Jehovah Is “the Rewarder of Those Earnestly Seeking Him”
“He that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—HEBREWS 11:6.
1, 2. Why might some of Jehovah’s servants struggle with negative feelings?
“I HAVE been a Witness of Jehovah for nearly 30 years, but I have never felt worthy to be called that,” confides Barbara.* “Even though I have pioneered and have had many other privileges, none of them seem enough to make me believe in my heart that I belong.” Keith expresses similar thoughts. “I have at times felt unworthy because Jehovah’s servants have many reasons to be happy, but I was not,” he says. “This led to feelings of guilt, which only made matters worse.”
2 Many of Jehovah’s faithful servants, both past and present, have struggled with similar feelings. Have you at times? You might be overwhelmed by one problem after another, while your fellow believers seem to be enjoying life, carefree and happy. As a result, you might feel that you neither have Jehovah’s approval nor merit his attention. Do not hastily conclude that this is the case. The Bible assures us: “[Jehovah] has neither despised nor loathed the affliction of the afflicted one; and he has not concealed his face from him, and when he cried to him for help he heard.” (Psalm 22:24) Those prophetic words about the Messiah show that Jehovah not only hears his faithful ones but also rewards them.
3. Why are we not immune to the pressures of this system of things?
3 No one is immune to the pressures of this system of things—not even Jehovah’s people. We live in a world that is ruled by Jehovah’s archenemy, Satan the Devil. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19) Rather than being miraculously protected, Jehovah’s servants are, in fact, the prime target of Satan. (Job 1:7-12; Revelation 2:10) Until God’s appointed time, therefore, we need to “endure under tribulation” and “persevere in prayer,” confident that Jehovah cares for us. (Romans 12:12) We should not give in to the thought that we are unloved by our God, Jehovah!
Ancient Examples of Endurance
4. Give some examples of faithful servants of Jehovah who endured distressing situations.
4 Many ancient servants of Jehovah had to endure distressing situations. Hannah, for example, was “bitter of soul” because she was childless—a condition that she considered tantamount to being forgotten by God. (1 Samuel 1:9-11) When Elijah was being pursued by murderous Queen Jezebel, he became fearful and prayed to Jehovah: “It is enough! Now, O Jehovah, take my soul away, for I am no better than my forefathers.” (1 Kings 19:4) And the apostle Paul must have felt the full burden of his imperfection when he admitted: “When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.” He added: “Miserable man that I am!”—Romans 7:21-24.
5. (a) How were Hannah, Elijah, and Paul rewarded? (b) What comfort can we draw from God’s Word if we struggle with negative emotions?
5 Of course, we know that Hannah, Elijah, and Paul all endured in Jehovah’s service, and He rewarded them richly. (1 Samuel 1:20; 2:21; 1 Kings 19:5-18; 2 Timothy 4:8) Still, they struggled with the full range of human emotions, including grief, despair, and fear. It should not surprise us, then, if at times we have negative feelings. What can you do, though, when life’s anxieties cause you to wonder if you are really loved by Jehovah? You can draw comfort from God’s Word. For example, in the preceding article, we discussed Jesus’ statement that Jehovah has numbered “the very hairs of your head.” (Matthew 10:30) Those encouraging words indicate that Jehovah is deeply interested in each of his servants. Recall, too, Jesus’ illustration of the sparrows. If not one of those small birds falls to the ground without Jehovah’s notice, why would he turn a blind eye to your plight?
6. How can the Bible be a source of comfort to those who battle negative feelings?
6 Is it really possible that we imperfect humans can be precious in the eyes of the all-powerful Creator, Jehovah God? Yes! In fact, there are numerous Bible passages that assure us of this. By taking these to heart, we can echo the words of the psalmist who stated: “When my disquieting thoughts became many inside of me, your own consolations began to fondle my soul.” (Psalm 94:19) Let us consider some of these consoling statements from God’s Word that will help us to appreciate more fully that we are valued by God and that he will reward us as we continue to do his will.
