Will They Know?

I am typing these words on a Sunday afternoon. I wanted to type them while a conversation I had this morning is still fresh on my mind. 

There are two brothers where I worship who are seeing to the needs of their mother. Their mother also is one of our members. She lost her husband a year or so ago. Before his passing, he was concerned that his wife was “slipping” mentally. She continues to live alone, but there are signs that she is, indeed, not as sharp as she once was. I know that, on those occasions when I have visited with her in her home, she repeats herself quite often.

Both of her sons are on her checking account. As many of us have done when our parents begin to age, this step has been taken in order to simplify some matters.

According to the son with whom I was talking, the normal procedure on Sunday is for one of the sons to fill out their mother’s check for her contribution to the church. She then signs the check. 

This week, though, there was a change. The son made out the check and then, without thinking, he signed his name to it.

According to him and his wife, his mother became very concerned and asked, ”Will they know?” When she was assured that the bank knew that both of her sons were on the account, her response was, “I know that the bank knows, but will the church know?”

The family assured her that our congregation does not have some sort of “check list” in order to keep track of those who do and do not contribute money each Sunday. I am aware of the fact that there are some legal reasons to record single contributions that exceed a certain amount. I am also aware of the fact that our treasurer could probably produce a list of those who contribute on a regular basis. In fact, he might even be able to inform somebody of the amount.

During the past (almost) four decades, I have served three different congregations as either a preacher and/or as an elder. During that time, I have made a personal policy to not know what individual members and families contribute financially. 

There are many reasons for my decision. Let me share with you only three of them.

First, I want to avoid the temptations that might be involved in “playing favorites.” If I knew that certain individuals or families were very generous in their giving to the local church, I might be tempted to “cater” to them, fail to confront them, etc. 

Second, I also want to avoid “judging” somebody unfairly. There is always the possibility that I could look down upon somebody because they are not meeting my standards. I suppose that a sort or “corollary” to this is that I might not have all of (or not any of) the facts. I might assume that the resources of a certain family or individual are much greater than they actually are.     

The third, and (in my mind) most important reason for my “policy” is closely related to that second reason. Nobody ever said that anyone needs to meet my standards. All of us, including me, are to be judged by the same One who watched people put money “into the treasury” (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4). 

As you may remember, the Lord was not impressed with those who “gave of their abundance.” Rather, He was pleased with only the two mites given by a poor widow. To other observers, that amount was probably not much. The Lord, though, knew it was “all that she had.”

I am not too concerned about whether or not “they” know what I contribute financially to the cause of Christ each Sunday, but I am well aware of the fact that the same One who was watching those people when He was on earth is still watching me from His throne in heaven.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,

‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.’

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God (Rom. 14:10-12, ESV).

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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn




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