“Become imitators of God, as beloved children.”
1. What ability can help us to imitate Jehovah?
JEHOVAH created us with the ability to understand how other people feel, even if we have never been in their situation. (Read Ephesians 5:1, 2.) How can this ability help us to imitate Jehovah? And why do we need to be careful of how we use this ability?
2. How does Jehovah react when we suffer?
2 Jehovah has promised us a wonderful future without any suffering. Both the anointed and the “other sheep” can look forward to everlasting life, whether in heaven or on earth. (John 10:16; 17:3; 1 Corinthians 15:53) But Jehovah understands the pain we feel when bad things happen to us today. In the past, Jehovah felt hurt when his people suffered in Egypt. “It was distressing to him.” (Isaiah 63:9) And later, when his people were rebuilding his temple and were afraid of their enemies, Jehovah understood how they felt. He told them: “Whoever touches you touches the pupil of my eye.” (Zechariah 2:8) Just as a mother feels love for her baby, Jehovah feels love for his servants and wants to help them. (Isaiah 49:15) We imitate Jehovah’s love when we try to understand how others feel by imagining ourselves in their situation.
JESUS IMITATED JEHOVAH AND LOVED PEOPLE
3. How did Jesus feel about people?
3 Jesus understood how people felt when they were suffering, even though he had never been in their situation. For example, he knew that many people had a hard life. The religious leaders lied to them and made many rules that were not from God. People were afraid of these leaders. (Matthew 23:4; Mark 7:1-5; John 7:13) Even though Jesus was never afraid of them and never believed their lies, he could understand how the people felt. It hurt Jesus deeply when he saw how badly they were treated. They were left without help, “like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Jesus learned from his Father to love people and be “merciful and compassionate.”
4. When Jesus saw people suffering, how did he react?
4 When Jesus saw that people were suffering, he helped them because he loved them. He was just like his Father. For example, one time after Jesus’ apostles had traveled a long way to preach, they were tired and needed to rest in a quiet place. But Jesus saw many people waiting for him. He understood that they needed his help, so he “started to teach them many things.”
BE LOVING LIKE JEHOVAH
5, 6. If we want to be loving like Jehovah, what must we do? Give an example. (See opening picture.)
5 If we want to be loving like Jehovah, what must we do? Think about this situation. There is a young brother called Alan. He is thinking about an older brother who cannot walk well and who has bad eyesight. Alan thinks of Jesus’ words: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.” (Luke 6:31) So Alan asks himself, ‘What do I want others to do to me?’ He says, ‘I really want them to play ball with me!’ But this older brother cannot run and play ball. So, what Alan really needs to ask himself is, ‘If I were that brother, what would I want others to do to me?’
6 Although Alan is still young, he tries to imagine how he would feel if he were old. He spends time with the older brother and listens carefully when he speaks. Then he begins to understand that it is difficult for the brother to read the Bible and walk from house to house in the ministry. Alan sees how he can help him and wants to do whatever he can for him. When we understand how other people feel and show them love, we will be like Jehovah.
7. How can we understand what our brothers are experiencing?
7 It is not always easy to understand what other people are experiencing, especially if we have never been in their situation. For example, many of our brothers are in pain because they are sick or have been injured or because they are getting older. Some are suffering deeply because of depression or extreme anxiety or because they were abused in the past. Others are raising children alone or have family members who are not serving Jehovah. Everyone has problems, and most of those problems are different from ours. But we want to show love to others and help them. So, what can we do? Each person might need something different. So if we listen carefully and keep trying to understand how that person feels, we will know the best way to help him. Perhaps we can remind him of how Jehovah feels about his problem. Or we may be able to give him help in other ways. When we do this, we imitate Jehovah.
BE KIND LIKE JEHOVAH
8. What helped Jesus to be kind?
8 Jehovah is kind to all people. (Luke 6:35) And Jesus is just like his Father. What helped Jesus to be kind to people when he was on earth? He imagined how they would feel about what he might say or do. For example, a woman who had done many bad things came to Jesus. She was crying so much that her tears fell on Jesus’ feet. Jesus could see that she felt very sorry about the bad things she had done and that she had repented. He realized that if he was unkind to her, she would feel even worse. So he praised her for the good she did and forgave her. Jesus also spoke kindly to a Pharisee who did not agree with what he had done for this woman.
