What does it mean to love God?
How can we remain in God’s love?
How will Jehovah reward those who remain in his love?
PICTURE yourself walking along a road on a stormy day. The sky becomes darker. Lightning starts to flash, thunder booms, then rain falls in torrents. You hurry along, desperately looking for a refuge. There, by the roadside, you see a shelter. It is sturdy, dry, and inviting. How you value that safe place!
2 We are living in stormy times. World conditions are going from bad to worse. But there is a secure shelter, a refuge that can keep us safe from permanent harm. What is it? Note what the Bible teaches: “I will say to Jehovah: ‘You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God, in whom I will trust.’”—Psalm 91:2.
3 Imagine that! Jehovah, the Creator and Sovereign of the universe, can be our protective refuge. He can keep us safe, for he is far more powerful than anyone or anything that may come against us. Even if we are harmed, Jehovah can undo all the bad effects. How can we make Jehovah our refuge? We need to trust in him. Furthermore, God’s Word urges us: “Keep yourselves in God’s love.” (Jude 21) Yes, we need to remain in God’s love, maintaining a loving bond with our heavenly Father. Then we may rest assured that he is our refuge. But how can we form such a bond?
RECOGNIZE AND RESPOND TO GOD’S LOVE
4 To remain in God’s love, we need to appreciate how Jehovah has shown his love for us. Think of some of the Bible teachings you have learned with the aid of this book. As the Creator, Jehovah has given us the earth as our delightful home. He has filled it with abundant food and water, natural resources, fascinating animal life, and beautiful scenery. As the Author of the Bible, God has revealed his name and his qualities to us. Moreover, his Word reveals that he sent his own beloved Son to the earth, allowing Jesus to suffer and die for us. (John 3:16) And what does that gift mean for us? It gives us hope for a wonderful future.
5 Our hope for the future also depends on something else that God has done. Jehovah has established a heavenly government, the Messianic Kingdom. It will soon bring an end to all suffering and will make the earth a paradise. Just think! We can live there in peace and happiness forever. (Psalm 37:29) Meanwhile, God has given us guidance on how to live in the best way possible right now. He has also given us the gift of prayer, an open line of communication with him. These are just a few of the ways that Jehovah has shown love for mankind in general and for you as an individual.
6 The vital question for you to consider is this: How will I respond to Jehovah’s love? Many will say, “Well, I need to love Jehovah in return.” Is that how you feel? Jesus said that this command is the greatest of all: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” (Matthew 22:37) You certainly have many reasons to love Jehovah God. But is feeling that you have such love all that is involved in loving Jehovah with your whole heart, soul, and mind?
7 As described in the Bible, love for God is much more than a feeling. In fact, although the feeling of love for Jehovah is essential, that feeling is just the beginning of real love for him. An apple seed is essential to the development of a fruit-bearing apple tree. If you wanted an apple, however, would you be content if someone merely handed you an apple seed? Hardly! Similarly, a feeling of love for Jehovah God is only a start. The Bible teaches: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) To be genuine, love for God must bear fine fruit. It must be expressed in actions.—Matthew 7:16-20.
8 We show our love for God when we observe his commandments and apply his principles. It is not too hard to do so. Far from being burdensome, Jehovah’s laws are designed to help us live a good, happy, satisfying life. (Isaiah 48:17, 18) By living in harmony with Jehovah’s guidance, we show our heavenly Father that we truly appreciate all that he has done for us. Sadly, too few in today’s world show such appreciation. We do not want to be unappreciative, like some people who lived when Jesus was on earth. Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one turned back to thank him. (Luke 17:12-17) Surely we would want to be like the grateful one, not the ungrateful nine!
9 What, then, are Jehovah’s commandments that we need to observe? We have discussed a number of them in this book, but let us review a few. Observing God’s commandments will help us to remain in God’s love.
DRAW EVER CLOSER TO JEHOVAH
10 Learning about Jehovah is a vital step in drawing closer to him. It is a process that should never stop. If you were outside on a very cold night warming yourself by a fire, would you let the flames dwindle and then die out? No. You would keep adding fuel to keep the fire burning bright and hot. Your very life might be at stake! As wood fuels a fire, so “the very knowledge of God” keeps our love for Jehovah strong.—Proverbs 2:1-5.
11 Jesus wanted his followers to keep their love for Jehovah and for His precious Word of truth alive and burning brightly. After his resurrection, Jesus taught two of his disciples about some of the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures that were fulfilled in him. What was the effect? They later said: “Were not our hearts burning as he was speaking to us on the road, as he was fully opening up the Scriptures to us?”—Luke 24:32.
12 When you first learned what the Bible really teaches, did you find that your heart began to burn with joy, zeal, and love for God? No doubt you did. Many have felt the same way. The challenge now is to keep that intense love alive and to help it grow. We do not want to follow the trend of today’s world. Jesus foretold: “The love of the greater number will cool off.” (Matthew 24:12) How can you prevent your love for Jehovah and for Bible truths from cooling off?
13 Keep taking in knowledge of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. (John 17:3) Meditate, or think deeply, on what you learn from God’s Word, asking yourself: ‘What does this teach me about Jehovah God? What further reason does it give me to love him with my whole heart, mind, and soul?’ (1 Timothy 4:15) Such meditation will keep your love for Jehovah burning brightly.
14 Another way to keep your love for Jehovah burning brightly is to pray regularly. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) In Chapter 17 of this book, we learned that prayer is a precious gift from God. Just as human relationships thrive on regular, open communication, so our relationship with Jehovah stays warm and alive when we pray to him regularly. It is vital that we never let our prayers become mechanical—mere routine words that we repeat over and over without real feeling or meaning. We need to speak to Jehovah as a child would talk to a beloved father. We want to speak with respect, of course, but openly, honestly, and from the heart. (Psalm 62:8) Yes, personal Bible study and heartfelt prayer are vital aspects of our worship, and they help us to remain in God’s love.
