I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness-- Jeremiah 3:3

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


         You can't force love. You can probably make it happen but you can't just push its button anytime you want it.
          One scorching Sunday morning, a minister preached passionately on tithing. He quoted Corrie Ten Boom saying, "The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation." And he interpreted the quote capitalizing on the literal definition of the word "donation" in the quote. He went on convincing the awestruck few in the pews: It doesn't matter how long or how many years you have been in church. What matters is your donation to God. First thing first, the term donation could be easily misinterpreted as literally to be monetary. Although we may not be privy to the context of the quote but certainly life shouldn't be about anyone just doling out money.Although that could be a product of his contributions to the world in general. Speaking of the word contribution, I'd say I might consider that as the nearest synonym for the word donation referred to in the quote. That said, donation could very well be referring to what we have done to make the world better in the sight of God monetary or not. But certainly not monetary in capital letters.

          Second of all, when the pastor paraphrased the word "duration" as referring to how long someone has been in church is way too much for an interpretation. I'd say I am vehemently offended by how he deliberately used the quotation to lead the congregation into believing that literal donation is what matters most. I have been educated in my poetry class to pay careful study of any line or stanza of any write-up to finally dig the real story of the line. I am certainly not happy. As a literature and English teacher, it is an affront to me. His poor paraphrase whether intentional to deliver his caricature of a Christian motive or not insults anyone's ability to search the internet of the accuracy of the quote in its context and definition.

          And who is Corrie Ten Boom really? Despite her contributions to the world and to the Church history, she still fell short as an authority to say that what matters is what a church member gives to the church, that is, if that was indeed what she meant by that passage. On one hand, I think it is a speaker's command responsibility to study the context and background why the quotation took place before striking a group of people with some indignation, almost condemning them for one purpose I'd rather not elaborate here.

           But while it is true that giving God what is due him is scriptural, hence, mandatory, a pastor can only say much on the pulpit and mouth inaudible prayers too much. He could not shake the head nor bend the iron will of anyone to be compliant and docile even if it  is the divine mandate. It is God himself who does the moving.

           I understand the dire need of that certain church to double up their commitment in the aspect of giving and church financial support. But more than anything, it takes more than commitment. It takes more than passion. Any preacher can be vehement in the pulpit for what he thinks is God's message. In fact, preachers tread the thinnest line there is when they deliver the message. I'd say it takes a lot of asking from up there to have him deliver God's message instead of his or instead of what he thinks is necessary.

          Now let me bring this point to another level. Loving God is not always automatic. But with the awareness that it is the way to be truly happy, we make it our aim to prove worthy of his love despite of our "filthy" righteousnes--despite of our "filthy love." However, as we grow as a church, this commitment brought about by this love we pledge becomes muddled as we are plunged into personalities and circumstances. More than the financial difficulty, there are more factors that probably stop a good Christian to send in his envelope to the offering pouch. Sometimes it takes being fed well spiritually to have our hearts reach the pockets. I am fully aware that churches go through different issues. Some stay in deserts long. Sometimes others get lost in the wilderness wandering looking for a way back to that oasis that once fed them.

         To cut the crap short, one can love God but it takes the steward of God to deliver the goods  as he should before the goods get translated into what should go to the offering plate.

          Of course, one might say if you love God you can't let anyone--not the cranky youth leader for instance nor the legalistic pastor--stop you from giving what is due. That's cliche all right, but that's admittedly ideally true.

          However, when a soul gets parched for long, when the stomach has been painfully empty for quite a while, one can't help but get paralyzed.

          It takes a reconciliation with a brother or a sister before anyone can offer anything of worth to the altar of his sanctuary. No matter how true what Malachi said to bring all the tithes in, how can a famished church member who's spiritual decay involves someone among the church leaders and ministers make his offering sweet-smelling to God if his heart remains unreconciled to someone who refuses that reconciliation as well.

         Doesn't the Scripture say, "Leave your offering behind for they are rendered useless and go reconcile with your brother before you can bring it to his altar? (Matthew 5:23-24) So that after all that would be said and done: the patching up,the kissing and the making up so to speak, love becomes a natural reaction. Not forced. Hence, in such context, giving comes with a lot more sense and meaning.


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