Happiness in Giving
“There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35, NW.
1. How does the greater happiness come?
HAPPINESS comes in greater measure through giving. Have you ever had that pleasure? Yes, you say, I have given many things to people I love, which made me very happy. But has not such happiness been only momentary and without permanence? Or, have you ever felt that you must give a gift to someone because he gave you a gift which more or less obligated you to do something in return? There was no happiness in that giving, was there? You were giving under compulsion, because you felt you must reciprocate. That is often the case in this system of things; this old world operates on that basis: You give a gift to me, and then I will give you a gift. In that way individuals obligate themselves to others. It occurs all the time in the political, religious and commercial world.
2. How can we gain the happiness of feasting in God’s kingdom?
2 The people of this world do not follow the excellent advice of Jesus, as it is related in Luke 14:12-15 (NW): “When you spread a dinner or evening meal, do not call your friends, or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors. Perhaps some time they might also invite you in return and it would become a repayment to you. But when you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.” “On hearing these things a certain one of the fellow guests said to him: ‘Happy is he who is at the feast in the kingdom of God.’” Would you like to sit at the feast in the kingdom of God? You can, if you follow the Master’s advice and do not follow the practices of this old world.
3, 4. (a) How long has Jehovah been giving, and in what way? (b) What can we show in response, and how?
3 Let us look back to a time long before ever we appeared on earth. It was Jehovah God who was doing the giving, and even then it was for our benefit. He gave of his great power, his wisdom, knowledge and love. He gave constantly in a way that affects our lives now. He is still giving. Blessings continually flow from him to his creation, and we are the recipients of these gifts from “the happy God”. (1 Tim. 1:11, NW) Out of his abundance Jehovah God gives to us. He asks for no return, but we can show our gratitude.
4 Will you show your appreciation for the many blessings that Jehovah has bestowed upon you? He has been happy in giving to us. Is not there something that we can give to Jehovah? Everything we have we received from him in the first place; so if we are going to give him anything at all, what will it be? Really, all that the Father, the Creator of man, wants from his human creatures on earth or that such creatures could give him is the right kind of worship, true worship. This means worshiping Jehovah in holy array. It is something that comes out of the heart, out of a pure mind. If we worship the true God in the way he directs in his Word, he will be pleased. Our worship is our service to him. It should be performed in a spotless manner, and this we can do by observing his commandments.
5, 6. (a) What does Proverbs 2:6 say Jehovah gives, and who may get it? (b) After getting it, what should we be like with it?
5 A wise man of centuries ago wrote: “Jehovah giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6, AS) Think of the vast amount of information known to the Creator. Think of his unfathomable knowledge and his wisdom. All this is his possession, but he does not just hold it to himself. Rather he reveals much of his wisdom to his intelligent creatures. He sends it forth through his Word and gives it to us for our blessing.
6 Every one of his creatures, whether we be young or old, whether we have gone through school or not, can obtain a portion of this wisdom and knowledge. It makes no difference whether you are a new Kingdom publisher in a company of Jehovah’s witnesses, or are a pioneer, a missionary, a member of a Bethel home or in a branch office of the Watch Tower Society—you may receive of these wonderful things from God. You must apply yourself, though, and put forth the effort to obtain this knowledge and then show wisdom in dispersing it. We do not want to be like a sponge, just absorbing water, and then needing to have someone squeeze it out of us once in a while so that the good things we have learned will benefit others. It should not be necessary for other people to squeeze us and force the truth out of us. We should be so filled with the truth and with the understanding of God’s Word that it runs out of us constantly. It would be better to be like a bubbling spring, always giving forth fresh life-giving water freely, not making it necessary for someone to dig for the waters of truth. Do not forget, “There is more happiness in giving.” So why not bubble like a spring, “and let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free”?—Rev. 22:17, NW.
7. To experience happiness in giving, with what attitude must we do it?
7 To give means to bestow without a return. When God gave us the gift of his only-begotten Son, he did not give expecting that we would be able to repay him in like manner. No, his gift of life to us was full and generous. It is ours to keep if we continue faithfully obedient to his will. Likewise when we give this good message of life to others, we do not expect to be paid back with money, in time spent, or in possessions by those who receive it from us. We have received the message of life from our Father as a gift, and we want to freely give to others the knowledge we enjoy, that they also may gain the hope of eternal life. So if we are going to have real happiness in giving in the way Jehovah does, we must do something for other people without expecting a return from them. Man cannot add anything to God; but in view of the many gifts he has received from the hands of his Creator he certainly should show gratitude and follow the course of true worship and service to Jehovah. This service brings happiness.
