Means to Love God
4. In what way are people confused about what it means to love God?
4 Jehovah, the Originator of love, well knows that love has immense power to bring out the best in others. So despite the persistent rebelliousness of unfaithful mankind, he has remained confident that some humans would respond to his love. And, indeed, millions have. Sadly, though, the religions of this corrupt world have left people confused about what it means to love God. Countless people say that they love God, but they seem to think that such love is merely a feeling to be expressed in words. Love for God may begin that way, just as a baby’s love for his parents may first show itself in a smile. In mature people, however, love involves more.
5. How does the Bible define love of God, and why should that definition appeal to us?
5 Jehovah defines what it means to love him. His Word says: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.” Love of God, then, needs to be expressed in action. Granted, many do not find the thought of obedience appealing. But the same verse kindly adds: “And yet [God’s] commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) Jehovah’s laws and principles are designed to benefit us, not to oppress us. (Isaiah 48:17, 18) God’s Word is full of principles that help us draw closer to him. How so? Let us review three aspects of our relationship with God. These involve communication, worship, and imitation.
Communicating With Jehovah
6-8. (a) By what means can we listen to Jehovah? (b) How can we make the Scriptures live when we read them?
6 Chapter 1 opened with the question, “Can you imagine having a conversation with God?” We saw that this was not a fanciful concept. Moses, in effect, had such a conversation. What about us? Now is not Jehovah’s time to send his angels to converse with humans. But Jehovah has excellent means of communicating with us today. How can we listen to Jehovah?
7 Because “all Scripture is inspired of God,” we listen to Jehovah by reading his Word, the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16) The psalmist thus urged servants of Jehovah to do such reading “day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2) Doing so requires considerable effort on our part. But all efforts of that kind are well spent. As we saw in Chapter 18, the Bible is like a precious letter to us from our heavenly Father. So reading it should not be a chore. We must make the Scriptures live when we read them. How can we do that?
8 Visualize the Bible accounts as you read. Try to see the Bible characters as real people. Seek to grasp their background, circumstances, and motives. Then, think deeply about what you read, asking yourself such questions as: ‘What does this account teach me about Jehovah? Which of his qualities do I see? What principle does Jehovah want me to learn, and how can I put it to work in my life?’ Read, meditate, and apply—as you do, God’s Word will come alive for you.—Psalm 77:12; James 1:23-25.
9. Who is “the faithful and discreet slave,” and why is it important that we listen attentively to that “slave”?
9 Jehovah also speaks to us by means of “the faithful and discreet slave.” As Jesus foretold, a small group of anointed Christian men has been appointed to provide spiritual “food at the proper time” during these troublesome last days. (Matthew 24:45-47) When we read literature prepared to help us acquire accurate knowledge of the Bible and when we attend Christian meetings and conventions, we are being fed spiritually by that slave. Because it is Christ’s slave, we wisely apply Jesus’ words: “Pay attention to how you listen.” (Luke 8:18) We listen attentively because we recognize the faithful slave as one of Jehovah’s means of communicating with us.
10-12. (a) Why is prayer a wonderful gift from Jehovah? (b) How can we pray in a manner pleasing to Jehovah, and why may we be confident that he values our prayers?
10 But what about communicating with God? Can we speak to Jehovah? It is an awe-inspiring thought. If you were to try to approach the most powerful ruler in your land in order to talk about some personal concern of yours, what would be your chances of success? In some cases, the very attempt might prove dangerous! In the days of Esther and Mordecai, a person could be put to death for approaching the Persian monarch without a royal invitation to do so. (Esther 4:10, 11) Now imagine coming before the Sovereign Lord of the universe, compared to whom even the most powerful of humans “are like grasshoppers.” (Isaiah 40:22) Should we feel too intimidated to approach him? By no means!
11 Jehovah has provided an open, yet simple, means of approach to him—prayer. Even a very young child can pray to Jehovah in faith, doing so in the name of Jesus. (John 14:6; Hebrews 11:6) Yet, prayer also enables us to transmit our most complex, intimate thoughts and feelings—even the painful ones that we find difficult to put into words. (Romans 8:26) It does no good to try to impress Jehovah with eloquent, flowery speech or with lengthy, wordy prayers. (Matthew 6:7, 8) On the other hand, Jehovah puts no limits on how long we may speak to him or how often. His Word even invites us to “pray constantly.”—1 Thessalonians 5:17.
12 Remember that Jehovah alone is called the “Hearer of prayer,” and he listens with genuine empathy. (Psalm 65:2) Does he merely tolerate the prayers of his faithful servants? No, he actually finds pleasure in them. His Word compares such prayers to incense, the burning of which sends sweet-smelling, restful smoke upward. (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; 8:4) Is it not comforting to think that our sincere prayers likewise ascend and please the Sovereign Lord? So if you want to draw close to Jehovah, humbly pray to him often, every day. Pour out your heart to him; hold nothing back. (Psalm 62:8) Share your concerns, your joys, your thanks, and your praise with your heavenly Father. As a result, the bond between you and him will grow ever stronger.
13, 14. What does it mean to worship Jehovah, and why is it fitting that we do so?
13 When we communicate with Jehovah God, we are not simply listening and speaking as we might with a friend or relative. We are actually worshipping Jehovah, according him the reverent honor that he so richly deserves. True worship is our whole life. It is how we express to Jehovah our whole-souled love and devotion, and it unites all of Jehovah’s faithful creatures, whether in heaven or on earth. In a vision, the apostle John heard an angel proclaiming this commandment: “Worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the springs of water.”—Revelation 14:7.
