“Happy is the nation whose God is Jehovah, the people he has chosen as his own possession.”—PS. 33:12.
1. Why can Jehovah rightfully claim ownership of everything? (See opening picture.)
EVERYTHING belongs to Jehovah! He owns “the heavens, even the heavens of the heavens, and the earth with all that is in it.” (Deut. 10:14; Rev. 4:11) Hence, by reason of their very existence, all humans belong to Jehovah. (Ps. 100:3) Yet, throughout human history, God has designated specific groups of people as belonging to him in a special way.
2. Who have been identified in the Bible as belonging to Jehovah in a special way?
2 For example, Psalm 135 refers to faithful worshippers of Jehovah in ancient Israel as “his special property.” (Ps. 135:4) Also, the book of Hosea foretold that some non-Israelites would become Jehovah’s people. (Hos. 2:23) Hosea’s prophecy was fulfilled when Jehovah included non-Jews in his selection of prospective corulers with Christ. (Acts 10:45; Rom. 9:23-26) This “holy nation” is Jehovah’s “special possession” in an outstanding way, its members having been anointed with holy spirit and chosen for life in heaven. (1 Pet. 2:9, 10) What about the majority of faithful Christians today who have an earthly hope? Jehovah also calls them his “people” and his “chosen ones.”—Isa. 65:22.
3. (a) Who enjoy a favored relationship with Jehovah today? (b) What will be considered in this article?
3 Today, the “little flock,” with a heavenly hope, and the “other sheep,” with an earthly hope, compose the “one flock” that Jehovah highly regards as his people. (Luke 12:32; John 10:16) We surely want to show deep appreciation to Jehovah for granting us such a favored relationship with him. This article will consider various ways in which we can show our gratitude to Jehovah for giving us that special honor.
WE DEDICATE OUR LIVES TO JEHOVAH
4. What is one way we can thank Jehovah for making it possible for us to have a relationship with him, and how did Jesus do something similar?
4 We show appreciation to Jehovah by wholeheartedly dedicating ourselves to him. By water baptism, we formally and publicly acknowledge Jehovah’s ownership of us and our willingness to subject ourselves to him. (Heb. 12:9) Jesus did something similar when at his baptism he, in effect, said to Jehovah: “To do your will, O my God, is my desire.” (Ps. 40:7, 8, ftn.) Jesus presented himself to do Jehovah’s will, even though since birth he had been part of a nation dedicated to God.
5, 6. (a) How did Jehovah respond when Jesus was baptized? (b) Illustrate why Jehovah appreciates our dedication, even though everything belongs to him.
5 How did Jehovah respond to Jesus’ baptism? The Bible account says: “After being baptized, Jesus immediately came up from the water; and look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw God’s spirit descending like a dove and coming upon him. Look! Also, a voice from the heavens said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’” (Matt. 3:16, 17) Although Jesus already belonged to his heavenly Father, Jehovah was delighted to see his Son’s willingness to do His will exclusively. Jehovah is likewise pleased to accept our dedication, and he will honor us with his blessing.—Ps. 149:4.
6 To illustrate, imagine that a man has planted many beautiful flowers in his garden. One day his little girl picks one of those flowers and offers it to him as a gift. Did not the flower already belong to the man? How could she give him something that he already owned? A loving father would not even think of such questions. Rather, he would be delighted to accept the gift as a token of his daughter’s love for him. He would surely treasure that single flower from his daughter above all the other flowers in his garden. Jehovah is no less delighted when we willingly devote ourselves to him exclusively.—Ex. 34:14.
7. How did Malachi highlight Jehovah’s feelings toward those who willingly serve him?
7 Read Malachi 3:16. If you are not yet dedicated and baptized, consider the significance of taking such a step. Granted, from the moment you came into existence, you belonged to Jehovah, along with the rest of mankind. Yet, think how greatly it would please Jehovah if in recognition of his sovereignty, you were to dedicate yourself to him and do his will. (Prov. 23:15) Jehovah, in turn, recognizes those who willingly serve him, and he writes their names in his “book of remembrance.”
8, 9. What does Jehovah require from those whose names are inscribed in his “book of remembrance”?
8 Having our name inscribed in Jehovah’s “book of remembrance” as his people comes with certain obligations. Malachi specifically stated that we must ‘fear Jehovah and meditate on his name.’ Giving our worshipful devotion to anyone or anything else would result in our name being removed from Jehovah’s figurative book of life.—Ex. 32:33; Ps. 69:28.
9 Hence, our dedication to Jehovah involves much more than a solemn promise to do his will and to submit to water baptism. These actions are brief, and they quickly become part of the past. Our stand on Jehovah’s side as his people requires an ongoing demonstration of our obedience to him both in the present and in the future—for as long as we live.—1 Pet. 4:1, 2.
WE REJECT WORLDLY DESIRES
10. What clear distinction must exist between those who serve Jehovah and those who do not?
10 The preceding article considered the Bible accounts of Cain, Solomon, and the Israelites. All of them professed to worship Jehovah, but their devotion to him was far from exclusive. These examples clearly establish that those who truly belong to Jehovah must firmly take their stand for righteousness and against wickedness. (Rom. 12:9) Appropriately, after Malachi mentioned the “book of remembrance,” Jehovah spoke of “the distinction between a righteous person and a wicked person, between one serving God and one not serving him.”—Mal. 3:18.
