I heard it again on a radio program. I have heard it many times in the course of my Christian life. The statement is this: "You can tell a person's spiritual commitment by looking at his or her checkbook." Oh, really?
I think some pastors and Christian leaders like to use this statement because it gives justification to tithing. It makes giving something that goes hand in glove with being spiritually surrendered to God. It sounds so correct, but it is actually full of problems.
Is this to say that a person who is not giving money is not a spiritual child of God? This is the kind of reasoning that lays guilt on people. It is a very dangerous and judgmental statement.
While I realize that giving money to ministry is an expression of one's love for God and faith in His ability to meet needs, it is NOT the only benchmark for determining spiritual maturity. There are many mature Christians that truly can give very little, or maybe nothing at all, in terms of money, especially in today's economic times, when they are struggling just to survive. No one should come along and tell them that they are not spiritually surrendered! These same people can, however, give in many other ways like time, talents, using spiritual gifts, meeting practical needs, or helping the many hurting and helpless people in our culture.
It is impossible to tell from my checkbook how much time I spend reading the Bible, or praying, or how I use my time, or the type of media I watch, or how I conduct myself in the everyday world, what kind of jokes I laugh at, or what kind of conversations I engage in. The list could go on and on.
What this reveals is how much money a person gives to a ministry or local church, and nothing more. We should give generously and even sacrifically, along with all of the other ways I have mentioned. The Bible teaches this. All that we are and have belongs to God.
It really saddens me and, quite frankly, makes me angry, when I hear Christian leaders make this kind of statement. Besides, our checkbooks are a private matter between us and God. They do not determine our level of spiritual commitment.
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Amen to that, John. I've never actually heard that said, but if I did, I'd be as annoyed by it as well.
As you said, it's one of those sayings that appear quite spiritual and righteous, but are actually full of condemnation and judgement. A bit like those who equate spiritual maturity with how often you are seen in church and how much you do for the church.
Good, clear message.