“You, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive; and the loving-kindness to all those calling upon you is abundant.”—PSALM 86:5.
1, 2. (a) Why do we value friends who are loyal and forgiving? (b) What questions will we answer in this article?
HOW would you describe a true friend? A sister named Ashley says that a true friend is someone who is always ready to help you and who forgives you when you make mistakes. All of us value friends like that. They help us feel secure and loved.—Proverbs 17:17.
2 Jehovah is the most loyal and forgiving Friend we could have. He is as the psalmist described: “You, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive; and the loving-kindness to all those calling upon you is abundant.” (Psalm 86:5) What does it mean to be loyal and forgiving? How does Jehovah show those wonderful qualities? And how can we imitate his example? When we learn the answer to these questions, our love for our best Friend, Jehovah, will grow stronger. We will also be able to have closer friendships with our brothers and sisters.—1 John 4:7, 8.
JEHOVAH IS LOYAL
3. What does it mean to be loyal?
3 A loyal person is faithful to someone he loves. He shows his love by continuing to help and support the other person. He does this not just when it is easy but even when situations are difficult. The Bible describes Jehovah as “the loyal One.” There is no one more loyal than he is.—Revelation 16:5.
Jehovah is loyal to those who are loyal to him
4, 5. (a) How does Jehovah show that he is loyal? (b) Why do we feel encouraged when we think about how loyal Jehovah is?
4 How does Jehovah show that he is loyal? He always supports his faithful servants. One of these servants, King David, praised Jehovah for being loyal to him. (Read 2 Samuel 22:26.) During David’s trials, Jehovah loyally guided, protected, and saved him. (2 Samuel 22:1) David saw in his own life that Jehovah shows loyalty not just with words but by helping his servants. Why was Jehovah loyal to David? Because David was loyal to him. Jehovah loves his servants for their loyalty, and he is loyal to those who are loyal to him.—Proverbs 2:6-8.
5 We feel encouraged when we think about how loyal Jehovah is to his servants. One faithful brother named Reed said that he likes to read about how Jehovah helped David through difficult situations. He explained: “Even when David was on the run, living in and out of caves, Jehovah always sustained him. I find that very encouraging! It reminds me that no matter what the circumstance might be, no matter how bleak the situation might seem, Jehovah will be there for me as long as I remain loyal to him.” Surely, you feel that same way.—Romans 8:38, 39.
6. In what other ways does Jehovah show that he is loyal? How does this benefit his servants?
6 In what other ways does Jehovah show that he is loyal? One way is that Jehovah always follows his own standards. (Isaiah 46:4) All the decisions he makes are based on his standards, and his standards never change. (Malachi 3:6) Another way Jehovah shows that he is loyal is that he always does what he promises to do. (Isaiah 55:11) Because Jehovah is loyal, all of his faithful servants benefit. How? When we do our best to obey Jehovah’s laws, we can be sure that he will keep his promise to bless us.—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
BE LOYAL LIKE JEHOVAH
7. What is one way that you can be loyal like Jehovah?
7 How can we be loyal like Jehovah? One way is by doing something good for those who are in a difficult situation. (Proverbs 3:27) For example, do you know of a brother or a sister who is discouraged, perhaps because of health problems, family opposition, or personal weaknesses? You could encourage that person with “good words, comforting words.” (Zechariah 1:13)* (See footnote.) When you do this, you show that you are a loyal and true friend, one “sticking closer than a brother.”—Proverbs 18:24.
We show that we are loyal to our brothers and sisters by not saying bad things about them
8. How can we be loyal, for example, in marriage?
8 There are other ways we can be loyal to those we love. For example, if we are married, we know that we must stay faithful to our husband or wife. (Proverbs 5:15-18) So we do more than avoid adultery. We avoid doing anything that could lead to adultery. (Matthew 5:28) Also, we show that we are loyal to our brothers and sisters by not saying bad things about them or telling lies about them. And we refuse even to listen to that kind of talk.—Proverbs 12:18.
9, 10. (a) To whom especially do we want to stay loyal? (b) Will it always be easy to obey Jehovah? Give an example.
9 We especially want to stay loyal to Jehovah. How do we do that? By loving what Jehovah loves and hating what he hates. Then we must live in a way that pleases Jehovah. (Read Psalm 97:10.) The more we learn to think like Jehovah, the easier it is to obey him.—Psalm 119:104.
Jehovah will bless all of those who keep serving him faithfully in difficult situations
10 Of course, it will not always be easy to obey Jehovah. We may have to make a real effort to stay loyal to him. For example, a single sister may want to get married, but she has not yet found a brother who would be a good husband for her. (1 Corinthians 7:39) People at work may try to find someone for her to date. At the same time, she may be feeling very lonely. But because she wants to be loyal to Jehovah, she has made the firm decision not to date or marry someone who does not serve God. Christians like this sister are excellent examples of loyalty. Jehovah will bless all of those who keep serving him faithfully in difficult situations.—Hebrews 11:6.
JEHOVAH IS FORGIVING
11. What does it mean to be forgiving?
11 What does it mean to be forgiving? A forgiving person chooses not to stay upset with others for something that they have done against him. This does not mean that he approves of what they did or that he pretends it never happened. Rather, he decides not to be upset. One of Jehovah’s most wonderful qualities is that he is forgiving. The Bible says that Jehovah is “ready to forgive” those who truly repent.—Psalm 86:5.
