“There is . . . happiness in giving.”—ACTS 20:35.
1. What proves that Jehovah is generous?
THERE was a time when Jehovah was completely alone. Then he decided to give the gift of life to intelligent creatures in the heavens and on the earth. “The happy God,” Jehovah, loves to give good things. (1 Timothy 1:11; James 1:17) And because Jehovah wants us to be happy too, he teaches us to be generous.—Romans 1:20.
2, 3. (a) Why are we happy when we are generous? (b) What will we learn in this article?
2 God made humans in his image. (Genesis 1:27) This means that Jehovah created us with the qualities that he has. To be truly happy and have Jehovah’s blessing, we need to follow his example. We need to be interested in other people and be generous givers. (Philippians 2:3, 4; James 1:5) Why? Because that is how Jehovah designed us. Even though we are imperfect, we can imitate Jehovah and be generous too.
3 We are now going to discuss some lessons that the Bible teaches about generosity. We will learn why Jehovah is pleased when we are generous. We will also learn how generosity helps us to do the work that Jehovah has given us to do and why we are happy when we are generous. And we will discuss why we should continue to be generous.
JEHOVAH IS PLEASED WHEN WE ARE GENEROUS
4, 5. How have Jehovah and Jesus been generous, and why should we imitate them?
4 Jehovah wants us to imitate him, so it makes him happy when we are generous. (Ephesians 5:1) Jehovah also wants humans to be happy. We know this because he made us in a wonderful way and made our beautiful earth and everything on it for us to enjoy. (Psalm 104:24; 139:13-16) So we honor Jehovah when we try to make others happy.
5 We also imitate Jesus, who set the perfect example of how a human can be generous. He said: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) And the apostle Paul encouraged Christians: “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus . . . He emptied himself and took a slave’s form.” (Philippians 2:5, 7) So we can ask ourselves, ‘Can I follow Jesus’ example even more closely?’—Read 1 Peter 2:21.
6. What did Jesus teach us in the story of the neighborly Samaritan? (See opening picture.)
6 Jehovah is pleased when we follow the perfect example that he and Jesus set for us. We do this by being interested in people and looking for ways to help them. Jesus showed how important this is when he told the story of the neighborly Samaritan. (Read Luke 10:29-37.) He taught his followers that they must help others, no matter who they are or where they are from. Do you remember why Jesus told that story? It was because a Jewish man asked him: “Who really is my neighbor?” Jesus’ answer teaches us that like the Samaritan, we must be generous if we want to please Jehovah.
7. How do we show we believe that Jehovah’s way of doing things is the best? Explain.
7 Another reason to be generous is related to what happened in the garden of Eden. Satan claimed that Adam and Eve would be happier if they disobeyed Jehovah and thought only about themselves. Eve was selfish and wanted to be like God. Adam was selfish and wanted to please Eve more than he wanted to please God. (Genesis 3:4-6) The results were disastrous. Clearly, no one can be happy when he is selfish. But when we are unselfish and generous, we show that we believe that Jehovah’s way of doing things is the best.
DO THE WORK GOD HAS GIVEN US TO DO
8. Why should Adam and Eve have thought of others?
8 Although Adam and Eve were alone in the garden of Eden, they should have thought of others. Why? Jehovah had given them work to do. He told them to fill the earth with their children and make it a paradise. (Genesis 1:28) Adam and Eve should have wanted their future children to be happy, just as Jehovah wanted them all to be happy. Together, they would all work to make the whole earth a paradise. That would be a huge project!
9. Why would humans have been happy while making the earth a paradise?
9 Perfect humans would also need to work closely with Jehovah in order to make the earth a paradise and accomplish his will. In this way, they would enter into his rest. (Hebrews 4:11) Imagine how satisfying and enjoyable this work would have been! Jehovah would have blessed them very much for being unselfish and caring for others.
10, 11. What will help us to preach and make disciples?
10 Today, Jehovah has given us a special work to do. He wants us to preach and make disciples. To do this work, we really have to care about people. In fact, we can keep doing this work only if we have the right motive: love for Jehovah and love for people.
