Appreciating Our Relationship with Jehovah
“Prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens.”—Matt. 5:45.
1. Why do we treasure a good friend, and why must we regard Jehovah as our best friend?
A TRUSTWORTHY friend is to be counted among our most valuable possessions. Such a person is a reassuring comfort in time of need and a delightful joy when we have blessings to share. If we have a number of loyal friends we are rich indeed. But whom would you regard as your best friend? Probably the one with whom you have the most in common and whose relationship with you contributes most toward your needs. We can all think of friends we hold dear, but nowhere among all of them can we find one who matches Jehovah as a friend who can so completely fill our needs. “To the one without dynamic energy he makes full might abound,” imparting all that is required to sustain us. (Isa. 40:29-31) Those who appreciate their relationship with Him inseparably attach themselves to Him as a close companion.
2, 3. (a) How can we get personally acquainted with Jehovah? (b) What responsibility comes with His friendship?
2 Viewing it from a human standpoint, some may regard a relationship with him as unrealistic. How can I be a close friend of one so far removed? What opportunity is there to estimate personally his qualities? Few of us have the prospect of association with him in his literal presence, but this does not mean that we can never know what he is like as a person. He provided an exact knowledge of his personality through his Son. Jesus declared: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.” (John 14:9) His disciples could observe in Jesus the same qualities that exist in his Father. His presence and works among men gave us an unparalleled opportunity to get personally acquainted with his Father. “Happy are the eyes that behold the things you are beholding,” Jesus said. “Many prophets and kings desired to see the things you are beholding but did not see them.” (Luke 10:23, 24) Even Moses, who experienced the intimacy of personal communication with Jehovah, was not as blessed as those able to see and hear Jesus.
3 Jesus made it possible for us to know what Jehovah is like. He showed us how to approach his Father to gain His goodwill. His personal knowledge of the Father became a wellspring of information for us to draw on. The apostle Paul observed: “Carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.” (Col. 2:3) A study of his teachings and personal qualities helps us to understand and appreciate his Father as a trusted friend. The closer we become, the greater our joy. Likewise, our responsibility becomes greater. Accountability before him increases. One who willfully turns his back on Jehovah after acknowledging him as a friend is regarded as one who has “trampled upon the Son of God and . . . outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt.” (Heb. 10:28, 29) Rather than repel us, such knowledge gives us even more reason to seek his friendship.
JESUS FULLY APPRECIATES HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH JEHOVAH
4. What opportunity did Jesus have to get to know his Father, and what assignment was he given?
4 In every way, Jesus showed that he treasured his relationship with his Father. All that he said and did showed that he knew his Father very well and wanted to be like him in every way. In a prehuman existence extending over aeons of time, he was continuously in his Father’s presence, able to see him literally and experience the close relationship between a loving father and a devoted son. His assignment of work was to carry out his Father’s creative purposes. As a result, “all things came into existence through him.” (John 1:3) His perfect accomplishment of that work involved an infinite variety of duties, the magnitude of which we can but barely perceive. He was entrusted with employment of the most powerful force that exists: the holy spirit. He used it in faithful obedience to his Father’s will, accomplishing all that He had purposed.
5. (a) How did Jesus continue to exercise authority even while on earth? (b) What two-fold purpose governed his use of authority?
5 The Son knows what it is to have great power. He is “over all others,” and the Father has “given all things into his hand.” (John 3:31, 35; Matt. 28:18) While on earth he continued to exercise a measure of that authority. When the apostle Peter reacted violently to Jesus’ arrest, he rebuked Peter and asked: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53) In dealings with his apostles, he spoke with authority. When they addressed him as “Lord,” he acknowledged it, saying: “You speak rightly, for I am such.” (John 13:13) His words and manner left no question about who was in charge. His exercise of authority, however, was always in a kindly way, to accomplish a twofold purpose: first, to exalt his Father and reveal His purposes, and, second, to benefit those who would obey. His handling of matters was purposely designed to direct favorable attention to his Father, exalting His name before others. He earnestly sought to make known his Father’s marvelous qualities and loving provisions. Without hesitation he repeatedly declared his own subservience to Jehovah God, avowing his determination always to “do the things pleasing to him.”—John 8:29.
