Posted by Mark Labuschagne on Thursday, May 3, 2012
I have noticed without trying to seem judgmental, many people who call themselves Christians, say they are followers of Christ but seem to have different sets of standards or rules by which they define themselves and this is determined by the situation they are faced with. We all want people around us to believe (Or see) that we are "doing" the right thing, yet, when no one is looking, we seem to be different in our actions. The Word of God is very clear about how we are to live our lives, nevertheless there seems to be another code some either choose to live by or simply ignore the truth, or are we just being picky? Jesus said, "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. From this verse of scripture we can clearly see that we deceive ourselves if we say we are followers of the word and do not apply it to our lives. I believe this means we MUST apply it in every area, not as we interpret it, but to the letter. For example, I was ministering in a small town and one afternoon I went into the local seven eleven to purchase a few snacks when a lady, who had a child on her back approached me and asked me for some money. I looked at her and said no and walked away. At that very moment, the Spirit of the Lord stopped me and reminded me of the words of Jesus in Luke 6:30 "Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back". I immediately stopped, repented and went back to the lady and made sure that I gave my best. This was a lesson in giving that I will never forget.
The point that I am making is this, when people ask us for something, it usually is because there is a need, yet we seem to come up with all sorts of reasons why we cannot give it when asked to do so. I mean, I have heard people say things like, "We will go and pray about it". What do you want to pray about? Jesus never said, if someone asks of you, go and pray first, He said "give". If the instruction is to give and you have the means to do so, then surely my friends, this is what is expected of us? Jesus mentions so many things that we somehow miss and yet we wonder why we are not walking in the fullness of the promises we see in the written word. Luke 6:27-36 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Clearer than this one could not be, yet we do not always see this happening in the church and we wonder why the world looks at us and calls us hypocrites. A while ago, I needed something and I asked a friend, who had the means to help me, and they proceeded to tell me not to look to the arm of flesh, but to trust God. Very noble, but the word of God tells me that I can ask my friend, and my friend should respond positively. Of course, I went and asked the Lord what to do and on many different occasions, He came through in ways I could not have imagined and in times, when I asked my friends, they responded as Jesus instructed and the blessing was two-fold. I have learnt to be a giver and give out of the abundance of my heart, for no other reason but that He might be glorified and not because I hope to get something in return either. I continue to learn to be satisfied with what I have!
Service after service we hear teaching after teaching about how we should give and how it will be given back to us, but these teachings in my opinion can be dangerous and I would caution people to be discerning in their giving. Now this might sound double-mined or like a contradiction, however, I have always said, point people to Jesus and money will never be an issue. We must give and be generous at that, the discerning comes in when the motive of those who asks at times might need to be evaluated and when we give the motive of our giving needs to be pure. I give, not because I expect something in return. I give of my finances because I love Jesus! I never give money because I want money, I give out of my obedience and not out of my need. His generosity towards me has nothing to do with the way I give but everything to do with the way in which He loves me. So, listening to teachings Sunday after Sunday about how God will bless me if I give is a little confusing because God's heart is to bless me whether I give, not because of what I can do, but simply because of who He is. This does not mean that I do not have to give, because this would be contrary to His word, as it was Jesus who said, Acts 20:35 "It is more blessed to give than to receive", but when you give, give out of obedience and not out of compulsion. Give because you love Jesus and you can meet the need, and not because you want something in return.
Again, I am not saying that we must not give, just saying, do not allow people to manipulate you to give. Some ministers will use whatever method and or teaching to get you to give into their vision, and again, I do not have a problem with giving into the vision of the house if this is where you are being fed, but make sure that when you give it is not because you are motivated to do so by the teaching of man, but rather out of your love and obedience to His word.
Friend, next time you are asked to lend someone something or to give in some way or other, do it with a cheerful heart and do so out of obedience. If you know someone has a need, bless them, give without questioning. If the motive of your heart is pure, God sees what you are doing, and will honor His word in you, and this because He is faithful. In the same way, do not use all sorts of excuses as to why you cannot give either. Every time someone has asked me for something and it was in my power to help, I never hesitated because I knew that it was an act of worship and I knew my heavenly Father appreciated it. Give to those who ask, give to the poor, give to the needy, give to the local congregation, give into peoples lives, make a difference and you will see God move in ways you and I never thought would be possible.
Let the standard of God be raised in our hearts and give way beyond our means if we can and this because of who Christ is in us. Friends, we do not have a different set of standards and or rules by which we live, we only have the Word of God, we do will to follow its instructions to the letter and in doing so, we live and walk in honor of the One we serve.
NO DOUBLE STANDARDS HERE!