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Commandments For Gifts

At a business centre the other day, the computer artist regaled customers with the story of a job he did the previous week. A man had come to order a customised greeting card, carrying the photograph of his wife and proclamations of love to her. As the final design rolled out of the printer, a female customer in the shop couldn’t suppress her appreciation.

She burst out: “Wow, Oga, this your gift is sweet! Look, your wife will be so happy at this gift that she will demonstrate unusual talent in bed tonight. She will give you any type of style you demand!”

Coming from a woman, the message was clear –people value gifts. The Bible also states this fact in Proverbs 17:8 –“A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth;” and Proverbs 21:14 –“A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.”

Outside the Bible, men have couched memorable words about gifts and giving.

Corrine U. Wells says, “You do not have to be rich to be generous. If he has the spirit of true generosity, a pauper can give like a prince.”

Richard Braunstein puts it another way: “It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.”

It was M.K.O. Abiola who said: “The hand that gives always stays on top.”

Talking about hands and giving, the great American preacher, Pastor Billy Graham, said: “God has given us two hands –one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.”

And you have perhaps seen that car sticker, which proclaims: “Givers never lack.”

This quote on the sticker may have been conceptualised after Acts 20:35 –“…Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

At this point, let me share with you my 14 Commandments of Giving:

1.            Don’t give because you want or expect something in return.

2.            Don’t give a gift that YOU can later hijack conveniently. (I know individuals who, after buying a car for their wives, end up using the vehicle more than the women. They forget the Yoruba proverb that talks about also relinquishing the rope when you present a goat to a masquerade.)

3.            Don’t give stuff that will recall bad memories (like buying a carton of condoms for a husband that once strayed into unfaithfulness).

4.            Give at special occasions.

5.            Don’t wait for special occasions to give.

6.            Don’t give money and tell the person to get herself a gift. (After all, the time and sweat that goes into hunting and selecting a gift are as special as the gift itself.)

7.            Give without ceasing.

8.            Don’t stop giving because the other person never gives in return.

9.            Don’t give away a gift you received –except by the express permission of whoever presented the gift to you.

10.          Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. (One old man never tires to throw this proverb at me –by which he means never assess a gift unfavourably in the presence of its giver.)

11.          Never ask how much a gift costs. (This one came from my Dad, who gets irritated whenever he buys Mum a bundle of cloth, a food item or any other stuff, and she asks him: How much did this cost? It is a trait I inherited from my Dad, and my wife by now knows that she is asking a tautological question that would receive no answer when I come home with anything I bought and she enquires about the price.)

12.          Let your gift be a surprise; people love surprises.

13.          Say THANK YOU when you get a gift.

Give. God gives. And giving is one of His attributes. God gives. And no one can out-give God. Can you imagine having only one child and giving him out to save your enemy? God did that. John 3: 16 –“For God so loved the world, that he GAVE his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

And that brings me to Rule No. 14: Accept God’s greatest Gift, Jesus Christ.

FROM THE BOOK, HELLO, IS THIS GOD SPEAKING? BY FELIX OBOAGWINA

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