“Keep Yourselves in God’s Love”
“Keep yourselves in God’s love, while you are waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with everlasting life in view.”—JUDE 21.
1, 2. How has Jehovah shown his love for us, and how do we know that he does not automatically keep us in his love?
JEHOVAH GOD has shown his love for us in countless ways. Without question, though, the greatest proof of Jehovah’s love is the provision of the ransom sacrifice. His love for mankind is so immense that he even sent his beloved Son here to earth to die in our behalf. (John 3:16) Jehovah did this because he wants us to live forever, and he also wants us to benefit from his love forever!
2 Can we assume, however, that Jehovah will automatically keep us in his love no matter what we choose to do? No. For at Jude verse 21, we read this exhortation: “Keep yourselves in God’s love, while you are waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with everlasting life in view.” The expression “keep yourselves in God’s love” implies that some action is required on our part. What, then, do we need to do in order to remain in God’s love?
How Can We Remain in God’s Love?
3. What did Jesus say was essential for him to remain in his Father’s love?
3 We find the answer to that question in Jesus’ own words, spoken on the final night of his life here on earth. He said: “If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love.” (John 15:10) Clearly, Jesus felt that observing Jehovah’s commandments was essential to keeping a good standing with his Father. Now, if that was true of the perfect Son of God, would it not be true of us also?
4, 5. (a) What is the primary way we can show that we love Jehovah? (b) Why do we not have any reason to recoil at the thought of obeying Jehovah’s commandments?
4 Primarily, we show that we love Jehovah by obeying him. The apostle John expressed it this way: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) Granted, the notion of obedience is not always a popular one in today’s world. Notice, though, the phrase: “Yet his commandments are not burdensome.” Jehovah is not asking us to do something that is too hard for us.
5 To illustrate: Would you ask a dear friend to carry something that you know is too heavy for him to lift? Of course not! Jehovah is far kinder than we are and far more perceptive as to our limitations. The Bible assures us that Jehovah ‘remembers that we are dust.’ (Ps. 103:14) He would never ask more of us than we can handle. So we have no reason to recoil at the thought of obeying Jehovah’s commandments. On the contrary, we embrace obedience for what it is—a marvelous opportunity to show our heavenly Father that we truly do love him and want to remain in his love.
A Special Gift From Jehovah
6, 7. (a) What is the conscience? (b) Illustrate how the conscience can help us to remain in God’s love.
6 In the complex world in which we live, many decisions need to be made that involve our obedience to God. How can we be sure that these decisions are in harmony with God’s will? Jehovah has given us a gift that can help us greatly in this matter of obedience. It is the conscience. What is the conscience? It is a special kind of self-awareness. It acts like an internal judge, enabling us to look at the choices we face in life or to reflect on the actions we have already taken and to evaluate them as to good or bad, right or wrong.—Read Romans 2:14, 15.
7 How can we make good use of the conscience? Consider an illustration. A hiker treks across a vast wilderness. There are no trails, no roads, no signposts. Yet, he steadily makes his way toward his destination. How? He has a compass. It has a fixed dial marked with the four primary directions and a magnetic needle that points reliably northward. Without his compass, this hiker would be hopelessly lost. Similarly, a human without a conscience would often be hopelessly lost when trying to make moral, ethical, and righteous choices in life.
8, 9. (a) What limitations of our conscience do we need to keep in mind? (b) What can we do to make sure that our conscience is truly useful to us?
8 Like a compass, though, the conscience has its limitations. If the hiker were to put a magnet near his compass, the needle would point away from north. Likewise, if we were to give the desires of our heart too much prominence, what would happen? Our selfish tendencies might well distort the conscience. The Bible warns us that “the heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate.” (Jer. 17:9; Prov. 4:23) Furthermore, if the hiker did not have an accurate, reliable map, his compass would do him little or no good. Similarly, if we do not rely on the sure, unchanging guidance of God’s Word, the Bible, our conscience might be nearly useless. (Ps. 119:105) Sadly, many people in this world give undue prominence to the desires of the heart while paying little or no attention to the standards set out in God’s Word. (Read Ephesians 4:17-19.) That is why so many people, though endowed with a conscience, do terrible things.—1 Tim. 4:2.
