Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Sacrificial offering : Giving God's way

Published:Saturday | November 26, 2016 | 11:00 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston

Regardless of the advertising campaigns may tell us, we can't have it all. Sacrifice is not an option, or an anachronism; it's a fact of life. We all cut off our own limbs to burn on some altar. The crucial thing is to choose an altar that's worth it and a limb you can accept losing. To go consenting to the sacrifice.

Tana French, The Likeness

It is not unusual to attend a crusade or some week of meeting and hear the preacher urging the congregants to give sacrificially. This means giving from one's needs and expecting a huge increase in your finances or victory over whatever situation one might have been experiencing at the time.

Envelopes are given out with the expectation that it will have a good yield. Some preachers collect on the spot, pocketing the 'sacrifices' and the givers feeling good, anticipating the surplus they will reap. However, some of those givers end up in a deeper financial bind and no 'prosperity' forthcoming while others are still bound by whatever they were seeking the breakthrough from.

Does this type of sacrifice work or do you have to possess a special kind of faith?

Family and Religion reached out to Rev Darren McKoy, national youth director of the Church of God in Jamaica who said those embracing sacrificial giving must first understand what it is.

"In its purest sense, it can be defined as giving up something (possession, animal, people, money) that is considered valuable for something that one sees is of greater value. In other words, you give up something to gain something better," he said.

From a biblical standpoint, Mckoy said people sacrificed animals as a means of receiving mercy and blessings from God.

"But we also see, for example in the book of Amos, where even though sacrifices was being offered, God was not interested in them. So is it for everyone?" he questioned.

He also said others can give sacrificially without biblical principle tied to it - they might be giving to their children or a cause without any expectations.

"While the person of faith may choose to give sacrificially because of a blessing that he/she expects to get. So yes sacrificial giving can be for all depending on the context in which it is being used," he said.

Addressing those who gave expecting great yields but received none, McKoy said many generally make the big mistake of believing their 'breakthrough' or their 'financial blessing' is highly dependent on what they give.

"One of the first things I would be quick to point out, is that God is not depending on what you give for Him to bless you financially or otherwise. Better yet, you must not expect that as you give sacrificially and genuinely, that the blessing will even increase for you. I say this simply because God is first and foremost sovereign in all He does," he said, pointing out that God chooses to do as He pleases regardless of circumstances.

"So though there may be merit to sacrificial giving, it does not guarantee how God chooses to respond to you, especially financially. So nothing is wrong if you give sacrificially, but nothing is wrong with God if He chooses not to respond as you expect," McKoy opines.

Using a biblical principle to the practice, McKoy said it was never about money that was being sacrificed, but more so the heart behind it.

"Jesus addressed the disciples about the widow's mite. He declared that there were those who gave, and maybe their giving (the Bible did not say) was also sacrificial, but it was out of their wealth. But this woman gave out of her poverty. The NIV version even went on to say, "she gave all.....all she had to live on". This sacrificial giving goes a lot deeper than just monetary," McKoy explained, adding that it was understanding the heart of the individual.

The principle he said, is therefore based on the intentions and hearts of the individual rather than the act of giving in and of itself.

For McKoy, there are some who are exploiting this principle.

"There are actually those who are demanding from people that they give sacrificially and as a result, they will get a blessing whether financially or otherwise, but really it's to benefit them financially. They are just looking for a route to, 'fatten their pockets'," he said.

According to McKoy, not only are they manipulating the people, but they will also receive just punishment from God.

However, he said there are others who genuinely promote sacrificial giving, expecting to get a blessing, but it's primarily due to a lack of understanding of the principle of scripture.

"Against that background, it would not be a manipulation, but more so of the individuals being ignorant of facts," he said.

The national youth director reminds believers to be mindful that sacrificial giving is not a reward system that God has put in place for His children. "Therefore, believers must not expect that in order to receive a reward or a blessing, then they ought to make a sacrifice. We must bear in mind that God does not operate on a conditional basis, but he has an unconditional love for us. Therefore, in the same way that you don't have to give anything for your parents to love or shower you with gifts, it is the same concept with God towards us. God is sovereign and he will supply all our needs, irrespective of what we do, but simply because he loves us and we are His."

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com