“You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.”—MATT. 22:37.
1. Why did mutual love between God and his Son grow?
JEHOVAH’S Son, Jesus Christ, declared: “I love the Father.” (John 14:31) Jesus also said: “The Father has affection for the Son.” (John 5:20) That should not surprise us. After all, for ages during Jesus’ prehuman existence, he was God’s “master worker.” (Prov. 8:30) As Jehovah and Jesus worked together, the Son learned much about his Father’s qualities and had innumerable reasons to love him. In fact, close association evidently caused their mutual love to grow.
2. (a) What does love involve? (b) We will discuss what questions?
2 Love involves a feeling of deep affection for someone. The psalmist David sang: “I have affection for you, O Jehovah, my strength.” (Ps. 18:1) That is how we should feel about God, for he has affection for us. If we obey Jehovah, he will show his love for us. (Read Deuteronomy 7:12, 13.) But can we really love God, since we cannot see him? What does it mean to love Jehovah? Why should we love him? And how can we show our love for God?
WHY WE CAN LOVE GOD
3, 4. Why is it possible for us to love Jehovah?
3 “God is a Spirit”; hence, we cannot see him. (John 4:24) Yet, love for Jehovah is possible, and we are commanded in the Scriptures to express that love. For example, Moses told the Israelites: “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength.”—Deut. 6:5.
4 Why can we have deep love for God? Because he created us with a spiritual need and endowed us with the ability to express love. When our spiritual need is properly satisfied, our love for Jehovah grows and we have a sound basis for happiness. “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need,” said Jesus, “since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (Matt. 5:3) Concerning what some call humans’ innate desire to worship, it has been said: “We should stand in awe, amazement and reverence to see the universality of man’s search for, and belief in, a supreme being.”—Man Does Not Stand Alone, by A. C. Morrison.
5. How do we know that it is not futile to search for God?
5 Is it futile to search for God? No, for he wants us to find him. The apostle Paul made that clear when he gave a witness to a group assembled on the Areopagus. That took place within sight of the Parthenon—a temple dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of ancient Athens. Imagine that you are there as Paul speaks about “the God who made the world and all the things in it” and then explains that He “does not dwell in handmade temples.” The apostle adds that God “made out of one man every nation of men to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of where men would dwell, so that they would seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:24-27) Yes, people can find God. Over seven and a half million Witnesses of Jehovah ‘really have found him’—and they truly love him.
WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE GOD
6. Jesus identified what as “the greatest and first commandment”?
6 Our love for Jehovah should spring from the heart. Jesus made that clear when a Pharisee asked: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.”—Matt. 22:34-38.
7. What does it mean to love God with (a) our “whole heart”? (b) our “whole soul”? (c) our “whole mind”?
7 What did Jesus mean when he said that we must love God with our “whole heart”? He meant that we must love Jehovah with our entire figurative heart, affecting our desires, emotions, and feelings. We must also love him with our “whole soul,” or our life and being. Moreover, we must love God with our “whole mind,” or our full intellect. In essence, we ought to love Jehovah fully, without reservation.
8. Loving God fully will move us to do what?
8 If we love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind, we will be diligent students of his Word, will wholeheartedly serve his purposes, and will zealously declare the good news of the Kingdom. (Matt. 24:14; Rom. 12:1, 2) True love for Jehovah will draw us ever closer to him. (Jas. 4:8) Of course, we cannot possibly list all the reasons why we should love God. However, let us consider a few of them.
WHY WE SHOULD LOVE JEHOVAH
9. Why do you love Jehovah as our Creator and our Provider?
9 Jehovah is our Creator and our Provider. “By him we have life and move and exist,” said Paul. (Acts 17:28) Jehovah has given us our splendid earthly home. (Ps. 115:16) He also provides food and other things we need in order to sustain our life. Therefore, Paul could tell the idolatrous residents of Lystra that “the living God . . . did not leave himself without witness in that he did good, giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying you with food and filling your hearts with gladness.” (Acts 14:15-17) Is that not reason to love our Grand Creator and loving Provider?—Eccl. 12:1.
10. How should we react to God’s provision for the removal of sin and death?
10 God has made possible the removal of the sin and death we inherited from Adam. (Rom. 5:12) Indeed, “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) Undoubtedly, our heart overflows with love for Jehovah because he has made it possible for us to receive forgiveness of our sins if we are repentant and exercise faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.—John 3:16.
11, 12. In what ways has Jehovah given us hope?
11 Jehovah ‘gives hope that fills us with joy and peace.’ (Rom. 15:13) God-given hope enables us to endure tests of faith. Anointed ones who prove ‘faithful even to death will be given the crown of heavenly life.’ (Rev. 2:10) Integrity-keepers with an earthly hope will enjoy eternal blessings in the promised global Paradise. (Luke 23:43) What is our natural response to such prospects? Are we not filled with joy and peace, as well as love for the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present”?—Jas. 1:17.
12 God has given us the heartwarming resurrection hope. (Acts 24:15) We are, of course, deeply saddened by the death of a loved one, but because of the prospect of the resurrection, ‘we do not sorrow as those do who have no hope.’ (1 Thess. 4:13) Out of love, Jehovah God yearns to resurrect the dead, especially faithful ones, like upright Job. (Job 14:15) Imagine the joyous reunions when resurrected ones are welcomed back to life here on earth. How our hearts swell with love for our heavenly Father, who has given us the marvelous resurrection hope!
