Jehovah Loves Cheerful Givers
“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.
1. How have God and Christ been cheerful givers?
JEHOVAH was the first cheerful giver. He joyfully gave life to his only-begotten Son and used him to bring the angels and mankind into existence. (Proverbs 8:30, 31; Colossians 1:13-17) God gave us life and breath and all things, including rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with good cheer. (Acts 14:17; 17:25) Indeed, both God and his Son, Jesus Christ, are cheerful givers. They gladly give with an unselfish spirit. Jehovah loved the world of mankind 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.” And Jesus ungrudgingly ‘gave his soul a ransom in exchange for many.’—John 3:16; Matthew 20:28.
2. According to Paul, what kind of giver does God love?
2 Servants of God and Christ should, therefore, be cheerful givers. Such giving was encouraged in the apostle Paul’s second letter to Christians in Corinth, written about 55 C.E. Apparently referring to voluntary and private monetary donations made especially to help needy Christians in Jerusalem and Judea, 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; Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Galatians 2:10) How have God’s people reacted to opportunities to give? And what can we learn from Paul’s counsel on giving?
Impelled by Willing Hearts
3. To what extent did the Israelites support the construction of the tabernacle for Jehovah’s worship?
3 Willing hearts impel God’s people to give of themselves and their resources in support of the divine purpose. For instance, the Israelites of Moses’ day joyfully supported the construction of the tabernacle for Jehovah’s worship. The hearts of some women impelled them to spin goat’s hair, while certain men served as craftsmen. The people cheerfully gave gold, silver, wood, linen, and other things as a voluntary “contribution for Jehovah.” (Exodus 35:4-35) They were so generous that donated materials “proved to be enough for all the work to be done, and more than enough.”—Exodus 36:4-7.
4. With what attitude did David and others contribute toward the temple?
4 Centuries later, King David contributed heavily toward the temple of Jehovah to be built by his son Solomon. Since David ‘took pleasure in the house of God,’ he gave his “special property” of gold and silver. Princes, chiefs, and others ‘filled their hand with a gift for Jehovah.’ With what effect? Why, “the people gave way to rejoicing over their making voluntary offerings, for it was with a complete heart that they made voluntary offerings to Jehovah”! (1 Chronicles 29:3-9) They were cheerful givers.
5. How did the Israelites support true worship through the centuries?
5 Through the centuries, the Israelites were privileged to support the tabernacle, the later temples, and the priestly and Levitical services there. For example, in Nehemiah’s day the Jews resolved to make contributions to maintain pure worship, aware that they should not neglect God’s house. (Nehemiah 10:32-39) Similarly today, Jehovah’s Witnesses cheerfully make voluntary donations to build and maintain meeting places and to support true worship.
6. Give examples of cheerful giving by Christians.
6 Early Christians were cheerful givers. For instance, Gaius was doing “a faithful work” in being hospitable to those traveling in the interests of the Kingdom, even as Jehovah’s Witnesses extend hospitality to traveling overseers now sent out by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. (3 John 5-8) It costs something to have these brothers travel to congregations and to extend hospitality to them, but how beneficial this is spiritually!—Romans 1:11, 12.
7. How did the Philippians use their material resources?
7 Congregations as a whole have used their material resources to promote Kingdom interests. For example, Paul told believers in Philippi: “Even in Thessalonica, you sent something to me both once and a second time for my need. Not that I am earnestly seeking the gift, but that I am earnestly seeking the fruitage that brings more credit to your account.” (Philippians 4:15-17) The Philippians gave cheerfully, but what factors prompt such cheerful giving?
What Prompts Cheerful Giving?
8. How would you prove that God’s spirit moves his people to be cheerful givers?
8 Jehovah’s holy spirit, or active force, moves his people to be cheerful givers. When Judean Christians were in need, God’s spirit moved other believers to help them materially. To encourage Christians in Corinth to do their utmost in making such donations, Paul cited the example of the congregations in Macedonia. Though Macedonian believers were experiencing persecution and poverty, they showed brotherly love by giving beyond their actual ability. They even begged for the privilege of giving! (2 Corinthians 8:1-5) God’s cause does not depend solely on the donations of the wealthy. (James 2:5) His materially poor dedicated servants have been the chief mainstay in financing the Kingdom-preaching work. (Matthew 24:14) Yet, they do not suffer because of their generosity, for God unfailingly provides for the needs of his people in this work, and the force behind its continuance and increase is his spirit.
