Gifts come in different forms, and in varying degrees. The most superlative one being to sacrifice one’s own interests, to benefit others. Therefore, all gifts ought to portray sacrifices, as attached to life, than mathematical abundance. Giving is associated with love—adding value to enhance life on others.
“For God so loved that world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have ever lasting life” (John 3:16).
The reason why God deserves the highest honour in the entire universe, is the gift of life, for the entire humanity. What makes the planet earth different from other planets, is the existence of life forms in it. Even mute animals appear as enjoying life, which they owe to the Creator who provides it in abundance.
We all enjoy the gift of life—incomparable to anything else, under the sun. Some people accumulate wealth to highest proportional levels, without appreciating the gift of life. But who benefits on the effects of wealth, without life? To illustrate this point, Jesus once gave a parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21).
The foolishness lay in inability to appreciate the gift of life. Wisdom can therefore be interpreted as consideration of that which sustains life—being regarded as more important than everything else. The greatest giver, therefore is the one sacrificing for the survival of others.
In our human level, mothers were created to do the unthinkable. I am a father, myself—and I assume that I love my children—as to be prepared to sacrifice more than I have done, in my life, for them. But, on careful observation, my love for those children cannot match that of my wife?
My own judgement is based on the consideration of the development of our children—beginning at foetus level, up to their adulthood. I could have attempted nappy changing and baby feeding, in the course of parenting.
But I do not think that my attempts could match anything nearer to the care exhibited by my wife. Even, the behaviour of animals, tendering to their kids—one can see deeper significance, outside anything physical.
Obviously, this teaches us that giving, itself, is a Godly principles, than something that can be done mechanically. There is something more than human imagination that God teaches, through the services of mothers, in the development of humanity.
The motherly care for young children is often taken for granted. But, on human level, what other gift can surpass the mother-care? God designed everything according to His creative abilities without anyone involved. See [The Mystery embroiled in works of the womb].
The bottom line is that the gift of life is spiritual. And, therefore, all gifts can be considered meritoriously, towards giving life—showing that God would be involved. What value could any human being sacrifice for the benefit of others?
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4) (ESV).
Jesus’ words represented truth, just as remaining truthful, even today. Those present at that time, may have found it difficult to agree with Jesus. How could two small copper coins be regarded as more significant than large sums of money, presented towards whatever the cause of that fund-raising?
However, Jesus did not fail to clarify His point, as He immediately gave reasons to His statement: “For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:3-4) (ESV).
There was more sacrifice, projected by the poor widow than those giving out of abundance. The veracity of this lies in that the widow didn’t consider where she would get the next meal, as long as she had contributed to what had been considered to be a worthy cause.
Any giving is superlatively higher, depending on the degree of pain experienced by the giver. The poor widow would go through the pain of not knowing where to get the next meal, after giving all that she had.
We do not know what had necessitated fund-raising on that day. But what is common in such fund-raising activities is to invite those considered rich. Doing so is always viewed as strategic.
However, that kind of strategy, appeals to the works of the flesh, more than it appeals to the Spirit. I suppose the rich people also enjoy generous giving, as long as their generosity is noted and publicised.
That giving does not leave pain in the life of the giver. Instead, it makes the giver feel good, because of being regarded highly, for such generosity. The great teacher, seized the opportunity, to show how the principle of giving ought to be projected. Without experiencing pain, giving does not add value to the giver.
Jesus came to demonstrate the principle that leads to life—expressing comfort, more in what He gave, than what He received. This is why He sternly rebuked Peter, for expressing sympathy towards Him (Matthew 16:21-23). Jesus was showing us the way towards life:
“…..If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26) (ESV).
Jesus is prescribing a new principle that leads to life, as compared with what had all along existed, but leading to death. Sacrificing one’s life for the benefit of others, is what qualifies a person to be considered valuable (Altruism).
In this world, people are used to enjoying receiving favours, than giving favours to other people. Respect is given to those in the comfort of enjoying good life, as compared with the rest. For instance, what is considered honourable, is being seen driving an expensive automobile, than walking barefooted.
Driving an expensive car, elevates a person’s status in the community. One receives more respect, in terms of what he/she would have accumulated for self, rather than what he/she would have given to benefit others (self-centeredness). This is what prevails in the world of sin.
While there are a lot of things to learn in the life of Jesus—the most important datum is appreciating His giving principle, qualified as matter of life and death. I would rather not be Christian, than entertain falsehood, as peddled in traditional Christianity. See [The great chasm—impossible to cross from either side].
In the story of Cain and Abel, we are given a demonstration of these two principles—projecting what is associated with evil. As compared with what is associated with righteousness (Genesis 4:1-12). What Cain did to his sibling, was unacceptable. But God new about that behaviour, even before Cain was born.