6. How did Jesus show a sincere concern for others?
6 He was concerned about the well-being of others, being anxious to help them to merit his Father’s approval. In no way did he take advantage of his authority to exploit them for his own gain. His meager material possessions were evidence that he had no craving to enrich himself at their expense. He did not arbitrarily order others around; considerateness and mildness were characteristic of his manner. Those coming to him were all received on the same basis, with no preference for the wealthy or disdain for the poor.
7. How did Jesus feel about his Father’s authority, and how did that affect his disciples?
7 He saw in his Father all that was good, righteous and just. Obedience was not simply a duty; he wanted his Father as Master over him. Jesus’ perfect reflection of those qualities in his own personality generated the same desire in his disciples. Also, what they saw in him caused them to want Jesus as their Master. Peter spoke for all believers when he identified Jesus as “the Holy One of God” and as the one who has the “sayings of everlasting life.” (John 6:67-69) Because his appeal was always on the basis of love, they were instinctively drawn to him. (John 15:12) The attachment created by that love was maintained even at the cost of their lives. An inseparable unity resulted, binding them together in loyal obedience to the Father.—John 17:20, 21.
8. How did Jesus show complete confidence in his Father?
8 Jesus’ confidence and trust in his Father were total. He had the whole-souled conviction that his Father would never disappoint him. There were no doubts in his mind about the goodness, justice, value or ultimate success of his Father’s works. He unhesitatingly placed himself at his Father’s disposal, eagerly volunteering to do, “not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39) These were the conclusions reached by the one who knows the Father better than anyone else. It is obvious that he was awed by the indescribable beauty of the qualities he saw in his Father.
CHRIST REVEALED JEHOVAH AS FRIEND
9. How did Jesus help us to appreciate the depth of his Father’s love for us?
9 What a blessing it would be for us to know the Father as Jesus did! It was his innermost desire to help us to do that, we eventually coming to experience the sublime joy of his Father’s friendship. Through his conduct, his Father’s marvelous qualities were revealed for all to see. Foremost among these qualities is his infinite love. John 3:16 says: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son” as a ransom. We begin to grasp the depth of that love when we observe Jesus, moved by the same love, stepping forth voluntarily to “surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.” (John 15:13) We feel an eternal debt of gratitude to Jesus for what he did. When we appreciate that the whole arrangement was made possible by his Father at the cost of his dearly beloved Son, we are drawn to Jehovah with hearts overflowing with thankfulness.
10. How did Jesus imitate his Father in showing humility?
10 Those coming to Jesus found him approachable, ready to listen and always sincerely interested in them. (John 4:6, 30-34) Many were amazed to find in him a genuine humility not ordinarily found in men of authority. How heartwarming it is to know that we can approach the Father, Jehovah God, with the same assurance that he will receive us kindly, displaying a sincere regard for our needs! An amazing humility can be seen even in the Father, it irresistibly drawing us close to him.—Ps. 18:35.
11. What attracted people to become Jesus’ disciples, this having what effect upon their relationship with his Father?
11 Although being a perfect man possessing manly physical attributes, Jesus’ appeal was not on that basis. Those without love of righteousness or virtuous qualities were not impressed by what they saw respecting him, even as prophecy had foretold. (Isa. 53:1, 2) Those who became his disciples were those who had a high regard for goodness and righteousness, appreciating the unmistakable evidences of such in him. Our own observation of these admirable qualities in Jesus intensifies our esteem for his Father because we too come to admire Him personally. And we have come to love the righteousness manifested in all his ways.
CHRIST REVEALED OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JEHOVAH
12. (a) How may we be inclined to react to the idea that we can become Jehovah’s friend? (b) What knowledge encourages us to draw close?
12 Our first reaction to the suggestion that we can be close friends of Jehovah is that of feeling unworthy. Even so, he warmly beckons us to come to him, just as a father would his children. He is indeed our Father, and we have a place in his family of human sons. Our approach to him through Jesus requires no basic change in our bodily nature, since we were originally created in his ‘image and likeness,’ possessing a measure of his attributes. (Gen. 1:26) With these ties already existing, we are able to become related to him in a meaningful way. Inside his family is really the only truly natural place for us to be; any place outside leaves us alienated, cut off from the essentials necessary for our existence. Adam was responsible for the breach in our family relationship to God; his deliberate sin resulted in our condemnation as alienated sinners. Jehovah mercifully provided a way for us to regain what was lost. Jesus revealed to us what we are lacking and showed us exactly what changes are needed in our personalities to be acceptable again as part of God’s family.
