“God Loves a Cheerful Giver”
JEHOVAH is the personification of generosity. Indeed, the Bible says that he is the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present.” (James 1:17) Consider, for example, the things that God created. He made food that is delicious, not tasteless; flowers that are colorful, not drab; sunsets that are spectacular, not lackluster. Yes, every facet of Jehovah’s creation gives evidence of his love and generosity. (Psalm 19:1, 2; 139:14) Furthermore, Jehovah is a cheerful Giver. He delights in doing good in behalf of his servants.—Psalm 84:11; 149:4.
The Israelites were commanded to reflect God’s generosity in their dealings with one another. “You must not harden your heart or be closefisted toward your poor brother,” Moses told them. “You should by all means give to him, and your heart should not be stingy.” (Deuteronomy 15:7, 10) Since giving was to come from the heart, the Israelites were to take delight in acts of generosity.
Christians were given similar admonition. Indeed, Jesus said that there is “happiness in giving.” (Acts 20:35) Jesus’ disciples were exemplary in giving cheerfully. For example, the Bible reports that in Jerusalem those who became believers “went selling their possessions and properties and distributing the proceeds to all, just as anyone would have the need.”—Acts 2:44, 45.
But these generous Judeans later fell into poverty. The Bible does not specify just what brought on their condition. Some scholars say that the famine referred to at Acts 11:28, 29 may have been the cause. In any event, the Judean Christians were in dire straits, and Paul wanted to make sure that their needs would be cared for. How would he do so?
A Collection for the Needy
Paul enlisted the help of congregations as far away as Macedonia, and he arranged for a collection to be taken in behalf of the poverty-stricken Christians in Judea. To the Corinthians, Paul wrote: “Just as I gave orders to the congregations of Galatia, do that way also yourselves. 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.
Paul intended that these funds be quickly forwarded to the brothers in Jerusalem, but the Corinthians were slow in responding to Paul’s instructions. Why? Were they insensitive to the plight of their Judean brothers? No, for Paul knew that the Corinthians were “abounding in everything, in faith and word and knowledge and all earnestness.” (2 Corinthians 8:7) Likely, they were quite busy attending to other vital matters that Paul addressed in his first letter to them. But now the situation in Jerusalem was urgent. So Paul addressed the issue in his second letter to the Corinthians.
Appeals to Generosity
First, Paul told the Corinthians about the Macedonians, whose response to the relief effort was exemplary. “During a great test under affliction,” Paul wrote, “their abundance of joy and their deep poverty made the riches of their generosity abound.” The Macedonians did not need prodding. On the contrary, Paul said that “they of their own accord kept begging us with much entreaty for the privilege of kindly giving.” The cheerful generosity of the Macedonians is all the more remarkable when we consider that they themselves were in “deep poverty.”—2 Corinthians 8:2-4.
In praising the Macedonians, was Paul trying to stir up a competitive spirit among the Corinthians? Not at all, for he knew that this was not a proper way to motivate. (Galatians 6:4) Furthermore, he knew that the Corinthians did not need to be shamed into doing the right thing. Rather, he had confidence that the Corinthians truly loved their Judean brothers and desired to contribute to the relief effort. “Already a year ago,” he told them, “you initiated not only the doing but also the wanting to do.” (2 Corinthians 8:10) Indeed, in some aspects of the relief effort, the Corinthians themselves were exemplary. “I know your readiness of mind of which I am boasting to the Macedonians about you,” Paul said to them, adding: “Your zeal has stirred up the majority of them.” (2 Corinthians 9:2) Now, though, the Corinthians needed to turn their zeal and their readiness of mind into action.
Hence, Paul told them: “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) Paul’s aim, then, was not to pressure the Corinthians, for a person can hardly be a cheerful giver when he is coerced. Evidently, Paul assumed that proper motive was already present, that each one had already resolved to give. In addition, Paul told them: “If the readiness is there first, it is especially acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what a person does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12) Yes, when the readiness is there—when a person is motivated by love—what he offers will be acceptable to God, no matter how seemingly small the amount.—Compare Luke 21:1-4.
