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Circling the Square

As Any Have Need

Posted by Bill Lovell on

One of the most attractive qualities of the early church was its radical generosity. Acts 2:45, for instance, says of the Pentecost church: "And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need." To be honest, if I didn't believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, I'd find that statement hard to believe! And Acts 2:46 insists they did it "with glad and generous hearts"! Really? 

I mean, can you imagine selling something you own to give the money to someone else? Not to your kids or grandkids, or to your parents or grandparents, not to a sibling, nor to a best friend, but to a member of your church you may hardly know who happens to be in need. And to do it "with a glad and generous heart"! It takes a federal agency and the threat of prison to get me to write a tax check, let alone sell a car, to give to others! 

One of the most accurate gauges of the fruitfulness of God's work among us is our stewardship, our giving. The point, of course, isn't the money. The point is the caring, the loving. One of the most obvious ways we show love is by sharing with other people, and that applies in a particular way to other believers whom God has placed in the pews around us. Do we care if they have enough to live?

To see Christ Church on a Sunday morning, a casual observer might think we are a uniformly prosperous bunch of people. We all scrub up quite well! But the truth is, we all need help in one form or another. There are folks among us who wrestle every week to make ends meet; others pass through brief periods of financial hardship; still others get a decent paycheck but have other kinds of crushing needs.   

At Christ Church, we try to help everyone in every way we can. Of course, we depend on our members' generous stewardship for all our mission and ministry. And that very much applies to our Deacons' Fund, a separate account which Rob maintains to help church members (and church guests) who have financial needs. We get requests every month, often totaling hundreds of dollars. 

You should know we use the Deacons' Fund with great care. We don't make public whom we give money to, or how much, but we do keep careful records, and Elder Rob Guzak reviews and monitors all expenditures. We also make it a point not to give large amounts--we just don't have the money--and our policy is to get signed receipts for all cash disbursements. 

Just to be clear, we have no interest in being a church-sponsored ATM! We know that money, while it's very often a presenting issue, is almost never the issue. Our interest is in showing love concretely, responsibly, and effectively, and effectiveness in ministry means trying to provide the things that really help: sometimes that includes money, sometimes it doesn't. We always try to discern what's best. 

How can you be involved? I want to close with two words of application. First, be a good steward: give as much as you can as often as you can; and especially remember your brothers and sisters in Christ who worry about their finances. Giving to the Deacons' Fund is one option--there's actually a link at the bottom of the Weekly Update--but you don't have to give through the church. If you see a brother or sister in need, look for ways to help them directly. 

Second, let's seek to cultivate glad and generous hearts. Do you know how we do that? We do it by reflecting, not on money, but on all the truly priceless things that Jesus Christ has done, in love, for us. What swept through the early church--what produced so many generous believers--was not a phenomenally successful stewardship campaign. It was the "apostles' teaching" about the crucified and resurrected Christ. It was love for Jesus which led to love for others. 

The thing about the Christian life is, we all have need--in one form or another. For a season, it may be money. But, rich or poor, sick or healthy, young or old, our greatest need--the one we all share, at every moment--is for God's mercy through Christ. This Easter 2018, let's seek to give gladly and generously to others because, in Jesus, God has given so gladly and generously to us. 

Happy Easter!