When Generosity Abounds
IF YOU had the opportunity to present a gift to a king, what would you give him? What if he were the wealthiest and wisest ruler in the world? Could you think of any gift that would please him? Some three thousand years ago, the queen of Sheba had to ponder those questions while preparing to visit just such a ruler—King Solomon of Israel.
Her gift, the Bible tells us, included 120 talents of gold “and a very great deal of balsam oil and precious stones.” At today’s prices, the gold alone was worth about $40,000,000. Balsam oil, an aromatic and medicinal oil, was ranked with gold as a precious commodity. While the Bible does not say how much oil the queen gave Solomon, it does tell us that her gift remained unequaled.—1 Kings 10:10.
The queen of Sheba was obviously a wealthy and generous woman. What is more, her generosity was returned to her. “King Solomon,” the Bible says, “gave the queen of Sheba all her delight for which she had asked, besides the value of what she brought to the king.” (2 Chronicles 9:12) True, it may have been the custom for royalty to exchange gifts; yet, the Bible specifically mentions Solomon’s “openhandedness.” (1 Kings 10:13) Solomon himself wrote: “The generous soul will itself be made fat, and the one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.”—Proverbs 11:25.
Of course, the queen of Sheba also made a big sacrifice in time and effort to visit Solomon. Apparently Sheba was in the area of the present-day Republic of Yemen; so the queen and her camel train traveled well over 1,000 miles [1,600 km] to Jerusalem. As Jesus said, “she came from the ends of the earth.” Why did the queen of Sheba go to so much trouble? She came primarily “to hear the wisdom of Solomon.”—Luke 11:31.
First Kings 10:1, 2 says that the queen of Sheba “came to test [Solomon] with perplexing questions. . . . [She] began to speak to him all that happened to be close to her heart.” How did Solomon respond? “Solomon, in turn, went on to tell her all her matters. There proved to be no matter hidden from the king that he did not tell her.”—1 Kings 10:3.
Astounded at what she heard and saw, the queen humbly replied: “Happy are these servants of yours who are standing before you constantly, listening to your wisdom!” (1 Kings 10:4-8) She did not pronounce Solomon’s servants happy because they were surrounded by opulence—although they were. Rather, Solomon’s servants were blessed because they could constantly listen to Solomon’s God-given wisdom. What a fine example the queen of Sheba is for Jehovah’s people today, who bask in the wisdom of the Creator himself and that of his Son, Jesus Christ!
Also noteworthy was the queen’s next comment to Solomon: “May Jehovah your God come to be blessed.” (1 Kings 10:9) Evidently, she saw Jehovah’s hand in Solomon’s wisdom and prosperity. This accords with what Jehovah earlier promised to Israel. ‘Keeping my regulations,’ he said, “is wisdom on your part and understanding on your part before the eyes of the peoples who will hear of all these regulations, and they will certainly say, ‘This great nation is undoubtedly a wise and understanding people.’”—Deuteronomy 4:5-7.
Coming to the Giver of Wisdom
In modern times, millions have also been drawn to Jehovah’s organization because they have perceived that “the Israel of God” are “a wise and understanding people,” not by nature, but because God’s perfect laws and principles guide them. (Galatians 6:16) Baptism figures show that in recent years hundreds of thousands of new disciples each year have said, in effect, to spiritual Israel: “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.” (Zechariah 8:23) How amazed these new ones are when they see the banquet of spiritual food that Jehovah has spread before his servants! They had never seen the like of it in their former religions.—Isaiah 25:6.
Giving to the Greatest Giver
Having received so much, appreciative ones naturally wonder what they in return can give to the greatest King and Giver, Jehovah God. The Bible reveals that the best gift we can give to Jehovah is “a sacrifice of praise.” (Hebrews 13:15) Why? Because this sacrifice is directly related to the saving of life, a major concern of Jehovah in this time of the end. (Ezekiel 18:23) Additionally, giving of one’s strength and time to help the sick, the depressed, and others is an acceptable sacrifice.—1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 13:16; James 1:27.
