“This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”—1 JOHN 5:3.
1, 2. Why do you love Jehovah God?
DO YOU love God? You may love him so much that you have dedicated yourself to him. You may feel that he is your best Friend. But even before you loved Jehovah, he loved you. In the Bible we read: “We love, because he first loved us.”—1 John 4:19.
2 Think of all the ways Jehovah has shown his love for us. He has given us the earth as a beautiful home and everything else we need to enjoy life. (Matthew 5:43-48; Revelation 4:11) He wants us to have a good relationship with him, and he has made it possible for us to learn about him. When we read the Bible, we are listening to Jehovah. And when we pray, he is listening to us. (Psalm 65:2) He guides and strengthens us with his powerful holy spirit. (Luke 11:13) He even sent his precious Son to earth to free us from sin and death.—Read John 3:16; Romans 5:8.
3. How do we keep a good relationship with Jehovah?
3 Think for a moment about one of your close friends, someone who has been with you through both happy times and sad ones. It takes effort to keep a close friendship like that strong. This is also true of our friendship with Jehovah, the closest Friend we could ever have. Our friendship with him can last forever. So the Bible tells us: “Keep yourselves in God’s love.” (Jude 21) How can we do this? The Bible answers: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”—1 John 5:3.
“THIS IS WHAT THE LOVE OF GOD MEANS”
4, 5. (a) What does “the love of God” mean? (b) How did your love for Jehovah begin to grow?
4 What does the Bible mean when it says “the love of God”? This does not refer to God’s love for us but refers to our love for him. Do you remember when you first began to love Jehovah?
5 Recall how you felt when you first learned that Jehovah wants you to live forever in his new world. You learned about all that he has done to make this possible, and you realized what a precious gift Jehovah gave to us when he sent his own Son to earth. (Matthew 20:28; John 8:29; Romans 5:12, 18) As you learned just how much Jehovah loves you, your heart was moved, and you began to love him too.—Read 1 John 4:9, 10.
6. What does loving someone involve? What has your love for God moved you to do?
6 But that feeling of love for God was only the beginning. For example, when we love someone, we do more than just say the words “I love you.” Love causes us to want to do things that will make that person happy. In the same way, your love for Jehovah made you want to live in a way that would please him. As that love grew, you likely dedicated yourself to him and got baptized. By doing that, you promised to serve Jehovah forever. (Read Romans 14:7, 8.) How can you keep that promise?
“WE OBSERVE HIS COMMANDMENTS”
7. If we love Jehovah, what will we do? What are some of his commandments?
7 Because we love Jehovah, “we observe his commandments.” How do we do this? We obey him. In the Bible we learn how Jehovah wants us to live. For example, he tells us that it is wrong to get drunk, to steal or lie, to have sex with someone we are not married to, or to worship anyone or anything other than him.—1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:18; 10:14; Ephesians 4:28; Colossians 3:9.
8, 9. How do we know what Jehovah wants us to do in situations where there is no specific law in the Bible? Give an example.
8 But to please Jehovah, we need to do more than simply obey his commandments. He has not given us a long list of laws that cover every situation in life. So there will be times when there is no specific law in the Bible to tell us what to do. How can we make good decisions? (Ephesians 5:17) In the Bible we find principles, which are basic truths that teach us how Jehovah views things. And as we read the Bible, we get to know who Jehovah is as a Person. We learn the way he thinks, including what he loves and what he hates.—Read Psalm 97:10; Proverbs 6:16-19; see Endnote 1.
9 For example, how do we decide what to watch on TV or what to look at on the Internet? Jehovah does not tell us exactly what we should do. But the principles he gives us will help us to make good decisions. Much entertainment today is full of violence and sex. In the Bible, Jehovah tells us that “he hates anyone who loves violence” and that he “will judge sexually immoral people.” (Psalm 11:5; Hebrews 13:4) How can these principles help us to make good decisions? Once we know that Jehovah hates something or views it as immoral, we should avoid it.
10, 11. Why do we obey Jehovah?
