“O Jehovah, remember, please, how I have walked before you faithfully and with a complete heart.”
SONGS: 36, 54
1-3. What is involved in serving Jehovah with “a complete heart”? Illustrate.
BEING imperfect, we are prone to make mistakes. Thankfully, though, Jehovah does not deal with us “according to our sins,” provided that we are repentant and in faith approach him humbly on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (Ps. 103:10) Yet, as David told Solomon, for our daily worship to be acceptable to Jehovah, we have to “serve him with a complete heart.” (1 Chron. 28:9) How can we as imperfect humans do so?
2 To aid us in this respect, we can compare the life of King Asa with that of King Amaziah. Both Judean kings did what was right in the eyes of Jehovah, but Asa did so with a complete heart. (2 Chron. 15:16, 17; 25:1, 2; Prov. 17:3) Both kings were imperfect and made mistakes. Yet, Asa basically did not deviate from God’s ways, for his heart was “completely devoted” to God. (1 Chron. 28:9, ftn.) Amaziah, on the other hand, was not fully devoted to Jehovah. After gaining the victory over God’s enemies, he brought back their gods and began worshipping them.
3 Serving God with “a complete heart” involves full devotion that does not end. In the Bible, the word “heart” usually refers to a man’s inner self. It encompasses his desires, thinking, disposition, attitudes, abilities, motivations, and goals. So a person who serves Jehovah with his whole heart does not render hypocritical service. He does not just go through the motions of worshipping Jehovah. What about us? Well, if we, though being imperfect humans, continue to be fully devoted to God without hypocrisy, we will be serving God with a complete heart.
4. What will we now consider?
4 To appreciate what it means to serve God with a complete heart, let us consider the life of Asa as well as that of some other kings of Judah who served God with heartfelt devotion
ASA’S HEART “WAS COMPLETE WITH JEHOVAH”
5. What decisive actions did Asa take?
5 Asa was the third king of Judah after the northern ten-tribe kingdom of Israel separated. He rid his domain of idolatry and expelled the male temple prostitutes. He even removed his grandmother Maacah from the position of “queen mother, because she had made an obscene idol.” (1 Ki. 15:11-13) Furthermore, Asa urged his people “to search for Jehovah . . . and to observe the Law and the commandment.” Yes, he promoted true worship.
6. How did Asa react when the Ethiopians invaded the land?
6 Jehovah blessed Judah with peace for the first ten years of Asa’s reign. Then Zerah the Ethiopian came against Judah with 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. (2 Chron. 14:1, 6, 9, 10) How did Asa react to this crisis? He expressed full confidence in Jehovah. (Read 2 Chronicles 14:11.) In answer to Asa’s heartfelt prayer, God gave Asa a complete victory, annihilating the Ethiopian army. (2 Chron. 14:12, 13) Even when kings were not faithful to him, Jehovah could give them victory over the enemy for the sake of his own name. (1 Ki. 20:13, 26-30) Asa, however, relied on God, and Jehovah answered his prayer. Granted, on later occasions, Asa acted unwisely. For example, he sought help from the king of Syria rather than from Jehovah. (1 Ki. 15:16-22) Still, God’s overall assessment was that Asa’s heart “was complete with Jehovah all his life.” How can we imitate Asa in doing good?
7, 8. How can you imitate Asa in serving Jehovah?
7 Each of us can examine his heart to see if it is fully devoted to God. Ask yourself, ‘Am I determined to please Jehovah, to defend true worship, and to protect his people from any corrupting influence?’ Think how much courage Asa had to muster to stand up to Maacah, who was “queen mother” in the land! You probably do not know anyone who acts just like her, but there may be a situation in which you can imitate Asa’s zeal. For example, what if a member of your family or a close friend sins, is unrepentant, and has to be disfellowshipped? Would you take decisive action by ceasing to associate with that person? What would your heart move you to do?
8 Like Asa, you can show that you have a complete heart by fully relying on God when you are faced with opposition, even some that may seem insurmountable. You may be teased or ridiculed at school for taking a stand as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Or colleagues at work may taunt you for taking days off for spiritual activities or for not often working overtime. In such situations, pray to God, just as Asa did. Courageously rely on Jehovah, remaining firm for what you know is right and wise. Remember that God strengthened and helped Asa, and He will strengthen you.
9. When preaching, how can we show that we have a complete heart?
9 God’s servants go beyond simply thinking about themselves. Asa promoted true worship. We likewise help others “to search for Jehovah.” How pleased Jehovah must be when he sees that we speak to our neighbors and others about him, doing so out of genuine love for him and genuine interest in the everlasting welfare of people!
JEHOSHAPHAT SEARCHED FOR JEHOVAH
10, 11. How can you follow the course of Jehoshaphat?
10 Asa’s son Jehoshaphat “kept walking in the way of his father Asa.” (2 Chron. 20:31, 32) How so? Like his father, Jehoshaphat encouraged the people to search for Jehovah. He did so by organizing a teaching campaign that used “the book of Jehovah’s Law.” (2 Chron. 17:7-10) He even went to the territory of the northern kingdom of Israel, to the mountainous region of Ephraim, “to bring them back to Jehovah.” (2 Chron. 19:4) Jehoshaphat was a king “who searched for Jehovah with all his heart.”
11 We can all have a share in the great teaching campaign that Jehovah is having done today. Is it your goal each month to teach the Word of God to others, trying to move their heart to serve God? By your extending yourself and with God’s blessing, you may be able to start a Bible study. Is that a goal that you pray about? Are you willing to accept this challenge, even giving up some of what is commonly viewed as free time? And just as Jehoshaphat went to the territory of Ephraim to help people return to true worship, we can reach out to those who have become inactive. In addition, 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 facing a frightening situation, how did Jehoshaphat react? (b) Why should we imitate Jehoshaphat in acknowledging our weaknesses?
