Saturday, October 07, 2006

Making merchandise of the Gospel

Several months ago I visited with a church for the first time and the preacher gave a lengthy speech on all the monetary needs of that congregation. I was to speak next so I told them I certainly couldn't promise any money but that we would be glad to continue to teach and encourage them as time and opportunity permitted. I am very careful about money, as many brethren have been corrupted by it through the years. It also seems to draw people to "church" for all the wrong reasons and as soon as it's gone, so are they.

I tried to put a good face on this event, but one of those with me thought it was a problem. A couple of months later some other brethren visited this same church and not only did the preacher repeat all their "needs" but told them I had promised to send money but had sent nothing--boy was I wrong about that one.

American brethren, in an attempt to "help" brethren in other countries often do more harm than good with their money. Our goal cannot be to bring brethren in other places to a financial equality with Americans--there's not enough money in all the churches to do that, but even if there were the Gospel, not money, is God's power to save.

One brother requested (and received) a small fryer so he sell fried plaintains to support his family. Of course Sunday was about the best day to sell so he "had" to miss services to sell. How did this gift help him spiritually? And there is so often jealousy when one brother or family receives help from the States and another does not, or receives less.

Another brother, a preacher, has two houses--the nicer one he and his family normally live in and the small, sparsely furnished one they live in when the American preachers come. Or the preacher who had a Jaguar that he garaged several blocks from his house and that he never used when the American brethren were there.

There is a place for benevolence but we need to be careful to help, not hurt. If someone approaches you with a need, first make sure it is a need, not a want. Then confirm with someone knowledgable, preferably local, that the need is indeed legitimate. Let us in this area be as wise as serpents also.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Te lo dije. :)