Winnowing the Givers

Most Christians appreciate the blessings of actually having a church building, but many Christians also detest many aspects of getting the buildings built. Chief among the objects of our distaste would be the vexed problem of fundraising. This is not surprising, because it is too often the case that we want to pursue a Holy Ghost mission with the devil’s funding model.

The Bible does tell us that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7), but it does no good to harangue everybody with this glorious truth if the leadership of the church insists on doubling down on all the things that make cheerful giving impossible. So in the conviction that a godly approach to funding is not going to happen by accident, we are going to spend some time in considering what the Bible teaches about righteous giving. This will only happen if God preserves the imagination of the thoughts of our hearts.

“I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee” (1 Chron. 29:17–18).

So let us begin with the conditions under which we may not give to our building fund. You cannot love God, whom you have not seen, if you do not love your brother, whom you have not paid.

For some mysterious reason, Christians frequently take Christ’s instruction about leaving our gift at the altar as a prohibition of taking communion if your brother has something against you (Matt. 5:23-24). Perhaps there is something a little self-serving in churches letting the people think this, because Jesus is actually prohibiting giving a fat donation to the church when there are issues between you and your brother.

Now frequently such issues between brothers are financial. Sad to say, brothers frequently flake on brothers. Sometimes it is for twenty cents and other times it is for 20 grand. So if you have any outstanding obligations—for work promised, for payments unfulfilled, whatever it was—stay out of our fund-raising campaign until that is all cleared up. And if you have an acute conscience for all those instances where people have flaked on you, but have a half-inch callus on your heart with regard to all the bags you have left others holding, then that means you are not qualified to give to the new sanctuary. You may not. Leave your gift right where it is, and go arrange payments with your brother first.

So let the stones cry out.

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Eric the Red Recent comment authors

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Eric the Red

What if someone owes his brother more than he’s ever going to be able to pay back? Is he forever barred from giving to the church? Should all of his tithe money for the rest of his life go to making restitution instead?