|by Dr. Bill Denton
"For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God." (2 Corinthians 8:3-5)
A young boy, on an errand for his mother, had just bought a dozen eggs. Walking out of the store, he tripped and dropped the sack. All the eggs broke, and the sidewalk was a mess. The boy tried not to cry. A few people gathered to see if he was OK and to tell him how sorry they were. In the midst of the words of pity, one man handed the boy a quarter. Then he turned to the group and said, "I care 25 cents worth. How much do the rest of you care?" James 2:16 points out that words don't mean much if we have the ability to do more. (Stanley C. Brown in "Vital Sermons of the Day," Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 1)
Every week many Christians write a check or drop their cash into collection plates down at the church house. For most, it's simply a matter of their understanding of biblical teaching that we are to give of our means, and that we are to do it on the first day of the week. It's also part of their commitment as a member of a congregation of people who meet together for worship and spiritual work. Religious leaders often joke about the "80/20 Rule," which basically says that it's 20% of the people who give 80% of the money and do 80% of the work. I don't think I'd argue with the figures. They're pretty close to right.
What does all that money go for? Well, where I preach, some of it pays my salary so that I can support my family. Some of it goes to insure that the gospel is taught in numerous ways to people in our community and beyond. Some of it goes to care for benevolent needs, both locally and elsewhere. Some of it goes for materials and supplies to teach Bible classes to our members and their families. Some of it pays for the building where we meet, along with utilities and other related costs. Frankly, I think we exist on a rather "bare-bones" budget and get excellent return on our dollars. But, I do think we could do more if we had more.
How could we generate more money for Christian matters?
I think the key is not twisting arms, or turning into a business. The key to all successful church financing has been people who care about what is going on. Like the fellow in the illustration, it takes a few folks who care 25 cents worth to put their money where their mouth is. That kind of man (or woman) proves his concern. Those who keep telling you they care but keep their money pocketed, are only fooling themselves.
So, let's make this a bottom-line thing. If you want to help spread the gospel, ask yourself how much you care that it's done. If you want to help the church accomplish its goals, projects and programs, ask yourself how much you care. Do you think you should help with mission work? How about benevolent needs? Should you help care for children and widows? Want to make it possible for your preacher to live? (Well, maybe I was doing OK until I got to that one!) But, if any of these strike a chord with you, the key to making it happen is the answer to the question, "How much do you care?" Put your money where your mouth is. The money always tells the truth.
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