By Pat Amobi Chukwuma
A certain selfish and stingy man was having a sumptuous lunch when he heard a knock at his door. By that time he had just started eating. The meal was a rich plate of rice garnished with salad and a whole roasted chicken. He sighed heavily for being disturbed. Then he hid the food under the bed before opening the door. His visitor was a hungry wretched man who lived in the neighborhood. The stingy man angrily asked the visitor, “Why did you come by this time when I am taking my siesta? Please don't try it again. What is your problem?” The hungry visitor yawned loudly and pleaded, “Sir, I am very hungry. I have not eaten since three days now. In fact I am dying of hunger. Kindly give me something to eat before my burial.” The stingy man replied, “I don't have anything now to give you. My wife travelled and there is no one around. Also the kitchen and food store are under lock and key. The worst is that thieves broke into my room last night and made away with the money I kept at home. Go and look for help somewhere else.” The poor man staggered away, yawning continuously.
Meanwhile, the stingy man did not know that his house dog was lying under the bed where he hid his food. The dog thanked God for answering its prayer. When the two men were talking, the dog hurriedly descended on the delicious and crowned plate of food. It ate everything including the roasted chicken. In fact it licked the plate as if it was washed with soap. Then it waited for an opportunity to sneak out, because it knew the fate awaiting it. As the master was fuming at the opened door from where the wretched hungry man just went out, the dog backed friendly at its master as if it was saying 'Thank Sir' and went out. Then the stingy man retired to his room to continue the eating. He was soliloquizing as he bent under his bed to bring out the food. Surprisingly he saw an empty licked plate. He became very furious and searched for the dog with his cocked gun. Sensing danger of the unknown, the dog did not come back till after three days. By this time, the master's anger has subsided and the sumptuous meal has digested in the dog's belly. Who cheated who? If we fail to be charitable to the needy, we shall lose in some other ways.
There is a man called Mister Dogood. He is very wealthy. Unfortunately, the dog does not eat his faeces. He goes to church regularly. Whenever there is a donation in the church for various projects, he sleeps off. He wakes up when the donation is over. He always puts on worn out clothes. One day, a delegation from his church came to his house to ask him for financial assistance on behalf of a poor member of the church about to undergo a major surgery abroad that would cost two million naira. The wealthy man sighed and told the church delegation that his container of goods worth millions of naira was sunk in the high sea just yesterday. That was a blatant lie to evade giving the financial assistance demanded from him. The delegation pitied him and left hopelessly. Just two days after refusing to help the needy by telling a grievous lie, something grievous happened to him. His factory worth billions of naira was gutted by a mysterious fire. Not even a pin was saved. The rich man fainted and is still in a state of unconsciousness till today. His wife and four children hardly boast of three square meals presently. Indeed, no condition is permanent.
A certain popular and well-to-do young woman went for thanksgiving service in the church for surviving a nearly fatal accident. She is highly blessed with abundant wealth. She has a big poultry farm. People troupe from various parts of the country to buy different grades of fowl and eggs from her extra-large poultry farm. On that Sunday thanksgiving service, she went to church with a paralyzed blind fowl and six paralyzed tubers of yam. The church minister accepted her gifts at the altar and prayed that God may reward her in the same measure she gave. By that time she was still bearing children and has already gotten five daughters. She was praying God for the gift of a son. As time progressed she became pregnant. When the time came to put to bed, she was delivered of a paralyzed blind male child. She frowned at God for blessing her with such a useless baby. Did the Bible not say that the measure you give will be the measure you receive?
There is also a familiar beautiful woman whose name is Charity. She is highly blessed with wealth. Unfortunately she does neither enjoy her wealth nor give to others. Even her husband goes begging to feed their children and pay their school fees. She drives a very expensive car while her family goes hungry. Beggars who go to her for help come out crying. Because of her stingy character, the people nicknamed her Madam Araldite. She curses anyone who calls her that name. She always says, “My name is Charity and not Araldite.” Even her husband and children address her as Madam Araldite. There is a brand of highly concentrated gum known as Araldite. He or she who is stingy is often referred to as having an araldite hand. Do you have it? If you have such a hand, kindly see a specialist doctor for urgent surgery before it turns into incurable leprosy.
