Jehovah Is an Appreciative God
“God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.”—HEBREWS 6:10.
1. How did Jehovah show his appreciation for the Moabitess Ruth?
JEHOVAH deeply appreciates the efforts of those who sincerely seek to do his will, and he richly rewards them. (Hebrews 11:6) The faithful man Boaz was acquainted with this beautiful facet of God’s personality, for he said to the Moabitess Ruth, who lovingly cared for her widowed mother-in-law: “May Jehovah reward the way you act, and may there come to be a perfect wage for you from Jehovah.” (Ruth 2:12) Was Ruth blessed by God? Absolutely! Why, her story is recorded in the Bible! Furthermore, she married Boaz and became an ancestress of both King David and Jesus Christ. (Ruth 4:13, 17; Matthew 1:5, 6, 16) That example is but one of many in the Bible showing Jehovah’s appreciation for his servants.
2, 3. (a) What makes Jehovah’s expressions of appreciation remarkable? (b) Why is Jehovah able to express true appreciation? Illustrate.
2 Jehovah would consider it unrighteous on his part if he were to show a lack of appreciation. Says Hebrews 6:10: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.” What makes this statement remarkable is that God shows appreciation for devoted people even though they are sinners and fall short of his glory.—Romans 3:23.
3 Because of our imperfection, we may feel that our deeds of godly devotion are insignificant and unworthy of God’s blessing. Jehovah, though, fully understands our motives and circumstances, and he truly values our whole-souled service. (Matthew 22:37) To illustrate: A mother finds a gift—an inexpensive necklace—on her table. She could view the gift as of little value and toss it aside. However, the accompanying card reveals that the gift is from her little girl, who spent all her savings to buy it. The mother now sees the gift in a new light. Perhaps with tears in her eyes, she embraces her child and expresses her heartfelt appreciation.
4, 5. How did Jesus imitate Jehovah in showing appreciation?
4 Being fully aware of our motives and limitations, Jehovah appreciates it when we give him our best, whether that is a little or a lot. In this regard, Jesus was a perfect reflection of his Father. Recall the Bible account about the widow’s mite. “As [Jesus] looked up he saw the rich dropping their gifts into the treasury chests. Then he saw a certain needy widow drop two small coins of very little value there, and he said: ‘I tell you truthfully, This widow, although poor, dropped in more than they all did. For all these dropped in gifts out of their surplus, but this woman out of her want dropped in all the means of living she had.’”—Luke 21:1-4.
5 Yes, knowing the woman’s circumstances—that she was widowed and poor—Jesus understood the true value of her gift, and he was moved with appreciation. The same can be said of Jehovah. (John 14:9) Is it not encouraging to know that whatever your circumstances, you can find favor in the eyes of our appreciative God and of his Son?
Jehovah Rewards a God-Fearing Ethiopian
6, 7. Why and how did Jehovah demonstrate his appreciation toward Ebed-melech?
6 That Jehovah shows his appreciation for those who do his will is repeatedly demonstrated in the Scriptures. Consider his dealings with the God-fearing Ethiopian Ebed-melech, a contemporary of Jeremiah and a servant in the household of unfaithful King Zedekiah of Judah. Ebed-melech learned that the princes of Judah had wrongly charged the prophet Jeremiah with sedition and had thrown him into a cistern, there to die without food. (Jeremiah 38:1-7) Knowing that Jeremiah was bitterly hated because of the message he preached, Ebed-melech risked his own life and appealed to the king. Courageously, the Ethiopian spoke: “O my lord the king, these men have done bad in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have thrown into the cistern, so that he will die where he is because of the famine.” At the king’s command, Ebed-melech took 30 men and rescued God’s prophet.—Jeremiah 38:8-13.
7 Jehovah saw that Ebed-melech acted in faith, which helped him overcome any fear he might have had. Thus, Jehovah showed his appreciation and said to Ebed-melech through Jeremiah: “Here I am bringing true my words upon this city for calamity and not for good . . . And I will deliver you in that day, . . . and you will not be given into the hand of the men of whom you yourself are scared. For I shall without fail furnish you an escape . . . ; and you will certainly come to have your soul as a spoil, because you have trusted in me.” (Jeremiah 39:16-18) Yes, Jehovah delivered Ebed-melech, as well as Jeremiah, from the wicked princes of Judah and later from the Babylonians, who razed Jerusalem. “[Jehovah] is guarding the souls of his loyal ones; out of the hand of the wicked ones he delivers them,” says Psalm 97:10.
