Polar opposites but both were just as right

Published 8:19pm Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I remember Sam as a tall and distinguished-looking gentleman. He was a deacon in our church. As a faithful Christian he was present in every service, and usually very quiet.

It was in the era when banks began to offer interest-bearing checking accounts. Someone suggested in a deacons’ meeting we convert our standard checking account to this new one and earn a few dollars before funds were liquidated to pay monthly expenses.

“No,” Sam spoke up rather forcefully.

“This is God’s money and we don’t need to sit on it. Let’s spend it to help people.”

No one was actually proposing the church “sit on its money,” but Sam’s point was clear.

The deacons took no action that day. Later the financial secretary decided to convert the checking account without asking the deacons. We began to accumulate a few extra dollars each month on these temporary funds and no one complained.

In the same congregation we had a penny-pincher named Ed. He was from the depression generation and always feared another financial collapse. Ed was in favor of the church taking people’s money, but he had a problem with the church spending money.

Some churches have a theory that if you give people authority in an area of disagreement, their opinions can be changed. So this congregation voted Ed to the finance committee for a one-year term. It was one of the worst years I can remember as a pastor. Ed opposed most everything the committee considered if it cost money, and most things do.

I’ve thought a lot about these two men over the years. Both were dedicated Christians who loved God and supported their church. But they were polar opposites in the way they viewed ministry.

Ed was right that the church must guard the money entrusted to it with integrity. We don’t want to waste money on energy inefficiency or unused literature or anything else. And, more importantly, we carefully investigate various ministries to determine which we’ll support. It’s true that there’s no shortage of good causes, so the church has to make some hard decisions at times about which organizations to fund.

But Sam was correct that our goal mustn’t be big bank accounts. The church isn’t a bank, but a conduit for the support of ministries that change lives.

As I heard a revival evangelist say in his sermon, “Why would the church want to pile up big bank accounts for the Antichrist to spend one day?”

Whether you agree with how artfully he said it, this evangelist’s point was well taken.

Jesus said, “Work while it is day; the night comes when no man can work” (John 9:4).

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