“[Abraham] came to be called Jehovah’s friend.”
1. Since we are created in God’s image, what ability do we have?
“LIKE father, like son” is something many people say about children who are similar to their parents. After all, every child inherits qualities from his father and his mother. Jehovah, our heavenly Father, is the Giver of life. (Psalm 36:9) As his human children, we are similar to him in many ways. Since we are created in his “image,” we have the ability to reason, to make decisions, and to form close friendships.
2. How is it possible to have Jehovah as our best Friend?
2 Jehovah can be our best Friend. Such friendship is possible because of God’s love for us and our faith in him and his Son. Jesus said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) There are many people who have had a close friendship with Jehovah. Let us learn from two of them.
“ABRAHAM MY FRIEND”
3, 4. What made Abraham’s friendship with Jehovah different from the relationship Israel had with Him?
3 Jehovah described the father of the Israelites as “Abraham my friend.” (Isaiah 41:8) Second Chronicles 20:7 also calls Abraham a friend of God. What made it possible for Abraham to have such a close friendship with his Creator? It was Abraham’s strong faith.
4 Abraham’s descendants who became the nation of ancient Israel also had Jehovah as their Father and Friend. Sadly, over time they lost their friendship with God. Why? Because they lost faith in Jehovah’s promises.
5, 6. (a) How has Jehovah become your Friend? (b) What questions should we ask ourselves?
5 The more you learn about Jehovah, the stronger your faith in him becomes, and your love for him deepens. Think back to the time when you first learned that God is a real Person and that you could become his close friend. You learned that all of us have inherited sin because of Adam’s disobedience. You also understood that mankind in general is not at peace with God. (Colossians 1:21) Then you realized that our loving heavenly Father is not some person who is far away and who is not interested in us. When we learned that Jehovah sacrificed his Son and we began to have faith in the ransom, we started to build a friendship with God.
The more you learn about Jehovah, the stronger your faith in him becomes, and your love for him deepens
6 When we think about how we came to know Jehovah, we should ask ourselves: ‘Am I making progress in my friendship with God? Is my trust in Jehovah strong, and is my love for him growing each day?’ Another one of God’s close friends was Gideon. Let us now learn about him so that we can follow his example.
“JEHOVAH IS PEACE”
7-9. (a) What remarkable experience did Gideon have, and what was the result? (See opening picture.) (b) How can we be God’s friend?
7 Judge Gideon served Jehovah during a difficult time after the Israelites entered the Promised Land. The Midianites were a threat to Israel and had invaded their land several times. For that reason, Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress instead of in an open field so that he could quickly hide the valuable grain. Judges chapter 6 says that Jehovah’s angel visited Gideon at Ophrah. Gideon was surprised that the angel appeared and called Gideon a “mighty warrior.” Even though Jehovah had rescued the Israelites from Egypt, Gideon doubted that He would help them this time. Speaking for Jehovah, the angel promised that God would help Gideon.
8 Gideon wondered how it would be possible for him to “save Israel out of Midian’s hand.” Jehovah gave him a very clear answer: “Because I will be with you, you will strike down Midian as if they were one man.” (Judges 6:11-16) Probably wondering how this would happen, Gideon asked for a sign from God. Notice that in this conversation Gideon never doubted whether God was a real Person or not.
9 What happened next strengthened Gideon’s faith and brought him closer to God. Gideon prepared a meal and served it to the angel. The angel then miraculously burned up the food with the touch of his staff. When Gideon realized that this angel was truly sent by God, he became afraid. Gideon exclaimed: “Alas, Sovereign Lord Jehovah, for I have seen Jehovah’s angel face-to-face!” (Judges 6:17-22) Did that experience hurt Gideon’s friendship with Jehovah? Not at all! Gideon felt at peace with God. We know this because the altar Gideon built there was called “Jehovah-shalom,” which means “Jehovah Is Peace.” (Read Judges 6:23, 24; footnote.) If we meditate on what Jehovah does for us each day, we will realize that he is a true Friend. When we regularly pray to Jehovah, we feel more at peace with him and our friendship with him becomes stronger.
When we regularly pray to Jehovah, our friendship with him will become stronger
WHO WILL BE A GUEST IN JEHOVAH’S TENT?
10 Jehovah has specific requirements for anyone who wants to be his friend. In Psalm 15, David sang about what we must do to be a guest in Jehovah’s tent, that is, to be a friend of God. (Psalm 15:1) Let us now focus on two of these requirements: avoiding slander and being honest. David said the following about anyone whom Jehovah accepts as a friend: “He does not slander with his tongue.” David added: “He does not accept a bribe against the innocent.”
11. Why must we avoid slander?
11 In another psalm, David warned: “Guard your tongue from what is bad.” (Psalm 34:13) If we ignored this counsel, it would hurt our friendship with our heavenly Father. Really, slander is a mark of Jehovah’s great enemy, Satan the Devil. The term “Devil” comes from the Greek word that means “slanderer.” When we are careful with what we say to others and what we say about them, this will help us to stay close to Jehovah. We should be especially careful about our attitude toward the brothers appointed by God to take the lead in the congregation.
