Everlasting Happiness Awaits Godly Givers
“God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—JOHN 3:16.
1, 2. (a) Who is the greatest Giver, and what is his greatest gift to mankind? (b) In giving his greatest gift, what quality did God manifest?
JEHOVAH GOD is the greatest Giver of all. It was with regard to him, the Creator of heaven and earth, that the Christian disciple James wrote: “Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the celestial lights, and with him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow.” (James 1:17) Jehovah is also the Giver of the greatest gift that could ever be given. Concerning his greatest gift to mankind, it was said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.
2 The speaker of those words was no one else but that only-begotten Son of God himself. An only-begotten son of a father would naturally appreciate and love such a father as his source of life and of all the good things provided for his enjoyment of life. But God’s love was not confined to this one Son alone. To extend such a gift to others of his creatures would manifest God’s exercising of love to an extraordinary degree. (Compare Romans 5:8-10.) This is all the more evident when we examine what the word “gave” really means in this context.
God’s Gift of “the Son of His Love”
3. Besides “the son of his love,” who else enjoyed the love of the heavenly Father?
3 For an unstated period of time, God had enjoyed personal association with this only-begotten Son—“the Son of his love”—in the heavenly realm. (Colossians 1:13) During all that time, the Father and the Son had grown in love and affection for each other so much that there came to be no other mutual love like theirs. The other creatures whom God brought into existence by means of his only-begotten Son were also loved as members of the divine family of Jehovah. Thus, love reigned over the entire family of God. It is correctly stated in the sacred Scriptures that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) The divine family would, therefore, be made up of those loved by the Father, Jehovah God.
4. How did God’s giving of his Son involve more than loss of personal association, and in whose behalf?
4 So close were the ties between Jehovah and his firstborn Son that depriving themselves of such intimate association would be a great loss in itself. (Colossians 1:15) But the ‘giving’ of this only-begotten Son meant more than God’s depriving himself of the personal association with “the Son of his love.” It went even to the extent of Jehovah’s permitting his Son to undergo death and thus be temporarily put out of existence as a member of God’s universal family. This was a death in behalf of those who never had been members of God’s family. Jehovah could make no greater gift in behalf of needy humankind than his only-begotten Son, whom the Scriptures also identify as “the beginning of the creation by God.”—Revelation 3:14.
5. (a) What was the plight of Adam’s offspring, and what did God’s justice require on the part of one of His faithful sons? (b) What would God’s greatest gift require on his own part?
5 The first human couple, Adam and Eve, failed to maintain their place as members of God’s family. That is the state in which they found themselves after being driven out of the garden of Eden because of sinning against God. Not only were they no longer members of God’s family but they were also under the sentence of death. Therefore, the problem was not merely that of restoring their offspring to God’s favor as members of his family but also that of lifting from them the divine sentence of death. According to the operation of divine justice, this would require that one of Jehovah God’s faithful sons experience death as a substitute, or a ransom. Hence, the big question was: Would the one chosen be willing to undergo such a substitutionary death in behalf of human sinners? Moreover, bringing this about would require a miracle on Almighty God’s part. It would also require an expression of divine love to an unparalleled degree.—Romans 8:32.
6. How was God’s Son able to measure up to the needs of the situation involving sinful mankind, and what did he say in this regard?
6 Only Jehovah’s firstborn Son could measure up to the special needs of the situation involving sinful mankind. He is such an image of his heavenly Father in showing affection for members of the divinely produced family that he is without equal among the sons of God. Since all other intelligent creatures were brought into existence by means of him, his affection for them would certainly be abundant. Furthermore, love is a dominant quality of Jehovah’s only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, because “he is the reflection of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of his very being.” (Hebrews 1:3) Showing his willingness to express this love to the greatest degree by giving his life in behalf of sinful mankind, Jesus told his 12 apostles: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”—Mark 10:45; see also John 15:13.
7, 8. (a) What was Jehovah’s motive in sending Jesus Christ into the world of mankind? (b) On what kind of mission did God send his only-begotten Son?