13. What evidence is there that God really cares for us?
13 Jehovah really cares for us. (Read Psalm 34:6, 18, 19; 1 Peter 5:6, 7.) Because we know that our loving God is always ready to help those who are faithful to him, we feel secure as part of ‘the flock of his pasture.’ (Ps. 79:13) Moreover, God’s love for us will be evident in what he will accomplish in our behalf through the Messianic Kingdom. After his chosen King, Jesus Christ, rids the earth of violence, oppression, and wickedness, obedient mankind will be blessed with lasting peace and prosperity. (Ps. 72:7, 12-14, 16) Do you not agree that such prospects give us reason to love our caring God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind?—Luke 10:27.
14. God has favored us with what priceless privilege?
14 Jehovah has favored us with the priceless privilege of serving as his Witnesses. (Isa. 43:10-12) We love God for granting us this opportunity to support his sovereignty and to bring true hope to people in this troubled world. Moreover, we can speak with faith and conviction because we are declaring good news based on the Word of the true God, whose hope-inspiring promises never fail. (Read Joshua 21:45; 23:14.) Of course, the list of blessings and our reasons for loving Jehovah could go on and on. But how can we demonstrate our love for him?
HOW WE CAN SHOW OUR LOVE FOR GOD
15. How can study and application of God’s Word help us?
15 Diligently study and apply God’s Word. Doing so shows that we love Jehovah and truly want his word to be a ‘light for our path.’ (Ps. 119:105) If we are experiencing distress, we can draw comfort from such loving assurances as these: “A heart broken and crushed, O God, you will not reject.” “Your loyal love, O Jehovah, kept supporting me. When anxieties overwhelmed me, you comforted and soothed me.” (Ps. 51:17; 94:18, 19) Jehovah shows mercy to those who suffer, and Jesus similarly feels pity for people. (Isa. 49:13; Matt. 15:32) Bible study can make us so keenly aware of Jehovah’s loving concern for us that we are inclined to respond with deep love for him.
16. How can regular prayer cause our love for God to grow?
16 Pray to God regularly. Our prayers draw us ever closer to the “Hearer of prayer.” (Ps. 65:2) When we discern that God is answering our prayers, our love for him deepens. For instance, we may have seen that he does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. (1 Cor. 10:13) If we have anxiety and turn to Jehovah in earnest supplication, we may well experience the incomparable “peace of God.” (Phil. 4:6, 7) At times, we may say a silent prayer—as Nehemiah did—and come to realize that it is being answered. (Neh. 2:1-6) As we “persevere in prayer” and become aware that Jehovah is responding to our petitions, our love for him grows and so does our confidence that he will help us to cope with further tests of faith.—Rom. 12:12.
17. If we love God, how will we view meeting attendance?
17 Make it your custom to attend Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions. (Heb. 10:24, 25) The Israelites gathered to listen and learn about Jehovah in order to have reverence for him and carry out his Law. (Deut. 31:12) It is not a burden to comply with God’s will if we truly love him. (Read 1 John 5:3.) Therefore, let us never allow anything to make us treat meeting attendance lightly. We surely want nothing to result in the loss of our first love for Jehovah.—Rev. 2:4.
18. Love for God moves us to do what in connection with the good news?
18 Zealously share “the truth of the good news” with others. (Gal. 2:5) Our love for God moves us to speak about the Messianic Kingdom of his dear Son, who will “ride in the cause of truth” at Armageddon. (Ps. 45:4; Rev. 16:14, 16) What a joy it is to have a part in making disciples by helping people to learn about God’s love and his promised new world!—Matt. 28:19, 20.
19. Why should we appreciate Jehovah’s arrangement for shepherding his flock?
19 Show appreciation for God’s arrangement for shepherding his flock. (Acts 20:28) Christian elders are a provision from Jehovah, who always acts in our best interests. The elders are “like a hiding place from the wind, a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless land, like the shadow of a massive crag in a parched land.” (Isa. 32:1, 2) How we appreciate a shelter from a strong wind or from a chilling rainstorm! When the hot sun is beating down on us, we are grateful for the shade provided by a crag. These figures of speech help us to see that the elders provide needed spiritual help and refreshment. By obeying those taking the lead among us, we show how much we appreciate these “gifts in men” and give evidence of our love for God and for Christ, the Head of the congregation.—Eph. 4:8; 5:23; Heb. 13:17.
KEEP GROWING IN YOUR LOVE FOR GOD
20. If you love God, how will you respond to James 1:22-25?
20 If you have a loving relationship with Jehovah, you will be a ‘doer of the word, not a hearer only.’ (Read James 1:22-25.) A “doer” has faith that produces such works as zealous preaching activity and participation in Christian meetings. Because you really love God, you will obey Jehovah’s “perfect law,” which covers everything he requires of you.—Ps. 19:7-11.
21. To what may your heartfelt prayers be likened?
21 Love for Jehovah God will cause you to turn to him often in heartfelt prayer. Evidently alluding to the daily burning of incense under the Law covenant, the psalmist David sang: “May my prayer be as incense prepared before you [Jehovah], my uplifted hands like the evening grain offering.” (Ps. 141:2; Ex. 30:7, 8) May your humble petitions, your earnest supplications, and your heartfelt words of praise and thanksgiving to God be like the sweet-smelling incense that symbolizes acceptable prayers.—Rev. 5:8.
22. What kind of love will we discuss next?
22 Jesus said that we must love God and also our neighbor. (Matt. 22:37-39) As we shall see in our further discussion of this quality, our love for Jehovah and his principles will help us to interact well with fellow humans and display love for our neighbor.