“God loves a cheerful giver.”—2 CORINTHIANS 9:7.
1. What sacrifices do many people make, and why?
PEOPLE are willing to make sacrifices for the things that are important to them. Parents give their time, money, and energy to benefit their children. Young athletes who want to compete in the Olympics spend hours each day practicing and training very hard while their friends play and have fun. Jesus also made sacrifices for things that were important to him. It was not his goal to have a luxurious lifestyle or to have children. Instead, he wanted to use all his energy to support God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 4:17; Luke 9:58) His followers also made many sacrifices. God’s Kingdom was the most important thing in their lives, so they made sacrifices for it. (Matthew 4:18-22; 19:27) We should ask ourselves, ‘What is important in my life?’
2. (a) What sacrifices are necessary for all true Christians to make? (b) What extra sacrifices do some make?
2 Some sacrifices are necessary for all true Christians. They are needed if we want to keep a close friendship with God. Our personal time and the energy we use to pray, to read the Bible, to have family worship, to attend meetings, and to preach are sacrifices that we must make.* (See footnote.) (Joshua 1:8; Matthew 28:19, 20; Hebrews 10:24, 25) As a result of our efforts and Jehovah’s blessing, the preaching work is speeding up, and more and more people are beginning to worship God by going to “the mountain of the house of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 2:2) To support the Kingdom, many make sacrifices to serve at Bethel, to help with building Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls, to organize conventions, or to help those who suffered in natural disasters. Although Jehovah does not require us to make these extra sacrifices to have eternal life, they are necessary to support God’s Kingdom.
3. (a) How do we benefit when we make sacrifices for the Kingdom? (b) What questions should we answer?
3 Today more than ever before, it is important to do as much as we can for the Kingdom. How happy we are that so many people willingly make sacrifices for Jehovah! (Read Psalm 54:6.) If we do this too, we will be happy while we wait for God’s Kingdom to come. (Deuteronomy 16:15; Acts 20:35) It is important for all of us to examine ourselves closely and ask these questions: Are there ways we can do more for the Kingdom? How are we using our time, money, energy, and abilities? What should we not neglect when we make sacrifices? Let us discuss what we can learn from some examples of voluntary sacrifices. This will help us to have more joy.
SACRIFICES IN ANCIENT ISRAEL
4. How did the Israelites benefit from making sacrifices?
4 The people of ancient Israel had to offer sacrifices for their sins to be forgiven. Sacrifices were necessary to have Jehovah’s approval. Some of these were required, and others were voluntary. (Leviticus 23:37, 38) Whole burnt offerings could be made as voluntary offerings, or gifts, to Jehovah. One example of the offering of sacrifices to Jehovah was at the dedication of Solomon’s temple.—2 Chronicles 7:4-6.
5. How did Jehovah make it possible for even the poor to make sacrifices?
5 Jehovah lovingly understood that not everyone could give the same amount. He asked the Israelites to give only what they could. Jehovah’s law commanded that animal sacrifices be made and that the blood of the animals be poured out. These sacrifices were “a shadow of the good things to come” through Jesus. (Hebrews 10:1-4) However, Jehovah applied this law in a very reasonable way. For example, God would accept an offering of turtledoves if someone could not afford to give a larger offering, such as a ram or a goat. So even the poor could offer sacrifices to Jehovah and be joyful. (Leviticus 1:3, 10, 14; 5:7) Although Jehovah would accept different animals as offerings, he required two things from all who made voluntary sacrifices.
Jehovah asked the Israelites to give only what they could
6. What two things were required to make a sacrifice? How important was it to obey these requirements?
6 First, a person who made a sacrifice had to give his best. If an animal was sick or had a defect, Jehovah would not accept the sacrifice. (Leviticus 22:18-20) Second, the person giving the sacrifice had to be clean as explained in the Law. If he was not clean, he would first have to make a sin offering or a guilt offering so that he could again have Jehovah’s approval. Only then would Jehovah accept his voluntary sacrifice. (Leviticus 5:5, 6, 15) This was very serious. Jehovah commanded that if any person ate from a sacrifice while he was unclean, he was to be killed. (Leviticus 7:20, 21) However, if a person was clean and his sacrifice had no defect, the giver would have a good conscience and great joy.—Read 1 Chronicles 29:9.
MAKING SACRIFICES TODAY
7, 8. (a) What joy can those who make sacrifices for the Kingdom have? (b) What do we have that we can sacrifice to Jehovah?
7 Today, many of our brothers are willing to work hard in Jehovah’s service. This is pleasing to Jehovah. Working hard to help our brothers also gives us joy. One brother who helps to build Kingdom Halls and who has helped those affected by natural disasters says that it is difficult to describe how good he feels when helping his brothers. He says, “Seeing the happiness and appreciation of the local brothers and sisters after they stand in their new Kingdom Hall or when they receive assistance after a natural disaster makes all the work and effort worthwhile.”
8 Jehovah’s organization in modern times has always looked for ways to support the Kingdom. In 1904, Brother C. T. Russell explained that all of us should do our best to use our time, influence, money, and so forth, to glorify Jehovah. Though it costs us something to make sacrifices to Jehovah, they bring many blessings. (2 Samuel 24:21-24) Can we make better use of the things we sacrifice to Jehovah?
Can we make better use of our time, money, energy, and abilities?
