By Tope Banso
Giving to God and man is a biblical principle in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. However, it is possible to make an error in giving. For instance, 1 Corinthians 13:3 says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (New King James Version).
In light of this scripture, whatever is given to another person outside of love is unprofitable to the giver. In other words, giving outside of love is unacceptable to God. Therefore, whatever you give must satisfy the love condition. Ask yourself if you are motivated by love. Not everyone who gives does so out of love. Some have ulterior motives, such as the need to control.
It is also possible to make an error in giving when one violates 2 Corinthians 9:7, which says each one should give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. I want to stress the last portion of that scripture. God loves a cheerful giver. When people give grudgingly or give unhappily, as if they’re giving under duress, God hates it. Nobody should be forced to give.
There is nothing human beings give to God that can make Him richer or they refuse to give to Him, that can make Him poor. God says in one of the psalms of Asaph, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine” (Psalm 50:10-11 New King James Version).
God continues, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?” (Verses 12-13 New King James Version). Was it that God didn’t demand sacrifices from them in the Old Testament? No, He did. However, He preferred obedience to sacrifice. He corrected the people’s wrong notion that all that was important to God was sacrifice as if He was hungry.
In Matthew 15:5, Jesus, in response to a question, confronted the scribes and Pharisees with their hypocrisy for promoting their tradition above the commandments of God. They disobeyed God’s commandment by keeping their tradition – the tradition of the elders. “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread” (verse 2 New King James Version).
How did Jesus answer these scribes and Pharisees? “He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God’ — then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition” (verses 3-6 New King James Version).
The Jewish practice of claiming to have dedicated their property to God is called “Corban”, as used in Mark 7:11. Corban means a gift to God. It was a way of circumventing God’s law to provide for their parents. According to the teaching of the scribes, a Jew, by calling his possessions “Corban”, was absolved from the duty of caring for his parents, even if he didn’t subsequently devote his possessions to sacred uses (People’s New Testament Commentary). “All one had to do to evade one’s duty to father or mother was to say “Corban” or “Gift” (Dôron) with the idea of using the money for God” (Robertson’s NT World Pictures). That was an error.
This is how the New Living Translation puts Matthew 15:5-6: “But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you. In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents.” Jesus said this teaching was a tradition, not the commandment of God. It was an error.
The commandment of God to honour one’s parents is the first commandment with a promise (Ephesians 6:2). “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 New King James Version).
The same commandment is referred to in Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 19:19, Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke 18:20 and Ephesians 6:2-3. God says in Malachi 1:6 that a son honours his father. Providing for one’s parents, especially in their old age, is part of honouring them.
As important as giving to God is, Jesus was not impressed by the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees, which made the people neglect their parents on the pretext that they had vowed to give to God their possessions out of which they would have given to their parents.
Nobody should follow such a teaching today even if it is not so expressly stated like the scribes and Pharisees put it. What to give to God in church or to a ministry must not be confused with what to give to your parents.
What you give in church, whether offering, seed, or any other thing, is not a substitute for your financial responsibilities to your parents. This should not be an excuse not to give to your parents.
Don’t say you have supported the church; therefore, you cannot support your parents. The two are not the same. You will be making a grave error if you finance all the church projects but neglect your parents. God won’t be pleased with you if you bestow all your money to feed the poor but your parents are hungry.
The answer that Jesus gave those sent by the Pharisees to test Him on whether it was right or not to pay taxes to the Roman government is relevant here. Jesus said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21 New King James Version). Mark 12:17 says the same thing.
In this context, give to your church what belongs to your church and to your parents what belongs to them! Be concerned about the church or the ministry but don’t fail to be concerned about your parents. Not giving to God what you should give to your parents does not amount to loving them more than God. It’s actually obeying God, which is a proof of loving Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15 New Living Translation).
As said by apostle Paul, render to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honour (Romans 13:7). This principle regarding submission to the government could be applied to the relationship with one’s parents as regards providing for them.
Don’t neglect your parents. Don’t divert to any cause, no matter how righteous it is, what you’re supposed to give to your parents. When Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair, Judas Iscariot said it was a waste and it could have been sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor (John 12:4-6).
Jesus’ response was, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always” (verses 7-8 New King James Version). The point I want to make here is that everyone, including your parents, should be given what is due to him. Your parents won’t live forever! Give to them, just as you give towards the work of God in the church or anywhere else.
David, while running from King Saul, took care of his parents. He told the king of Moab to allow his parents to live with him till he would know what God would do for him. David brought them before the king of Moab and they dwelt with this king all the time that he (David) was hiding in the stronghold (1 Samuel 22:3).
Similarly, shortly before Jesus died on the cross, He didn’t forget His earthly mother, Mary. He made an arrangement to take care of her. “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27 New King James Version).
Give to God what you should give to Him. But also give to your parents what you should give to them. Don’t give to your parents what is due to God and vice versa.
Give to your spiritual father (and mother) what you should give to him but never neglect your biological father and mother (if they’re still alive).
If you’re not born again, repent of your sins today and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Whoever comes to Him, He will by no means cast out.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I will not neglect my biological parents. I will give to them what I should. Help me, LORD, to take care of them, especially in their old age. Holy Spirit, help me not to fail in my financial responsibilities in the Kingdom of God and towards my parents.
This is wisdom for living, and it’s worth sharing. Please share.
(For over 300 in-depth and powerful messages by T.O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
▪︎ Banso, an Abuja-based Minister, heads
Cedar Ministry International, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com; Tel No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947