Monday, December 3, 2007

Kindness Could Be Your Passport and Visa to Happiness.

With the very high rates of divorce nowadays, it is important to marry the right person, else you become statistics too. There is a divorce every six (6)seconds. How then can anyone find a good spouse? What is the secret? Many at times I have heard people tell a young Christian in church who complains that he is not being given preaching opportunities with, " Brother/sister don’t worry, your gift will make a way for you." In this case, they mean your talent or your spiritual gift will give you open doors. Yet this verse has little or nothing to do with spiritual gifts or talents. Instead, it has to do with presents like the ones we give on Christmas day. Again, it behooves me to chip in some exegetical interpretation of a verse that I like a lot and tell this generation who complain they cannot find the right spouse to take this to heart. A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men (Prov 18:6). Firstly, we will show the limitations of a gift. Secondly, we will caution against the abuses of such a practice that may lead to some biblically condemned practices. Thirdly, we will contextually define what the words /gift/ and /room/ mean and fourthly, we will demonstrate some biblical praxes on how a gift made room for others.
As we will later see in this lesson, no human gift or action has altruistic intentions. Every human gift is egoistically motivated. That is, when a man offers his girlfriend flowers; he is not doing it for nothing. He wants to win her love. When we give to a stranger, we want God to bless us. Those who don't believe in God do so to feel good or  to gain favor form the society. There is a hidden personal reason that makes us give. There is nothing wrong with that. Parents give to their children expecting that they become successful, thereby alleviating their chagrins one-way or the other. However, as you know, without Christ every gift we give is a filthy rag (Is 64:6) because if you have oil on your palms whatever you touch will be oily. If you are sinful, whatever you give is sinful. So to make your gift acceptable before God you must first be justified and sanctified by believing in Jesus Christ. The only savior because he was conceived by the Holy Ghost, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried but rose up from the dead the third day and ascended into heaven where he intercedes for you and for me. Since Christians have been justified by the blood of Christ, is every gift a Christian gives acceptable? Not at all! That is why Jesus tells the disciples to leave their gift (including tithes and offerings) on the altar if they remember that someone has anything against them (Mt 5:23). The thing that amazes me many times in churches is how sometimes a generous donor will be given the front seat while a faithful Christian will be relegated to the backbench. They only remember him when the donor is gone.
The second gift which is problematic is “the widow’s mite” theory misconception The widow’s gift was not in terms of quantity; it was in terms of quality. That is; though the widow did not have as the rich man, she gave all that she had. Today people take it to mean your little insignificant gift, something you don’t want. How many of us give all that we have. Remember not all of us even give offerings and tithes. Remember not all of us even give someone something during the week. What we give when we don’t want anymore or useless, could be likened to fig leaves because it is not real. It is imitation of giving. When Adam and eve sinned against God, they sewed figs leaves to cover their nakedness (Gen 3:7). Then God later brought them real covering of animal skin (Gen 3:21). Then in the New Testament, Jesus curses a fig tree for producing leaves with no fruits. The tree does not produce leaves when it has no fruits. But this one had leaves which means it had fruits and when the Master Farmer wanted to harvest the fruit it saw only leaves. Its hypocrisy was sufficient for the Master to curse it.
Therefore, if your gift is not sanctified and purified, it is a filthy rag before God. If you have odds with your brother and you still give without making it right your gift is a waste. If you give only what you don’t want or what you no longer use, is fig leaves. I don’t want to talk about Abel’s case because I have him in another lesson coming up. Yet, it resembles the fig leave theory.
Another occasion when A gift is bad is when you give it to pervert justice in what we call bribery (I Sam 12:3; Amos 5:12; Job 15:34). Unlike extortion (wrongfully taking by using your authority) where only the taker is guilty, in a bribery incident both the giver and taker are guilty. In the case of extortion it is the same like a young girl who has been raped, she screamed but there was no one to help her. The sin is on her attacker (Deut 22:27). But, if she was being raped and she did not scream then the sin is on both of them (Deut 22:24). Bribery is bad because the gift perverts justice (Ex 23:8).
Well, let me go back to the definition of the main words on the verse. Gift /mattân/ means present to give or reward. Room /râchab/ means to broaden, make wide. Therefore, the meaning of the verse will be simplified as; your present will make wide or broaden your opportunities for you before people. You see that it does not mean talent. Truly, talent could open doors for you but in this case, the context will be /present/ though it could be extended to talents or spiritual gifts because using your spiritual gifts for God is giving and that could open doors for you too. The term /men/ is just for humanity. So women should not feel they are excluded. Let us then dive quickly into demonstrating some praxes in the Bible.
