Honesty

A young church of about two years since it began, called a young preacher as its pastor.  It was his first pastorate since graduating from school and he was eager to see his church grow and do well.  Things were going along well for the first few weeks but then came his first challenge.

At the first business meeting he discovered that there was a problem with the finances.  There was no one taking the funds but there was a shortage and the budget wasn’t being met.  He began to investigate to find out the cause of the shortage and he found that the church budget looked fine.  Everything was paid except the mission giving and nothing had been paid toward it. It was a modest budget and included the items you would expect to be there.  They weren’t wasting any money and they certainly weren’t over paying the pastor, in fact he was working to subsidize his income to provide for his family.

He decided to do nothing until he could investigate this further so he told the church he would look into it and bring back his recommendation at the next meeting.  He searched further and in talking with the church treasurer he asked the question as to why nothing had been paid toward the mission.  The reply was most revealing.  “After we paid all of the bills, there was nothing left.” This was a well-meaning church and were following the same system of finance used by the world system.  Their priority was to pay the bills first.  The problem is that the Lord must have first place and our method of operation is to be by faith in Him and not in what we think. 

At the next business meeting, the pastor poised the proposition that honesty is a necessity for a church, to which everyone agreed.  He then stated that it was not honest to declare that they wouldl give 10% of our income to missions and not give anything.  He further said that the church should make the adjustment in the budget that properly represented what they truly believed what would be the proper giving amount.  If it was zero, then that is what the budget should say.  If it was more than zero then that is what they should do, and since this was a commitment to God then it should be given before anything else.  This would be the true expression of faith in the Lord.  He then offered that the church discuss what that true amount would be and he would return when they had come to a decision.

When he was called back, the church had decided to reduce the amount to 5%.  The pastor further reinforced the commitment by asking them if they understood that it would be paid before anything else was paid.  They responded that they did and then he further clarified that that included even his own salary.  They weren’t happy about this further clarification but finally agreed, reluctantly.

The very next month there was enough to pay the mission giving and all the other expenses, with a little bit left over.  This continued for the next two years of always having enough to pay everything and the mission giving never lacked.  Then one month there came a shortage and the mission giving did not get paid and the pastor took his check and gave it back to the treasurer and said he would not accept a check until the mission giving had been paid.  The treasurer disagreed and insisted that he take the check as he needed it for his family, but the pastor stood his ground and refused the check.  Finally, the treasurer took his check, paid the mission commitment and monies came in to more than cover the pastor’s salary as well.  In fact, during the 4 ½ years he was there, there was never a time when there was another shortage, even though they had increased their mission giving to 14% and had doubled in size and budget.  In fact they even built a new church building on nearly 3 acres of prime real estate, and their total indebtedness’ was only $34,000.  Honesty is truly the best policy.  God honors them that honor Him.

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