|Volume 22 Number 6 August 2020||
Mark T. Tonkery
Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 states, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.” For me this must be a time for things to break down because I do not remember a time in my life when so many of our things have broken at once. During these past three months, our washing machine broke, our old desk top computer finally broke down for good, one of our house fans stopped working, one of our ceiling fans also broke, our garden hose broke too, my glasses broke, my alarm clock died and just yesterday our refrigerator started leaking; this is just the short list.
Now with the way things are made today, very few of these items can be repaired; most can only be recycled or thrown away. Someone has made the comment that we live in a “throw away” society; rarely do we or can we fix things, and it is almost as cost affective to buy a new product. Broken things in our eyes are not very useful.
However, not everything in life that breaks needs to be thrown away. Vance Havner wrote, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” We have a God who uses broken things; He can even use people when sin has broken their lives. Have you noticed as you read the Bible that it is often the broken people, the rebels (Moses), the prodigals (son in Luke 15) and the outcast (Rahab) who God uses?
Often before we can be used in God’s service, we too must be broken. It is when we are broken that we have a greater appreciation for what God has done for us. We realize our blessings, and we are more useful in His kingdom. Psalm 51:17 tells us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.”
If your life is broken, come to Christ today, and let today be a time to build up! Christ can rebuild broken lives when we confess our faith in Him (Romans 10:9-10), repent of our sins (Acts 17:30-31), put Him on in baptism for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38) and continue to live faithfully unto the Lord (Revelation 2:10). We sometimes sing, “Bring Christ your broken life, So marred by sin. He will create anew, Make whole again. Your empty wasted years, He will restore, And your iniquities, Remember no more.” (Bring Christ Your Broken Life by T.O. Chisolm). Will you bring your broken life to Christ today?
I have read several articles lately that have attacked brethren for saying that giving is a command of God. I am trying to figure out the purpose of these articles, and I can only assume that the authors oppose the idea that there are designated items which should be part of our gatherings to worship God on the Lord’s Day. In sort of a conglomeration of the ideas that I have seen various ones express, it seems to boil down to a couple of arguments. (1) If it is commanded, then, it will be done “grudgingly and of necessity” (2 Corinthians 9:7). (2) First Corinthians 16:12 and 2 Corinthians 8-9 do not apply to us because those passages only relate to those doing a specific giving—the collection for the saints.
Let’s note, first of all, some commandments: believe (Acts 16:31), repent (Act 2:38; Acts 17:30) and baptism (Acts 10:48). Now examine all of these by the arguments being made. If these three things are commanded, and they are specifically called commands, then does that mean that they are to be done grudgingly and of necessity? Can one obey a command and do so without it being grudgingly or of necessity? I contend that one not only can do so but must do so. So, to argue that teaching giving is a command means that it is not being done purposefully and willingly, then we do not believe, repent or allow ourselves to be baptized purposefully and willingly.
Also, carefully note 1 Corinthians 16:1, which reads, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also.” “Order” is from the Greek word “diatasso,” and it means to command. Now, wait a minute Paul; one cannot command giving or it will not allow for “not grudgingly or of necessity.” Yet, Paul said, “you must do.” The Greek word “houto” means “on this wise, in this manner.” In other words, “You have the same command.” Paul commanded the Corinthians to give. Giving is a command.
Secondly, noting all three examples, and of course we could list many more Scriptures for each one, Scripture never says, “Dean Kelly, you must believe, repent and be baptized.” I have to make the necessary inference that this applies to me as well.
Again, there is a specific context about this giving, the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem. However, this is the example given of how the church is to give for the needs that must be met. There is no other Bible instruction on it. I have a problem assuming that Paul was giving them a new commandment, that they had never before taken up any funds for the local congregations in the years since the church in Jerusalem sold what they had and gave at the apostle’s feet. Even the apostles had a treasury, and Judas was the keeper of it. I believe that the church in the 20-30 years that had gone by since it began was already practicing this type of giving, and that Paul simply included the special collection for the saints in that same thing. I know it is an assumption, however, to assume that they did not give on a regular basis and in this manner clouds this argument that some are making.
[Consider one sidenote about something that concerns me about the attitudes of some who write today. There is a common practice of making fun of and ridiculing brethren over things that are neither inappropriate nor unscriptural. I have seen many ridicule brethren for saying, “separate and apart from” about the collection when it is done immediately following the Lord’s Supper. Every few months I head the table in the rotation of men who do so where I worship. I don’t know that I have ever said “separate and apart from.” I usually make other comments. However, is the act of giving included in the Lord’s Supper? No. Therefore, it is separate. Is the act of giving a part of the Lords Supper? No. Hence, it is apart from the Lord’s Supper. Why make fun of brethren who are making an accurate and clarifying statement? All I can conclude is that there is a disrespect and disdain for brethren.]
The bottom line is very simple. Paul commanded giving, and that form of raising money is the only one authorized in Scripture. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 8-9 dealt with the attitude about giving. In 8:8-12, Paul made it clear that he was encouraging them, on a personal level, to give based on a readiness of mind, according to what they had, not according to what they didn’t have. Just like any act of obedience to a command of God, giving should be done willingly from the heart. That does not make it less of a command, but it makes obedience to God’s commands an act that comes from a heart that is submissive to Him.