Generosity Begets Generosity
THE spirit of generosity permeates all of God’s dealings with his earthly creatures. Some three thousand years ago a man of discernment observed: “Jehovah is giving support to all who are falling, and is raising up all who are bowed down. To you [Jehovah] the eyes of all look hopefully, and you are giving them their food in its season. You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.” (Ps. 145:14-16) Do you agree with this inspired acknowledgment?
There are those who would not agree. Practically the entire human family has forgotten God. At least they fail to take him and his principles of righteousness into account in their lives. Multitudes deny the very existence of Jehovah and refuse to give serious consideration to his Word, the Holy Bible. Nevertheless, their attitude does not deny that God is generous. It actually reveals the depth of his generosity, for even unappreciative people benefit from it. Jehovah God “makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.”—Matt. 5:45.
And there is more. God recommends to and inculcates in his worshipers the same fine spirit—that of being generous and openhanded. Typical of his teaching to his earthly servants are these words: “The generous soul will itself be made fat [prosperous], and the one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.” (Prov. 11:25) And in the law that God gave through Moses as mediator this counsel was included: “You should by all means give to him [your poverty-stricken brother], and your heart should not be stingy in your giving to him, because on this account Jehovah your God will bless you in every deed of yours and in every undertaking of yours.”—Deut. 15:10.
Then, when sending his own Son into the world to give sinful men the opportunity for life, Jehovah God continued to impress the need for goodness and liberality. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, urged his disciples: “Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.” (Luke 6:38) Besides transmitting the teaching about generosity that he had received from his Father, Jesus demonstrated his own firm adherence to it. He freely gave of himself in the work of drawing men to God, finally sacrificing his human life in behalf of all men.
Was that message of generous giving lost to the people then living? To the vast majority, Yes. But the apostles and disciples of Jesus willingly accepted his invitation to follow his example, yes, to imitate his generosity. How do we know? Because of what happened in Jerusalem following the outpouring of God’s holy spirit on the day of Pentecost in the year 33 C.E. A multitude of Jews and proselytes visiting Jerusalem from distant lands became believers in Christ Jesus. When they determined to remain in the city as long as possible to gain a more complete understanding of the true Christian Way, there arose a need among them for the necessities of life. They did not have sufficient funds to prolong their stay. Yet they were enabled to remain at Jerusalem through the generosity of fellow believers residing there and in Judea. Those Christians of Jerusalem and Judea gladly offered whatever they could spare for the benefit of their brothers and sisters in Christ.—Acts 4:32-35.
Was that mere perfunctory almsgiving? No, it was generous action in the interest of spreading the Kingdom “good news” that Christ commissioned his followers to carry into all nations. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) That expression of generosity served its purpose well. Thousands eventually returned to their native lands with sufficient knowledge and understanding to share the “good news” with others. How happy they were to have received freely and to be able to give freely!
But what about the situation today? In the midst of a world population largely motivated by the spirit of independence, are there people who seek to be like their generous God? Yes, many have noted this spirit of generosity among Jehovah‘s Christian witnesses. It amazes them to see Jehovah’s witnesses giving of their time and resources so that others might gain Bible knowledge.
Because of their activity, the last thirty years have seen the proclamation of the Kingdom message greatly expanded. Back in 1941 C.E. 106,137 were sharing in this work. But in 1971, there were 1,510,245 who did so. Included in this number were thousands of missionaries who had been trained and taught to speak some other language and assigned to new fields for the opening up of the Kingdom work. The expansion has meant acquiring and maintaining thousands of meeting places or Kingdom Halls throughout the earth. Additional branch offices of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (the legal instrument of Jehovah’s witnesses) have had to be established in many lands. New and larger branch buildings and printing plants have been and are being arranged for.
All of this expansion has meant considerable expenditure of funds. Were these funds obtained by any method contrary to Jesus’ teaching that giving not be done ‘to be observed by men’? (Matt. 6:1-4) No, they were accumulated from the small private donations of persons mostly of moderate means. These donations were placed anonymously in contribution boxes found in Kingdom Halls or other meeting places of Jehovah’s witnesses. They were also made up of donations sent directly to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society at 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201, or to its branch offices. All of these contributions were voluntary. They were made by persons who felt the need to share generously in the expense of opening up the Kingdom work and maintaining that activity in new lands the earth around.
That those contributions have always been adequate must surely be attributed to Jehovah God. He has filled his servants with a spirit of generosity.
Jehovah’s witnesses are confident that the preaching of the Kingdom message is a God-directed work. They appreciate that Jehovah could accomplish it miraculously. Yet, generously, he has favored imperfect humans with the opportunity to share in it as his “fellow workers.” (1 Cor. 3:9) So Jehovah’s witnesses have good reason to count it a privilege to contribute of their time, energies and financial means to the work of spreading the “good news” of God’s kingdom, bringing comfort to thousands who are sighing about the sufferings, injustices and oppression that many of earth’s inhabitants experience.