Thursday, June 21, 2007

What Your Checkbook Says About You

What does your checkbook say about you? Chances are that if you are reading this book you believe that you are a Christian who has given his/her heart totally to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Probably everyone can easily pass that spoken test because it is simply a question of what do you say about your relationship with Christ. I pray that each of us passes that spoken test every day, but have you ever put your level of commitment to the checkbook test? It is a very simple and easy to complete test that will instantly tell you how devoted you are to the cause of Jesus Christ. All you have to do is open up you checkbook and write down on a separate piece of paper the amount of your weekly contribution to the work of the Lord’s Church. The test is now over. To grade yourself look at that number which you wrote down on the piece of paper and compare it to the amounts you spend on other things in your life on a weekly basis. Whatever that number is gives you a prime indicator of how devoted you are to Jesus Christ and His Church. This simple checkbook test is what Jesus told his followers about in Matthew 6:19-21 when he said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do no break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” You are as committed to Christ as your checkbook says you are.
What would you think about a man who proclaimed an undying love for his wife and children, but when he got paid he spent all his money on a boat for himself instead of buying clothes for his wife and shoes for his children? You might think a lot of things, but one of them would be that he didn’t really love his family. His checkbook simply would not support his claim. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians to encourage liberal giving for the contribution in 2 Corinthians 8 he said in verse 8, “I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.” (Emphasis mine, W.H.) To paraphrase, Paul told them that he knew they proclaimed to love the Lord, so he was giving them an opportunity to prove their love by putting their money where their mouth was. Every time that collection plate is passed on the first day of the week we each have an opportunity to prove the sincerity of our love by putting our money where our mouths are.
When my wife and I were dating I didn’t have a lot of money, but what I did have I spent mostly on her. I bought flowers, clothes, meals, movie tickets, etc. Every birthday or holiday was a day for which I would plan months ahead what I wanted to get for her. Why did I and every other boy trying to win the hand of a girl do that? She had my heart wrapped around her little finger. Wherever you find the heart, you will find a man placing his treasures there. I wanted to prove the “sincerity of my love.” No one ever doubted for a minute how I felt about Shelley Simmons. In contrast, think about the young man who does not have his heart wrapped around the finger of that special someone. He can take all of this money and buy a nicer car or finer clothes for himself because he is not trying to demonstrate his love for someone. I want the whole world and God to never doubt that He has my heart and that I am head over heals in love with Him.
How did you do on that checkbook test? I remember in school how, when I would get an A on a test, I would proudly lay that paper on my desk for the entire world to see, but when I got a bad grade I was so ashamed that I would hide that paper. Some people need to be ashamed of how much they give. Wendell Winkler tells of a little boy who, seeing the collection plate getting closer and closer, also saw a well dressed woman next to him not making a move to give anything. The boy said to the woman, “Here lady, you give my nickel and I’ll crawl under the seat.” If you feel a need to crawl under the seat, the great thing is that you can take the test again next week. Just like the student who must go back and study harder, you must make some changes in your giving if you are to pass the checkbook exam next week. Don’t be a Christian who just talks about how much he loves the Lord. Put your money where your mouth is and “prove the sincerity of your faith.”