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Giving to others and to God

sundayword:BY PROSPER TINGINI

Most of us are accustomed to receiving rather than go give. We pray most of the time for God to give us the blessings for meeting our needs, without even thinking of giving Him anything other than the prayers.

Our African culture always cultivated generosity amongst folks. I vividly remember people within villages sharing chores like planting the fields, harvesting and herding cattle, etc. Those without enough to eat were assisted with free food for their survival. There was free giving of labour, foodstuffs and many other material needs. Giving does not only relate to money. It can be in many other forms.

The missionaries also exemplified the element of giving by donating many things to the needy. However, society and the government would require people to work for their living to discourage laziness. Food for work programmes were introduced by government as a balancing act. There is an entrenched system in society where those with the resources employ those in need to work first before they receive payment. Ordinarily, people should work for their living and not depend on free donations. However, there will always be people among us who would perish in the absence of food-for-work. Other social urgent needs for humanitarian assistance are always on call. It is to all these that we should always extend our hand of giving, in whatever form.

God requires that whoever is in an occupation that brings an increase in wealth of any kind should put some of the profit aside as an offering to the Lord.

These are for specific purposes meant to benefit select groups of people. Some churches and ministries often misuse God’s name to extract tithes that they often pocket themselves without extending help to the poor. Tithes are meant as a celebration to God for reaped benefits accrued in whatever field. They are supposed to be feasted upon by the family, friends, servants, the poor around you, including those working to serve the Lord. In Deuteronomy 14:22-29, He directed on how the tithe is to be used, “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed, which comes forth from the field year by year; And before the Lord our God, in a place which he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the firstlings of your herd and flock; that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to bring the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord chooses, to set his name dwell there, then you shall turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord chooses, and spend the money for whatever you desire, cattle or sheep, or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves, and you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not forget the priest who is in your area, for he has no portion of inheritance with you”.

I know quoting this verse makes me very unpopular with many self-enriching religious groups. The bare truth is that the tithe is meant to be a religious feasting by all those who contribute in the generating of wealth income, as an honour to God for the blessings. The poor and those in service to the Lord are also to be invited to take part in the celebration. Am sure those who feel “betrayed” by these open words of God will scramble to search for other verses in the scriptures to counter this directive. The feasting is akin to end-of-year parties for both the employer and employees after every fruitful year. The employer is thus “paying his tithe” to the Lord. The 13th cheque, commonly referred to as end-of-year bonus, also in a way signifies the fulfilment of the tithe requirement. The feasting then cascades down to the individual families of both the employer and employees who then use the bonuses to buy Christmas goodies and other household needs, as per the tithe stipulation by the Lord.

The poor will always be a permanent feature in every society. God is always very concerned with their welfare. He always gives them special attention and a place in His heart. By opening your hands and giving to the poor, you are in effect also giving indirectly to God. Good deeds done for the good of humanity are equally good deeds to God. The Lord will always acknowledge acts of goodness and in return multiply the basket of blessings. Conversely those who keep a closed hand will receive no blessings, and may struggle in their businesses.

I have participated in some arguments on how best and what channel to use to contribute to the giving spirit. Some have urged that the best way is to give directly to those affected, as the recipients will get the full value of the assistance. I do not object to this mode of giving in the sense that it will prevent some looting and pilfering of donated goods along the way, as is now a common habit. I also think that Jesus Christ’s commandment to love one another and to be good neighbours to each other means that before extending your hand of assistance to those afar, first assist those around you. Look for people needing assistance within your close family circuit, within your social neighbours, and then consider donating to the general public. Why ignore the desperate needs of your blood brothers or sisters or their children, and yet instead choose to assist people you don’t even know? Why neglect to give to your neighbour in need, but prefer to make donations of any kind for the poor elsewhere? Yes, in situations of major disasters we should all rally to support each other, regardless of location but don’t turn a blind eye to your very own next-of-kin’s sufferings. Let the spirit of good neighbourliness prevail.

In our arguments, some have reasoned that you cannot be giving to God if you don’t give to the church. The priests and pastors need people to look after them, because “they have no earthly inheritance among the people” as per the Lord our God’s ruling. In that sense some would argue that giving through the churches is the right way to channel our contributions to the poor and to God. If the offerings are properly used for their intended purposes, then the Lord would be pleased. We see today some church leaders building vast empires for themselves and driving the poshest of cars, yet their followers are living in poverty. The poor even offer their last penny to the church, yet the church leaders neglect them for their own self-enrichment.

l Prosper Tingini is the president of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: ptingini@gmail.com

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