“We love, because he first loved us.”—1 JOHN 4:19.
1, 2. How has Jehovah taught us to love him?
THE best way a father can teach his children is by his own example. When he shows love for his children, he teaches them how to love. No one else has ever loved us as much as our Father, Jehovah, does. So we learn how to love “because he first loved us.”—1 John 4:19.
2 In what way has Jehovah shown that he “first loved us”? The Bible says: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Our loving Father, Jehovah, gave his Son as a ransom to rescue us from sin and death. This precious gift made it possible for us to be close to Jehovah and to show our love for him. By making that great sacrifice, Jehovah set the example. He taught us that we should love by being unselfish and generous.—1 John 4:10.
3, 4. How do we show that we love God?
3 Love is Jehovah’s main quality. So we can understand why Jesus said that the most important commandment is: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.” (Mark 12:30) Jehovah wants us to love him with our “whole heart.” It would hurt Jehovah if we loved someone or something else more than we love him. But our love for him should not be only an emotional feeling. Jehovah also expects us to love him with our “whole mind” and with our “whole strength.” This means that our love for Jehovah involves the way we think and what we do.—Read Micah 6:8.
4 So we should love Jehovah with all we are and with all we have. By putting him first in our lives, we show him that we truly love him. In the previous article, we discussed four ways Jehovah shows his great love for his children. Let us now see how we can deepen our love for Jehovah and show that we love him.
SHOW JEHOVAH YOU ARE GRATEFUL
5. When we think of all that Jehovah has done for us, what do we want to do?
5 When someone gives you a gift, most likely you show that you are grateful. And because you value the gift, you also use it. James wrote: “Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, coming down from the Father of the celestial lights, who does not vary or change like the shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) We are so grateful that Jehovah gives us everything we need to live and to be happy. We realize how much he loves us, and we want to show him that we love him too. Is that how you feel?
6. What did the Israelites need to do if they wanted Jehovah to continue to bless them?
6 The Israelites received many good things from Jehovah. For hundreds of years, he guided them with his laws and gave them everything they needed to live. (Deuteronomy 4:7, 8) And the Israelites could show their gratitude to Jehovah by obeying these laws. For example, when they offered sacrifices to Jehovah, they had to give him “the best of the first ripe fruits” of the land. (Exodus 23:19) The Israelites knew that Jehovah would continue to bless them if they obeyed him and gave him their best.—Read Deuteronomy 8:7-11.
7. How can we use our “valuable things” to show Jehovah that we love him?
7 We too can show Jehovah that we love him by giving him our “valuable things.” (Proverbs 3:9) We do this by using what we have to honor him. For example, we can make contributions to support the Kingdom work in our own congregation and all around the world. Whether we have a lot or a little, all of us can use what we own to express our love for Jehovah. (2 Corinthians 8:12) But there are other ways we can show Jehovah that we love him.
The more we trust in Jehovah, the more we show him that we love him
8, 9. What is another way we show Jehovah that we love him? What did Mike and his family do?
8 Jesus taught us to keep seeking first the Kingdom and not be anxious about food and clothing. Our Father promises to give us what we need. (Matthew 6:31-33) We trust in Jehovah and know that he will keep that promise. After all, when you truly love someone, you trust that person. In fact, the more we trust in Jehovah, the more we show him that we love him. (Psalm 143:8) So we might ask ourselves: ‘Do my plans and the way I use my time and energy show that I truly love Jehovah? Every day, do I rely on Jehovah to care for my needs?’
9 Mike and his family trusted in Jehovah. When Mike was young, he always wanted to preach in another country. Even after he got married and had two children, he still had that desire. When Mike and his family read about other brothers and sisters who served where the need is greater, they decided to simplify their lives. They sold their house and moved into a smaller place. Mike also reduced the number of customers he had in his cleaning business and found out how to manage it from another country by using the Internet. As a result, Mike and his family were able to move to another country, and they enjoyed their ministry there very much. Mike said, “We experienced the truthfulness of Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 6:33.”
MEDITATE ON WHAT JEHOVAH TEACHES YOU
10. Like King David, why is it good for us to meditate on what we learn about Jehovah?
10 King David once wrote: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; the skies above proclaim the work of his hands.” He added: “The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring strength. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise.” As David meditated on Jehovah’s wise laws and beautiful creation, he drew closer to Jehovah and wanted to show his love for him. David said: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer.”—Psalm 19:1, 7, 14.