9 We should be determined never to be like that! Rather, let us continue to let God’s Word educate and train our conscience so that it can be truly useful to us. We need to listen to our Bible-trained conscience instead of letting our selfish inclinations overwhelm it. At the same time, we should endeavor to respect the consciences of our beloved spiritual brothers and sisters. We make every effort to avoid stumbling them, keeping in mind that our brother’s conscience may be more sensitive or restrictive than our own.—1 Cor. 8:12; 2 Cor. 4:2; 1 Pet. 3:16.
10. What three areas of life will we now discuss?
10 Let us now consider three areas of life in which we can demonstrate our love for Jehovah by means of obedience. In each of them, of course, the conscience will come into play, but it needs to be guided, first and foremost, by the Bible’s inspired standards of conduct. The three ways in which we can lovingly obey Jehovah are: (1) We love those whom Jehovah loves, (2) we show respect for authority, and (3) we strive to remain clean in God’s eyes.
Love Those Whom Jehovah Loves
11. Why should we love those whom Jehovah loves?
11 First, we must love those whom Jehovah loves. When it comes to associations, people are like sponges. We tend to absorb whatever is around us. Our Creator well knows how dangerous—and how helpful—associations can be for imperfect humans. Therefore, he gives us this wise counsel: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Prov. 13:20; 1 Cor. 15:33) None of us want to “fare badly.” Each of us wants to “become wise.” Jehovah cannot be made any wiser than he is, nor can he ever be corrupted by anyone. Yet, he sets a beautiful example for us when it comes to associations. Think of it—which imperfect humans does Jehovah choose as his friends?
12. What type of friends does Jehovah choose?
12 Jehovah referred to the patriarch Abraham as “my friend.” (Isa. 41:8) This man was outstandingly faithful, righteous, and obedient—a man of faith. (Jas. 2:21-23) That is the kind of friend Jehovah chooses. He befriends such people today. If Jehovah chooses such friends, is it not vital that we likewise choose well, that we walk with wise ones and become wise?
13. When it comes to selecting friends, what can help us to make good choices?
13 What can help you to make good choices in this regard? Studying Bible examples can prove motivating. Consider the friendship between Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi, the one between David and Jonathan, or the one between Timothy and Paul. (Ruth 1:16, 17; 1 Sam. 23:16-18; Phil. 2:19-22) These friendships thrived for one reason above all others: They were based on genuine love for Jehovah. Can you find friends who love Jehovah as much as you do? Be assured that the Christian congregation is rich with potential for finding friends of that kind. Such friends will not lead you to fare badly in a spiritual sense. Rather, they will help you to obey Jehovah, to grow spiritually, and to sow with a view to the spirit. (Read Galatians 6:7, 8.) They will help you to remain in God’s love.
14. What factors often make it difficult for us to show respect for authority?
14 The second way we demonstrate our love for Jehovah involves authority. We must show respect for authority. Why is this so difficult for us to do at times? For one thing, humans in positions of authority are imperfect. In addition, we ourselves are imperfect. We struggle with an inborn tendency to rebel.
15, 16. (a) Why is it important for us to respect those whom Jehovah has entrusted with the responsibility to care for his people? (b) What valuable lesson do we learn from how Jehovah viewed the rebellion of the Israelites against Moses?
15 You might wonder, then, ‘If it is such a challenge for us to respect authority, why do we need to do it?’ The answer comes down to the issue of sovereignty. Whom will you choose as your sovereign, your ruler? If we choose Jehovah as our Sovereign, we need to respect his authority. If we do not, can we truthfully call him our Ruler? Furthermore, Jehovah usually exercises his authority through imperfect humans whom he entrusts with responsibility to care for his people. If we were to rebel against those humans, how would Jehovah view our actions?—Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13.
16 For example, when the Israelites murmured and rebelled against Moses, Jehovah took their rebellious actions personally, as directed against him. (Num. 14:26, 27) God has not changed. If we were ever to rebel against those he has put in positions of authority, we would be rebelling against him!
