By Jady W. Copeland
In Romans 12:1-2 Paul admonished brethren to present themselves as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.” When one obeys the gospel, he becomes dead to sin, and alive in Christ. The same writer says in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Hence, one giving himself to the Lord is totally committed to Christ in thought, word and action. We must not be conformed to the world, but dedicated totally to him who died for us. In “renewing of your mind” we see a total transformation of self (affections and will) to the service of God.
In previous articles we have established several principles which we summarize briefly:
- We must not be con-formed to former lusts (1 Pet. 1:14).
- Nothing comes between the dedicated Christian and God (Matt. 22:37).
- The love of money is the root of evil (1 Tim. 6:10).
- Covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5).
- Material things are temporary; spiritual things are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18).
- God is our Master in all things (Matt. 6:24).
- Christians lay up treasures in heaven (Lk. 12:13-21).
In our study here, we want to make some specific applications showing how too much emphasis on the things of the world adversely affects the progress of the Lord’s work.
Giving into the Treasury
of the Church
While giving as prospered must be decided by each Christian, it is easy for us to reason that we are making a sacrifice when in reality we are not. Sacrificing means different things to different people. To some it may mean giving what is left after all other desires have been met. Some seem to never think that they should give up luxuries (expensive sports equipment, huge houses that they don’t
need, etc.) so they can give more to the Lord. Brethren, is it really true that we “can’t afford” to help one needing support to preach the gospel when we see many of the members living so luxuriously? We hear the elders announce that Brother Preacher wants to preach in China, but we (the church from its treasury) can’t afford to help him and then we leave, get into our $40,000 cars to go to our $150,000 homes. There just seems to be something wrong. In contrast the Macedonians gave out of their poverty because they were willing to give “themselves to the Lord” (2 Cor. 8:2-5).
Neglect of Family
The second way the Lord’s cause is hurt by materialism is that it hurts the family life. The father takes two jobs so that he can have those luxuries, far above necessities, but in so doing he is home little with his boys or girls growing up. He sacrifices valuable time with the family in order to have things he could easily do without. I’m convinced that the reason many young people don’t obey the gospel is that they see Dad taking his religion so lightly. They can see by his example that the Lord and his church mean little to him, and often it is because of his working such long hours unnecessarily. Fathers, remember the responsibility of bringing up the children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” has been given directly to you the father. It is so easy to forget that the child (even in tender years) sees the examples of parents which make a lasting impression.
Then there is the working mother. This is perhaps even more devastating to the child. Sisters, there is no substitute for “mom.”‘ It really makes me heartsick to see so many day-care centers in our society. I think of the hundreds of children who are largely reared by people other than parents. The young woman becomes accustomed to a certain living standard and when married is not willing to live on her husband’s salary. So she continues to work, and when the baby comes, he is off to the day-care center. The question is this: “Is the extra money worth more than the time she has with that child?” I’m sure many mothers claim they can rear their child properly and work too, and I’ll admit that some do a pretty good job, but there is little room for argument that the mother who is with the child all day does a better job than the one who is gone one-third of the time and when she does come home, she is tired, irritable, and not in the best mood to deal with that child properly.
Work in the Local Church
As we noted in the last article, men need to plan carefully in choosing an occupation that lends itself to his best work with the local fellowship. The man with two jobs often cannot attend all of the assemblies. The man with dollars in his eyes too often is more concerned about his job than worship. Perhaps little things such as the second communion on Sunday night has played into the hands of those who say, “I can worship tonight.” While it is not wrong to have the communion on Sunday night, it is an easy excuse for the one who likes material things so much he is willing to give up much of his time for money. A man once told me he took the second job, and he would make so much money that he could perhaps buy a plane to take me to meetings. He not only never got around to that, but now has quit the Lord entirely. The excuse that making more money allows one to give more is a “cop-out” pure and simple. His problem is that he is serving the god of materialism instead of the God of heaven.
Many men with two jobs, or even one that takes themaway from home nights (or one that takes them from home much of the time), simply cannot be of as much service to the Lord in the local church. Certainly motivation must be considered here, but if the motivation is one’s desire for money he must consider carefully this: “Can I afford to miss out on working for the Lord because of the extra money I am making?” It was indeed refreshing to hear a man say recently that in his schooling and in choosing an occupation, he thought first of the time he would have to spend in personal work, and other activities in the local church. “If every member of this church were just like me in the amount of time I have to do the Lord’s work) what kind of a church would this church be?”
Another way the Lord’s church is affected by material-ism in the local church is that due to so much leisure time many think too much of week-end pleasures camping, boating, fishing, and going to the beach or mountains. How can one be of much value to the Lord with the local church if he is gone one or two week-ends out of the month? The curse of “week-ending” is another blight on the growth of many churches. The concept is “I go to church” while away. Maybe (but some don’t), but even if they do, do they not realize that being gone so much is hurting their work for the Lord? They not only have little time for personal work, etc., but the being gone so much has an affect on the attitude of other members of the body.
The Effect of Materialism
Children learn from their parents. Not only is this true in politics, economics, and social graces, but it is also true in religion. First they teach them the improper attitude to-ward money as exemplified in the above points. But in the next place, when they see their parents with the attitude toward recreation, missing services for trivial things, and other forms of indifferences, they grow up with the idea that this is proper and right.
In the parable of the rich man (Lk. 12) we note that the man was evidently not immoral, and he also provided for his family well so far as we can see, but he was not thinking enough of his eternal welfare but more on “things.” or
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 17, p. 12-13
September 2, 1993