Do You Have Affection for Jehovah?
LOVE has many “faces.” An ardent young man may be in love with a beautiful girl. There is the love of a mother for her child. And there is the love that binds Christians together in a globe-encircling brotherhood.
All of this is “love,” but the Greeks have separate words for the different kinds of love. Éros is the love associated with sex attraction. Storgé denotes love based on blood relationship. And agápe—unselfish love based on principle—is the love that genuine Christians earth wide have among themselves.—John 13:34, 35.
However, when wishing to stress love in an especially warm and affectionate way, writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures used the word philía. It denotes a strong, warm, personal attachment, such as that existing between genuine friends. Jehovah has such a special affection for his only-begotten Son. Thus Jesus said of himself: “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father has affection for the Son and shows him all the things he himself does.” And, similarly, regarding his genuine followers, Jesus said: “The Father himself has affection for you, because you have had affection for me and have believed that I came out as the Father’s representative.”—John 5:19, 20; 16:27.
In the Christian Greek Scriptures, “affection” refers to a warm, personal kind of love. This is apparent from the fact that often in translation it is coupled with the word “tender.” For instance, the apostle Paul admonishes Christians: “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another.” (Romans 12:10) Moreover, the disciple James cites the endurance of Job and the outcome Jehovah gave as proving “that Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.”—James 5:11.
Is Affection for Jehovah Possible?
So Jehovah can have tender affection for integrity-keeping—though imperfect—humans. But since affection means having a close, warm fondness for someone, is it possible for imperfect humans to have affection for the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah?
Yes, this is possible. An outstanding example of a person who did have warm affection for Jehovah was David. This can be seen from his many psalms. He greatly appreciated Jehovah’s loving care as a Shepherd.—Psalm 18:1; 23:1-6.
Jehovah can be so close, so real, to us that we can have a personal affection, or fondness, for him. In fact, that we should have this close, warm affection for our Maker is clear from the first and greatest commandment. According to it, we are to ‘love Jehovah with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind and our whole strength.’—Mark 12:29, 30.
Cultivating Warm Affection for Jehovah
How, then, can we cultivate this warm affection for Jehovah? By developing ever-deepening appreciation of what a loving, affectionate heavenly Father he is. This we can do by taking time to read his Word, the Bible, regularly. Especially may we find it beneficial to read such portions as the Psalms, the Gospels and the apostolic letters.
Another great aid in cultivating warm affection for Jehovah is the developing of the spirit of appreciation and thanksgiving for his many blessings. Consider all good things as coming from him, for, in fact, “every good gift and every perfect present . . . comes down from the Father of the celestial lights.” Indeed, Scriptural admonitions to give thanks to God are numerous, particularly in the book of Psalms and in the letters of Paul. Typical are the apostle’s words: “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ [give] thanks always for all things to our God and Father.”—James 1:17; Ephesians 5:20.
Also helping us to grow in affection for Jehovah God is prayer—heartfelt, sincere and humble petitions and supplications addressed to our loving heavenly Father. In prayer we dwell on Jehovah’s fine qualities, his goodness toward us and our need for him. And in prayer we also plead with him to forgive our sins, as did David in Psalm 51. Understandably, all of this draws us closer to Jehovah and strengthens our affection for him.
How Affection for Jehovah Helps Us
If we cultivate this warm, personal affection for Jehovah God, truly loving him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, then what? This will help us to walk in the way that is pleasing to God and will also spare us many pains and heartaches. Those Christians who get themselves in trouble by seriously transgressing God’s righteous laws very likely have failed to cultivate this warm relationship with the heavenly Father.
For example, there was a young Christian, hardly out of his teens, who had the privilege of full-time service. But he grew careless as to the “works of the flesh” and had to be disciplined. (Galatians 5:19-21) When the seriousness of his wrongdoing was impressed upon him, he sincerely repented. Yet he had overlooked what should have been uppermost in his mind, namely, the reproach that his wayward course brought upon Jehovah’s name. Had this young man had a warm, personal relationship with his heavenly Father, very likely that would have served as a deterrent.
Jesus asked Peter whether he had not only love but also affection for his Master. When Peter replied that he did, Jesus said, “Feed my little sheep.” (John 21:15-17) It is similar with our having affection for Jehovah. Such affection will help us to be concerned with pleasing God by keeping his commandments. It will make us concerned that we do not displease him, that we do not hurt his feelings. As the apostle Paul reminds us, if we shrink back from doing Jehovah’s will, He will have no pleasure in us. We surely do not want that to happen to us, do we? (Hebrews 10:38, 39) How much better to have faith and true warm affection for our loving God!
Therefore, let us cultivate a warm affection for Jehovah God. We can do so by reading his Word, by reflecting on his goodness in the spirit of thanksgiving, by persevering in prayer and by seeking to please him by our conduct and our zealous ministry in proclaiming his name and kingdom.