Once again, the outline of what I thought my focus was going to be on for this post on James 2, is nothing like what it’s turned out to be!
I’ve been listening to David Platt’s sermons while reading through James, and wow, the combo is doing a number on me!
That, plus, a devotional DH and I are working through that our generosity pastor recently wrote.
I have started asking myself: What am I doing to help meet the needs of the poor? (No real answer comes to mind). I think about how we tithe, support missionary friends, and give to the occasional cause that tugs at our hearts. But, are we giving sacrificially?
I suppose that depends on how you view a sacrifice. If you view it being a sacrifice to give when you have a mortgage hanging over your heads and yet are still giving, then you could say yes, we are sacrificing. But, as I mentioned to DH earlier this week, who doesn’t have bills of their own to pay? Almost everybody has some kind of ongoing debt, and so if the Bible was saying, only help the poor after you have completely helped yourself, what percentage of people would actually be expected to give to the poor? Not very many. So, I am viewing a sacrifice as meaning this. Giving until it hurts. Giving in faith, trusting God to meet my needs and allowing me to bless others who have needs far greater than mine.
I was thinking about how our major goal is to pay off our mortgage. But then I started to wonder if we’d really give more once that happens. Because then we’d be focusing on the cost of college for DD, and then perhaps on retirement and then on who knows what. There will always be things (some legitimate, some not) vying for our money. So at what point do we decide to just go ahead and give more than we currently are?
My final thought in this area is that we need to be giving now and trusting God to continue to provide for us. And if he wants us to pay off our mortgage, he can make that happen, even while we are giving to those in need, what we might feel more comfortable putting into paying off our mortgage. (Now DH just needs to get on board with this way of thinking and I need to not change my mind in a moment of doubt!!!)
The devotional we read last night talked about a couple who had a $4 million house (paid off) that they’d been unable to sell. It suddenly dawned on the husband that they hadn’t talked about what they would do with the money when the house sold and he wondered if that’s why it hadn’t sold. So, they drew up a plan, they’d give a chunk to their church, some to their kids etc. Shortly after writing up their plan, the house sold!
I didn’t make this connection, but DH goes, “Maybe that’s why our old house hasn’t sold!!!” It’s been on and off the market for a year and a half. Right now we are renting it out. Let me tell you, being a landlord is not fun. For a variety of reasons. We did have a plan for the money when the house sold though. It was to put it towards our current mortgage. But that’s not a very generous plan, is it?
So last night we decided on an amount we’d give once the house sold and what three causes we’d give towards. Our current tenants lease doesn’t expire until August of next year, so unless something drastic happens, our house won’t be on the market until then. But, I am putting this in writing, in faith, just waiting to see what God will do.
The verses I’d love to ignore in this passage are:
James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
I’ve been in church all my life and don’t recall hearing anything about your works being related to if you are truly saved. I do believe that we should be grateful for all that God has done for us, and give out of that overflow. But, as far as not being truly saved if we don’t, my flesh doesn’t want to touch that thought right now.