“Become imitators of God, as beloved children.”—EPHESIANS 5:1.
1. (a) What qualities of Jehovah can you think of? (b) How will a study of God’s qualities help you?
WHEN you think about Jehovah, what qualities do you think of? Maybe you think of love, justice, wisdom, and power. Of course, we know that Jehovah has many other wonderful qualities. In fact, over the years, our publications have discussed more than 40 different qualities of Jehovah. If you study each of these qualities by yourself or with your family, imagine how much you will learn about Jehovah! You will value his qualities even more. As a result, you will have a stronger desire to imitate Jehovah and to have a closer friendship with him.—Joshua 23:8; Psalm 73:28.
2. (a) Illustrate how studying about Jehovah’s qualities can help us value them even more. (b) What will we discuss in this article and in the next two articles?
2 How can you learn to value something more and more? Well, suppose you are trying a new type of food. First you notice how good it smells. Then you taste it and realize how delicious it is. And finally you cook it yourself. In a similar way, we can value a quality of Jehovah even more by first learning about the quality, then by meditating on how Jehovah shows it, and finally by imitating that quality in our lives. (Ephesians 5:1) This article as well as the next two articles will discuss some of Jehovah’s qualities. With each quality, we will discuss these questions: What does this quality mean? How does Jehovah show it? And how can we imitate Jehovah in showing this quality?
JEHOVAH IS APPROACHABLE
3, 4. (a) What does it mean to be approachable? (b) How does Jehovah show that he is approachable?
3 First let us discuss what it means to be approachable. It means to be kind, easy to talk to, and never too busy to speak to others. An approachable person’s comments, gestures, and friendly face show that he is willing to listen and help.
4 Jehovah is approachable. Even though he is the most powerful Person in the universe, he invites us to pray to him. He listens to our prayers and gives us the help we need. (Read Psalm 145:18; Isaiah 30:18, 19.) We can speak to God anywhere, at any time, and for as long as we need to. He is never irritated with us for speaking to him. (Psalm 65:2; James 1:5) The Bible describes Jehovah in a way that makes us feel comfortable talking to him in prayer. For example, David wrote that “the eyes of Jehovah are toward” us and that he supports us with his “right hand.” (Psalm 34:15; 63:8) And the prophet Isaiah said that Jehovah is like a shepherd. He wrote: “With his arm he will collect together the lambs; and in his bosom he will carry them.” (Isaiah 40:11) Just imagine! Jehovah wants us to be as close to him as a little lamb held in the arms of a loving shepherd. When we think of our Father that way, this makes us love him even more! How can we be more like Jehovah?
A VERY IMPORTANT QUALITY FOR ELDERS
5. Why is it important for elders to be approachable?
5 Recently, some Witnesses from different parts of the world were asked, “Which quality do you value most in an elder?” Most of them answered, “Being approachable.” It is true that all of us need to work on this quality, but it is especially important for elders to do so. (Isaiah 32:1, 2) Why is it so important for elders to be approachable? One sister said that she can get to know an elder’s good qualities only if he is approachable and if she feels comfortable talking to him. These words are certainly true. So how can you make others feel comfortable talking to you?
6. What is one way you can make others feel comfortable talking to you?
6 One way to do this is by showing that you really care about others and that you are willing to help them. Then the brothers and sisters, including young ones, will feel more comfortable talking to you. (Mark 10:13-16) A 12-year-old boy named Carlos says: “I watch the elders in the hall smiling and being kind, and I like that about them.” So it is not enough for an elder just to say that he is willing to listen and help. He must show it. (1 John 3:18) How can he do that?
Elders must show that they are willing to listen and help
7. Why do some people feel comfortable talking to us when we are wearing a convention badge? What can we learn from this?
7 To illustrate: Recently, a brother attended a convention in another country. When traveling home by airplane, he wore the convention badge with the words “Let God’s Kingdom Come!” A flight attendant saw the badge and said, “Let it come!” They had a nice conversation, and the man accepted our magazines. Why do people feel comfortable talking to us when we are wearing a convention badge? Because the badge makes others curious about where we are going and shows them that we are willing to talk to them about our beliefs. In a similar way, an elder must show the brothers and sisters that he is always willing to talk to them. What are some ways elders can do this?
8. How can elders show that they really care about others? How does this make those in the congregation feel?
8 In most countries, you can show that you care about your brothers and sisters by giving them a sincere smile, a kind handshake, or a friendly greeting. Who should be the first ones to do this? Well, the Bible says that when Jesus had a meeting with his disciples, he “approached and spoke to them.” (Matthew 28:18) In a similar way, elders today try to approach others and speak to them. How does this make those in the congregation feel? An 88-year-old pioneer sister said: “The warm smiles and encouraging comments I receive from the elders when I enter the Kingdom Hall endear them to me.” Another sister said: “When an elder welcomes me to the meeting with a smile, it means a lot to me.”