Financial contributions play a key role. They make possible the production of Bibles, Bible-based literature, and the obtaining of places where Christians can congregate. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Contributions also provide relief funds to help victims of wars and natural disasters.
To guide us in the matter of giving, God’s Word sets out some fine principles. For example, it teaches that Christians give, not some set amount, but what they are reasonably able to give, doing so willingly, out of a cheerful heart. (2 Corinthians 9:7) Some can give much; others, like the needy widow in Jesus’ time, may be able to give only a little. (Luke 21:2-4) Is it not remarkable that Jehovah—the Owner of the entire universe—values every well-motivated gift and sacrifice made in his name?—Hebrews 6:10.
In order that they may give cheerfully, Jehovah’s people are kept informed of various needs and of effective ways in which those needs can be met. Jehovah’s holy spirit, in turn, moves willing hearts to respond. In ancient Israel this procedure was followed in the building of the tabernacle and, later, the temple. (Exodus 25:2; 35:5, 21, 29; 36:5-7; 39:32; 1 Chronicles 29:1-19) In the first century C.E., that same procedure enabled Christians to have the resources they needed to take the good news of the Kingdom to the nations and to support the brothers in Israel during a famine.—1 Corinthians 16:2-4; 2 Corinthians 8:4, 15; Colossians 1:23.
Likewise today, Jehovah has blessed his people, and he will continue to bless them, by giving them what they need to complete the greatest preaching and teaching campaign the world has ever seen.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
What Are the Present Needs?
In recent years Jehovah’s Witnesses have been registered in many countries where their work was previously restricted. As a result, many of these lands have seen a tremendous growth in the number of publishers. Understandably, Bibles and Bible-based literature is in great demand.
So are Kingdom Halls. Some 9,000 new Kingdom Halls are needed around the world right now. If one Kingdom Hall were to be built each day, it would require more than 24 years to meet present needs! Meantime, about seven new congregations are being formed daily, many of them in parts of the world where finances are limited. On the other hand, many of these places do not require expensive buildings. In some places, a Kingdom Hall that fills the need and serves as a good witness to the community can be completed for as little as $6,000.
In the first century, certain Christians were better off financially than were others, so the apostle Paul wrote: “By means of an equalizing your surplus just now might offset their deficiency, in order that their surplus might also come to offset your deficiency, that an equalizing might take place.” (2 Corinthians 8:14) Today, a similar “equalizing” is providing funds needed to supply Bibles, Bible literature, Kingdom Halls, disaster relief, and other things in many parts of the world. What a blessing such giving is—both to the giver and to the receiver!—Acts 20:35.
As indicated by the letters the Society receives from generous-hearted people, many readers of this magazine wish to help out but are unsure of the various ways in which contributions can be made. No doubt the accompanying box will help to answer their questions.
During Solomon’s glorious reign, “all the kings of the earth” who heard of him came to visit him. Yet, the Bible names only one ruler—the queen of Sheba. (2 Chronicles 9:23) What a sacrifice she made! But she was richly rewarded—so much so that by the end of her visit, she was left “breathless and amazed.”—2 Chronicles 9:4, Today’s English Version.
In the future, Jehovah, the greatest King and Giver, will do much more than Solomon ever could for those who make sacrifices for Him. In response, these will stand “breathless and amazed,” for not only will Jehovah preserve them through his fear-inspiring day of judgment but thereafter he will ‘open his hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.’—Psalm 145:16.
[Box on page 22]
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 “charitable planning” 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 charitable planning, 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. This brochure may be obtained by requesting a copy directly from the Charitable Planning Office.
After reading the brochure and conferring with the Charitable Planning Office, many have been able to assist the Society and at the same time, maximize the tax benefits of doing so. The Charitable Planning Office should be informed of and receive a copy of any relevant document pertaining to any of these arrangements. If you are interested in any of these charitable planning arrangements, you should contact the Charitable Planning Office, either in writing or by telephone, at the address listed below or at the Society’s office that serves your country.
CHARITABLE PLANNING OFFICE
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
100 Watchtower Drive, Patterson, New York 12563-9204
Telephone: (914) 306-1000
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The activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses are supported by voluntary donations