“O Jehovah, remember, please, how I have walked before you faithfully and with a complete heart.”—2 KINGS 20:3.
1-3. What does it mean to serve Jehovah with “a complete heart”? Give an example.
ALL of us are imperfect and make mistakes. Thankfully, Jehovah has provided the ransom and is ready to forgive us. So if we are humble and repentant, we can ask him for forgiveness. We can be sure that Jehovah will not deal with us “according to our sins.” (Psalm 103:10) Still, we must “serve him with a complete heart.” (1 Chronicles 28:9) How can we do so even though we are imperfect?
2 To help us, we can compare the life of King Asa with that of King Amaziah. Both kings did good things, but they also made mistakes because they were imperfect. Yet the Bible says that “Asa’s heart was complete all his life.” (2 Chronicles 15:16, 17; 25:1, 2; Proverbs 17:3) He always tried to please Jehovah and was “completely devoted” to him. (1 Chronicles 28:9, footnote) Amaziah, though, did not serve Jehovah with “a complete heart.” After he defeated God’s enemies, he brought their idols back and began worshipping them.—2 Chronicles 25:11-16.
3 A person who serves God with “a complete heart” deeply loves Jehovah and wants to worship him forever. In the Bible, the word “heart” usually refers to who we are on the inside. It includes the way we think, what we love, what we would like to do with our life, and why we do the things we do. Even though we are imperfect, we can worship Jehovah with a complete heart. We serve him because we truly want to, not because we have to or because it is just a habit.—2 Chronicles 19:9.
4. What will we now consider?
4 We can understand more clearly what it means to serve God with a complete heart by considering the life of Asa as well as the lives of three other faithful kings of Judah. These were Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Although these four kings made mistakes, they still pleased Jehovah. He saw that they served him with a complete heart. Why did God view them that way, and how can we imitate them?
ASA’S HEART “WAS COMPLETE WITH JEHOVAH”
5. What did Asa do when he became king?
5 Asa was the third king of Judah after the nation of Israel was divided into the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. When Asa became king of Judah, he was determined to remove false worship and disgusting sexual immorality from his kingdom. He destroyed the idols that the people were worshipping and expelled the temple prostitutes. Asa even removed his grandmother from the position of “queen mother, because she had made an obscene idol.” (1 Kings 15:11-13) Asa also encouraged the people “to search for Jehovah” and to obey “the Law and the commandment.” Asa did all he could to help others worship Jehovah.—2 Chronicles 14:4.
Asa was determined to remove false worship from his kingdom
6. How did Asa react when the Ethiopians invaded Judah?
6 During the first ten years of Asa’s reign, the kingdom of Judah had no wars. Then the Ethiopians came to fight against Judah with one million soldiers and three hundred chariots. (2 Chronicles 14:1, 6, 9, 10) What did Asa do? He had no doubt that Jehovah could help his people. So he prayed to Jehovah to help them win the battle. (Read 2 Chronicles 14:11.) At times, Jehovah chose to give his people victory over their enemies even when the kings were not faithful to him. He did this to show that he was the true God. (1 Kings 20:13, 26-30) But this time, Jehovah helped his people because Asa relied on him. Jehovah answered Asa’s prayer, and they won the battle. (2 Chronicles 14:12, 13) Asa later made a serious mistake when he asked the king of Syria for help rather than Jehovah. (1 Kings 15:16-22) Even so, Jehovah could see that Asa loved him. His heart “was complete with Jehovah all his life.” How can we imitate Asa’s good example?—1 Kings 15:14.
7, 8. How can you imitate Asa?
7 How do we know if we are completely devoted to Jehovah? We can ask ourselves: ‘Will I obey Jehovah even when it is difficult? Am I absolutely determined to keep his congregation pure?’ Think how much courage Asa needed in order to remove his grandmother from her royal position! At times, you may need to be courageous like Asa. For example, what if a member of your family or a close friend sinned, did not repent, and had to be disfellowshipped from the congregation? Would you be determined not to associate with that person? What would your heart move you to do?
