This statement is a household term among most of us, especially those who practice some pious engagements. It is a statement that most of you have heard, especially when people offer prayers after people have given tithes and offerings. In most cases, it sounds crammed, because it is easily predictable, and it evokes the same feeling all the time, depending on if you submitted something or not.
Maybe I will extrapolate it to make it a bit more clear. Thus it goes, “Bless Those Who Have Given, Be Also with Those Who Have Not Given so that next time they may also give.” What do you think about this statement? What does it evoke in your understanding of the principle of tithing? I care to get your response to this in the response section.
On my side, I find it reckless and uncalled for. I even feel that the proclamation to ‘those who have not given’ is heavily euphemized. If said correctly and with reasonable consistency, the law of opposite should be reflected. The opposite of blessing is not a blessing. So if it is offered sincerely, it would go like, “Bless Those Who Have Given, But grant no blessing Those Who Have Not Given.” It seems the spirit of the statement is to say, “curse those who have not given.” At least now you get to understand why I find this statement questionable. I don’t question the sincerity of the prayer warrior but the thoughtlessness and the mere recital presented as a prayer.
It is not a question of grammar or jargon because God understands even the language of tears. Instead, it is about praying with understanding. What is it we say in the pulpit? What do we tell God? I mean, we need to ask a few questions concerning our requests and what we say on the sacred desk? How do you pray? What do you pray for? To whom are you praying? A careless prayer demonstrates some ignorance of the person to whom we are praying.
Let us get back to the issue of tithes and prayer. Assuming you had used the model prayer we are critiquing (and a lot of us have prayed thus in times of ignorance), after that, you get to read the following text:
While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
—Luke 21:1-4 (NLT)
Do you find some room for improvement? Well, I see a lot of space for improvement. God’s concern seems to be the opportunity cost of what we give Him and not the net value. How much have I had to forgo to give it to Him? This should not be interpreted to mean that God is happy when we give everything and remain with no way to sort out utility bills. No way; instead, God is moved by our willingness to give Him everything, trusting that we are safer with nothing in His hands than we could ever be with everything but on our own. Otherwise, God’s requirement is just tithe. A ten percent of the increase in our net worth is just how much we are required to return (not give). Everything we do on top of this is our free will, demonstrating our willingness and gratefulness to the giver. A grateful Christian or faithful Christian will return their tithes and add something good on top.
God instructs that we don’t come before Him empty-handed. I find it safe to back this sensitive assertion with scripture.
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee.
However, life happens, sometimes we are broke. I mean, you have completely run out of money. God is aware of what you have in cash and kind. Your best and sincere effort is good enough. The greatest thing that God requires from us is consecrated lives. Lives that make those who do not know God admire godliness. This one, all of us can afford through Christ, for we can do all things through Him.
God wants us to honor His presence with gifts and offerings. God also adds that we are to give according to the blessings He has bestowed us. This strikes at the core of our spiritual experiences. Our understanding of God’s goodness, the protection of the Holy angels, and glorious possibilities available to us by virtue of Calvary will make us always find something to bring to the Lord, in cash or kind.
I have a sobering point to add. This is my wild imagination. Is there a possibility that our empty-handedness or little giving can be a dishonor to God? I think God is not honored if we go empty-handed because of our slothfulness and carelessness. God has given us energy and various talents for wise improvement. If we engage our gifts appropriately, we should find something with which to go before His presence. Many people go with nothing before the Lord, but who should not be in the same pool of pauperism if they were disciplined and faithful.
God knows each one of us. When we indeed are faithful, we will be trusted with more responsibility. It is shameful when the house of God looks like a warehouse, but ours looks like polished palaces. It is a shame when our projects are fully funded, but the cause of God is forced to budget below the constraints. If missionary efforts cannot be actualized for lack of finance, we should worry about our treasure. Where is your treasure? What is the most important thing in your life? You can know this by a summary of your monthly expenditures. Over and above all, our very best is good enough. The vital force that God has placed in each of us is such that we can turn the world upside down.
A good understanding of God will change our prayers from “bless those who have given, be also with those who have not given…” to “Bless everyone according to their faithfulness and sincerity.”