Cheerful Givers Today
The relief effort in behalf of the Judean Christians provides a sterling example for our day. Jehovah’s Witnesses have undertaken a worldwide preaching campaign, bringing nourishment to millions who are spiritually famished. (Isaiah 65:13, 14) They do this in obedience to Jesus’ command: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”—Matthew 28:19, 20.
Fulfilling this commission is no easy task. It involves maintaining missionary homes and more than a hundred branch facilities around the world. It also entails the building of Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls so that worshipers of Jehovah will have suitable places to meet and encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) At times, Jehovah’s Witnesses also provide relief assistance in areas that have been devastated by natural disaster.
Think, too, of the enormous expense of printing. Each week, on the average, over 22,000,000 copies of The Watchtower or some 20,000,000 copies of Awake! are printed. In addition to this regular supply of spiritual food are the millions of books, brochures, audiocassettes, and videocassettes that are produced each year.
How is all this work supported? By voluntary donations. These are made, not for publicity or out of selfish motive, but to advance true worship. Hence, such giving brings happiness to the giver, along with God’s blessing. (Malachi 3:10; Matthew 6:1-4) Even children among Jehovah’s Witnesses show themselves to be generous, cheerful givers. For example, after hearing of the devastation wrought by a hurricane in one part of the United States, four-year-old Allison contributed $2. “This is all the money in my bank,” she wrote. “I know the children lost all their toys and books and dolls. Maybe you can use this money to buy a book for a little girl my age.” Maclean, age eight, wrote that he was happy that none of the brothers died in the storm. He added: “I made $17 selling hubcaps with my dad. I was going to buy something with my money, but then I thought of the brothers.”—See also box above.
Truly, Jehovah’s heart rejoices to see both young and old put his Kingdom interests first by ‘honoring him with their valuable things.’ (Proverbs 3:9, 10) Of course, no one can actually enrich Jehovah, for he owns all things. (1 Chronicles 29:14-17) But supporting the work is a privilege that affords the worshiper opportunity to display his love for Jehovah. We are grateful to everyone whose heart has impelled him in such a way.
Although Paul “gave orders,” this does not mean that he set forth arbitrary, compulsory demands. Instead, Paul was simply supervising the collection, which involved several congregations. In addition, Paul said that each one “at his own house” was to give “as he may be prospering.” In other words, each contribution was to be made in a private and voluntary manner. No one was coerced.
[Box on page 26, 27]
Ways in Which Some Choose to Give 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 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.
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.
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.
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, the Society has prepared an English-language brochure entitled Planned Giving to Benefit Kingdom Service Worldwide. 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 it is designed to help individuals in the United States who are planning to make a special gift to the Society now or to leave a bequest at death to select the most advantageous and efficient method in the light of their family and personal circumstances.
After reading the brochure and conferring 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 Planned Giving Desk should be informed of and receive a copy of any relevant document pertaining to any of these arrangements. Those interested in a brochure or in any of these planned giving arrangements should contact the Planned Giving Desk, either in writing or by telephone, at the address listed below or at the Society’s office that serves your country.
Planned Giving Desk
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
100 Watchtower Drive, Patterson, New York 12563-9204
Telephone: (914) 878-7000
[Box on page 28]
Children Are Cheerful Givers Too!
I want to give you this to make more books for us. I saved this money up from helping my daddy. Thank you very much for all the hard work you do.—Pamela, age seven.
I am sending you $6.85 to help build more Kingdom Halls. I made it this summer when I had a lemonade stand.—Selena, age six.
I was raising a hen from which I got a rooster and another hen. I dedicated the last one to Jehovah. It finally gave birth to three hens, which I sold. I enclose the amount for Jehovah’s work.—Thierry, age eight.
This is all the money I have! Please use it wisely. It was hard to save. Here is $21.—Sarah, age ten.
I won first prize in a school assignment, so I had to go on to the county competition. I won first place there too and then second prize in the district finals. For all of these, I won cash. I wanted to share some of that money with the Society. I feel that I was able to win these prizes because of the training I have received in the Theocratic Ministry School. I felt comfortable giving my report in front of the judges.—Amber, sixth grade.
I would like to give you this for Jehovah. Ask him what to do with it. He knows everything.—Karen, age six.
[Pictures on page 25]
The activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses are supported by voluntary donations