8 Like Asa, at times we may feel that everyone is against us. Perhaps your schoolmates or teachers make fun of you because you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Or maybe people at work think you are foolish because you take time off to go to an assembly or because you do not often work overtime. In such situations, rely on God, just as Asa did. Pray to Jehovah, be courageous, and keep doing what is right. Remember that God strengthened Asa, and he will strengthen you too.
9. How can we please Jehovah when we preach?
9 Asa did not just think about himself; he encouraged others “to search for Jehovah.” We too help people to worship Jehovah. He notices when we speak to others about him. How pleased he must be when he sees that we are doing so because we love him and because we care about people and their future!
JEHOSHAPHAT SEARCHED FOR JEHOVAH
10, 11. How can we imitate Jehoshaphat?
10 Asa’s son Jehoshaphat “kept walking in the way of his father Asa.” (2 Chronicles 20:31, 32) How so? Like his father, Jehoshaphat encouraged the people to continue worshipping Jehovah. He sent men to the cities of Judah to teach the people from “the book of Jehovah’s Law.” (2 Chronicles 17:7-10) He even went to the territory of the northern kingdom of Israel, to the people in the mountains of Ephraim, “to bring them back to Jehovah.” (2 Chronicles 19:4) Jehoshaphat was a king “who searched for Jehovah with all his heart.”—2 Chronicles 22:9.
Jehoshaphat encouraged the people to continue worshipping Jehovah
11 Today, Jehovah wants people worldwide to be taught about him, and all of us can help with this work. Is it your goal to have a share in this work every month? Would you like to teach the Bible to others so that they too can begin to worship Jehovah? Is that something you pray about? If you make the effort, Jehovah can help you start a Bible study. Would you be willing to study with someone even though you may have to give up some of your free time? And just as Jehoshaphat tried to help others to begin serving Jehovah again, we can try to help those who have become inactive. Also, the congregation elders arrange to visit and offer help to disfellowshipped ones in the congregation territory who may have left their past practice of sin.
12, 13. (a) When Jehoshaphat felt afraid, what did he do? (b) Why should we follow Jehoshaphat’s example?
12 Like his father, Asa, Jehoshaphat relied on Jehovah when a large army came to fight against Judah. (Read 2 Chronicles 20:2-4.) He was afraid and asked Jehovah for help. In prayer, he admitted that they could not defeat the enemy. He also said that he and his people did not know what to do. Jehoshaphat had no doubt that Jehovah would help them. He said: “Our eyes are toward you.”—2 Chronicles 20:12.
13 Like Jehoshaphat, sometimes we may not know what to do about a problem, and we may even be afraid. (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9) But remember what Jehoshaphat did. In front of all the people, he prayed to Jehovah and told him how weak they felt. (2 Chronicles 20:5) Family heads can imitate Jehoshaphat’s example. Ask Jehovah to help you and your family to cope with the problem and to know what to do. Do not feel ashamed to let your family hear these prayers. They will realize how much you trust in Jehovah. He helped Jehoshaphat, and he will help you too.
HEZEKIAH KEPT DOING WHAT WAS RIGHT
14, 15. How did Hezekiah rely on God completely?
14 Hezekiah was another king who “held fast to Jehovah.” He did so even though his father set a bad example and worshipped idols. Hezekiah “removed the high places, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the sacred pole. He also crushed the copper serpent that Moses had made,” doing so because the Israelites were worshipping it. Hezekiah was completely devoted to Jehovah. “He continued to keep the commandments that Jehovah had given to Moses.”—2 Kings 18:1-6.
15 While Hezekiah was king, the powerful Assyrian army invaded Judah and threatened to destroy Jerusalem. The king of Assyria, Sennacherib, made fun of Jehovah and tried to get Hezekiah to surrender. During that dangerous time, Hezekiah fully trusted in Jehovah and prayed for his help. He knew that God was much more powerful than the Assyrians and could save his people. (Read Isaiah 37:15-20.) God answered his prayer by sending an angel to kill 185,000 Assyrian soldiers.—Isaiah 37:36, 37.
