True Riches and True Friends
“Your Contribution Prospects” express appreciation for the true riches and love for the true Friends.
WHO are the most valuable friends that a man can have? And what are the most valuable riches that a man can have? Human friends can fail us. So the most valuable Friends anyone can have are Jehovah God and Christ Jesus. And since material riches can also fail us, the most valuable riches anyone can have are a knowledge of the good news of God’s kingdom and the privilege of sharing that news with others. These are true riches.
But if God is going to entrust to us true riches—his kingdom interests and its continued service we must first be faithful in what is least: we must be faithful in using what earthly riches, what material wealth we have. The Son of God stressed this point at Luke 16:10, 11, 13 (NW):
“The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much. Therefore, if you have not proved yourselves faithful in connection with the unrighteous riches, who will entrust you with what is true? . . . You cannot be slaves to God and to riches.”
One who is a slave to earthly riches cannot be God’s friend. Why? Because he is not faithful in what is least. He has not proved himself faithful with “unrighteous riches.” How, then, could he prove faithful with the true riches, Kingdom interests? To be God’s friend we must use our earthly goods in the right way. This does not mean that we can buy God’s friendship. No one can do that. Simon could not buy the gift of imparting the holy spirit. To him Peter said: “May your silver perish with you, because you thought through money to get possession of the free gift of God.” Nor can money buy God’s protection when this system of things comes to its end at Armageddon: “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s wrath.”—Acts 8:20, NW; Zeph. 1:18, AS.
How is money used, then, in making friends with God? It must unselfishly be used in advancing what God is interested in—the Kingdom by which he will vindicate his holy name. This shows appreciation for the true riches; it shows love for true Friends, Jehovah and Christ Jesus.
Why is the friendship of the true Friends so vital to us? Because without being friends of Jehovah and Christ one cannot receive the “undeserved favor of life.” The rich man in Jesus’ parable of Luke, chapter twelve, failed to make friends with his wealth. He thought only of enjoying his wealth by himself. There came a time when his earthly riches failed him: “God said to him: ‘Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your soul from you. Who, then, is to have the things you stored up?’ So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.” At death earthly riches fail every man. For that reason Jesus advised: “Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, a never-failing treasure in the heavens.”—1 Pet. 3:7; Luke 12:20, 21; 12:33, NW.
THE SELF-BENEFITING USE OF MONEY
Most people do not seem to give any thought to laying up a “never-failing treasure in the heavens.” They think only of laying up treasures on this earth. Storing up earthly riches is not really the self-benefiting use of money. Jesus pointed this out at Luke, chapter 16, when he gave the parable of the unjust steward:
“A certain man was rich and he had a steward, and this one was accused to him as handling his goods wastefully. So he called him and said to him: ‘What is this I hear about you? Hand in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer manage the house.’ Then the steward said to himself: ‘What am I to do, seeing that my master will take the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, I am ashamed to beg. Ah! I know what I shall do, so that, when I am put out of the stewardship, people will receive me into their homes.’ And calling to him each one of the debtors of his master he proceeded to say to the first: ‘How much are you owing my master?’ He said: ‘A hundred bath-measures of olive oil.’ He said to him: ‘Take your written agreement back and sit down and quickly write fifty.’ Next he said to another one: ‘Now you, how much are you owing?’ He said: ‘A hundred cor-measures of wheat.’ He said to him: ‘Take your written agreement back and write eighty.’ And his master commended the steward, though unrighteous, because he acted with practical wisdom; because the sons of this system of things are wiser in a practical way toward their own generation than the sons of the light are.”—Luke 16:1-8, NW.
What was the key point of the parable? Jesus explained: “Also I say to you, Make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous riches, so that, when such fail, they may receive you into the everlasting dwelling-places.”—Luke 16:9, NW.
Jesus was not here commending dishonesty, but he was recommending wise, farsighted, practical, self-benefiting action. Persons of this world are shrewd to benefit themselves by making many friends, especially friends who are in position to do them good. They often make such friends by the shrewd use of their money. Of course, such persons have their own future interests in mind; still from a worldly viewpoint that is sound wisdom. It really is the self-benefiting use of money. Should the “sons of the light” be less wise than worldlings? Should they be less farsighted? Should they be less prudent in the self-benefiting use of money? Of course not! Of all people the “sons of the light” know who man’s true Friends are. Of all people the “sons of the light” should make their friendship “by means of the unrighteous riches.”
The religious Pharisees, who heard Jesus’ parable of the unjust steward, were money lovers. They claimed to be “sons of the light,” but they were not wise in the use of their money. They piled it up for themselves and did not really make friends with God, and Christ Jesus they killed. But the unjust steward was farsighted. He feathered his own nest by reducing debts owed to his master. By taking a self-benefiting course of action in regard to money he made friends. He did not have to worry when he was turned out of his job; his friends would welcome him into their homes. So the “sons of the light” should be wise enough to make true friends now. But how?
By helping advance the interests of God’s kingdom. This requires not only our time and energy but wise use of “the unrighteous riches.” When we contribute to the upkeep of Kingdom Halls, when we obtain literature to preach the good news, when we use our automobile or ride on a bus, streetcar or a subway to go to a Bible study, we increase the interests of God’s kingdom in our own territory. But we can also use “the unrighteous riches” to increase Kingdom interests world-wide. How? By materially assisting the channel that Jehovah is using to preach the good news in all the world for a witness. That channel is the “faithful and discreet slave”; it is made up of the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses, who have long used the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania as their legal servant.—Matt. 24:45, NW.
The Watch Tower Society is interested in further earth-wide expansion of the Kingdom good news. To that end the Society now operates seventy-eight branch offices throughout the world. It has sent more than 1,800 graduates of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead to a hundred different lands. To assist Jehovah’s witnesses in their witness work the Society prints Bible literature. Full-time ministers obtain much of this at rates far below cost of printing and shipping. Where does the money come from? From contributions.
It is the privilege of the “sons of the light” to set aside some of “the unrighteous riches” for use in advancing Kingdom interests earth-wide. For the Society to plan for further expansion it seems best that those able to contribute through the year advise the Society in advance as to what they hope to give. Such an expression is not a pledge. It is merely a statement of what one hopes to give. It is properly termed “your contribution prospects.” How may you express yourself in this matter? By writing a card or letter to the Society’s branch office of the country in which you live. For the United States address your card or letter to: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Treasurer’s Office, 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn 1, N. Y.
What should the card or letter say? Something to this effect: “It is my hope that during the next twelve months I shall be able to donate to the work of preaching the good news of the Kingdom about the amount of $———————, which contributions I shall make in such amounts and at such times as prove to be convenient to me and as I am prospered by the undeserved kindness of Jehovah God through Christ Jesus.” [Signed] On page 258 is a list of branch office addresses; a complete list is found at the back of most Society publications.
It is true that money cannot enrich God. All the gold and silver are his. So to use wisely “the unrighteous riches” is really the least we can do for the true Friends. For being faithful in what is least they will entrust you with more and lovingly welcome you into the “everlasting dwelling-places” of the new world. Be wise. Serve man’s true Friends, not riches.