“You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.”—MATTHEW 22:37.
1. Why did the love between Jesus and his Father grow?
JESUS described the close relationship he has with his Father when he said: “I love the Father” and, “the Father has affection for the Son.” (John 5:20; 14:31) Before Jesus came to earth, they worked together for many billions of years. (Proverbs 8:30) During this time, Jesus learned much about his Father’s qualities, and their love for each other grew.
2. (a) What does it mean to love someone? (b) What questions will we discuss?
2 When you love someone, you have deep feelings for that person. David sang: “I have affection for you, O Jehovah, my strength.” (Psalm 18:1) That is how we should feel about God. He promises that if we obey him, he will show his love for us. (Read Deuteronomy 7:12, 13.) But we cannot see God, so how can we love him? What does it mean to love Jehovah? Why should we love him? And how can we prove that we love God?
WE CAN LOVE GOD
3, 4. Why is it possible for us to love Jehovah?
3 We cannot see God because “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24) Even so, it is possible to love Jehovah. In fact, the Bible commands us to love him. For example, Moses told the Israelites: “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength.”—Deuteronomy 6:5.
4 Why is it possible to love God? He created us with the need to worship him, and he also gave us the ability to show love. When we get to know Jehovah, our love for him grows, and this makes us happy. This is what Jesus meant when he said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (Matthew 5:3) In his book Man Does Not Stand Alone, A. C. Morrison said that it is amazing to see that humans have always searched for and have wanted to believe in God. Like the writer, many understand that humans are born with a need to know God.
5. How do we know that we can find God?
5 Can we ever find God? Yes, he wants us to have a relationship with him. The apostle Paul made that clear when he spoke to a group in ancient Athens. Many of them felt that they needed to go to a temple to worship the goddess Athena. But Paul said that they could find the true God “who made the world and all the things in it.” He explained that God does not live in temples. People who search for God can find him, no matter where they live on earth. Then he said that God “is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:24-27) Yes, people can find God. Over seven and a half million of Jehovah’s Witnesses have found him, and they truly love him.
WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE GOD
6. What is “the greatest and first commandment”?
6 How strong should our love for Jehovah be? When a Pharisee, a religious man, asked Jesus: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus clearly said: “‘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.”—Matthew 22:34-38.
Jesus said that we must love Jehovah with our whole heart, whole soul, and whole mind
7. What does it mean to love God with our (a) “whole heart”? (b) “whole soul”? (c) “whole mind”?
7 What did Jesus mean when he said that we must love God with our “whole heart,” “whole soul,” and “whole mind”? Our “whole heart” means our true emotions, desires, and feelings. Our “whole soul” means who we are as a person and includes everything we do in our life. And our “whole mind” means the way we think and what we think about. In this way, Jesus emphasized that we must love Jehovah with all we are and with all we have.
We must love Jehovah with all we are and with all we have
8. How do we show God that we love him?
8 We show God that we love him with our whole heart, soul, and mind when we regularly study the Bible, carefully do everything he asks of us, and zealously talk to others about the Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14; Romans 12:1, 2) When we do these things, our relationship with him will grow stronger. (James 4:8) It is impossible to list all the reasons why we should love God, but let us discuss a few of them.
WHY SHOULD WE LOVE JEHOVAH?
9. Why do you love Jehovah?
9 Jehovah is our Creator, and he gives us everything we need. Paul said: “By him we have life and move and exist.” (Acts 17:28) Jehovah has given us this beautiful earth to live on. (Psalm 115:16) He also gives us food and other things so that we can stay alive. That is why Paul could tell people in Lystra that they should not worship idols but should worship Jehovah, “the living God.” Paul said about God: “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) Jehovah lovingly gives us everything we need. What a good reason to love our Grand Creator!—Ecclesiastes 12:1.
10. How do you feel about the ransom?
10 God will remove the sin and death we inherited from Adam. (Romans 5:12) The Bible says: “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) If we are truly repentant and have faith in the ransom sacrifice, God will forgive our sins. We are deeply thankful to Jehovah because he loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us.—John 3:16.
11, 12. In what ways has Jehovah given us hope?
11 Jehovah has given us the hope of living forever. (Romans 15:13) This hope helps us to endure when our faith is tested. Faithful anointed ones have the hope of living forever in heaven. (Revelation 2:10) Other faithful ones have the hope of living forever in Paradise on earth. (Luke 23:43) How do we feel about our hope? It fills us with joy, peace, and love for the God who gives us “every good gift and every perfect present.”—James 1:17.
Jehovah thought of the resurrection, he promised it, and he will make it happen
12 Jehovah has given us the resurrection hope. (Acts 24:15) We are very sad when someone we love dies. But we do not have the same sadness as do those “who have no hope,” because Jehovah has promised to bring the dead back to life. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) Jehovah looks forward to that time even more than we do. He truly wants to resurrect millions of people, especially faithful ones. (Job 14:15) Imagine how we will feel when we see children reunited with their parents and close friends meeting each other again! Jehovah thought of the resurrection, he promised it, and he will make it happen. We love Jehovah so much because of this wonderful hope.