11 Paul said that he and other Christians in the first century were “God’s fellow workers” because they preached and taught people the truth. (1 Corinthians 3:6, 9) Today, we too can be “God’s fellow workers” by generously giving of our time, energy, and material things to do the preaching work that God has given us. This is a great honor!
12, 13. What would you say are the rewards of making disciples?
12 Being generous with our time and energy when we preach and teach brings us great joy. That is what many brothers and sisters who have had the opportunity to conduct Bible studies say. We are very happy to see our students get excited when they understand what the Bible can teach us, develop real faith, make changes in their life, and start telling others about what they are learning. Jesus was also very happy when the 70 preachers he sent out “returned with joy” because of the good experiences they had.—Luke 10:17-21.
13 Our brothers and sisters around the world are joyful when they see how the Bible’s message helps people improve their life. For example, a young single sister named Anna wanted to do more for Jehovah. * (See footnote.) So she moved to an area in Eastern Europe where more preachers are needed. She wrote: “There are a lot of opportunities to conduct Bible studies here, and I like that very much. My service gives me great joy. When I get home, I don’t have time to focus on myself. I think about those with whom I am studying—their troubles and anxieties. I look for ways to encourage them and help them in practical ways. And I have become convinced that ‘there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’”—Acts 20:35.
No matter how people respond, preaching God’s message makes us happy
14. How can you enjoy preaching even if people do not listen?
14 Even if people do not listen to us when we preach, we can be happy because we give them the opportunity to hear the good news. Jehovah expects us to do the same thing he asked Ezekiel to do: “You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or not.” (Ezekiel 2:7; Isaiah 43:10) So no matter how people respond, Jehovah values our efforts. (Read Hebrews 6:10.) One brother said about his ministry: “We have planted, watered, and prayed in hopes that Jehovah will make the interest grow.”—1 Corinthians 3:6.
HOW WE CAN BE HAPPY
15. Should we be generous only if people are grateful to us? Explain.
15 Jesus wants us to be generous because it makes us happy. When we are generous, many people will be generous in return. So he encourages us: “Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.” (Luke 6:38) Of course, when you are generous, not all people will be grateful. But even when they are not, keep giving. You never know how much good you can do with just one generous deed.
16. Whom should we be generous to, and why?
16 Truly generous people do not give because they expect to get something in return. Jesus said: “When you spread a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you.” (Luke 14:13, 14) The Bible also states: “The generous person will be blessed,” and “Happy is anyone who shows consideration to the lowly one.” (Proverbs 22:9; Psalm 41:1) We should be generous because we really want to help others.
17. What are some ways we can give that will make us happy?
17 When Paul quoted Jesus’ words that “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving,” he was not talking just about giving material things. We can also give people encouragement, advice from the Bible, and practical help. (Acts 20:31-35) By what Paul said and did, he taught us how important it is to be generous with our time, our energy, our attention, and our love.
18. What do many researchers say about being generous?
18 Researchers who study human behavior have also found that giving makes people happy. According to one article, people say that they feel a lot happier after they do nice things for others. Researchers say that when we help others, we feel that our life has purpose and meaning. So some experts suggest that people do volunteer work to be healthier and happier. Of course, what they have found does not surprise us, because our loving Creator, Jehovah, has always said that giving makes us happy.—2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
CONTINUE TO BE GENEROUS
19, 20. Why do you want to be generous?
19 When people around us care only about themselves, it can be difficult to continue to be generous. But Jesus reminded us that the two greatest commandments are to love Jehovah with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:28-31) We have learned in this article that those who love Jehovah imitate him. Jehovah and Jesus are both generous. They encourage us to follow their example, because they know that this will make us truly happy. If we are generous in what we do for God and for our neighbor, we will honor Jehovah and we will benefit ourselves and others.
20 Certainly you are already doing your best to be generous and to help others, especially your brothers and sisters. (Galatians 6:10) If you continue to do so, people will be grateful and love you, and you will be happy. The Bible says: “The generous person will prosper, and whoever refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25) In our life and ministry, there are many ways we can give unselfishly and be kind and generous. Let us talk about some of these ways in the next article.
^ par. 13 Name has been changed.