1. What negative feeling afflicts many people, including some true Christians?
DOES Jehovah God love you personally? Some agree that God loves mankind in general, as John 3:16 says. But they feel, in effect: ‘God could never love me as an individual.’ Even true Christians may occasionally have doubts in that respect. Discouraged, one man said: “I find it very difficult to believe that God cares anything about me.” Do similar doubts afflict you at times?
2, 3. Who wants us to believe that we are worthless or unlovable in Jehovah’s eyes, and how can we combat that notion?
2 Satan is eager for us to believe that Jehovah God neither loves us nor values us. True, Satan often seduces people by appealing to their vanity and pride. (2 Corinthians 11:3) But he also delights in crushing the self-respect of vulnerable ones. (John 7:47-49; 8:13, 44) This is particularly so in these critical “last days.” Many today grow up in families where there is “no natural affection.” Others are constantly exposed to those who are fierce, selfish, and headstrong. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Years of being subjected to ill-treatment, racism, or hatred may have convinced such ones that they are worthless or unlovable.
3 If you sense such negative feelings in yourself, do not despair. Many of us are unreasonably hard on ourselves from time to time. But remember, God’s Word is designed for “setting things straight” and for “overturning strongly entrenched things.” (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Corinthians 10:4) The Bible says: “We shall assure our hearts before him as regards whatever our hearts may condemn us in, because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.” (1 John 3:19, 20) Let us consider four ways in which the Scriptures help us to “assure our hearts” of Jehovah’s love.
Jehovah Values You
4, 5. How does Jesus’ illustration of the sparrows show that we have value in Jehovah’s eyes?
4 First, the Bible directly teaches that God sees worth in each of his servants. For example, Jesus said: “Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31) Consider what those words meant to Jesus’ first-century listeners.
5 We may wonder why anyone would buy a sparrow. Well, in Jesus’ day the sparrow was the cheapest of the birds sold as food. Notice that for one coin of small value, a purchaser got two sparrows. But Jesus later stated that if a person was prepared to spend two coins, he got, not four sparrows, but five. The extra bird was added as though it had no value at all. Perhaps such creatures were worthless in the eyes of men, but how did the Creator view them? Said Jesus: “Not one of them [not even the one added in] goes forgotten before God.” (Luke 12:6, 7) Now we may begin to see Jesus’ point. If Jehovah places such value on a single sparrow, of how much greater worth is a human! As Jesus explained, Jehovah knows every detail about us. Why, the very hairs of our head are numbered!
6. Why are we certain that Jesus was being realistic when he spoke of the hairs of our head being numbered?
6 Our hairs numbered? Some might assume that Jesus was being unrealistic here. Just think, though, about the hope of the resurrection. How intimately Jehovah must know us in order to re-create us! He values us so much that he remembers every detail, including our genetic code and all our years of memories and experiences. * Numbering our hairs
What Does Jehovah See in Us?
7, 8. (a) What are some qualities that Jehovah is delighted to find as he searches through human hearts? (b) What are some of the works we do that Jehovah values?
7 Second, the Bible teaches us what Jehovah values in his servants. Simply put, he delights in our good qualities and in the efforts we put forth. King David told his son Solomon: “All hearts Jehovah is searching, and every inclination of the thoughts he is discerning.” (1 Chronicles 28:9) As God searches through billions of human hearts in this violent, hate-filled world, how delighted he must be when he comes upon a heart that loves peace, truth, and righteousness! What happens when God finds a heart that swells with love for him, that seeks to learn about him and to share such knowledge with others? Jehovah tells us that he takes note of those who tell others about him. He even has “a book of remembrance” for all “those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name.” (Malachi 3:16) Such qualities are precious to him.
8 What are some good works that Jehovah values? Certainly our efforts to imitate his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:21) One vital work that God values is the spreading of the good news of his Kingdom. At Romans 10:15, we read: “How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!” We may not normally think of our lowly feet as being “comely,” or beautiful. But here they represent the efforts Jehovah’s servants make in preaching the good news. All such efforts are beautiful and precious in his eyes.
9, 10. (a) Why may we be assured that Jehovah values our endurance in the face of various hardships? (b) Jehovah never takes what negative views of his faithful servants?
