Increasing Happiness Through Christian Economy
LOVERS of God have always rejoiced in the furtherance of true worship. So, when Jesus Christ and his apostles journeyed from city to city and village to village declaring the good news of the kingdom of God, many persons living back then considered it to be a joyful privilege to assist them materially. For instance, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and others were gladly “ministering to them from their belongings.” (Luke 8:1-3) The entire congregation of Christians at Philippi shared material things with the apostle Paul. Hence, to them he was able to say: “Even in Thessalonica, you sent something to me both once and a second time for my need.” For their Christian generosity, they would not go unrewarded by God. (Phil. 4:14-20) No doubt about it: Many living today would have been profoundly grateful for such opportunities to share in giving materially in support of true worship.
They still have opportunity to do just that. Happily Jehovah’s witnesses give of their time, energies and money, so that other honest-hearted ones may learn and do the divine will. (1 Tim. 4:16) In our day, no longer is it necessary to wait many years in hopeful anticipation. Kingdom rule is a reality. What a privilege it is to preach the good news of God’s established kingdom and to support such work in a material way, as one’s circumstances may permit!
ATTITUDE TOWARD GIVING
Since theirs is not a commercial enterprise, the meeting places and activities of Jehovah’s witnesses are sustained by means of voluntary contributions. There is no compulsion to give. In this, Jehovah’s witnesses are like the early Christians of whom Tertullian wrote: “Even if there is a chest of a sort, it is not made up of money paid in entrance-fees, as if religion were a matter of contract. Every man once a month brings some modest coin—or whenever he wishes, and only if he does wish, and if he can; for nobody is compelled; it is a voluntary offering.” (Apology, XXXIX, 5) Such an arrangement harmonizes with the apostle Paul’s words to Corinthian Christians: “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”—2 Cor. 9:7.
Jehovah’s witnesses are happy to honor Jehovah with their valuable things. (Prov. 3:9) Their attitude in giving is similar to that of Israelites of Moses’ day, who were afforded the opportunity to honor Jehovah by giving gold, silver, copper, wool, linen and other things so that their tabernacle for worship might be constructed. The willinghearted ones gladly made this “contribution for Jehovah”; it was “a voluntary offering.” (Ex. 35:4-9, 20-29) And how much did they give? Let the record speak for itself. Moses received this report: “The people are bringing much more than what the service needs for the work that Jehovah has commanded to be done.” “So,” we are told, “Moses commanded that they should cause an announcement to pass through the camp, saying: ‘Men and women, do not produce any more stuff for the holy contribution.’ With that the people were restrained from bringing it in. And the stuff proved to be enough for all the work to be done, and more than enough.”—Ex. 36:4-7.
Many years later, King David contributed heavily toward the temple to be built by his son Solomon. Since David took pleasure in the house of his God, he even gave his “special property” of gold and silver for that purpose. (1 Chron. 29:3) Then Israel’s beloved king asked his assembled people: “Who is there volunteering to fill his hand today with a gift for Jehovah?” (1 Chron. 29:5) The response was gratifying indeed. Princes and chiefs of Israel gave, and “what stones were found with any persons they gave to the treasure of the house of Jehovah.” Did they do so grudgingly? Definitely not, for the account states: “The people gave way to rejoicing over their making voluntary offerings, for it was with a complete heart that they made voluntary offerings to Jehovah; and even David the king himself rejoiced with great joy.”—1 Chron. 29:6-9.
PRACTICING CHRISTIAN ECONOMY TO GIVE
Jesus Christ declared: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) So faithful servants of Jehovah God have often been able to increase their happiness through proper giving. However, they have not all been affluent persons who had vast financial or material reserves that enabled them to give liberally without advance planning or without any sacrifice. Doubtless the Israelites had to practice a Scriptural economy in order to be able to give something for the tabernacle and the temple and in support of those ministering there. Many early Christians must have found it necessary to do the same thing so as to be in position to give when the need to do so existed. Similarly today, to be able to contribute toward the advancement of the Kingdom preaching work, many willinghearted Christians must plan and save. They must practice an economy based upon Biblical principles.
Few Christians are materially rich. When they give some modest amount, however, they should not feel it is inconsequential. On one occasion Jesus observed the rich dropping their gifts into the temple treasury chests. Then he saw a needy widow drop in two small coins of little value. He did not look down upon her. Instead, he said: “I tell you truthfully, This widow, although poor, dropped in more than they all did. For all these dropped in gifts out of their surplus, but this woman out of her want dropped in all the means of living she had.” (Luke 21:1-4) What she did was highly commendable, though in literal value her gift was small.