9. How are faith, knowledge, and love related to cheerful giving?
9 Cheerful giving is prompted by faith, knowledge, and love. Paul said: “Just as you [Corinthians] are abounding in everything, in faith and word and knowledge and all earnestness and in this love of ours to you, may you also abound in this kind giving. It is not in the way of commanding you, but in view of the earnestness of others and to make a test of the genuineness of your love, that I am speaking.” (2 Corinthians 8:7, 8) Contributing to Jehovah’s cause, especially when the giver has limited means, requires faith in God’s future provisions. Christians abounding in knowledge want to serve Jehovah’s purpose, and those who abound in love for him and his people cheerfully use their resources to further his cause.
10. Why can it be said that Jesus’ example moves Christians to give cheerfully?
10 Jesus’ example moves Christians to give cheerfully. After urging the Corinthians to give out of love, Paul said: “You know the undeserved kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich he became poor for your sakes, that you might become rich through his poverty.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Richer in heaven than any other son of God, Jesus emptied himself of all of this and took up human life. (Philippians 2:5-8) By becoming poor in this unselfish way, however, Jesus contributed to the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and laid down his life as a ransom sacrifice for the benefit of humans who would accept it. In harmony with Jesus’ example, should we not give cheerfully to help others and contribute to the sanctification of Jehovah’s name?
11, 12. How can good planning make us cheerful givers?
11 Good planning makes cheerful giving possible. Paul told the Corinthians: “Every first day of the week let each of you at his own house set something aside in store as he may be prospering, so that when I arrive collections will not take place then.” (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2) In a similar private and voluntary way, those wishing to make donations to further the Kingdom work today would do well to set aside some of their earnings for that purpose. As a result of such good planning, individual Witnesses, families, and congregations can make donations to advance true worship.
12 Implementing plans to contribute will make us cheerful. As Jesus said, “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) So the Corinthians could increase their joy by following Paul’s counsel to carry out their year-old plan to send funds to Jerusalem. “It is especially acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what a person does not have,” he said. When someone makes contributions according to what he has, they should be valued highly. If we trust in God, he can equalize things so that those having much are generous, not wasteful, and those with little do not have deficiencies that reduce their strength and ability to serve him.—2 Corinthians 8:10-15.
Careful Management of Giving
13. Why could the Corinthians have confidence in Paul’s supervision of donations?
13 Although Paul supervised the donation arrangement so that needy believers could enjoy material relief and engage more energetically in the preaching work, neither he nor others took any of the funds for their services. (2 Corinthians 8:16-24; 12:17, 18) Paul worked to meet his own material needs instead of imposing financial burdens on any congregation. (1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:8) In turning donations over to him, therefore, the Corinthians were entrusting them to a trustworthy, hardworking servant of God.
14. As to the use of donations, what record does the Watch Tower Society have?
14 Since the incorporation of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1884, contributors have had evidence that it is a trustworthy supervisor of all donations entrusted to it in behalf of Jehovah’s Kingdom work. According to its charter, the Society strives to fill the greatest need of all the people, the need for spiritual things. This is done in the form of Bible literature and instruction on how to gain salvation. Today, Jehovah is speeding up the gathering of sheeplike ones into his expanding organization, and his blessing on the wise use of donations in the Kingdom-preaching work is clear evidence of divine approval. (Isaiah 60:8, 22) We are confident that he will continue to move the hearts of cheerful givers.
15. Why does this magazine occasionally mention donations?
15 The Society occasionally uses the columns of this journal to alert readers to their privilege of making voluntary donations to the worldwide Kingdom-preaching work. This is not solicitation, but it is a reminder to all desiring to support “the holy work of the good news” as God prospers them. (Romans 15:16; 3 John 2) The Society uses all the money donated in the most economical way so as to make known Jehovah’s name and Kingdom. All contributions are gratefully received, acknowledged, and used to spread the good news of God’s Kingdom. For example, by these means missionary activities are sustained in many countries, and printing facilities vital to the dispensing of Bible knowledge are maintained and expanded. Further, contributions to the worldwide work are used to cover the mounting costs of producing Bibles and Bible-oriented publications as well as audiocassettes and videocassettes. In such ways Kingdom interests are advanced by cheerful givers.