8. What is happiness and what does its absence in a congregation indicate?
8 Happiness is a state of well-being and pleasurable satisfaction. One who is happy is in a peaceful state of mind and has comfort. But we do not always find our brothers and sisters in Jehovah’s organization in a pleasurable state of mind and at peace, comforting one another. Sometimes they are disturbed; something is irritating or bothering them. When peace is not present in a congregation, it is easy to see that something is lacking. Someone is not giving, and as a result others are not receiving the gifts they would if happiness existed in the congregation. Love is missing. Someone has forgotten that Jesus said: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength,” and, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30, 31, NW) So that is it: someone was not giving love to his neighbor, as Jesus said we should.
THE SECRET OF IT
9. Where do we learn the secret of happiness, and what is it?
9 There certainly is no pleasure in living without happiness. By turning to Jehovah’s Word we can find the secret to happiness; and we can have that happiness day in and day out throughout the years, even throughout eternity, if we strive for it. Surely if we find this secret to happiness, we ought to be eager to reveal it to others. The secret to happiness is, not merely in receiving, but more so in giving. If that is so, then let us give of what we have received to others. And what we have to give as Christian worshipers of the Sovereign Ruler of the universe is the truth, the greatest gift, the knowledge of Jehovah God. We know Jehovah’s requirements for true worship, and we should give this knowledge to others.
10. What makes for even greater happiness in giving, as shown in God’s case?
10 Jehovah must have great pleasure and happiness in giving to his creatures. He gave us so much in his original creation; and he shows his love continuously by giving the sun, the rains, the fruits and vegetables, wool and cloth, trees and shelter, but, most of all, his words of life. Jehovah directed Paul the apostle to write for us: “Love . . . does not look for its own interests.” (1 Cor. 13:4, 5, NW) Jehovah was certainly not looking out for his own interests when he gave the warm spring rains to bring blossoms to fruitage, or the sun to ripen the wheat, or sheep to grow the wool, or trees to provide timber. All these things were gifts and blessings for mankind. They were an expression of God’s love. God was giving and is still giving all these things and many others to mankind, and he is a “happy God” in his giving. If we follow this same principle of love, then when we give we should not be looking after our own interests. Love does not work that way. Furthermore, there is more happiness in giving to others when they cannot repay. Jehovah allows the rain to drop upon the just and the unjust; his sun shines on the good and the evil. We should not be selective in giving the good news to others. Jesus said to preach the Word to all nations, and it is by doing this that we shall receive happiness.
11. What brings satisfaction to living? How may we get it, and for how long?
11 If happiness is what brings us real satisfaction in living and makes our living worth while, then happiness is certainly to be sought after. Living at this time would not be enjoyable without happiness; so how can we increase our happiness? We live for only a short period of time now, but we should like to live indefinitely, for ages. Peter knew that understanding the words of the Most High brings life. He said to Jesus: “You have sayings of everlasting life.” (John 6:68, NW) If we follow Jehovah’s Word and Jesus’ sayings, we shall have not only life, but life with happiness. That is why Paul said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35, NW) Living in happiness certainly would be a delight for any person.
12, 13. How did Paul himself illustrate giving and his own admonition, “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock”?
12 After writing much information and instruction for our help in this day, Paul reminded us that real, full happiness comes in giving. Starting with Acts 20:27 (NW), let us observe now what he brought to our attention. He said: “I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God.” He certainly was giving of what knowledge he had. How? In the twentieth verse of Ac 20 this same chapter he showed that he was teaching “publicly and from house to house”. So he did not hold back from any kind of activity. Now the example that Paul set is profitable for all God’s servants to follow. Are you also a house-to-house preacher? It was this course of action that Paul took as a preacher that made him so happy. He went on to say: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock.” (Ac 20 Vs. 28) So are you doing yourself the most good and God’s flock too? Paul’s interest was in his brothers, all of them. He knew the flock of God needed attention. He did not want to see the sheep of God scattered, and so he urged proper leadership. Paul knew what would happen after he left the disciples he had made and he repeated Jesus’ warning against wolves: “After my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness.”—Ac 20 Vs. 29.
