Happiness That Comes from a “Willing Spirit”
“MAY I HELP?” These three small, kind words express much about an individual. What do they show? A “willing spirit.” Assisting someone or sharing in a meaningful work brings immeasurable joy and happiness to an individual. Many today are receiving a great deal of happiness from sharing in the worldwide work that Jesus commanded. What is that? “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) Yes, the 1977 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses shows that, in obedience to this command, 2,248,390 manifested this willing spirit during 1976 and spent 359,258,019 hours sharing this “good news” with others in 210 different lands and islands of the sea. Truly, a marvelous fulfillment of the prophetic words of David when he said: “Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force”!—Ps. 110:3.
This spirit of willingness has always been found among the worshipers of Jehovah, from Abel down to lovers of righteousness today. Jehovah has greatly blessed this willingness on the part of his people. How grateful we are that he has afforded us opportunity to express it, to our own happiness! Those today who have this spirit can appreciate Jesus’ own words when he said that “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) Have you experienced this? Yes, true happiness stems from the act of sharing, from having a part, being willing to assist. Being aware of our opportunities of giving and knowing how to do this can greatly contribute to our own happiness.
Consider Jehovah’s dealings with the nation of Israel in times past. They were afforded many opportunities to express a willing spirit and, when they did, they were greatly blessed. The account at Exodus 19:7, 8 tells of the time when “Moses came and called the older men of the people and set before them all these words that Jehovah had commanded him.” How did the Israelites react? “After that all the people answered unanimously and said: ‘All that Jehovah has spoken we are WILLING to do.’” (See also Exodus 24:3 and Ex 24:7.) The record shows that just as long as they continued to manifest this willing spirit they prospered.
Then there were times when opportunities presented themselves in other ways. While the Israelites were in the wilderness, supplies had to be gathered for the construction of the tabernacle. As Moses said: “From among yourselves take up a contribution for Jehovah. Let every WILLING-HEARTED one bring it as Jehovah’s contribution, namely, gold and silver and copper and blue thread,” and other things. (Ex. 35:4-9, 20-29) The Israelites’ willingness evidenced itself, not only by providing enough for the construction, but Exodus 36:6, 7 informs us that “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.” How the people must have rejoiced!
In stark contrast, many churches and religious organizations today are in serious financial difficulties, as well as facing other problems, due to the lack of willingness on the part of their members. All sorts of practices are employed to raise funds. In the United States there are church-sponsored bingo games, raffles, collection plates, money envelopes and now the adoption of “Las Vegas nights,” imitating the gambling done in that city. In a recent New York city newspaper, 407 pastors in the Archdiocese of New York were quoted as commenting on the critical financial condition of their churches. They stated that they were just keeping “their heads above water” today and that they had “apprehension about tomorrow.” The report continued: “Because of this apprehension, many pastors are planning to institute casino gambling open to the public when so called Las Vegas nights become legal for charitable institutions February 1, 1977. They may not like gambling, but they really do need the revenue it produces.” Can you imagine Christ Jesus instituting such practices at the temple during his time? The record clearly shows what he thought of commercial-minded men who tried such things.—Matt. 21:12, 13.
Such practices were never used, either, by the early Christians. They had the spirit of willingness. According to early historians there is no record of their having taken part in the passing of collection plates, in gambling or in tithing. One who became a convert to Christianity about 190 C.E., 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) Early Christians gave from the heart and it made them happy. They were willing.
When one feels compelled or obliged to give, either due to pressure, curious glances or frowns, there is a loss of happiness and joy. Then, too, there may be some financially wealthy persons who like to give out of their abundance, but possibly to gain prestige. However, while such may have their reward in full now, ‘the glory of men,’ they too lose out on the blessedness and happiness that Jesus spoke about. (Matt. 6:1-4) How well we can appreciate the encouraging words of the apostle Paul: “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. In everything you are being enriched for every sort of generosity, which produces through us an expression of thanks to God”!—2 Cor. 9:7, 11.
While all of us have our own personal responsibility of sharing in the Kingdom work and making contributions in various ways, many have found it convenient and heart satisfying to make voluntary contributions directly to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201. Why? Because of the tremendous worldwide Bible educational work that this Society is connected with, assisting in places that we cannot. In other lands Witnesses direct their donations to the local branch offices. Such branches are listed in the back of most of the Society’s books and booklets. Through this method many have had the joy of knowing that they are having a part in Jehovah’s work, as all the donations are used exclusively to support the proclamation of God’s kingdom. Availing ourselves of this opportunity can bring us much happiness. It is the willingness that counts, as the following examples show.
Recently a letter came to the Watch Tower Society, reading in part: “Dear Brothers, Enclosed please find a contribution from my mother, age eighty-six. She asked me to convey her own personal appreciation for the Watchtower and Awake! magazines which she receives by mail regularly. . . . She is thriving spiritually due to her regular Bible reading in addition to her Watchtower reading, for which she blesses Jehovah’s loving-kindness constantly.” Another letter said: “Dear Bethel Brothers, My name is Marisa. I’m eight years old. I live in Iowa. My grandpa sent me $2.00, so I am sending you a dollar, because I want to save the other dollar for the big assembly. I am sending this dollar so you can make new Watchtowers . . . I like the pretty pictures in The Watchtowers . . . I wonder when the paradise is going to come?” How Jehovah must bless the willing spirit on the part of these young ones! Such a spirit also reflects the fine training on the part of the parents, cultivating the willing attitude of “May I Help?”
Yes, such a willing spirit and loving support has enabled this Society to be used by Jehovah’s Witnesses as an instrument to carry on a multitude of functions, all of which have been a blessing to His people. Consider a few: It is used in arranging for assemblies on a local, regional, national and international scale, for the encouragement and spiritual upbuilding of all lovers of righteousness. It aids in sending out mature men as traveling overseers to help congregations to function in accord with God’s will. It is used in operating the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead for the training of missionaries and then in maintaining these missionaries in all parts of the world, even in some places where the “good news” has never before been preached. Through its financial assistance “special pioneers” can remain in isolated territories to teach the Bible and organize new congregations. Then, too, in its ninety-seven branches throughout the world, the staff, all of whom possess and manifest this spirit of willingness, are supported and cared for by means of this Society. Each year many millions of dollars are spent in maintaining these full-time workers who now number more than 22,700.
Consider, also, that besides this direct financial assistance provided these thousands of special representatives, through the Watch Tower Society financial aid has been given to the victims of natural disasters, emergencies, earthquakes and hurricanes. In addition, shipments of clothing and food are sent to the disaster area to relieve the suffering. Now, with the 1978 international assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses being announced and planned for, what a wonderful opportunity is afforded for all to assist these full-time servants, in various parts of the earth, to attend one of these assemblies! Such assistance will be possible by making a voluntary contribution, either directly to the Society or through the local Kingdom Hall, indicating that such funds be used for the “1978 Assembly Fund.”
Then, on a local scale, we all have excellent opportunities for happiness by manifesting this willing spirit. How about in the local congregation? Are there needs in respect to the Kingdom Hall—rent, construction, maintenance, fuel, light, water, and so forth? Knowing that such matters do not take care of themselves, are we alert to have a share, to help? A willing spirit eliminates all problems in these matters.
So as the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work expands and moves on mightily, we affirm that Jehovah God is truly the Backer of his work and people. As this worldwide expansion proceeds, may we continually look for opportunities to show our willingness, and may we experience the true joy that such a spirit brings. If we do, then our sentiments will be like David’s when he said: “Do restore to me the exultation of salvation by you, and may you support me even with a willing spirit.”—Ps. 51:12.