Riches of Generosity Bring Joy
AS A loving Christian overseer, the apostle Paul had the very best interests of his fellow believers at heart. (2 Corinthians 11:28) Hence, when in the mid-50’s of the first century of our Common Era he organized a monetary collection for needy Christians in Judea, he used the opportunity to teach a valuable lesson about generosity. Paul stressed that cheerful giving is highly esteemed by Jehovah: “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.
In Deep Poverty, yet Liberal
Most first-century Christians were not socially prominent. Paul noted that among them were “not many powerful.” They were “the weak things of the world,” “the ignoble things of the world.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28) For example, the Christians living in Macedonia were in “deep poverty” and “under affliction.” Still, those humble Macedonian believers begged for the privilege of contributing financially to “the ministry destined for the holy ones”; and what they gave, Paul testified, was “beyond their actual ability”!—2 Corinthians 8:1-4.
Still, such generous giving was not judged by the amount given. Rather, motivation, willingness to share, and heart disposition were important. Paul indicated to the Corinthian Christians that both mind and heart are involved in making contributions. He said: “I know your readiness of mind of which I am boasting to the Macedonians about you, . . . and your zeal has stirred up the majority of them.” They were ‘resolved in their heart’ to give generously.—2 Corinthians 9:2, 7.
‘Their Spirit Incited Them’
The apostle Paul may have had in mind an earlier example of generous giving, one that took place in the wilderness more than 15 centuries before his time. The 12 tribes of Israel had been freed from slavery in Egypt. They were now at the foot of Mount Sinai, and Jehovah commanded them to build a tabernacle for worship and equip it with implements of worship. This would take many resources, and the nation was invited to contribute.
How did those Israelites respond? “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.” (Exodus 35:21) Did the nation make a generous offering? Very much so! The following report was given to Moses: “The people are bringing much more than what the service needs for the work that Jehovah has commanded to be done.”—Exodus 36:5.
What was the financial condition of the Israelites back then? Not long before, they had been miserable slaves, ‘oppressed in burden-bearing,’ leading a ‘bitter life,’ a life of “affliction.” (Exodus 1:11, 14; 3:7; 5:10-18) It is unlikely, then, that they were materially prosperous. True, the Israelites left the land of their slavery with flocks and herds. (Exodus 12:32) But those may not have amounted to much, since soon after leaving Egypt, they complained that they had neither meat nor bread to eat.—Exodus 16:3.
Where, then, did the Israelites get the valuables that they contributed to the building of the tabernacle? From their former masters, the Egyptians. The Bible says: “The sons of Israel . . . went asking from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold and mantles. . . . [The Egyptians] granted them what was asked.” These generous acts on the part of the Egyptians were a blessing from Jehovah, not from Pharaoh. The divine record says: “Jehovah gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, so that these granted them what was asked.”—Exodus 12:35, 36.
Imagine, then, how the Israelites felt. Generations had suffered through bitter slavery and deprivation. Now they were free and had rich material possessions. How would they feel about parting with some of those possessions? They might have felt that they had earned them and had a right to keep them. However, when called upon to contribute financially to support pure worship, they did so—and not reluctantly or stingily! They did not forget that Jehovah had made it possible for them to have those material things. Thus, they gave abundantly of their silver and gold and livestock. They were “willing-hearted.” Their ‘hearts impelled them.’ ‘Their spirit incited them.’ It truly was “a voluntary offering to Jehovah.”—Exodus 25:1-9; 35:4-9, 20-29; 36:3-7.
A Readiness to Give
The size of a contribution does not necessarily give a true picture of the giver’s generosity. Once Jesus Christ watched as people deposited money in the temple’s treasury chests. Rich individuals dropped in many coins, but Jesus was impressed when he saw a needy widow drop in two small coins of very little value. He said: “This widow, although poor, dropped in more than they all did. . . . Out of her want [she] dropped in all the means of living she had.”—Luke 21:1-4; Mark 12:41-44.
Paul’s comments to the Corinthians were in harmony with this thought of Jesus. When it came to making contributions to help needy fellow believers, Paul observed: “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, contributions are not a matter for competition or comparison. A person gives according to his means, and Jehovah is pleased with a spirit of liberality.