FIND JOY IN YOUR WORSHIP
15 Personal Bible study and prayer are acts of worship that we may carry out in private. Now, however, let us consider an aspect of worship that we carry out publicly: speaking to others about our beliefs. Have you already shared some Bible truths with others? If so, you have enjoyed a wonderful privilege. (Luke 1:74) When we share the truths we have learned about Jehovah God, we are taking up a very important assignment given to all true Christians—that of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
16 The apostle Paul viewed his ministry as something precious, calling it a treasure. (2 Corinthians 4:7) Talking to people about Jehovah God and his purposes is the best work you could do. It is service to the best Master, and it brings the best benefits possible. By engaging in this activity, you are helping honesthearted people to draw close to our heavenly Father and to get on the road to everlasting life! What work could be more satisfying? Furthermore, witnessing about Jehovah and his Word increases your own faith and strengthens your love for him. And Jehovah appreciates your efforts. (Hebrews 6:10) Staying busy in such work helps you to remain in God’s love.—1 Corinthians 15:58.
17 It is important to remember that the Kingdom-preaching work is urgent. The Bible says: “Preach the word, be at it urgently.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Why is doing this so urgent today? God’s Word tells us: “The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.” (Zephaniah 1:14) Yes, the time is coming quickly when Jehovah will bring this whole system of things to its end. People need to be warned! They need to know that now is the time to choose Jehovah as their Sovereign. The end “will not be late.”—Habakkuk 2:3.
18 Jehovah wants us to worship him publicly in association with true Christians. That is why his Word says: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25) When we gather with fellow believers at Christian meetings, we have a wonderful opportunity to praise and worship our beloved God. We also build one another up and encourage one another.
19 As we associate with other worshipers of Jehovah, we strengthen the bonds of love and friendship in the congregation. It is important that we look for the good in one another, as Jehovah looks for the good in us. Do not expect perfection from your fellow believers. Remember that all are at different stages of spiritual growth and that every one of us makes mistakes. (Colossians 3:13) Seek to build close friendships with those who love Jehovah intensely, and you will find yourself growing spiritually. Yes, worshiping Jehovah with your spiritual brothers and sisters will help you to remain in God’s love. How does Jehovah reward those who worship him faithfully and thus remain in his love?
REACH OUT FOR “THE REAL LIFE”
20 Jehovah rewards his faithful servants with life, but life of what kind? Well, are you really living now? Most of us would say that the answer is obvious. After all, we breathe, we eat, and we drink. Surely we must be living. And in our happier moments, we may even say, “Now this is really living!” However, the Bible indicates that in an important sense, no human today is really living.
21 God’s Word urges us to “get a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Timothy 6:19) Those words indicate that “the real life” is something we hope to attain in the future. Yes, when we are perfect, we will be alive in the fullest sense of the word, for we will be living as God originally intended us to live. When we are living on a paradise earth in complete health, peace, and happiness, we will at last enjoy “the real life”—everlasting life. (1 Timothy 6:12) Is that not a wonderful hope?
22 How can we “get a firm hold on the real life”? In the same context, Paul urged Christians “to work at good” and “to be rich in fine works.” (1 Timothy 6:18) Clearly, then, much depends on how we apply the truths we have learned from the Bible. But did Paul mean that we earn “the real life” by performing good works? No, for such marvelous prospects really depend on our receiving “undeserved kindness” from God. (Romans 5:15) However, Jehovah delights in rewarding those who serve him faithfully. He wants to see you live “the real life.” Such a happy, peaceful, everlasting life lies ahead for those who remain in God’s love.
23 Each of us does well to ask himself, ‘Am I worshiping God in the way he has set out in the Bible?’ If we make sure, day by day, that the answer is yes, then we are on the right path. We can be confident that Jehovah is our refuge. He will keep his faithful people safe through the last troubled days of this old system of things. Jehovah will also deliver us into the glorious new system of things now near. How thrilled we will be to see that time! And how delighted we will be that we made the right choices during these last days! If you make such choices now, you will enjoy “the real life,” life as Jehovah God meant it to be, throughout all eternity!
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
- We show genuine love for God by observing his commandments and applying his principles.—1 John 5:3.
- Studying God’s Word, praying to Jehovah in a heartfelt way, teaching others about him, and worshiping him at Christian meetings will help us to remain in God’s love.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20; John 17:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
- Those who remain in God’s love have the hope of enjoying “the real life.”—1 Timothy 6:12, 19; Jude 21.
1, 2. Where can we find a safe refuge today?
3. How can we make Jehovah our refuge?
4, 5. What are some of the ways that Jehovah has expressed love for us?
6. How might you respond to the love that Jehovah has shown you?
7. Is there more to loving God than simply experiencing a feeling? Explain.
8, 9. How can we express our love and appreciation for God?
10. Explain why it is important to continue taking in knowledge about Jehovah God.
11. What effect did Jesus’ teaching have on his followers?
12, 13. (a) Among the majority of mankind today, what has happened to love for God and for the Bible? (b) How can we prevent our love from cooling off?
14. How can prayer help us to keep our love for Jehovah alive?
15, 16. Why may we rightly view the Kingdom-preaching work as a privilege and a treasure?
17. Why is the Christian ministry urgent today?
18. Why should we worship Jehovah publicly in association with true Christians?
19. How can we work to strengthen the bonds of love in the Christian congregation?
20, 21. What is “the real life,” and why is it a wonderful hope?
22. How can you “get a firm hold on the real life”?
23. Why is it essential to remain in God’s love?