According to financial reports that are tacked up on bulletin boards of church buildings, it appears that there is a growing number of congregations which have tens of thousands of dollars sitting in bank accounts, with no specific need for which they are saving.
I realize that there are needs, such as construction costs, for which congregations must build up large amounts of money. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm referring to congregations who have an adequate meetinghouse, are supporting their preacher adequately and meeting all their local needs with money to spare.
When questioned about the large treasury, sometimes the excuse is something along the line of, “We never know when we'll have a need for a large sum of money-the heating system may go out.” If the furnace is old and giving signs of trouble it would be prudent to set aside some for that purpose, but if it is pessimism this smacks more of a lack of faith. Who knows, the Lord may come before the furnace goes out? In the meantime there are preachers all over the world, working in places where the local church cannot fully support them, who are struggling to raise and keep support. This ought not to be.
Another attitude that may be contributing to inflated treasuries is expressed by some who say, “We need to spend more money locally.” Now, if they mean that they need to be more aggressive in evangelizing their community, I can't fault them. However, this too often translates into simply providing more creature comforts or improvements designed to impress the world.
The apostle Paul, when urging well-off brethren to respond to benevolent needs of other congregations, said, “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack-that there may be equality. As it is written, ‘He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack’” (2 Cor. 8:12-15).
Now, before anyone comes unglued because I used a “benevolence” situation to make a point about evangelism, I am only suggesting that we would do well to have a similar attitude toward our brethren in other places.
Always keep in mind that it is not the purpose of the church to save money. The reason Christians are to give to the Lord is for the church to use the money. If there is no financial need, there is no reason for a collection or a treasury. Dare anyone say there is no need? There may be no need (or little need) locally, but “lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (Jn. 4:34).
We are in a spiritual war along with brethren from all over the world. We are on the same side. Let us not be “French-like” by allowing our “allies” to go it alone. (From Think on These Things, Vol. 34, #3)
In almost every discussion of modesty (1 Tim. 2:9,10), and what is appropriate or inappropriate apparel, someone seems to want a specific “rule” by which to measure what is and is not modest. I suggest a very simple, one minute test, that all can take, that will be truly helpful if we will be honest with ourselves.
Simply stand in front of a full-length mirror and take an objective look at yourself in your clothing. Turn sideways and around-raising your arms as you do so. Now lean toward the mirror, and then sit in a chair several feet in front of the mirror and observe.
What you see is what everyone else also sees! Do the words “form-fitting,” “revealing” or “skin” come to mind? Is what you see and what you are “showing” compatible with that which is “becoming” to one “professing godliness”?
It might be helpful for some fathers and mothers to stand in front of the mirror with their children when they take the test. And, it won't do any good if anyone “...is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (Jas. 1:23,24). (From Think on These Things, Vol. 34, #3)
Recent events have shown that America is fertile ground for the homosexual movement. The vocal nature of this group and the apparent acceptance of it by society in general may even tempt Christians to pause to wonder if they should be less dogmatic about this sin. But we ought to be pausing to see the real reasons for modern acceptance of this sin!
Ignorance. It is hard to claim unintentional ignorance of the error of homosexuality. Romans 1:26 calls homosexuality “against nature”-in other words, simple anatomy shows that the human body is heterosexual, not homosexual. In spite of this, “women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful” (Rom. 1:26-27).
This is not to say everyone thinks homosexuality is wrong. Paul goes on to say that there are those who do not “retain God in their knowledge” and therefore develop a “debased mind”-wrong seems right when your thinking is perverted.
Ignorance of God's word allows religious people to defend sins like homosexuality. The Scriptures themselves are painfully clear. According to Romans, homosexuality is “unclean,” it dishonors one's body, is a result of “vile passions,” is “against nature,” “shameful,” and “error” (Rom. 1:24-27). Paul also wrote that “homosexuals” and “sodomites” will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Homosexuality has always been a violation of God's law (example: Lev. 20:13), with God's destruction of the city of Sodom standing as a monument to His displeasure of this sin (Gen. 19; 2 Pet. 2:6). The problem is not that the Scriptures are unclear. The problem is ignorance of Scripture-whether unintentional or intentional.
New Tolerance. The redefinition of tolerance to mean acceptance and agreement is the driving force behind current denominational ecumenical and unification movements. The only guiding standard is that of being true to what you want or believe, and the only thing condemned is condemnation of others. The potential accusation of being closed minded or judgmental has kept many denominational mouths from teaching what they know to be the truth about homosexuality. Even some who oppose homosexuality have stood silent as their denomination embraced it. The reasons for this vary from attempts to keep position, members and money, to feelings that the tide cannot be changed by a few lonely voices.
Tolerance which accepts sin is no longer tolerance-it is sin! The “wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable” (Jas. 3:17). It is not peace at the cost of purity. In his rejection of homosexuality in Romans, Paul also strongly condemned those who “approve of those” who practice such sins (1:32). It's time for God's people to pay less attention to being politically correct and more attention to speaking God's word!
Evolutionary Thinking. If we accept that man is an animal-differentiated from other animals only by anatomy and the fortuitous wiring of our brains-then how can the following of physical animal passions be wrong? This is the homosexual argument that one is born a homosexual. Some have even gone so far as to say God made them “this way.”
The Genesis account of creation reveals two important facts pertaining to this study. First, man is not simply an animal. Man was created with a spiritual side-”in the image of God” (Gen. 1:26)-and with this comes the ability to know right from wrong. Man has the ability and responsibility to bring his passions into subjection to the will of God (Rom. 6:12). Why is it that our society allows and approves of man acting like an animal sexually, but in any other area of life to act like an animal is wrong and punished? Second, God made mankind “male and female” with sexual relations to occur only between a man and woman, and that only within lawful marriage (Gen. 1:27, 28; 2:18-24; 4:1). This is how God made man and woman and how He makes them today!
Hedonism. The pursuit of pleasure is a very dark path. Pay attention to media advertisements and you will learn that the world is offering everything the pleasure seeker could desire. “Try it you'll like it,” “If it feels good do it,” and, “Don't knock it ‘till you've tried it” are mottos that have sent people looking for gratification in areas that Paul says are even a shame to speak of (Eph. 5:12). Making pleasure god will lead to perversity, extremes, and extreme perversity as new thrills and experiences are sought. Until our treasure is in heaven, the false promises and artificial glitter of the world will appear enticing no matter how perverted it may be (Matt. 6:20).. (From Think on These Things, Vol. 34, #3)