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Bearing one another’s burdens May 21, 2012

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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6 comments

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2)

 

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy (Matt 5:7)

 

A number of years ago I was faced with a situation where a sister from another church, someone I worked with at the time, needed financial assistance. I asked the sister if she would not approach her church for assistance. She said that whilst there was a welfare office in the church she did not feel comfortable approaching it for assistance because of how she would appear to her fellow church members and she felt she would be stigmatised.  The question I would like to raise is why should church members that are in difficulty and in need feel uncomfortable to approach their church for help? Could it be because the church today, unlike the early church, does not foster a culture of sharing and caring for one another within their congregation?

 

The church today is not short of teachings and admonitions to “give generously” or “give sacrificially” but what exactly is the church being asked to give to? What I do not witness is admonitions to the church members to give to those around them who are in need. When was the last time you heard a sermon on giving to the poor and the needy? In fact when asked, some preachers tell their members that they cannot give their tithes to other causes aside from the church but that “the whole tithe” must be brought into the “storehouse” – the church building. Has the church stopped teaching the law and commandments of Jesus Christ? It is a mistake to think that we are fulfilling the law of Christ in giving to the church (the administrative structure), which will in turn give some of the takings to a charity. Jesus said in Luke 6:30 “give to everyone who ask you” and He is speaking to individuals here. But what the church mainly teach today is to give to “the work of the church” whether it be the local church or ones in distant lands appealing for funds on TV. They encourage you to “prayerfully consider partnering” with them but never do they teach the church to fulfil the law of Christ in bearing each other’s burdens. How can we declare then that we are the called of Christ yet we do not fulfil His law by helping one another? Does this not undermine our credibility? The problem with giving to the church in tithes and offerings is that one may easily get into a mindset where they feel that they have done their duty already (in “giving to God”) and therefore the portion of their income which remains is theirs and they can’t afford to give away anymore. Many may therefore be ignoring Christ’s commands to give to everyone who asks of them, because in line with what they have been taught it is up to the church to distribute to those in need. Sometimes I do wonder however if it is the case that people do not really believe we need to observe Christ’s teachings to the full. Did Christ not say that we should not only be hearers of the word but doers of the word? Have we become like the Pharisees who, instead of honouring their fathers and mothers instead say that whatever help they would otherwise give them is a gift devoted to God (Matt 15:4-5)? Perhaps it should be said that we cannot be doers of the word if it is not being preached to us and we are not hearing it.

 

Many people today pay their tithes not necessarily because they believe they are fulfilling God’s will but because they have been led to believe that this is the way to access the blessings of God. But Christ says, blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. We need to show mercy to our brothers and sisters in Christ but not only they for we are also called to love our neighbour as ourselves. Paul in Gal 6:10 also encourage us to do good unto ALL men. What surprises me therefore is how little emphasis is placed on such teachings today and even the world is showing us a better example today. To cite an example, the Evening Standard newspaper ran a campaign over the last few years to highlight the extent of poverty that many people are faced with here in Britain but more in London. They found that more than half of children in London lived below the poverty line. Despite the fact that Britainis a very rich developed country there are still a lot of people in abject poverty but it is usually not visible to most of us. I am sure that a lot of these poor people do go to church too. What are our churches doing to alleviate the plight of these poor? One church body in the UK reported total income from parishes to over £800 million in 2009. This church’s expenditure however amounted to almost the figure that was raised with only £50 million going to charitable causes. There are established churches in the UK that own and control vast wealth, namely in property and other assets yet people are still suffering in poverty. To cite another example from Greece, the Telegraph newspaper reported that the church have amassed wealth of over £700 billion Euros and this amounts to twice the national debt (1).

 

How can the church retain such vast wealth whilst people the world over are living in extreme poverty? Surely the church should be doing more in terms of giving away most of what they collect to those in need instead of hoarding it. The church members themselves are also guilty of helping to maintain this status quo by mindlessly giving their money to churches that hoard it, instead of heeding the scriptures in bearing each other’s burdens. What will the church do with such wealth on judgement day when Jesus Christ shall put in His appearance? This is the question that every church body that stores wealth should be considering very seriously.

