Border Patrol

February 5, 2014

It’s not often I just rip someone else’s blog post completely off but Chad Booher, a New Lifer, recently posted this and I couldn’t help but appreciate his honesty and his challenge to each of us.

Lately a lot of my inspiration for writing has stemmed from music I listen to.  It seems that as new songs come out on the radio I latch on to one or two at a time because the lyrics grab my attention.  Sometimes a whole song is a description of my current circumstances.  Other times, just a line or two begins to provoke my thoughts.  In this case, my current BFF of a song mentions the phrase “trust without borders”.

That phrase started me thinking about how it seems many folks (including myself) put borders on what areas of their lives they will trust God with.  The more conversations I have with other Christians, the more often I notice one particular border that is exceptionally frequent.  Stewardship.  I know you’re probably thinking “What?  Stewardship?  That’s not really an issue.  I know that every good and perfect gift comes from God. (ref. Jam 1:17)  I have no issue lending out my car, my tools, or my abilities to my neighbors when they need them.”  Okay, how about your finances?  Now, stay with me to the end.  I say that because money seems to be a very sore subject for a lot of people, not just Christians.  I find it fascinating the Bible mentions we cannot serve two masters, specifically we cannot serve God and money. (ref. Mat 6:24)  The book of Matthew was written around two thousand years ago.  Money was causing issues in peoples lives way back then.  That just fascinates me…but I digress.

I’ve heard a lot of reasons why folks hesitate to give to churches.  I’ve heard everything from “The pastor drives a Mercedes” to “I don’t know what they do with the money”.  I’ve even heard the rational that donating to a church is more about whether you like what they’re doing than it is about God.  I want to set the record straight on a few things.  All of the reasons that we, and I say “we” because I’m in this too, don’t give as much as we probably should can be summed up into two main reasons.

Number one is we are worried about what everyone else has.  The Bible mentions this sort of thinking in a few places but one of my favorites is in Matthew 20:1-16, The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.  If you aren’t familiar with it, I suggest you take a moment and read it.  In it a landowner of a vineyard hires workers in the morning for an agreed upon wage.  Towards the end of the day, the landowner hires a few more workers for the same wage.  This upsets the workers that were hired in the morning because they felt that it wasn’t fair they worked longer to earn the same wage.  The verse that grabs my attention the most is verse 15: “Don’t  I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”.  Let’s put a little spin on that and go back to James 1:17.  If all of our gifts come from God, then so does the money we receive.  I look at God as if he is the landowner in the parable.  His money is His to give as He sees fit.  Who am I to question His generosity.

Number two is we stop trusting God to provide our needs for us.  Matthew 6:26 is one of many verses that tells us what we need to know about trusting God to provide: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”

Back when my wife and I started attending church we definitely had a border set up around our finances.  We did not give very much each week and sometimes not at all.  Every week one of the things our church would mention is to never give out of compulsion but as a cheerful giver. (ref 2 Cor 9:7)  My wife and I started to take this to heart and decided to give more as we always felt happier when we attended service.  We still didn’t give very much for a while.  We began to look at what it would mean for us to follow Old Testament practice which was called tithing.  A tithe was ten percent.  (The first ten percent if you want to be technical.)  Tithing was an act of obedience, faith, and trust to God.  Now, my wife and I were not in a great financial position to give up ten percent of our income.  We were living basically check-to-check as I imagine many people unfortunately do.  We were very hesitant to even attempt five percent until after I had a conversation with my grandfather.  If you read my post Fifteen Years in the Making then you know that not until recently did I begin speaking with my grandparents again.  My grandfather has just recently over the past few years become a Christian himself.  In our talk we ended up on the subject of tithing.  He mentioned to me that they had been doing it for about a year and even though they had no idea how, their income seemed to go further than before.  He told me to trust God.  He told me that God didn’t expect me to jump in with both feet but to begin trusting him with my finances.  So, my wife and I decided to keep upping our donations until it started to get a little uncomfortable.  An interesting thing happened.  We started paying off bills, putting money in savings, even having a higher balance in our checking account, all while giving more money to God.  Notice I didn’t say “giving more money to the church”.  I said it like that for an important reason.

God is looking at our stewardship of His gifts.  How He judges us, I cannot say, but I am sure He is paying attention.  I am also sure that He judges my giving by my heart, not by what is done with it by who I give it to.  I don’t honestly know where all the money I donate goes to.  I’m sure if I asked that I could find out, but to be honest, I don’t care.  My wife and I give to God.  He knows that.  If the organizations I donate to choose to use that money for things they probably shouldn’t, then that judgement is on them.  I am not worthy to judge their motives, but God is and He sees it all.   My wife and I have become much more cheerful givers because God is one heck of an auditor.

I know that giving a portion of your income to your church can be very difficult.  I’m still not giving as much as I think I should be.  I will attest to the fact that giving more has changed my life for the better, but I won’t ask you to trust me on that.  Trust God.

-Chad Booher

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