“The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice.”—DEUTERONOMY 32:4.
1. How did Abraham show that he trusted in Jehovah’s justice? (See opening picture.)
“WILL the Judge of all the earth not do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25) The faithful man Abraham did not ask that question because he was in doubt. Instead, his question showed that he was confident that Jehovah would judge the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with perfect justice. He was convinced that Jehovah would never put “the righteous man to death with the wicked one.” That was “unthinkable” to Abraham. Later, Jehovah said of himself: “The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness who is never unjust; righteous and upright is he.”—Deuteronomy 31:19; 32:4.
2. Why is it impossible for Jehovah to be unjust?
2 Why was Abraham confident that Jehovah would always do what is right? Because Jehovah is the greatest example of justice and righteousness. In fact, the words “justice” and “righteousness” are often used together in the Hebrew Scriptures because they have similar meanings. So since Jehovah’s standards are always right, he will always judge matters correctly. The Bible says: “He loves righteousness and justice.”—Psalm 33:5.
3. Give an example of injustice in the world today.
3 It is comforting to know that Jehovah is always fair. However, the world today is full of injustice. For example, people have been convicted and sent to prison for crimes that they did not commit. As a result of DNA tests, some have eventually been found innocent, but only after spending many years in prison. Such injustices cause frustration and anger. However, there is another type of injustice that may be even more difficult to endure. What is it?
INJUSTICE INSIDE THE CONGREGATION
4. How might a Christian’s faith be tested?
4 Christians expect to experience some injustice outside the Christian congregation. However, our faith may be tested if we notice or experience something that seems to be unjust inside the congregation. If this happens, how will you react? Will you allow it to stumble you?
5. Why should it not surprise us if we observe or experience injustice in the congregation?
5 All of us are imperfect and make mistakes, so it is possible that someone could be unfair to us or that we could be unfair to someone else in the congregation. (1 John 1:8) Even though this rarely happens, faithful Christians are not surprised or stumbled when an injustice takes place. Jehovah has given us practical advice in the Bible to help us remain faithful if we experience injustice from one of our brothers or sisters.—Psalm 55:12-14.
6, 7. What injustice did one brother experience in the congregation, and what qualities helped him?
6 Consider the experience of Willi Diehl. Beginning in 1931, Brother Diehl served faithfully at Bethel in Bern, Switzerland. In 1946, he attended the eighth class of Gilead School in New York, U.S.A. After graduation, he was eventually assigned to the circuit work in Switzerland. In his life story, Brother Diehl said that in May 1949, he informed the Switzerland branch that he planned to get married. The responsible brothers told him that they were taking away all his privileges. He would only be allowed to pioneer. “I was not permitted to give talks,” said Brother Diehl. “Many no longer greeted us, treating us like disfellowshipped persons.”
7 How did Brother Diehl react? He said: “We knew, however, that getting married was not unscriptural, so we took refuge in prayer and put our trust in Jehovah.” Even though some brothers did not understand Jehovah’s view of marriage, in time their understanding was corrected, and Brother Diehl got his privileges back. Jehovah rewarded his loyalty.* (See footnote.) Let us ask ourselves: ‘If I experienced such injustice, would I also be patient and wait on Jehovah to correct the situation? Or would I rely on myself and try to fight the injustice?’—Proverbs 11:2; read Micah 7:7.
It is important to remember that we are imperfect and may have misunderstood the situation
8. Why might we mistakenly think that we or others have been victims of injustice?
8 If you feel that there has been some injustice in the congregation, remember that you could be mistaken. Why? We are imperfect and may have misunderstood the situation. We also may not have all the facts. But whether our understanding is correct or not, we must pray to Jehovah about the situation, rely on him, and remain loyal. This will prevent us from becoming “enraged against Jehovah.”—Read Proverbs 19:3.
9. What examples will we consider in this article and in the next?
9 Let us learn from three instances of injustice that Jehovah’s people experienced in Bible times. In this article, we will consider Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph and his experience with his brothers. In the next article, we will discuss the way Jehovah treated King Ahab and the apostle Peter’s experience in Syrian Antioch. As we discuss these examples, look for ways that you can stay focused on Jehovah and preserve your relationship with him, especially when you believe that you have been treated unfairly.
JOSEPH WAS A VICTIM OF INJUSTICE
10, 11. (a) What injustices did Joseph experience? (b) What opportunity did Joseph have while he was in prison?
10 Joseph was a faithful servant of Jehovah who experienced injustice from strangers. But what hurt him the most was the injustice from his own brothers. When Joseph was 17 years old, his brothers kidnapped him and sold him as a slave. Then he was taken to Egypt. (Genesis 37:23-28; 42:21) Later, in that foreign country, Joseph was falsely accused of trying to rape a woman and was sent to prison without a trial. (Genesis 39:17-20) Joseph’s suffering as a slave and as a prisoner lasted for about 13 years. What lessons can we learn from Joseph’s experience that will help us if we experience injustice from our brothers?
