Spending to Save
That’s a strange title, isn’t it? In one sense it reminds me of the husband and wife who tended to argue over money. She was careful with it and he was not. One day he came home and said, “Honey, you’ll be proud of me. I saved $10,000 today.” Shocked at her husband’s sudden thriftiness, she asked, “How did you ever do that?” “Well,” he replied. “I was going to spend $40,000 on a new car but I got one for $30,000 instead.” “But we don’t need a new car. We already have two cars that are less than a year old,” answered the wife. “I know,” said the husband. “But aren’t you proud of me for saving all of that money?” Yes, the word “clueless” would fit that husband well.
This article has to do with Christians individually and congregations of the church as a whole spending money to save, not money, but souls. We know that the Lord’s church is to be about our Father’s business of spreading the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; II Timothy 2:2). We also know that doing so takes money. Paul addressed the issue of financial support for preachers of the Gospel in I Corinthians 9:6-12. It is good and right for us to provide for the physical needs of faithful men of the Word. Beyond that, we can use money to spread the Gospel through television, radio, the Internet, newspapers, etc. We can use money to purchase Bibles, Bible study materials and tracts. We can use money to mail correspondence courses. On and on we could go listing avenues available to us for taking the message of salvation to those who do not know Christ, each one of which has a common characteristic; they must be purchased with money.
Having said that, why does it seem that getting money from Christians and elderships for good works sometimes seems so much like the proverbial squeezing of blood from a turnip? Is it because they have no money? That’s possible. I know some who are indeed giving the “widow’s mite” in that they are sacrificing dearly for the cause of Christ. That’s not always the case though. Is it because they are worried about not having enough set aside in case of an emergency? That’s possible too. We are to be good stewards of what God has given to us (I Timothy 6:17-19), but I wonder if some elders misunderstand the fact that the Lord’s church is a saving institution rather than a savings institution. How many good works have ended or have never even been started because of fear of not having enough money in reserve? This is not a diatribe against having money in reserve, whether as an individual or as a congregation. Instead it is a thought-provoking discussion intended to lead all of us to consider just how much we need to have set back. Are we so focused on the possibility of future disasters that we are forgetting that here and now there are countless souls going into eternity without the Gospel? Could it be that we have forgotten that God will provide for us in our times of need? Again, don’t run out and tell people that I’m saying we should spend every penny we have every day. What I’m asking each of us to do is examine our finances to see if we can do more right here and right now. The spreading of the Gospel must not wait. Every second of the day souls are going into eternity unprepared.
Money is a tool, and a very useful one at that. What is the source of our money though? Is it not God Himself? Proverbs 2:24 and 3:13 as well as James 1:17 clearly show that God is the one from whom all blessings flow. What are we to do with our money? Paul said, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31). “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Our money is to be used in ways that bring honor to the one who gave it to us in the first place. We can feed, shelter and clothe our families. Doing such glorifies God. We can share our blessings with those who are in need. Doing such glorifies God. AND we can contribute to the spreading of the Gospel, for doing such most certainly brings glory to God.
I’ve witnessed Christians treat those faithful brethren who ask for financial support like they were no better than shiftless, lazy beggars. I’ve witnessed other Christians who would always try to give something to every good work that they could. A dear friend of mine told me years ago that when a brother asks for support for God’s work, he is doing the one being asked a favor because he is allowing that one to have fellowship in something that will reap eternal benefits. Yes, we have to spend to save, but in so doing we are laying up incorruptible treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20), the impact of which we may only know in eternity.