“The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice.”—DEUT. 32:4.
SONGS: 2, 11
1. How did Abraham express confidence in Jehovah’s sense of justice? (See opening picture.)
“WILL the Judge of all the earth not do what is right?” (Gen. 18:25) With that question, Abraham expressed confidence that Jehovah would render perfect justice in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham was convinced that Jehovah would never act unjustly by “putting the righteous man to death with the wicked one.” Such an act was “unthinkable” to Abraham. Some 400 years 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.”—Deut. 31:19; 32:4.
2. Why can it be said that Jehovah is incapable of injustice?
2 Why could Abraham express confidence that Jehovah would always render a righteous judgment? Because Jehovah is the greatest example of justice and righteousness. In fact, the Hebrew words rendered “justice” and “righteousness” often appear together in the Hebrew Scriptures. Basically, there is no distinction between what is just and what is right. Logically, since Jehovah is the ultimate standard of righteousness, his view of matters will always be just. Further, according to his own written Word, “he loves righteousness and justice.”—Ps. 33:5.
3. Relate an example of injustice in today’s world.
3 Honesthearted ones are comforted by the knowledge that Jehovah is always just, for the world is saturated with injustice. As a result, individuals have at times become the victims of gross wrongs. For example, some people have been unjustly convicted and imprisoned. Only with the introduction of DNA evidence in a review of the case have some been freed after spending decades in prison for crimes they did not commit. While such wrongful imprisonments are a cause of frustration and even anger, Christians may find another type of injustice even more difficult to bear.
IN 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 put to the test if we observe or experience what seems to be an injustice inside the congregation. How will you react if you believe that you have experienced some wrong in the congregation or in your dealings with a fellow Christian? Will you allow that to be a cause for stumbling?
5. Why should it come as no surprise if a Christian observes or experiences injustice in the congregation?
5 Because all of us are imperfect and subject to sin, we realize that there is a possibility that we could either experience injustice ourselves or be the cause of it for someone else in the congregation. (1 John 1:8) Although such instances are rare, faithful Christians are not surprised or stumbled when injustices do occur. For good reason, Jehovah has provided practical advice in his Word to assist us to maintain our integrity, even if we experience wrongs at the hands of fellow believers.—Ps. 55:12-14.
6, 7. What injustice did one brother experience in the congregation, and what qualities helped him to handle the matter properly?
6 Consider the experience of Willi Diehl. Beginning in 1931, Brother Diehl served faithfully at the Bethel home 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 related: “In May 1949, I informed headquarters in Bern that I planned to marry.” The response from the Bern office? “No privileges other than regular pioneering.” Brother Diehl went on to explain: “I was not permitted to give talks . . . Many no longer greeted us, treating us like disfellowshipped persons.”
7 How did Brother Diehl handle that situation? He stated: “We knew, however, that getting married was not unscriptural, so we took refuge in prayer and put our trust in Jehovah.” Eventually, the mistaken view regarding marriage that prompted the injustice was corrected, and Brother Diehl’s privileges of service were restored. His loyalty to Jehovah was rewarded. We do well to ask ourselves: ‘Would I demonstrate a similar spiritual outlook if I experienced such injustice? Would I patiently wait on Jehovah, or would I be inclined to take matters into my own hands?’—Prov. 11:2; Read Micah 7:7. See Willi Diehl’s life story, “Jehovah Is My God, in Whom I Will Trust,” in the November 1, 1991, issue of The Watchtower.
8. Why might you mistakenly conclude that you have been a victim of injustice or that someone else has been?
8 On the other hand, you could mistakenly conclude that you have been a victim of injustice or that another member of the congregation has been. This could happen because of our imperfect view of matters or because we do not have all the facts. In either case, whether our understanding of matters is accurate or mistaken, prayerful reliance on Jehovah, combined with loyalty, will prevent us from ever becoming “enraged against Jehovah.”—Read Proverbs 19:3.
9. What examples will we consider in this article and in the next?
9 Let us reflect on three examples of injustice that occurred among Jehovah’s people 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 examine Jehovah’s dealings with Israel’s King Ahab as well as the apostle Peter’s experience in Syrian Antioch. As we discuss these examples, look for lessons that will help you maintain your spiritual focus and preserve your relationship with Jehovah, especially when you believe that you have experienced injustice.
JOSEPH—VICTIM OF INJUSTICE
10, 11. (a) What injustices did Joseph experience? (b) What opportunity presented itself while Joseph was in prison?
10 Joseph, a faithful servant of Jehovah, experienced injustice, not only at the hands of outsiders but also, more painfully, at the hands of his fleshly brothers. When Joseph was in his late teens, his brothers kidnapped him and sold him as a slave. Against his will, he was taken to Egypt. (Gen. 37:23-28; 42:21) After some time in that foreign country, he was falsely accused of attempted rape and was imprisoned without a trial. (Gen. 39:17-20) His ordeal as a slave and a prisoner lasted for about 13 years. What lessons can we learn from Joseph’s experience that will help us if we face injustice at the hands of a fellow believer?
