“Become imitators of God, as beloved children.”—EPH. 5:1.
1. (a) What qualities of Jehovah might a Christian consider? (b) How will we benefit from examining God’s qualities?
WHEN you think of Jehovah’s personality, what qualities come to mind? Many of us think of love, justice, wisdom, and power. Yet, we realize that Jehovah possesses many endearing qualities. In fact, a list could be made of more than 40 different qualities of Jehovah, each of which has been discussed in our publications. Just imagine what a treasure of fascinating facts about Jehovah’s personality is waiting to be discovered through our personal or family study! In what ways can we benefit from such a study? It can deepen our appreciation for our heavenly Father. In turn, the deeper our appreciation for Jehovah, the stronger our desire to draw close to him and to imitate him.—Josh. 23:8; Ps. 73:28.
2. (a) Illustrate how we may deepen our appreciation for Jehovah’s qualities. (b) What will we be considering?
2 What, however, does it mean to “appreciate” something? As we will use the word here, it means to recognize the proper value of something. Appreciation may deepen gradually. To illustrate: Our appreciation for a new dish becomes deeper as we first smell its aroma, then savor each morsel of it, and finally prepare the dish ourselves. Similarly, we deepen our appreciation for a quality of Jehovah by getting acquainted with it, reflecting on it, and then imitating it in our own life. (Eph. 5:1) The objective of this article and the following two articles is to deepen our appreciation for God’s qualities that we may think of less often than his principal attributes. In the case of each, we will consider: What is its meaning? How does Jehovah demonstrate it? And how can we imitate Jehovah in showing this particular quality?
JEHOVAH IS APPROACHABLE
3, 4. (a) How would you describe someone who is approachable? (b) How does Jehovah assure us that he is approachable?
3 Let us first take up the quality of approachableness. How would you describe an individual who is approachable? You might say, ‘Someone who is kind, readily available, and easy to talk to.’ You can often discern whether a person is approachable or not by listening to what he says and by observing his body language—gestures, facial expressions, and other nonverbal signs.
4 How does Jehovah demonstrate that he is approachable? Although he is the almighty Creator of our vast universe, Jehovah assures us that he is willing and eager to listen to our prayers and to respond to them. (Read Psalm 145:18; Isaiah 30:18, 19.) We can speak to God at length at any time or place. We can approach him freely, knowing that he will never reproach us for doing so. (Ps. 65:2; Jas. 1:5) God’s Word describes Jehovah in human terms to indicate that he wants to be approached. For instance, the psalmist David wrote that “the eyes of Jehovah are toward” us and that his “right hand keeps fast hold” on us. (Ps. 34:15; 63:8) The prophet Isaiah likened Jehovah to a shepherd, saying: “With his arm he will collect together the lambs; and in his bosom he will carry them.” (Isa. 40:11) Just imagine! Jehovah wants us to be as close to him as a little lamb nestled in the bosom of a caring shepherd. What an approachable Father we have! How can we imitate Jehovah in this regard?
A HIGHLY VALUED QUALITY
5. Why is it important for elders to be approachable?
5 Not long ago, zealous Witnesses living on different continents were asked, “Which quality do you value most in an elder?” The overwhelming majority answered, “Being approachable.” Granted, each Christian needs to develop that quality to the full, but it is especially important for elders to be approachable. (Isa. 32:1, 2) Commenting on a reason why she felt that this quality is so important, one sister noted: “Only if an elder is approachable will we be able to benefit from any other fine qualities he may have.” Do you see the logic of that observation? But what makes a person approachable?
6. What is a key to being approachable?
6 A key to being approachable is showing genuine interest in others. If an elder cares about others and is willing to give of himself in their behalf, his brothers and sisters, including young ones, will likely sense this attitude. (Mark 10:13-16) Says 12-year-old Carlos: “I watch the elders in the hall smiling and being kind, and I like that about them.” Of course, it is not enough for an elder to say that he is approachable; he should manifest that quality. (1 John 3:18) How can he do that?
7. Why does wearing a convention badge often trigger a conversation, and what lesson can we learn from that?
7 Think of this comparison. Not long ago, a brother wore his convention badge when traveling home by airplane after attending a convention abroad. When the flight attendant saw the badge with the words “Let God’s Kingdom Come!” he said to the brother, “Yes, let it come—we have to talk some more about this.” Later, they had a conversation, and the attendant gladly accepted our magazines. Many of us have had similar experiences. Now, why does a convention badge often trigger a conversation? Because in a sense, it tells people: “Feel free to approach me. Ask me where I’m going.” The badge is a visible sign that lets people know that we are willing to share our beliefs. Similarly, Christian elders want to give visible signs that tell their fellow believers: “Feel free to approach me.” What are some of those signs?
8. How do elders signal their genuine interest in others, and how does that affect the congregation?
8 Customs may vary from land to land, but usually when we give our brothers and sisters a warm smile, a welcoming handshake, a relaxed greeting, we are signaling that we are genuinely interested in them. Who should take the initiative in this? Note the example Jesus set. Matthew reports that at a meeting with his disciples, “Jesus approached and spoke to them.” (Matt. 28:18) Likewise, elders today take the initiative to approach their fellow believers and speak to them. How can that affect the congregation? An 88-year-old pioneer sister observed: “The warm smiles and encouraging comments I receive from the elders when I enter the Kingdom Hall endear them to me.” Another faithful sister added: “It may be viewed as a little thing, but when an elder welcomes me to the meeting with a smile, it means a lot to me.”