9. What do we learn at Luke 10:2-4 about how we should use our time?
9 Our time. Much time and effort is needed to translate and print our literature, to build Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls, to organize conventions, to help with disaster relief, and to do other necessary work. We have only 24 hours in each day, yet Jesus gave us a principle that can help us use our time wisely. When he sent his disciples out to preach, Jesus told them not to “embrace anybody in greeting along the road.” (Luke 10:2-4) Why would Jesus give those instructions? In Jesus’ day when people greeted each other, they did not just bow or shake hands. Instead, they would hug each other several times and even bow down on the ground. All of this would take a lot of time. Jesus was not telling his followers to be rude. He was helping them to see that they did not have much time, so they needed to make the best use of their time and do what was most important. (Ephesians 5:16) Can we apply this principle so that we will have more time to support the Kingdom work?
10, 11. (a) What are some ways that our donations to the worldwide work are being used? (b) What principle stated at 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 can help us?
10 Our money. A lot of money is needed to support the worldwide work. Each year, tens of millions of dollars are spent to support the work of traveling overseers, special pioneers, and missionaries. Since 1999, more than 24,500 Kingdom Halls have been built in lands where our brothers do not have many material things. However, almost 6,400 Kingdom Halls are still needed. Every month, 100 million copies of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines are printed. All this work is supported by your voluntary donations.
11 Jehovah inspired the apostle Paul to write down a principle we can use when making donations. (Read 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2.) He encouraged his brothers in Corinth, not to wait until the end of the week to see what they had left, but to decide at the beginning of the week how much money they could give. Just as in the first century, brothers and sisters today plan ahead and generously contribute what they can. (Luke 21:1-4; Acts 4:32-35) Jehovah treasures the giving spirit of his people.
12, 13. What may cause some not to give Jehovah their best, but how will Jehovah help them?
12 Our energy and abilities. Jehovah supports our efforts to use our energy and abilities for the Kingdom. He promises to help us when we feel that we have no energy left. (Isaiah 40:29-31) Do we think that we do not have the skills needed to support the Kingdom work or that others would do a better job? Remember, Jehovah can improve our abilities, just as he did for Bezalel and Oholiab.—Exodus 31:1-6; see opening picture.
13 Jehovah encourages us to let nothing stop us from giving our best to him. (Proverbs 3:27) When the temple was being rebuilt, Jehovah told the Jews in Jerusalem to think seriously about what they were doing to support the work. (Haggai 1:2-5) They had become distracted and were not putting Jehovah’s work first in their lives. We should ask ourselves: Is doing Jehovah’s will more important to us than anything else? Can we think seriously about our life and plan how we can do more to support God’s Kingdom in these last days?
SACRIFICES ACCORDING TO WHAT WE HAVE
14, 15. (a) How are you encouraged by our brothers who do not have many material things? (b) What should we want to do?
14 Many people live in areas where life is very difficult and problems such as poverty are common. Our organization works to help brothers in these countries. (2 Corinthians 8:14) However, even our brothers who do not have many material things value the honor of giving. It pleases Jehovah when he sees them joyfully give what they can.—2 Corinthians 9:7.
15 In one very poor African country, some brothers set aside a section of their garden to grow produce to sell, and they donate any money that they earn from that section to the Kingdom work. In the same country, brothers and sisters wanted to help with a Kingdom Hall building project. But it was during their busy planting season. Still determined to help, they worked on the Kingdom Hall during the day, and in the evenings they worked to finish planting all their crops. What a giving spirit! This reminds us of the brothers in ancient Macedonia. They were in “deep poverty,” but they still begged Paul to let them give money to their brothers. (2 Corinthians 8:1-4) Let us also give what we can to show that we are thankful to Jehovah for the blessings he has given us.—Read Deuteronomy 16:17.
16. How can we make sure that our sacrifices are acceptable to Jehovah?
16 When we make sacrifices, we need to be careful that we do not neglect what is most important, such as our families. Just as the ancient Israelites did, we must make sure that our voluntary sacrifices are acceptable to God. We need to remember that our family and our personal worship to Jehovah are our most important responsibilities. When we give our time and resources to others, we must make sure that we do not neglect our family’s worship to Jehovah or neglect their material needs. It is not possible to sacrifice to Jehovah the time, energy, and resources that we do not have. (Read 2 Corinthians 8:12.) Also, we need to keep strengthening our own relationship with Jehovah. (1 Corinthians 9:26, 27) We can be sure that if we live according to Bible standards, our sacrifices will make us happy and will be “especially acceptable” to Jehovah.
We must make sure that our voluntary sacrifices are acceptable to God
OUR SACRIFICES HAVE GREAT VALUE
17, 18. How do we feel about those who are making sacrifices for the Kingdom, and what should all of us think about?
17 Many of our brothers and sisters unselfishly give their time, energy, and money to support the Kingdom work. (Philippians 2:17) We deeply appreciate those who show a giving spirit. We also commend the wives and children of brothers who take the lead in the Kingdom work for their generous sacrifices.
18 Much effort is needed to support the Kingdom work. Let us pray and think seriously about how we can give as much as we can to Jehovah. If we do, we will have many blessings now and many more “in the coming system of things.”—Mark 10:28-30.
See the article “Making Whole-Souled Sacrifices for Jehovah” in the January 15, 2012, issue of The Watchtower, pages 21-25.