17. What right attitude should we endeavor to cultivate toward those having positions of authority in the congregation?
17 The apostle Paul reveals the right attitude to cultivate toward those who have positions of responsibility in the Christian congregation. He wrote: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.” (Heb. 13:17) Granted, it takes real effort on our part to develop such an obedient and submissive spirit. Remember, though, that we are working to remain in God’s love. Is that goal not worth our every effort?
Remain Clean in Jehovah’s Eyes
18. Why does Jehovah want us to remain clean?
18 The third way we demonstrate our love for Jehovah is that we strive to remain clean in his eyes. Parents usually work hard to make sure that their children are clean. Why? For one thing, being clean is essential to the child’s health and well-being. Furthermore, a clean child reflects well on the family, revealing the love and attention of the parents. For similar reasons, Jehovah wants us to be clean. He knows that cleanliness is essential to our well-being. He also knows that our cleanliness reflects on him, our heavenly Father. That is of great importance, for people may be drawn to the God we serve because they notice how we stand out as different from the crowd in this defiled world.
19. How do we know that physical cleanliness is important?
19 In what ways do we need to remain clean? Really, in all respects. In ancient Israel, Jehovah made it clear to his people that physical cleanliness was essential. (Lev. 15:31) The Mosaic Law touched on such matters as the disposal of waste, the cleansing of vessels, and the washing of hands, feet, and clothing. (Ex. 30:17-21; Lev. 11:32; Num. 19:17-20; Deut. 23:13, 14) The Israelites were reminded that their God, Jehovah, is holy—which means “clean,” “pure,” and “sacred.” Servants of the holy God need to be holy as well.—Read Leviticus 11:44, 45.
20. In what ways do we need to remain clean?
20 We need, then, to be clean on the inside as well as on the outside. We strive to keep our thoughts clean. We adhere faithfully to Jehovah’s standards of moral cleanness, regardless of the sexual degradation of the world around us. Most important, we insist on keeping our worship clean, avoiding any contamination from false religion. We keep ever in mind the inspired warning recorded at Isaiah 52:11: “Turn away, turn away, get out of there, touch nothing unclean; get out from the midst of her, keep yourselves clean.” Today, we stay spiritually clean by refraining from even touching what our heavenly Father views as unclean in a religious sense. That is why, for example, we carefully avoid the false religious celebrations and holidays so popular in today’s world. True, it is a challenge to remain clean. But Jehovah’s people strive to do so because this helps them remain in God’s love.
21. How can we be sure that we will remain in God’s love?
21 Jehovah wants us to remain in his love forever. But all of us individually need to make sure that we do our very best to remain in God’s love. This we can do by following Jesus’ example and proving our love for Jehovah by obeying His commands. If we do so, we can be certain that nothing “will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Rom. 8:38, 39.
Do You Remember?
• How can our conscience help us to remain in God’s love?
• Why should we love those whom Jehovah loves?
• Why is it vital to respect authority?
• Of what importance is cleanness to God’s people?
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A PUBLICATION THAT PROMOTES GOOD CONDUCT
During the 2008/2009 district convention program, a 224-page book entitled “Keep Yourselves in God’s Love” was released. What is the purpose of this new book? It is designed to help Christians to come to know and love Jehovah’s standards, focusing primarily on Christian conduct. A careful study of “Keep Yourselves in God’s Love” will deepen our conviction that living in harmony with Jehovah’s standards is the best way to live now and leads to everlasting life in the future.
More than that, this book is designed to help us see that obedience to Jehovah is not a burden. On the contrary, it is a way of showing Jehovah just how much we love him. Hence, this book will move us to ask ourselves, ‘Why do I obey Jehovah?’
When some make the sad mistake of leaving Jehovah’s love, the problem generally involves conduct, not doctrine. How vital, then, that we strengthen our love and appreciation for Jehovah’s laws and principles that guide us in our daily life! We are confident that this new publication will help Jehovah’s sheep worldwide to stand firm for what is right, to prove Satan a liar, and above all to remain in God’s love!—Jude 21.
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“If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love”