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While I was going through the story of Hannah in 1Samuel 1, verse 22b, I was touched which prompted this write-up. The passage says “Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.” This is giving back to the Giver who is God.
What Propels Giving or What brings about Giving?
This was a woman who had none and was in sorrow, in pain, weeping all the time, for her own fruit of the womb. The story have it in 1Sam.1 from verse 1 that Elkanah had two wives Hannah and Peninah and Peninah was blessed with the fruits of the womb in both sexes but for Hannah; there was none except for the love of her husband which continue to sustain her in that relationship.
But you know what, the magnitude of love the husband had for her was more than any number of children Peninah had for him as stated in verse eight – “Then Elkanah her husband said to her, Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?
What about Elkanah’s actions towards her?
His actions towards her were always a favorable one as stated in verses three to five which says: “This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord were there. And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb.
A situation of this nature was reported in the story of Jacob. Remember Leah and Rachel (the two sisters whom Jacob married). When Jacob fled from his brother Esau and came to his mother’s kinsmen in Bethel; he met Rachel whom he loved and wanted to marry her. As a result of his request he was asked to served her father his brother in watching his flocks for seven years. And Jacob gladly served but what happened? Laban his kinsman tricked him, cover Leah and sent her to Jacob. Jacob unknowingly went into her only to find out the next morning that it was Leah he was tricked into marrying. When Laban was confronted with the situation, he stated thus in Gen.29:25-27 that:
“So it came to pass in the morning, that behold it was Leah. And he said to Laban, what is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?” And Laban said, “It must not be done so in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.”
Jacob because of love never hesitated to serve as long as there was a way out of his situation; he was happy and within a short time the seven years period elapsed and he had the love of his life- Rachel.
Verse 31 says, when the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. So it was like every year Leah was giving birth and to Rachel Love sustained her relationship but at a point like Hannah, she broke down and asked her husband Jacob to give her children or else she will die. And her husband out of anger asked her if he was in the place of God who withheld her womb. No matter what, towards the end God always remember his own and blesses them. So Rachel’s children (Joseph and Benjamin) became the most loved children of Jacob.
What I am trying to depict here is “Love”. Love according to 1 Corinthians 13:1 – 8,13 which says: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 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. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed upl does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away…. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three but the greatest of these is love.
We see in this long passage that every other thing will fail or cease but love never fail and it is the greatest. No wonder the love of God upon us.
This kind of love is also noticed in the lives of Abraham and his wife Sarah. Although Sarah had no child Abraham loved her until God promised to bless them with a child at their old age. But because of her age, she laughed over the saying. But with God all things are possible to them that believe. Although she never believed hence gave her maid to fulfill this promise, God told Abraham; not what you have but your wife Sarah. See Gen.17:15-21; “Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her”
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ismael might live before You!” Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My Covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.
And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly…. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year”.
The ways of God are never the ways of man. Nothing on earth could have made Abraham agree to such statements judging from his own weakness of body due to age as well as the deadness of Sarah’s womb as a result of her age too. But I thank God because people are realizing that age is just a number but what matter is what you think or what your heart says. And so the purpose of God, His plans always surpasses that of man hence they came to pass in the lives of His children. And so at that set time of God and season He brought His words to pass in the lives of Abraham and Sarah and thereafter, when God requested for that single seed of their love; with a willing heart Abraham gave to God and God saw how much Abraham loved Him as far as not withholding back what was given to him but release him to the giver, see Gen.18: 9-15; 21: 1-7; 22:1- 18.
This singular attitude of Abraham made God to embarrass him with the blessings we are all benefiting today as recorded in Gen.22:15-18. “Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son – blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
See what obedience of one man brought upon all the earth – the multitude of people we have in all the nations of the world. Hence everyone is Abraham’s seed and declares his blessings upon our lives.
What about the Love of God upon us through Jesus whom He sent to redeem the world.
John 3:16 says; “For God so loved the world that He Gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God gave us freely and all that is required of us is to believe in that which He gave us so that we can live eternally with Him.
Why Did God Give us His Son?
