What We Really Believe

In More Than Spectators, Paul W. Downey makes several poignant statements about a Christian’s support of missions. He lays out his thoughts in a section titled “What those who do not give to missions really believe” (pp. 118-120). Consider his main points:

  1. If you are not giving regularly and generously to the support of missions, you may be indicating by your actions that you believe that people do not need to hear the Gospel to be saved.
  2. Or perhaps your failure to give to mission reveals that you believe that God’s resources are limited.
  3. But if people must hear, and God’s resources are unlimited, and you still don’t have the resources to give, it must be God’s fault. Maybe God does not want to provide for world evangelism.
  4. Many … see no connection of these truths to themselves. Their position is theologically orthodox, but they have concluded, “God does not expect me to use what He gave me to benefit others.”
  5. Yet some are still fearful. Recognizing their own responsibility to give, they are reluctant to commit to missions funds they expect to need themselves. They are saying, in effect, that if I commit what I have, God cannot supply what I need.

3 thoughts on “What We Really Believe

  1. Frank Sansone

    Andy,

    Do you agree with these comments?

    Also, is the rest of the book written in this way? I may be interested in the book, but I am not impressed with this list, even though I give to missions and am essentially operating as a church-planting missionary currently (albeit without any support from any churches but mine own – and wal-mart 🙂 ).

    For instance, number 5 could be argued to have things backwards and reads like a guilt trip. Could not some recognize the need and even desire to give more, yet be reluctant to give funds that they expect to be need themselves because of a desire to do things Biblically? 1 Timothy 5:8 tells us that “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” If giving to missions causes one to not be able to provide for his own, the giving is foolishness not faithfulness.

    Rather than thinking evil of such a person (as the author of the book seems to imply with his comment – “They are saying, in effect, that if I commit what I have, God cannot supply what I need.”), perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt that they are following a more Biblical paradigm and are meeting their commitments and trusting that God can supply additional for them to give to missions. It reverses the order, but I think this reversed order is more Biblical.

    Now, I realize that for most people – especially for most Americans – there is a lot that is thought of as “needs” that are not really needs and that there is definitely an issue of priorities when it comes to the giving of the people of God. I think that encouragement to honestly look at what/how we spend our money is a good thing and I strongly believe we should give generously and even sacrifically to missions, I am just not sure I agree with Brother Downey’s approach that he uses to encourage this type of giving.

    So, I would say:

    We should give generously and sacrifically to missions (also the local church, etc.) – Good Point.

    We should evaluate our reasons for not giving as generously to missions – Good Point.

    Lay a guilt trip on people with pointed statements, broad assumptions (e.g. point 4, which implies that the person who does not give to missions does find other avenues in which to give that might benefit others), and questioning the motives for not giving more – Not Goo Point.

    Respectfully,

    Pastor Frank Sansone

  2. Andy Rupert

    Frank,

    I’ve been working on this chapter for a week now as I’ll be using it as the lesson for our youth group next Wednesday evening. To be honest, I have been wondering about the last point. You and I both have experienced a change in finances which has required a bit of creative employment to provide for our families. Obviously, statements like this are easier to make when either the wallet is full or God has recently provided in an unexpected way. All that to say that I’m thinking through this as well from a different perspective.

    I agree with your point in that we should faithfully supply for the needs of our homes (1 Tim. 5:8). To give to missions before making the mortgage payment does not seem wise—especially as not fulfilling one’s obligations is a sign of bad stewardship and does not glorify God. However, his last statement does seem to have biblical support. Just off the top of my head, I can think of several passages that speak of giving to the Lord first before taking care of the needs of the home.

    1. Elisha told the widow to make him a cake first before feeding herself and her son.

    2. The principle of “first fruits” called on the Israelites to give the first portion of their harvest to the Lord before having some themselves.

    3. In Malachi, God promised to supply abundantly as they gave to him first.

    Is this what God expects us to do today? Does he want us to give to missions before we pay the bills? If there is only enough money to pay the mortgage, should we still tithe? These are difficult questions which need much thought. prayer, and study. But I am sure that God can and will provide for our needs as we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33).

  3. Frank Sansone

    Andy,

    I’m sorry if I came across as jumping on you. I hope you know me well enough to know that I was not doing that.

    You bring up a good “counter-point” and some good questions. I will have to think about that a little more.

    In Christ,

    Pastor Frank Sansone

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