12. (a) How forgiving is Jehovah? (b) What did Peter mean when he said that a person’s sins can be “blotted out”?
12 How forgiving is Jehovah? The Bible says that Jehovah forgives “in a large way.” This means that he forgives both completely and permanently. (Isaiah 55:7) How do we know that Jehovah forgives completely? Think about the promise at Acts 3:19. (Read.) The apostle Peter said that if a sinner truly repents, he feels sorry for his bad course. How can a person who has sinned be forgiven by Jehovah? Peter said that the sinner must “repent” and “turn around.” A person who truly repents decides that he is not going to repeat his sin. (2 Corinthians 7:10, 11) This person then turns around, that is, he stops doing what is wrong and does everything he can to please God. Then his sin can be “blotted out.” To blot out means to wipe out, or erase. So when Jehovah forgives, it is as if he erases our sins. Jehovah forgives completely.—Hebrews 10:22; 1 John 1:7.
13. What do the words “their sin I shall remember no more” teach us about Jehovah?
13 How do we know that Jehovah forgives our sins permanently? We learn how forgiving Jehovah is from something he said to Jeremiah in a prophecy about anointed Christians. (Read Jeremiah 31:34.) Jehovah said: “I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.” So once Jehovah forgives, he does not keep thinking about our sins so that he can accuse us or punish us again and again. He forgives our sins permanently.—Romans 4:7, 8.
14. Why can we be comforted when we meditate on how forgiving Jehovah is? Give an example.
14 We can be comforted when we meditate on how forgiving Jehovah is. Let us discuss the example of a sister we will call Elaine. Many years ago, she was disfellowshipped. Several years later, she was accepted back into the congregation. Even so, Elaine says that she did not really believe that Jehovah had forgiven her. She felt that Jehovah loved others more than he loved her. But Elaine was comforted when she meditated on how the Bible describes Jehovah’s forgiveness. For example, she read that when Jehovah forgives, it is as if Jehovah washes us clean of our sins. We do not need to feel guilty about them for the rest of our life.* (See footnote.) Elaine adds: “I realized that I had not believed that Jehovah could fully forgive me, and I thought that I would carry this burden for the rest of my life. I know that it will take time, but I am starting to feel that I really can draw closer to Jehovah, and I feel that a weight has been lifted off me.” Jehovah is truly a loving and forgiving God!—Psalm 103:9.
IMITATE JEHOVAH’S FORGIVENESS
15. How can we imitate Jehovah’s forgiveness?
15 We can imitate Jehovah by choosing to forgive others. (Read Luke 17:3, 4.) Remember that when Jehovah forgives, he does not keep thinking about what we did. When we forgive others, we too can stop thinking about what they did to us and not mention their mistakes in the future.
If we want Jehovah to forgive us, we must forgive others
16. (a) What does it mean to forgive the mistakes of others? What does it not mean? (b) What must we do if we want Jehovah to forgive us?
16 Forgiving the mistakes of others does not mean that we approve of what they did or that we like to be treated unfairly. No. It means that we choose not to stay upset with them. And it is important to remember that if we want Jehovah to forgive us, we must forgive others. (Matthew 6:14, 15) Jehovah remembers that “we are dust.” He understands that we are imperfect. (Psalm 103:14) So when others say or do something against us, we should remember that they are imperfect like us, and we should sincerely forgive them.—Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13.
17. What can help you to forgive someone who has hurt you?
17 Of course, it is sometimes hard to forgive others. Even some anointed Christians in Paul’s time needed help to solve problems between themselves. (Philippians 4:2) If a brother or a sister has done something to hurt you, what can help you to forgive that person? Think about what happened to Job. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were supposed to be Job’s friends. But they insulted him and accused him of doing bad things. Job felt very hurt. (Job 10:1; 19:2) In the end, Jehovah told these three men that what they did was wrong and that they should go to Job and offer a sacrifice for their sins. (Job 42:7-9) But Jehovah also told Job to do something. What was it? He told Job to pray for these men. Job did that, and Jehovah blessed him for being forgiving. (Read Job 42:10, 12, 16, 17.) What can you learn from this? When you sincerely pray for someone who has hurt you, this can help you to stop being upset with that person.
KEEP LEARNING ABOUT AND IMITATING JEHOVAH’S QUALITIES
18, 19. What do we want to keep doing?
18 We have enjoyed learning more about Jehovah’s qualities. We have learned that he is approachable, impartial, generous, reasonable, loyal, and forgiving. Of course, there is much more to learn about Jehovah. We will have the joy of learning more about him forever. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We agree with the apostle Paul, who wrote: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!” We can say the same about God’s love and the six qualities of his that we have discussed in these articles.—Romans 11:33.
We will have the joy of learning more about Jehovah forever
19 So let us keep learning more about Jehovah’s qualities, meditating on them, and then imitating them in our own life. (Ephesians 5:1) As a result, our love for Jehovah will be stronger, and we will feel closer to him. We will agree more and more with the psalmist who sang: “As for me, the drawing near to God is good for me.”—Psalm 73:28.
You can find some helpful suggestions in the articles “Have You Encouraged Anyone Lately?” in the January 15, 1995, issue of The Watchtower and “Incite to Love and Fine Works—How?” in the April 1, 1995, issue.