Is Your Church… Sick?

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

Back to Basics

It is becoming increasingly more common to hear about churches going through financial challenges having become over extended in their spending and over staffed. In Jerry Cook’s book, Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness:Equipping the Church to Be Truly Christian in a Non-Christian World he speaks of a problem that he had within his own church with his benevolence ministry.

He had discovered that this benevolence ministry had begun to take the place of its members, rather than seeing to each other- they had become 100% dependent on the churches outreach ministry for sustenance. It had become easier for the people to “give” to the church and then watch the church “give it out” to the needy- than for them to give directly to the needy themselves!

They had FORGOTTEN how to take care of the brethren! In response, he as a Pastor IMMEDIATELY cancelled the program, and taught his congregation why. It was not enough just to “have a great idea-to do great things” if the idea took away the enablement of the individual members to DO what was needed to be done for each other. While outreaches to the community, are to be admired, I would strongly caution those who run these types of ministries that they DO NOT come at a cost the church- nor detract from the individual members ability to “see a need and fill it” for themselves. Taking away a persons desire or need to give is DANGEROUS territory for ANY sized church. Most churches are “sick” because their members have desired that they DO NOT need to give. Being a “gateway” or a “portal” for delivery is one thing. Going into debt, or financial distress as a church in order to “meet a community need” can lead to pride and arrogance-and eventually financial ruin, for ANY business-but ESPECIALLY a church who depends on tithes and donations from its members.

Here are Jerry Cook’s own words from pages 118 & 119 in his book:

“East Hill has a benevolence ministry. We give food and clothing to those who are in need. As a part of this ministry, we operated a 17-acre collective farm. Our people marked it off in plots, grew gardens and supplied individuals as well as various social agencies with food. We provided hundreds of pounds of potatoes as well as other vegetables in this way. It was beautiful.

The man who coordinated this effort came to one of our council meetings to request a doubling of funds for the program. His request was legitimate, and he showed just how the funds would be used. But somehow, something didn’t seem right to me. I sensed a hesitation within, and I said, “Wait something is not right here. We need to table this for a while and think about it.”

What was wrong? Only one thing: we were beginning to institutionalize. We were getting everything centralized so that anyone who had goods to give put it in a pot. Then those who had needs were directed to the pot. We were training our people to say to a needy person, “Go on down to the benevolence office, they’ll take care of you.” This would replace, “Oh, you need help; I’d like to do something. We have some extra food. I have some clothes for your children, clothes my little ones have outgrown.”

Although we were acting from the best of motives, we were taking ministry away from the people and institutionalizing it. And it was happening without even realizing it. So we denied budget increase. I went to the congregation, told them about it, and said, “Now you are the benevolence department of this church. The garden plots are yours to continue growing things. But it is up to you to order your lives so that you have resources available to meet people’s needs.”

True, our members couldn’t get a tax break doing it that way. It wouldn’t show on their tithing record. But so what? It is what we give in secret without thought of reward or recognition that most pleases God.”

First our giving goes UP- THEN it goes OUT.

Taking Apart the Scripture

Let us look again at Luke 6:38:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV

STANZA #1:
  • Give, and it will be given to you.

Give in the Greek language (the original language in which Luke was written in, and spoken by Luke himself) is the word didōmi. Didōmi means: to give something to someone, to bestow a gift, to supply, furnish, necessary things, to grant, give to one asking, let have. “Giving” in this stanza DOES NOT mean to just carelessly hand over whatever you don’t need right now and cannot currently use. (This is a Cain type of giving, read the story of Cain & Abel in Genesis 4)

This first stanza in Luke 6:38 is saying: When you graciously give to someone what is unexpected, when you carefully think to furnish others with what is needed, when you bestow an anointing from you unto them… in this SAME manner- things will be done in return to you.

STANZA #2 & 3:

  • A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

What is a good measure”? A good measure here in the Greek are the words  kalos metron. The kalos metron amount is:

kalos (good): beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable, beautiful to look at, shapely, magnificent, good, excellent in its nature and characteristics, and therefore well adapted to its ends.

metron (measure): proverbially, the rule or standard of judgment, the required measure, the due, fit, measure, determined extent, portion measured off, measure or limit.

