G'BYE, honey" — she dimly remembered the quick, perfunctory peck, resigned look and faint smell of that awful aftershave lotion he had used over her constant objections. Almost absentmindedly, she then began sorting through the small stack of mail taken out of their apartment mailbox when she let him out the door.
Thinking of the two lunches she had to prepare for the two boys, and little Mary, who was probably wet by now following her early morning feeding, she plodded back up the stairs to the first landing, let herself in, and shuffled to the kitchen for another cup of coffee, her third of the morning.
Hank was a good provider. They had a two bedroom apartment with most of the main appliances (but she had longed for a bigger refrigerator and at least a blender or mix-master for months). They were paying on a small foreign compact, and Hank's job was a good one, paying $220 a week.
But since he had missed nearly five weeks of work that year from an injury (when he had been temporarily hospitalized with a badly bruised foot) and a bout with the flu, their day-to-day existence had taken a turn for the worse.
Setting the cup down, she began mechanically spreading out the ingredients for the boys lunches. Sacks neatly stapled and names printed on them, she sat down again. There would be about another 15 minutes before she would have to wake them up. Hank had to drive to the station to catch the commuter train, and that required him to leave no later than 6:15 each morning.
She picked up the stack of mail. Discarding the two obvious "junk mail" advertisements addressed to "Resident," she opened the other three, knowing what she would find in advance.
The dairy bill was astronomical (the soaring prices of milk!) — and this was their usual "second notice" with the cozy little red sticker and the "Please, may we hear from you soon?" added as a veiled threat that their milk and dairy products would be cut off unless she got a check out today!
Then there was the bill for that wool coat she had been unable to turn down (Hank was sweet about it, but she knew he didn't like the coat — and didn't like what it had cost even more); and, of course (she had known it was due today), the monthly reminder from the appliance store for the TV set.
She would have to get to the checkbook in awhile, after the boys were up and gone; Mary playing happily in her playpen after her bath, and after the bedrooms and kitchen were straightened out. The fleeting thought came, as it had so often, that all of society — the "system" — had somehow entrapped them.
They'd probably never manage to fight their way out of the drab "no-wheresville" existence into which they had been forced.
Not that they hadn't tried. Their excited, dreamy plans about vacations, trips, a cute, modest, ranch-style home on a few acres with a pond had somehow deteriorated into this walk-up flat. It was the only thing they could afford in a neighborhood they felt was safe enough, once the kids had come along, and close enough so that Hank could commute to the only job for which he had been really trained.
Good thing the Navy had finally made him a machinist's mate second class just before his discharge, or no telling to what kind of low paying, manual labor he would be tied.
Suddenly, she felt stifled. She looked around the untidy kitchen, thought briefly of Hank, rattling along on that smelly, greasy commuter by now, looking through dirty windows at soot-smeared factories and smokestacks on his way to work, and, glancing at the clock, went to wake up the boys.
It should — it's a common, everyday segment of the ultimate "sitcom" of actual life as it's being lived by many, many millions of Americans, Canadians, Australians and Britons.
Day-to-Day Grind The resigned defeatism; the stifling, "not-quite-enough" battle of day-to-day existence calls upon those who are honest to wage endless combat with the creditors; juggling checks to ensure the "squeaky wheel gets the grease," eking out an existence.
Doesn't everybody have them? By the millions, though we worry about inflation, joblessness, high interest rates, poor leadership, strikes, high food costs, we dream about that "somewhere-over-the-rainbow" time when all will be well; when hopes and dreams of "easy street" finally materialize.
But they never do, except in the movies.
But what's really important in life? Is it that proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Is it getting
"Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses "shall burst out with new wine." Proverbs 3:9, 10 "in the black" after years of struggling to meet the monthly avalanche of bills and payments? Can anyone ever really get permanently ahead in this credit-oriented society?
Your Best Investment Jesus said: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21).
Is your heart really in that popping, rattling, squeaking, lurching motorized bedspring you call an automobile? Is that why you make those inevitable, inflated monthly payments to pay for that mechanical monster? Is that why you pay hundreds of dollars every year to pour Mideast or domestic gasoline through the crud-incrusted carburetor of that air-polluting machine that sits grinning with chrome-plated satisfaction in your driveway?
Is your whole heart and soul addicted to the pursuit of wealth in a capricious and wildly fluctuating stock market? Does it really matter in the final analysis whether it was blue chip, green chip or purple chip? What's the point of it all; where does it all end?