Jehovah’s “Special Property”
7. What encouraging prophecy did Jehovah give through Malachi to the corrupt nation?
7 A deplorable situation existed among the Jews during the fifth century B.C.E. The priests were accepting unfit animals and were offering these as sacrifices on Jehovah’s altar. Judges were showing partiality. Sorcery, lying, fraud, and adultery were rampant. (Malachi 1:8; 2:9; 3:5) To this blatantly corrupt nation, Malachi uttered an astonishing prophecy. In time, Jehovah would bring his people back into an approved condition. We read: “‘They will certainly become mine,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘at the day when I am producing a special property. And I will show compassion upon them, just as a man shows compassion upon his son who is serving him.’”—Malachi 3:17.
8. Why can Malachi 3:17 be applied in principle to the great crowd?
8 Malachi’s prophecy has a modern-day fulfillment in connection with spirit-anointed Christians, who make up a spiritual nation of 144,000. That nation is indeed “a special property,” or “a people for special possession,” to Jehovah. (1 Peter 2:9) Malachi’s prophecy can also be encouraging to the “great crowd,” who are “standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes.” (Revelation 7:4, 9) These become one flock with the anointed, under one Shepherd, Jesus Christ.—John 10:16.
9. Why are Jehovah’s people “a special property” to him?
9 How does Jehovah view those who choose to serve him? As noted at Malachi 3:17, he views them in the way that a loving father views his son. And note the glowing terms in which he describes his people—“a special property.” Other translations render that phrase “my very own,” “my most prized possession,” and “my jewels.” Why would Jehovah view those who serve him as being that special? For one thing, he is an appreciative God. (Hebrews 6:10) He draws close to and views as special those who serve him from the heart.
10. How does Jehovah provide protection for his people?
10 Can you think of a valued personal possession that you view as special property? Do you not take steps to protect it? Jehovah does the same with his “special property.” True, he does not shield his people from all of life’s trials and tragedies. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) But Jehovah can and will protect his faithful servants spiritually. He gives them the strength they need to endure any trial. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Hence, Moses told God’s ancient people, the Israelites: “Be courageous and strong. . . . Jehovah your God is the one marching with you. He will neither desert you nor leave you entirely.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) Jehovah deals rewardingly with his people. To him, they are “a special property.”
Jehovah “the Rewarder”
11, 12. How can appreciating Jehovah in his role as our Rewarder help us fight feelings of doubt?
11 Another evidence that Jehovah values his servants is that he rewards them. He told the Israelites: “‘Test me out, please, in this respect,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘whether I shall not open to you people the floodgates of the heavens and actually empty out upon you a blessing until there is no more want.’” (Malachi 3:10) Ultimately, of course, Jehovah will reward his servants with everlasting life. (John 5:24; Revelation 21:4) This priceless reward reveals the magnitude of Jehovah’s love and generosity. It also shows that he truly values those who choose to serve him. Learning to view Jehovah as a generous Rewarder can help us to battle any doubts about our standing with God. In fact, Jehovah urges us to view him as a Rewarder! Paul wrote: “He that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Hebrews 11:6.
12 Of course, we serve Jehovah because we love him—not just because he promises to reward us. Still, keeping close in our heart the hope of a reward is not improper or selfish. (Colossians 3:23, 24) Out of his love for them and the high value he places upon them, Jehovah takes the initiative and rewards those earnestly seeking him.
13. Why is the provision of the ransom the greatest evidence of Jehovah’s love for us?
13 The greatest indication of mankind’s potential value in Jehovah’s eyes is the provision of the ransom. The apostle John wrote: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The provision of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ runs counter to the very notion that we are worthless or unlovable in Jehovah’s eyes. Indeed, if Jehovah paid so high a price for us—offering his only-begotten Son—he must surely love us deeply.
14. What shows how Paul viewed the ransom?
14 Hence, should negative feelings well up in you, meditate on the ransom. Yes, view this gift as a personal provision from Jehovah. That is what the apostle Paul did. Recall that he said: “Miserable man that I am!” But then he went on to say: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” who, said Paul, “loved me and handed himself over for me.” (Romans 7:24, 25; Galatians 2:20) In saying this, Paul was not being egotistical. He simply had confidence that Jehovah valued him as an individual. Like Paul, you too should learn to view the ransom as a personal gift from God. Jehovah is not only a powerful Savior but also a loving Rewarder.