“Your Father Who Looks On in Secret Will Repay You”
8, 9. As demonstrated by Jesus, what kind of prayers does Jehovah appreciate?
8 Another evidence that Jehovah appreciates and values our expressions of godly devotion can be seen in what the Bible says about prayer. “The prayer of the upright ones is a pleasure to [God],” noted the wise man. (Proverbs 15:8) In Jesus’ day many religious leaders prayed publicly, not out of genuine piety, but out of a desire to impress men. “They are having their reward in full,” said Jesus. “However, when you pray,” he instructed his followers, “go into your private room and, after shutting your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; then your Father who looks on in secret will repay you.”—Matthew 6:5, 6.
9 Of course, Jesus was not condemning public prayer, for he himself prayed publicly on certain occasions. (Luke 9:16) Jehovah deeply appreciates it when we pray to him from a sincere heart, with no thought of impressing others. Our private prayers, in fact, are a good indicator of the depth of our love for God and our trust in him. Hence, it comes as no surprise that Jesus often sought out private places to pray. Once, he did this “early in the morning, while it was still dark.” At another time, “he went up into the mountain by himself to pray.” And before choosing his 12 apostles, Jesus spent the whole night alone in prayer.—Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:23; Luke 6:12, 13.
10. When our prayers reflect sincerity and depth of feeling, of what may we be certain?
10 Imagine how closely Jehovah must have listened to his Son’s heartfelt expressions! Indeed, Jesus at times prayed “with strong outcries and tears, and he was favorably heard for his godly fear.” (Hebrews 5:7; Luke 22:41-44) When our prayers reflect such sincerity and depth of feeling, we may be certain that our heavenly Father listens closely and appreciatively. Yes, “Jehovah is near to all those . . . who call upon him in trueness.”—Psalm 145:18.
11. How does Jehovah feel about what we do in private?
11 If Jehovah appreciates it when we pray to him in secret, how he must appreciate it when we obey him in secret! Yes, Jehovah is aware of what we do in private. (1 Peter 3:12) Indeed, our being faithful and obedient when we are alone is a good indication that we have “a complete heart” toward Jehovah, one that is pure in motive and that is firm for what is right. (1 Chronicles 28:9) How such conduct makes Jehovah’s heart rejoice!—Proverbs 27:11; 1 John 3:22.
12, 13. How can we guard our mind and heart and be like the faithful disciple Nathanael?
12 Consequently, faithful Christians guard against secret sins that corrupt the mind and heart, such as the viewing of pornography and violence. While some sins can be hidden from humans, we realize that “all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.” (Hebrews 4:13; Luke 8:17) By striving to avoid things that displease Jehovah, we hold a clean conscience and delight in knowing that we have God’s approval. Yes, there is no doubt that Jehovah truly appreciates the person “who is walking faultlessly and practicing righteousness and speaking the truth in his heart.”—Psalm 15:1, 2.
13 How, though, can we guard our mind and heart in a world that is saturated with badness? (Proverbs 4:23; Ephesians 2:2) In addition to taking full advantage of all spiritual provisions, we must make every effort to reject what is bad and do what is good, acting quickly so that improper desires do not become fertile and give birth to sin. (James 1:14, 15) Think how happy you would be if Jesus said of you what he said of Nathanael: “See, [a man] in whom there is no deceit.” (John 1:47) Nathanael, also called Bartholomew, was later privileged to become one of Jesus’ 12 apostles.—Mark 3:16-19.
“A Merciful and Faithful High Priest”
14. How did Jesus’ response to Mary’s gesture compare with that of others?
14 Being “the image of the invisible God,” Jehovah, Jesus always perfectly imitates his Father in showing appreciation for those who serve God out of a clean heart. (Colossians 1:15) For example, five days before surrendering his life, Jesus and some of his disciples were guests in the home of Simon of Bethany. During the evening, Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, “took a pound of perfumed oil, genuine nard, very costly” (worth about a year’s wages), and poured it onto Jesus’ head and feet. (John 12:3) “Why this waste?” said some. Jesus, however, saw Mary’s gesture in a very different light. He viewed it as an act of great generosity and of deep significance in view of his imminent death and burial. Hence, rather than criticize Mary, Jesus honored her. “Wherever this good news is preached in all the world,” he said, “what this woman did shall also be told as a remembrance of her.”—Matthew 26:6-13.