In the great Depression of the thirties, dozens of investors and financiers threw themselves out of windows of their Wall Street offices because years of careful investments had gone down the drain. They had been sacrificed on the altar of financial futility.
But suppose you did make it to the top of the financial heap — what then? Will your steak taste any more succulent than that of the middle income office worker who serves you? Will fine music sound any more pleasing to your ear than to the ear of a starving Indian peasant?
And what can anyone do with all the goods they might accumulate - except look at them, fondle them, think about them and perhaps boast just a little?
King Solomon, in his God-given wisdom, said: "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity [futility, emptiness]. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?... and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?" (Eccl. 5:10-16.)
Do you labor for the wind? Or Montgomery Ward? Or Sears? Or Bank Americard? It's all the same — it's all a kind of futility and frustration! There's nothing to show for it except a few more material goods, a little more temporary comfort, a few more steaks, and finally, an empty death. And remember the old cliché — you can't take it with you!
There's nothing so wrong with the picture of the frustrated middle-income housewife sending her husband off to work, except the mental approach and attitude!
If they knew the true values in life — if they deeply appreciated that little foreign compact (with higher mileage); the limited, but adequate appliances; those three lovely children; a steady job; and were following more of a practical, workable manner of managing their personal finances — the "not quites" of unrealized dreams, the juggling of bills to pay for impulsive buying, and the endless battles with creditors, plus a sprinkling of arguments among themselves, would not be present.
Millions play the game of impulse buying, fight the creditors and move away if the pressure becomes unbearable.
But it doesn't have to be that way!
There is a better way; there is a way by which you can obtain eternal dividends for a sound physical-financial investment in this life!
God's Work As we round the bend into what appears to be the closing decades of man's age, God has raised up a great Work. Whether you believe it or not at this point, you have come in direct contact with that Work!
This is not a Work of men; it is the Work of the living God, who gives you every breath of air you breathe! It is the Work of the God who claims that "the silver and the gold are mine" (Haggai 2:8). It is the Work of the God who says you and I should be willing to give our all in His service.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1).
It is not unreasonable of God to even expect us to give our entire beings in sacrifice to His service. Should it be some great thing that God would then expect His people to support His Work materially? Surely not!
A Short Work Speaking of God's very Work on earth today, the Apostle Paul wrote: "For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth" (Rom. 9:28).
Never before in all of history has it been more important to recognize and to support that Work of the living Christ!
As the world community continues to lose control of rapidly spiraling, runaway inflation, it is more urgent than ever that the great Work of the living God be accomplished while there is still time. As the eerie spectre of recession and possible depression loom ominously on the horizon. the words of Jesus echo down through the centuries!
"I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4).
No activity on earth is more important than that of accomplishing the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom as a witness and a warning to this end-time society! (Matt. 24:14; 28:19. 20.)
Let's understand why!
The Eyes and Ears of the World This worldwide Work of God is daily performing that globe-girdling commission of carrying Christ's gospel around the earth in ever-increasing power.
And one of the integral parts of this God-ordained commission (the now job of every true Christian in this age) is found in Christ's warning to His followers in Luke 21:36: "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:20, 21 to escape all these things [the global series of crises outlined in previous verses 1 that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."
The context of this scripture makes it crystal clear that the term "escape" refers to a physical salvation from a terrible time of calamity soon to hit this whole earth (see also Isa. 26:20; Rev. 3:10).
That's right, PHYSICAL SALVATION!
Peter, at the conclusion of his powerful sermon (Acts, 2nd chapter) on the day of Pentecost, said: "Save y ourselves from this untoward generation." He knew what Jesus had said about impending national calamities.
Peter knew someone was going to get hurt!
Jesus had told them about two sensational tragedies: one, involving the mass murder of a group of Galileans who had been butchered right along with their sacrifices; and another, the well-known deaths of a large group of people peacefully sitting in the shade of a big wall in Siloam (Luke 13:1-6).
He had said: "... Except ye REPENT, ye shall all LIKEWISE perish"!
Jesus wasn't speaking of the fact it is "given to all men once to die" or describing the peaceful death of old age, or even the death of chance sickness. He was describing sensational cases of sudden, painful, tragic death under violent circumstances!
He had predicted the toppling of the very walls of the buildings of the Temple (Matt. 24:1, 2). He warned of impending national DESTRUCTION — which did occur nearly 40 years later.
