From the other day's post on priorities, I am today leading into specific priorities like time, giving, love, etc.
You know, of course, that I am a missionary, so therefore I base what I believe on the Bible. I try not to have preconceived ideas to cloud my viewpoints, only what I think the Word is saying to me. I love actually reading the Word and see how we as Christians, through religion or whatever, have messed up over time. I think I enjoy doing this mostly because I was raised in a somewhat religious home and church and went through confirmation at 12, but never had a relationship with Christ until I was 22. When I read the Bible for the first time, I was amazed at what it said and kept repeating, "How come I didn't know this?" or "Are other people reading the same thing I am?" Maybe some people go to church or do religious acts all their lives and never study scripture. Maybe that's why the church is in the mess we are in. Anyway, just my opinion and some background on that....
So that brings me to my topic for today. Giving and the priorities the Bible puts on it and where it should go. When I studied this topic, I wanted to be sure that my resources were going where God says to put them and where God says the leaders should put them...according to priority.
1) Give to the Poor- There are many scriptures about giving that begin as early as Cain and Abel bringing their sacrifice to God, then to Abraham bringing his tithe to Melchizedek. When God told Abraham that he would be blessed to BE a blessing. As a worldwide church, I believe we have done well giving to the poor, but we could do much better. I believe God gave the responsibility to the church to take care of the poor, but when the church's responsibilities get out of order, there are issues and problems. When there are issues and problems, the government or other institutions have to step in where the church is failing in their priorities. When America was a new nation, the church was involved if not in charge of schools (small community ones up to universities), but they have since let the government take charge, the church was the leader in many hospitals and taking care of the sick, and we have also let go and let the government take care of the poor. God gave those to us to care for, and we have handed it off. The church is so concerned with buildings, when God cares for people. Just some references to refer to if you would like to do some study...(Rom. 15:25-27, Rom. 12:13, Acts 11:27-30, Acts 20:35, Acts 6:1, Gal. 2:9-10, I Cor. 16:1, II Cor. 8 and 9, I Tim. 6:18, Lev. 25:35, Deut. 15:7-11, Ps 41:1-3, Prov. 14:21, Prov. 19:17, Prov. 22:9, Prov. 28:27, Heb 6:10, I John 3:17, Acts 2:44-45 and Acts 4:34-37) Giving is an overflow to the generosity and gratefulness that we have inside. If we are missing this generosity and gratefulness, giving will be a law rather than a love.
2) Gifts to ministers- From the OT to the new, we see that the ministers had to live off others generosity in order to minister full time. They didn't own land or have inheritances to give their descendants, they lived in constant reliance on God and the people of God. They weren't intended to be uber wealthy, but to live sacrificially, but comfortably. (I Cor. 9:7-14, Gal. 6:6, I Tim. 5:17-18, Deut. 14:27:29, II Chron. 31:4-20, Phil. 4:10-19, Acts 15:3, Acts 21:5, Rom. 15:24, II Cor. 1:16) There is something about a preacher/missionary living in a mansion with the poor living all around that doesn't seem quite right, as there is also something not quite right with a preacher/missionary living in poverty that is also a wrong witness (that they are not being cared for by God or His people). I thank God everyday that we have people that support the work we do. That we live comfortably and our needs are met each month.
3) Give to missions- The missionaries could fall into the ministers category, but they could be separated. Paul himself was a minister and missionary. The minister himself needs to be provided for, and also the work he/she is doing. They are different categories. He sometimes took offering for himself, and from others he didn't want their offerings. He was a tent maker and could support himself. (Rom. 10:15, 3 John 6) Many circumstances missionaries are not allowed to work to make money in the countries they are in, so funds must come from those who are doing the sending.
4) the Temple/Facilities- God set aside offerings to build His house in the OT (Ex 25:1-8) and a tax to help maintain the temple (Ex. 30:11-16). In most of the NT, the believers were more concerned with people and the poor than buildings it seems to me. Not that it is wrong to have a nice church building by any means, but remember, when our priorities are out of order, as we saw in yesterday's blog, things can get out of order and cause major problems. Especially when mindsets are continued over long periods of time. I see the church (being American I see mostly this philosophy there, but American church philosophies carry over to the rest of the world, believe it or not). We are in Roma/Bulgarian churches now and most of what we hear are needs for buildings, not people. It's sad to me... we are not an OT church, we are a NT church.
I love it when churches are about people, when they love people and meet needs (physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, financially, and, of course, spiritually).
This is Roddy in the middle
Over the past few weeks we have been busy with an amazing teen conference, several women’s conferences, church services, and visiting a summer camp for orphans. We try to share insights that we get during the month in our blog, and with everything that has happened, we have come away with many insights.
A group from Kyustendil (our home town and the church we work very closely with) was able to attend the large teen conference called Love Bulgaria that we were privileged to help with this year. The group was led by Roddy, who was responsible for five other people from his church. Roddy participated in the sports group for street evangelism. This is when we go to a village and play soccer (football) involving the community with the purpose of sharing the Gospel. Roddy was always quick to volunteer and anything he could do to help, he came with a heart of humility and love. As we did the evangelism, Roddy was always obeying the leaders in charge of the groups and as a member of his team he also participated in playing. Roddy made a point to pass to open teammates and play any position on the field that would help his team win. Roddy showed no prejudice to any race and always made a point to praise any good play on the field. Roddy was the first to volunteer to give his testimony, and he shared his testimony on the last day of evangelism in the city of Razlog. While Roddy was involved with sports, he looked after his group from Kyustendil like a father looks after his children. He made sure they attended all events , he protected them, and made sure every need within his group was taken care of with a heart of humility and love. As I watched Roddy, I was very impressed with his behavior and the attitude he displayed all week. The week ended a great success!
Jessie with some of the boys in the camp.
One of the last things we did this month was to visit a camp held each year near our town for orphans. We got to see the Bible dramas being told to the young children and listen to them sing praise songs to God. The staff was made up of teens and young adults from all over the world, coming together in love to share the Gospel of Jesus. All the children in this camp were very poor Roma children. They were getting to experience the Love of God for the first time. The staff is from different countries, races and denominations to share their love with children who have never experienced love of any kind. You may be asking what does this camp have to do with Roddy? Well, Roddy is an orphan. Roddy is Roma. And Roddy’s testimony is that as a child he attended this camp when he was a young boy and experienced the Love of Christ for the first time.
The Love of God is the greatest evangelistic tool. “By this all men will KNOW that you are my disciples, if you have LOVE one for another.”
Dee Dee Galloway