15, 16. How do we benefit by Jesus’ having lived and served God as a human?
15 How privileged we are to have such an appreciative person as Jesus as our Leader! In fact, Jesus’ life as a human prepared him for the work Jehovah had in store for him—serving as High Priest and King, first of the congregation of anointed ones and then of the world.—Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 7:26; Revelation 11:15.
16 Before coming to earth, Jesus already had a deep interest in and a special fondness for mankind. (Proverbs 8:31) By living as a human, he came to appreciate more fully the trials we experience in our service to God. “[Jesus] was obliged to become like his ‘brothers’ in all respects,” wrote the apostle Paul, “that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest . . . For in that he himself has suffered when being put to the test, he is able to come to the aid of those who are being put to the test.” Jesus can “sympathize with our weaknesses” because he “has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin.”—Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:15, 16.
17, 18. (a) What do the letters to the seven congregations in Asia Minor reveal about Jesus’ depth of appreciation? (b) For what were those anointed Christians being prepared?
17 The heightened appreciation Jesus had for his followers’ trials became evident after he was resurrected. Consider his letters to the seven congregations in Asia Minor, as penned by the apostle John. To the congregation in Smyrna, Jesus said: “I know your tribulation and poverty.” Here, Jesus was saying, in effect, ‘I fully understand your problems; I really know what you are going through.’ Then, with both the compassion and the authority borne of his own suffering to the very death, Jesus added: “Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.”—Revelation 2:8-10.
18 The letters to the seven congregations are filled with expressions that reflect Jesus’ full awareness of his disciples’ challenges and his genuine appreciation for their life of integrity. (Revelation 2:1–3:22) Keep in mind that those whom Jesus addressed were anointed Christians with the hope of ruling alongside him in heaven. In the footsteps of their Lord, they were being prepared for their lofty role of helping to administer with the greatest compassion the benefits of Christ’s ransom sacrifice to ailing humankind.—Revelation 5:9, 10; 22:1-5.
19, 20. How do those making up the “great crowd” show their appreciation to Jehovah and his Son?
19 Of course, Jesus’ love for his anointed followers is also extended toward his loyal “other sheep,” millions of whom now make up the prospective “great crowd . . . out of all nations,” who will survive the coming “great tribulation.” (John 10:16; Revelation 7:9, 14) These ones are flocking to Jesus’ side out of appreciation for his ransom sacrifice and for their hope of everlasting life. How do they show their appreciation? They do so by “rendering [God] sacred service day and night.”—Revelation 7:15-17.
20 The worldwide report for the 2006 service year, set out on pages 27 to 30, gives clear evidence that these faithful ministers are truly rendering Jehovah “sacred service day and night.” In fact, during that one year, they along with the relatively small remaining body of anointed Christians devoted a total of 1,333,966,199 hours to the public ministry—equivalent to well over 150,000 years!
Continue to Show Appreciation!
21, 22. (a) In regard to showing appreciation, why must Christians be especially on guard today? (b) What will be considered in the following article?
21 In dealing with imperfect humans, Jehovah and his Son have shown a depth of appreciation that is truly overwhelming. Sadly, though, the majority of humans give little thought to God, focusing instead on their own concerns. Describing people living in “the last days,” Paul wrote: “Men will become utterly self-centred, greedy for money . . . They will be utterly lacking in gratitude.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, Phillips) What a contrast such ones are to true Christians, who by means of heartfelt prayer, willing obedience, and whole-souled service demonstrate their appreciation for all that God has done for them!—Psalm 62:8; Mark 12:30; 1 John 5:3.
22 In the following article, we will review some of the many spiritual provisions that Jehovah has lovingly extended to us. As we reflect on these ‘good gifts,’ may our appreciation grow even deeper.—James 1:17.
How Would You Answer?
• How has Jehovah shown himself to be an appreciative God?
• When in private, how can we make Jehovah’s heart rejoice?
• In what ways did Jesus show appreciation?
• How did living as a human help Jesus to be a compassionate and appreciative ruler?
[Picture on page 17]
As a parent loves her child’s simple expression, Jehovah appreciates it when we give him our best