“See what sort of love the Father has given us!”—1 JOHN 3:1.
1. What did the apostle John urge Christians to consider, and why?
THE apostle John’s statement found at 1 John 3:1 is truly worthy of our deep and appreciative reflection. With the words “see what sort of love the Father has given us,” John was urging Christians to think about the nature and magnitude of God’s love for them, to consider how God loves them. Comprehending Jehovah’s love in those terms will surely deepen our love for him and strengthen our relationship with him.
2. Why do some find it difficult to comprehend that God loves them?
2 To some, though, God’s love for people is a foreign concept. To them, God is to be feared and obeyed. Or perhaps because of certain entrenched erroneous teachings, they feel that God is unloving, even unlovable. On the other hand, there are those who believe that God’s love is unconditional and that he loves them regardless of what they do or fail to do. As you studied the Bible, you learned that love is Jehovah’s paramount attribute and that his love moved him to give his Son as a ransom in our behalf. (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8) Yet, your feelings about God’s love for you might be affected by your upbringing and background.
3. What basic truth helps us to understand God’s love for us?
3 In what ways, then, does Jehovah love us? The answer to that question lies in understanding the basic relationship between Jehovah God and us. Jehovah, of course, is the Creator of all humans. (Read Psalm 100:3-5.) That is why the Bible calls Adam a “son of God,” and Jesus taught his followers to address God as “our Father in the heavens.” (Luke 3:38; Matt. 6:9) Being the Life-Giver, Jehovah is our Father; the relationship between him and us is that of a father to his children. Simply put, Jehovah loves us the way a devoted father loves his children.
4. (a) How is Jehovah different from human fathers? (b) What will we consider in this article and the following one?
4 Human fathers, of course, are imperfect. Try as they may, they do not fully reflect the way Jehovah expresses his fatherly love. In fact, some individuals have dark memories of growing up in family situations that have left them with deep emotional or psychological scars. That is painful and sad, even tragic. To be sure, Jehovah is not a father like that. (Ps. 27:10) Knowing how Jehovah loves and cares for us will surely draw us closer to him. (Jas. 4:8) In this article, we will examine four ways in which Jehovah shows his love for us. In the following article, we will consider four ways in which we can express our love for him.
JEHOVAH IS OUR LOVING PROVIDER
5. What did the apostle Paul tell the Athenians about God?
5 When the apostle Paul was in Athens, Greece, he noticed that the city was filled with idols of the gods and deities that the people believed gave them life and life’s necessities. Paul was moved to declare: “The God who made the world and all the things in it . . . gives to all people life and breath and all things. . . . By him we have life and move and exist.” (Acts 17:24, 25, 28) Yes, out of love, Jehovah provides “all things” necessary for us to sustain our life. Think of what that simple statement entails.
6. How does the earth reflect God’s love for us? (See opening image.)
6 Consider the earth, which Jehovah, the Maker, “has given to the sons of men.” (Ps. 115:15, 16) Scientists have spent vast amounts of money on space explorations to find other earthlike planets. Although hundreds of planets have been identified, scientists are disappointed that not one of those planets has the intricate balance of conditions that makes human life possible, as the earth does. The earth appears to be unique among all of God’s creation. Just imagine, out of the unknown number of planets that exist in the Milky Way and beyond, Jehovah created the earth to be not merely a habitable place but a comfortable, beautiful, and safe home for his human creation! (Isa. 45:18) This reflects how Jehovah must love us.—Read Job 38:4, 7; Psalm 8:3-5.
7. How does the way God made us show that he truly loves us?
7 Though Jehovah created a wonderful home for us, he knows that for us to be happy and content, we need more than material provisions. A child feels truly secure when he senses his parents’ love and attention. Jehovah created humans in his image, giving them the spiritual capacity to sense and to respond to his love and care. (Gen. 1:27) Furthermore, Jesus said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matt. 5:3) As a loving Father, Jehovah “richly provides us with all the things we enjoy,” both physically and spiritually.—1 Tim. 6:17; Ps. 145:16.
JEHOVAH LOVINGLY TEACHES US THE TRUTH
8. Why can we look to “the God of truth” for love?
8 Fathers love their children and want to protect them from being misled or deceived. Many parents, however, are unable to offer their children proper guidance because they themselves have rejected the standards found in God’s Word. The result is often confusion and frustration. (Prov. 14:12) Jehovah, on the other hand, is “the God of truth.” (Ps. 31:5) He loves his children and delights in letting his light of truth shine forth to guide them in every aspect of their life, particularly in matters of worship. (Read Psalm 43:3.) What truth has Jehovah revealed, and how does this show that he loves us?
9, 10. How does Jehovah show that he loves us by revealing the truth (a) about himself? (b) about us?
9 First of all, Jehovah reveals the truth about himself. He reveals his personal name, which appears more times in the Bible than any other name. In this way, Jehovah draws close to us, letting us know him. (Jas. 4:8) Jehovah also reveals his qualities, the kind of God he is. While the observable universe makes manifest his power and wisdom, Jehovah also reveals through the Scriptures his justice and especially his boundless love. (Rom. 1:20) He is like a father who is not only strong and wise but also fair and loving, making it easy for his children to have a close personal relationship with him.
