How Can We Repay Jehovah?
JEHOVAH GOD furnishes the best example of giving. He bestowed upon all mankind “life and breath and all things.” (Acts 17:25) God makes his sun rise upon wicked and righteous people alike. (Matthew 5:45) Indeed, ‘Jehovah gives us rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts to the full with food and good cheer.’ (Acts 14:15-17) Why, “every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the celestial lights”!—James 1:17.
Besides all of God’s material gifts, he sends out spiritual light and truth. (Psalm 43:3) Jehovah’s loyal servants are richly blessed with the spiritual food he supplies at the right time through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) We can benefit from God’s spiritual provisions because he has made it possible for sinful and dying humans to become reconciled to him. How? Through the death of his Son, Jesus Christ, who gave his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28; Romans 5:8-12) What a gift from the loving God, Jehovah!—John 3:16.
Any Repayment Possible?
Centuries before the ransom was provided, an inspired psalmist so deeply appreciated God-given mercy, deliverance, and help that he said: “What shall I repay to Jehovah for all his benefits to me? The cup of grand salvation I shall take up, and on the name of Jehovah I shall call. My vows I shall pay to Jehovah, yes, in front of all his people.”—Psalm 116:12-14.
If we are wholeheartedly dedicated to Jehovah, we call on his name in faith and pay vows made to him. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we can bless God by speaking well of him at all times and declaring the message of his Kingdom. (Psalm 145:1, 2, 10-13; Matthew 24:14) But we cannot enrich Jehovah, who owns all things, or repay him for all his benefits to us.—1 Chronicles 29:14-17.
Making donations for the advancement of Kingdom interests is not a way to repay or enrich Jehovah. However, such giving affords us opportunities to display our love for God. Contributions given, not out of selfish motivation or for publicity and praise, but with a generous spirit and to promote true worship, bring the giver happiness and Jehovah’s blessing. (Matthew 6:1-4; Acts 20:35) A person can be assured of a share in such giving and the resulting happiness by regularly setting aside something from his material possessions to support true worship and help deserving ones. (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2) Should this be done by tithing?
Should You Tithe?
Jehovah said through his prophet Malachi: “Bring all the tenth parts into the storehouse, that there may come to be food in my house; and test me out, please, in this respect, . . . whether I shall not open to you people the floodgates of the heavens and actually empty out upon you a blessing until there is no more want.” (Malachi 3:10) Another translation reads: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.”—An American Translation.
A tithe is a tenth part of something. It is the 10 percent given or paid as a tribute. Tithing is especially done for religious purposes. It means giving a tenth of one’s income to promote worship.
The patriarch Abraham (Abram) gave the king-priest Melchizedek of Salem one tenth of the spoils of victory over Chedorlaomer and his allies. (Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 7:4-10) Later, Jacob vowed to give one tenth of his substance to God. (Genesis 28:20-22) In each case, the giving of a tenth was voluntary, for those early Hebrews had no laws obligating them to give tithes.
Tithing Under the Law
As Jehovah’s people, the Israelites received tithing laws. These apparently involved the use of two tenths of the yearly income, though some scholars think there was only one annual tithe. No tithe was paid during a Sabbath year, since no income was then anticipated. (Leviticus 25:1-12) Tithes were given in addition to the firstfruits offered to God.—Exodus 23:19.
One tenth of the produce of the land and of the fruit trees and evidently of the increase of the herds and flocks was taken to the sanctuary and given to the Levites, who received no inheritance in the land. In turn, they gave a tenth of what they received to support the Aaronic priesthood. Evidently the grain was threshed and the fruit of the vine and of the olive tree was converted into wine and oil before the tithing. If an Israelite wished to give money instead of produce, he could do so, provided he added a fifth of its value.—Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-30.
Another tithe also seems to have been set aside. Normally, it was used by a family when the people assembled for festivals. But what if the distance to Jerusalem was too great for convenient transport of this tithe? Then the grain, new wine, oil, and animals were turned into money that could be carried easily. (Deuteronomy 12:4-18; 14:22-27) At the end of every third and sixth year of the seven-year sabbatical cycle, the tithe was set aside for the Levites, alien residents, widows, and fatherless boys.—Deuteronomy 14:28, 29; 26:12.
Under the Law, there was no penalty for failing to tithe. Rather, Jehovah placed the people under a strong moral obligation to provide tithes. At times they had to declare before him that the tithe had been paid in full. (Deuteronomy 26:13-15) Anything wrongfully withheld was looked upon as something stolen from God.—Malachi 3:7-9.
Tithing was not a burdensome arrangement. In fact, when the Israelites kept these laws, they became more prosperous. The tithe promoted true worship without placing undue emphasis on how to make material provisions for it. Hence, the tithing arrangement worked to the good of all in Israel. But is tithing for Christians?
Must Christians Tithe?
