Several years ago my pastor told the tragic story of an East Indian woman who taught a Christian missionary a valuable lesson in commitment.
The missionary was walking along the banks of the Ganges River when he saw the woman standing by the river with two small children by her side. One child was the picture of health. The other child was pitifully ill. The skin on his tiny frame stretched tightly over his bones. His deep-set, nearly lifeless eyes betrayed an eminent death.
Later that day the missionary passed by the same spot on the riverbank and noticed the woman again. But this time she only had the sick child with her. The healthy child was gone. “Didn’t you have another child with you earlier today?” the missionary asked her. “What happened to him?”
The woman replied, “I threw him into the river as a sacrifice to our god.”
The missionary was horrified. “Why in the world did you sacrifice your healthy child? Wouldn’t it have been wiser to sacrifice the sick child? After all, he may not live beyond tomorrow.”
The woman looked at him quizzically, then replied, “In my religion we give our gods only the best.”
This story gives those of us who claim Christ as Savior pause to reflect on our own level of commitment. Thankfully, the one true God does not require the physical sacrifice of our children. In fact, He abhors such practices. But He does expect our best.
In other religions, adherents are compelled to give of themselves out of fear, to appease their god, or to win a place in heaven, nirvana, or some other higher existence. What sets biblical Christianity apart from other religions is that we aren’t compelled to win approval of our God to secure our place in Heaven. The Bible states that we are hopelessly lost but that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
So, why should we give our best to God if our place in Heaven is a free gift to those who accept Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on their behalf? The answer is found in the book of First John chapter four. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.”
Christ’s love – to the point of his sacrificial death on our behalf – is what is so compelling to those who are being reached by Unite 4 Africa. In a world racked with fear and among a pantheon of fear-based religions, Jesus’ message of pure love is sublimely refreshing. When Unite 4 Africa demonstrates that profound love by rescuing orphans, providing water to the thirsty and medicine to the sick, empowerment to the poor, and hope to the hopeless, people are drawn to the Source of that love.
Those who give to Unite 4 Africa are very much a part of that hope-giving process. Giving our best to God should be an act of love, not motivated by fear that God will punish us if we don’t give our best. The apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to the church at Corinth that generous giving was a test of “the sincerity of your love.” Later on in that same letter he states, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
You may have heard the expression that a person’s checkbook is a barometer of where their heart is. The Bible puts it this way: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34) Love of God and our neighbors should be the motivation behind our giving. Does your giving reflect a committed love?
Only The Best
Unite 4 Africa Board Chairman