Sunday at church in Fayetteville a pastor shared this story. An eight-year-old boy from Honduras had been kidnapped at the Mexico-U.S. border. Criminals held the child until his parents paid for his return. They paid the ransom with their "dream money" which they had saved for resettlement in America. The church responded Sunday with help and began to fill up a bucket with their love offerings.
I've been privileged to pastor a wide variety of churches (Baptist, Assembly of God, and non-denominational). I've learned that the true wealth of the church isn't the size of its bank account. It is in its members. The church is no better than those who make up its membership. The people who populate our meetings are our richest resource. When people see someone in need, they may say "Why doesn't the church do something?" Or, the next most likely response is, "Why doesn't the government do something?" Whose job is it?
Let's deal with the church. The response of generosity and acts of mercy by individual Christians, acting in concert when informed by the church, is exactly the right thing to do. Together we can multiply our effectiveness. Heartfelt sharing is godly and good. The Bible has an amazing amount of information about Christians and money. The apostle Paul writes three times as much about finances as he does love; and love is a huge topic with Paul. I explain more details in The Thief in the Storehouse (available at Amazon.com).
The scripture says that whoever gives to the poor lends to the Lord. Want God in your debt? God repays his debts when we give freely. He keeps good books. He watches how we handle money. I've noticed that purely motivated ministers place helping the poor high up on their list of priorities. This is a good thing to remember since it's easy for us to focus funds primarily on our own comfort or church needs. The opportunity to do good to the poor is available to us all.
Jesus made the statement, "The poor you have with you always." He practiced giving to the poor. Jesus even needed a treasurer to keep the bag of money for distributing alms. Interestingly, his treasurer was a disciple named Judas, the zealot who later betrayed him for a few pieces of silver. Jesus had placed him in a position where his covetousness was revealed. Indeed, individuals and corporations may be guilty of greed - the idolatry of covetousness.
What about resources collected for managing civic welfare? In today's world, those who control the money seem afflicted with extreme foolishness. By foolishness, I mean over-spending; busting the budget; wasting limited resources. Government officials tend to do this because they are spending the citizen's money, not their own. All tax dollars spent by any government agency originated in your bank account or in my bank account.
Liberals and Conservatives in government tend to approach fiscal policies differently. In big cities and states where Liberals dominate, runaway social spending is very common. But does it work well? Does it solve the problem or only create more issues down the road? It's difficult to counter the rationale of helping people in need, using the power of the state to enforce charity. In California, especially Los Angeles, the largesse of government officials is legendary. Now, thanks to their ineptitude, the number of homeless people living (and defecating) on Los Angeles' streets is up to 60,000. Anytime the secular government takes over the benevolent work belonging rightly to the family or church, it fails. Charity starts at home.
-- Ron Wood is a writer and minister. Email him at [email protected] or visit www.touchedbygrace.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
Editorial on 08/28/2019
Print Headline: Remember the poor