Are You Imitating Our Impartial God?
IMPARTIALITY—where can it be found? There is One who is totally impartial, free from prejudice, favoritism, and discrimination. He is Jehovah God, the Creator of mankind. However, concerning humans, 19th-century English writer Charles Lamb candidly wrote: “I am, in plainer words, a bundle of prejudices—made up of likings and dislikings.”
When it comes to impartiality, human relations leave much to be desired. Many centuries ago wise King Solomon of Israel observed that “man has dominated man to his injury.” (Ecclesiastes 8:9) Racial hatred, national conflicts, and family feuds continue to proliferate. Therefore, is it realistic to believe that, on their own, humans can develop an impartial society?
Conscious effort is needed to control our attitudes and rid ourselves of any deep-rooted prejudices. (Ephesians 4:22-24) Without realizing it we may tend to carry attitudes that were formed by our social and educational environment and that were rooted in our family, racial, and national backgrounds. These seemingly mild inclinations are often deep-seated and promote attitudes that lead to being partial. Scottish jurist and editor Lord Francis Jeffrey even admitted: “There is nothing respecting which a man may be so long unconscious, as of the extent and strength of his prejudices.”
Lena* is one person who admits that conscious effort is needed to fight the inclination to be partial. To stifle feelings of prejudice within oneself, she says, “takes a lot of work because upbringing is a very strong influence.” Lena also acknowledges that constant reminders are needed.
Jehovah’s Record of Impartiality
Jehovah is a perfect example of impartiality. From the opening pages of the Bible, we read how he manifested his impartiality in his dealings with humans. We can learn much from these excellent examples and reminders.
Jehovah showed impartiality in maneuvering matters so that the Jewish apostle Peter proclaimed the good news to Cornelius and other Gentiles in 36 C.E. At that time Peter said: “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:34, 35.
In all his dealings with the human family, Jehovah has consistently demonstrated his impartiality. Christ Jesus said of his Father: “He makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) Further extolling Jehovah as an impartial God, Peter testified: “He is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.”—2 Peter 3:9.
In Noah’s day, when “the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time,” Jehovah decreed the destruction of that world of mankind. (Genesis 6:5-7, 11, 12) However, at God’s command and in full view of his contemporaries, Noah built an ark. While he and his sons constructed the ark, Noah was also “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5) Despite knowing the wicked heart inclination of that generation, Jehovah impartially sent them a clear message. He appealed to their minds and hearts by having Noah build and preach. They had every opportunity to respond, but instead they “took no note until the flood came and swept them all away.”—Matthew 24:39.
What an excellent example of Jehovah’s impartiality! In these critical last days, it moves God’s servants to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom with the same impartiality. Furthermore, they do not hold back from declaring the day of Jehovah’s vengeance. In full public view, they present Jehovah’s message without partiality for everyone to hear.—Isaiah 61:1, 2.
Jehovah’s promises to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made it evident that he is an impartial God. Through their specific family line would come the appointed One by whom ‘all nations of the earth would certainly bless themselves.’ (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; 28:14) Christ Jesus proved to be that appointed One. By means of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jehovah provided the way of salvation for all obedient mankind. Yes, the benefits of Christ’s ransom sacrifice are available without partiality.
In the days of Moses, Jehovah’s impartiality manifested itself in a most interesting way in connection with the daughters of Zelophehad. These five women faced a dilemma pertaining to the inheritance of their father in the Promised Land. This was so because it was customary in Israel for land inheritance to be passed on through a man’s sons. However, Zelophehad died without leaving a son to receive an inheritance. The five daughters of Zelophehad therefore brought their request for impartial treatment before Moses, saying: “Why should the name of our father be taken away from the midst of his family because he had no son? O give us a possession in the midst of our father’s brothers.” Jehovah listened to their pleas and instructed Moses: “In case any man should die without his having a son, you must then cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter.”—Numbers 27:1-11.
What a loving impartial precedent! To ensure that the tribal inheritance not be passed on to another tribe when the daughters got married, they were required to marry only in “the family of the tribe of their fathers.”—Numbers 36:5-12.
Further insight into Jehovah’s impartiality is seen in the days of the judge and prophet Samuel. Jehovah commissioned him to anoint a new king of the tribe of Judah in the family of Jesse the Bethlehemite. But Jesse had eight sons. Who would be anointed as king? Samuel was impressed by Eliab’s physical stature. However, Jehovah is not swayed by outward appearances. He told Samuel: “Do not look at his appearance and at the height of his stature . . . For not the way man sees is the way God sees, because mere man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.” David, the youngest son of Jesse, was chosen.—1 Samuel 16:1, 6-13.
Learning From Jehovah’s Impartiality
Christian elders do well to imitate Jehovah by looking at the spiritual qualities of a fellow believer. It is easy to judge an individual by our own standards, allowing our personal feelings to obscure our judgment. As one elder put it, “I try to deal with others in a way that pleases Jehovah, not based on my own preconceived ideas.” How beneficial it is for all of Jehovah’s servants to use his Word as their standard!
The foregoing Biblical examples help us fight lingering feelings of racial or nationalistic prejudice. By imitating Jehovah’s impartiality, we protect the Christian congregation from prejudice, discrimination, and favoritism.
The apostle Peter learned that “God is not partial.” (Acts 10:34) Favoritism is an enemy of impartiality and violates the principles of love and unity. Jesus appealed to the poor, the weak, and the lowly, and he made their load light. (Matthew 11:28-30) He stood out in sharp contrast to the Jewish religious leaders, who lorded it over the people, burdening them with a heavy load of rules. (Luke 11:45, 46) Doing this and showing favoritism to the rich and prominent certainly did not harmonize with Christ’s teachings.—James 2:1-4, 9.
Today, Christian elders submit to Christ’s headship and show impartiality to all of Jehovah’s dedicated people. As they ‘shepherd the flock of God in their care,’ they refrain from showing favoritism because of economic status, personality differences, or family ties. (1 Peter 5:2) By imitating the impartial God and heeding his warning against acts of favoritism, Christian elders promote the spirit of impartiality in the congregation.
The Christian congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is an international brotherhood. It is living evidence that a prejudice-free, impartial society can be a reality under the direction of Jesus Christ. The Witnesses have “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” (Ephesians 4:24) Yes, they are learning from the perfect example of the impartial God, Jehovah, and have the prospect of eternal life in the new world free of all partiality.—2 Peter 3:13.
A substitute name.
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The apostle Peter learned that God is not partial