7 Jehovah God had a special reason for sending Jesus into this impoverished world of mankind. Divine love was the motivation for this, for Jesus himself said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life. For God sent forth his Son into the world, not for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him.”—John 3:16, 17.
8 It was on a mission of salvation that Jehovah lovingly sent his only-begotten Son. God did not send his Son here in order to judge the world. If God’s Son had been sent on such a judicial mission, the outlook for all mankind would have been hopeless. The sentence of adverse judgment that would have been pronounced by Jesus Christ upon the human family would have been condemnation to death. (Romans 5:12) Thus, by this unique expression of divine love, God counterbalanced the death sentence that sheer justice would have required.
9. How did the psalmist David feel about Jehovah’s giving?
9 In all things, Jehovah God expresses and demonstrates love as the excelling feature of his personality. And it may correctly be said that God lovingly gives his faithful worshipers on earth more than enough as far as good things are concerned. The psalmist David felt that way about the matter when he said to God: “How abundant your goodness is, which you have treasured up for those fearing you! Which you have rendered to those taking refuge in you, in front of the sons of men.” (Psalm 31:19) During David’s kingship over the nation of Israel—yes, throughout his life as a member of that nation specially selected by God—he often experienced the goodness of Jehovah. And David found it to be abundant.
Israel’s Loss of a Great Gift From God
10. Why was ancient Israel unlike any other nation on earth?
10 In having Jehovah as its God, ancient Israel was unlike any other nation on earth. By means of the prophet Moses as a mediator, Jehovah brought the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into a covenant relationship with himself. He had not dealt with any other nation according to this pattern. Therefore, the inspired psalmist could exclaim: “He is telling his word to Jacob, his regulations and his judicial decisions to Israel. He has not done that way to any other nation; and as for his judicial decisions, they have not known them. Praise Jah, you people!”—Psalm 147:19, 20.
11. Until when did Israel enjoy its favored position with God, and how did Jesus express the change in their relationship?
11 The nation of natural Israel continued in this favored relationship with God until it rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah in the year 33 of our Common Era. It was indeed a sad day for Israel when Jesus gave way to this mournful exclamation: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her,—how often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings! But you people did not want it. Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” (Matthew 23:37, 38) Jesus’ words indicated that the nation of Israel, though previously favored by Jehovah, had lost out on a special gift from God. How so?
12. Who were the ‘children of Jerusalem,’ and what would it have meant for Jesus to gather them together?
12 By using the term “children,” Jesus referred only to the natural circumcised Jews who lived in Jerusalem and represented the entire Jewish nation. For Jesus to gather together the ‘children of Jerusalem’ would have meant for him to bring these “children” into a new covenant with God, with himself serving as the Mediator between Jehovah and these natural Jews. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) This would have resulted in the forgiveness of sins, for such was the extent of God’s love. (Compare Malachi 1:2.) This would truly have been a great gift.
13. Israel’s rejection of God’s Son resulted in what loss, but why was Jehovah’s joy undiminished?
13 In harmony with his prophetic Word, Jehovah waited as long as it was reasonable before extending to non-Jews the gift of becoming partakers of the new covenant. But by rejecting God’s own Son, the Messiah, the nation of natural Israel lost out on this great gift. Jehovah therefore counterbalanced the rejection of his Son by extending this gift to people beyond the Jewish nation. In that way, Jehovah’s joy as the Great Giver continued undiminished.
The Happiness of Giving
14. Why is Jesus Christ the happiest creature in all the universe?
14 Jehovah is “the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) Giving to others is one thing that makes him happy. And in the first century C.E., his only-begotten Son said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) In harmony with this principle, Jesus has become the happiest creature of the Creator of the whole universe. How so? Well, next to Jehovah God himself, Jesus Christ has given the greatest gift of all by laying down his life for the benefit of mankind. In fact, he is ‘the happy Potentate.’ (1 Timothy 6:15) Jesus thus exemplifies what he said about the greater happiness of giving.
15. Of what will Jehovah never cease to be an example, and how can his intelligent creatures experience a measure of his happiness?