10 Why do we obey Jehovah? It is not just to avoid punishment or the problems that come from making bad decisions. (Galatians 6:7) No, we obey Jehovah because we love him. Just as children want to make their father happy, we want to make our heavenly Father happy. Nothing could be better than knowing that Jehovah is pleased with us!—Psalm 5:12; Proverbs 12:2; see Endnote 2.
11 We don’t obey Jehovah only when it is easy or when we have no other choice. And we don’t choose which of his laws and standards to follow and which ones not to follow. (Deuteronomy 12:32) Instead, we obey him completely, like the psalmist who said: “I am fond of your commandments, yes, I love them.” (Psalm 119:47; Romans 6:17) We want to be like Noah, who showed his love for Jehovah by doing everything Jehovah commanded him to do. The Bible says that Noah “did just so.” (Genesis 6:22) Do you want Jehovah to say that about you?
12. How can we make Jehovah happy?
12 How does Jehovah feel when we obey him? We make his “heart rejoice.” (Proverbs 11:20; 27:11) Just think about that! We make the Creator of the universe happy when we obey him. But he never forces us to do so. Instead, he has given us free will. This means that we have the freedom to choose to do right or wrong. Jehovah wants our love for him to move us to make good decisions so that we can have the best life possible.—Deuteronomy 30:15, 16, 19, 20; see Endnote 3.
“HIS COMMANDMENTS ARE NOT BURDENSOME”
13, 14. How do we know that God’s commandments are not too difficult to obey? Illustrate.
13 What if we think that Jehovah’s commandments are just too difficult to obey or that they will take away our freedom? The Bible clearly says: “His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) The Greek word for “burdensome” means “heavy.” In other scriptures, this word is used to describe unreasonable rules or people who try to control and hurt others. (Matthew 23:4; Acts 20:29, 30) The New English Translation puts it this way: “His commandments do not weigh us down.” Jehovah’s commandments are not “heavy,” that is, they are not too difficult for us to obey. He is always reasonable in what he asks of us.
14 For example, imagine you are helping a friend move to a new home. He has packed all his things into boxes. Some are light and easy to carry, but others are so heavy that it takes two people to lift them. Would your friend ask you to pick up a very heavy box all by yourself? Of course not! Why? Because he doesn’t want you to get hurt. Like that friend, Jehovah would never ask us to do something that is too difficult. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) Jehovah understands who we are. He “knows how we are formed, remembering that we are dust.”—Psalm 103:14.
15. Why can we be sure that Jehovah’s commandments are for our good?
15 Moses told the nation of Israel that Jehovah’s commandments were for their “lasting good” and that their obedience would help them to “keep alive.” (Deuteronomy 5:28-33; 6:24) The same is true today. Anything Jehovah asks us to do will make our lives better. (Read Isaiah 48:17.) Our Father, Jehovah, always knows what is best for us. (Romans 11:33) The Bible tells us: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) This means that everything Jehovah says and does is motivated by love.
16. How do we know that we can be obedient even though we are imperfect and live in a wicked world?
16 It is not always easy for us to obey God. We live in a wicked world that is ruled by the Devil. He tries to influence people to do what is bad. (1 John 5:19) We also have to fight against our own imperfect thoughts and feelings, since they can lead us to disobey God. (Romans 7:21-25) But our love for Jehovah gives us the strength to do what is right. He sees our efforts to obey him, and he helps us by giving us his powerful holy spirit. (1 Samuel 15:22, 23; Acts 5:32) Holy spirit helps us to develop qualities that make it easier for us to obey him.—Galatians 5:22, 23.
17, 18. (a) What will we learn in this publication? (b) What will we discuss in the next chapter?
17 In this publication, we will learn how to live in a way that pleases Jehovah. We will learn how to apply his principles and moral standards in our own lives. Remember that Jehovah never forces us to obey him. When we choose to be obedient, our life will improve and we will have a wonderful future. Most important, our obedience will show God just how much we love him.—See Endnote 4.
18 To help us know what is right and what is wrong, Jehovah has given each of us a conscience. If we train our conscience, it can help us to “observe his commandments.” So, what is our conscience, and how do we train it? Let us see.