9 Jehovah also values our endurance. (Matthew 24:13) Remember, Satan wants you to turn your back on Jehovah. Each day that you remain loyal to Jehovah is another day that you have helped to furnish a reply to Satan’s taunts. (Proverbs 27:11) Sometimes endurance is no easy matter. Health problems, financial woes, emotional distress, and other obstacles can make each passing day a trial. Postponed expectations can prove discouraging too. (Proverbs 13:12) Endurance in the face of such challenges is all the more precious to Jehovah. That is why King David asked Jehovah to store up his tears in a “skin bottle,” adding confidently: “Are they not in your book?” (Psalm 56:8) Yes, Jehovah treasures up and remembers all the tears and suffering we endure while maintaining our loyalty to him. They too are precious in his eyes.
Jehovah values our endurance in the face of trials
10 Now, the self-condemning heart may resist such evidence of our value in the eyes of God. It may insistently whisper: ‘But there are so many others who are more exemplary than I am. How disappointed Jehovah must be when he compares me with them!’ Jehovah does not compare; nor is he rigid or harsh in his thinking. (Galatians 6:4) It is with great subtlety that he reads our hearts, and he values the good
Jehovah Sifts the Good From the Bad
11. What may we learn about Jehovah from the way he handled the case of Abijah?
11 Third, as Jehovah searches through us, he carefully sifts, looking for the good. For instance, when Jehovah decreed that the entire apostate dynasty of King Jeroboam was to be executed, He ordered that one of the king’s sons, Abijah, be given a decent burial. Why? “Something good toward Jehovah the God of Israel has been found in him.” (1 Kings 14:1, 10-13) Jehovah, in effect, sifted through the heart of that young man and found “something good” there. However small or insignificant that bit of good may have been, Jehovah found it worth noting in his Word. He even rewarded it, showing an appropriate degree of mercy to that one member of an apostate household.
12, 13. (a) How does the case of King Jehoshaphat show that Jehovah looks for the good in us even when we sin? (b) When it comes to our good works and qualities, how does Jehovah act as a fond Parent?
12 An even more positive example may be found in good King Jehoshaphat. When the king committed a foolish act, Jehovah’s prophet told him: “For this there is indignation against you from the person of Jehovah.” What a sobering thought! But Jehovah’s message did not end there. It went on: “Nevertheless, there are good things that have been found with you.” (2 Chronicles 19:1-3) So Jehovah’s righteous anger did not blind him to the good in Jehoshaphat. How unlike imperfect humans! When upset with others, we may tend to become blind to the good in them. And when we sin, the disappointment, shame, and guilt that we feel may blind us to the good in ourselves. Remember, though, that if we repent of our sins and strive hard not to repeat them, Jehovah forgives us.
13 As Jehovah sifts through you, he discards such sins, much the way a prospector panning for gold discards worthless gravel. What about your good qualities and works? Ah, these are the “nuggets” he keeps! Have you ever noticed the way fond parents treasure their children’s drawings or school projects, sometimes for decades after the children have forgotten them? Jehovah is the fondest Parent. As long as we remain faithful to him, he never forgets our good works and qualities. In fact, he would view it as unrighteous to forget these, and he is never unrighteous. (Hebrews 6:10) He also sifts us in another way.
14, 15. (a) Why do our imperfections never blind Jehovah to the good in us? Illustrate. (b) What will Jehovah do with the good things he finds in us, and how does he view his faithful people?
14 Jehovah looks beyond our imperfections and sees our potential. To illustrate: People who love works of art will go to great lengths to restore badly damaged paintings or other works. When, for example, in the National Gallery in London, England, someone with a shotgun damaged a Leonardo da Vinci drawing worth some $30 million, no one suggested that since the drawing was now damaged, it should be discarded. Work to restore the nearly 500-year-old masterpiece began immediately. Why? Because it was precious in the eyes of art lovers. Are you not worth more than a chalk and charcoal drawing? In God’s eyes you certainly are
15 Yes, Jehovah sees the good in us that we may not see in ourselves. And as we serve him, he will make the good grow until we are eventually perfect. No matter how Satan’s world has treated us, Jehovah values his faithful servants as desirable, or precious.