The second stanza in Luke 6:38 goes to a spiritual level. It would be awesome enough if God just left us with the comfort that when we give we get back. But NO! NOT our God! Our God goes further and says when we give out of a generous heart, to fill the needs of others we in return will get back not just the same we gave BUT… we get back in sums of kalos metron! GOOD MEASURE!

From here on, I hope that you understand that when you make the decision to give (no matter how much, or your motives why) YOU ARE GIVING IT FIRST TO GOD. HE is the portal to the blessing, it is in His record the intent of your heart, and it is UP TO HIM HOW exactly you will receive your “good measure”. First our giving goes UP- THEN it goes OUT. “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” The simplest way that I can explain this exchange or transaction is that God is the intercessor of your giving, even though you may “hand” your giving to a friend, it first goes through a spiritual covering and accepting (or rejecting) from the Father.

The majority of the problem in today’s churches is found in the fact that the members have become apathetic, lethargic, and resentful givers.

Can God “Reject” an Offering?

Yes! Throughout the OT there are many times when the wrath of the Lord fell onto man for unholy and unrighteous giving. 2 Cor 9:7 (AMP) says: Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].

In the KJV it simply states: Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

God IS a cheerful giver, and therefore He LOVES a cheerful giver. The majority of the problem in today’s sick churches is found in the fact that their members have become apathetic, lethargic, and resentful givers. They give not in a didōmi way. They give according to and in the likeness of the stubborn and selfish Cain-who ultimately ended up killing his brother in jealousy. The Lord LOVED Abel’s offering, but He rejected Cain and his offering. In the Bible it says that the Lord “Did NOT respect” Cain’s offering. How has this happened?

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Giving From a Grateful Place

Giving from a grateful place requires a soft and malleable heart. It requires love and understanding and a knowledge that WHEN WE GIVE- WE ARE GIVING TO GOD. Each of us who desire to give, who desire to be blessed, who desire to receive “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” MUST UNDERSTAND THAT GOD is the recipient! When you understand this, and the opportunity comes up for you to give… WOOHOO! HALLELUJAH! DO IT! These opportunities to give DO NOT come from satan- he is a DOG, he is not a giver, HE IS A TAKER. These opportunities for you to give- come from the Lord God Almighty HIMSELF! Giving to the homeless? (GOD) Giving to the helpless? (GOD) Giving to your best friend? (GOD) Giving to your family? (GOD) Giving to your church? (GOD) Giving to your mentor or pastor? (GOD!)

Consider these scriptures:

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matt 25:31-46

May God continue to Bless you my dear friends, as you give unto God and receive a kelos metron in return!

The Lord Looks For Cheerful Givers

I love that passage in the Amplified Bible: “God loves- He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without a cheerful joyous, “prompt to do it” giver whose heart is in his giving.”

I can just imagine the Lord taking dictation on a virtual spiritual iPad of sorts, I can hear Him going through a list of people and their givings saying… “Resentful gift… check… hateful gift… check… painful gift … check … manipulative gift … check … complaining gift … check (*YAWN*)… GENEROUS GIFT?! WOOHOO!… BLESSED, GOOD MEASURE! ANOINTING RAIN DOWN!… doubtful gift… check … fearful gift… CHEERFUL GIFT?! HALLELUJAH!!… GOOD MEASURE-AMEN!”

May God continue to Bless you my dear friends, as you give unto God and receive a kelos metron in return! A return giving of beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable, beautiful to look at, shapely, magnificent, good, excellent in its nature and characteristics- God the Father’s standard of judgment!

Love Always-

Jessica

Jessica Heilman is a Christian Author, wife, and mother of 5 who periodically posts excerpts from books that she is currently reading. She blogs daily on life, family, and her walk with Christ in a modern and Biblically-applicable way. She believes that the Bible is timeless, and that it is THE foundational reading for the 21rst Century in regards to wholehearted living. Her mission daily: to do everything she possibly can to hasten the return of Christ.

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