14 Why should we worship Jehovah? Think of the qualities we have discussed, such as holiness, power, self-restraint, justice, courage, mercy, wisdom, humility, love, compassion, loyalty, and goodness. We have seen that Jehovah represents the very pinnacle, the loftiest standard possible, of every precious attribute. When we try to grasp the sum of his qualities, we perceive that he is far more than a great, admirable Personage. He is overwhelmingly glorious, immeasurably higher than we are. (Isaiah 55:9) Without question, Jehovah is our rightful Sovereign, and he certainly deserves our worship. How, though, should we worship Jehovah?
15. How may we worship Jehovah “with spirit and truth,” and what opportunity do Christian meetings afford us?
15 Jesus said: “God is a Spirit, and those worshipping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) To worship God “with spirit,” we must have his spirit and be guided by it. Our worship must also be in harmony with the truth, the accurate knowledge found in God’s Word. We have a precious opportunity to worship Jehovah “with spirit and truth” whenever we gather with fellow worshippers. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) When we sing praises to Jehovah, unite in prayer to him, and listen to and take part in discussions of his Word, we express love for him in pure worship.
Christian meetings are delightful occasions to worship Jehovah
16. What is one of the greatest commandments laid upon true Christians, and why do we feel compelled to obey it?
16 We also worship Jehovah when we speak about him to others, publicly praising him. (Hebrews 13:15) Indeed, to preach the good news of Jehovah’s Kingdom is one of the greatest commandments laid upon true Christians. (Matthew 24:14) We obey eagerly because we love Jehovah. When we think of the way “the god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil, “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,” promoting vicious lies about Jehovah, do we not yearn to serve as Witnesses on behalf of our God, setting straight such slander? (2 Corinthians 4:4; Isaiah 43:10-12) And when we contemplate Jehovah’s marvelous qualities, do we not feel a desire welling up within us to tell others about him? Really, there can be no greater privilege than helping others come to know and love our heavenly Father as we do.
17. What does our worship of Jehovah embrace, and why must we worship with integrity?
17 Our worship of Jehovah embraces even more. It touches every aspect of our life. (Colossians 3:23) If we truly accept Jehovah as our Sovereign Lord, then we will seek to do his will in everything—our family life, our secular work, our dealings with others, our private time. We will seek to serve Jehovah “with a complete heart,” with integrity. (1 Chronicles 28:9) Such worship leaves no room for a divided heart or a double life—the hypocritical course of appearing to serve Jehovah while carrying on serious sins in secret. Integrity makes such hypocrisy impossible; love makes it repulsive. Godly fear will help too. The Bible links such reverence with our continued close friendship with Jehovah.—Psalm 25:14.
18, 19. Why is it realistic to think that mere imperfect humans can imitate Jehovah God?
18 Each section of this book has concluded with a chapter on how to “become imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1) It is vital to remember that imperfect though we are, we can truly imitate Jehovah’s perfect way of using power, of exercising justice, of acting in wisdom, and of showing love. How do we know that it really is possible to imitate the Almighty? Remember, the meaning of Jehovah’s name teaches us that he can become whatever he chooses in order to fulfill his purposes. We are rightly awed by that ability, but is it completely beyond us? No.
19 We are made in God’s image. (Genesis 1:26) Thus, humans are unlike any other creatures on earth. We are not driven merely by instinct, genetics, or factors in our environment. Jehovah has given us a precious gift—free will. Despite our limitations and imperfections, we are free to choose what we will become. Furthermore, remember that God’s name also means that he can cause his worshippers to become whatever he chooses. So do you want to be a loving, wise, just person who uses power aright? Thanks to the help of Jehovah’s spirit, you can become exactly that! Think of the good you will thereby accomplish.
20. What good do we accomplish when we imitate Jehovah?
20 You will please your heavenly Father, making his heart rejoice. (Proverbs 27:11) You can even “please him fully,” for he understands your limitations. (Colossians 1:9, 10) And as you continue to build good qualities in imitation of your beloved Father, you will be blessed with a great privilege. In a bedarkened world alienated from God, you will be a light bearer. (Matthew 5:1, 2, 14) You will help to spread abroad in the earth some reflections of Jehovah’s glorious personality. What an honor!
“Draw Close to God, and He Will Draw Close to You”
21, 22. What endless journey lies before all who love Jehovah?
21 The simple exhortation recorded at James 4:8 is more than a goal. It is a journey. As long as we remain faithful, that journey will never end. We will never stop drawing closer and closer to Jehovah. After all, there will always be more to learn about him. We should not imagine that this book has taught us all there is to know about Jehovah. Why, we have barely begun to discuss all that the Bible says about our God! And even the Bible itself does not tell us all there is to know about Jehovah. The apostle John supposed that if everything that Jesus did during his earthly ministry were put in writing, “the world itself could not contain the scrolls written.” (John 21:25) If such a thing could be said of the Son, how much more so of the Father!
22 Even eternal life will not bring us to the end of learning about Jehovah. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Think, then, of the prospect before us. After having lived for hundreds, thousands, millions, even billions of years, we will know far more about Jehovah God than we do now. But we will still feel that there are countless wonderful things to be learned. We will be eager to learn more, for we will always have reason to feel as did the psalmist, who sang: “Drawing near to God is good for me.” (Psalm 73:28) Eternal life will be unimaginably rich and varied—and drawing closer to Jehovah will always be the most rewarding part of it.
23. What are you encouraged to do?
23 May you respond to Jehovah’s love now, by loving him with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:29, 30) May your love be loyal and steadfast. May the decisions that you make every day, from the smallest to the greatest, all reflect the same guiding principle—that you will always choose the path that leads you to a stronger relationship with your heavenly Father. Above all, may you draw ever closer to Jehovah, and may he draw ever closer to you—throughout all eternity!