STUDY ARTICLE 38
Draw Close to Your Spiritual Family
“I am ascending to my Father and your Father.”—JOHN 20:17.
SONG 3 Our Strength, Our Hope, Our Confidence
1. What relationship can faithful humans have with Jehovah?
JEHOVAH’S family of worshippers includes Jesus, who is “the firstborn of all creation,” and a multitude of angels. (Col. 1:15; Ps. 103:20) When Jesus was on earth, he indicated that faithful humans can view Jehovah as their Father. Speaking to his disciples, Jesus referred to Jehovah as “my Father and your Father.” (John 20:17) And when we dedicate ourselves to Jehovah and get baptized, we become part of a loving family of brothers and sisters.—Mark 10:29, 30.
2. What will we consider in this article?
2 Some find it difficult to view Jehovah as a loving Father. Others may not know how to express love to their brothers and sisters. In this article, we will consider how Jesus helps us to view Jehovah as a loving Father, one to whom we can draw close. We will also identify ways that we can imitate Jehovah in how we treat our brothers and sisters.
JEHOVAH WANTS YOU TO DRAW CLOSE TO HIM
3. How does the model prayer draw us closer to Jehovah?
3 Jehovah is a loving Father. Jesus wants us to view Jehovah the way he does—as a warm and loving parent who is easy to approach, not as a cold authority figure. This is evident in what Jesus taught his disciples to pray for. He began the model prayer with the words: “Our Father.” (Matt. 6:9) Jesus could have directed us to call Jehovah “the Almighty,” “the Creator,” or “the King of eternity”—all of which are appropriate and Scriptural titles. (Gen. 49:25; Isa. 40:28; 1 Tim. 1:17) However, Jesus used the intimate term “Father.”
4. How do we know that Jehovah wants us to draw close to him?
4 Do you find it difficult to view Jehovah as a loving Father? Some of us do. We may find the idea of a loving parent hard to grasp because our upbringing was painful. How comforting it is to know that Jehovah completely understands our feelings! He wants to be close to us. That is why his Word urges us: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” (Jas. 4:8) Jehovah loves us, and he offers to be the best Father we could ever have.
5. According to Luke 10:22, how can Jesus help us to draw closer to Jehovah?
5 Jesus can help us to draw closer to Jehovah. Jesus knows Jehovah so well and reflects His qualities so perfectly that he said: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father also.” (John 14:9) Like an older brother, Jesus teaches us how to respect and obey our Father, how to avoid displeasing Him, and how to gain His approval. But Jesus’ life course on earth especially reveals how kind and loving Jehovah is. (Read Luke 10:22.) Let us consider some examples.
6. Give examples of how Jehovah listened to Jesus.
6 Jehovah listens to his children. Consider the way that Jehovah listened to his firstborn Son. Jehovah certainly heard many prayers offered by his Son when he was on earth. (Luke 5:16) He heard Jesus pray about weighty decisions, such as when he selected his 12 apostles. (Luke 6:12, 13) Jehovah also heard Jesus pray when he was in distress. Just before his betrayal, Jesus fervently prayed to his Father concerning the difficult test he was about to face. Jehovah not only heard Jesus’ prayer but also sent an angel to strengthen His dear Son.—Luke 22:41-44.
7. How should we feel knowing that Jehovah listens to our prayers?
7 Today, Jehovah continues to listen to the prayers of his servants, and he answers them at the right time and in the best possible way. (Ps. 116:1, 2) Consider how a sister in India personally experienced this. She had been dealing with severe emotional problems, and she earnestly prayed to Jehovah about the matter. She writes: “The May 2019 JW Broadcasting® program about how to deal with worry and anxiety was just the right thing for me. It was an answer to my prayers.”
8. In what ways did Jehovah show love for Jesus?
8 Jehovah loves us and cares for us, just as he loved Jesus and cared for him during his challenging earthly assignment. (John 5:20) He provided for all of Jesus’ spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. And Jehovah did not hold back from expressing love for and approval of his Son. (Matt. 3:16, 17) Because he could always count on his loving heavenly Father, Jesus never felt alone.—John 8:16.
9. What evidence do we have that Jehovah loves us?
9 Like Jesus, all of us have experienced many expressions of Jehovah’s love. Just think: Jehovah drew us to him and has given us a loving and united spiritual family to make us happy and to help fill our emotional needs. (John 6:44) Jehovah also provides us with a steady supply of upbuilding spiritual food. And he even helps us to care for our daily material needs. (Matt. 6:31, 32) As we reflect on Jehovah’s love for us, our love for him grows.
TREAT YOUR SPIRITUAL FAMILY THE WAY JEHOVAH DOES
10. What can we learn from the way Jehovah treats our brothers and sisters?
10 Jehovah loves our brothers and sisters. But we may not always find it easy to feel and express love for members of our spiritual family. After all, we come from many different cultures and backgrounds. And we all make mistakes that can frustrate and disappoint others. Still, we can contribute to the love of our spiritual family. How? By imitating our Father in showing love to our brothers and sisters. (Eph. 5:1, 2; 1 John 4:19) Let us see what we can learn from Jehovah’s example.
11. How did Jesus reflect Jehovah’s “tender compassion”?
11 Jehovah shows “tender compassion.” (Luke 1:78) A compassionate person is concerned when he notices that people are suffering; he looks for ways to provide help and comfort. By the way he treated people, Jesus reflected Jehovah’s concern for them. (John 5:19) When seeing a crowd on one occasion, Jesus “felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36) Jesus’ compassion went beyond warm feelings. He cured the sick and offered refreshment to those who were “toiling and loaded down.”—Matt. 11:28-30; 14:14.