13. What barrier has interfered with our relationship with Him, and how will it be overcome?
13 Of course, no matter how hard we try, we could never on our own overcome the obstacle of inherited sin. As long as it remained, our personalities would reflect the sinful tendencies unacceptable to God. Paul confessed: “The bad that I do not wish is what I practice.” He rejoiced to contemplate the applied benefits of the ransom, which would eventually remove all obstacles interfering with our development of the new personality. (Rom. 7:19, 24, 25) Those qualifying for the full benefits of the ransom learn to express this new personality in a way that pleases God.
14. What privilege is extended to those in a good relationship with Jehovah?
14 Regaining a good relationship with him means regaining lost privileges in his service. He extends to us an opportunity to share in the work he is presently doing, namely, the spreading of the Kingdom message. He invites us to share, not as lowly slaves, but as his “fellow workers.” (1 Cor. 3:9) We are afforded the honor of “working together with him.” (2 Cor. 6:1) Today, more than 2,000,000 “fellow workers” enjoy the privilege of sharing with him in this lifesaving work.
15. Even though we work hard, what must we acknowledge about the results?
15 Even though we exert ourselves vigorously, God does by far the biggest share of the work. Our assignment is simply to bear the good news to those about us, doing what we can to teach those who respond. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) We can be grateful that He thoughtfully assigns to us such a wholesome, worthwhile activity that gives us opportunity to exercise our minds and abilities to the full. We do the best we can, but we realize that it would be presumptuous for us to take credit for the results. It is Jehovah who has opened the hearts of the hundreds of thousands who have responded, removing the barriers that have kept them in ignorance. When his law comes to be found in their hearts, it is because he put it there according to His new covenant. (Heb. 10:16) The monumental changes made in their lives can be attributed, not to our skillfulness as instructors, but to the operation of his powerful holy spirit.
16. To what extent must we give credit to Jehovah for new disciples?
16 When we see new believers take a firm stand, we are witnessing visible evidence of God’s spirit in operation. It is really a miracle of God every time a person’s heart is opened to accept the Bible truth. We are obliged to marvel each time one is healed of spiritual blindness and delivered from the Devil’s snare. When people ultimately dedicate their lives and submit to water baptism to become Jesus’ disciples, all credit must go to the Father. Jesus himself acknowledged that fact when he declared: “No man can come to me unless the Father . . . draws him.” (John 6:44) What a privilege for one, not only to be accepted as his friend, but to be entrusted with responsibilities as a worker at his side! Appreciation moves us to be profoundly grateful.
CHRIST REVEALED OUR RESPONSIBILITIES TOWARD GOD AND MAN
17. (a) In our relationship, what does Jehovah expect of us? (b) What perfect example did Jesus set in this regard?
17 Jesus, by his example and teachings, helps us to see where we stand in our relationship with his Father and the responsibilities we bear in this favored position. His Father expects us to trust Him. In no way did Jesus rely on his own judgment. He sought his Father’s guidance and help in all things, praying to Him incessantly. (Luke 6:12) Obedience is also vital. Further, obedience of the right kind is essential. God wants neither the abject servitude of an unreasoning slave, nor a fearful obedience prompted simply by dread of punishment. Jesus set the example, being, not just a “righteous” man, but a “good” one. He did not avoid wrongdoing simply because God’s law forbids it. He did so because he himself would not tolerate it. Like his Father, he “loved righteousness, and . . . hated lawlessness.” (Heb. 1:9) It was unthinkable for him to entertain thoughts of something bad.—Matt. 16:22, 23.
18. When men become perfect, to what extent will they require written laws?
18 Examining the motive behind Jesus’ perfect example elevates our thinking so as to appreciate the high plane on which his Father will deal with us when we eventually attain perfection. When men demonstrate the godly attribute of goodness as Jesus did, extensive laws become unnecessary. Paul confirmed that, saying: The “law is promulgated, not for a righteous man, but for persons lawless and unruly.” (1 Tim. 1:9) After recounting the fruitage of God’s spirit, he added: “Against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) When men are motivated by righteous inclinations from within, they are in no way restricted or hampered by written laws. Reaching perfection, we will do what is right because as perfect men we choose to love what is right. We “will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21) A voluminous code of laws will be obsolete. All the guidance needed by man will be summed up in the simple injunction “to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God.” (Mic. 6:8) Solomon summed it up in fewer words, saying that “the whole obligation of man” is: “Fear the true God and keep his commandments.”—Eccl. 12:13.
