Some years back, after a Sunday morning Mass in Abuja, a young and a good looking lady walked up to me. She was holding a fat brown envelope. She handed the envelope to me and said I should please pray for her.
I asked her about the content of the envelope and what particular intention would I be praying for?
She told me that she started working just a month ago and that she came to thank the Lord and to offer the first fruit of her work for God’s blessings.
What was in the envelope was her salary for that month. Her first salary. The entire money! Everything!
In all honesty, I was speechless not for lack of words but for being unable to know where to begin. Inside me I was like: do people still entrust everything they have to God in a child-like simplicity like this? I was really moved.
In my heart, I said a prayer for her, that type of prayer that is deep down, it was as though it was the Holy Spirit Himself that was praying through me. I was feeling the answers to the prayers even before I finished praying.
Then she knelt down, I laid my hands upon her and blessed her and the money.
After prayers, I asked her to tell me how much was in the envelope. She said Eighty Thousand Naira.
Then I asked, “how much covers your transport to your work daily?”
She said “approximately N1,000 naira to and fro, Father.”
That means for 27 work days, it would be N27,000.
Then I spoke up again, “Sorry o, I am asking you too many questions, how much do you feed daily when you go to work?”
She answered “It depends. If I want to eat so well, I spend 800 naira with drinks, but mainly I spend just N500, and sometimes I carry food from home.”
So, I made the calculation in my head. Let say she spends 500 naira daily, 27 work days would be 13,500 naira.
I went ahead to enquire about her accommodation and I discovered that she stayed alone in an apartment she just rented. We made the calculation by dividing the annual rent by 12 months and we discovered that if she was to pay rent monthly, it would be N12,500.
Her monthly electricity and water bill with other fees for house maintenance was put at N10,000. On phone calls and data, we approximated it to be N5000 monthly. Her monthly DSTV subscription was around N3,600 for DSTV family bouquet.
When you put all the expenses together and subtract it from the N80,000, she would be left with N8,400 to buy food stuffs and other things in the house.
These are the expenses that she wss sure to spend every month. We had not even talked about other things like make up, doing her hair, clothes, gifts to family and even savings.
This is a huge sacrifice, in my judgement. I intentionally asked her those questions so as to ascertain the depth of her sacrifice.
I brought out the envelope, bless it for the second time and gave it to her. I looked at her countenance and I knew she was not too comfortable with my action. Then I took time to explain the Bible to her. That was when I discovered that so many people do not truly understand how God works.
When God asks us for first fruit or for tithe or for any sacrifice, it is not so that He will eat it. No! He has no need of our money. When He asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, it was not because he liked seeing the blood of innocent children.
When He asked Abel and Cain to make a sacrifice to Him, it was not because he ate fruit or even drank blood of rams. It is simply to test how committed we are, how willing are we to leave everything to Him. Do we, like Cain, select offerings that we no longer desire and give to Him or do we, like Abel, empty everything to Him?
This lady that brought the first fruit began to understand for the first time. Right from when she put the money in the envelope to bring to God, God had already accepted her offering. The minister must not spend the money. It is just that most of us ministers are unfortunately greedy. And we use God’s name to cover it up. We often see the part of scriptures that favour our stomach.
Theologically, when you give to God, He transforms that gift and gives it back to you. The bread and wine people offer before mass are transformed to the body and blood of Christ and given back to the people to eat and drink.
The son Isaac that Abraham gave to God, was transformed to be a channel that would bring forth the fulfillment of God’s promise and given back to Abraham.
The offerings of bread and fish people brought were prayed upon and given back to them to eat and they were filled, still there was left over.
The water they filled at the wedding in Cana is given back to them as wine.
The Ugwu Kelvin that my parents offered to God, is given back to them as a priest.
The money that the young lady brought to me as her first fruit is blessed and given back to her as pure gift from heaven.