What Shall I Repay to Jehovah?
ONLY Bible-taught persons of meek disposition are likely even to raise the question as to repaying God for all the benefits he has bestowed on his human creatures. Most persons give more thought and expression to their woes, their causes for complaint, their prejudices, than to matters over which they might well be grateful. Genuine gratitude is rare. So blinded by self-interest are many that they cannot even see the multitude of causes for thanksgiving. This situation was clearly foretold by an inspired writer of the first century C.E. in these words: “Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, . . . unthankful, disloyal, . . . without love of goodness.”—2 Tim. 3:2, 3.
That spirit of unthankfulness is contagious. It can spread and affect others like a virulent disease. It can poison the minds of even those who have turned to the worship of the only true God, Jehovah, if in any way they neglect to keep strong their faith and trust in the One they worship. How important, then, to meditate frequently on all the benefits Jehovah has showered upon us—yes, even before we were conscious of his benign rule of all the universe! And there are special reasons to be thankful that we are alive in this particular period of human history, that we have an insight into God’s marvelous purposes for mankind and this earthly planet that was created to be man’s lasting, beautiful home.—Jer. 9:24.
Remember, we were all born into a dying race. From the very day of birth we have been subject to fear of death through inheritance from our sinner parents. We have been at the mercy of selfish, tyrannical rulers and of men who, like wild beasts, have been greedy for prey. We have been duped, robbed, impoverished, not alone as to material things, but, what is worse, as to spiritual things. We have stumbled around in a dark and merciless world with apparently no one to care about our welfare. (Ezek. 34:2-6) We may even have prayed for help without knowing to whom we prayed.
Many of us had even reached a critical point in life, perhaps a dead end, an impossible situation, with no way out, or so it seemed. Like birds caught in a snare and at the mercy of the trapper, such have been unable to help themselves, facing almost certain death or at least total frustration and loss of desire to live. They were, they felt, beyond any help. Others, completely aghast at the realities of life in a wicked system of things, have plunged into debauchery of one kind or another in an effort to forget the stabbing pains of disappointment in life’s possibilities for them. This, too, proved to be vain.
But then, at the right time for them, Jehovah stepped into the picture. It may have been through one of his Witnesses coming along with the good news of the Kingdom. It may have been by reason of reading one of the many Bible study aids published by Jehovah’s witnesses. The results were astonishing! Eyes and ears were opened to things hitherto unseen and unheard, wonderful spiritual things! The meaning of God’s Word, the Bible, gradually began to unfold. A whole new vista of life and usefulness opened up on the basis of the glowing promises of a new order.
Next we learned that there were many others who had been through like disappointing and frustrating experiences in life and who were now, just as we were, thrilled over the prospects ahead, the prospect of life in a new system of things in which righteousness would predominate. (2 Pet. 3:13) And we found that they assembled regularly in a Kingdom Hall, where every meeting had to do with improving our knowledge of God and his provision of salvation. What a completely different association that was from any we had previously experienced in worldly social and religious circles! Surely we had many reasons for thinking about repayment to the generous Giver of all these good things!
In this new and refreshing association with other grateful ones, it became our privilege to lend ourselves generously to the aims and activities of the group. As we enjoyed the conveniences of the Kingdom Hall we became conscious of the fact that it must cost something to maintain such places. There was no need for anyone to shake a collection plate under our nose or supply us with printed dues envelopes, as is the practice in many of Christendom’s religious houses. No one has to solicit funds to carry on the work of the great Owner of the universe, we learned. Yes, we came to realize that it is repugnant to true Christians to beg, cajole and pressurize people into giving contributions. Responsible men in the congregations, we noted, were fully aware that such solicitation is not in harmony with the spirit and principles of Christianity.
Of course, there was no losing sight of the practical view of the matter. It does cost something to maintain the Kingdom Halls, to supply heat, lighting and other conveniences that render them suitable for the work of conducting a Bible education campaign. From time to time older men in the congregation would inform those assembled about the expenses entailed, and about the opportunity for all willing ones to share in defraying the expense, not on a per capita basis, nor by some arbitrary determination, but wholly on the basis of the ability and willingness of the contributors. In each Kingdom Hall there is a contribution box, never prominent, into which anyone may drop his gift. The whole arrangement is quite opposite to the idea of solicitation. Only gifts willingly offered are appreciated by Jehovah and his Christian servants.—2 Cor. 9:7.
In due time we learned about the extent of the work of Jehovah’s witnesses, spread across some 208 lands around the earth; about the tremendous undertaking of reaching out into those lands with the Kingdom message, training and sending missionaries, helping nationals of those countries to take up and forward the same fine work among their fellow citizens. All of this, we knew, cost something. And this is what prompted us, each one, to raise the question: How may I share more positively in this marvelous global activity, even though I am not in a position to leave my home?
Well, we soon found the answer. How happy we were to learn that it was appropriate to send our personal contributions toward this grand life-giving work to the branch office of the Society administering the activities of Jehovah’s witnesses in our homeland! For example, for persons in the United States the appropriate address to use for this purpose, we learned, was Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 117 Adams Street, Brooklyn, New York 11201.
Other important ways of striving in our own small way to repay Jehovah for all his blessings came to our attention in due course. We learned that it is possible to share personally in the great preaching and teaching work that achieves God’s sworn purpose to find and care for a multitude of straying sheeplike men and women in these urgent days before this old system of things reaches its end in a time of great tribulation. (Ezek. 34:11) By regular attendance at Kingdom Hall meetings, training for such participation is received as well as great encouragement by association with other grateful ones. And what a delight to be learning to do what Christ Jesus and his disciples were doing some nineteen hundred years ago! Thrilling too the knowledge that at this late date there are still such opportunities for persons seeking to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus!
As we look back upon all the way that Jehovah our God has led us, the benefits he has conferred so generously, can we stifle the surge of gratitude that rises in our hearts? Can we afford to forget all his loving-kindnesses and go back to harping on our petty troubles and complaints? No, but with the inspired psalmist we can joyously declare: “Our soul is like a bird that is escaped from the trap of baiters. The trap is broken, and we ourselves have escaped. Our help is in the name of Jehovah, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Ps. 124:7, 8) The “God merciful and gracious” has liberated us from the vanity of a godless life, from the frustrations of self-centered living, yes, from ‘ropes of encircling death,’ for has he not given us hope of life through Jesus Christ?
It is clear that the course of gratitude is now to sing forth the praises of our God to all we meet, letting them know about the blessings we have received, our completely new outlook on the future. Let us share with them the goodness of Jehovah. Freely we have received; freely let us give to other needy ones. And as we give of ourselves and our means, let us have confidence that Jehovah is pleased with our humble efforts to respond to the question: “What shall I repay to Jehovah for all his benefits to me?”—Ps. 116:12.