|Volume 19 Number 1 January 2017||
In our current times, we find the true concept of giving to be completely misunderstood. For many in religion the concept of giving is like paying one’s taxes. This idea is a result of the tithing of the Israelites in the Old Testament and a connection made by many a false teacher to the giving of one’s money in the New Testament. Under the Old Testament, the tithe they gave was in essence a flat tax; ten percent of everything that one had was to go to God. Today, we see that taxes are taken out of our checks and given for many government programs to help those who do not have. The problem with these programs is that we mix up taxes with giving.
I believe each person ought to be ready to help his fellow man as much as he can. Furthermore, the church stands ready to help those who are needy, so as to show that we care about them as we also share the Gospel with them. I think these handout programs cause many to think there is no need to give to one in need because, “I already gave with my taxes.” However, I don’t know a single person alive who gives happily of his money to the government. In fact, many of us spend money on computer programs or accountants to find legal loopholes to keep us from having to pay the government too much.
Yet, we need to understand that taxes are taken from us (we render unto Caesar, Matthew 22:21), and we do not give willingly. If I had a choice, I would never give a penny to our government, but would instead give to the church and to those in need. However, I have no choice because death and taxes are certainties of life.
Despite the government taking money from us, let us remember that God is not glorified by government programs, but He is glorified by His church (Matthew 5:13-16; 6:1-4, 19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Thessalonians 1:12). We are to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:6ff) to do the work of the church, knowing that we are pleasing God and bringing glory to Him in these things. Let us be sure to purpose in our hearts to give as we have been prospered by God (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), knowing that all good gifts come from Him (James 1:17).
[Editor’s Note: There is certainly a difference in attitude between paying for something reluctantly and joyfully giving for some purpose. Yes, the latter ought to characterize the Christian in his giving back to the Lord as we purpose (2 Corinthians 9:7) in line with our prosperity (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) from among all of which Almighty God has made us stewards of what really belongs to Him (Psalm 50:10). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
I frequently wish I had more time, don’t you? Yet, it is true that we all have the same amount, and it keeps marching on. The old proverb says, “Time and tide wait for no man.” As much as we might try (and advertisers try to convince us otherwise), we cannot stop the onset of time. That facial cream will not keep the wrinkles away forever. Exercise and a good diet will help, but old age and its ailments will set in nonetheless.
In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon discussed “appointed time.” This does not refer to a divinely set course where every event is dictated by God. Rather, Solomon was making two observations about time.
First, time needs to be used wisely. Young people feel like they have an endless supply of it. Old people recognize they don’t have much left. However, all groups need to appreciate its value. Wasting time is a horrible practice because it can never be retrieved. Solomon said, “There is nothing better for them than to rejoice and do good in one’s lifetime” (3:12). Be happy and productive! What a simple and powerful way of describing the wise use of time!
Second, time needs to be used appropriately. We’ll say “think before you act.” Certainly Solomon was saying the same thing. In addition, we’ll say regarding the athlete who jumps too soon or the politician who says the wrong thing, “His timing was off.” Solomon noted that God “has made everything appropriate in its time” (3:11). Before one launches out on a project or is about to say something, thought should come first. Is this the right time to do this? Say this? God has given us sufficient information in His Word so that we should be able to discern if now is the “right time.”
How much time do you have left? Only God knows the answer to that. Yet, one thing we do know. We need to use our time wisely and appropriately.