Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Lord's Calf

Note: A friend at JPBC recently gave me a book on the discipline of Christian stewardship titled Totally Committed to Christ (Evangelical Press, 2004). On Monday I had lunch with the author, a retired Virginia Baptist Pastor, at the SBCV meeting in Hampton. Here is one section from that book under the heading "Giving should be performed systematically" (pp. 195-96):

To be haphazard in our giving, giving as the whim takes us or giving what happens to be in our pocket when we are in church and giving nothing when we are absent, is not God’s way. Our giving to the Lord’s work through his church must be done as regularly and punctually as the paying of our personal bills and accounts.

One thing is certain. If we do not give priority to our Christian giving we will find it crowded out by other financial commitments, and the Lord’s work will suffer. We must avoid the weakness of the farmer whose best cow gave birth to twin calves: one brown and the other white. In his excitement he ran indoors to tell his wife the good news and announce that he had decided in gratitude to give one calf to the Lord. Both calves would be brought up together, he said, then one would be sold and the proceeds given to the church. His more matter-of-fact wife, however, asked him which of the two calves he intended to dedicate to the Lord. ‘Ah’, he said, ‘there’s no need to decide that now. We can do it later.’ A few months passed, and then one day the farmer came into the kitchen looking very miserable. ‘My dear’, he sighed, ‘I have bad news. The Lord’s calf is dead.’ ‘The Lord’s calf?’ exclaimed his wife in astonishment. ‘But I thought you said you hadn’t decided which calf would be the Lord’s.’ ‘Yes’, he said, ‘but I always thought it would be the white one.’

The Lord’s calf has a way of dying, does it not? One of the greatest difficulties in Christian giving is to keep the Lord’s calf alive. That is the value of using church offering envelopes for our giving. It is so easy to go away on vacation or to be off sick and to forget our weekly or monthly contribution. But dated, anonymous envelopes can assist us in keeping our giving regular and systematic.

"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or out of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).

May God continue to grow us into responsible stewards!

Jeff Riddle

Evangel article November 14, 2007.

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