“Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”― 2 Corinthians 9:7 [Amplified Bible]
I am listening to this supposed man of God. After wrapping up his sermonette, he gives a preamble of how someone sowed a particular amount of “seed” into his life to escape from some generational poverty. He now grades blessings, ties them to rates in descending order… and then prophecies that anyone who would want to “tap” into this blessing should bring their money. He adds some subtle threats. Guess what. The congregation run to him!
I have stressed times without number that spirituality is not a synonym of gullibility. Faith is never an absence of common sense. If we can fall for manipulations of any sort just because they are tied to God, someone will someday sell a movie ticket to us at a whopping price in the name of a heaven ticket!
When I hear some of these “prosperity preachers”, I just shake my head in awe. If giving large sums of money in church is what makes a man rich, someone should tell me how much the Mark Zuckerbergs, Dangotes and Bill Gates gave to be where they are today. If the size of my offertory determines the size of my blessing, I just want to know how much C. Ronaldo gave to warrant such gargantuan blessing of wealth!
You see, the gospel is more than wealth. The gospel of Christ goes beyond making you rich. When we reduce the gospel to money, it has no essence in the ears of the rich. When we tie the gospel to monetary returns, we are selling blessings in church [Mark 11:15].
The test of the gospel is a message that makes such an amazing impact on not only the poor but especially the rich. The true test of the gospel is a message that fills the vacuum in our souls nothing can fill, not even all of the world’s money. A message that appeals only to the poor is not the gospel but a motivational speech.
Let’s not reduce the standard of the gospel. When we go about promising people wealth after they have given to the church, the Richard Bransons will see no reason to come to church because they already have what we are promising!
We need money to push the gospel but it doesn’t mean we ought to rearrange scriptures to suit this need. We don’t need to manipulate people for their money. That’s what con men do. The church needs money. However, we should take heed not to twist people’s arms to get this money!
When we teach our congregation about giving, they will give beyond our imagination. When we make them understand (instead of subtly threatening) the essence of giving in their Christian walk, giving from their hearts will be their lifestyle.
Giving should be voluntary. No terms and conditions should be attached to such. They must know they won’t go to Hell if they don’t pay their tithes because it’s a big fat lie! Their lives won’t be a mess just because they don’t pay offertory in church. Giving fueled by fear is from the head, not heart. When they give out of fear, they give grudgingly!
I am a faithful tither. I don’t relent in giving offertory. Guess what. I have come to understand that God rewards those who diligently seek Him even with their little [Hebrews 6:10]. I don’t need to give everything in my account to impress Him. Whatever I give should be out of a cheerful heart, not from coercion or manipulation.
Remember the widow’s mite [Luke 21:1-4]? What matters is not the weight of my money but the weight of my heart. I’d rather give a little cheerfully instead of giving what I never planned to… and go home whining!
We need to go back to the basics of the gospel― the gospel that has no strings attached― the gospel with no terms and conditions―the gospel that is good news to both the rich and poor― the gospel that is not someone’s opinions presented as God’s!
Of what use is a gospel that plays on people’s poverty? Of what use is a gospel that ends up fattening only the preacher’s account?
What matters is the weight of your heart, not the weight of your offertory. The gospel is not some lottery where you stand the chance of gaining more when you give more. So… next time your preacher grades blessings into tiers of offertory, ask him which lotto scripture he’s using because it definitely has no footprints in the Bible!
Don’t be stingy in church. However, don’t give under compulsion. Give with your heart, not head. Give because you love God and the propagation of His work, not because you’re desperately fleeing from some generational poverty your ancestors know nothing about!
Poverty eradication involves a complete change in character. Giving in God’s house is only a tithe of that change. Go and sin no more!
By Kobina Ansah
The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications, an Accra-based writing company (www.scribecommltd.com).