For some time, tithing was common in the realm of Christendom. The Encyclopedia Americana states: “It . . . gradually became common by the 6th century. The Council of Tours in 567 and the second Council of Macon in 585 advocated tithing. . . . Abuses became common, particularly when the right to collect tithes was often given or sold to laymen. Beginning with Pope Gregory VII this practice was declared illegal. Many laymen then presented their tithing rights to monasteries and cathedral chapters. The Reformation did not abolish tithing, and the practice was continued in the Roman Catholic Church and in Protestant countries.” Tithing was abolished or gradually replaced in various lands, and few religions now practice it.
So, then, are Christians required to tithe? In his Bible concordance, Alexander Cruden said: “Neither our Saviour, nor his apostles have commanded any thing in this affair of tithes.” Indeed, Christians are not commanded to tithe. God himself put an end to the Mosaic Law, with its tithing arrangements, nailing it to Jesus’ torture stake. (Romans 6:14; Colossians 2:13, 14) Instead of being required to give a specified amount to defray congregation expenses, therefore, Christians make voluntary contributions.
Honor Jehovah With Your Valuable Things
Of course, if a Christian voluntarily chooses to give a tenth of his income to advance true worship, there would be no Scriptural objection to his making such donations. In a letter accompanying his donation, a 15-year-old lad in Papua New Guinea wrote: “When I was little, my father used to tell me, ‘When you start working, you must give the firstfruits to Jehovah.’ I remember the words of Proverbs 3:1, 9, which say we must give the firstfruits to Jehovah to honor him. So I promised to do this, and now I must fulfill my promise. I am so happy to send this money to help the Kingdom work.” The Bible does not call upon Christians to make such a promise. However, generous giving is a fine way to display keen interest in promoting true worship.
A Christian may choose to set no specific limit on donations he makes to advance the worship of Jehovah God. To illustrate: While at an assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses, two elderly sisters were discussing donations that might be made to the Kingdom work. As to obtaining food at the assembly site, one of the sisters, who is 87 years old, asked how much it might cost so that she could donate that amount. The other sister, who is 90, said: ‘Just give what you think it is worth—and a little more.’ What a fine attitude this older sister displayed!
Since Jehovah’s people have dedicated their all to him, they gladly make monetary donations and other contributions to support true worship. (Compare 2 Corinthians 8:12.) In fact, the Christian way of giving provides opportunities to demonstrate deep appreciation for the worship of Jehovah. Such giving is not restricted to a tithe, or tenth, and there may be circumstances in which an individual is moved to give more to advance Kingdom interests.—Matthew 6:33.
The apostle Paul said: “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) If you give cheerfully and generously in support of true worship, you will fare well, for a wise proverb says: “Honor Jehovah with your valuable things and with the firstfruits of all your produce. Then your stores of supply will be filled with plenty; and with new wine your own press vats will overflow.”—Proverbs 3:9, 10.
We cannot enrich the Most High. To him belong all the gold and silver, the beasts on a thousand mountains, and valuable things without number. (Psalm 50:10-12) Never can we repay God for all his benefits to us. But we can show our deep appreciation for him and for the privilege of rendering sacred service to his praise. And we can be sure that rich blessings flow to those who give liberally to promote pure worship and honor the loving and generous God, Jehovah.—2 Corinthians 9:11.
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HOW SOME CONTRIBUTE TO THE KINGDOM WORK
□ CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WORLDWIDE WORK: Many set aside or budget an amount that they place in the contribution boxes labeled: “Contributions for the Society’s Worldwide Work—Matthew 24:14.” Each month congregations forward these amounts either to the world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, or to the nearest branch office.
□ GIFTS: Voluntary donations of money may be sent directly to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201, or to the Society’s local branch office. Jewelry or other valuables may also be donated. A brief letter stating that such is an outright gift should accompany these contributions.
□ CONDITIONAL-DONATION ARRANGEMENT: Money may be given to the Watch Tower Society to be held in trust until the donor’s death, with the provision that in the case of personal need, it will be returned to the donor.
□ INSURANCE: The Watch Tower Society may be named as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or in a retirement/pension plan. The Society should be informed of any such arrangement.
□ BANK ACCOUNTS: Bank accounts, certificates of deposit, or individual retirement accounts may be placed in trust for or made payable on death to the Watch Tower Society, in accord with local bank requirements. The Society should be informed of any such arrangements.
□ STOCKS AND BONDS: Stocks and bonds may be donated to the Watch Tower Society either as an outright gift or under an arrangement whereby the income continues to be paid to the donor.
□ REAL ESTATE: Salable real estate may be donated to the Watch Tower Society either by making an outright gift or by reserving a life estate to the donor, who can continue to live therein during his or her lifetime. One should contact the Society before deeding any real estate to the Society.
□ WILLS AND TRUSTS: Property or money may be bequeathed to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania by means of a legally executed will, or the Society may be named as a beneficiary of a trust agreement. A trust benefiting a religious organization may provide certain tax advantages. A copy of the will or trust agreement should be sent to the Society.
For more information regarding such matters, write to the Treasurer’s Office, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201, or to the Society’s local branch office.