- Text: Mal. 1:8.
- When it comes to money and material things, most of us understand the Lord's work can require sacrifice.
- If a thing urgently needs doing and we lack the surplus cash to make it possible, many good brethren will dig down deeper and do without things for themselves in order to get the Lord's work done, perhaps selling off possessions to raise the necessary funds, as the early disciples did - Ac. 4:34,35.
- When the collection plate is passed, we know the Lord deserves more than a simple look in our wallets to see if there is anything we can "do without" -- we've been taught to adjust our living standard to the needs of the Lord's work, rather than vice versa.
- We don't always give as we should, obviously -- but most of us know what the word sacrifice should mean, and we feel guilty when we ignore our conscience concerning financial sacrifice.
I. Our Most Precious Possession
- As with our material possessions, time must also be sacrificed for the Lord -- and we may be less willing to give this than our money. Cf. 2 Cor. 12:14,15.
- Money is valuable, of course, but time is in some ways a more precious commodity to us -- philanthropic organizations all say that the typical American would much rather write a check to support a worthy cause (and be "done with it") than donate even a little time.
- In the Lord's body, for every one person who has a problem about giving his money, there are several more who have a problem about giving the thing we are most selfish and stingy about: our time.
- If the Lord's work conflicts with any of our activities (or even sometimes with rest from our activities), we will hardly consider giving up the activity as a sacrifice.
- Such a sacrifice would be simply out of the question -- the activity is "ours" and we are not going to part with it willingly.
- Our rule seems to be that if anything has to "give," it should be the Lord's work -- scheduling conflicts are virtually always resolved at the expense of the Lord.
- One would think that spiritual matters are the only "optional" things we are involved with.
- We may occasionally sacrifice the having of certain things -- but very few of us will let the Lord stand in the way of doing something we want to do. Cf. Mt. 8:21,22.
II. A Critical Problem: Giving the Lord Our "Leftovers"
- Plainly, we do with our calendars and datebooks precisely what we've always said was sinful to do with our checkbooks: give the Lord nothing but what is "left over."
- Like the Jews of old who brought the "lame and sick" (Mal. 1:8,13) for their animal offerings, we insult the Lord by giving Him nothing but the time that we have no other use for.
- If the Lord needs an hour or two, that is fine, unless we have anything else we could possibly be doing -- it begins to look as if the Lord gets our time only when there is absolutely nothing else going on.
- Ask godly elders among the Lord's people how hard it is even to set the times for services of the church -- ask if they've been able to please those who think an "expedient" time is one that involves the least possible interference of church services with anything else.
- Ask how often complaints are heard about services running overtime.
- Ask about the constant pressure to cut gospel meetings shorter and shorter, and to find dates for gospel meetings when nothing else is going on that would "conflict."
- Ask about the complaints about church activities that keep children from getting to bed early on school nights -- often from parents who will take their children completely out of school for other "important" activities.
- Ask how many who are asked to take care of some job or responsibility in the congregation seem to be mainly concerned about how little time they can spend doing it.
- Considering the evidence, can we honestly deny that we nowadays tend to be motivated by these overriding concerns:
- How can we constantly whittle away at the Lord's work and keep it from intruding on our schedules?
- How can we keep it from conflicting with anything else we want to do?
- How can we keep the church "convenient"?
- Have we lost the concept of sacrifice when it comes to the Lord's work?
- The real work of the Lord in all ages has tended to encroach on busy schedules (just as it has tended to eat away at large bank accounts) -- those who consider time and money as resources to be spent on self have never been more than a hindrance to heaven's cause.
- But we live in a busy age when time seems especially short -- the variety of things to be involved in is mind-boggling. Cf. Lk. 10:31-33.
- If we don't get a fresh grip on the concept of sacrifice in the matter of our time, we're going to lose our souls and, with them, everything that ever mattered.
- Jesus said, "Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Mt. 16:25) -- can there be any doubt that, by withholding our "schedules" from the Lord, we are refusing to give up our lives for Him, one day at a time?
- He never let Himself get involved in anything that was so important that He could not lay it aside at any moment to serve our needs. Cf. Phil. 2:5-8.
- If, in return, we give Him only the leftovers of our time, are we not "thorny" ground? Cf. Mt. 13:22.
Gary Henry - WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com