Praxis one: Abraham and Sarah offer hospitality to the angels, and they end up entering into their home to foretell the oracles of God’s judgment (Gen 18:3-4).Their gift gave them the opportunity to safe themselves. How many of us take strangers into our homes? By taking strangers, some have entertained angels unawares (Heb 13:2). If you want to receive, biblical happenings in your life please open up. Don’t always think the one coming wants to exploit you. Notwithstanding evil people will take advantage.
Praxis Two: Rebecca’s kindness, or gift fetches her a husband. (Gen 24:14). Nowadays the woman would stand there and say, “I want Mr. Right who will take care of me and my dog”. Don’t worry. God is lining them up in heaven. That’s where they live. As for this earth, your gift shall make room for you. Ladies say “I am not going to take care of any man”. Don’t worry you may take care of yourself till you die. The bed is cold and lonely. In the middle of the night, you turn from one corner to another. Then you realize you are single and ready to mingle. Sadly, there is no Husband. Something attracts you to another person. And a gift is the shortcut. May God open your eyes to that brother who needs help in you church? You may not help him for his love but at the end of it when the sequel of his paroxysm are over, he may think of you. I am so conscious that, only one in every ten leper that is healed always comes back to say thank you. Even if he does not come back, your labor will not be in vain (I Cor 15:58)
Praxis Three: Jacob wins Rachel’s love by being kind to her cattle (Gen 29:10). How many men will not even pay an unemployed sister’s light bill though they are interested in her? Sometimes trouble prevents people from seeing love from afar. She would have looked at you if you just showed a bit of kindness. You see a sister trekking to and from church. There, you drive past her with no hello do you need a ride. In that car, many things could happen. Or may be, you see a sister’s son in trouble with the law. You have the power to help, yet you don’t care. All you preach “sister pray”. Who knows, if you gave her that “gift” the kid could end up loving you and they could tacitly serve as an advocate and a bridge to their mother by always talking about your goodness. After all, every godly woman, wants a man whom her kid accepts and feels comfortable in their presence. Folks, your gift shall make room for you before people. Yeah it shall really do. How many times have you heard men say “she only wants my money”! Brothers and sisters your gift would make room for you. Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about buying a girl or a man. How many of us would want to help a stranger. You don’t know what may happen next. That same person you help today could be your door opener tomorrow.
Praxis Four: Jacob aware his brother was mad at him stealing his blessing, showcases his gift for Esau that sets the stage for appeasement (Gen 32:20). Do you have those relatives you are not talking with? Prepare a gift and visit them. Then before you start to ask for peace, first show them their presents. No matter how rich they are, gifts always open doors (Prov 21:14). Surely sometimes, you want to say I don’t want to be a floor mat. Jesus your master was. And the servant is never greater than the Master (Jn 15:20)
Praxis Five: Abigail later becomes the wife of David because of her gift (I Sam 25:34, 40). Her husband, a fool; was selfish and wicked. And David would have slaughtered all of them when Abigail heard of it and went out to meet David with a lot of gifts that ended up appeasing him. When he later became king, he sought her for a wife after Nabal; the husband was dead. Don’t you see a gift is making room folks?
Praxis six: The Queen of Sheba had the opportunity to see King Solomon the wisest and most famous king in his days because of her gift (I Kings 10: 1). Are you a politician and want to see an important political figure. Some contributions into their project and campaign could open doors for you big time. I am not unaware that if the Lord opens your door no one shall close it (Rev 3:8; Ps. 75:6-7). Nevertheless, numerous times, the Lord opens those doors through people. That is why he gave spiritual gifts so that we can need one another. Lastly but not the least, a woman gives and receives the best of gifts.
Praxis Seven: A barren Shunamite woman gives a resting room to an itinerant prophet and he thinks about rewarding her back at the end of his expedition. The solution he brings into her life is something that not even money could buy. She did not have a child. The prophet prophesies fecundity into her womb, and the next year she had a child (2Kings 4:8-17). Brothers and sisters, her gift (present) has made room for her in the present of this great prophet.
As you have seen, a gift does not only mean money. Abraham did not give money. Rebecca did not give money. Folks, acts of kindness could be strong and powerful presents. A genuine smile is the most inexpensive bridge between two strangers. I want to adjure each and everyone of you to make room for yourselves with your gift. Each of you has a gift. It is not just saying I am a godly woman or a man of God. Christianity should be in practical terms. Let your gift make room for you so that you can stand before great men.

Until then, kindness is a magic potion to the heart.

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