Giving Our Best to Jehovah
“‘Cursed is the one acting cunningly when there exists in his drove a male animal, and he is making a vow and sacrificing a ruined one to Jehovah. For I am a great King,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘and my name will be fear-inspiring among the nations.’”—Mal. 1:14.
1. Can humans really give anything to Jehovah?
DOES it not seem strange that imperfect humans should even think about giving anything to the Great Creator, Jehovah? Why, there is not a thing in the whole universe that does not already belong to him! In his Word, he himself declares: “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine.” (Hag. 2:8) “To me belongs every wild animal of the forest, the beasts upon a thousand mountains. I well know every winged creature of the mountains, and the animal throngs of the open field are with me. If I were hungry, I would not say it to you;, for to me the productive land and its fullness belong. Shall I eat the flesh of powerful bulls, and the blood of he-goats shall I drink?” (Ps. 50:10-13) Surely Jehovah God has no need of gifts from anyone, for he is complete in himself. He is the self-existent One.
2. What did David recognize about voluntary offerings made to Jehovah?
2 As a youth who had been taught the Mosaic law, David the son of the Judean Jesse knew that Jehovah owns the whole earth. (Ex. 19:5) In later years, when making contributions for the temple to be built at Jerusalem, David prayerfully addressed the Most High in these words: “Who am I and who are my people, that we should retain power to make voluntary offerings like this? For everything is from you, and out of your own hand we have given to you. O Jehovah our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build for you a house for your holy name, from your hand it is, and to you it all belongs.”—1 Chron. 29:14, 16.
3. (a) What questions might be raised about the gifts made to Jehovah? (b) What is the Scriptural answer to such questions?
3 So David recognized that we humans cannot enrich the Almighty in any way. Indeed, whatever we may give is merely a returning of a small part of what we have received from the Source of “every good gift and every perfect present.” (Jas. 1:17) But does this mean that the bringing of gifts to our Creator has no value? Does he spurn the offerings of his devoted servants? The answer of God’s Word is, No. Jehovah God invites humble worshipers to bring their gifts. At Psalm 96:8 we read: “Ascribe to Jehovah the glory belonging to his name; carry a gift and come into his courtyards.”
4. What kind of gifts are pleasing to Jehovah?
4 Of course, Jehovah wanted fine offerings that were prompted by appreciative hearts. These would be gifts that involved self-denial as well as prayerful and thoughtful preparation. For example, while the Mosaic law was in force, an Israelite could not bring just any animal to the gate of the tabernacle courtyard and expect to receive favorable recognition from God. The Law stated: “In case a man should present a communion sacrifice to Jehovah in order to pay a vow or as a voluntary offering, it should prove to be a sound one among the herd or the flock, in order to gain approval. No defect at all should prove to be in it. No case of blindness or fracture or having a cut or wart or scabbiness or ringworm, none of these must you present to Jehovah.”—Lev. 22:21, 22.
5. What did the Law stipulate regarding grain offerings?
5 As for grain offerings, these were to be of fine flour. (Lev. 2:1, 4; 6:14, 15; Num. 15:4) This requirement would have ruled out all coarse flour, flour that was not sifted well. Yes, only the best was appropriate as an offering to the Holy One, Jehovah.
6. What bearing did heart motivation have on the acceptability of an Israelite’s sacrifices?
6 Another important requirement for making acceptable offerings to Jehovah was that of a person’s having the right heart motivation. Without a deep inward desire to please his Creator, an Israelite would be making sacrifices in vain. Note how this is stressed in the following words: “‘Of what benefit to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?’ says Jehovah. ‘I have had enough of whole burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed animals; and in the blood of young bulls and male lambs and he-goats I have taken no delight. When you people keep coming in to see my face, who is it that has required this from your hand, to trample my courtyards? Stop bringing in any more valueless grain offerings. Incense—it is something detestable to me . . . Your new moons and your festal seasons my soul has hated. To me they have become a burden; I have become tired of bearing them. And when you spread out your palms, I hide my eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I am not listening; with bloodshed your very hands have become filled.’” (Isa. 1:11-15) When genuine devotion and a spirit of generosity were lacking, the outward forms of worship were comparable to bribes designed to buy divine favor. They were wholly unacceptable.
OUR GIFT TO JEHOVAH
7. Why do we today not offer animal sacrifices?
7 Unlike the Israelites, we disciples of Jesus Christ do not present sacrifices on some material altar. The Law covenant that commanded such offerings was canceled on the basis of Jesus’ death on a stake. (Col. 2:13, 14) This gives rise to the question, What sacrifices can we offer?
8. At Romans 12:1, what did the apostle Paul write about sacrifice, and how are we to understand his words?
8 The Christian apostle Paul encouraged spirit-anointed believers who would give up their body of flesh and receive a glorious spiritual body on being raised from the dead: “I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason.” (Rom. 12:1) Thus, they were encouraged to use their energies and capabilities in serving the Creator. The body members are the instruments through which a person can speak and act. Hence, ‘to present their bodies a living sacrifice,’ these Christians had to be active, ‘doing all things to God’s glory.’ (1 Cor. 10:31) For that sacrifice to be “holy,” they had to maintain moral and spiritual cleanness. And only by letting unhypocritical love motivate their actions would such presenting of their bodies be “acceptable to God.” (1 Cor. 13:3) When they led a life of full devotion to God in attitude, word and action because of deliberate choice, appreciating that it was right in view of the divine compassion that has been shown them, they were performing sacred service with their “power of reason.” Regardless of what our present hope may be, whether heavenly or earthly, can we not likewise be whole-souled in our service to God?
