Spend The Money
“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.’” Matthew 25:24-27.
Soon after I began full time preaching twenty-five years ago, I became aware of the fact that many congregations were guilty of covetousness concerning the treasury: that is, they were hoarding money. Let me emphasize what I am not arguing against. This is not a condemnation of having enough on hand to handle the unforeseen. Second, this is not a condemnation of saving for real needs. Churches demonstrate good stewardship when they save for building projects, missions projects, or for lectures and meetings. None of these constitute hoarding, in my opinion. Neither am I willing to draw the line at which we cross from having a safe bank balance into a danger area. However, some have clearly leapt over that line, with bank accounts and CDs near or over six figures, and no plans to part with it. Brethren, spend that money for the Lord!
The parable of the talents is a lesson to invest, not in mutual funds or CDs, but in the Lord’s work. Investing in a bank is not spiritual investment because it does not provide the return He desires. We are not called to be financial managers but stewards who spend in the Lord’s service. To fail to invest in spiritual needs is to follow the wicked example of the “one talent man.” Is it a coincidence that the disciple most concerned with building up the treasury was Judas? (John 12:6)
Local missionaries beg for enough money to obey Jesus’ Great Commission and often receive little or nothing. Men could be supported at West Virginia School of Preaching; the Warren Apologetics Center could have its funding complete. More money could allow even the gospel paper you are reading to reach more people. Imagine what good could be done if covetous churches would repent of saving. Will they write the Lord a check on Judgment Day?
Other congregations try to honor the Lord through spiritual investment. I am grateful that the Dewey Avenue elders often say, “We need to spend this money.” They understand that opportunities are from God, as Jesus taught in the parable of the talents. Haiti represented such an opportunity, and our elders wisely emptied our bank account, except for enough to fund our lectureship this year. Other congregations do similar things. Thank God for them. What excuse will covetous churches offer on Judgment Day? 1 John 3:17 reads, “But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
If your home congregation is guilty of hoarding money, you ought to speak up and encourage a change of policy. Covetous congregations are often coy about exactly how much they actually have, utilizing multiple accounts and government-like accounting tricks, so you may not be sure how much there is. If there is nothing of which to be ashamed, generally, there is no reason to be secretive. If the leadership refuses to invest in the Lord’s work, I would move to a faithful congregation. If that is impossible, I would not contribute. This is a radical suggestion, but I am quite serious. No, we ought not keep the money, but we can still give it to the Lord, by sending it to congregations that are serious about doing the Lord’s work. In covetous churches, members are not giving to the Lord anyway, but to investment accounts. It is not the Lord’s money unless it is being used for Him. –704 Dewey Ave., St. Marys, WV 26170. firstname.lastname@example.org
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