Honor Jehovah With Your Riches
‘I’M NOT rich; I’m just a youth and have very few possessions.’ ‘I never had much education; what could I give Jehovah?’ ‘I have a severe impairment; Jehovah will have to pass me over.’ ‘I am advanced in years; it is too late for me to gain riches.’
Do thoughts like these run through your mind as you consider the title of this article? Yet, you may be richer than you think. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus to the congregation in Smyrna: “I know your tribulation and poverty—but you are rich.” (Revelation 2:9) Jesus had said earlier in the Sermon on the Mount: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth . . . Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) Do these words of our Master buoy you up? Yes, there may be something in you that our heavenly Father, Jehovah, and his Son consider very valuable. Let us investigate.
The Magnificence of Youth—Strength and Zeal
How can a youth render valuable service to Jehovah? Proverbs 20:29 assures us that young ones have a magnificent resource—physical vigor. How refreshing it is to see a youth devote his energy and freshness to the service of our God!
Let us turn the pages of history back to the beginning of the 1930’s when a number of youths heard about the truth contained in the Bible. One 16-year-old borrowed from his friend the Bible-study aid Creation, published by the Watch Tower Society. By the time he reached the chapter “The New Creation” and read about consecration, he knew what he wanted to do with his life. Immediately, he dedicated himself to the almighty Creator. The following year he read another publication, Vindication (Book One), and learned about the prospect of sharing in the vindication of God’s name and sovereignty. This information sparked a burning desire in him for the full-time service. That same year he applied for pioneer privileges, and to this day he continues in full-time service. While a number of his contemporaries have now completed their earthly course, many of those remaining still show a spirit of whole-souled devotion to our heavenly Father.
Do Christian youths today demonstrate this same valuable quality? They certainly do! Yearbook reports show that a multitude as numerous as dewdrops are now joining the pioneer ranks. (Psalm 110:3) The Philippines reported that 13 percent of all regular pioneers are under 20 years of age. Is that true elsewhere? Yes, it is. For example, a survey in the small islands of Trinidad and Tobago reveals that 282 new pioneers were enrolled between September 1, 1986, and September 30, 1988. Of that number, 48 were under 20 years of age. Would you like to hear from one of these?
Meet Charmaine Francis. She says: “From the time I was an infant, my parents talked to me about serving Jehovah and keeping faithful to him. When my parents would ask what I would do if they were put in jail for preaching the good news, I would say, ‘I’ll serve Jehovah.’ I made my dedication when I was 13, and I got baptized when I was 14. Right after that, on every school vacation, I engaged in auxiliary pioneering. In 1983 I entered regular pioneer service. In my first year of pioneering, I had the joy of helping a housewife to become a servant of Jehovah. I am now conducting nine Bible studies. One is preparing for baptism, and three others are attending meetings.”
Now, youths, do you not agree that you too have something valuable with which to honor Jehovah? Of course you have! Even though you may not now be in full-time service, you can honor Jehovah according to your circumstances. You may still have many years of schooling ahead of you. Yet, you have a valuable opportunity to praise Jehovah to your teachers and classmates. Christian Kalloo, who is ten years old, brought to school his copy of the book Life—How Did It Get Here—By Evolution or by Creation? The result? He placed seven copies with those interested in that subject. He also placed one in the house-to-house ministry. You can do likewise.—Compare Matthew 21:15, 16.
Our Grand Instructor Educates Us
The prophet Isaiah said: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has given me the tongue of the taught ones.” He gave credit to Jehovah for his speaking ability. He also recorded Jehovah’s promise: “My spirit that is upon you and my words that I have put in your mouth—they will not be removed from your mouth or from the mouth of your offspring or from the mouth of the offspring of your offspring.” (Isaiah 50:4; 59:21) Just as men unlettered and ordinary became Jesus’ apostles and God made them wise in spiritual matters, so Jehovah has made ordinary people wise today.
The Yearbook for 1986 has encouraging information for those who have had little or no formal education. In many countries Jehovah’s Witnesses arrange for literacy classes to be held in order to teach adults to read. How Jehovah has blessed such ones! Between 1962 and 1984 in Nigeria, some 19,238 made excellent progress in learning to read and write and are now able actually to read the Bible for themselves and also to those to whom they bear witness. What a rich blessing they have had! One brother did so well that he became the instructor of the reading class in his congregation.
