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Cultivate Intimacy With Jehovah

Cultivate Intimacy With Jehovah

 Cultivate Intimacy With Jehovah

“DRAW close to God, and he will draw close to you,” wrote the disciple James. (James 4:8) And the psalmist David sang: “The intimacy with Jehovah belongs to those fearful of him.” (Psalm 25:14) Clearly, Jehovah God wants us to have an intimate relationship with him. Yet, not everyone worshiping God and obeying his laws necessarily feels close to him.

What about you? Do you have a close personal relationship with God? Undoubtedly, you want to draw closer to him. How may we cultivate intimacy with God? What would this mean for us? The third chapter of the Bible book of Proverbs 3 provides answers.

Manifest Loving-Kindness and Trueness

King Solomon of ancient Israel commences the third chapter of Proverbs with the words: “My son, my law do not forget, and my commandments may your heart observe, because length of days and years of life and peace will be added to you.” (Proverbs 3:1, 2) Since Solomon wrote under divine inspiration, this fatherly advice is really coming from Jehovah God and is directed to us. We are counseled here to abide by God’s reminders​—his law, or teaching, and his commandments—​recorded in the Bible. If we do this, “length of days and years of life and peace will be added” to us. Yes, even now we can enjoy a peaceful life and can avoid pursuits that expose us to the danger of early death that often befalls evildoers. Moreover, we can entertain the hope of eternal life in a peaceful new world.​—Proverbs 1:24-31; 2:21, 22.

Continuing, Solomon says: “May loving-kindness and trueness themselves not leave you. Tie them about your throat. Write them upon the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and good insight in the eyes of God and of earthling man.”​Proverbs 3:3, 4.

The original-language word for “loving-kindness” is alternatively rendered “loyal love” and entails fidelity, solidarity, and loyalty. Are we determined to remain attached to Jehovah come what may? Do we display loving-kindness in our relationships with fellow believers? Do we work to remain close to them? In day-to-day dealings with them, do we keep ‘the law of loving-kindness upon our tongue’ even under trying conditions?​—Proverbs 31:26.

Being abundant in loving-kindness, Jehovah is “ready to forgive.” (Psalm 86:5) If we have repented of our past sins and are now making straight paths for our feet, we are assured that “seasons of refreshing” will come from Jehovah. (Acts 3:19) Should we not imitate our God by forgiving others of their trespasses?​—Matthew 6:14, 15.

Jehovah is “the God of truth,” and he wants “trueness” from those seeking intimacy with him. (Psalm 31:5) Can we really expect Jehovah to be our Friend if we lead a double life​—acting one way around Christian associates and another way when out of their sight—​like  “men of untruth” who hide what kind of people they are? (Psalm 26:4) How foolish that would be, since “all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes” of Jehovah!​—Hebrews 4:13.

Loving-kindness and trueness are to be valued as a priceless necklace ‘tied about our throat,’ for they help us ‘find favor in the eyes of God and earthling man.’ We need not only to display these qualities outwardly but also to engrave them ‘on the tablet of our heart,’ making them an intrinsic part of our personality.

Cultivate Implicit Trust in Jehovah

The wise king continues: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.”​Proverbs 3:5, 6.

Jehovah is certainly worthy of our complete trust. As the Creator, he is “vigorous in power” and is the Source of “dynamic energy.” (Isaiah 40:26, 29) He is able to carry out all that he has purposed. Why, his very name literally means “He Causes to Become,” and it builds our confidence in his ability to fulfill what he has promised! The fact that “it is impossible for God to lie” makes him the very epitome of truth. (Hebrews 6:18) His dominant quality is love. (1 John 4:8) He is “righteous in all his ways and loyal in all his works.” (Psalm 145:17) If we cannot trust God, whom can we trust? Of course, to cultivate trust in him, we need to “taste and see that Jehovah is good” by applying what we learn from the Bible in our personal life and by reflecting upon the good that this produces.​—Psalm 34:8.

How may we ‘take notice of Jehovah in all our ways’? The inspired psalmist says: “I shall certainly meditate on all your activity, and with your dealings I will concern myself.” (Psalm 77:12) Since God is invisible, meditation on his great acts and on his dealings with his people is vital for cultivating intimacy with him.

Prayer is also an important way of taking notice of Jehovah. King David kept calling on Jehovah “all day long.” (Psalm 86:3) David often prayed through the night, as when he was a fugitive in the wilderness. (Psalm 63:6, 7) “Carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit,” exhorted the apostle Paul. (Ephesians 6:18) How often do we pray? Do we enjoy having personal heartfelt communication with God? When faced with trying situations, do we petition him for help? Do we prayerfully seek his guidance before making important decisions? Our sincere prayers to Jehovah endear us to him. And we have the assurance that he will listen to our prayer and ‘make our paths straight.’

How foolish it is to ‘lean upon our own understanding’ or that of prominent people in the world when we can place our complete confidence in Jehovah! “Do not become wise in your own eyes,” says Solomon. On the contrary, he admonishes: “Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad. May it become a healing to your navel and a refreshment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:7, 8) The healthy fear of displeasing God ought to govern all our actions, thoughts, and emotions. Such reverential fear prevents us from doing what is bad and is spiritually healing and refreshing.