It is said that Charity begins at home. There is a man who practices charity abroad. He is known as “Ochiriozua.” He looks after many women outside but his wife is as wretched as dry wood. She has only three pairs of worn out clothes. But the women he maintains outside dress gorgeously. He pays the school fees of the children of those concubines while his own children have stopped going to school due to inability to pay school fees. What an irony! Charity begins at home and then ends at abroad.
Charity is not only the prerogative of the rich. The poor must also be charitable. There was a very poor woman in a town called Nibo when I was ministering as pastor there. She was fed by the church. Whenever I visited her with basic needs, she in turn gave me something no matter how small. I accepted it cheerfully. When she was about to die, she gave me a gallon of red oil and a packet of salt. Her final wish was that her remains should be interred in the church cemetery because she was surrounded by wicked and uncharitable neighbours. She wished not to remain among them in death. This request was granted her. On the day of her funeral, it was like celebrating the life of a Saint, which I think she ought to be.
Some time ago, there was a beggar sitting by the roadside eating fried corns. A rich man came across in his precious jeep vehicle with a driver as he sat comfortably behind. The beggar stretched out his hand for alms. The rich man ordered his driver to stop. He wound down his car's glass and stretched out his own hand asking the beggar for the fried corns. The beggar frowned and gave him only three grains of corn. The rich man ate the corns, wound up his glass and asked his driver to move fast. The beggar poured curses on the rich man for eating his corns without giving him money. Two hours later, the rich man sent his driver to the beggar with an envelope containing three thousand naira. When the beggar opened the envelope, he started crying and regretting. The driver was shocked and he asked the beggar what was wrong. The beggar shouted, “One thousand naira is for a grain of corn. The three grains I gave him worth three thousand naira. Had I known, I would have given him the whole ear of the corns!” The driver was thrown into loud laughter. He narrated to his master the reaction of the beggar. The two of them started laughing which attracted passers-by who joined in the laughter scene without knowing the cause of the laughter.
Charity has no boundary. If you are poor, then you ought to help the poorer. The poorer should help the poorest. Some poor people are also stingy. They neither eat by themselves nor give to others. There was a very poor man who lived on people's charity. Suddenly he became very sick. A philanthropic individual rushed him to hospital. The doctor diagnosed him of suffering from acute and terminal cancer of starvation. Consequently, he died within three days. When his wretched bed was being dressed for lying in state before burial, a large parcel was found under his ancient mattress. When it was opened, the sum of three hundred thousand naira was seen. One of the angry mourners gave the dead stingy poor man 36 lashes of cane before the body was buried. What do you think: will the poor man go to heaven or to hell, since he hoarded money given to him over the years and died of starvation?
Charity is the supreme law. When Jesus Christ was busy during his earthly ministry, a certain curious young man asked him, “Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honour your father and your mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have kept all these commandments, what is still lacking? Jesus answered, “If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all that you possess and give the money to the poor and you will become the owner of a treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow me” (Mtt. 19:21). When the young heard this, he went away sad. He was not ready to share his wealth with others.
Likewise if you and I keep all the ten commandments of God without doing charity, then we are incomplete as far as perfection is concerned. Lack of charity can land us into hell fire. The biblical story of the Richman and Lazarus is a pointer (Luke 16:19 -20). The poor Lazarus died and went to heaven. Later the Richman died and went to hell. Why did he go to hell? He might have kept the commandments of God but lacked in charity. He failed to give food to the poor Lazarus to eat. Lazarus and the dogs struggled for scrabbles of food that fell from his table. The monkey is very beautiful, but what ruined its beauty are the eyelids. You and I may be good, but if we lack in charity, then the fate of the Richman awaits us. It is a sin of omission not to do what we are supposed to do at every moment of our lives. Charity will be the barometer of our judgment on the last day (Mtt. 25:31- 46). Charity covers a multitude of sin. Be charitable!