Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 19, 1951

Evidence Of What?

Robert H. Farish, Tarrant, Alabama

It has frequently been asserted that the contribution is a good barometer of a congregation's spirituality—that the contribution testifies as to whether the spiritual zeal is at a high or low ebb. It has been pointed out that a man will not voluntarily put his money into a thing unless he is really interested in it, or in the words of our Lord, "For where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also." This statement of our Lord establishes beyond question that one's heart is linked closely with his treasure.

There is a question however that present swelled and swelling contributions constitute treasure in heaven. The mere fact of it having been placed in a collection basket doesn't qualify it as a heavenly investment. This fact cannot be taken as infallible evidence that the contributor has his heart set on things above. In weighing and evaluating the evidence to see just what it proves, it is necessary to take into consideration some of the motives that have been advanced to push the figures up—some of the objectives toward which the contributors were pointed in raising the figures to generous proportions. Are those motives spiritual in their nature? Are those objectives of heavenly character? If not, the treasure has been laid up on earth.

While there is an element of truth in the idea that spiritual growth can be measured by the amount of money given, it is also true that the amount of money given is evidence, in some cases, of the presence and degree of vainglory. Many will contribute large amounts to the erection of costly buildings "to drive by and look at," who will not be nearly so generous in contributing to the preaching of the Word. Such contributions to the 'lust of the eye' are indefensible.

Brethren are frequently heard to say that they want meeting houses of which they will not be ashamed, before their denominational friends and the world. What is that but a frank, unblushing confession of vainglory? Is an appeal as effective when directed toward one's love of God as it is when directed to pride? Is it easier to stir up our pride than it is to stir up our love of the Father? In the zealous concern to have a building of which they will not be ashamed for their friends to view, what about more concern over a soul which they will not be ashamed for the Lord to view? Whose approval are we, as Christians, to consult and diligently seek anyway? Paul's "workman that needeth not be ashamed" does not contemplate a workman working diligently for costly cathedrals, but one "handling aright the word of truth."

. Another thought, is the size of the contribution to be the most significant factor in our considerations? If so, then what is the point in the widow's mite? Others were giving of their superfluity she gave of her want. Theirs was overflow, hers was her living. No, the denominations were not perking up and taking notice of her—she was not making her place under the sun but the Son of God took notice—she was securing a heavenly place.