Jesus knew drought, famine, pestilence, mindless tortures (according to the Jewish historian Josephus, the Romans impaled thousands!), and death by sword, spear and bludgeon would be the lot of those who did not repent, and who were not watching the development of events!
What to Watch That's why Jesus said "WATCH ye, therefore." He said WATCH — NOT in some "spiritual" way, meaning staring out a candle-lit window in an attitude of "prayer" the way some might "spiritualize" this scripture away; but watching the weather patterns; the picture of public health; international, geopolitical maneuverings; military struggles; alliances and power blocs; WATCH WORLD NEWS!
He said watch so YOU CAN ESCAPE!
Escape is no "spiritual" kind of "rapture"!
Jesus plainly told those which "be in Judea" to FLEE when they saw armies beginning to surround Jerusalem. He said those would be the "days of vengeance" — and described bloody, mass MURDER!
Like it or not — unpleasant to
think about or not — we are entering just such a time!
The Economic Plight of the American Family
Increasing taxes, soaring inflation, more and more credit buying, rising costs of goods and services and other economic realities are rapidly taking their toll on the average American family.
Staggering personal and private debt is rapidly becoming a way of life in the United States. Skyrocketing interest rates and the high cost of "easy" credit are beginning to paint John Q. Public into an economic corner.
At the end of 1972 the average consumer debt per house hold in the United States was $2,312. Of this amount $1,869 represented installment credit.
Interest rates on such payments could be as high as 18-21% — in some cases even higher!
In January 1974 — according to the "U. S. Census Bureau Current Population Report: Consumer Income, Series P-60" — the average weekly earnings were $147.13 per week. The average hourly wage was $4.02. (A skilled construction worker could earn up to $9.89 per hour and an apparel or textile worker as little as $2.85 per hour.)
But inflation has seriously damaged the buying power of the dollar. In 1974 you would have to earn $140 to equal the buying power of $100 in 1967!
Taxes and inflation rates are even greater in many other countries. In spite of its devastating effect on the American consumer, the United States actually has one of the lower rates of inflation in the world community! Such nations as Japan, Australia, Sweden and even Great Britain suffer from enormously high taxation and mind-boggling inflation. Strikes and work stoppages deal devastating blows to the economies of such nations as Canada, England and France. Socialized medicine and the welfare state mentality push taxes higher and higher in countries already beset with major economic difficulties.
But this worldwide Work of God must continue! What better investment could there be for today's Christian than to support the very Work being done by the servants of the living God in these twilight years of man's age?
Now — you live in the time of mass murder! Now — you live in the time of beginning race wars (when racist, para-military organizations require the indiscriminate killing of another human being of a different race just as "initiation" rites!). Now — you live in a time of crises of government after government (the United States, Canada, Britain, Ireland, West Germany, France, India, Israel, Thailand, Chile, Portugal and Greece, just to name a few). Now — you live in a time of terrible inflation, and impending DEPRESSION, when money will be utterly WORTHLESS.
The day came, in pre-World War II Germany, when factory workers were having to be paid by the hour in useless "five billion marks" notes, and even higher denominations. It took three billion marks to buy a postage stamp, and five billion marks to purchase a loaf of bread!
Finally, the paper was more valuable than the multiple billions of marks it supposedly represented. Germany collapsed into a barter society where cigarettes were traded for milk; shoes for bread; gasoline for clothing; and the entire economy came tumbling down.
You ARE LIVING IN THE MIDST OF JUST SUCH POTENTIAL!
The half-dollar coins you casually used for change only a few years ago are now worth two of our coin-clipped half-dollars! The silver dollars of a few years ago are now worth four dollars, and more!
The Commission of God's Work This great world-girdling Work is established as God's WATCHMAN to see, and understand, and report on these prophetic conditions; to "cry aloud, and spare not, and SHOW MY PEOPLE THEIR SINS." And with Ezekiel, to cry, "TURN YE, TURN YE, for why will you DIE, O Israel?"
NOWHERE else will you find a voice of alarm, a voice of WARNING about our impending national calamities unless we repent of our personal and national sins, just as Jesus said!
There is no other commission any more important now!
Jesus Christ is Savior, yes! He died to atone for our sins, and by His intercessory LIFE (Rom. 5:10) we are saved, spiritually, for eternity!
But Jesus also talked of a way of escape from all these things that shall come to pass — He warned those living in His day to flee for their lives when they clearly saw the events He predicted coming to pass.
Through His written Word, the prophecies of your Bible and Jesus' own prophecies, He warns us today to watch, and to warn others of impending calamities!