9. At Hebrews 13:15, 16, what encouragement are we given?
9 In the letter to the Hebrews, we learn still more about acceptable sacrifices. Hebrews 13:15, 16 says: “Through [Christ] let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name. Moreover, do not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”—Compare Hosea 14:2.
10. What does “the fruit of lips” include, and what questions might we ask ourselves in this regard?
10 Our offering “the fruit of lips” would include sharing in the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” Are we truly giving our best to this important preaching work? Do we eagerly seize opportunities to give a witness? Is our life as Christians exemplary so that “the fruit of lips” constitutes an acceptable sacrifice of praise?—Rom. 2:21, 22.
11. Why is it beneficial to examine our attitude about Christian meetings?
11 Public expressions at Christian meetings are also a part of our sacrifice. Obviously, this necessitates our being present when fellow believers are assembled for worship. Do we really long to be with others of like precious faith? Or, do we allow other activities and interests needlessly to occupy the time that we could be with our brothers? We do well to imitate the example of the psalmist who compared his intense desire for communion with Jehovah God in association with fellow worshipers to the longing of a hind for water. Without water, a deer simply could not survive. (Ps. 42:1, 2) Do we really appreciate that we cannot live without Jehovah, “the source of living water”?—Jer. 2:13.
12, 13. How can we derive the greatest benefit from Christian meetings?
12 While at meetings, we would certainly want to derive the greatest benefit. This we can do by seeking to apply the following inspired advice: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, . . . encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) Since the great day of Jehovah for executing his judgment is bound to come, do we not have good reason to give prayerful consideration to what we can do to strengthen and encourage our brothers? Surely we do not want any of them to be found in a disapproved state when that day comes. (Luke 21:34-36) Do the expressions we make reveal that we are genuinely concerned about their spiritual well-being? Through our comments at meetings, are we promoting love, an unselfish interest in the eternal welfare of others? Do our statements encourage all to continue performing fine works, being zealous in proclaiming the “good news” and being exemplary in all aspects of daily living?—Compare Titus 2:1-14.
13 By inciting others “to love and fine works,” we also arouse ourselves, impressing on our minds and hearts the importance of works that are consistent with faith. This can have a highly beneficial effect on us, causing us to examine ourselves and to make improvement in Christian living and activity. And when we listen to what others say and then apply the Scriptural encouragement, we gain the happiness that comes from being “doers of the word.”—Jas. 1:22-25.
14, 15. Besides spiritual giving, what else do our “sacrifices” include?
14 The letter to the Hebrews encourages sharing, responding to the needs of others. Those to whom this letter was directed were told: “Keep on remembering the former days in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great contest under sufferings, sometimes while you were being exposed as in a theater both to reproaches and tribulations, and sometimes while you became sharers with those who were having such an experience. For you both expressed sympathy for those in prison and joyfully took the plundering of your belongings, knowing you yourselves have a better and an abiding possession.” (Heb. 10:32-34) Do we likewise express sympathy to those who are suffering and do we come to their aid?
15 The situation in which God’s servants find themselves varies considerably. Some may be poverty-stricken. Others may be sad and depressed, in sore need of comfort and fellowship. Still others may be discouraged on account of serious personal problems. It is true that Jehovah God will see to it that the righteous are not entirely forsaken. (Ps. 37:25) But should we not personally feel the responsibility of being God’s agents for extending kindness and help? Our being neglectful in this respect is a serious matter. The apostle John wrote: “Whoever has this world’s means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassions upon him, in what way does the love of God remain in him? Little children, let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth.”—1 John 3:17, 18.
WHY WE ARE INVITED TO BRING OUR GIFTS
16, 17. Why does Jehovah invite us to make “sacrifices”?
16 In order for us to be faithful in offering our spiritual sacrifices, we need to appreciate why Jehovah God invites us to do so. Our heavenly Father already knows our inmost thoughts and attitudes. But he wants us to express our love for him by the positive good that we do for others. It is his desire that his servants be like him in showing kindness and generosity. (Matt. 5:43-48) This provides the means for him to draw humans to himself. How so? By observing our laudable way of life, others may come to recognize that real happiness comes from doing God’s will.—Matt. 5:16.
17 Since Jehovah God made us, he knows what is in our best interests. This is another reason for his inviting us to bring our gifts to him. A generous spirit contributes toward our enjoying peace of mind and heart as well as genuine happiness now. The Bible states: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) Additionally, we can rest assured that our heavenly Father will reward us richly both now and in the eternal future. The Son of God said: “When making gifts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, that your gifts of mercy may be in secret; then your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you.” (Matt. 6:3, 4) “When you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.”—Luke 14:13, 14.
18. What should be true of our giving, and why?
18 So, taking a comprehensive view of our sacrifices, we must admit that at meetings, when sharing the “good news” with others, and in attitude, word and action, yes, in all areas of life, we should be prepared to give our very best. We should not be halfhearted about such vital matters. What is at stake is Jehovah’s approval and our being granted life. May we, therefore, live in harmony with the Scriptural assurance: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.”—Heb. 6:10.
[Pictures on page 17]
ALL MAY SHARE IN:
COMMENTING AT MEETINGS
PREACHING AND TEACHING
ENCOURAGING OTHERS SPIRITUALLY AND MATERIALLY
INCITING OTHERS TO LOVE AND FINE WORKS