God saw the sinfulness of His creation since after the fall of the first man and woman at the garden of Eden – and in order to reconcile man – his own image back to Himself – He made several efforts in sending various people including prophets to warn his children of sin and its consequences especially the sin of Idolatry – where other gods made with hands are preferred than Him (Our Creator, Sustainer and Protector). This angered God hence gave man freedom to choose what life he would like to live – whether to live right and have everlasting life or live wrongly and face condemnation and or damnation. All the prophets were either slaughtered, jailed or banned from delivering God’s messages. The last of the prophets before the coming of Jesus, John the Baptist was beheaded on a flimsy excuse of fulfilling a vow made to a little girl Herodias daughter for dancing to the pleasure of the King. what a life! and even when the master came; He too was nailed on the cross of Calvary- although His was for the purpose of fulfilling the Love of God for mankind- His creation, but what about others after Jesus especially His disciples? No one wants to know or hear about God; the little or none known is okay but in Technology they are world leaders . This made God to send His son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Where is the Place/or Position of God in our lives?
In that 1Samuel 1: 24 – 2:1; After Hannah has weaned the child (Samuel), she went back to that place (Shiloh) where she poured out her heart to God to return back what God has done for her. She said to the Priest in verse 26-28, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my Lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. for this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.”
And we saw how Samuel served God and God used him mightily to lead his people- the Israelites and their kings.
I came face to face with this situation in my community and that child Samuel is still serving in the vineyard of God as a Priest. He was handed over just as in the case of Hannah and he grew up not living with his parents but in the vineyard of God until be became a Priest. It is very good to acknowledge the goodness of God always in our lives by giving freely to God.
What is God’s word concerning Giving?
Be generous to the poor and needy as recorded in Deuteronomy 15:7b: …you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs”
Is this still possible in our localities? i.e being generous to the poor or needy or to ones brother? There exist a probability as a result of evil in the hearts of men. This evil should be discarded so that the sweet life being experienced by our fore parents will be resuscitated or resonated.
See also Proverbs 3:27-28; “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do so. Do not say to your neighbor Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it when you have it with you.
More Powerful Biblical Injunctions concerning Giving
John the Baptist in one of his teaching have this to say in Luke Gospel Chapter three verse eleven, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none, and he who has food, let him do likewise”
Jesus, our great teacher has this to say in Saint Matthew Gospel Chapter 5: 42 ; “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. He went further to state in verses 43 – 48 that: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as you Father in heaven is perfect.”
What are the benefits of Giving? – either to God or man
Jesus stated in Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to me” Those who showed love, kindness and compassion to the needy, Christ will say to them, Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from foundation of the world.
What about other blessings associated with Giving?
Prov.11: 24-25 says; “There’s one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.
Luke 6:38 says; “Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
How are we expected to Give?
God commanded his children never to come before Him empty thus in Deut. 16:13-17, He says “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your wine-press…. seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord Your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice. three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord Your God in the place which he chooses; …and they shall not appear before the Lord Empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.”
There is no compulsion in giving unto your God knowing fully that as you give so He gives back to you. With what heart you give so shall your blessings hence we are warned or reminded to give cheerfully not grudgingly as recorded in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7; “But this I say; He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
King David in 2 Sam 24:24 says, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing” When David was to appease God for hearing his prayers and delivering him from his sinfulness – David purchased that field before offering sacrifice to His God. Also when they were to build the house of God; they people gave until they were halted by the artisans as a result of surplus in materials to be used.
Why was Solomon blessed beyond measure?
It is the spirit of giving in him. 1 Kings 3:4-5, we see here that King Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings to the Lord and the question that was put to him by God in the dream was “Ask! What shall I give you?” And the request made manifested in the live of the young king.
During the days of the Apostles, the Bible recorded in Acts 4:32 – 37 that believers who had, sold and brought their proceeds to the Apostles who distributed to all and none said what he owns was his. this brought about the creation of the office of Deacons and Stephen became the first Deacon, so as to assist the Apostles in the distribution of gifts, foods, etc to the teaming population of the church.
Giving must be of a pure heart. Now the bible says if you want to give to God and you know you have any problem with your brother, it said leave your alms and be reconciled first with that your brother or friend before offering those gifts (See Matt.5:24).
What are the consequences of withholding?
We shall briefly state a few of the consequences. In Acts 5:1 – 10, we saw how Ananias and his wife trying to fool themselves rather than God met their death – hence it is not compulsory. If you must give, then give freely with a cheerful heart; with love flowing from your heart and not grudging; cursing because you might be giving to a church or a particular person – your rewards do not come from those that receive from you but from God who rewards those who diligently seek Him and do His will.
Proverbs 13:7 sums it all up; “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing, and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches”
Choose where you belong. I will admonish you to Give, Give and expect nothing in return for your maker is He who rewards every giver. So Let Us Give and receive our blessings from God.
And it is only when we exhibit Love for Our God and our neighbors that we can give with a whole heart,
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