Give Jehovah Your Best

In what other way may we draw close to God? “Honor Jehovah with your valuable things and with the firstfruits of all your produce,” instructs the king. (Proverbs 3:9) To honor Jehovah means to show him high regard and to exalt him publicly by sharing in and supporting the public proclamation of his name. The valuable things with which we honor Jehovah are our time, our talents, our strength, and our material possessions. These must be the firstfruits​—our very best. Should  not the way we use our personal resources reflect our resolve to ‘keep on seeking first the kingdom and God’s righteousness’?​—Matthew 6:33.

Honoring Jehovah with our valuable things does not go unrewarded. “Then your stores of supply will be filled with plenty,” assures Solomon, “and with new wine your own press vats will overflow.” (Proverbs 3:10) While spiritual prosperity in itself does not lead to material prosperity, generously using our resources to honor Jehovah brings rich blessings. The doing of God’s will was sustaining “food” for Jesus. (John 4:34) Likewise, having a share in the preaching and disciple-making work that glorifies Jehovah nourishes us. If we persist in that work, our spiritual stores of supply will be filled with plenty. Our joy​—symbolized by new wine—​will overflow.

Do we not also look to Jehovah and pray to him for a sufficiency of material food for each day? (Matthew 6:11) Everything that we possess has, in fact, come to us from our loving heavenly Father. Jehovah will pour out further blessings to the extent that we use our valuable things to his praise.​—1 Corinthians 4:7.

Welcome Jehovah’s Discipline

Noting the importance of discipline in gaining intimacy with Jehovah, the king of Israel advises us: “The discipline of Jehovah, O my son, do not reject; and do not abhor his reproof, because the one whom Jehovah loves he reproves, even as a father does a son in whom he finds pleasure.”​Proverbs 3:11, 12.

Discipline, though, may not be easy for us to accept. “No discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous,” wrote the apostle Paul, “yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11) Reproof and discipline are a necessary part of the training that brings us closer to God. Correction from Jehovah​—whether we receive it from parents, through the Christian congregation, or by meditating on the Scriptures during our personal study—​is an expression of his love for us. We are wise to welcome it.

 Hold Fast to Wisdom and Discernment

Next, Solomon emphasizes the importance of wisdom and discernment in cultivating a close relationship with God. He declares: “Happy is the man that has found wisdom, and the man that gets discernment, for having it as gain is better than having silver as gain and having it as produce than gold itself. . . . It is a tree of life to those taking hold of it, and those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.”​Proverbs 3:13-18.

Reminding us of the display of wisdom and discernment in Jehovah’s marvelous works of creation, the king states: “Jehovah himself in wisdom founded the earth. He solidly fixed the heavens in discernment. . . . My son, may they not get away from your eyes. Safeguard practical wisdom and thinking ability, and they will prove to be life to your soul and charm to your throat.”​Proverbs 3:19-22.

Wisdom and discernment are godly qualities. We need not only to cultivate them but also to hold fast to them by never slacking off in our diligent study of the Scriptures and application of what we learn. “In that case you will walk in security on your way,” continues Solomon, “and even your foot will not strike against anything.” He adds: “Whenever you lie down you will feel no dread; and you will certainly lie down, and your sleep must be pleasurable.”​Proverbs 3:23, 24.

Yes, we can walk in security and sleep with peace of mind as we await the thieflike approach of the day of “sudden destruction” upon Satan’s wicked world. (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3; 1 John 5:19) Even during the imminent great tribulation, we can have this assurance: “You will not need to be afraid of any sudden dreadful thing, nor of the storm upon the wicked ones, because it is coming. For Jehovah himself will prove to be, in effect, your confidence, and he will certainly keep your foot against capture.”​Proverbs 3:25, 26; Matthew 24:21.

Do What Is Good

“Do not hold back good from those to whom it is owing,” admonishes Solomon, “when it happens to be in the power of your hand to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27) Doing good to others involves generously using our resources in their behalf, and this has many facets. But is not helping others to gain a close relationship with the true God the very best thing we can do for them during this “time of the end”? (Daniel 12:4) These, then, are the days for showing zeal in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work.​—Matthew 28:19, 20.

The wise king also lists some practices to shun, saying: “Do not say to your fellowman: ‘Go, and come back and tomorrow I shall give,’ when there is something with you. Do not fabricate against your fellowman anything bad, when he is dwelling in a sense of security with you. Do not quarrel with a man without cause, if he has rendered no bad to you. Do not become envious of the man of violence, nor choose any of his ways.”​Proverbs 3:28-31.

Summing up the reason for his counsel, Solomon says: “For the devious person is a detestable thing to Jehovah, but His intimacy is with the upright ones. The curse of Jehovah is on the house of the wicked one, but the abiding place of the righteous ones he blesses. If it has to do with ridiculers, he himself will deride; but to the meek ones he will show favor. Honor is what the wise ones will come to possess, but the stupid ones are exalting dishonor.”​Proverbs 3:32-35.

If we are to enjoy intimacy with Jehovah, we must not fabricate devious and hurtful schemes. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Only if we do what is right in God’s eyes will we have his favor and blessing. We may also receive unsought honor when others observe that we act in harmony with divine wisdom. Let us therefore reject the devious ways of this wicked and violent world. Indeed, let us pursue an upright course and cultivate intimacy with Jehovah!

[Pictures on page 25]

“Honor Jehovah with your valuable things”