12 Like his father, Asa, Jehoshaphat maintained his devotion to God even when threatened by an overwhelming enemy force. (Read 2 Chronicles 20:2-4.) Jehoshaphat did become afraid! Yet, “he resolved to search for Jehovah.” In prayer, he humbly admitted that his people were “powerless before this large crowd” and that he and his people did not know what to do. He fully relied on Jehovah, saying: “Our eyes are toward you.”
13 Sometimes we, like Jehoshaphat, may not know what to do, even being afraid. (2 Cor. 4:8, 9) But remember that Jehoshaphat acknowledged in a public prayer how weak he and his people felt. (2 Chron. 20:5) Those who take the spiritual lead in the family can imitate Jehoshaphat by turning to Jehovah for guidance and strength to cope with the problem they face. Do not feel ashamed to let your family hear such supplications. They will sense your trust in Jehovah. God helped Jehoshaphat, and he will also help you.
HEZEKIAH KEPT DOING WHAT WAS RIGHT
14, 15. How did Hezekiah show complete reliance on God?
14 To become known as a king who “held fast to Jehovah,” Hezekiah, unlike Jehoshaphat, had to overcome the bad influence of an idolatrous father. 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,” which by then had been misused for idolatrous purposes. He was fully devoted to Jehovah, for “he continued to keep the commandments that Jehovah had given to Moses.”
15 Even when Assyria, the world power at that time, invaded Judah and threatened to annihilate Jerusalem, Hezekiah wholeheartedly relied on Jehovah. The Assyrian King Sennacherib taunted Jehovah and tried to intimidate Hezekiah into surrendering. However, in prayer Hezekiah expressed full trust in Jehovah’s saving power. (Read Isaiah 37:15-20.) God answered his prayer by sending an angel to strike down 185,000 Assyrians.
16, 17. How can you imitate Hezekiah as you serve God?
16 Hezekiah later became sick to the point of dying. He begged Jehovah to remember how he had walked before Him. (Read 2 Kings 20:1-3.) We know from the Scriptures that we are not living at a time when we can look to God for miraculous healings or an extension of our life. Still, as did Hezekiah, each of us can say to Jehovah in prayer: “I have walked before you faithfully and with a complete heart.” Do you believe that Jehovah is capable and willing to sustain you even on a sickbed?
17 Meditating on the example of Hezekiah, we may see a need to remove something that is hindering our relationship with God or diverting our attention from true worship. Clearly, we do not want to imitate those in the world who, using social media, treat humans as if they were idols. Of course, some Christians may find pleasure in communicating with family or close friends by such means. But many in the world use social media excessively, following men or women whom they do not even know. Or they spend a great deal of time looking at pictures of or reading about such individuals. There is the danger of becoming consumed with what amounts to trivia. A Christian could even become puffed up with pride over how many like his postings, even taking offense if they cease to follow him. Can we imagine the apostle Paul or Aquila and Priscilla occupying themselves each day posting images or following someone outside of the brotherhood? We read that Paul was “intensely occupied with the word.” And Priscilla and Aquila used their time to explain “the way of God more accurately” to others. (Acts 18:4, 5, 26) We can ask ourselves, ‘Do I avoid idolizing humans or using a great deal of valuable time on inconsequential matters?’
JOSIAH KEPT JEHOVAH’S COMMANDMENTS
18, 19. In what ways would you like to be like Josiah?
18 King Josiah, Hezekiah’s great-grandson, also resolutely kept Jehovah’s commandments “with all his heart.” (2 Chron. 34:31) When he was still a teenager, “he started to search for the God of David,” and by the time he was 20, he began to cleanse Judah of idolatry. (Read 2 Chronicles 34:1-3.) Josiah was zealous in doing what pleased God, far more so than many kings of Judah. Still, when what may have been the original writings of the Mosaic Law were found and read to Josiah, he saw the need to do God’s will more fully. He urged others to serve Jehovah. As a result, the people “did not deviate from following Jehovah” throughout Josiah’s lifetime.
19 Like Josiah, young ones should start to seek Jehovah from an early age. Repentant King Manasseh may have taught Josiah about God’s mercy. Young ones, draw close to faithful older ones in your family and in the congregation and learn how good Jehovah has been to them. Also, remember that the reading of the Scriptures touched Josiah’s heart and moved him to take action. Your reading of the Word of God may move you to take action that will increase your happiness and strengthen your friendship with God as well as spur you on to help others to search for God. (Read 2 Chronicles 34:18, 19.) A study of the Bible may also help you to notice ways that you can improve in your service to God. If you do, apply yourself, just as Josiah did.
SERVE JEHOVAH WITH A COMPLETE HEART!
20, 21. (a) What do the four kings we considered have in common? (b) What will we discuss in the next article?
20 Do you see the benefit of reviewing how the four kings of Judah whom we have considered served Jehovah with a complete heart? They were zealous in doing God’s will and were fully devoted to accomplishing it. They kept doing God’s will. They even did so when they faced formidable foes. Most important, their motive for serving Jehovah was pure.
21 As we will see in the next article, the four kings whom we have considered all made mistakes. Yet, when the Examiner of the heart scrutinized them, he saw that their heart was complete toward him. We too are imperfect. As Jehovah examines us, does he conclude that we are serving him with a complete heart? Let us address that matter in the following article.