Christ meant for us to watch world conditions — not minor, local day-to-day events; but the big trends in major power blocs, the big economic struggles between nations, the major fluctuations in world religions.
In His famous Olivet prophecy (Luke 21; Matt. 24; Mark 13), Jesus was describing what to watch — long-range, overall world conditions (now beginning to intensify with fantastic rapidity!), which would lead up to His coming rule on this earth.
Just ahead of us is a global food crisis. We are right now, as of this moment, in a global governmental crisis. We have been in the throes of a global ecology crisis for nearly two decades; and the current potential for a global economic crisis is truly frightening.
But watching all of these many world conditions does not remotely imply a selfish "escape-hatch" salvation for those who have been called to perform God's Work.
We must be the advance news reporters who carefully analyze and digest the world scene, and then, coupled with Bible prophecy and the backdrop of recent history, GIVE OUT a warning and a witness such as this world has never heard before!
The Watchman Ezekiel wrote of a "watchman" (Ezek. 33) whom God would inspire to foresee impending national calamities. The prophet issued the sternly worded warning that if the watchman failed to perform his God-ordained commission, the blood of the people dying in a cataclysmic death-dealing nuclear bloodbath would be on his head (verses 3-6). As modern Christians — having understanding of the mind-shattering prophecies for this day and age — how can we fail to feel a sense of moral obligation to warn this society?
What an awesome responsibility!
As I mentioned earlier, somehow God Almighty has caused you to come into contact with the very Work of the living God — a Work of watching and reporting on world events in their biblical context, showing how they dovetail with Bible prophecy — some even in minute, technical detail.
If we are readers of this Good News magazine, God challenges us (as He did Ezekiel) to do our part in this great and growing Work: "So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me" (verse 7).
It takes the combined resources (financial and otherwise) of all those God has called (and more) to continually expand the work of getting the gospel out to this sick, chaotic, and fast-dying world in the powerful way it needs to go.
It is our collective responsibility! We dare not treat it lightly!
And make no mistake about it. It takes enormous sums of money to buy radio and television time (astronomically priced prime TV time is virtually out of our reach!); to publish and print competently written and graphically effective booklets and periodicals; to feed the ever-increasing flock God is continuously calling.
How Are We Financed? But how has God chosen to finance this globe-girdling Work? What keeps the telecast on the air? What keeps the giant presses producing the Plain Truth and Good News magazines? How is this rapidly expanding, outgoing, ongoing Work of the living God supported?
For years the Work has been supported by the faithful, tithe-paying membership of the Worldwide Church of God. Following a practice which may be traced back to patriarchal times (Gen. 14:20-22; 28:20-22), members of the Church set aside a tenth of their incomes for the support of the Work which is being done by the combined membership of the Body of Christ.
Not only has this practice made possible the financing of this great Work, it has also resulted in many blessings for these faithful tithe payers! As God consistently blessed the ancient Israelites for tithing, so God has poured out His blessings on those New Testament Christians who have voluntarily chosen to practice this God-ordained principle (Mal. 3:10).
God always BLESSES the tither! We believe in, and serve, a LIVING God; the great Creator who gives us every breath, who blesses us with life itself, and every emotion, every joy, love, excitement, and wonderful moments of life. Through promising us an abundant life, now, and promising us His great PROTECTION in the horrible times to come (Rev. 3:10), and promising us ETERNAL LIFE for serving, and obeying, and fulfilling the very purpose for our calling — plus our humble and grateful acceptance of the shed blood of God's own Son for our personal sins — our Creator proves He is on the GIVING SIDE!
He gives to us ALL THINGS, abundantly!
Personally, I believe a Christian has a depth of ENJOYMENT of the simplest meals he eats; the sunsets he shares with loved ones; the moments of fun and laughter, the small things in life, like watching children play with a new puppy, or savoring the company of others of like convictions — I believe a Christian receives a continuing, abiding, deep and fulfilling reward in THIS LIFE, NOW, that is totally unattainable by those of material riches, whose lives are empty!
God's Word plainly commands us to be on the GIVING side!
Any who might argue against the plain tithing principle of God's Word, and the clear and simple statements of Paul in I Corinthians 9 concerning the method God had ordained for the support of the preaching of the gospel, are missing the whole point of Jesus' plain and simple teachings!