16, 17. How can you imitate Hezekiah?
16 Later, Hezekiah became sick and was dying. During that difficult time, he begged Jehovah to remember his faithfulness and to help him. (Read 2 Kings 20:1-3.) Jehovah heard Hezekiah’s prayer and healed him. We know from the Bible that today we cannot expect a miracle from God to heal our sicknesses or to make us live longer. But like Hezekiah, we can rely on Jehovah for help. We can tell him: “I beg you, O Jehovah, remember, please, how I have walked before you faithfully and with a complete heart.” Do you believe that Jehovah will always take care of you, even when you are sick?—Psalm 41:3.
17 How else can we imitate Hezekiah? Perhaps something is getting in the way of our relationship with Jehovah or taking time away from serving him. For example, many today treat humans as if they were idols. They admire celebrities and other people they do not know. Many spend a lot of time reading about such people and looking at their photos. Or they often use social media or other tools to communicate with people on the Internet. Of course, we may enjoy communicating with family or close friends by means of such tools. But we could waste a lot of time on social media. We might even become proud if many people indicate that they like the photos or comments that we have put on the Internet. Or, if we realize that some have stopped looking at them, we may become offended. We could learn from the examples of the apostle Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla. Do you think they spent time each day finding out every little thing people did, especially people who were not serving Jehovah? The Bible says that Paul was “intensely occupied with the word.” And Priscilla and Aquila spent their time preaching and explaining “the way of God more accurately” to others. (Acts 18:4, 5, 26) We can ask ourselves: ‘Am I careful not to treat humans as idols? Do I avoid spending a lot of time doing things that are not really important?’—Read Ephesians 5:15, 16.
JOSIAH OBEYED JEHOVAH’S COMMANDMENTS
18, 19. How can we be like Josiah?
18 King Josiah also obeyed Jehovah’s commandments “with all his heart.” (2 Chronicles 34:31) Josiah was Hezekiah’s great-grandson. When he was a teenager, “he started to search for the God of David.” And when he was 20, he began to remove idolatry from Judah. (Read 2 Chronicles 34:1-3.) Josiah tried harder to please Jehovah than many other kings of Judah. Then one day, the high priest found the book of God’s Law in the temple. This was probably the book that Moses himself had written! When the secretary read it to Josiah, he realized that he needed to do more to serve Jehovah completely. He also encouraged others to do the same. As a result, the people “did not deviate from following Jehovah” while Josiah was alive.—2 Chronicles 34:27, 33.
Josiah was eager to please Jehovah and immediately made changes
19 If you are young, you can imitate Josiah and get to know Jehovah better. Josiah may have learned from King Manasseh, his repentant grandfather, that Jehovah is willing to forgive. You too can learn from older ones in your family and congregation. They can tell you about the many good things that Jehovah has done for them. Also, remember how Josiah felt after he learned what the Scriptures said. He was eager to please Jehovah and immediately made changes. By reading the Scriptures, you too may feel more determined to obey Jehovah. As a result, your friendship with him will be stronger and you will feel happier. Then you will want to tell others about Jehovah. (Read 2 Chronicles 34:18, 19.) When you study the Bible, you may also realize that there are ways you can improve in your service to God. If so, try your best to make these changes, just as Josiah did.
SERVE JEHOVAH WITH A COMPLETE HEART!
20, 21. (a) What did the four kings we discussed have in common? (b) What will we discuss in the next article?
20 What can we learn from these four kings of Judah who served Jehovah with a complete heart? These men were determined to please Jehovah and worship him all their lives. They relied on him when powerful enemies came against them. Most important, they served Jehovah because they loved him.
21 Although these four kings were imperfect and made mistakes, Jehovah was pleased with them. He saw what was in their heart and knew that they truly loved him. We too are imperfect and make mistakes. But Jehovah will be pleased with us when he sees that we are serving him with a complete heart. In the next article, we will discuss what we can learn from the mistakes of these kings.