13 Paul not only gave good news of the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus and of the promised heavenly kingdom, but also gave the necessary warning to those who were striving for a place in God’s organization. He spoke plainly and yet with compassion, for he loved Jehovah’s congregation and the new systems of things Jesus introduced. Paul knew what Jesus had said about oppressive wolves’ getting into the congregation and causing a great disturbance. (See what John 10:7-16 says.) Paul’s interest in his brothers was keen and he wanted to give all he could in the way of admonition and example. Paul knew of the impending perils which might befall the Ephesian Christians and that to be forewarned meant to be forearmed. That is why he said: “Therefore keep awake, and bear in mind that . . . I did not quit admonishing each one with tears.” (Acts 20:31, NW) Are all God’s people today taking such counsel? Do they heed God’s word through the apostle? Are they reading the Bible? Are they studying it? Are they building themselves up? Remember: “Pay attention to yourselves.” So ask yourselves: What am I doing in the way of providing an example for the flock? What is my service record?
14. How was Paul no financial burden to the congregation, and with a love than which there is no greater?
14 Paul was not a burden to anyone in the congregation. He said: “These hands have attended to the needs of me and of those with me.” (Ac 20 Vs. 34) He did not ask someone else to take care of him or to arrange for his travel from place to place. It would have been a wonderful privilege to help him in any way possible, but Paul was there to give to his brothers, and it was by so doing that he received happiness. He was not asking them to give to him, nor was he giving expecting a return. Paul devoted his life to his brothers just as Jesus had set the pattern when he was upon the earth by devoting his time and energy to his apostles and to the people of good will who listened to him. Christ Jesus gave everything he had, even his life, for his brothers. He said: “No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends. You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you.” (John 15:13, 14, NW) Paul followed this wise counsel of Jesus and kept his commandment by serving his friends. Are you doing as much? If you are, then from experience you can say as Paul did: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:17-35, NW.
15. Is there happiness in receiving? And what do Paul’s and our own experience show?
15 Paul did not say that in receiving there was no happiness; there is. He knew the joy and happiness that come with receiving and hearing the truth. So do we. Look how Paul showed his gratitude after he listened to Jesus’ voice in the brilliance of his appearance. (Acts 9:3-22, NW) Today we delight to go to conventions and assemblies, to Watchtower studies and book studies, and to receive the good news from the instructor. But once we have absorbed all these good things, there is more happiness in giving the truth to others, more happiness even than we enjoyed in receiving it. Was not that true in Paul’s case? Yes. So let all dedicate themselves to Jehovah God and share his Word with others that they too may live. “Preach the word.”—2 Tim. 4:2.
16. How was it that we individually received the truth, and what has added to the happiness of having it?
16 As we read the Christian Greek Scriptures, we can see how all the apostles gave to their brothers. Likewise, someone at some time gave to you. Do you remember when you first heard the truth? Was it from someone who called at your door and explained the Kingdom message? or did you hear it in some other way? When you came to an appreciation of what was being explained to you, you were glad, and in a short time you began to see God’s organization and to associate with his people. You were happy to become a part of that organization, because its system of doing things was just, righteous and lovable. The truth, learning to think as God thinks, began to change your entire course of life. Someone had given something to you without cost; it was free, and it was making a change in you for the better and you were grateful to the giver. Next you wanted to tell others about it. So you dedicated your life to Jehovah God, and now you find more happiness in taking the truth that you have received and giving it to others. Now you are bringing them comfort, joy, pleasure, new ideas and the spirit of the new world; you can give the people a hope for life. Is it not the giving of this good news to others that brings you real happiness? There is no satisfaction in just storing up knowledge and information in your own mind and heart without ever letting it out. To keep it to yourself makes a miser of you, and a miser is a wretched person. His life is a miserable one; he just thinks of increasing his own hoard. He never has happiness in giving. Do you want to be a miser with your knowledge? If that is the way you are, you will always be a miserable person, because the real secret to full happiness is in giving.
17. How can one’s receiving of knowledge turn out to be useless?
17 Happiness cannot lie dormant; it must be expressed. Happiness must affect you or someone else. Have you kept your happiness inactive? Have you kept it asleep? Are you the miser type who prefers to be unhappy and miserable, never giving to anyone else of that which you have learned? Even if you were to gather all the knowledge of the world into your mind, it would be useless if you never gave it out. In time it would be forgotten, and your knowledge would die with you. Why get knowledge if you are not going to use it? Real Christians receive knowledge from Jehovah. They are taught of Jehovah through his Word, and their happiness comes by telling others.