The Giver of “Every Good Gift”
“On one occasion I was called upon by a minister of the Reformed church. He wanted to know how I managed my church. I said to him: . . . ‘We pay no salaries; there is nothing to make people quarrel. We never take up a collection.’ ‘How do you get the money?’ he asked. I replied, ‘Now, Dr.——, if I tell you what is the simplest truth you will hardly be able to believe it. When people get interested in this way, they find no basket placed under their nose. But they see there are expenses. They say to themselves, “This hall costs something. . . . How can I get a little money into this cause?”’ He looked at me as if he thought, ‘What do you take me for—a greenhorn?’ I said, ‘Now, Dr.——, I am telling you the plain truth. . . . When one gets a blessing and has any means, he wants to use it for the Lord. If he has no means, why should we prod him for it?’”
—Charles T. Russell, first president of the Watch Tower Society, “The Watch Tower,” July 15, 1915.
WE GIVE because Jehovah God was the first to give. His giving started untold aeons ago with creation—his very first creation, his “only-begotten Son.” (John 3:16) Out of love, he gave the gift of life to others.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is Jehovah’s greatest gift to us. But the Son of God is, in himself, not the end of God’s giving. “The surpassing undeserved kindness of God” is what the apostle Paul calls Jehovah’s “indescribable free gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:14, 15) This gift evidently includes the sum total of all the goodness and loving-kindness that God extends to his people through Jesus. Such undeserved kindness is so marvelous that it surpasses human power of description or expression. Yet, there is still more to God’s giving.
A long time ago, a king wisely and humbly acknowledged that whatever good things he gave as gifts really belonged to Jehovah. He said: “For everything in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah, the One also lifting yourself up as head over all. . . . And yet, 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.”—1 Chronicles 29:11-14.
James, a disciple of Jesus Christ, knew that Jehovah God is the source of anything that is altogether good in every respect. Only perfect gifts come from him. 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.
Even in the matter of gift giving, James saw how different God is from humans. Humans can give good gifts but do not always do so. These gifts may spring from a selfish motive, or they may be used to tempt a person to do something bad. With Jehovah there is no variation; he does not change. Hence, the nature of his gifts do not change. They are always pure. They always promote the welfare and happiness of humankind. They are always kind and helpful, never destructive.
Motives for Giving Gifts
In the days of James, the popular religious leaders practiced gift giving solely to be seen by men. They gave out of a bad motive. Eager for the applause of men, they compromised their righteous standards. Christians, however, were to be different. Jesus counseled them: “When you go making gifts of mercy, do not blow a trumpet ahead of you, just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full. But you, 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.”—Matthew 6:2-4.
A Christian’s reason for gift giving is to help others fill a need or to make them happy or to promote true worship. It is not for self-glorification. Jehovah’s eyes, after all, can penetrate into the deepest corner of our heart. He can see the innermost motive behind our gifts of mercy.
Jehovah’s Witnesses endeavor to follow the example of Jehovah and his Son in gift giving. They give of what they have. They have the Kingdom good news, and they give this to the blessing of others. They know that Proverbs 3:9 states: “Honor Jehovah with your valuable things and with the firstfruits of all your produce.” Because every branch office, congregation, and individual earnestly seeks to contribute to the welfare of all, the entire brotherhood is made spiritually strong and prosperous. Material prosperity does not lead to spiritual prosperity, but spiritual prosperity does bring material prosperity sufficient for the needs of Jehovah’s work.
Ways to Share
There are many ways in which everyone can contribute personally to support the good news. One way is with respect to Kingdom Halls. All members of the congregation use the Kingdom Hall. Someone has provided funds for its construction or rental, lighting, temperature control, and upkeep. Since congregation support by everyone is necessary, contribution boxes are placed in the Kingdom Hall, and the voluntary donations received are used to defray the expenses of the congregation. From the surplus, contributions to the local Watch Tower branch may be made, according to the congregation’s decision.
Contributions can be made to the Society’s branch itself for training and supporting missionaries and special pioneers in parts of the world where the good news has not reached the general population. Other expenses in the spreading of the good news are in connection with the work of traveling overseers. The apostle Paul, who set the example in the traveling work in the first century, commended the congregation in Philippi: “You sent something to me both once and a second time for my need.” (Philippians 4:14-16) Besides the cost of these features of full-time service, which all branches have, there is the maintaining of each Bethel home and those who live and work there. The writing and printing of literature that contains the beautiful message of the good news are indeed privileges given by God, but distribution of the literature is also necessary, and it entails expenses. Then there is the expense of assemblies and conventions, not to mention court cases that have been fought to ‘defend and legally establish the good news.’—Philippians 1:7.
The time spent in preaching the good news by each servant of Jehovah is voluntary, and so is his giving of material funds. The regular setting aside of money to be used in support of the expansion of true worship is advised by the apostle Paul: “Now concerning the collection that is for the holy ones, . . . every first day of the week let each of you at his own house set something aside in store as he may be prospering.”—1 Corinthians 16:1, 2.
When a person makes a donation, he does not always know exactly how it will be used, but he sees the results in the expansion of Kingdom preaching. Reports in the 1993 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses show that the Kingdom good news is being preached in more than 200 lands and islands of the sea by more than 4,500,000 Christian ministers. These reports are heartwarming. Any gift then, regardless of size, assists in the spreading of the good news worldwide.
This work is financed by the combined giving of all. Some are able to give more, which assists the preaching work to a greater degree. Others give less. But those who make modest donations need not feel ashamed or feel that their share is too insignificant. Jehovah certainly does not feel that way. Jesus made this quite clear when he showed how much Jehovah appreciated the widow’s mite. “Then he saw a certain needy widow drop two small coins of very little value there, and he said: ‘I tell you truthfully, This widow, although poor, dropped in more than they all did. For all these dropped in gifts out of their surplus, but this woman out of her want dropped in all the means of living she had.’”—Luke 21:2-4.
No matter what our financial situation may be, we can give in ways that please Jehovah. The psalmist well sums up how we can give glory to our King and Judge. He states: “Ascribe to Jehovah the glory belonging to his name; carry a gift and come into his courtyards.” (Psalm 96:8) Therefore, may we imitate the loving example of our heavenly Father by our cheerful gift giving because he first gave to us.
[Box on page 30]
HOW SOME MAKE DONATIONS TO THE KINGDOM-PREACHING 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.
[Pictures on page 31]
How your donations are used:
1. Bethel volunteers
2. Branch office construction
3. Disaster relief
4. Kingdom Halls