Before making a decision, we can imagine how it might affect us or others
9. What can help us to be kind like Jehovah? Give an example.
9 How can we be kind like Jehovah? We need to think before we say or do something so that we are gentle with others and do not hurt their feelings. Paul wrote that a Christian “does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all.” (2 Timothy 2:24) For example, think about how you can be kind in these situations: If your employer is not doing his job well, what will you do? If a brother who has not been to the Kingdom Hall for many months comes to the meeting, what will you say to him? If you are preaching and someone says that he is too busy to talk to you, how can you be kind to him? If your wife asks you why you did not tell her about some plans you made, will you speak to her in a kind way? We need to imagine how others are feeling and how our words might affect them. Then we will know what we should say and do to be kind like Jehovah.
BE WISE LIKE JEHOVAH
10, 11. How can we learn from Jehovah and be wise? Give an example.
10 Jehovah is incredibly wise, and he can choose to see what will happen in the future. Although we do not know the future, we too can be wise. How? Before making a decision, we can imagine how it might affect us or others. We should not be like the Israelites. They did not think about what would happen to them if they disobeyed Jehovah. And they did not think about their relationship with him and all that he had done for them. Because Moses realized this, he knew that the Israelites were going to do what was bad. He said: “They are a nation devoid of sense, and there is no understanding among them. If only they were wise! They would ponder over this. They would think about their outcome.”
11 For example, if you are dating, remember that when you are attracted to someone, it is difficult to control your feelings and sexual desires. So do not do anything that could harm your precious relationship with Jehovah! Instead, be wise and avoid danger. Listen to Jehovah’s wise counsel: “The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals himself, but the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences.”
CONTROL WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT
12. How could what we think about harm us?
12 A wise person controls what he is thinking about. Our thoughts can help us or harm us, just as fire can help us or harm us. When we are careful with a fire, we can use it to cook food. But if we are not careful, a fire can burn down our house and even kill us. It is similar with our thoughts. When we think about things we learn from Jehovah, it is good for us. But if we keep thinking about sexual immorality and imagining ourselves doing bad things, we will desire these things so much that we may actually do them. That might end our friendship with Jehovah.
13. What did Eve imagine about her life?
13 We can learn from the example of the first woman, Eve. Jehovah had commanded Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” (Genesis 2:16, 17) But Satan told Eve: “You certainly will not die. For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” Eve imagined how much better her life would be if she could decide for herself what was good and what was bad. She kept thinking about this and “saw that the tree was good for food and that it was something desirable to the eyes.” What happened then? “She began taking of its fruit and eating it. Afterward, she also gave some to her husband when he was with her, and he began eating it.” (Genesis 3:1-6) As a result, “sin entered into the world and death through sin.” (Romans 5:12) Eve should not have kept thinking about doing what was wrong!
14. What warnings does the Bible give us about sexual immorality?
14 Of course, Eve’s sin did not involve sexual immorality. But the Bible clearly warns us not to keep imagining ourselves doing anything sexually immoral. Jesus said: “Everyone who keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) Also, Paul warned: “Do not be planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.”
15. What treasures should we focus on, and why?
15 The Bible also says that we should focus on pleasing Jehovah and not keep thinking about getting rich. Even if someone is rich, his money cannot really protect him. (Proverbs 18:11) Jesus said that a person is foolish if he stores up many treasures for himself but does not keep Jehovah first in his life. He is “not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21) When we store up “treasures in heaven” by doing things that please Jehovah, we make him happy and we feel happy too. (Matthew 6:20; Proverbs 27:11) And a good relationship with Jehovah is more valuable than anything else.
DO NOT KEEP WORRYING
16. What can help us when we worry?
16 If we try to get rich in this world, it will bring us a lot of worries. (Matthew 6:19) Jesus said that those who always worry about money will find it difficult to keep God’s Kingdom first in their lives. (Matthew 13:18, 19, 22) Also, some people worry all the time about bad things that might happen to them. But if we keep worrying, we might become sick or even start to lose faith in Jehovah. Instead, we must trust that Jehovah will help us. The Bible says that “anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.” (Proverbs 12:25) So if you are worried about something, talk to someone who serves Jehovah and who knows you well. A parent, your husband or wife, or a good friend can encourage you to trust in Jehovah and help you feel less worried.
When you are worried, pray to Jehovah and think of the help that he gives you
17. How can Jehovah help us when we are worried?
17 Jehovah understands how we feel better than anyone else and can help us to feel calmer when we are worried. Paul wrote: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; and 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) So when you are worried, think of the help that Jehovah gives you to keep your friendship with him strong, such as the help from your brothers and sisters, the elders, the faithful slave, the angels, and Jesus.
18. How can our ability to imagine things help us?
18 As we have learned, we imitate Jehovah when we use our ability to understand how other people feel. (1 Timothy 1:11; 1 John 4:8) We will be happy when we show love and kindness to others, when we think about the results of what we do, and when we avoid always worrying. Let us imagine what life will be like under Kingdom rule and do our best to imitate Jehovah.