APPROACHABLE AND AVAILABLE
9, 10. (a) What fine example does Jehovah set? (b) How can elders make themselves available to others?
9 Obviously, we cannot be approached if we are not available. Jehovah sets a fine example in that regard. “He is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27) One way in which elders make themselves available to others is by setting aside time before and after Christian meetings to converse with their brothers and sisters—young and old. A pioneer brother noted: “When an elder asks how I’m doing and then stops to listen to my answer, I feel appreciated.” A sister who has been serving Jehovah for nearly 50 years commented: “Elders who take some time to talk to me after the meeting make me feel valued.”
10 Understandably, Christian shepherds also need to care for other duties. It should be a goal at meetings, though, first to give attention to the sheep.
JEHOVAH IS IMPARTIAL
11, 12. (a) What is involved in being impartial? (b) How is Jehovah an example for us as to impartiality?
11 Impartiality is another of Jehovah’s endearing qualities. What does it mean to be impartial? It involves being fair, free from having or showing bias or favoritism. Genuine impartiality has two elements: attitude and actions. Why are both needed? Because only if someone is impartial in his outlook will he be moved to treat all with impartiality. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the expression “not partial” literally means not a “taker of faces,” that is, not favoring one face over another. (Acts 10:34; Kingdom Interlinear) Hence, one who is impartial will pay due regard, not to an individual’s outward appearance or circumstances, but to his or her character as a person.
12 Jehovah is the greatest example of impartiality. His Word states that he “is not partial” and that he “treats none with partiality.” (Read Acts 10:34, 35; Deuteronomy 10:17.) A situation that arose in Moses’ day demonstrates that.
13, 14. (a) The five daughters of Zelophehad faced what situation? (b) How did Jehovah demonstrate impartiality?
13 Just before the Israelites were to enter the Promised Land, five unmarried fleshly sisters faced a dilemma. What was it? They knew that their family, like other Israelite families, would receive a piece of land that had been allotted to their father. (Num. 26:52-55) However, their father, Zelophehad of the tribe of Manasseh, had died. According to custom, the right to take possession of the land would be passed to Zelophehad’s sons, but he had only daughters. (Num. 26:33) With no son in the family to receive the land, would the family’s land be handed to relatives and the daughters be left without a family inheritance?
14 The five sisters approached Moses and asked him: “Why should the name of our father be taken away from the midst of his family because he had no son?” They pleaded: “O give us a possession in the midst of our father’s brothers.” Did Moses react by saying, ‘There are no exceptions to the rule’? No, he “presented their case before Jehovah.” (Num. 27:2-5) What was the response? Jehovah told Moses: “The daughters of Zelophehad are speaking right. By all means you should give them the possession of an inheritance in the midst of their father’s brothers, and you must cause their father’s inheritance to pass to them.” Jehovah went further. He turned the exception into a rule, instructing Moses: “In case any man should die without his having a son, you must then cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter.” (Num. 27:6-8; Josh. 17:1-6) From then on, all Israelite women who faced the same plight would be protected.
15. (a) How does Jehovah treat his people, especially those who are vulnerable? (b) What other Bible accounts illustrate that Jehovah is impartial?
15 What a kind and impartial decision that was! Jehovah treated these women, who were in a vulnerable position, with dignity, as he did Israelites who had more favorable circumstances. (Ps. 68:5) This is just one of many Bible accounts that illustrate this heartwarming truth: Jehovah treats all of his servants with impartiality.—1 Sam. 16:1-13; Acts 10:30-35, 44-48.
WE CAN IMITATE JEHOVAH
16. How can we develop and strengthen our impartiality?
16 How can we imitate Jehovah’s impartiality? Remember, impartiality has two aspects. Only if we are impartial will we treat others without partiality. True, all of us like to think of ourselves as being open-minded and impartial. You will likely agree, though, that it is not always easy to evaluate our own feelings objectively. So, what could we do to find out if we are known as being unbiased? Well, when Jesus was interested in knowing what people were saying about him, he asked his trusted friends: “Who are men saying the Son of man is?” (Matt. 16:13, 14) Why not follow Jesus in that? You could ask some friend whom you can count on for candor whether you have a reputation for being impartial. If he or she concedes that there seem to be some lingering traces of racial, social, or economic partiality, what should you do? Pray earnestly to Jehovah about your feelings, begging him to help you adjust your attitude so that it will reflect his impartiality to a fuller degree.—Matt. 7:7; Col. 3:10, 11.
17. In what ways can we treat others impartially?
17 In the Christian congregation, we express our desire to imitate Jehovah’s impartiality by treating all our brothers and sisters with dignity and loving-kindness. For instance, when it comes to showing hospitality, we want to invite all sorts of fellow believers, including those whose background differs from ours as well as those who are poor, orphaned, or widowed. (Read Galatians 2:10; James 1:27.) Further, in the Kingdom-preaching work, we share the good news impartially with people of all backgrounds, including those from foreign countries. How happy we are that we have access to Bible literature in some 600 languages. What a tangible proof of impartiality!
18. How will you personally demonstrate that you appreciate Jehovah’s approachableness and impartiality?
18 Indeed, as we take time to reflect on how approachable and impartial Jehovah is, our appreciation for him deepens. Deepened appreciation, in turn, ought to move us to imitate Jehovah’s qualities to the full, demonstrating them in our dealings with fellow believers and with those to whom we preach.