11. Why should it be obvious to others that we are devoted to Jehovah exclusively?
11 Here, then, is another way we can show appreciation to Jehovah for choosing us as his people. Our spiritual progress must be “plainly seen by all.” (1 Tim. 4:15; Matt. 5:16) Ask yourself: ‘Is my complete allegiance to Jehovah evident to others? Do I look for opportunities to identify myself as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?’ Jehovah would be deeply saddened if after he has selected us as his people, we were to hesitate to let others know that we belong to him.—Ps. 119:46; read Mark 8:38.
12, 13. How have some obscured their identity as Jehovah’s Witnesses?
12 Sad to say, some individuals have blurred ‘the distinction between their serving God and their not serving him’ by imitating “the spirit of the world.” (1 Cor. 2:12) That is a spirit that caters to ‘the desires of one’s flesh.’ (Eph. 2:3) For example, despite all the counsel that has been given on the subject, some still prefer styles of dress and grooming that are immodest. They wear tight-fitting and revealing clothing, even to Christian gatherings. Or they have adopted extreme haircuts and hairdos. (1 Tim. 2:9, 10) As a result, when they are in a crowd, it may be difficult to tell who belongs to Jehovah and who is “a friend of the world.”—Jas. 4:4.
13 In other ways, some Witnesses have not firmly rejected worldly conduct. Their dancing and actions at parties go beyond what is acceptable for Christians. They post on social media photos of themselves and comments that are unbecoming to spiritual people. They may not have been disciplined in the Christian congregation for a serious sin, but they can be a negative influence on their peers who are striving to maintain fine conduct among Jehovah’s people.—Read 1 Peter 2:11, 12.
14. What course of action is vital if we are to protect our special friendship with Jehovah?
14 The world aggressively promotes “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life.” (1 John 2:16) Yet, because we belong to Jehovah, we are admonished to “reject ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.” (Titus 2:12) Our speech, our eating and drinking habits, our dress and grooming, our work ethic—everything we do—should tell onlookers that we are exclusively devoted to Jehovah.—Read 1 Corinthians 10:31, 32.
WE “HAVE INTENSE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER”
15. Why should we treat fellow worshippers with kindness and love?
15 Our appreciation for Jehovah’s special friendship is shown in how we treat fellow worshippers. They too belong to Jehovah. If we never lose sight of that fact, we will always treat our brothers and sisters with kindness and love. (1 Thess. 5:15) Jesus said to his followers: “By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:35.
16. What example from the Mosaic Law illustrates Jehovah’s feelings toward his people?
16 To illustrate how we should treat one another in the congregation, consider the following. The utensils in Jehovah’s temple were dedicated, or set aside, exclusively for pure worship. The Mosaic Law outlined in detail how to care for these utensils, and violators were subject to death. (Num. 1:50, 51) If Jehovah so jealously protected lifeless implements used in his worship, how much more would he protect his dedicated loyal worshippers whom he has chosen as his people! Speaking to his people, Jehovah once declared: “Whoever touches you touches the pupil of my eye.”—Zech. 2:8.
17. Jehovah is “paying attention and listening” to what?
17 Interestingly, Malachi depicted Jehovah as “paying attention and listening” as His people interact with one another. (Mal. 3:16) Jehovah indeed “knows those who belong to him.” (2 Tim. 2:19) He is keenly aware of every single thing we do and say. (Heb. 4:13) When we are less than kind to our fellow worshippers, Jehovah is “paying attention and listening.” When we are hospitable, generous, forgiving, and kind to one another, we can be sure that Jehovah takes notice of that as well.—Heb. 13:16; 1 Pet. 4:8, 9.
“JEHOVAH WILL NOT FORSAKE HIS PEOPLE”
18. How can we show appreciation for the honor of being Jehovah’s people?
18 Surely we are eager to show our appreciation to Jehovah for the honor of being his people. We see the wisdom in acknowledging his ownership of us by voluntarily dedicating ourselves to him. Even while living “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,” we want people to see that we are “blameless and innocent, . . . shining as illuminators in the world.” (Phil. 2:15) We take a firm stand against badness. (Jas. 4:7) And we love and respect our fellow worshippers, recognizing that they too belong to Jehovah.—Rom. 12:10.
19. How does Jehovah reward those who belong to him?
19 The Bible promises: “Jehovah will not forsake his people.” (Ps. 94:14) This ironclad guarantee is binding despite any calamity that might befall us. Even death cannot stand in the way of Jehovah’s love for us. (Rom. 8:38, 39) “If we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah.” (Rom. 14:8) We eagerly look forward to the day when Jehovah will bring to life all his loyal friends who have died. (Matt. 22:32) Even now we enjoy many blessings. As the Bible says, “happy is the nation whose God is Jehovah, the people he has chosen as his own possession.”—Ps. 33:12.