Our Lord Jesus Christ is described in Scripture as the Servant of God (Isaiah 52:13). As the Servant of God the Father, Jesus came into the world to fulfill the Father’s will. The Father’s will was that Jesus should die for the sins of the world. The Father’s will for us is that we should be saved. We are, through faith in Christ alone! In other words, we are the recipients of the Savior’s faithful service to the will of the Father. The Father’s will for us is that while we await the fullness of our life in heaven we reflect in our Christian life a spirit of service. This service is manifest through good works. Good works are fruits of faith. The doer is the Christian. The generator of such fruits is the Spirit of God without whom we can do nothing (John 15:1-5). “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” (Ephesians 2:10). The thankful Christian brings forth fruit to the glory of God.
Glorifying God is manifest in love toward God – through love of His Word, faithful hearing of His Word, and confident faith in His Word and promise. Glorifying God is manifest in love toward our neighbor. Showing love to our neighbor begins first with having a concern for His spiritual welfare. Thus we will share the Gospel with him.
But Scripture also tells us, “Therefore, as we have opportunity let us do good unto all men, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Doing good begins at home (Household of faith), but is not restricted to that. The verse says to “all”. The poor shall always be with us, (Mark 14:7). This is a fact of life, the do-gooders and wealth-distributors not withstanding! At the same time this reality presents opportunity for Christians who are blessed more abundantly to share with those who are not. It is an opportunity to bear “faith-fruit.”
We are reminded of this through the well intentioned, if misconceived, idea of the new administration in Washington to return tax money to “faith-based” institutions” to help them fund charitable enterprises. We will not get into the state/church relationship, which is an issue in itself. Nor will we get into the issue of supporting any and every kind of religious or “faith-based” organization. The expression “faith-based” is an expression that covers the whole religious spectrum.
One of the stipulations of the suggested program is that money given to such “faith-based ” institutions has to be used for charitable works. This does not include sharing one’s faith. It would be contrary to federal law to use tax-money given for charitable purposes to try to inculcate spiritual values or faith.
We agree tax money should not be used for such a purpose. In a land of many religions, we would not want our tax money supporting in a round about way any preaching or teaching that is contrary to the Word of God. But at the same time we would not agree to the stipulations for another reason also. We believe that the most charitable act we can manifest is to share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with the poor and the needy, or the rich for that matter. How could we as Christians agree to receive tax money under the stipulation that we shall not speak of our faith? How could we agree to feed or in some other fashion assist the depressed and distressed poor, but not nourish the soul of the depressed and distressed spirit? For all its good intent, the program is unworkable in that it will necessitate a federal bureaucracy to monitor compliance with the stipulations. Furthermore, from a spiritual point of view participation in such a program is impossible because our Lord has called upon us to speak the hope that is in us, and not be silent about it. We would not enter into such a program because it restricts our freedom to witness to the truth and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot for any appearance of caring, sell our responsibility to bring Jesus to souls whose human condition and welfare is not improved unless it is in connection with Christ.
As children of God let us exercise our faith according to the measure of strength and ability the Lord gives us. Within our fellowship and outside of it let us extend our aid through prayer and through sharing of our abundance, as well as lending a helping hand to the weak and needy. That is the mind of Christ. Remember how He fed the 5,000 because He had compassion on them! Let our faith be more than words (James 2:14-18). As we do so from a willing heart and without government intrusion, we reserve the right and the privilege to speak to the greatest need of our neighbor, the need of His soul. We reserve the right to call the sinner to repentance and to share the Gospel with the distressed soul.