11 Joseph had an opportunity to present his case to a fellow prisoner. That prisoner was the former chief cupbearer of the king. During the time that Joseph and the cupbearer were imprisoned together, the cupbearer had a dream, which Joseph interpreted. Joseph explained that the cupbearer would be restored to his former position in Pharaoh’s court. When Joseph shared this divinely inspired interpretation, he took advantage of the opportunity to explain his own situation. We can learn valuable lessons not only from what Joseph said but also from what he did not say.—Gen. 40:5-13.
12, 13. (a) How did Joseph’s words to the cupbearer show that he did not passively accept the injustices he suffered? (b) What details did Joseph evidently not include in his conversation with the cupbearer?
12 Notice that Joseph described himself as having been “kidnapped.” The original-language term literally means that he had been “stolen.” (Genesis 40:14, 15) Clearly, he was the victim of injustice. Joseph also stated that he was not guilty of the crime for which he was imprisoned. On that basis, he asked the cupbearer to mention him to Pharaoh. Why? He explained his goal: “In order to get me out of this place.”
13 Were Joseph’s words those of a man who passively accepted his situation? Certainly not. He was keenly aware that he was the victim of many injustices. He clearly explained the facts to the cupbearer, who perhaps would be in a position to assist him. Note, however, that there is nothing in the Scriptures to indicate that Joseph ever told anyone—not even Pharaoh—that his brothers were his kidnappers. In fact, when his brothers came to Egypt and were reconciled with Joseph, Pharaoh welcomed them and invited them to make their home in Egypt and to enjoy “the best of all the land.”—Gen. 45:16-20.
14. What will protect us from the trap of negative speech even if we experience injustice in the congregation?
14 When a Christian believes that he is the victim of injustice, he should be careful not to engage in harmful gossip. Of course, it is entirely proper to seek assistance from the elders and to inform them if a member of the congregation is guilty of a serious wrong. (Lev. 5:1) However, in many cases that do not involve serious wrongdoing, it may be possible to resolve a difference without involving anyone else, not even the elders. (Read Matthew 5:23, 24; 18:15.) May we loyally handle such matters in line with Bible principles. In some cases, we may come to realize that we were not the victim of an injustice after all. How grateful we would be that we did not make a situation worse by slandering a fellow Christian! Remember, whether we are right or wrong, engaging in hurtful speech will never improve a situation. Loyalty to Jehovah and to our brothers will protect us from making such a mistake. Speaking of “the one who is walking faultlessly,” the psalmist said that “he does not slander with his tongue, he does nothing bad to his neighbor, and he does not defame his friends.”—Ps. 15:2, 3; Jas. 3:5.
REMEMBER YOUR MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP
15. How did Joseph’s relationship with Jehovah prove to be a blessing to him?
15 We find a more important lesson in Joseph’s relationship with Jehovah. Throughout his 13-year ordeal, Joseph demonstrated that he had Jehovah’s view of matters. (Gen. 45:5-8) He never blamed Jehovah for his situation. Although he did not forget the wrongs he suffered, he did not become embittered by them. 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’s hand in correcting the injustices and in blessing him and his family.
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 guard our relationship with Jehovah. Never should we allow the imperfections of our brothers to separate us from the God we love and worship. (Rom. 8:38, 39) Instead, if we experience injustice at the hands of a fellow worshipper, let us be like Joseph and draw even closer to Jehovah, striving to have his view of matters. When we have done all that we Scripturally can to remedy the situation, we need to leave the matter in Jehovah’s hands, confident that he will correct it 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 system of things, we can expect to experience injustices. On rare occasions, you or someone you know may experience or observe what seems to be an injustice in the congregation. Do not let yourself be stumbled. (Ps. 119:165) Instead, as faithful servants of God, we loyally and prayerfully rely on him. At the same time, we modestly acknowledge that we likely do not have all the facts. We are keenly aware that the fault may lie in our imperfect view of matters. As we learned from the example of Joseph, we want to avoid negative speech, knowing that such speech only makes a bad situation worse. Finally, rather than taking matters into our own hands, let us be determined to be loyal and wait patiently on Jehovah to correct matters. Such an approach is sure to bring Jehovah’s approval and blessing, just as it did in the case of Joseph. Yes, we can be certain that Jehovah, “the Judge of all the earth,” will always do what is right, “for all his ways are justice.”—Gen. 18:25; Deut. 32:4.
18. What will we consider in the next article?
18 In the next article, we will consider two additional instances of unjust treatment that occurred among Jehovah’s people in Bible times. A review of these accounts will highlight how humility and a willingness to forgive are related to Jehovah’s view of justice.