15 May Give God what’s right – Not what’s wrong. . . or left
‘Giving’ within in the Christian world, is a very diverse and versatile word. There are so many thing facets of giving. One has to give his or her time, money, resources, talents etc to God. Usually this is summed up by saying “One has to give his/ her whole life to God.” I am sure no one is going to question in me on this. As Paul would say, this is a trustworthy saying. But since giving is diverse in our definition, there are some pitfalls every Christian has to watch out for in the process of giving. And to be honest, this is a reflection of one of the struggles that I go through and hoping to change in the new year.
One mistake a Christian has the potential to make is giving what is wrong. Duh! That’s obvious! In the Old Testament, in the book of Numbers, we see the God giving detailed instructions about sacrifices. Male goat, a year old, without any blemish, healthy and so on. So, for an Israelite to sacrifice a weak grandpa goat which was limping was outright wrong! So how does this apply to a Christian in the 21st century? We can ponder over this question but I highly doubt if anyone would offer something to God that is outright ‘wrong’ like the sick sheep. However, we tend to give God mediocre ‘stuff’.
In the story of Cain and Abel, the Bible says, Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock and the Lord looked with favour on his offering. Cain bought ‘some fruits’ from the soil. God did not look at it with favour. We know the rest of the story. When I meditated on this, 2 possibilities came to my mind on why Cain gave sub-standard offering. One, his attitude towards God was poor that he felt content in giving second best to God. That’s a dangerous place for any Christian to be in. Can one have such a relationship with the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Maker of the heavens and the earth? Human mind has the power to diminish God that man can actually think that he can modulate his relationship with God! When he wants to be close, he will be close and during most times God is kept at a ‘healthy’ distance. In Revelation God talks to those people and says, you are neither cold nor hot and I want to spit you out! It would be a good time to check our attitude about God. Are we worshiping Him in Spirit and in truth? Are we working out our salvation with fear and trembling? We get a glimpse of the throne room in
Isaiah chapter 6. It says the when the Seraphs worshiped God the doorposts and thresholds shook! If the mighty doorposts of the throne room can shake how terrifying would it have been for Isaiah? We cannot have a light attitude about God.
The second reason could be because Cain had a poor attitude towards his work(or purpose). He actually gave the best of the produce but the standard of ‘his best’ was very poor because he put in mediocre work to get the produce! Mediocrity is one of Christian’s greatest enemies. A man of God once quoted, “Mediocrity is the language of the devil”. But who doesn’t struggle with it? I do! The consequence of mediocre giving is dangerous. When the exiles return to Jerusalem from Babylon, they agree to rebuild God’s temple. However, they lose focus, become mediocre and do renovations to their own homes without working on God’s temple. Here is what God tells them in the book of Haggai, ”You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” It’s crucial that a Christian never falls down to this level in giving to God. Mediocre giving withholds God’s blessing on us. So how is our attitude towards our work/school/ college? Are we able to offer our best wherever God has put us that we would be able to offer that to God?
I remember the lines of the kids’ song that I studied in Kindergarten. “I will not offer unto the Lord, things that cost me nothing much at all. He gave His very best for me so I will give my very best for Him”
The next mistake a Christian can make is giving God not what’s right but what’s left! This can be seen over the lifetime of a Christian as well as in everyday life. How? Let me explain. I decide that I will wake up 5.30 AM every morning to have my morning devotion for an hour and begin my day. But it’s hard and I wake up at 7 AM. I say to myself, I will quickly get ready and have 45 minutes of devotion instead of my 1hour. So I am getting ready in express mode and I want to finish my breakfast when mom tells Idly is not ready yet. I just have to wait for 5 minutes! Hmmm… ok 40 minutes of devotion. Idly is too hot and I am not able to eat it so 10 more minutes gone. I pick up my Bible and get a call from work! They remind me of the e-mail that I should send before 8 AM. I can still have 25 minutes of quality time. I finish that work and I get a call from my Bible study leader. Important call regarding a camp that is happening in the weekend. I end up having 5 minutes for devotion before I rush out to take the bus and so end up skimming Psalm 91 and a rushed prayer. While sitting in the bus I ask myself, why do I end up giving God what is left?
Unfortunately it’s not just a day- to-day thing. It can happen over a lifetime. A Christian in the 21st century would love to experiment all that the world has to offer! All the glamour, the pleasures, all that the media tells us is amazing. It’s like the story of the prodigal son. He knew how much his father loved him yet he decided to walk away from it to explore the world. Sadly this is something that I have seen happen to my close friends. Guys who were close to God until school or college days suddenly change just to explore the world. The strongholds of the world encourages us to do this. Explore, experiment and see what suits you the best! When Christians take this advice, they forget that they are walking away from the ‘best’ only to find it again after few years but with hurts and lots of pain. I am reminded of a skit that we used to do many years ago. It was to encourage young people for missions. Two friends meet each other after a long time and catch up on all that’s happening. One of them is living in a pent house, living a high life. The other guy says he is a missionary and so his friend chides him and tells him enjoy life now, after you retire you can become a missionary. At this point the missionary starts eating a banana. His friend asks him for a bite but he never gives it to him. He finishes the entire banana and finally gives to him what is left – the peel. He is very offended! He questions his behaviour when the missionary tells him – you get upset when I give you what is left. . .how much more God when we give Him what is left of our life? Remember your creator in the days of your youth is a well known verse. Knowing God will not allow us to give what is left of our life after all the experimenting and pleasures of the world.
There are so many aspects to giving, so much more teaching. A true disciple of Christ would take stock of things to introspect his/ her life to see if they have fully