After Adam had taken the wrong tree, as separating him from God, Adam’s evil behaviour would be inevitable. But Cain’s behaviour appears as not existing in his brother, Abel? The two brothers had different professions, which could have served to complement each other, under normal circumstances.
Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a worker of the ground (verse 2). A keeper is associated with caring. The concern is about the survival of that which is cared for. The attitude is naturally concerned with value addition towards that which would be alive. The propensity of that person is altruism.
The worker of the ground focuses on production, more than concerns for life preservation. It is the works of his hands that concerns him most—seemingly unaware of the special gift of life. This agrees with the original curse of Adam:
“….Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:17-19) (ESV).
In cultivating the land, there is more destruction than there is caring. You have to cut trees down and dig the soil—destroying the original vegetation—so that you can then plant what you consider as preferable to you (self-centredness).
In other words, the survival of humanity implies that something has got to die, for the person to survive. Production, through hard work, has to be tailor-made to the requirement of the worker, who would be in need of survival.
The plants of the field that we eat, have to come into being, because of hard labour. Such plants have got to be strategically selected, as to benefit the person concerned. It is all about how benefits accrue to the individual, concerned.
Therefore, hard work for survival in this world is highly commendable, if one is to survive. Favourable rewards are consistent with the work of one’s hands. The more hardworking one is, the more likely the person would be rewarded.
Had the two brothers been in the same profession, as land tillers, it would be the more hard-working one, to be rewarded superbly. But because both workers need survival, the one producing less could succumb to being envious.
That is when the inability to reap as much as the person favoured with the reward for hard work naturally creates depression. The reward system favours the hard worker, more than it does to the one producing less.
This is a principle that has created tension between the rich and the poor. Looked at carefully, while appearing as fair and good, this principle is the foundation of what is listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Under that system, God is out of the picture.
Unfortunately, for humanity, it is impossible to avoid these evils, because they are intertwined with the principle of works. As long as one is hard-working, there is tendency to despise those unable to reach one’s level.
Those unable to reach the same level of high production, have also got a tendency to be jealous. They may even desire to see bad spell befalling those, who, then get mistaken for being proud. Conspiracies are devised, either by the highly productive ones, or by the less productive.
This is the effect of what transpires in the entire world. It leads to focusing on what the person gets—as being regarded highly—among fellow humanity. If anyone wishes to know where self-centeredness comes from—one cannot look further than reward for hard-work.
Careful analysis on the story of Cain and Abel will reveal that it is desiring reward for hard work that caused Cain to be jealous—as to murder his brother. God rewarded Abel for his altruistic attitude, not necessarily for his hard work.
Abel’s desire to part with the best of what came from his sheep (Genesis 4:4) shows a behaviour that is opposite to that of Cain. The concern for Abel was not so much about what he would get—but what God would get.
You can compare Abel’s behaviour with that of the poor widow in Luke 21:1-4. The attitude arising from concern for what one gives, than what one gets is Godly. Such people enjoy sacrificing their own welfare, to benefit others. They desire to produce more, as to be able to give the best, at any given time (Altruism).
That mind-set is associated with God. We enjoy life in good measure—as granted to us—not because we deserve it, or because of hard work. God gives us life, because He loves us. God enjoys giving life freely, because God is altruistic in nature. We become His friends, when thinking like Him, just as Abel’s attitude caused him to become God’s friend.
Jesus was God in the flesh. He seized an opportunity to reveal the acceptable attitude, as exhibited by the poor widow in exercising the principle of giving. That widow was not worried about her own welfare, more than she was worried about the welfare of others, regardless of her poverty status.
One could predict the behaviour of those who had given large sums of money for, whatever was the cause of that fund-raising. Most of those rich people may have been insulted by what Jesus said. Probably they vowed that in future, they would never give as much as they had done on that day?
This is not surprising, as any behaviour arising from the works of the flesh can easily be predictable. Obviously, when desiring to encourage abundant giving from the rich people—you dare not insult them, in the way Jesus did.
But Jesus, would not suspend the truth in order to appease those enhancing the works of the flesh. His mission was basically to save people from such warped thinking. The mind-set of Cain leads to hell, as compared with the behaviour of Abel—leading to life. See [Works bring the opposite of what is intended]
Imagine if all humanity occupied themselves with the mind of the poor widow—sacrificing all they have, to make a difference in other people’s lives? This would obviously be a better world. But not to match the behaviour of Jesus—taking the position of the worst criminal—Barabbas—so that all could live.
All of us have to realise that our purpose in this world is to adjust our minds to reunite with our Creator, through some opportunity to serve, as directed by our Saviour Jesus Christ. Obviously, there cannot be anything more valuable?
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99
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