Belonging to Jehovah—An Undeserved Kindness
“We belong to Jehovah.”—ROM. 14:8.
1, 2. (a) What privilege do we have? (b) What questions will we consider?
WHAT a precious privilege was offered to the nation of Israel when Jehovah said to them: “You will certainly become my special property out of all other peoples.” (Ex. 19:5) Today, members of the Christian congregation also have the honor of belonging to Jehovah. (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 7:9, 14, 15) It is a privilege that can benefit us forever.
2 Besides being a privilege, belonging to Jehovah is also a responsibility. Some may wonder: ‘Will I be able to do what Jehovah expects of me? If I ever fall into sin, will he cast me off? Will belonging to Jehovah rob me of freedom?’ Such concerns are worthy of consideration. First, though, another question deserves careful thought: What are the benefits of belonging to Jehovah?
Belonging to Jehovah Leads to Happiness
3. How did Rahab’s decision to serve Jehovah benefit her?
3 Do people who belong to Jehovah benefit from their situation? Consider the case of Rahab, a prostitute living in ancient Jericho. She had doubtless been raised to practice the depraved worship of the gods of Canaan. Yet, when she heard about the victories that Jehovah had given to Israel, she realized that Jehovah is the true God. So she risked her life to protect God’s chosen people and thus placed her future in their hands. The Bible says: “Was not also Rahab the harlot declared righteous by works, after she had received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way?” (Jas. 2:25) Imagine the benefits that came to her when she became a part of God’s clean people, a people educated by God’s Law in the ways of love and justice. How happy she must have been that she left behind her previous way of life! She married an Israelite and raised her son, Boaz, to be an outstanding man of God.—Josh. 6:25; Ruth 2:4-12; Matt. 1:5, 6.
4. How did Ruth benefit from her decision to serve Jehovah?
4 Ruth of Moab also decided to serve Jehovah. As a girl, she had probably worshipped Chemosh and the other gods of Moab, but she came to know the true God, Jehovah, and she married an Israelite who had come to take refuge in her land. (Read Ruth 1:1-6.) Later, as Ruth and her sister-in-law, Orpah, started out with their mother-in-law, Naomi, for Bethlehem, Naomi urged the two young women to return home. It would not be easy for them to settle in Israel. Orpah indeed “returned to her people and her gods,” but Ruth did not. She acted on her faith and knew to whom she wanted to belong. She told Naomi: “Do not plead with me to abandon you, to turn back from accompanying you; for where you go I shall go, and where you spend the night I shall spend the night. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:15, 16) Because of her choice to serve Jehovah, Ruth benefited from God’s Law, which made special provision for widows and for the poor and landless. Under Jehovah’s wings, she found happiness, protection, and security.
5. What have you observed about people who faithfully serve Jehovah?
5 You may know some individuals who after dedicating themselves to Jehovah have been serving him faithfully for decades. Ask them how they have benefited from serving him. Though no one is without problems, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the words of the psalmist: “Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!”—Ps. 144:15.
Jehovah’s Reasonable Expectations
6. Why should we not fear being unable to do what Jehovah expects of us?
6 You may have wondered if you will be able to do what Jehovah expects of you. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of being a servant of God, living by his law, and speaking in his name. For example, Moses felt inadequate when he was sent to speak to the Israelites and to the king of Egypt. But God was not unreasonable in what he expected of Moses. Jehovah ‘taught him what to do.’ (Read Exodus 3:11; 4:1, 10, 13-15.) Since Moses accepted the help offered, he experienced the joy of accomplishing God’s will. Jehovah is just as reasonable in what he expects of us. He understands our imperfect nature, and he wants to help us. (Ps. 103:14) Serving God as a follower of Jesus is refreshing rather than overwhelming because such a life course benefits others and makes Jehovah’s heart glad. Jesus said: “Come to me, . . . and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart.”—Matt. 11:28, 29.
7. Why can you be confident that Jehovah will help you to do what he expects of you?
7 Jehovah will always provide the encouragement we need, as long as we rely on him for strength. For example, Jeremiah was evidently not outspoken by nature. Thus, when Jehovah assigned him to be His prophet, Jeremiah said: “Alas, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah! Here I actually do not know how to speak, for I am but a boy.” Later, he even said: “I shall speak no more in his name.” (Jer. 1:6; 20:9) Yet, with Jehovah’s encouragement, Jeremiah was able to preach an unpopular message for 40 years. Jehovah repeatedly reassured him with the words: “I am with you, to save you and to deliver you.”—Jer. 1:8, 19; 15:20.
8. How do we reveal that we trust in Jehovah?
8 Just as Jehovah strengthened Moses and Jeremiah, he can help us to do what he expects of Christians today. The key factor is to rely on God. The Bible says: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5, 6) We reveal that we trust in Jehovah when we avail ourselves of the help he provides through his Word and through the congregation. If we allow Jehovah to guide our steps in life, nothing will prevent us from being faithful to him.
Jehovah Cares for His People as Individuals
9, 10. What sort of protection does the 91st Psalm promise?
9 While contemplating their decision to dedicate themselves to Jehovah, some may have wondered about the danger of sinning, becoming unworthy, and being rejected by Jehovah. Happily, Jehovah provides us with all the protection we need to safeguard our precious relationship with him. Let us see how that is expressed in the 91st Psalm.
10 That psalm begins: “Anyone dwelling in the secret place of the Most High will procure himself lodging under the very shadow of the Almighty One. I will say to Jehovah: ‘You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God, in whom I will trust.’ For he himself will deliver you from the trap of the birdcatcher.” (Ps. 91:1-3) Notice that God promises to protect those who love him and trust in him. (Read Psalm 91:9, 14.) What sort of protection did he mean? Well, Jehovah protected some of his ancient servants physically—in some cases to preserve the genealogical line leading to the promised Messiah. However, many other faithful men were imprisoned, tortured, and killed in devilish attempts to turn them away from faithfulness to God. (Heb. 11:34-39) They found the needed courage to endure because Jehovah protected them spiritually from the danger of breaking their integrity. Therefore, the 91st Psalm can be understood as a promise of spiritual protection.
