True Prosperity Comes from God
PROSPERITY is often erroneously measured in terms of financial worth, or of political and social success. Yet everyone should know that there can be no true prosperity without peace and prospect of life. Aptly, Jesus raises the question: “What benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26) The answer is obvious. Favor and life from God are vital ingredients of true prosperity.
Measured correctly, then, there is no evidence of true prosperity among the nations of the world. No, not even among those nations that enjoy the highest living standards. Material success and increase of leisure time have produced a host of evils including adult and juvenile delinquency, an attitude of independence toward God from whom all things come, and selfish concentration upon materialistic aim, and fleshly pleasures. Add to the foregoing the precarious international situation, the latent dangers of which haunt both rich and poor.
Where is true prosperity to be found? How is the society of Jehovah’s witnesses faring? Are they prospering? To obtain the accurate answer, we must take more than a cursory glance at their experiences of the past fifty years. It is true that they have suffered the hatred of all nations through two world wars, as foretold by Christ Jesus. (Matt. 24:9, 10) They have been unjustly outlawed in country after country, they have been violently beset by mobs, they have been the targets of all kinds of lying accusations, they have been ostracized. Even today in many circles the mention of the name “Jehovah’s witnesses” is sufficient to produce expressions of ignorant intolerance from people otherwise very polite.
A closer look at Jehovah’s witnesses, however, reveals some very striking facts. They alone of all the religious organizations have been able to train and equip all their members to be active ministers of God and preachers of the kingdom. They have been able to achieve something the United Nations with its 112 member states has been unable to do, namely, draw together in peace and cooperation peoples of every nation and language and race. Unlike so many other organizations, they have been able to maintain among their members the high Bible standards of morality in every field of human relationship. Outstandingly, they have retained the strong ties of family, with the result that multitudes of youthful persons are seriously embracing the true Christian way of life and sharing in the spreading of the good news of the Kingdom. Surely these are marks of true prosperity! But there are many more.
In August of 1923 the spokesman for Jehovah’s witnesses addressed a throng of 2,500 assembled in convention at Los Angeles, California. At the close of the discourse that audience enthusiastically rose to adopt a Resolution that, in effect, bound them to share unstintingly in the work of proclaiming the Kingdom, so that sheeplike and goatlike persons might be divided in harmony with Jesus’ illustration. (Matt. 25:31-46) Forty years later, in September 1963, in Pasadena, California, came the concluding meeting of a round-the-world series of “Everlasting Good News” Assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses, assemblies that were held for three to eight days in twenty-four principal cities of the world, and which were attended by a total crowd of 580,509 persons. The passage of the years between those two assemblies was obviously filled with progress and global expansion as sheeplike ones were assembled to the fold of God.
The modern history of Jehovah’s witnesses has more startling figures to offer. In 1918 the number of Witnesses who spent time each month preaching the good news with Studies in the Scriptures was around 7,000. Ten years later the number of preachers had climbed to 44,080. Twenty years later it was 59,047, thirty years later 260,756. Forty years later, in 1958, the number had swelled to 798,326. Now, in 1964, the figure has reached the amazing peak of 1,064,387. During the decade 1942-52 the number of Jehovah’s witnesses doubled in North America, multiplied five times in Asia, more than six times in the Pacific Islands, about seven times in Europe and Africa, more than twelve times in the Atlantic islands, and almost fifteen times in South America. From 1953 to 1963 they more than doubled in hours devoted to preaching earth-wide. The one branch office outside the United States in 1900 is now supplemented by 91 other branches around the world. The headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, now directs the preaching work in 194 lands, and literature is published in 162 languages. Since all this has to do with the unselfish work of spreading the good news of God’s kingdom, we can say without hesitation that it is true prosperity.
No man or organization of men can take the credit for this marvelous record of expansion achieved despite the hurdles of World War II and Fascist and Communist persecutions. Even today in thirteen countries where Jehovah’s witnesses are forced to work underground and under extreme difficulties, there are upward of 101,400 ministers who are faithfully and consistently doing what God has commanded them to do. What, then, is the secret of all this striking prosperity amid national and international opposition? It can be nothing other than the spirit of Jehovah God, who promised: “Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn. This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from me.” (Isa. 54:17) Spiritual prosperity brings great peace and happiness to Jehovah’s people.
To endeavor to obstruct the work and purpose of the Almighty God is not only a futile but a deadly business. And to persecute his ministers is to court disaster. Counseled law teacher Gamaliel in the first century: “Men of Israel, pay attention to yourselves as to what you intend to do respecting these men. . . . Do not meddle with these men, but let them alone; (because, if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them;) otherwise, you may perhaps be found fighters actually against God.” (Acts 5:35-39) The fruitless efforts on the part of men and governments to stop the preaching of God’s kingdom only adds to the proof, already strong, that the prosperity of this work is from God. “My own counsel will stand,” he says, “and everything that is my delight I shall do.”—Isa. 46:10.