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by Stanford Chambers

Stanford Chambers (1877-1969)

(Reprinted from the January, 1918, Edition of the Word and Work)

God’s steward, of whom is required faithfulness, must ever be in readiness to render an account of his stewardship. This he will not be able to do who has no system and keeps no books on himself. He who does not then check himself up certainly has little realization of a steward’s responsibility. Think of a treasurer of any worldly concern keeping no books! Could he hope to continue in such a position or to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful?” He could not get an honorable discharge. Is God’s standard of faithfulness lower than man’s? Will He ever say, “Thou good and faithful” to one who has not been faithful? Does anyone dare to presume that God will place a false label upon a servant?

How, then, will it fare with the many careless, neglectful, irregular, unsystematic, slothful stewards who have no idea what ratio their contributions bear to their income! It will not avail to be found hiding behind “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” Jesus was not condemning systematic giving, but ostentatious giving, and not till you begin or feel like beginning to boast of your gifts, do you need to apply that Scripture. It will serve you then if you will allow, and serve you well. When Jesus found certain ones systematically tithing even to mint, anise and cummin, who not only did not condemn it, but approved it. “This ye ought to have done and not to have left the other undone.” If on the other hand, the Lord has ever approved irregular, unsystematic or slipshod work I have no knowledge of it. “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” That is His way. “God is a God of order,” and He seeks the same characteristic in His servant.

What system will be pursued by those serving in the capacity of God’s steward? Men working on the modern “Church Finance” problem have included this question and have given various answers to it. Empty treasuries, continual deficits, and unpaid bills are terrible things to overcome which, unscriptural and shameful merchandising has been resorted to for supporting the Lord’s work! This is an unfaithful shirking of the stewardship question as well as dishonoring to the Lord. “From such turn away.” Again the question is shirked in allowing every one to do “that which is right in his own eyes” with a feeling that it is “nobody’s business.”

People like this plan generally, and it is the practice of many churches. The covetous especially like it whose class it has a great tendency to increase. That is enough to condemn it. But it requires little effort to run such a system (non-system), likewise little cash, little is purposed or planned, and as little done, and so one who undertakes to change such an order of things has a job on his hands. Where such is the order, few are to be found who are not un-missionary and unspiritual, that is unfaithful. If, however, a few be found in whom is developed the grace of liberality and a sense of responsibility to the Lord and His cause, the rest are willing for them to bear the burden of whatever work is undertaken. They shirk in everything but the kicking. Many kick in order to save the pocketbook.

Is there not a more excellent way? I believe there is and that the Bible points out that way. First, let churches conform to the New Testament pattern. Let there be overseers of the Holy Spirit’s making. Let such overseers tend the flock, conferring with the members as to the duty of giving as well as to other duties. Let each member inform said spiritual overseers, after such conference, receiving the fatherly counsel of his spiritual adviser, the amount he may ordinarily be depended on for each week. These men “watch in behalf of our souls as they shall give an account.” Theirs is a grave responsibility on behalf of the Lord’s work. It is theirs to count the cost of building the tower or meeting the enemy host and determine what shall be undertaken.

But how can they plan if they have no data as to resources? Shall they trust to chance? Can they trust careless, neglectful or covetous members? Not to do great things for God. It is plainly the duty of the members to inform those in such responsible position as to how much they can give in order that they may count the cost and the resources and determine as to what sized tower to undertake. Then let each one put his contribution in an envelope with his name signed that the overseers may know that each is doing his duty or if any “falls down” who it is. The cause thereof can then be learned and help given to remove it, whether it be of a spiritual or physical nature. It is somebody’s business whether you do your duty in giving just as in any other matter. How else can the covetous be detected and dealt with?

And what shall be the measure of our giving? What amount shall I give? Some answer, “All you can spare.” But that is an unhealthy doctrine, leading to an unhealthy practice, that is, to spare giving. Have an aim. Purpose something. Set a goal and work to it. Have a standard and regularly and systematically measure up to it. That is, purpose in your heart to give cheerfully and bountifully the Scriptural portion as God has prospered you. Inform the overseers of your purpose and then “keep tab” to see that you do as you have purposed. The Scriptural portion is no less than the tenth. Nothing less could be considered bountiful and he who gave less could scarcely be called a cheerful giver. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. The Jews paid tithes to the Levites. Are not these things written for our examples? “This ye ought to have done.” God blesses the tither today and verifies His promises of old. This every tither knows right well, and will testify that nine-tenths with God’s blessing far exceeds the ten-tenths without such blessing, so great is that blessing.

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4