11. What is “the secret place of the Most High,” and whom does God protect in it?
11 “The secret place of the Most High,” mentioned by the psalmist, is thus a figurative place of spiritual protection. In it, those who lodge with God as his guests are safe from anything and anyone that threatens their faith and their love for God. (Ps. 15:1, 2; 121:5) It is a secret place because unbelievers cannot discern it. Here, Jehovah protects people who say, in effect: ‘You are my God in whom I will trust.’ If we remain in this place of refuge, we need not worry unduly about losing God’s favor by falling into a trap of Satan, “the birdcatcher.”
12. What dangers threaten our relationship with God?
12 What dangers threaten our precious relationship with God? The psalmist mentions several dangers, among them “the pestilence that walks in the gloom, . . . [and] the destruction that despoils at midday.” (Ps. 91:5, 6) “The birdcatcher” has trapped many with a selfish desire for independence. (2 Cor. 11:3) He catches others by promoting greed, pride, and materialism. Still others he misleads by such philosophies as patriotism, evolution, and false religion. (Col. 2:8) And many have been lured into the trap of illicit sex relations. Such spiritually harmful plagues have caused millions to lose their love for God.—Read Psalm 91:7-10; Matt. 24:12.
Protecting Your Love for God
13. How does Jehovah protect us from dangers that threaten our spiritual welfare?
13 How does Jehovah protect his people from these spiritual dangers? The psalm says: “He will give his own angels a command concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.” (Ps. 91:11) Heavenly angels guide and protect us so that we can preach the good news. (Rev. 14:6) In addition to the angels, Christian elders, by holding firmly to the Scriptures in their teaching, protect us from being deceived by false reasoning. They can provide individual help to any who are struggling to overcome worldly attitudes. (Titus 1:9; 1 Pet. 5:2) Also, “the faithful and discreet slave” provides spiritual food to protect us against the teaching of evolution, the enticement of immoral desires, the pursuit of riches and prominence, and numerous other harmful desires and influences. (Matt. 24:45) What has helped you to resist some of those dangers?
14. How can we take advantage of the protection God provides?
14 What must we do to remain in God’s “secret place” of protection? Just as we constantly have to protect ourselves from physical dangers, such as accidents, criminals, or infections, so we must act continuously to protect ourselves from spiritual dangers. Hence, we should regularly take advantage of the guidance that Jehovah provides for us in our publications and at congregation meetings and assemblies. We seek the advice of the elders. And do we not benefit from the variety of qualities displayed by our Christian brothers and sisters? Indeed, our association with the congregation helps us to become wise.—Prov. 13:20; read 1 Peter 4:10.
15. Why can you be confident that Jehovah can protect you from anything that could cause you to lose his approval?
15 We have no reason to doubt that Jehovah can protect us from anything that could cause us to lose his approval. (Rom. 8:38, 39) He has protected the congregation from powerful religious and political enemies whose aim has usually been, not to kill us, but to separate us from our holy God. Jehovah’s promise has proved true: “Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success.”—Isa. 54:17.
Who Gives Us Freedom?
16. Why can the world not offer us freedom?
16 Will belonging to Jehovah rob us of freedom? On the contrary, belonging to the world would rob us of freedom. The world is alienated from Jehovah and ruled by a cruel god who enslaves people. (John 14:30) For example, Satan’s system of things uses economic pressure to rob people of their freedom. (Compare Revelation 13:16, 17.) Sin also has a deceptive power to enslave people. (John 8:34; Heb. 3:13) So even though unbelievers may promise freedom when they promote a way of life that is at odds with Jehovah’s teachings, any who listen to them will quickly find themselves enslaved to a sinful and degrading lifestyle.—Rom. 1:24-32.
17. What freedom does Jehovah offer us?
17 On the other hand, Jehovah will set us free from everything that can harm us if we entrust ourselves to him. In some ways, our situation is like that of a person who puts his life into the hands of a skilled surgeon who can set him free from a life-threatening condition. We all have a life-threatening condition—an inheritance of sin. Only if we entrust ourselves to Jehovah, on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice, can we hope to escape the effects of sin and live forever. (John 3:36) Just as our confidence in a surgeon may grow as we learn of his reputation, so our trust in Jehovah will grow as we continue to learn about him. Hence, we continue to study God’s Word carefully because that will help us to love him in a way that will dispel any fear of belonging to him.—1 John 4:18.
18. What will be the result for those who belong to Jehovah?
18 Jehovah grants freedom of choice to all people. His Word says: “You must choose life in order that you may keep alive, you and your offspring, by loving Jehovah your God.” (Deut. 30:19, 20) He wants us to express our love for him by freely choosing to serve him. Rather than robbing us of freedom, belonging to the God we love will surely make and keep us happy.
19. Why is belonging to Jehovah an undeserved kindness?
19 As sinners, we do not deserve to belong to a perfect God. Only God’s undeserved kindness makes it possible. (2 Tim. 1:9) Hence, Paul wrote: “Both if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. Therefore both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah.” (Rom. 14:8) We will surely never regret choosing to belong to Jehovah.
How Would You Answer?
• What are the benefits of belonging to Jehovah?
• Why are we able to do what God expects of us?
• How does Jehovah provide protection for his servants?
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Ask others how they have benefited from belonging to Jehovah
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What are some ways in which Jehovah provides protection?