“Honor Jehovah With Your Valuable Things”—How?
“HONOR Jehovah with your valuable things and with the firstfruits of all your produce.” Locked within these inspired words of wisdom, penned some 2,600 years ago, is the key to experiencing Jehovah’s blessings in abundance, for the writer goes on to point out: “Then your stores of supply will be filled with plenty; and with new wine your own press vats will overflow.”—Proverbs 3:9, 10.
But what does it mean to honor God? What are the valuable things with which we are to honor Jehovah? And how may we do this?
In the Scriptures, the principal Hebrew word for honor, ka·vohdhʹ, literally means “heaviness.” So to honor a person means to regard him or her as being weighty, impressive, or amounting to something. Another Hebrew word for honor, yeqarʹ, is also rendered “precious” and “precious things.” Similarly, the Greek word ti·meʹ, translated “honor” in the Bible, conveys the sense of esteem, value, preciousness. Thus one honors another by showing that person deep respect and esteem.
Giving honor also has another aspect. Consider the account concerning the faithful Jew Mordecai, who on one occasion exposed a plot against the life of King Ahasuerus of ancient Persia. Later, when the king learned that nothing had been done to honor Mordecai for that deed, he asked his prime minister, Haman, how best to honor the one in whom the king had found delight. Haman thought that such honor would be for him, but how mistaken he was! Anyway, Haman said that such a person should be clothed in “royal apparel” and ride “a horse upon which the king does ride.” He concluded: “They must make him ride on the horse in the public square of the city, and they must call out before him, ‘This is how it is done to the man in whose honor the king himself has taken a delight.’” (Esther 6:1-9) In this instance, giving honor to a person included exalting him publicly so that he would be highly esteemed by all the people.
Similarly, giving honor to Jehovah has two aspects: personally showing him high regard and exalting him publicly by sharing in and supporting the work of public proclamation of his name.
“Your Valuable Things”—What Are They?
Our valuable things certainly include our life, our time, our talents, and our strength. What about our material possessions? Consider Jesus’ words when he 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) Jesus praised this widow for using her material assets in promoting Jehovah’s worship.
Clearly, then, the valuable things mentioned by Solomon also include any material possessions that we may have. And the expression “the firstfruits of all your produce” carries with it the thought of giving the best of our valuable things to Jehovah.
How, though, can giving of material things honor God? Do not all things already belong to him? (Psalm 50:10; 95:3-5) “Everything is from you,” acknowledged King David in a heartfelt prayer to Jehovah. And as to a large donation that he and his people made for the construction of the temple, David said: “Out of your own hand we have given to you.” (1 Chronicles 29:14) So when offering gifts to Jehovah, we are merely returning what he, out of the goodness of his heart, has given us. (1 Corinthians 4:7) But, as noted earlier, honoring Jehovah includes exalting him in the eyes of others. And material gifts that are used for the advancement of true worship honor God. The Bible contains excellent examples of this way of honoring Jehovah.
Examples From the Past
Some 3,500 years ago, when the time came for Jehovah to provide the tabernacle in the wilderness as a place of worship for the Israelites, the need arose for a variety of precious items required by the divinely given design. Jehovah commanded Moses to ‘let every willing-hearted one bring a contribution for Jehovah.’ (Exodus 35:5) The account goes on to relate: “They came, everyone whose heart impelled him, and they brought, everyone whose spirit incited him, Jehovah’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments.” (Exodus 35:21) Their voluntary offering, in fact, proved to be so much more than was needed for the work that the people had to be “restrained from bringing it in”!—Exodus 36:5, 6.
Consider another example. When the tabernacle had served its purpose and preparations were under way for the construction of the temple, David made a large personal contribution toward the temple that his son Solomon would build. He also issued a call to others to join in, and the people responded with gifts of valuable things for Jehovah. The silver and gold alone would be worth about 50 billion dollars at current values. “And the people gave way to rejoicing over their making voluntary offerings.”—1 Chronicles 29:3-9; 2 Chronicles 5:1.