Not Out Of Compulsion
16. Though few of Jehovah’s Witnesses are materially rich, why are their contributions appreciated?
16 Few Witnesses of Jehovah are materially rich. Though they may give modest sums to advance Kingdom interests, their donations are nevertheless significant. When Jesus saw a needy widow drop two small coins of little value into a temple treasury chest, he said: “This widow, although poor, dropped in more than they all did. For all these [other contributors] dropped in gifts out of their surplus, but this woman out of her want dropped in all the means of living she had.” (Luke 21:1-4) Although her gift was small, she was a cheerful giver—and her contribution was appreciated.
17, 18. What is the essence of Paul’s words at 2 Corinthians 9:7, and what is indicated by the Greek word rendered “cheerful”?
17 Regarding the relief work in behalf of Judean Christians, 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) The apostle may have alluded to a portion of Proverbs 22:8 in the Septuagint version, which says: “God blesseth a cheerful giver; and will supply the deficiency of his works.” (The Septuagint Bible, translated by Charles Thomson) Paul replaced “blesseth” with “loves,” but there is a connection, for a harvest of blessings results from God’s love.
18 The cheerful giver is truly happy to give. Why, from the Greek term rendered “cheerful” at 2 Corinthians 9:7 comes the word “hilarious”! After pointing this out, scholar R. C. H. Lenski said: “God loves the lighthearted, joyous, happy giver . . . [whose] faith is wreathed in smiles when another opportunity for giving greets him.” A person with such a joyful spirit does not give grudgingly or under compulsion but has his heart in his giving. Are you that cheerful about giving in support of Kingdom interests?
19. How did early Christians make contributions?
19 Early Christians did not pass collection plates or practice tithing by donating a tenth of their income for religious purposes. Rather, their contributions were completely voluntary. Tertullian, who was converted to Christianity about 190 C.E., wrote: “Though we have our treasure-chest, it is not made up of purchase-money, as of a religion that has its price. On the monthly day [apparently once a month], if he likes, each puts in a small donation; but only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able; for there is no compulsion; all is voluntary.”—Apology, Chapter XXXIX.
20, 21. What did an early issue of this magazine say about the privilege of supporting God’s cause financially, and how does this apply even now? (b) What happens when we honor Jehovah with our valuable things?
20 Voluntary giving has always been customary among Jehovah’s modern-day servants. At times, however, some have not taken full advantage of their privilege of supporting God’s cause by making donations. In February 1883, for instance, this magazine said: “Some are bearing so much pecuniary [monetary] burden for the sake of others, that their financial sinews are shrinking from over-work and exhaustion, and thus their usefulness is impaired; and not only so, but those who . . . have not fully taken in the situation, have been losers from lack of exercise in that direction.”
21 As the great crowd streams into Jehovah’s organization today, and as God’s work expands into Eastern Europe and other previously restricted areas, there is an increasing need for expansion of printing plants and other facilities. More Bibles and other publications must be printed. Many theocratic projects are under way; however, some could proceed more quickly if there were adequate funds. Of course, we have faith that God will provide what is needed, and we know that those ‘honoring Jehovah with their valuable things’ will be blessed. (Proverbs 3:9, 10) Indeed, “he that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Jehovah will ‘enrich us for every sort of generosity,’ and our cheerful giving will cause many to thank and praise him.—2 Corinthians 9:6-14.
Show Your Gratitude for God’s Gifts
22, 23. (a) What is God’s indescribable free gift? (b) Since we appreciate Jehovah’s gifts, what should we do?
22 Moved by deep gratitude, Paul himself said: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable free gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:15) As “a propitiatory sacrifice” for the sins of anointed Christians and for those of the world, Jesus is the basis and channel for Jehovah’s indescribable free gift. (1 John 2:1, 2) That gift is “the surpassing undeserved kindness of God” that he has shown to his people on earth through Jesus Christ, and it abounds to their salvation and to Jehovah’s glory and vindication.—2 Corinthians 9:14.
23 Our deep gratitude goes to Jehovah for his indescribable free gift and many other spiritual and material gifts to his people. Why, our heavenly Father’s goodness to us is so wonderful that it surpasses human powers of expression! And surely it should prompt us to be cheerful givers. With heartfelt appreciation, then, let us do all we can to advance the cause of our generous God, Jehovah, the first and foremost cheerful Giver!
Do You Recall?
□ Willing hearts have impelled Jehovah’s people to do what?
□ What prompts cheerful giving?
□ How does the Watch Tower Society use all donations it receives?
□ What kind of giver does God love, and how should we show our gratitude for His many gifts?
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When the tabernacle was being constructed, the Israelites worked industriously and made generous contributions for Jehovah
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Donations like that of the needy widow are appreciated and are significant