11 While Joseph was in prison, the chief cupbearer of the king was also sent to prison. One night, the cupbearer had a dream, which Jehovah helped Joseph to interpret. Joseph explained that the cupbearer would be released from prison and would serve Pharaoh again. Then Joseph took the opportunity to explain his situation to the man. We can learn much not only from what Joseph said but also from what he did not say.—Genesis 40:5-13.
12, 13. (a) How do we know that Joseph did not simply accept the injustice? (b) What did Joseph not tell the cupbearer?
12 Read Genesis 40:14, 15. Notice that Joseph said he had been “kidnapped.” The word the Bible uses here can also mean “stolen.” Obviously, he was the victim of injustice. Joseph also said clearly that he was not guilty of the crime that he was accused of. That is why he asked the cupbearer to mention him to Pharaoh. What was his goal? He said: “In order to get me out of this place.”
13 Did Joseph simply accept his situation without trying to do something about it? No! Joseph knew that he was the victim of many injustices. That is why he explained his situation to the cupbearer, hoping that the man would be able to help him. But note that the Scriptures do not say that Joseph ever told anyone, not even Pharaoh, that his brothers were the kidnappers. In fact, when his brothers came to Egypt and made peace with Joseph, Pharaoh welcomed them and invited them to live in Egypt and to enjoy “the best of all the land.”—Genesis 45:16-20.
14. What will protect us from saying something hurtful if we experience injustice in the congregation?
14 If we think that we have experienced injustice in the congregation, we must be very careful not to gossip about the situation. Of course, we should ask for help from the elders and tell them if a brother has committed a serious sin. (Leviticus 5:1) However, in many cases that do not involve a serious sin, it may be possible to make peace with a brother without telling anyone else, not even the elders. (Read Matthew 5:23, 24; 18:15.) Let us be loyal and apply Bible principles in these situations. Sometimes we may realize that we have misunderstood the situation and that we were not the victim of an injustice after all. Then we would be grateful that we did not make the situation worse by saying bad things about our brother! Remember that whether we are right or wrong, saying something hurtful will never improve a situation. Loyalty to Jehovah and to our brothers will protect us from making such a mistake. The psalmist said that there is “one who is walking faultlessly.” Such a person “does not slander with his tongue, he does nothing bad to his neighbor.”—Psalm 15:2, 3; James 3:5.
REMEMBER YOUR MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP
15. How was Joseph’s relationship with Jehovah a blessing?
15 We can learn another important lesson from Joseph. During the 13 years he suffered injustice, Joseph showed that he had Jehovah’s view of matters. (Genesis 45:5-8) He never blamed Jehovah for his situation. Of course, Joseph did not forget the injustice he suffered, but he did not become bitter. Most important, he did not allow the imperfections and wrong actions of others to separate him from Jehovah. Joseph’s loyalty gave him the opportunity to see Jehovah correct the injustice and bless him and his family.
Joseph did not allow the imperfections and wrong actions of others to separate him from Jehovah
16. Why should we draw even closer to Jehovah if we experience injustice in the congregation?
16 In a similar way, we must cherish and protect our relationship with Jehovah. We should never allow the imperfections of our brothers to separate us from the God we love and worship. (Romans 8:38, 39) Instead, if we experience injustice in the congregation, let us imitate Joseph and draw even closer to Jehovah. Try to have His view of matters. After we have done all that we can to solve the problem by following Bible principles, we need to leave the matter in Jehovah’s hands. We can be confident that he will correct the matter in his own time and way.
TRUST “THE JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH”
17. How can we show that we have confidence in “the Judge of all the earth”?
17 As long as we live in this wicked world, we can expect to experience injustices. At rare times, you or someone you know may experience or observe what seems to be an injustice in the congregation. Do not be stumbled. (Psalm 119:165) Instead, remain loyal to God, pray to him for help, and rely on him. Remember that because of imperfection, you may have misunderstood the situation, and you probably do not have all the facts. Imitate Joseph’s example and avoid negative speech, which can make a bad situation worse. Finally, rather than relying on yourself, be determined to remain loyal and wait patiently for Jehovah to correct the matter. Then you will have Jehovah’s approval and blessing, as Joseph did. You can be sure that Jehovah, “the Judge of all the earth,” will always do what is right, “for all his ways are justice.”—Genesis 18:25; Deuteronomy 32:4.
18. What will we consider in the next article?
18 In the next article, we will consider two more examples of injustice among Jehovah’s people in Bible times. These examples will help us to see how humility and forgiveness will help us to imitate Jehovah’s view of justice.
See Willi Diehl’s life story, “Jehovah Is My God, in Whom I Will Trust,” in the November 1, 1991, issue of The Watchtower.