“Voluntary Offerings” in Our Day
How can we share in the joy of making voluntary offerings in our day? The most important work going on in the world at this time is that of Kingdom preaching and disciple making. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8) And Jehovah has seen fit to entrust the earthly interests of the Kingdom to his Witnesses.—Isaiah 43:10.
It is obvious that money is required to finance the work Jehovah’s Witnesses are doing today. Building and maintaining Kingdom Halls, Assembly Halls, branch offices, factories, and Bethel homes involves money. Publishing and distributing Bibles and Bible-based publications in various languages also involve expenses. How are such organizational expenses met? By contributions that are strictly voluntary!
Most of the contributions are from individuals who—like the widow Jesus observed—have only moderate means. Not wanting to miss out on this aspect of honoring Jehovah, they contribute modest sums “according to their actual ability,” and, at times, even “beyond their actual ability.”—2 Corinthians 8:3, 4.
“Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver,” said the apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth. (2 Corinthians 9:7) Cheerful giving calls for good planning. 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 16:2) Similarly, in a private and voluntary way, those wishing to make donations to further the Kingdom work today can set aside some of their income for that purpose.
Jehovah Blesses Those Who Honor Him
While material prosperity in itself does not lead to spiritual prosperity, generously using our valuable things—our time, our strength, and our material resources—to honor Jehovah brings rich blessings. This is so because God, to whom everything belongs, assures us: “The generous soul will itself be made fat, and the one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.”—Proverbs 11:25.
Following King David’s death, his son Solomon used the voluntary contributions his father had collected to build a glorious temple, as Jehovah had directed. And as long as Solomon remained faithful in his worship of God, “Judah and Israel continued to dwell in security . . . from Dan to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon.” (1 Kings 4:25) Storehouses were filled, wine vats overflowed—as long as Israel ‘honored Jehovah with their valuable things.’
Later, through the prophet Malachi, Jehovah said: “‘Test me out, please, in this respect,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘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) The spiritual prosperity that Jehovah’s servants enjoy today is evidence that God has kept his promise.
Jehovah is certainly pleased when we do our part in advancing Kingdom interests. (Hebrews 13:15, 16) And he promises to sustain us if we ‘keep on seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.’ (Matthew 6:33) With great rejoicing of the heart, may we ‘honor Jehovah with our valuable things.’
[Box on page 28, 29]
Ways in Which Some Volunteer to Give Contributions Toward 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 local branch office.
Voluntary donations of money may also be sent directly to the Treasurer’s Office, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201-2483, or to the Society’s office that serves your country. Jewelry or other valuables may be donated as well. A brief letter stating that such is an outright gift should accompany these contributions.
Money may be given to the Watch Tower Society under a special arrangement in which, should the donor have a personal need, the donation will be returned to him. For more information, please contact the Treasurer’s Office at the address noted above.
In addition to outright gifts of money and conditional donations of money, there are other methods of giving to benefit Kingdom service worldwide. These include:
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 arrangements.
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 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 Society 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.
As the term “planned giving” implies, these types of donations typically require some planning on the part of the donor. To assist individuals desiring to benefit the Society through some form of planned giving, a brochure entitled Planned Giving to Benefit Kingdom Service Worldwide has been prepared. The brochure was written in response to the many inquiries the Society has received regarding gifts, wills, and trusts. It also contains additional useful information on estate, financial, and tax planning, and is designed to help individuals in the United States desiring to benefit Kingdom interests worldwide to select the most advantageous and efficient methods to do so in the light of their family and personal circumstances. By reading the brochure and conferring with those working with the Planned Giving Desk, many have been able to assist the Society and at the same time maximize the tax benefits of doing so. The brochure is available upon request, whether in writing or by telephone.
Those interested in any of these planned giving arrangements should contact the Planned Giving Desk, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 100 Watchtower Drive, Patterson, New York 12563-9204, telephone (914) 878-7000, or they should contact the Society’s office that serves their country.