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Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Ce­celia Camp­bell Liv­ingston Gleaner Writer fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

T IS not un­usual to at­tend a cru­sade or some week of meet­ings 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 leav­ing 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 The Rev­erend 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 were 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.

UN­MET EX­PEC­TA­TIONS

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 ex­plain 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 the will sup­ply all our needs, ir­re­spec­tive of what we do, but sim­ply be­cause the loves us and we are His.”

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