13. How do we know that God really cares for us?
13 Jehovah really cares for us. (Read Psalm 34:6, 18, 19; 1 Peter 5:6, 7.) Even today, we can feel safe because we know that Jehovah is always ready to help those who are faithful to him. (Psalm 79:13) But imagine how much God will do for us in the future. Jesus is King of God’s Kingdom, and he will remove violence, oppression, and wickedness from the earth. Then, God will give all obedient humans peace, as well as everything else they need to enjoy life. (Psalm 72:7, 12-14, 16) When we meditate on these promises, we are motivated to love our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.—Luke 10:27.
We can feel safe because we know that Jehovah is always ready to help those who are faithful to him
14. What great privilege has God given us?
14 Jehovah has given us the great privilege of being his Witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10-12) We love God because he gives us the opportunity to support his Kingdom and to share our hope with all who suffer. We have the faith and confidence we need to witness to people about the good news. Why can we be confident? Our message comes from God’s Word, the Bible, and his promises always come true. (Read Joshua 21:45; 23:14.) There are many reasons to love Jehovah. But how can we prove that we do?
HOW CAN WE PROVE THAT WE LOVE GOD?
15. How can studying and applying God’s Word help us?
15 Regularly study and apply God’s Word. Doing this shows that we love Jehovah and truly want his Word to guide us. (Psalm 119:105) When we are suffering, we can be comforted by such loving promises 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.” (Psalm 51:17; 94:18, 19) Jehovah and Jesus show mercy to all who suffer. (Isaiah 49:13; Matthew 15:32) When we study the Bible, we can learn about Jehovah’s love for us. This helps to deepen our love for him.
16. How can regular prayer help our love for God to grow?
16 Pray to God regularly. When we pray to God and see that he answers our prayers, our love for him grows. (Psalm 65:2) For example, we may have experienced that he does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13) If we are worried and sincerely pray for help, we can experience “the peace of God.” This peace is a calmness that only Jehovah can give us. (Philippians 4:6, 7) Sometimes we may say a silent prayer, as Nehemiah did, and later realize that Jehovah has answered us. (Nehemiah 2:1-6) If we keep on praying and see how Jehovah answers our prayers, our love for him grows. When our faith is tested, we will be convinced that Jehovah will help us to endure.—Romans 12:12.
17. If we love God, how will we feel about attending the meetings?
17 Regularly attend Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) The Israelites gathered to listen and learn about Jehovah so that they could worship him with deep respect and obey his Law. (Deuteronomy 31:12) If we truly love Jehovah, we will regularly attend Christian meetings. (Read 1 John 5:3.) Let us do everything we can to attend all the meetings. We must never lose the love that we had for Jehovah when we first learned about him.—Revelation 2:4.
18. What does love for God make us do?
18 Zealously talk about the truth to others. (Galatians 2:5) Our love for God makes us want to speak to others about God’s Kingdom. At Armageddon, God’s King, Jesus, will defend Jehovah’s right to rule. (Psalm 45:4; Revelation 16:14, 16) It makes us very happy to help people learn about God’s love and his promised new world!—Matthew 28:19, 20.
19. Why should we appreciate the congregation elders?
19 Show that you appreciate the congregation elders. (Acts 20:28) Jehovah always wants the best for us, so he has given us Christian elders. 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.” (Isaiah 32:1, 2) Think of how safe we feel when we find shelter from a strong wind or a chilling rainstorm or when we find shade from the hot sun! In the same way, the elders give us the help and encouragement we need to keep serving Jehovah despite life’s difficulties. Why do we obey the elders? Because we appreciate these “gifts in men” and we love Jehovah and Christ, the Head of the congregation.—Ephesians 4:8; 5:23; Hebrews 13:17.
LET YOUR LOVE FOR GOD GROW
20. If you love God, what will you do?
20 Jehovah has given us a “perfect law,” which tells us everything he wants us to do. (Read James 1:22-25.) If you want a strong relationship with Jehovah, you have to do more than just listen to him. (Psalm 19:7-11) You have to do something about what you learn. For example, because you love God, you will make an effort to talk to others about him and to comment at the meetings.
If you want a strong relationship with Jehovah, you have to do something about what you learn
21. What can you compare your sincere prayers to?
21 We pray to Jehovah constantly because we love him. In Israel, the priests would burn incense to Jehovah every day. King David compared his prayers to incense when he sang: “May my prayer be as incense prepared before you [Jehovah], my uplifted hands like the evening grain offering.” (Psalm 141:2; Exodus 30:7, 8) Jehovah listened to David’s prayers. If we pray in a humble, sincere, and thankful way, then our prayers will also be like incense and will please Jehovah.—Revelation 5:8.
22. What will we learn in the next article?
22 Jesus said that we must love God, but he also said that we must love our neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-39) When we love Jehovah and his principles, it will help us to love our neighbor. We will learn about what this means in the next article.