I received a note from a woman who is a regular reader of my daily articles. I didnít use Ďnormalí on purpose, for I have been told by numerous critics that no 'normal' person would bother to read such tripe as a I spew forth. Their words, not mine!
The note from the lady in question is insightful in discovering the root of the problem facing Christian organizations across the board, regardless of 'style' alignment.
"Dear Mr. Lilly,
I need your advice? My husband and I attend church regularly and we also are members of a small group. Here's the problem: We cannot agree on the matter of giving. I say that giving to the church is charity, my husband says it is foolish, and the church is always asking, but fails to give us any idea of how much to give after we have taken care of the necessities. Can you help?"
Probably the only group who can spot the major problem faced by this couple are pastors of churches that fearlessly teach biblical truth, even to the point of 'in your face' with said truth.
The dead giveaway of spiritual/biblical ignorance is found, not hidden, but in glaring neon in the phrase, "after we have met necessities." Mam, 'First fruits' is the biblically active word. Honor the Lord with the 'first fruits.' Simple? Absolutely. Easy, well that's a matter of wrestling with self about obeying the clear command of scripture in the Old Testament, and a wealth of teaching by Jesus and the Epistles in the New.
I sent the lady a brief letter on what the Bible teaches on the subject. I could send a book, but it's my experience that if a few verses in context on the point do not produce obedience to Godís way, old time catalogs of reasons will not suffice either.
Jack London, of 'Call Of The Wild' fame stated the principle succinctly:
"A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog when you are just as hungry as the dog."
Paul commended the saints of Macedonia for giving in spite of their poverty. I know of no place in the entire scriptures where a person or group is commended for giving out of their 'left over.' It's a matter of putting the Lord first and trusting Him.
2 Corinthians 8:1 "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality."
Jesus dealt with this principle in His story of the widow's mite. He assures all believers that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also, therefore lay it up in heaven.
Bro. Larry, this is a wise response to the lady's question. God gave us of His first fruits, His only begotten Son. He deserves more than our firstfruits, so even then we are coming up short. God understands our financial situations, and our firstfruits are honored by Him. He may not make us rich, materially in return, nor maybe not even a little wealthier, but we will so much wealthier spiritually. Thanks for sharing. Thomas
As usual, you made your point and showed that it is not your point that was made at all; but a sharing of His point. Couple of typos, but no biggie. Those misspells were like pebbles trying to stop the flooding Jordan, the water still got through. But, you know us writer types, we nit pick.