Jehovah Actively Demonstrates His Love
16. What is the greatest proof of Jehovah’s love for us, and how do we know that this gift is meant for us personally?
16 Fourth, Jehovah does much to prove his love for us. Surely, Christ’s ransom sacrifice is the most potent answer to the satanic lie that we are worthless or unlovable. Never should we forget that the agonizing death that Jesus suffered on the torture stake and the even greater agony that Jehovah endured in watching his beloved Son die are proof of their love for us. Sadly, many people find it hard to believe that this gift could be meant for them personally. They feel unworthy. Remember, though, that the apostle Paul had been a persecutor of Christ’s followers. Yet, he wrote: “The Son of God . . . loved me and handed himself over for me.”
17. By what means does Jehovah draw us to himself and to his Son?
17 Jehovah proves his love for us by helping us individually to take advantage of the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus said: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” (John 6:44) Yes, Jehovah personally draws us toward his Son and the hope of eternal life. How? By means of the preaching work, which reaches us individually, and by means of his holy spirit, which Jehovah uses to help us grasp and apply spiritual truths despite our limitations and imperfections. Jehovah can therefore say of us as he said of Israel: “With a love to time indefinite I have loved you. That is why I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”
18, 19. (a) What is the most intimate way in which Jehovah demonstrates his love for us, and what shows that he cares for this personally? (b) How does God’s Word assure us that Jehovah is an empathetic listener?
18 Perhaps it is through the privilege of prayer that we experience Jehovah’s love in the most intimate way. The Bible invites each of us to “pray incessantly” to God. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) He listens. He is even called the “Hearer of prayer.” (Psalm 65:2) He has not delegated this office to anyone else, not even to his own Son. Just think: The Creator of the universe urges us to approach him in prayer, with freeness of speech. And what kind of listener is he? Cold, impassive, uncaring? Not at all.
19 Jehovah is empathetic. What is empathy? One faithful elderly Christian said: “Empathy is your pain in my heart.” Is Jehovah really affected by our pain? We read regarding the sufferings of his people Israel: “During all their distress it was distressing to him.” (Isaiah 63:9) Not only did Jehovah see their troubles; he felt for the people. Just how intensely he feels is illustrated by Jehovah’s own words to his servants: “He that is touching you is touching my eyeball.” * (Zechariah 2:8) How painful that would be! Yes, Jehovah feels for us. When we hurt, he hurts.
20. What unbalanced thinking must we avoid if we are to obey the counsel found at Romans 12:3?
20 No balanced Christian would use such evidence of God’s love and esteem as an excuse for pride or egotism. The apostle Paul wrote: “Through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God has distributed to him a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3) Another translation says here: “I would say to every one of you not to estimate himself above his real value, but to make a sober rating of himself.” (A Translation in the Language of the People, by Charles B. Williams) So while we bask in the warmth of our heavenly Father’s love, let us be sound in mind and remember that we neither earn nor deserve God’s love.
21. What satanic lies must we continually resist, and with what divine truth may we continue to assure our hearts?
21 Let each of us do everything in our power to reject all of Satan’s lies, including the lie that we are worthless or unlovable. If your experiences in life have taught you to see yourself as an obstacle too daunting even for God’s immense love to surmount, or your good works as too insignificant even for his all-seeing eyes to notice, or your sins as too vast even for the death of his precious Son to cover, you have been taught a lie. Reject such lies with all your heart! Let us continue to assure our hearts with the truth expressed in Paul’s inspired words: “I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
^ par. 6 The Bible repeatedly connects the resurrection hope with Jehovah’s memory. The faithful man Job said to Jehovah: “O . . . that you would set a time limit for me and remember me!” (Job 14:13) Jesus referred to the resurrection of “all those in the memorial tombs.” This was appropriate because Jehovah perfectly remembers the dead whom he intends to resurrect.
^ par. 19 Some translations here imply that the one touching God’s people is touching his own eye or Israel’s eye, not God’s eye. This error was introduced by some scribes who viewed this passage as irreverent and therefore emended it. Their misguided effort obscured the intensity of Jehovah’s personal empathy.
Do you struggle with feelings of inadequacy or the fear of potential failure?