Rendering Our Best to Jehovah
THE One who owns everything in the universe cannot be enriched by anyone. Whatever you might offer him as a gift is already his and is due him. Indeed, whether humans acknowledge the fact or not, they are merely stewards accountable to God for things they hold in possession.
David, who ruled as king in Jerusalem centuries ago, recognized this and confessed: “Yours, O Jehovah, are the greatness and the mightiness and the beauty and the excellency and the dignity; for everything in the heavens and in the earth is yours. . . . The riches and the glory are on account of you.”
Yes, David had the right view of all his own and his people’s contributions toward the place of worship at Jerusalem, for he goes on to admit: “Everything is from you, and out of your own hand we have given to you.”—1 Chron. 29:11-14.
Yet should that discourage God’s people from offering gifts in support of pure worship, rendering their best to Jehovah? No, for, under inspiration of God, the psalmist penned this enthusiastic invitation to all who would please the Creator: “Ascribe to Jehovah the glory belonging to his name; carry a gift and come into his courtyards.”—Ps. 96:8.
Those words may give us a mental vision of the Israelites of old as they brought their gift offerings—fine flour, wine, oil, unblemished animals—to the courtyards of Jehovah’s temple, particularly on the three special occasions of the year.—Deut. 16:16.
Priests of the family line of Aaron, acting as Jehovah’s representatives, accepted the generous offerings of the people. They had their instructions from Jehovah as to the proper disposition of all those gifts for the maintenance and advancement of true worship. Sincere worshipers were satisfied to lay down their gifts in that holy place, and then start the journey back to their homes, happy in the knowledge that they had given of their best to their God.
MODERN WORSHIPERS AND THEIR GIFTS
Today there is, of course, no such literal temple with its courtyards. But since all those things were to serve as ‘typical representations of heavenly things’ or spiritual things, we look for the modern-day “courtyards” with their throngs of worshipers. (Heb. 9:23) Association of those ancient worshipers with the anointed Aaronic priesthood proves a clue. Today there is on earth a small remnant or remaining number of Jesus’ spirit-anointed brothers, persons who have before them the prospect of one day serving as heavenly priests under their High Priest, Jesus Christ. A great crowd of persons from all nations count it a privilege to come into association with that remnant, for thereby they can enjoy the blessings of an arrangement that God has made for a visible organization of his worshipers today. That association to them is like approaching the very “courtyards” of Jehovah’s house.—1 Cor. 3:16.
The throng of modern worshipers also concern themselves about the gifts they bring into Jehovah’s “courtyards.” Perhaps the first thought that comes to mind is to make a monetary contribution of some kind. But how much? For an answer, we can go back to the typical scene and note these words of Deuteronomy 16:17: “The gift of each one’s hand should be in proportion to the blessing of Jehovah your God that he has given you.” Who knows better than the individual worshiper the extent of God’s blessing upon him? The unappreciative person may not see that Jehovah has blessed him at all, but those who are grateful for life and breath and opportunities to serve their Creator have a different view. They give cheerfully.—2 Cor. 9:7.
Just as God loves a cheerful giver, so he loves those who give with the right motives and heart attitudes. We do well to meditate upon some of God’s own expressions on this matter: “I am Jehovah, the one exercising loving-kindness, justice and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I do take delight.” (Jer. 9:24) “To this one, then, I shall look, to the one afflicted and contrite in spirit and trembling at my word.” (Isa. 66:2) And according to the apostle Peter, what is it that “is of great value in the eyes of God”? Why, “the secret person of the heart [draped] in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit.”—1 Pet. 3:4.
So it is evident that the first thing Jehovah is concerned about in those who would bring gift offerings to his “courtyards” is their heart attitude. Are they, too, lovers of loving-kindness, justice, righteousness? Are they humble, contrite, repentant in their approach to God? Are they striving to put on that apparel of the “quiet and mild spirit”?
Thus it is not only what is offered that counts. The spirit and motive behind the gift are open before the searching gaze of the Supreme One.
