The Warped Logic of Giving

Ever heard Lauryn Hill read her write-up: Motives and thoughts? You should.

Motives and thoughts.

You never see either, just the action it translates into.

You see, I was in church just last Sunday and it was harvest time. Time to give back to the Lord; you know all those religious mantras that are chanted time and again in some attempt to get money from the congregation.

Simply put, it was time to plunge in to your financial booty and give abundantly to the work of the Lord.

So strategically, following the usual course of events, the resident Pastor and the church executives invited a Pastor. Not just any pastor, you see: a particular kind. An Excellent sermonizer. Cogent. Luring. They invited the one who could trap you with words, can propel your mind in one direction; who can push you into that one corner, so that eventually you break down and succumb to the spiritual demagogue, and drain the money from your juicy or not-so-juicy pockets.

But it is not the giving that is the problem. Giving is good. The Bible urges us to. Other religions encourage altruism. But you see, it is not the giving, it is the motive. It is the motive some supposed men of God unknowingly plant in the mind and hearts (the two are in sync anyway) of the “average” church goer.

The idea of giving is simple. In fact it is the law of the universe. Give and it will come back to you. Unequivocal.

So the question arises: Why do we give? We give so it will come back to us.

Now that is not right, is it? Well, here is the catch.

You are strutting down the somewhat deserted pavement. Few people walking here and there. And then he catches your eye. The unkempt amputee. The vagrant with only one good eye. In ragged clothes, he crawls his way from person to person, begging pleading earnestly for just a coin, a coin. You see him and automatically, something in you gives way to the general human compassion that is buried within you. You drop a coin into his outstretched palm. Good.

Let us shift the scene indoors.

You are sitting in a palatial building, beautiful edifice. Neat. Sparkling. Long silken curtains adorn the ends of the cathedral. The pulpit stands tall too. Why shouldn’t it? After all, it knows its function.

A well dressed preacher stands on the podium. He paces, pauses and shouts from podium to congregation, back and forth he moves, occasionally stopping by a random person to acknowledge a vigorous nod to the truth he is spewing. But you are not the only one there. You are not the only one transfixed. You are not the only one awed by what our preacher is saying. He talks of having given out his only pair of shoes to the pastor’s son. Only pair of shoes? Yes. Only. But God gave him two. He talks of giving his vehicle out for the work of God. He gave a Corolla. He is now driving the status symbolled Range Rover.

And the story continues… He gives three, he receives six, he gives more, and he receives most.

Ah!  Finally! There it is! The story that corroborates your line of thinking. The story that blesses your intended action. Our mesmerizing orator tells you of that gentleman he talked to not long ago. That gentleman who gives his last two hundred cedis to God. The next day his long lost uncle calls him (out of the blue, I must add quickly) and gives him four hundred. And so the following week the guy comes to deposit four hundred into God’s account. He knows the Lord’s interest rates for the Treasury bills are high. Almost fifty percent. And the good part is you don’t have to wait for sixty or ninety-one days for it to mature.  Well, as the story goes our special gentleman friend gets Eight hundred cedis from a source he would have never thought off. Not in a million years.

Sermon is over. Now is the time to place your bets. The pastor is calling out for donations. You have heard the story. This is the moment. Will you try out this currency- multiplying God?

You place a note into his outstretched palm. Good.

Two cases: both show giving. Same action. Different motives. Stark difference. First for compassion, the second for profiteering?

Concerning the latter, the motive for giving has been warped because of all the culminating success stories which presents our God as that portal to making quick money.

So we have two options: either we start growing spiritually and start giving because we are genuinely concerned and or our speakers should adjust the size of the angle a bit. Please do not present our Lord as a magician. He is not.

But let me state something categorically: some give genuinely in church because they feel there is a pressing need to. I am not scoffing at such people or questioning their motives. After all, if we do not come together to build the house of God, who will?

My name is Nyaniba Kwenu Smith. I am a normal girl with random thoughts. Enough random thoughts to last me for the next three years, I daresay.


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