The Christian life is centred on love, for God himself is love. When a lawyer in those days, asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, His answer was “You shall love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” Then He added a second“You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt. 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31).
So, everything about the believer is centred on love for God and love for man (vertical and horizontal relationship). Since man is like God, he was given the power of choice and freewill to express his love towards God and his fellow man; nothing was to be done of compulsion or manipulation.
Under the old covenant, rules and regulations were set to guide the Israelites’ way of life because of the nature of their hearts. A lot of “dos” and “don’ts” were in place to put a check on them. For example, in Matt 19:7-8 on the issue of writing of divorce certificate, Jesus told them it was not so in the beginning, Moses only permitted them to do so because of the hardness of their hearts. God never intended men to divorce their wives.
Another example in point is the case of Malachi 3:8-10, which speaks about man robbing God through failure to pay tithes and offerings and the resulting curses and unleashing of the devourer. A lot of us in modern times only pay tithes and give offerings due to our fear of the devourer and the need to escape the curses. This also, is a twisted philosophy for a motive to pay tithes or give any form of offering in the new covenant.
Abel in Gen 4:4 gave his fattest animal without hesitation and neither was father Abraham compelled to pay tithe to Melchizedek in Gen 14:20. In case you may be wondering, I believe and do pay my tithes, not because of the devourer nor the associated curses but as an expression of my love for God. The truth is, a believer who is abiding in Christ is not cursed because he carries the very nature and ability of God in him, and he is blessed.
A lot of people now also treat God as though He were a “casino manager” where you drop one coin and immediately expect ten coins to fall from the machine after pulling the handle. Funny as it may sound, that is how a lot of us have come to treat God in the modern day. We expect all of heaven’s resources when we take a pledge, make donations or drop our cheques in the offering bags. Some even think they can arm twist God to do their bidding simply because of the “sacrifices” and “seeds of faith” they made. Please do not misunderstand me and think that I do not support us giving seeds of faith. I am only concerned about our motives when we engage these covenant practices.
The fathers of faith before us proved otherwise. Abel offered his fattest animal not primarily because of what he expected in return. When Abraham offered up Isaac, he didn’t tie it primarily to anything but obedience. Solomon gave a thousand burnt offerings because his heart was right. The three Hebrew young men in Babylon were ready to be killed even if God didn’t save them. Daniel’s intercession for Israel was borne out of a heart of love. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice because he loved us. The Apostles endangered their lives for the advancement of the work and ministry of Jesus out of genuine love and passion.
We can go on and on, the examples are too numerous. These men gave themselves and their resources up because of love and not necessarily what they would get in return. However, I do not deny the fact that when we offersacrifices; rewards do follow especially when made to advance God’s Kingdom and purposes. However, for me the motive should be right.
Prophet Samuel told Saul in 1 Samuel 10: 6-7 that he should take the initiative as opportunity creates itself to perform because the Spirit of the Lord will come upon him. This is even more for the new creation reality. Scripture says in 1John 2:27 “ But the anointing which you have received of Him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you all things, and is truth, and is no lie, even as he has taught you, you shall abide in him”. This means any man who has the Spirit of God will not struggle to do the things that are right, not with compulsion or manipulation.
In 2Cor 9:7 Paul teaches “Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver”. All through scriptures, it first begins with a willingness of heart borne out of love. Take a look at these scriptures: Exodus 25:2; 35:5; 35:21; 1Chronicles 29:9; 2 Cor 8:12. They all point to a willingness of heart borne out of love and not compulsion. However if you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly (2 Cor 9:6).
Who then bewitched our generation into thinking that?
a) If you sow N10,000, God must give you N100,000 or N1,000,000
b) Breakthroughs can only come when you sow ‘seeds”
c) You will command kingdom resources when you make pledges irrespective of whether you are living a life of obedience.
d) God works like a magician or a casino manager.
We are a new set of breeds on the block who operate under a new constitution or covenant. Our motives and reasons for giving should be made right. For example, I believe you should pay your tithes because you love God and His work, not because you are afraid of devourers or curses. You may choose to increase it to 20% or even 50%, it’s a matter of the heart. The next time you are about to take a pledge or drop that cheque please ask your self
1.) Why am I doing this? What is my motive?
2.) Am I massaging my ego or giving the impression that we are the “happening guys”?
3.) Am I being manipulated or compelled into doing this?
4.) Am I doing this because I love God?
Think about it, but remember “anything done outside of love” has no eternal value.
2ndVice President: SLGEM