TYPICAL GIFTS SPEAK OUT TODAY
Back in the typical scene there are beautiful pictorial ideas that help us to see the importance of giving our very best to God. For example, each animal offered had to be ‘a sound one,’ free of all defects. (Lev. 22:21) True, those sacrificial animals pointed forward to the one sacrifice for all time, the sacrifice of the one so aptly described as being “loyal, guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners,” that is, Jesus Christ. (Heb. 7:26) But does it not also seem to suggest to modern worshipers of Jehovah that it is the best they should offer?
Again, with respect to the grain offerings, it is significant that the expression “fine flour” keeps recurring, as in the preparation of those ring-shaped loaves for the temple’s table of showbread. (Lev. 24:5, 6; Numbers 7) The fine flour suggests also the best we have to offer, not some coarse substitute, as one might describe worship performed perfunctorily, done to be seen of men and without the heart of the worshiper being in it.
The incense too was involved in the typical grain offerings of old. Frankincense, we are told, was sprinkled on the grain offerings by fire to Jehovah. (Lev. 2:1, 15) What did it prefigure for our day? Under inspiration King David offered the answer, when he wrote: “May my prayer be prepared as incense before you, the raising up of my palms as the evening grain offering.” (Ps. 141:2; see also Revelation 8:4.) So acceptable gift offerings to the true God are tied in with earnest prayer. Sincere prayer is a vital feature of this rendering our best to Jehovah.
WHAT WE HAVE AND WHAT WE ARE
This brings us to the crux of the matter. Each one of us, as intelligent creatures moved by gratitude after having learned about Jehovah and his purposes, is in fact a “gift” made to be carried into Jehovah’s “courtyards” and there applied toward the glory of his name. It is not only what we have but what we are that belongs to Jehovah.
A greatly increased crowd of modern worshipers render their gifts in the “courtyards” of Jehovah. Many see their privilege of sharing in the support of Kingdom activities in their local area, contributing regularly and generously to the upkeep of the Kingdom Hall as a center for Bible education. Many also are pleased to share the cost of advancing today’s vastly expanding witness work in all the earth, sending their contributions to the Watch Tower Society, 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201, or to the branch office of that Society in some other land. As such gifts are made in the spirit that Jesus inculcated, they are truly commendable.—Matt. 6:3.
But what about the giver? To Jehovah the one who is giving means much more than what he gives. The truth of this may best be grasped by noting these significant words: “My son, do give your heart to me, and may those eyes of yours take pleasure in my own ways.” (Prov. 23:26) Is not the worshiper’s presence regularly at Kingdom Hall meetings a grand way of ascribing glory to Jehovah and carrying his best gift into His “courtyards”? Are we not indebted to Him for everything—life, breath and strong hope about the future in his blessed new order of things?
Thus rendering their best to Jehovah means for some an increased effort to devote time to the work of proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom. For others it may involve planning to spend extra time at certain periods of the year as vacation pioneers. To still others it moves them to forsake secular labors and become full-time preachers of the Kingdom message.
And how does Jehovah view all of these endeavors on the part of his worshipers to render the best of their gifts to him? By his prophet Haggai he pointed forward to this time in history where we are, declaring that “the desirable things of all the nations must come in” to his spiritual house of prayer, there to ascribe to Him the glory belonging to his name.—Hag. 2:7.
What could be more desirable to Jehovah than to see a numberless crowd of worshipers willingly offering themselves for the work of proclaiming his name and kingdom to the ends of the earth? In prophetic vision God gave the apostle John a foreview of this very thing—‘a numberless crowd, standing before God’s throne, clad in white garments, waving palm branches and joyously confessing: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.”’ (Rev. 7:9, 10) By that confession they are in fact declaring: ‘We belong to God. We will serve Jehovah wholeheartedly.’
Is it not a fact that this offering of our best to Jehovah is something very comprehensive? By all means, let us meditate on all his provisions for our eternal welfare and in gratitude render to him our very best.