TAKE TIME TO TALK TO THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS
9, 10. (a) How is Jehovah a good example for us? (b) How can elders imitate Jehovah’s example?
9 Of course, if we want others to feel comfortable talking to us, we must make sure that we take time for them. Jehovah is a good example for us. The Bible says: “He is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27) One way elders can imitate Jehovah’s example is by talking to the brothers and sisters, both young and old, before and after the meetings. A pioneer brother said: “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 almost 50 years commented: “Elders who take some time to talk to me after the meeting make me feel valued.”
If you want others to feel comfortable talking to you, make sure that you take time for them
10 It is true that elders have many responsibilities. But at the meetings, they should make sure to spend time talking to the brothers and sisters.
JEHOVAH IS IMPARTIAL
11, 12. (a) What does it mean to be impartial? (b) How does the Bible show that Jehovah is impartial?
11 Another of Jehovah’s wonderful qualities is that he is impartial. (Acts 10:34) What does it mean to be impartial? It means to treat everyone fairly. But if we want to treat others impartially, we must first believe that everyone should be treated fairly. A person who is impartial does not treat certain people better than he treats others because of the way they look or how much money they have. He treats them fairly according to what kind of person they really are.
12 Jehovah is the best example of being impartial. His Word says that he “is not partial” and that he “treats none with partiality.” (Read Acts 10:34, 35; Deuteronomy 10:17.) Let us consider an example that shows this.
13, 14. (a) What problem did the five daughters of Zelophehad have? (b) How did Jehovah show that he is not partial?
13 Just before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the five daughters of a man named Zelophehad had a problem that needed to be solved. What was it? Their father had died, and they could not receive his land as an inheritance. Why? Because according to the Law, only sons could receive land. But their father died without having any sons. (Numbers 26:33, 52-55) Would the land be given to other relatives? What could Zelophehad’s daughters do?
14 They went to Moses and begged him for help, saying: “Why should the name of our father be taken away from the midst of his family because he had no son?” Did Moses react by saying, ‘That is the law, and there is nothing I can do to help you’? No, he asked Jehovah about the situation. (Numbers 27:2-5) What did Jehovah say? He 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.” And Jehovah did even more. He told Moses to include this in the Law: “In case any man should die without his having a son, you must then cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter.” (Numbers 27:6-8; Joshua 17:1-6) From then on, all Israelite women in that same situation would get an inheritance.
Imitate Jehovah by treating all your brothers and sisters with respect and kindness
15. (a) How does Jehovah treat his people, including those who have no one else to help them? (b) What other Bible stories show that Jehovah is impartial?
15 This was truly an impartial decision! Those five sisters had no one else who could help them, and Jehovah treated them fairly and with respect, as he treated all other Israelites. (Psalm 68:5) This is only one of many stories in the Bible that show that Jehovah treats his people fairly.—1 Samuel 16:1-13; Acts 10:30-35, 44-48.
WE CAN IMITATE JEHOVAH
16. How can we be impartial like Jehovah?
16 How can we be impartial like Jehovah? Remember, we will treat others impartially only if we believe that everyone should be treated fairly. Maybe you think that you are impartial. But it is sometimes hard for us to know how we really feel about others. So how can you find out if you really are impartial? Jesus is a good example for us. When he wanted to know what people were saying about him, he asked his friends: “Who are men saying the Son of man is?” (Matthew 16:13, 14) Maybe you could choose a friend who you know will be honest with you and ask him, ‘Do you think that I treat people fairly? Do others think that I am impartial?’ He might tell you, for example, that you sometimes treat people of a certain race better than others or that you are nicer to those who have more money or more education. If he tells you something like this, what should you do? Pray to Jehovah, and beg him to help you change the way you feel about others so that you can be more like him and treat everyone impartially.—Matthew 7:7; Colossians 3:10, 11.
When you invite brothers and sisters to your home, include different kinds of people
17. What are some ways we can treat others impartially?
17 In the congregation, we can imitate Jehovah by treating everyone with respect and kindness. For example, when you invite brothers and sisters to your home, you could invite those from different cultures. Or you might include those who have less money than you, those whose mates have died, or young ones who have no family in the truth. (Read Galatians 2:10; James 1:27.) In the preaching work, we talk to all kinds of people, including those from other countries. Jehovah’s organization produces Bible literature in about 600 languages. We truly have an excellent opportunity to show that we are impartial!
18. When you think about how approachable and impartial Jehovah is, what should you want to do?
18 The more we think about how approachable and impartial Jehovah is, the more we value these qualities. As a result, we should want to imitate Jehovah and show these qualities in the way we treat our brothers and those we meet in the preaching work.