19. If we imitate Jesus, how will we view wrongdoing?
19 We should strive to be as near Jesus’ perfect standard as possible. If we have his mental attitude, we will never view God’s law negatively, obeying to the barest extent necessary to comply with it. Because we love righteousness and hate lawlessness, we will never feel anything is all right as long as the Christian congregation cannot punish us for it. Nor will we see how close we can come to wrongdoing without breaking some law, or persist in something questionable because the elders cannot command us to do otherwise. Because we love Jehovah, we will “hate what is bad” and keep as far from it as possible.—Ps. 97:10.
20, 21. (a) What does appreciation motivate us to do? (b) Why is this necessary for a good relationship with Jehovah?
20 A close relationship with Jehovah is the finest thing to be experienced by man. Its reward far excels any materialistic treasure. The praiseworthy qualities of goodness and love for others that it produces in us are priceless. Appreciation impels us to invite others to join us in this family relationship with God. Eagerly we beckon them to “come! . . . take life’s water free.” (Rev. 22:17) With personalities now molded by the genuine love Jesus taught us, we rise above the imperfect tendency to think just of ourselves to the exclusion of others. That love teaches us that a refusal to share the benefits of his undeserved kindness is to miss its purpose. (2 Cor. 6:1) As our appreciation deepens for this godly quality, our concern for the welfare of others becomes greater.
21 No relationship can be maintained with the heavenly Father without such concern. An acceptable standing before him will perpetually depend upon our willingness to imitate his love in our dealings with others. Every expression of kindness he demonstrated was repeated in Jesus’ actions toward us, emphasizing his Father’s profound love for mankind. Anyone showing a selfish disregard for his fellowman can never be made perfect in his love for God. Consideration for others is a fundamental necessity for right relations with him.
22. (a) How can we show genuine love for our brothers? (b) How can that love be shown to those outside the congregation?
22 Appreciating that, we are sincerely interested in others. Those about us in the Christian congregation are of special concern. We are anxious to “work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” (Gal. 6:10) In every way we reach out to give help when the needs of our brothers, whether spiritual or material, become manifest. But our love is by no means limited to the narrow scope of our spiritual brothers; it is widened out to encompass all men, even those now alienated far from God. We have a feeling of compassion toward them, which motivates us to work for their best interests as we desire others to do for us. (Matt. 7:12) For them to learn the things Jesus taught is to learn the way to life. Our preaching the Kingdom message helps them to gain a right relationship with Jehovah and shows the highest regard for their welfare. (Matt. 28:18-20) It is one of the finest ways in which we can do good to them. Joyfully we grasp every opportunity to participate, not satisfied with a mere token effort. We continually analyze the use of our time and available resources with the goal of creating extra opportunities to preach. Pioneering, serving where the need is greater, and so forth, we regard as choice privileges that allow us really to demonstrate the genuine quality of our love.
23. What benefits are produced by our effort to maintain a good relationship with Jehovah?
23 This work results in good for everyone concerned. Jehovah takes delight in our willing obedience and effort to vindicate his name. Jesus rejoices to have us as prospective subjects under his millennial rule. Our spiritual brothers draw close to us in a warm bond of unity. Sheeplike ones feel a lasting debt of gratitude for what we have lovingly done in their behalf. Indeed, our hearts rejoice to see the marvelous blessings that accrue from our relationship with Jehovah! How glad we are that we have been allowed to “make friends” with him and to receive his assurance of a future in “everlasting dwelling places”!—Luke 16:9.
24. Why should we appreciate our relationship with Jehovah?
24 Jehovah has surely proved himself to be the best, most trustworthy friend we will ever know. Getting to know him as a close companion is the most enriching experience in our life. As the “happy God,” he is already fulfilling his promise to make us happy too. (1 Tim. 1:11) Success in firmly cementing that bond of friendship will sustain our unending joy. Appreciating the security, peace of mind and hope we have found in our relationship, we are moved to express our deepest, most heartfelt thanks to our best friend, Jehovah.
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Jesus helped others to come into a relationship with Jehovah, receiving all persons on the same basis, with no preference for the wealthy or disdain for the poor