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OceanSide church of Christ
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THE CHALLENGE TO GIVE
Victor M. Eskew
There have been occasions in the history of God’s people wherein they were challenged to do difficult but great things. One of these times was in the days of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was the cupbearer of the king of Persia (Neh. 1:11). When his brethren from Jerusalem visited him, he learned of the desperate conditions in Jerusalem. “And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire” (Neh. 1:3). Nehemiah was privileged to return to his homeland. His mission was to rebuild the walls of the city of God. When he placed this challenge before his Jewish brethren, they readily responded. “Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work” (Neh. 2:18).
Another time a challenge was met was during the wilderness wanderings. God had commanded the children of Israel to build Him a tabernacle. This tent required many supplies in order for it to be built as God designed it. Moses appealed to the children of Israel for a freewill offering to be made (Exo. 35:4-19). God’s people responded in a marvelous and delightful way. The builders of the tabernacle reported their giving to Moses with these words: “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make” (Exo. 36:5). Because of their generosity, Moses issued a command in order to restrain the people from bringing their gifts. “For the stuff was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much” (Exo. 36:6-7).
Today, the church is the Israel of God. We are the ones who are wandering in the wilderness. We are the ones who need to erect the tabernacle and build the walls of Jerusalem. From time to time, churches must answer the call to challenges that may be difficult just like those of old did. It is hoped that we will have the same zeal as God’s people of the past to successfully meet the goals that are before us.
One of these challenges is now in front of the OceanSide church of Christ. During the last eight months, we have not been meeting our weekly budget with our contributions. Therefore, the elders have been forced to make some difficult decisions about our budget. Too, they are going to call upon us to help with both a “Catch Up” offering and an increase in our contribution by 2.75%. In order for us to meet this challenge, we must do several things.
First, we are going to have to realize and appreciate the need that is before us. Our weekly budget amount for 2013 was set at $3,206. We have only reached this figure a few times this year. Most of the time, we have been several hundreds of dollars below it. This has caused us to have to reach into our emergency accounts. If all continues as it has the last eight months, we will reduce that account by about $11,000.00 by year’s end.
Second, we are going to have to be eager and willing to give. We have an example of such givers in the New Testament. Their example is recorded for us in II Corinthians 8:1-5. Paul was taking up a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem. He went throughout the Gentile churches exhorting them to respond to this need. The churches of Macedonia responded with surprising generosity. Listen to Paul’s description of these Christian givers. “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their ownselves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” Several terms indicate the wonderful spirit of these Christians as they met Paul’s challenge: “abundance of their joy,” “willing of themselves,” and “first gave themselves to the Lord.” These are the attitudes we must possess as well as we answer this challenge to give.
Third, we are going to have to possibly make some personal sacrifices. We may have to give up a meal or two at a restaurant. We may have to put off a purchase that we have been planning for some time. We may have to take a few dollars away from our savings. Some hear this, and respond, saying: “Sacrifice, are you kidding?” No! Giving involves some big sacrifices at times. God is our prime example here. Man stood in deep need because of his sins. A sacrifice was needed to redeem him. God responded with the gift of His Son. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:9-10).
Giving is always a touchy subject. Some believe they are already giving all they can. Some believe the church should never ask us to give more. Others feel that their giving is a personal matter and others should never be involved therein. These kinds of attitudes make it difficult to set a challenge before the church to give, but, at times, IT MUST BE DONE!
Dear brethren, giving is not an optional matter. In fact, liberal giving is not an optional matter. Too, the work of the church involves the most important work on the face of the earth. All of us should be extremely willing to do all we can to make certain the Lord’s cause continues here at the Beaches. Think about these things. Make some important decisions. Our prayer is that we will be able to say: “For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much” (Exo. 36:7).