Although no one can actually enrich Jehovah, who owns all things, contributing is a privilege that affords worshipers opportunity to display their love for him. (1 Chronicles 29:14-17) Contributions given, not for show or for other selfish motives, but with the proper attitude and to advance true worship, bring joy and with it God’s blessing. (Matthew 6:1-4) Jesus said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) We can enjoy a share in that happiness by giving of our strength in Jehovah’s service and by setting aside something from our material belongings for the support of true worship and the aid of deserving ones.—1 Corinthians 16:1, 2.
Readiness to Give Today
Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses are thrilled to observe the worldwide progress in the preaching of “this good news of the kingdom.” (Matthew 24:14) During the last decade of the 20th century, more than 3,000,000 persons were baptized to symbolize their dedication to Jehovah God, and some 30,000 new congregations were formed. Yes, one third of the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses that exist today were formed during the last ten years! Most of this increase is the result of the hard work of sincere Christian men and women who give of their time and energy in order to visit their neighbors and tell them about Jehovah’s purposes. Some of the increase is the result of the work of missionaries, who leave their homes and travel to distant lands to help there with the Kingdom-preaching work. The increase has resulted in the organizing of new circuits, which have necessitated the appointment of new circuit overseers. In addition, more Bibles have been needed for use in preaching and personal study. More printed literature has been needed. And in one country after another, branch buildings have had to be enlarged or replaced with larger premises. All these added needs have been supplied with the help of voluntary contributions from Jehovah’s people.
A Need for Kingdom Halls
An outstanding need that has become evident with the increase in the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that for Kingdom Halls. Surveys conducted early in the year 2000 revealed the need for more than 11,000 Kingdom Halls in developing nations, where finances are limited. Consider Angola. Despite years of civil war, that country is experiencing an average annual increase of about 10 percent in the number of Kingdom publishers. However, the majority of the 675 congregations in this large African country meet in the open. There are only 22 Kingdom Halls in the country, and of these only 12 have some type of roof.
A similar situation exists in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although there are almost 300 congregations in the capital city of Kinshasa, there are only ten Kingdom Halls. Nationwide, this country has an immediate need for more than 1,500 Kingdom Halls. Because of the rapid growth in Eastern European countries, Russia and Ukraine report a combined need for hundreds of Kingdom Halls. The explosive growth in Latin America is underscored in Brazil, where there are more than half a million Witnesses and a great need for more Kingdom Halls.
To meet the needs in such countries, Jehovah’s Witnesses are implementing an accelerated program for constructing Kingdom Halls. The program is funded by the generous contributions of the worldwide brotherhood, so that even the poorest congregations will be able to have a suitable center of worship.
As in the time of ancient Israel, much can be accomplished because sincere Christians ‘honor Jehovah with their valuable things.’ (Proverbs 3:9, 10) The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses would like to take this opportunity to express deep gratitude to everyone whose heart has impelled him to share in this voluntary giving. And we can be confident that Jehovah’s spirit will continue to stir the hearts of his people to support the needs of the ever-expanding Kingdom work.
As the worldwide expansion proceeds, may we continually look for opportunities to show our cheerfulness and willingness in giving of our strength, our time, and our resources. And may we experience the true joy that such a giving spirit brings.
[Box on page 29]
“USE IT WISELY!”
“I’m ten years old. I’m sending you this money so you can buy paper or anything else to make books.”—Cindy.
“I love to send you this money to make more books for us. I saved this money from helping my daddy. So use it wisely!”—Pam, age seven.
“I was sad about the hurricane. I hope you are safe. This [$2, U.S.] is all the money in my bank.”—Allison, age four.
“My name is Rudy, and I’m 11 years old. My brother Ralph is six. And my sister Judith is two and a half. We have been saving from our allowance for three months to help our brothers in [a war-torn area]. We were able to save 20 dollars that we are sending now.”
“I feel sorry for the brothers [hit by a hurricane]. I made 17 dollars working with my dad. I’m not sending this money for anything in particular, so I’ll let you decide.”—Maclean, age eight.
[Box on page 31]
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 may 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 as an outright gift.
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 a brochure in English and Spanish entitled Charitable Planning 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: (845) 306-0707