Also consider Ezekiel Ovbiagele’s experience. He was unable to read when he was baptized in 1940. After learning to read, he progressed to the point of being enrolled as a pioneer, and still later, in 1953, he was appointed as a traveling overseer.
There are no age barriers in the learning process. Some may quote the old proverb: “You cannot teach an old dog new tricks!” That may be true of dogs, but people are not animals. Even the elderly can and do learn if they really wish to know and serve Jehovah. You may know of some who have done so. For example, Alice Okon in Nigeria was encouraged to read the Bible and learn of the hope it offers; she responded and rejoiced in the hope ahead. At 80 years of age, she was not too old to learn. Do you not think she made Jehovah’s heart glad? She is rich in faith. Proverbs 3:14 assures us that having wisdom “is better than having silver as gain and having it as produce than gold itself.” When one can speak the truth accurately, his words become like “apples of gold in silver carvings.”—Proverbs 25:11; Colossians 3:16.
Rich in Faith and Fine Works Even Though Disabled
A person who is born with a physical disability may feel very discouraged as he grows older and becomes aware of his situation. And it is traumatic when someone falls victim to disability in adulthood. Is the situation hopeless for such ones? No, it may even open the way to everlasting life.
During World War I, Edward Stead ran a livery stable in the small town of Arvada, Wyoming, U.S.A., and his wife operated a small hotel. Exposure to the dreadful Spanish flu lowered his resistance, and he fell victim to rheumatoid arthritis, which locked his joints so that his body was contorted into the shape of his wheelchair. Though otherwise helpless, he could still speak, and he had a little movement in his hands. For a time he contemplated suicide. Then he came in contact with the truth, and he eagerly embraced it.
At first he sat at the entrance to the hotel and talked to the guests about his newfound faith. He was able to move his hands enough to open up a Bible publication to show to those who stopped to listen. Some who appreciated his efforts called him the crippled sky pilot. Next, he decided he could witness in other towns if a special cab was built for him on a pickup truck. This was done, and for many years he pioneered in this unusual manner, logging thousands of miles between Wyoming and Texas, in company with two or three young pioneers who looked after him. For as long as he lived, he was a great encouragement to all who knew him.
If you feel discouraged because of a physical disability, please read the account on pages 22-5 of The Watchtower of November 15, 1986. All the men mentioned there are elders, spiritual counselors, qualified to comfort their brothers who may be sound in body but in need of spiritual upbuilding. How rich they are in the sight of God!—1 Timothy 6:18.
Esterleta Dick, 63 years of age, has been a baptized Witness for 16 years. In 1978 she lost her eyesight, but she has been serving as a regular pioneer for the past two years. How is this possible? Well, let her answer.
“One day,” she says, “a young pioneer sister asked me: ‘Sister Dick, you always reach your goals as an auxiliary pioneer. Why not try to be a regular pioneer?’”
Esterleta feared she would be a hindrance to the brothers, but she remembered that the circuit overseer had encouraged pioneer service. She says: “I started off, and now I have spent two years in the pioneer service. I do street witnessing and have quite a lot of return visits. Moreover, I conduct six home Bible studies. How? Prior to visiting the householder, the study material is read to me at home along with the cited scriptures, so that I am able to comment at the study. Three of my Bible students attend the meetings with me, and one is baptized.”
Anyone Can ‘Fill His Hand’ With a Gift
Is giving limited to the spiritual area? No. When King David of old was making preparations for building the temple, he asked: “Who is there volunteering to fill his hand today with a gift for Jehovah?” (1 Chronicles 29:5) Anyone could do so. Similarly today, young or old, in good health or not, many wish to make a voluntary material contribution to further the Kingdom interests. It may be done through the branch office of one’s country or through the local congregation. In this way anyone may, according to his ability, help bear the expense of seeing that the good news is preached in all the inhabited earth. It is a privilege.—2 Corinthians 9:8-12.
More important, you do have spiritual riches with which to honor Jehovah. The young have the vigor and freshness of youth. The unlearned can learn to offer Jehovah the fruit of their lips. The disabled can and have progressed in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, so that many are not only full-time praisers of Jehovah but also counselors and shepherds in the Christian congregation. Are you not richer than you thought? So, honor Jehovah with your riches.—Hebrews 13:15, 16.