10 For our benefit, Jehovah also reveals the truth about us, that is, about our place in his overall arrangement of things. This contributes to peace and order in his universal family. From the Bible we learn that humans are not created with the right of self-determination, to be independent of God, and that ignoring this fundamental truth will have sad consequences. (Jer. 10:23) This is critically important to our welfare. Only by recognizing God’s authority can we enjoy peace and harmony. How loving of Jehovah that he chooses to reveal this important truth!
11. What promise by Jehovah shows his love and concern for us?
11 A loving father is deeply concerned about the future of his children, wanting them to have a real and meaningful purpose in life. Regrettably, most people are in the dark about the future, or they spend their life pursuing goals that bring no lasting benefits. (Ps. 90:10) As God’s children, we feel truly loved because Jehovah has promised us a wonderful future. That gives genuine meaning and purpose to our life.
JEHOVAH COUNSELS AND DISCIPLINES HIS CHILDREN
12. How did Jehovah’s counsel and direction for Cain and Baruch show his love and concern for them?
12 “Why are you so angry and dejected? If you turn to doing good, will you not be restored to favor? . . . Will you get the mastery over [sin]?” (Gen. 4:6, 7) That was timely counsel coupled with positive direction. Jehovah thus warned Cain when it was apparent that Cain was on a very dangerous course. Sadly, Cain did not heed that warning, and he suffered for it. (Gen. 4:11-13) When Jeremiah’s secretary, Baruch, felt weary and despondent, Jehovah gave him counsel to help him see the reality of his problem. Unlike Cain, Baruch accepted Jehovah’s counsel, and this preserved his life.—Jer. 45:2-5.
13. Why did Jehovah allow trials to come upon his faithful ones?
13 “Those whom Jehovah loves he disciplines, in fact, he scourges everyone whom he receives as a son,” wrote Paul. (Heb. 12:6) Discipline, however, is not limited to punishment. It takes various forms. There are many examples in the Bible of faithful servants undergoing extreme trials that may have involved discipline and that trained them. Think of Joseph, Moses, and David. Accounts of their lives are among the most detailed and vivid of all Bible characters. Reading about how Jehovah was with them throughout their trials and how they came to be used mightily by Jehovah makes us feel all the more Jehovah’s care and love for his servants.—Read Proverbs 3:11, 12.
14. How can we sense Jehovah’s love when we are disciplined by him?
14 Discipline from Jehovah helps us see another aspect of his love. When those who have done wrong are disciplined by Jehovah and they respond and repent, “he will forgive in a large way.” (Isa. 55:7) What does that mean? David gave a touching description of Jehovah’s forgiveness in these words: “He forgives all your errors and heals all your ailments; he reclaims your life from the pit and crowns you with his loyal love and mercy. As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, so far off from us he has put our transgressions.” (Ps. 103:3, 4, 12) May we always be sensitive to Jehovah’s counsel, even his discipline, and be quick to respond, recognizing that it is an expression of his boundless love for us.—Ps. 30:5.
JEHOVAH PROTECTS AND SAFEGUARDS US
15. What shows that Jehovah’s people are precious to him?
15 Certainly, one of a loving father’s priorities is that of protecting and safeguarding his family against any possible harm or serious danger. Jehovah, our heavenly Father, does no less. Of Jehovah, the psalmist says: “He is guarding the lives of his loyal ones; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.” (Ps. 97:10) Consider an example. How precious your eyes are to you! That is how Jehovah feels about his people. (Read Zechariah 2:8.) How precious God’s people are to him!
16, 17. Describe ways that Jehovah has protected and safeguarded his people, even in our time.
16 One way Jehovah protects his people is by means of his angels. (Ps. 91:11) One angel saved Jerusalem from the invading Assyrians, destroying an army of 185,000 in one night. (2 Ki. 19:35) The apostles Peter and Paul as well as others experienced angelic deliverance from prison. (Acts 5:18-20; 12:6-11) In our day as well, Jehovah’s hand is not short. A headquarters representative who visited a branch in Africa reported that political and religious conflicts had devastated that country. Fighting, looting, raping, and killing plunged the land into chaos and anarchy. Yet, none of our brothers and sisters lost their life in that case, even though many of them lost all their belongings and their livelihood. When asked how they were faring, everyone, with a broad smile, answered: “All is well, thanks to Jehovah!” They felt God’s love for them.
17 Jehovah has on occasion allowed enemies to take the life of a faithful one, such as Stephen. Yet, God protects his people overall by providing timely warnings against Satan’s crafty acts. (Eph. 6:10-12) Through his Word and Bible-based publications from his organization, we are helped to see the truth about deceptive riches, immoral and violent entertainment, misuse of the Internet, and so on. Clearly, as a loving Father, Jehovah looks after the safety and well-being of his people.
A GRAND PRIVILEGE
18. How do you feel about Jehovah’s love for you?
18 Having considered just a few of the excelling ways that Jehovah shows his love for us, we cannot help but feel as Moses did. Reflecting on his long life of service to Jehovah, Moses said: “Satisfy us with your loyal love in the morning, so that we may shout joyfully and rejoice during all our days.” (Ps. 90:14) To comprehend and experience Jehovah’s love for us is one of the grandest privileges and blessings that we can have today. As was the apostle John, we are moved to declare: “See what sort of love the Father has given us!”—1 John 3:1.