Archive for the ‘Service’ Category

Giving No More than We Dare Not Withhold

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Moreover, brethern, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” II Cor. 8:1-5

These words of Paul describe the exception, unfortunately, more than the rule of Christian living, for as William Wilberforce, the man God used to end the practice of slavery in England, put it, most Christians “give no more than they dare not withhold.”

Sadly, what Wilberforce states is only too true and describes many of us. The challenge of course is breaking out of the “give no more than they dare not withhold” level of TRUSTING God. I don’t think the solution is greater obedience, it is rather greater trusting.

Now, why were they so generous? We find the answer when Paul states “they FIRST gave themselves to God, then to us by the will of God….” Without our truly giving ourselves to God, the giving of ourselves for our fellows is impossible. James McConkey wrote a wonderful sermon on this subject which I will share more from another time.

For now, here is Wilberforce’s line in context.

“Measure your progress by your experience of the love of God and its exercise before men…

In contrast, servile, base, and mercenary is the notion of Christian practice among the bulk of nominal Christians. They give no more than they dare not withhold. They abstain from nothing but what they dare not practice. When you state to them the doubtful quality of any action, and the consequent obligation to refrain from it, they reply to you in the very spirit of Shylock, “they cannot find it in the bond.”

In short, they know Christianity ONLY AS A SYSTEM OF RESTRAINTS. It is robbed of every liberal and generous principle. It is rendered almost unfit for the social relationships of life, and only suited to the gloomy walls of a cloister, in which they would confine it.

But true Christians consider themselves as not satisfying some rigorous creditor, but as discharging a debt of gratitude. Accordingly, theirs is not the stinted return of a constrained obedience, but the large and liberal measure of voluntary service.” — William Wilberforce, Real Christianity

How would your Christianity be described? What about your stewardship? Giving only what you dare not withhold? Or giving generously, giving what you can? I hope it is the latter!

Learn more about practical Christian living at path2prayer.com.

A True Champion

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

There are many who would like to believe they are doing great things for God, and I don’t want to minimize anyone’s efforts—who am I to evaluate or judge, since we are called to be faithful to the limit of light and talents given us, and resources made available. But some have shone brightly even among God’s most luminous jewels.

One of them is George Muller that great Christian who found the Lord after a rocky beginning as he attended the university in Halle (and saw a Christian kneel for the first time), later established the Scriptural Knowledge Institute that supported so many missionaries and schools around the world, and eventually founded the orphange that eventually cared for over 2,000 orphans.

In 1874, Muller states he fed 2,100 people, sent 10,000 pounds to missionaries in other lands, supported 189 missionaries, supported 100 day schools, fees for 9,000 day school students, published some 4 million tracts and thousands of Bibles. Those are amazing statistics, especially back in 1874.

Muller’s guiding promise is found in Ps. 81:10 where it says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” He believed, he claimed the many promises of the Bible, he worked to carefully follow all the principles of the Bible, prayed as if it all depended on prayer, and worked as if it all depended on work.

Needless to say, his accomplishments are amazing and very inspiring. But I am even MORE inspired by the principles that guided him in doing so much-praying and reading the Bible, discerning God’s will, finding helpers, dealing with finances, avoiding ALL debt, seeking to be faithful to Scripture, etc., which are still relevant in our day.

Perhaps you would like to learn more about those principles? There is no better book to the best of my knowledge than A. T. Pierson’s Muller of Bristol. His book doesn’t include as many anecdotes as one might find, for example, in Roger Steer’s book on Muller (George Muller: Delighted in God), but Pierson shares the life-changing, community-impacting, results-gaining principles that brought success back then, and will still bring success in our day.

You can download the book as a pdf at this link: Pierson: Muller of Bristol

You can find more writings from Muller at path2prayer.com. Just do a search for George Muller in the search box.

Read, learn, then go and make a difference!