27 01 2010



One word that can clear a church faster than any other.

“They’re trying to guilt me into giving money again,” we think. “Let’s talk about Jesus and his love for all people. I’d even take the crucifixion.”

Or perhaps the more subtle, self-righteous version: “I’d like to give more, but—” Sally’s coach said she needs new soccer shoes, I need a dress for hubby’s Christmas party at work, times are tough right now, we just had to go to the dentist…

Shame on us. We should feel guilty.

How can we hold up our head as we walk down the street, let alone into the house of God? What pride that we say we cannot give “our” money—that is not really ours at all.

“Hey, I worked hard for what I have,” you think.

Yes, maybe. But who gave you the job? Who put you in a country where you could go to college, to get the degree you needed to land the job?

We who live in the Western world must mortify—slaughter—this obsession with ourselves, this insidious sense of accomplishment and control. Who are we to deny the Church its rightful dues? Are we so full of ridiculous arrogance that we would mock God under the self-righteous banner of frugality?

In Nehemiah the repentant exiles return to Jerusalem and make a new covenant with the Lord: “We will assumed the responsibility for carrying out the commands to give a third of a shekel each year for the service of the house of our God…we also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the firstfruits of our crops…and we will bring a tithe of our crops…We will not neglect the house of our God.” [10:32, 35, 37, 39]

Why are some of the largest churches in the nation pleading for funds—not to expand ministry, not to feed the poor and oppressed, not to raise salaries or hire new workers, but simply to pay the light bill?

It is not their leaders who should be ashamed. It is us. We have not been faithful.

We would never borrow money to buy a house and then not pay it back—we would face foreclosure from the bank. Why, then, do we abuse the generosity of God? Do we really think God will not hold us accountable?

It is not just the local church that suffers. God’s people all over the world endure great suffering because we have broken the covenant with our Lord and adulterated ourselves with the culture of comfort and materialism.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” [James 1:27] Religion the Lord accepts is not books, Bible studies, or bumper stickers. It is caring for those in distress, especially those who belong to the Body of Christ. [Gal. 6:10]

In 1 Timothy Paul speaks sternly regarding a person’s responsibilities to their family, saying, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

If he makes such a strong statement about the care of those connected by human blood, how much more would he say so to those bound together by the blood of Christ!

On the bloodied streets of Haiti a young man pulled his worship leader’s decomposed body from the rubble of the church, and a pastor knelt by his badly-injured daughter. She was in incredible pain because a cinder block fell on her face, and he did not have the $15 to pay a cab to take her to a make-shift hospital.

How can we face our Lord, who gave us the money to meet every need?

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” [1 John 3:18]

“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” [2 Cor. 8:2-3]




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