The subject of giving is a delicate and sensitive one. Men who look to the Lord for their support are loath to ever say, write, or preach anything which would hint at need or masquerade as an appeal for funds. Being in secular employment, however, gives one full liberty to broach this much-needed topic. Giving is a grace which God desires to see developed in us (2 Cor 8:5).
There is a strange phenomenon abroad. In days long past, the work of God was supported in large measure by poor and humble believers. Older laborers, now with the Lord, would recount receiving small gifts from those who worked as domestics (household servants) for the wealthy. Many of these humble sisters and brethren supported and financed the work of God. We have reaped the blessing of their sacrifices.
Today, most of us enjoy a standard of living which far exceeds anything our parents knew, and if we are honest, one which exceeds anything we ever imagined when we were growing up. Yet we must ask ourselves if we are supporting the work of God in the same manner that a past generation did.
I can still remember an esteemed elder rising to preach on this subject perhaps 40 or more years ago and exhorting the believers to give until it “hurt a little.” Are you hurting? Am I hurting? The Macedonians first “gave their own selves” (2 Cor 8:5). Additional giving of material things was then relatively easy.
There are many avenues for giving. There are needy widows of the Lords servants who continue as “widows indeed” to look to the Lord for their support. Government programs have certainly made a difference, but most full time workers, now with the Lord, did not have the benefit of “golden parachutes” and 401Ks in their employment portfolios.
What of men who are devoting themselves to new works? They do not feel at liberty to leave new works with immature saints. They feel a responsibility to abide by their work until it is established and settled. Shame on us if the maxim of the world is true of us: “Out of sight, out of mind.” Men who are laboring in new areas should be supported and encouraged as they see new work done for God and assemblies planted.
Men who move amongst us and who have the confidence of saints need to be remembered as well. There may be the mentality that these men have all their needs met because of their exposure and “popularity.” Remember, we are not giving simply to meet need. We are giving as an expression of fellowship with those who have ministered to our needs in spiritual things. Men of this caliber often act simply as channels through which your gift is passed on to others. Never hesitate to give to a man in whom you have confidence simply because you are not sure if he has a need.
Missionaries do not write circular letters of appeal or need. The demands on their time and means can be tremendous in third world countries. Poverty and social ill, while not the purpose of their work, still cry out to be addressed, even amongst believers.
As I sit writing this editorial, surrounded by some of the trappings of materialism, I am reminded of the late Clay Fite. He recounted to me on one occasion how that after a meeting he was invited back to a home. It was almost a mansion, surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, a pool, several boats, and late model cars. His guest was entertaining him in his, obviously, expensive den. During a lull in the conversation, the brother began singing a hymn to himself. The last line was, “…and nightly pitch my moving tent, a days march nearer home.” In his homespun and deadpan manner, unique to himself, Mr. Fite looked at the brother and said, “Some tent, buster!”