The Musings 33
Read: Malachi 3: 6-18
Last week CNN released the list of top five people who were the biggest charitable donors in the United States. People who gave a part of their income to different charitable projects. Second on the list of the biggest charitable donors were Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. According to the figures released by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Zuckerberg and his wife gave about half a billion dollars [ $498.8 million] to the Silicon Valley Foundation. It was in 2010 that Zuckerberg began donating his earning to charity, when he pledged $100 million for the pubic schools in Newark, New Jersey. Silicon Foundation is has different causes that it works for in the city of San Francisco. The causes ranges from providing food and shelter to the needy, teaching immigrants different languages and so on. Third on the list was hedge fund creator John Arnold and his wife Laura. Paul Allen the co founder of Microsoft is next on the list. His contributions which totalled almost $309 million was mostly given to the Allen Institute of Brain Science. This institute is committed in doing research on how human brain works particularly in regards to health and disease The Google co founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki are next on the list with charitable giving totalling $223 million. Their charitable giving was mainly to Brin Wojcicki foundation, a foundation that donates to causes like eradication of poverty, and for woman and environmental issues. But then who was the top donor. That place is still ruled by Warren Buffet. Warren Buffet has always been on the top of the most generous donor in United States. Here are people who have made a mark on their professional field and at the same time having no second thoughts on donating their earning on charity. One of the toughest things people find hard to do in life is to give. The dictum that we all have learnt in life is how to get more and more. What are the ways by which we can multiply our earning, how can we make a fast buck. Thus you have people fighting even petty things. The thought is that I don't have enough and hence I cant give. Sometimes you find is so disheartening to find announcements during worship service either by the clergy or the secretary of the parish often making announcements and pleading with the members to give not liberally at least in a frugal way so that the parish could run. On one side you have people who earn more and more giving more and more and earning still more, while on the other side people who still grumble about giving and continue to live life with all sorts of complaints and the thoughts that they don't have enough. One of the values that the Word of God teaches us when we don't give we are actually robbing God. The Word of God teaches us that it is when you give that God truly blesses you, blessing us by helping you to understand the true meaning of life. It is when you give that you understand that a child of God does not lack anything in God's scheme of things.
It is in the book of Malachi that we find the concept of giving and the concept of about the teaching about robbing God. The sins that the prophet condemned is twofold. One is their thinking and the other is the life style that they led. The thinking that ruled the minds of the people is that since God does not bless them it is no use serving the Lord [ Mal 3:13-15]. This sort of thinking makes people to not to give tithes nor offering to God. Along with the guilt of not giving generously according to the laws of God [Deuteronomy 14:22-29, Numbers 18:21], they are also guilty of a lifestyle that consisted of legalism, disobedience and unbelief. It is in such a context that Malachi warns people particularly the priest that what they were doing was sin as their worship and action in their life was in total contrast. Hence, Malachi calls people to life style of worship, where worship involves a life style of people ready to give generously without thinking about the blessing that God will give but on the contrary giving as an example of their commitment and faith to the Lord. As we celebrate Lent, one of the practices that the Marthoma Church endorsed during the lent season is to set apart the income that would have been used for our daily dietary needs and offer it as a special offering during the Good Friday services. This was a very noble action taught by the forefathers of our Church who wanted to combine our devotion and piety to the Lord in concrete actions of giving to the Lord. Worship and action went together. Fasting does not mean that we save for ourselves for the future, on the contrary we fast so that we not only participate in some form with the suffering of the Lord but also try to participate in the suffering our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate than us. Billionaires like Buffet and Zuckerberg are ready to give to charity. Let us not compare as to what they gave, but let us have an attitude that as Christian our commitment to the Lord, and the Lenten prayers and fasting has meaning only when it is transmitted in some forms of concrete actions like tithing or giving, otherwise we are fooling God with our so called rituals like fasting and prayer and we are guilty as Malachi said "The sin of robbing God". Let us think in this lent whether we give or whether we rob God?
Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla