“Be Rich in Right Works”
THERE was once a very foolish man, so the parable goes, who had such great wealth and possessions that he thought of tearing down his storage barns and building bigger ones. Crazed with greed he dreamed of the time when he would selfishly spend his fortune wining and dining to his body’s lustful content. But in drawing up his plans little did he figure that he would die that very night, leaving everything behind. No, not with all his glittering riches was he able to add even a single day to his life.—Luke 12:16-21.*
Today multitudes of people are just as foolish as the man in the parable. In fact, the whole world of organized religion, politics and commerce is dominated by this same greedy spirit. Powerful religious sects seek to increase their sphere of influence in politics and commerce. Political parties and systems of government compete with one another for control of earth’s surface, its people and its wealth. Cruel and oppressive commerce with its fearful creed of selfish greed hoards up earth’s treasures. Thus every part of this present system of things is feverishly stock-piling material riches as security against the ominous future.
How foolish! Oh, how worthless that wealth, influence and power will be when Jehovah God brings his terrible wrath against the Devil’s wicked organization at Armageddon! No, it profits people absolutely nothing if they gain the whole world and then forfeit their life. A person’s “life does not result from the things he possesses”.—Ezek. 7:19; Jas. 5:1-3; Mark 8:36; Luke 12:15, NW.
Now what do you as an individual want? Is it security in this present world that will soon pass away, or is it life in a righteous new world? All sober persons not intoxicated with the Devil’s spirit of greed and selfishness will choose the latter. Consequently, they will follow the commandments concerning the way to life. Working at what is right and righteous is what counts! “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.”—Prov. 11:4.
But how can one be rich in right works? Jesus told the rich young man who sought eternal life to dispose of his burdensome wealth and show mercy and loving-kindness to the poor by following Christ’s example. That was the best advice, but the saying was too much for the vain and selfish fellow. Like a camel trying to crawl through a needle’s eye, he never made it.—Matt. 19:16-24.
On the other hand, the faithful apostles and all true Christians since then have proved it can be done. By right works they have proved their faith. (Jas. 2:17, 18) It is true that the majority of these are “the poor of this world”, yet there are a few “who are rich in the present system of things”. (Jas. 2:5; 1 Tim. 6:17, NW; 1 Cor. 1:26-29) So it is not the actual value or worth or quantity that one gives in Kingdom service that counts. All that one has is required from poor and rich alike. The poor widow that gave her last two mites, worth about one-fourth of a cent, was fully approved, for actually she “cast in all the living that she had”.—Luke 21:1-4; Matt. 13:44-46.
So keep busy and keep spending yourselves in Kingdom work if you would “be rich in right works”. Be liberal and ready to share your divine knowledge with the poor, and thus secure for yourselves eternal life.—1 Tim. 6:18, 19, NW.
A further discussion of the general subject is found in The Watchtower of January 1, 1950.