12. Give an example of how we can show compassion.
12 Before we can show compassionate concern for our brothers and sisters, we need to consider what challenges they are facing. For example, a sister may have a serious health problem. She never complains about it, but she would likely appreciate some practical help. How is she caring for the physical needs of her family? Would she welcome a little assistance with preparing meals or cleaning the house? A brother may have lost his job. Would a modest monetary gift, perhaps given anonymously, help tide him over until he finds another job?
13-14. How can we be generous like Jehovah?
13 Jehovah is generous. (Matt. 5:45) We should not wait until our brothers and sisters ask for our help before we show compassion. Like Jehovah, we can take the initiative. He makes the sun rise on us daily without our even asking for it! And the warmth of the sun sustains everyone, not just those who are thankful. Would you not agree that by providing for our needs, Jehovah is expressing his love for us? How we love Jehovah for being so kind and generous!
14 In imitation of their heavenly Father, many of our brothers and sisters take the initiative in showing generosity. For example, in 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan caused tremendous destruction in the Philippines. A number of brothers and sisters lost their homes and possessions. But their spiritual family from around the world rallied to support them. Many contributed funds or participated in a massive construction effort, which resulted in repairing or rebuilding almost 750 homes in less than a year! During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Witnesses worked hard to support their brothers and sisters. When we are quick to support our spiritual family, we show them that we love them.
15-16. According to Luke 6:36, what is an important way in which we can imitate our heavenly Father?
15 Jehovah is merciful and forgiving. (Read Luke 6:36.) We daily experience our heavenly Father’s mercy. (Ps. 103:10-14) Jesus’ followers were imperfect; yet, he showed them mercy and forgiveness. He was even willing to sacrifice his life so that our sins can be forgiven. (1 John 2:1, 2) Do you not feel drawn to Jehovah and Jesus because they are merciful and forgiving?
16 We strengthen the bond of love in our spiritual family when we are “freely forgiving.” (Eph. 4:32) Of course, forgiving others can be very hard at times, so we need to work at it. One sister felt that the Watchtower article “Forgive One Another Freely” helped her to do just that.b She writes: “Studying this article has given me a different, more positive perspective on the matter. It explained that being willing to forgive others does not mean that you approve of their wrong behavior or minimize the damage it causes. But forgiving does mean letting go of resentment for such wrongs and maintaining your own peace.” When we freely forgive our brothers and sisters, we show that we love them and that we imitate our Father, Jehovah.
CHERISH YOUR PLACE IN THE FAMILY
17. According to Matthew 5:16, how can we honor our heavenly Father?
17 It is a great privilege to belong to a loving international family. We want as many as possible to join us in worshipping our God. With this in mind, we should be careful never to do anything that would reflect badly on Jehovah’s people or on our heavenly Father. We try to conduct ourselves in a way that will attract people to the good news.—Read Matthew 5:16.
18. What can help us to give a fearless witness?
18 At times, some may belittle us or even persecute us because we obey our heavenly Father. What if we feel intimidated when speaking to others about our beliefs? We can count on Jehovah and his Son to come to our aid. Jesus reassured his disciples that they did not have to worry about how to speak or what to say. Why not? “What you are to speak will be given you in that hour,” explained Jesus, “for the ones speaking are not just you, but it is the spirit of your Father that speaks by you.”—Matt. 10:19, 20.
19. Give an example of someone who gave a bold witness.
19 Consider the example of Robert. Some time ago when he was a new Bible student with limited Bible knowledge, he appeared before a military court in South Africa. He boldly explained to the court that he wanted to remain neutral because of his love for his Christian brothers. He cherished his place in our spiritual family! “Who are your brothers?” the judge asked suddenly. Robert had not anticipated that question, but immediately the text for that day came to mind. It was Matthew 12:50: “Whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, that one is my brother and sister and mother.” Even though Robert was a new Bible student, Jehovah’s spirit helped him to answer that question and a number of other unexpected questions. Jehovah must have been proud of Robert! And Jehovah is also proud of us when we rely on him to give a courageous witness in challenging situations.
20. What should we be determined to do? (John 17:11, 15)
20 May we continue to treasure the blessing we have of belonging to a loving spiritual family. We have the best possible Father as well as many devoted brothers and sisters. We must never take these things for granted. Satan and his hateful followers try to make us doubt our heavenly Father’s love and try to disrupt the unity we enjoy. Jesus, however, prayed in our behalf, asking our Father to watch over us so that our family remains united. (Read John 17:11, 15.) Jehovah is answering that prayer. Like Jesus, may we never doubt the love and support of our heavenly Father. Let us be determined to continue drawing ever closer to our spiritual family.
SONG 99 Myriads of Brothers
a We enjoy the extraordinary privilege of being part of a loving family of brothers and sisters. All of us want to strengthen the bond of love that exists among us. How can we do so? By imitating the way in which our loving Father treats us and by following the examples of Jesus and of our brothers and sisters.
c PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Jehovah sent an angel to strengthen Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: During the COVID-19 pandemic, many worked to prepare and distribute provisions of food.
e PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A mother supports her daughter, who is sending a letter of encouragement to a brother in prison.