Being Only Positive, Only Negative
or Only Neutral
Is Not Constructive
This is the second sermon in our “Stick” series in which sticks are used to illustrate things we should do or be as a church. The first sermon used “Chopsticks” to illustrate the functionality of the church. It emphasized the importance of each member’s committed effort in the work a church does.
Chopsticks work well only with coordination and practice and the same is true with church members.
This sermon, however, uses toothpicks to illustrate the importance of constructively critical interaction between the members. To do better we must get better. A toothpick symbolizes the decent and appropriate approach to finding and removing flaws.
So, the first message focused on function and the second focuses on relation.
To keep the picture clear it is important to start with a few passages of Scripture. We are talking about the church so it is important to have an idea what the Bible says about this organization.
That makes sense. Church is not my idea or your idea or just a good idea, it is God’s idea so we need to know what He says about it.
So let’s take a look.
The Church Is Functional
In Matthew chapter 16 and verses 19 and 20 Jesus was speaking to His disciples – core members of the church He started – and He said:
I will build my church (you guys), and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (you). 19 I will give you (the church) the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
There are a couple of interesting observations to take away from this passage.
- One, Jesus is the one building the church.
We, the church members, work but Jesus is ultimately the leader and builder. He makes things work together for our good. He does what we can’t do and brings about outcomes that we might not otherwise realize.
As builders with Christ we must be faithful, committed and determined to do our best but Jesus is in the lead. It’s kind of a paradox. He does the building but not without us. He works through people and for them.
- Two, this passage resonates with delegated authority and personal responsibility.
Jesus is the builder but we have the “keys” to the kingdom. The person with keys is trusted. God designates which doors are to be opened but “key” people unlock them. That’s power!
Simply put, having the keys means we are authorized to make decisions, initiate action and perform functions – binding and loosing. And to say we are authorized to do this means we are accountable if we don’t. Sitting around doing nothing is not an appropriate response to a passage like this. Read more
Anyone Can And Should
Give Their Time To God
But Is That A Tithe
A person’s time can qualify as their tithe but under what conditions? Can anyone do this? Would all time-served qualify?
Just off the top of my head I came up with a few thoughts on the matter. You be the judge but keep this in mind. For time to qualify as a tithe it must add value to the organization.
Churches are not aimless. God commissioned them to do many good things in this world and, large or small, they need some kind of structure to get the job done. Tithe money is the resource for funding the effort so if time and service are to qualify as a tithe then following are some possible ideas for gauging the effectiveness of a person’s time.
If you’re jobless or work part time, the conditions that qualify your time as a tithe are:
- You serve the same amount of time regularly.
- You serve in a pre appointed time slot each day or week.
- You serve in a capacity you can handle.
- You serve reliably.
- You serve cooperatively and under the direction of the organization.
- You serve the equivalent of one tenth of a work week – 4 hours.
Sounds like an employment contract and it should. Giving your time as a tithe instead of money should work very much like a job. Employees work at a designated time and perform specified functions for which they are paid, usually by the hour.
If they don’t show up when needed or perform as required they are warned and eventually fired if nothing changes. They also aren’t paid for the time they miss work. The time you serve in church shouldn’t be any less demanding and the individual giving their time for a tithe should want it to count for the absolute most.
The difference is the person tithing their time to the church instead of money won’t be paid.
What do you THINK!AboutIt?
In Tithing, Douglas Leblanc provides much more than a narrow discussion on a traditional issue. He doesn’t repeat the same worn out arguments the same boringly technical way.
Instead, and probably because he admits to being “no theologian or exegetical writer,” Douglas has found an intriguing way to cut to the real heart of the issue. He shares the experiences of eleven different couples and one lone Monsignor, all of whom practice tithing for a very similar reason: selflessness.
What Do Churches and Chopsticks
Have In Common
We recently had “Chopstick” Sunday at church. The title of the sermon was “Be A Chopstick Not A Chop” and the message was quite simple.
Instead of being just an individual attending church, each person should aim more and more toward becoming a collective part of the whole.
The word “Church” is, after all, a collective noun. It refers to one entity but is made up of many parts working in unison – church members – and chopsticks illustrate what that looks like in practice.
You could say the word “hand” is also a collective noun. It is one appendage on your body but it has several parts that work well together to do many complex things, like hold and use chopsticks. Easier said than done.
Chopsticks are very simple gadgets but aren’t so easy to use. We all know that chopsticks are implements that enable a person to eat food one-handedly but it takes more than just chopsticks to accomplish this. It requires the synchronized effort of at least four fingers coordinated enough to perform the task. That’s a mouthful, no pun intended.
Each finger has a different part to play and must practice to get the movements correct. The skill to grip a piece of food with chopsticks and transport it without incident from plate to mouth doesn’t come naturally. It requires each part to perform a different function separately but in unison to accomplish this goal.
I’m not sure why anyone would want to eat food one-handedly but they do and it works. The point is, like chopsticks, the church involves many different parts working together, with coordination, to accomplish whatever goal they visualize.
And just like chopsticks, it takes practice to get it right. This is important because in a word, the best way to describe a human being is: “limited.” We are not stand-alone entities. For any individual to accomplish any notable thing, others must do their part. Therefore, the philosophy is: Read more
Following are a few thoughts I threw together for a group discussion on the topic of the “Home.” The intention was to put this institution in perspective relative to other important institutions. So the discussion began with…
The Home is one of three primary institutions
An institution is any organization or structure in society which influences or regulates human behavior or encourages social interaction. There are two categories: primary and secondary.
A Primary Institution is an organization that…
- Is designed and created by God
- Derives its authority to exist from God
- Is sustained by God
- Is regulated by God
The three primary institutions are: Read more
Filed under: Charity, Church, Giving
Deserves Thoughtful Answer
Recently on Yahoo Answers a person (we’ll call him Jerry) submitted a question about tithing:
“Does money I tithe have to be given to the church to be considered tithing?”
The reason for the question had nothing to do with selfishness, materialism or bad financial management. His question was motivated by generosity.
The church Jerry attends was preparing to send kids to camp and there were a couple of kids who couldn’t afford to go. Diverting Jerry’s tithe to this need for three months would cover the expense and he wondered if that was legit. Would that still qualify as “tithing?”
He also made it clear that he wasn’t questioning the rationale behind tithing (devoting ten percent of your income to God). In fact, he specified that only people who believed in tithing should respond and he further qualified by requesting only “respectful” answers. I almost laughed at the request. Having been scorched a few times by anti-tithers I wanted to put on a flack jacket before reading some of the responses. He had obviously faced a few also. Read more