When the last British Government introduced the National Lottery, they promised that this money would be used as extra funding for good causes and would not in any way replace their commitments. Very soon they broke this promise, and the Department for the Environment used Lottery funds for causes that had already been promised support from government funds.
This has produced a great problem for Evangelical Christians who are engaged in evangelical social work in the name of Christ. One such organisation had been promised a large sum of government cash towards building homes for neglected young people. But they were later told that this would have to come through the Lottery. Not through the nation’s taxes as promised, but from this tainted source
What is going on?
What were they to do? Some Christians advocated taking the money, but the leaders are true Evangelicals and believe that the end does not justify the means. This raises the whole question of the attitude of believers both towards the Lottery and towards the support of the Lord’s work.
It is difficult to understand Christians who oppose gambling and yet would accept its benefits for the Lord’s work. Those who truly follow Christ believe, surely, that we are to ‘come out from among them and be separate’. If that is so, they will also obey the command ‘touch not the unclean thing’.
Many believers seem unaware of what has been happening in the realm of support for social work. Many well-known fund-raising organisations now refuse help to any who do not observe a broadly based ‘equal opportunity’ policy. Thus a Christian organisation may be denied help unless it agrees to employ homosexuals.
So where are the funds to come from? Is the Christian community taking its responsibilities seriously?
Sadly, many Christians are supporting either secular organisations or those which used to be ‘Christian’ but have rejected their Christian foundation. These are still benefiting from money and property given by Christians who mistakenly believe that these societies are still concerned for people’s salvation, as well as their care.
The time has come for the Lord’s people to think afresh about the financial implications of Christian separation. In this age of justification by works, many still support causes that are commendable in many ways, but are concerned only with people’s material needs.
If we believe that people’s greatest need is for the gospel, surely we must give absolute priority to supporting those agencies which care about people’s eternal destiny. This will be true whether it be the local church, Christian social work, or those preaching the gospel in this or other lands.
Thus our ultimate concern is about where the Lord’s money is going. Where does your money go? It is easy to sing ‘Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold’. But is it true? We rightly say ‘The Lord will provide’; but how does he do it?
He does it by stirring up his people, by touching their consciences and reminding them again what it cost their Saviour to die in their place — he who ‘though he was rich, yet for your sakes became poor’ (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Think and pray
As James reminds us, it is not good enough to say ‘be filled’ but not give to those in need. Can we to say to those who, in the Lord’s name, are working among deprived people: ‘we wish you well’; yet be concerned only for ourselves and our family, with an occasional conscience-salving donation?
We may start with the tithe (believing that this is not our own) and then add offerings prayerfully set aside out of love for the Saviour; or simply give freely and sacrificially because Christ became poor to make us rich. Either way, no believer should refuse a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name or be unconcerned about people dying in sin.
Christian, think and pray carefully about your giving. Be sure that it supports the Lord’s work and fulfils what he expects of you. The alternative is that many Christian organisations will be forced to cease their work — starved of resources by the thoughtlessness or blindness of the Lord’s people.