 

(1) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8790126/Wealth-of-churches-vs-the-wealth-of-people.html

Money Matters – Financial Tips February 17, 2010

Posted by Henry in Money & Finance.
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2 comments

Following on from my two-part article titled “Money Matters – Even to Christians”, which can be found under the category of “Money & Finance”, I have decided to create this space where fellow Christians can share or exchange money making ideas or money saving tips. This is perhaps unprecedented on this type of Christian blog but Jesus did not just impart the word to the 5’000 but he also took cognisance of the fact that they also needed physical food and fed them using the 5 barley loaves and two fishes. I am therefore looking for legitimate ideas which may be of benefit to those who are struggling financially.  It could be ideas of how to make one’s salary stretch a bit further; an idea to generate a new income stream to supplement one’s salary; or a working from home idea that could help a stay at home mother or a mother on maternity leave after giving birth, etc. Please do share whatever ideas you have. I will start however by offering a few money savings idea of my own:

  1.  Plan your spending by budgeting your money. Keep your receipts and on a weekly or monthly basis calculate how much you are spending against how much you earn. If you find you are paying out more than you actually receive then you will have to borrow to make up the difference.
  2.  Compare the prices of goods and services that you pay for and always look for cheaper alternatives. Shop around for a bargain. Most times there is always cheaper on the market. As the saying goes here in Britain, “take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”. So it doesn’t matter how small and insignificant the savings appear to be take advantage of it as the pennies do add up over time.  
  3. If you get discount vouchers in newspapers or magazine, take advantage of them and don’t be ashamed to use them. Take advantage of any discounts and also store loyalty cards as you can get back a bit of money here.
  4.  Avoid eating out too often as it is cheaper to prepare meals at home from supermarket bought products. For example, the price you pay for a glass of wine at a restaurant would get you a whole bottle in the supermarket (not that I am encouraging drinking mind you). Remember you might be able to get restaurant discounts online also (at least here in the UK you can). Prepare pack lunches for work. You can save a fortune this way instead of buying lunches. 
  5. Travelling to and from work can be quite costly. Look for alternative routes which can sometimes be cheaper and if you are able and the way is not too far, walk. You could also break up your journey and go some of the way by walking. This also promotes a healthier lifestyle especially if you sit at a desk for most of the day.  
  6. If you own a car use it only for essential journeys as you can be paying out a fortune on petrol. Also depending on where you are going check if it is cheaper by public transport. A car can be high maintenance therefore when you purchase a car, use the review sites online to see the fuel consumption, insurance grouping, servicing etc. Bigger engine cars usually cost more to service, consume more petrol and attract a higher insurance cost. If you are struggling financially you might need to downgrade by selling the existing car and buying a much cheaper one to run. If you cannot afford a brand new car outright, buy a used one and avoid the car financing/leasing schemes as they will cost you in the long term. 
  7. Avoid name-brand clothing if you cannot afford them. Remember the Nike shoes you pay £60 (or the equivalent) only cost the equivalent of 0.50p to make in Pakistan or India. It is a scam!! These things only give one a false perception of esteem but all we are doing is making the corporation owners and shareholders richer and making ourselves poorer. We should not be buying our identity off the shelves. Give your children what you have, your love! Don’t try to please them with the latest gadget which you cannot afford. 
  8. Don’t fall in the debt trap. Avoid using the credit cards or pay-day loans where possible. If you need to buy something and you can’t afford it right now, make small sacrifices and save up for it. You won’t die without it if you don’t have it now. Half the time people can’t wait to purchase a particular thing and after a few days the novelty wears off and they no longer want it. Remember to also exercise prudence and save for a rainy day.

This is not an exhaustive list but I am appealing to readers to feel free to share what they have. But please, no get rich quick schemes. Thank you.

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