12, 13. (a) Why should we be honest in all things? (b) When we are honest, what is the result?
12 Jehovah’s servants are known to be honest people. The apostle Paul wrote: “Keep praying for us, for we trust we have an honest conscience, as we wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18) Because we are determined to “conduct ourselves honestly in all things,” we avoid cheating our Christian brothers. For example, if they work for us, we make sure that they are treated fairly and are paid the amount that has been agreed on. As Christians, we are honest with our employees and everyone else. And if we work for a fellow Christian, we should not be unfair and expect special treatment.
13 People in the world often commend Jehovah’s Witnesses for their honesty. For example, the director of a large company noticed that Jehovah’s Witnesses keep their promises. He said, “You always stick to what you have agreed to do.” (Psalm 15:4) This honesty helps us to keep Jehovah as our Friend and brings praise to our loving heavenly Father.
Being honest helps us to keep Jehovah as our Friend
HELP OTHERS TO BECOME JEHOVAH’S FRIENDS
14, 15. In our ministry, how can we help others to become Jehovah’s friends?
14 Although people we meet in our ministry may believe that God exists, many do not view God as their best Friend. How can we help them? Notice the instructions Jesus gave 70 of his disciples when he sent them out to preach: “Wherever you enter into a house, say first: ‘May this house have peace.’ And if a friend of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if there is not, it will return to you.” (Luke 10:5, 6) People may want to learn more about the truth if we are friendly to them. If we are kind to those who angrily oppose us, this may help them to calm down and they may be willing to listen to the truth at another time.
15 When we meet people who are very religious or who follow false religious traditions, we continue to be friendly and peaceful. We warmly welcome all to our meetings, especially people who are frustrated with the world today and who want to learn more about the God we worship. Articles in the series “The Bible Changes Lives” give us many examples of people like this.
People may want to learn more about the truth if we are friendly to them
WORKING WITH OUR BEST FRIEND
16. How can we be not only Jehovah’s friends but also his “fellow workers”?
16 People who work together often become close friends. All who are dedicated to Jehovah are not only his friends but also his “fellow workers.” (Read 1 Corinthians 3:9.) As we preach and make disciples, we learn more about the marvelous qualities of our heavenly Father. We see how his holy spirit helps us to preach the good news.
17. How do our assemblies and conventions show us that Jehovah is our Friend?
17 The more time we spend in the preaching work, the closer we feel to Jehovah. We see how Jehovah prevents opposers from stopping the preaching work. He has clearly been guiding us, and we are amazed at the way he continues to teach us through our meetings and publications. At our conventions and assemblies, we see that Jehovah lovingly understands our problems and our needs. After one of our conventions, a family wrote: “The program really reached our hearts. We felt how much Jehovah loves each and every one of us and wants us to succeed.” After attending a special convention in Ireland, a couple from Germany were thankful for the way they had been warmly welcomed and cared for. They also said: “But our greatest thanks go to Jehovah and his King Jesus Christ. They have invited us to be part of this truly united nation. We are not just talking about unity but are enjoying it every day. Our experiences in connection with the special convention in Dublin will always remind us of the precious privilege we have to serve our great God together with all of you.”
18. What should we ask ourselves about our communication with Jehovah?
18 Friends become closer when they have good communication. Today, people constantly use the Internet and text messaging. But how does that compare to our communication with our best Friend, Jehovah? He is the “Hearer of prayer.” (Psalm 65:2) How often do we take time to speak to him?
How often do I take the time to speak to Jehovah?
19. If it is hard for us to express our feelings in prayer to Jehovah, what can help?
19 For some servants of God, it is not easy to express deep emotions. Yet, that is what Jehovah wants us to do when we pray. (Psalm 119:145; Lamentations 3:41) If it is difficult for us to describe our feelings, we have help. Paul wrote to Christians in Rome: “The problem is that we do not know what we should pray for as we need to, but the spirit itself pleads for us with unuttered groanings. But the one who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in harmony with God for the holy ones.” (Romans 8:26, 27) When we read Bible books such as Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, we can get ideas about how to express our feelings to Jehovah.
20, 21. What comfort do Paul’s words at Philippians 4:6, 7 give us?
20 When we face difficult problems, let us remember Paul’s words to the Philippians: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.” When we pray to Jehovah in this way, we can feel true comfort. Paul wrote: “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) We should always be thankful for the extraordinary “peace of God” that really does guard our heart and mind.
21 Prayer helps us to build our friendship with Jehovah. Therefore, let us “pray constantly.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) We should keep strengthening our friendship with God and do what he requires of us. And let us take time to think about the blessings we enjoy because Jehovah truly is our Father, our God, and our Friend.