Though the little widow woman gave forth her "widow's mite" even in the midst of the most "splendiferous" building on the face of the earth at that time, Jesus highly commended her for it. And He did not condemn the existence of the Temple. When the woman used precious ointment to anoint His feet, and Judas scorned such "shameful waste," Jesus gently rebuked him, and said the woman had worked a "good work"!
It's good and it's right, and it's obedience to the great Creator God to be on the GIVING end!
I want you to read a few of the letters, out of the great stack of literally thousands we receive as the years go by, from people just like you, who have found how wonderfully God blesses those who are willing to give, that others might hear the last-minute warning they so desperately need!
Income More Than Doubled "Enclosed are tithe and offerings for this pay period, plus a special offering as I have just received my sixth raise in the last three years. In five years our income has more than doubled, and it is certainly true that a person cannot out give God."
Mr. & Mrs. M.,
Business Tripled "I wanted to mention the blessings we've received since we started going to Church and tithing. Our business is selling used cars. When we started going to Church, we could hardly pay our bills. Since then, business has tripled and we could even afford to give the Church a 1970-model bus free and clear. Hope our gift helps your work."
Mrs. R. W.,
Terre Haute, Indiana
A Free Car "Every week from what my husband gives me (which isn't much because he doesn't make much), I take something and put it aside to send to God's Work every three or four weeks. The reason I'm telling you this is because when you give to God, He always gives you something you never even expected. Only this week my husband received a registered letter from my brother who has a business in New York. In the letter were registration papers and the keys for a car he was sending my husband. My husband was in need of a car, but he couldn't afford to buy one."
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
Worry-Free Living "Enclosed is my tithe. It is really amazing the change that has resulted from the time I have resumed giving my tithe and the time before. I make no more money, but it seems what I have lasts longer. What was once financial chaos is now worry-free living. I thank God for His assistance."
Income Tripled "Enclosed are my tithe and offerings. I want you to know that prayers are being answered daily. I have been praying for a new job, and I just started it last month. My income tripled for the month of July. Keep up the good work, Mr. Armstrong. You and your son are continually in my prayers."
Running Out of Room "You will find our tithe quite a bit larger than usual. We have been blessed again. We are receiving two carpets. We were given enough money to buy them, with some left over. We were also given some school clothes for our girls, including fall and winter coats. My husband has also had a little overtime on each pay check recently.... We have included a tithe of this amount with that of our paycheck. It definitely pays to tithe, and we are fast running out of room for all our blessings (Mal. 3:10)."
Income Increased Twenty Percent "I would like to say that since we have been paying our tithes, my income has increased 20%."
Tithing Pays "I had been unemployed until Oct. 2, 1972. During the previous two years I had worked but nine months after graduating from college. In August 1972 I sent a voluntary contribution to the Worldwide Church of God as a result of my reading about how God promises to bless us if we tithe. Believe it or not, I had fourteen departments or employers call me for personal interviews, and two offers of employment, one of which I accepted. It is my pleasure to send you the first tithe and a little more of my first paycheck."
Charleston, West Virginia
New Testament Principle In the theocracy of Israel, the people paid tithes on their crops and cattle to the Levites, who in turn tithed to the priests. The priests ministered in the Temple, doing the Work of God in their day. The Apostle Paul wrote of this in I Corinthians 9:13-14:
"Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord [Christ] ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
Paul showed that he and the other apostles had the power or authority to partake of their physical, carnal things — money — for the purpose of doing the Work! After all, who should be expected to finance his own ministry? What soldier ever went to war of his own charges (see verse 7) — at his own expense?
The Church is to preach and publish the gospel; that is the collective commission to the whole Body of Christ (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16, etc.). But not everyone in the Church is a preacher or an evangelist (I Cor. 12). Each member of the Body has a different gift, but it is the living, active, dynamic Christ who works in everyone through the Holy Spirit to do His Work.
All Members Responsible But all members, morally, philosophically and financially, are to support the Work of the whole Body. The preaching of the gospel represents the Church's relationship with the world — it is the way the Church provides the world with light and truth.
God never intended the Church of God to be self-serving and withdrawn — descending into an endless series of time-consuming, comfortable armchair arguments over the whys or wherefores of this or that minor doctrine. He raised up the Church (Matt. 16:18) to preach the gospel of the Kingdom and to set a right example before the world.
When Jesus was confronted by a rich, young nobleman who asked what he must do in order to inherit eternal life, Christ told him to keep the Ten Commandments (Matt. 19:16-19). This young businessman asserted that he always had kept them (verse 20).
But Jesus knew that he was very covetous of his vast material wealth; more concerned with hanging on to what he had accumulated than following Christ.
"Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect [complete or fulfilled], go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions" (Matt. 19:21-22).
This young man was covetous, unwilling to sacrifice his material goods in order to follow Christ, who was doing the Work of His Father. He lived only for this life.
Why do we draw breath? Why do we work, labor and sweat in this life? Is it merely to perpetuate our own very temporary existences? Solomon said: "All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled" (Eccl. 6:7).
God has given us a far greater reason for living than just feeding our faces every so often. He is working out a purpose on this earth through His Church. And that great purpose involves fiduciary and financial involvement!
Your Financial Priorities Jesus Christ continually warned His disciples about the danger of overanxious concern regarding the physical necessities and staples of this life (Matt. 6:24-32). He pointed out the one great priority that would forever overcome the selfish materialism so instinctive to human beings: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these [material] things shall be added unto you" (verse 33).
Notice the concluding, crux point to the parable of the unjust steward: "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye [it — RSV] fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations" (Luke 16:9).
And then Jesus sternly warned: "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon [money], who will commit to your trust the true riches?" (Verse II.)
Boiling it down to the essentials, this scripture means just this: if you don't prioritise your monetary resources to help bring others the precious knowledge of personal entrance into God's Kingdom ("everlasting habitations" — "the true riches"), how can you ever expect to be there yourself?
The Give Way — What's in It for You? Your Saviour said: "It is more Blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
Giving in God's way is like throwing a boomerang with all of your might. Whatever you give comes hurtling right back to you in countless blessings (seen and unseen, known and unknown) of every sort and description.
Wise old King Solomon knew of this solid, time-tested financial principle long before the first Christian ever set foot on earth. He said: "Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: [and then as a direct consequence] so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine" (Prov. 3:9-10).
Centuries later, Jesus Christ of Nazareth absolutely guaranteed that the give principle would work out in the nuts and bolts of practical, everyday, "now" living. He said: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom."
And then He spoke of another great cause-and-effect principle: "For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38).
The Apostle Paul put the very same principle in different words: "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (II Cor. 9:6).
If you give generously (as you are truly able — Deut. 16:17), God will bountifully bless you for that willing, giving attitude — firmly rooted in positive action.
God Loves a Cheerful Giver Your attitude is easily the most important factor in your Christian stewardship! Paul wrote: "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (II Cor. 9:7).
Continuing with the scriptural context, the next verse absolutely affirms God's ability to abundantly reward this cheerful, outgoing, outreaching attitude of giving: "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (verse 8).
Remember Jesus' words: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (Matt. 6:19, 20).
Our Awesome Responsibility We have been given the good work of preaching the gospel to a world in desperate need of a powerful warning and an unmistakable witness!
We are also charged with the awesome responsibility of defraying the frightful costs of spreading that gospel in an age of hypertechnical, supercomplex, incredibly expensive communication mechanisms (the gospel costs infinitely more in this technocratic space age than it did in a first-century world largely limited to personal evangelism).
Can we afford to simply shrug our shoulders and shirk our God-given responsibilities toward Christ's last-ditch efforts to disseminate God's final warning to this earth?
Can we afford not to be concerned for the multiple, seemingly terminal afflictions plaguing our peoples around this earth — the global problems threatening our very existence as civilized nations? If we carelessly shuck our collective responsibilities, will God wink one eye and just look the other way?
"If thou forbear [neglect] to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?" (Prov.24:11-12.)
As I wrap up this article, I have been interrupted time and again with our daily planning sessions for our upcoming campaigns, which are carrying the powerful witness and warning message contained in Christ's gospel to additional tens of thousands in person, in cities all around the United States and Canada.
I have taken time out twice to do daily radio programs, and, upon finishing these few lines, I am heading to the studio for yet another one on the terrible state of our economy!
I have seen, and helped edit, our "summer" one-hour color television specials — the televised campaign from Seattle — to be viewed by MILLIONS in many, many cities (I hope YOU will be able to see them!) all over the United States and Canada.
NEVER have we lived in any more urgent times in which to FINISH THIS GREAT WORK lying before us! I feel a critical need to really cry out as never before for our national REPENTANCE, and a recapturing of the spirit of forgiveness and humility for our people!
We are facing a crisis of the SPIRIT!
It's not too late for our peoples — but it's much later than we think! I thank God daily for those whose hearts are as concerned as the rest of us in this great Work; and for those who are giving generously so I may continue to give out this last warning!