Persons like that widow, and others too, may find it possible to increase their happiness by Christian giving, if they are not wasteful. Wise use of material things will often make them last longer. Proverbs 21:20 implies the need for judicious use of material things and thoughtful care of one’s possessions, in saying: “Desirable treasure and oil are in the abode of the wise one, but the man that is stupid will swallow it up.”
It is in harmony with God’s will for a man to enjoy the results of his hard work. (Eccl. 3:12, 13) But, unless excesses are avoided, often one will not even have enough for a comfortable life. Christian living and the cultivating of fruits of God’s spirit, such as self-control, make it possible for Jehovah’s servants to avoid extremes that may use up money they would like to apply toward the furtherance of the Christian ministry. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Truthfully it is said in Proverbs 21:17: “He that is loving merriment will be an individual in want; he that is loving wine and oil will not gain riches.” Because they avoid excesses, not only are Christians godly; they are also more economical than many others of the world of mankind. Instead of using all surplus funds for recreation and luxuries, such faithful ones conserve and thus find it possible to do what they would like to do. They can make some material contributions toward the work of preaching the good news of God’s kingdom earth wide.
By avoiding laziness and by doing honest work, Christians are also following Bible principles and thus often find it possible to increase their happiness by Christian giving. Ecclesiastes 4:5 provokes thought, in stating: “The stupid one is folding his hands and is eating his own flesh.” And King Lemuel of old recorded words of commendation for the hardworking, industrious wife. (Prov. 31:10-31) The apostle Paul recommended honest work so that a person “may have something to distribute to someone in need.”—Eph. 4:28.
WHO SHARE THE PRIVILEGE?
When a need arose among the holy ones in Judea, Corinthian Christians who wanted to aid them received a helpful suggestion from the apostle Paul. He wrote: “Now concerning the collection that is for the holy ones, just as I gave orders to the congregations of Galatia, do that way also yourselves. Every first day of the week let each of you at his own house set something aside in store as he may be prospering, so that when I arrive collections will not take place then.” (1 Cor. 16:1, 2) Such an arrangement might prove to be beneficial in a Christian family where there is a keen desire to give.
Practicing Christian economy means being reasonably economical. It implies that Biblical principles should govern one’s use of his material resources. But it can also involve an arrangement. Just as a person or a family might save some funds for an emergency, so Christians might regularly set something aside for a contribution to support true worship. Paul had a similar thing in mind when he suggested that the Corinthians set something aside at their own houses “every first day of the week.” The father, who is the head of the household, can arrange such matters in his own home, if that is his wish. (Eph. 5:21–6:4) It may thus be possible for various members of the family, or even all of them, to share in proper Christian giving.
It is to be noted that the apostle gave his advice on this matter to congregations in Galatia, as well as to the congregation in Corinth. The congregations, as such, were pleased to contribute. Similarly today, entire congregations frequently contribute surplus funds to advance the Kingdom work. This they do by preparing and passing resolutions to that effect. Of course, many are the willinghearted individuals who find it possible to share in supporting Christian preaching activities throughout the earth, by making personal donations for that purpose. This proper giving increases their happiness. Donations received by the Watch Tower Society are always acknowledged by letter. Persons or congregations desirous of making such contributions may send them to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201, or to the nearest branch office of the Society.
Because Christians are so interested in the advancement of the work of preaching the good news of God’s kingdom, some plan to place some or all of their money at the disposal of the Society at their death. Such gifts are not solicited, but helpful information on this is available upon request.
However, some Christians who have surplus funds are glad to put them to work immediately in the interests of the Kingdom. There is an arrangement for “conditional donations,” which affords such an opportunity. Those who avail themselves of it are able to make withdrawals, should unexpected circumstances arise. Persons desiring more information on the arrangement for “conditional donations” may write to the Office of the Secretary and Treasurer at the address given above.
Donations received by the Society are all used to spread the message of God’s kingdom. For example, by such means missionary homes and activities in various countries are sustained. Thereby printing facilities, so necessary to the dispensing of Bible literature, are kept in operation. (Matt. 24:45-47) Traveling circuit and district servants are thus enabled to visit and give spiritual assistance to Christian congregations throughout the earth. Paul was similarly helped by Christians in Philippi. Others in full-time ministerial work are also assisted in such a manner. And, by freewill offerings placed in a contribution box at the local Kingdom Hall, Jehovah’s witnesses and others interested in their work make possible the maintaining of such meeting places where persons may gather to hear discussions of the Word of God.
Early believers in Christ were often generous in their support of the activity of Jesus himself and those who followed him in the work of praising Jehovah God and declaring his purposes. Doing so was a privilege. To do such things, those contributors had to practice an economy based upon sound Scriptural principles. But what joy resulted from such proper giving to advance true worship! The situation is similar today. Many, through the judicious use of their money and possessions, find it possible to support materially the earthwide work of Kingdom preaching. They increase their happiness through Christian economy.