Beware of Satan’s ‘Crafty Acts’
15-17. (a) How does the Devil exploit negative feelings? (b) What encouragement can we draw from the experience of Job?
15 Still, you might find it hard to believe that the inspired consolations found in God’s Word really apply to you. You may feel that the reward of living forever in God’s new world is something that others can attain, but you are simply not worthy of it. If this is how you feel, what can you do?
16 You are no doubt familiar with Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations [“crafty acts,” footnote] of the Devil.” (Ephesians 6:11) When we think of Satan’s devices, such things as materialism and immorality might immediately come to mind and rightly so. These temptations have ensnared many of God’s people both in ancient times and in our day. However, we should not overlook another crafty act of Satan—his effort to convince people that they are unloved by Jehovah God.
17 The Devil is skilled at exploiting such feelings in his attempt to turn people away from God. Recall Bildad’s words to Job: “How can mortal man be in the right before God, or how can one born of a woman be clean? Look! There is even the moon, and it is not bright; and the stars themselves have not proved clean in his eyes. How much less so mortal man, who is a maggot, and a son of man, who is a worm!” (Job 25:4-6; John 8:44) Can you imagine how demoralizing those words must have been? So do not let Satan dishearten you. On the other hand, be aware of Satan’s designs so that you will have the courage and stamina to fight all the harder to do what is right. (2 Corinthians 2:11) As for Job, even though he had to be corrected, Jehovah rewarded his endurance by restoring to him in double measure all that he had lost.—Job 42:10.
Jehovah “Is Greater Than Our Hearts”
18, 19. How is God “greater than our hearts,” and in what way does he ‘know all things’?
18 Admittedly, it can be difficult to quell feelings of discouragement if these are deeply ingrained. Yet, Jehovah’s spirit can help you progressively to overturn “strongly entrenched things . . . raised up against the knowledge of God.” (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5) When negative thoughts threaten to overwhelm you, ponder the apostle John’s words: “By this we shall know that we originate with the truth, and we shall assure our hearts before him as regards whatever our hearts may condemn us in, because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.”—1 John 3:19, 20.
19 What is meant by the phrase “God is greater than our hearts”? At times, our heart may condemn us, especially when we become painfully aware of our imperfections and shortcomings. Or it may be that because of our background, we have an inordinate tendency to think negatively of ourselves, as if nothing we do could be acceptable to Jehovah. The apostle John’s words assure us that Jehovah is greater than that! He sees past our mistakes and perceives our real potential. He also knows our motives and intentions. David wrote: “He himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14) Yes, Jehovah knows us better than we know ourselves!
“A Crown of Beauty” and “a Kingly Turban”
20. What does Isaiah’s restoration prophecy reveal about how Jehovah views his servants?
20 Through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah gave his ancient people the hope of the restoration. Exiled as they would be in Babylon, this comfort and reassurance was just what these despondent ones would need! Looking ahead to the time when they would be returned to their homeland, Jehovah stated: “You must become a crown of beauty in the hand of Jehovah, and a kingly turban in the palm of your God.” (Isaiah 62:3) With these words, Jehovah clothed his people with dignity and splendor. He has done the same with his nation of spiritual Israel today. It is as though he held them up high for all to admire.
21. How can you gain confidence that Jehovah will reward your faithful endurance?
21 While this prophecy finds its primary fulfillment in the anointed, it illustrates the dignity Jehovah bestows upon all who serve him. Hence, when beset by feelings of doubt, remember that even though imperfect, you can be as valuable as “a crown of beauty” and “a kingly turban” to Jehovah. So continue to make his heart rejoice by earnestly seeking to do his will. (Proverbs 27:11) By doing so, you can be confident that Jehovah will reward your faithful endurance!
Some names have been changed.
Do You Remember?
• How are we “a special property” to Jehovah?
• Why is it important to view Jehovah as the Rewarder?
• What ‘crafty acts’ of Satan must we be on guard against?
• In what way is God “greater than our hearts”?
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God’s Word contains an abundance of consoling thoughts