11. How can we use the knowledge Jehovah gives us to show our love for him? (See opening picture.)
11 Today, Jehovah teaches us a lot about himself, his purpose, his creation, and his Word. The world encourages people to learn, but higher education often makes them lose their love for God. In contrast, Jehovah not only wants us to have knowledge, but he also helps us to be wise. He wants us to use what we learn for our own good and to help others. (Proverbs 4:5-7) For example, he wants us to share the “accurate knowledge of truth” with others and to help them to be saved. (1 Timothy 2:4) We show our love for Jehovah and for people by teaching as many as possible about God’s Kingdom and what it will do for mankind.—Read Psalm 66:16, 17.
12. What did one young sister say about a gift from Jehovah?
12 Young ones too can meditate on all that Jehovah has given them and taught them. Shannon still remembers how she felt at a convention she attended when she was 11 years old and her sister was 10. During a session of the “Godly Devotion” District Convention, all the young ones, including Shannon and her sister, were asked to sit in a special section. At first, she was nervous. But then she was surprised when each young person was given the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work. How did this beautiful gift make her feel about Jehovah? She says: “It was then that I finally realized that Jehovah is real and that he loves me personally very, very much. How happy we are that our great God, Jehovah, freely gives us such beautiful, perfect presents!”
ACCEPT DISCIPLINE FROM JEHOVAH
13, 14. How should we react when Jehovah disciplines us, and why?
13 The Bible reminds us: “Those whom Jehovah loves he reproves, just as a father does a son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:12) When we accept Jehovah’s discipline and allow him to train us, we learn to do what is right and we have peace. Of course, “no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but it is painful.” (Hebrews 12:11) Even so, how should we react when Jehovah disciplines us? We should never ignore Jehovah’s counsel or continue to feel upset if we do not like what we hear. We love Jehovah, so we listen to him and make the changes needed.
When we willingly make changes to please Jehovah, we show that we truly love him
14 In Malachi’s time, many Jews did not listen to Jehovah. They did not care that the sacrifices they offered did not please him. So Jehovah gave them very strong counsel about this. (Read Malachi 1:12, 13.) In fact, Jehovah gave them counsel many times, but they refused to listen. So he told them: “I will send on you the curse, and I will turn your blessings into curses.” (Malachi 2:1, 2) It is clear that if we keep refusing to listen to Jehovah’s counsel or feel that it is not important, we will lose his friendship.
15. What way of thinking should we avoid?
15 Satan’s world encourages people to be proud and selfish. Many do not like to be corrected or be told what to do. Some listen to advice only because they have to. We should not be like that. The Bible tells us to “stop being molded by this system of things.” Instead, we need to understand what Jehovah expects from us and do what pleases him. (Romans 12:2) He uses his organization to give us counsel at the right time. For example, we are reminded about how to behave with the opposite sex, how to choose our friends, and how to decide what we do for rest and relaxation. When we willingly accept Jehovah’s discipline and make changes to please him, we show that we are grateful for his guidance and that we truly love him.—John 14:31; Romans 6:17.
RELY ON JEHOVAH TO HELP AND PROTECT YOU
16, 17. (a) Why should we find out what Jehovah thinks before we make decisions? (b) What did the Israelites do instead of trusting in Jehovah?
16 Little children rely on their parents to help them and protect them. Even adults might ask their parents for help. They realize that although they can make their own decisions, their parents can give them good advice. Our Father, Jehovah, allows us to make our own decisions. But because we really trust in him and love him, we always ask for his help and do all we can to find out what he thinks before we make a decision. If we rely on Jehovah, he will give us his holy spirit to help us do what is right.—Philippians 2:13.
17 In Samuel’s time, the Israelites lost a battle against the Philistines. Instead of asking Jehovah what they should do next, they said: “Let us take the ark of Jehovah’s covenant with us from Shiloh, so that it may be with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.” What was the result of that decision? “The slaughter was very great; on Israel’s side, 30,000 foot soldiers fell. Moreover, the Ark of God was captured.” (1 Samuel 4:2-4, 10, 11) The Israelites thought that just by taking the Ark with them, Jehovah would help and protect them. But they did not ask Jehovah for help or try to find out what he thought. Instead, they did what they thought was right, and they suffered very much.—Read Proverbs 14:12.
18. What does the Bible teach you about trusting in Jehovah?
18 A psalmist who deeply loved Jehovah and relied on him wrote: “Wait for God, for I will yet praise him as my Grand Savior. My God, I am in despair. That is why I remember you.” (Psalm 42:5, 6) Is that how you feel about Jehovah? Do you feel close to him and trust in him? You may be able to learn to trust in him even more. The Bible tells us: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
19. How will you show Jehovah that you love him?
19 By loving us first, Jehovah has taught us how to love him. Let us always think about how much he has done for us and how much he loves us. And may we show him that we love him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.—Mark 12:30.