15 By means of Jesus Christ, Jehovah God will never fail to be a generous Giver to all of his intelligent creatures and will always be their best example in giving. Even as God finds pleasure in giving good gifts to others, so he has put the spirit of generosity in the hearts of his intelligent creatures on earth. In that way they reflect and imitate his personality and experience a measure of his happiness. (Genesis 1:26; Ephesians 5:1) Fittingly, Jesus told his followers: “Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.”—Luke 6:38.
16. To what giving did Jesus refer at Luke 6:38?
16 Jesus set his disciples an excellent example in making the course of giving a practice. He said that there would be a fine response to such giving on the part of receivers. At Luke 6:38, Jesus was not referring exclusively to the giving of material gifts. He was not telling his disciples to pursue a course that would impoverish them materially. Instead, he was directing them to a course that would give them a sense of spiritual fulfillment.
Everlasting Happiness Assured
17. What wonderful gift has God bestowed upon his Witnesses in these last days?
17 What a wonderful gift Jehovah, the Head of all creation, has bestowed upon his Witnesses in these last days! He has given us the good news of his Kingdom. We have the great privilege of being proclaimers of the established Kingdom of God in the hands of his reigning Son, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10) Being made the vocal Witnesses of the Most High God is a gift beyond compare, and the best way we can practice giving in imitation of God is to share the Kingdom message with others before the end of this wicked system of things comes.
18. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, what must we give to others?
18 The apostle Paul referred to hardships he had to undergo when declaring the Kingdom message to others. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) Jehovah’s modern-day Witnesses also have to undergo hardships and set aside personal preferences in an effort to give others the Kingdom hope. We may not be inclined to go to people’s doors, especially if we are shy. But as Christ’s followers, we cannot avoid, or sidestep, the privilege of giving spiritual things to others by preaching “this good news of the kingdom.” (Matthew 24:14) We need to have the same attitude that Jesus had. When faced with death, he prayed: “My Father, . . . not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) In the matter of giving others the good news of the Kingdom, Jehovah’s servants must do God’s will, not their own—what he wants, not what they may want.
19. Who are the Possessors of “the everlasting dwelling places,” and how can we make friends with them?
19 Such giving will involve our time and resources, but by being godly givers, we make sure that our happiness will be everlasting. Why? Because Jesus said: “Make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous riches [“worldly wealth,” New International Version], so that, when such fail, they may receive you into the everlasting dwelling places.” (Luke 16:9) It should be our objective to use “unrighteous riches” to make friends with the Possessors of “the everlasting dwelling places.” As the Creator, Jehovah owns everything, and his firstborn Son shares in that ownership as Heir of all things. (Psalm 50:10-12; Hebrews 1:1, 2) To make friends with them, we must use riches in a way that brings their approval. This includes having the right attitude in using material things for the benefit of others. (Compare Matthew 6:3, 4; 2 Corinthians 9:7.) We can use money in a proper way to fortify our friendship with Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. For example, we do this by cheerfully using what we have to come to the aid of people in real need and in expending our resources to further the interests of God’s Kingdom.—Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 6:33.
20. (a) Why can Jehovah and Jesus usher us into “everlasting dwelling places,” and where may these places be? (b) What privilege will be ours throughout eternity?
20 Because of their immortality, Jehovah God and Jesus Christ can be our Friends forever and can usher us into “everlasting dwelling places.” This is so whether these will be in heaven with all the holy angels or on this earth in Paradise restored. (Luke 23:43) God’s loving gift of Jesus Christ made all of this possible. (John 3:16) And Jehovah God will use Jesus to keep on giving to all creation, to His own unique happiness. In fact, throughout eternity we ourselves will have the privilege of giving under the universal sovereignty of Jehovah God and the kingship of his only-begotten Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This will result in everlasting happiness for all godly givers.
Do You Recall?
□ What would God’s greatest gift require on his part?
□ On what kind of mission did God send his Son?
□ Who is the happiest creature in all the universe, and why?
□ How will godly givers experience everlasting happiness?
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Do you appreciate God’s gift of his Son as a ransom sacrifice?
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Do you seek God’s Kingdom first by preaching the good news and by supporting that work with your resources?