I procrastinated writing this post mostly because I view it as a touchy topic but now, more than ever, especially with the online debate concerning tithing and offerings; I feel it is just the right time to chip in my two cents.
I know how wild the crowd goes when we are promised of God's financial breakthrough, healing etc and it is perfectly okay to be expectant of these things and be excited about them but I also know how we suddenly become quiet when we are asked to do the giving (no condemnation here and if you read the rest of the post you will understand this).
I will understand if most of you don't go past this point as I am about to say some "uncomfortable" things concerning GIVING.
The "uncomfortable" things:
I love viewing how God works through seemingly mundane and everyday activities, so let's talk about Chin Chung; the number one importer and exporter of goods in the whole of China. He is known for his innovations and specializes in diverse commodities even the manufacturing of tooth picks *straight face*.
Obviously, Chin Chung creates these things to meet specific needs and the fact that his business has stood the test of time means he must be doing things right - He is known for being a good, fair and just employer and is really mindful of everything he produces; putting in just the right amount of ingredients and ensuring they are stored and used properly.
He is especially particular about a machine called "Humanlin"; he took his time creating this equipment and only sells it to buyers who are willing to maintain and use it properly. He also offers post purchase services where the company routinely carries out maintenance services for this special brand.
Apparently, Humanlin is the first ever speech enabled equipment and one day, during one of these routine maintenance rounds, one of his creations says to Chin Chung "Sir, I have done this and that over the years, now you have to give me this and that or else I won't carry out my duties anymore".
One of two things can occur in this scenario:
- Chin Chung can simply replace the rebellious instrument; who needs that kind of stress right?
- He can patiently understand how ignorant this creation must be, view it with empathy, ignore its ungrateful reaction (how easily it has forgotten its sheer existence and well being is simply because of his benevolence) and continue to provide simply because of his love for it; hoping one day it would realize its mistakes and be grateful.
Now let's relate this story to God, tithing and offerings.
Humanlin is You and I, we are God's pride and beloved creation; created for a specific purpose. We are so special that He checks up on us even when we are out of his storage; He goes around making sure we are still intact and tuning our sometimes rusty knobs; making sure we are able to perform optimally.
Sister Humanlin (the one who had the "courage" to make that utterance) is a large percentage of us (sadly myself included when I didn't know better). She is a representation of when our good deeds are attached to a clause - God, I will help that widow as you have said but shey you know nothing goes for nothing abi? So, I will be generous o, but you must sha give me something back.
She is also a representation of when we hear about tithing and offering and we suddenly become lawyers (arguing the logic and context behind it being mentioned in the Bible) and think why should I give when the funds will be used to enrich these pastors? Why must I be made to give, isn't giving supposed to be out of free will?
These are valid questions as long as like Sister Humanlin you can only see your giving as:
- A favour to God - like you know how that your one million naira is such a great thing before a God that created the mind that first thought about the use of currency as a means of exchange.
- A trade by barter tool - I have rubbed your back God with my good deeds and now you have to bless me o!!!
- An obligation - I don't want God to send down His fire and brimstone, so let me just grudgingly give what the Pastor has asked of me.
- Pastoral Care - Our pastor is busy building mansions here and there, I can't keep giving him or her my little money to enjoy life (PS - everyone will answer independently to God so why worry your little head with what your pastor is doing while forgetting how you sneaked into Sister Caroline's house in the middle of the night to "pray". In as much as we should speak up against misappropriations, there is still a very thin line between being upset by injustice and condemnation)
Of course, I would also not want to give if for one second I viewed my giving from the above point of view but then imagine being that Humanlin who is aware of how Chin Chung, even after giving her out (this can be viewed as being given to your parents to serve as your earthly caretakers) still comes around to check on her well being; He really does not have to, after all he has done his production bit and given her out, but he does!!!
He still makes sure her engines are running smoothly and even when she is involved in accidents, caused from her own mistakes or not her fault, comes around to fix and clean up the mess.
Even when she is so engrossed in her duties and forgets to log into the daily database where she can find the latest company updates, learn about their past innovations and find fixes for common problems (this can be viewed as the Bible), Chin Chung still stays faithful to his end and always comes around for his maintenance rounds.
Now imagine being that Humanlin who is aware of allllll these awesome things Chin Chung does especially knowing she doesn't deserve it (remember that time her earthly owner kept pressing her right buttons but out of stubbornness she refused to respond which led to her system breakdown? Remember how Chin Chung still came around and fixed her?), don't you think her giving would simply be a natural response to all these good things?
I believe questions concerning tithing and offerings will be answered if we understand these things:
- God does not OWE us anything. The mere fact that we are alive and can go about living our lives is a sheer gift.
- What happens after you drop your gifts and offerings is not your concern. Yes, I can hear you saying it is my hard earned money and I deserve a right to know how it is being used and yes, you do but are you also aware that all things flows out of God and all things are invariably meant to flow through us and back to Him (this is done when praise is given to God for your good deeds)? It is like a spring that just gives freely of its fresh and clean water as it is led, not concerned about what the next recipient would do with its deposits. Have you ever wondered why clean and fresh water is best obtained from a flowing spring?. You cannot control what happens with your deposits but you can choose to still give for the very next reason...
- Love and Gratitude: I believe giving to God and any good deed is simply an expression of our love and gratitude for God and when you are overwhelmed by how loving God has been towards you, the natural response would be to give and when I talk about giving it must not be monetary; it can be our time, skills, love, kindness and every other valuable thing you can do to give back the unconditional love you have received to those around you.
- God is worth the cost - Imagine the grateful Humanlin is given an opportunity to send a gift to Chin Chung as an expression of her love and gratitude; will she nonchalantly carry an item that costs her nothing; you know that item she doesn't need and won't miss OR would she carefully select the very best to take to him, totally expecting nothing in return?
The question isn't should you give your tithes and offerings; let us take away the labels and the question should be can you understand how awesome God is? I believe the moment you can understand God as deeply as the grateful Humanlin understood Chin Chung; everything would flow freely from you - No questions asked and No obligations attached - just a genuine out pour of your very best to an awesome Creator and Keeper.
Thought Starter: How do you know when your giving is merely an obligation or a trade by barter tool and when is it an acknowledgement of who God is and what He has done?