Giving Thanks Always for All Things
GRATITUDE is very scarce in this era wherein selfishness has gone to seed. Parents often neglect to set a good example and train their children in this respect. Even in the presence of visitors some children will loudly and bitterly complain when things do not go right, but when matters improve they can seldom be heard expressing appreciation. Lacking good, sound counsel, the children turn out to be ungrateful for whatever they do receive, taking it all more or less as something due them.
If there is any material giving, to charities for instance, it is because there is need to salve a conscience, or because one’s reputation is at stake. There is very little giving of the kind referred to by Christ Jesus when he counseled: “Do not let your left hand know what your right is doing.” (Matt. 6:3) God’s Word, the Bible, foretold that “in the last days . . . men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, . . . unthankful.”—2 Tim. 3:1, 2.
In view of these conditions that have come upon the world it is truly refreshing to hear about the four-year-old whose mother had taught him to appreciate God’s provisions for humankind, for the present and for the future. He wanted to do something to demonstrate his appreciation. When a hen in their backyard hatched a brood of chicks, this little fellow set one of them aside, saying: “This one is for Jehovah.” He guarded it and raised it until it was marketable. Then he sold it and brought its price—the equivalent of 75c (U.S.)—with the request that it be forwarded to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society as his very own contribution toward the spread of Bible education throughout the world. His little face beamed with joy and contentment at having some share in supporting the Society’s activities.
Without yet fully understanding it, that youngster was in fact complying with God’s counsel given by inspiration and expressed by that zealous servant of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul: ‘In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ give thanks always for all things to our God and Father.’—Eph. 5:20.
CAN YOU PROMOTE THANKFULNESS?
What moved this little child to such an expression of appreciation? Example. Can you not just hear the enthusiastic mother telling him how good and wondrous and generous the great heavenly Father is, in that he has made such grand preparations for the everlasting happiness of his earthly sons and daughters? Not only that, but the youngster must also have witnessed some specific demonstration of generosity on the part of his mother. Perhaps he even heard some discussion about wise use of our material goods for the furtherance of the Kingdom-preaching work.
But stop and think now! Was not that mother’s teaching effective? Do you inculcate in your children, or in the young people with whom you are familiar, this fine attitude with its excellent fruitage? You can, you know. If you are openhanded and generous toward the interests of God’s kingdom-preaching work on the earth, then it is possible to train your young people to have the same attitude.
But what advantage will it have for them, you may ask, in such a selfish, thankless world? Well, who was it that said, “God loves a cheerful giver”? Was it not the apostle Paul, and is it not a fact that being the object of God’s loving care is worth more than all else?—2 Cor. 9:7.
SMALL GIFTS ACCOMPLISH MUCH
A little boy’s contribution of 75 cents is hardly worth mentioning, someone may say. But wait! Whom did Jesus commend after he had stood for a time observing those making contributions at Jerusalem’s temple? Was it those who came in rich apparel and dropped sizable sums of money into the box? No, but it was the poor widow who gave all she had—two coins of very little value. (Mark 12:41-44) Her giving was from the heart.
Today that is what keeps the worldwide preaching activity of Jehovah’s witnesses moving forward—the multitude of small donations from generous ones who give, perhaps out of already tight budgets. Think of what is accomplished by all those modest contributions to the Watch Tower Society: Millions of books and magazines containing the explanation of God’s Word are distributed at small cost to truth-hungry people of all nations; missionaries are trained and sent out to many distant fields; support is given to other full-time preachers, “special pioneers,” so that they can go into thickly populated areas where there is a shortage of ministers of the “good news.”
The point to have in mind in all of this is that Jehovah God is the One who has made these provisions possible. This is the time when he is having the good news of the Kingdom preached in all the inhabited earth. (Matt. 24:14) This is the time when he is giving all nations warning about disaster ahead—the complete end of this entire wicked system of things. This is when he bids those who love him, “Lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) There is opportunity for multitudes of humble persons to give evidence, by word and deed, of their heartfelt appreciation for God’s grand purpose.
WHAT CAN I DO?
If you are associated with a congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses at a Kingdom Hall, you will certainly want to share in some way the expense of maintaining that fine center of Bible education. You do not need to be asked to do so, for you can plainly see the need. And besides, you have noticed that in the true Christian congregation collection plates are never passed around. Begging for funds just is not done. The Kingdom Hall does have a contribution box into which those who wish may drop their modest donations when moved to do so by the spirit of gratitude to God for his loving provisions for their spiritual welfare. Too, it may be that that congregation, after caring for local expense, is able also to make a direct contribution to the nearest branch office of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. It would thus be sharing in the upkeep of the Society’s countrywide activity.
On the other hand, you may choose to mail your own modest donation direct to the office of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in the country where you reside. In the United States contributions may be sent to 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201. Whatever you decide, we are sure that you will experience a deep satisfaction that your material things are being used for the advancement of the life-giving spiritual things.
If you are not in association with a congregation of the Witnesses, it may be that you are a regular reader of this magazine. You are therefore in a position to appraise the excellent diet of spiritual food provided in these pages for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. (Matt. 5:6) Perhaps your appreciation will move you to share what you are learning with others—even providing them with some of the same publications. There can be no greater evidence of your thankfulness to Jehovah and your concern for the lasting good of fellow creatures than to share with them the spiritual treasures you are enjoying.
At the same time we would like to urge you to seek out the Kingdom Hall nearest to your home and find there regular association with others who value The Watchtower as a real help in gaining an accurate knowledge of the deeper truths of the Bible. Each Sunday there is a discussion of the main article in The Watchtower. You will be amazed to find how much more you can learn through listening to such a discussion. There too you will see how persons at all stages of progress in Bible knowledge aid one another toward a deeper appreciation of God’s kind provisions.
APPRECIATION IS THE KEY
Appreciation is, in fact, the key that opens up many avenues for expressing our thanks to God. The more we understand the details and preparations that God made long ago for the ultimate blessing of all those who please him, the more we find ourselves motivated to express gratitude by our minds, by our mouths and by our material possessions. We come to the same conclusion as the inspired psalmist, namely: “What shall I repay to Jehovah for all his benefits to me? The cup of grand salvation I shall take up, and on the name of Jehovah I shall call. My vows I shall pay to Jehovah, yes, in front of all his people.”—Ps. 116:12-14.
Obviously, we cannot really “repay” Jehovah for all his loving-kindnesses, for everything already belongs to him. But surely we should always remember that we are constantly the recipients of his goodness. There is not one thing that we have that was not given to us. So we can meditate on Jehovah’s generosity, on the fact that from his open hand all creatures can be satisfied with good things. (Ps. 104:28) And we can speak about this generous Creator and recommend him to others as the worthy object of their worship and service.
Finally, we can all make “token repayment” to Jehovah. How? By “giving thanks always for all things” in a material way, in a way that brings us a measure of satisfaction not otherwise obtained. Without doubt that satisfaction stems from the knowledge that we are using our material things for the honor of God. It is not the amount that counts; rather, it is the spirit of the donor.