Why Don't Christians Take Better Care of One Another?

“Expect more, pay less." That’s the company slogan Target advertises to its customers. Unfortunately, it’s also the management philosophy many businesses have toward their employees. Mindful of the bottom line, some companies constantly search for ways to wring more productivity out of workers while simultaneously attempting to reduce the costs of their “human resources.”


It takes the average hourly employee at McDonald’s 30 weeks to make as much money as the restaurant’s CEO earns in an hour. In such a world, former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal stood out as a refreshingly generous leader. Throughout his tenure, Sinegal’s annual salary remained steady at $350,000 per year, roughly one-third of the pay of other Fortune 100 CEOs.

At the same time, Costco paid its employees 42% more than their chief rival. Sinegal was also committed to offering Costco’s workers healthcare costs at a fraction of industry-average costs. Contrary to prevailing trends, Costco remains closed on the Thanksgiving holiday so that its employees can enjoy time with family.

When the United States economy went into recession, Costco did not lay off a single employee. In fact, Sinegal pushed through a $1.50 hourly raise for his people in 2009. According to CFO Richard Galanti, “The first thing out of Jim’s mouth was, ‘This economy is bad. We should be figuring out how to give them more, not less.’”

Sinegal was also passionate about keeping down the prices of Costco products for customers. He limited markup 15% of costs regardless of whether the market would allow Costco to charge more.

Singegal’s generosity to employees hasn’t dragged down the financial performance of Costco—precisely the opposite. When rivals were cutting payrolls and shutting stores after the recession, Costco held steady. Stock prices have more than doubled and sales have risen nearly 40% since 2009.

Craig Jelinek, Singeal’s successor, has carried on his legacy. 

Costco understands that generosity is not a negative; rather, it is a great positive! This is a very Christian way of looking at life.

Unfortunately, professing Christians are not generous givers. Statistics show that More than one out of four professing American Protestants give away $0. The median annual giving for a Christian is $200—just over half a percent of after-tax income. About 5 percent of Christians provide 60 percent of the money to churches and religious groups. Twenty percent of Christians account for 86 percent of all giving. Among Protestants, 10 percent of evangelicals, 28 percent of mainline folk, 33 percent of fundamentalists, and 40 percent of liberal Protestants give nothing (Driscoll, A Call to Resurgence).

Additionally, Six out of ten churchgoers believe tithing is a Biblical mandate, but fewer than one out of ten actually give 10% or more of their income to any cause or organization (Facts & Trends, May/June 2006, p.17)

This is not what Jesus called his Church to, and on-the-whole, Christians are still one of the most generous and socially active groups in the world. However, there is a serious problem here.

Christians are called to be much more generous than most of us actually are!

Text to read: Acts 11:27-30 NLT

In response to this prophetic word, the church of Antioch gave cheerfully and sacrificially. No one was compelled--they did not have to be--they just gave as much as they could.

Generosity is a sign of obedience and spiritual maturity.

Paul notes in 2 Corinthians 9:13 NLT, "For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ."

When you allow yourself to truly obey God and be transformed by his Holy Spirit, you will have such a deep care for others' wellbeing (especially others in the Body of Christ) and will become so much more sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading, you will not be able to help but become more and more generous!

Generosity requires that you trust in God's provision.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NLT

God has given you all that you have. He provided his Son, Jesus, for you so you can receive life and forgiveness, he provides you with a job, with resources, and with food to eat. Generosity shows spiritual maturity, because to give sacrificially requires that you trust in God's willingness and ability to provide for your needs.

Jesus-people are giving-people.

We give in response to what Jesus did for us: he humbled himself by coming to live among us as one of us, he resisted temptation for us, he was beaten and bloodied for us, he was crucified until dead for us, and he rose again three days later for us. Jesus now mediates on our behalf before our Heavenly Father: why? For us. Jesus has given us everything!

Jesus tells us that we must pick up our cross and follow him. He was exceedingly generous, and those who follow him must be exceedingly generous as well.

As a church, we're called to touch our community with Christ's love with the hope that they will turn and follow him. But how can we do that if we’re not even caring for each other?

Our focus should not be on what others are or are not doing for us, but should be about how we can show love toward others. When we all begin doing that, we will all begin to care for each other!

Action Step:

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a need of a Jesus-following person or ministry and give obediently and generously to meet it.

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What Do I Do After I Lead Someone to Jesus?

In every area of life, we must be taught if we are to live life well. Why is it, then, that Christ-followers are so quick to neglect teaching new believers (and mature ones, too!) what it means to follow Jesus?

Evangelism without discipleship results in Gospel inoculation rather than Kingdom participation.

In other words, telling people about Jesus isn't where things end. We have to guide and teach new and less-mature believers to become more like Jesus. If we don't, then all we do is make them think they've got it all together, thus inoculating them to the Good News of Jesus and possibly leading them to a place of "been there, done that, didn't work." Instead, we want to lead them to a place where they are active in the Kingdom of God here on earth, in the Church, in ministry, in worship, in sharing their faith, and in teaching others!

Text to read: Acts 11:24-26 NLT

Barnabas understood the importance of not just converting people, but also teaching them!

You may think that new believers will just figure out what they need to know, but historian Daniel Boorstin thought otherwise: "Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know."

Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.
— Daniel Boorstin

Jesus commands his followers to make disciples and teach them. He doesn't tell us to make converts and move along.

If you're wondering where to start, know that:

Your example is your best tool for teaching.

For instance: if you tell them that church is important, but they only see you going when it's convenient for you and your schedule, they'll quickly learn that church is not actually important. Your example matters, so be sure to live as Christ has called you to live, and invite them to live life alongside you!

Your church is here to help you.

You're not in this alone. If things get overwhelming, or you need help answering questions or knowing what to teach next, we're here for you.

Barnabas knew when he needed help, and he went off and got Saul to come and teach with him.

Sometimes you need to know when to find help.

Commit not just to share your faith but also to make disciples.

 

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Do I have to share my faith in Jesus?

 We can witness boldly with the Holy Spirit of God.

Lately, a prosperity-gospel tele-evangelist named Jesse Duplantis has been in the news because he wants to raise money to buy a fourth luxury private jet for $54 million. In fact, he says Jesus told him to buy it. Needless to say, a lot of people are skeptical. It just doesn't seem like the kind of thing Jesus would direct someone to do.

There is another issue at stake here: this is a classic example of not putting first-things first. Mr. Duplantis' main mission as a Christian and as an evangelist should be telling people the Good News of Jesus--that they can have a life-giving relationship with God because of Jesus' death and resurrection on the cross, if only they will believe in Jesus and follow him. Yet, prosperity gospel preachers like Duplantis consistently make faith in Jesus more about what cool toys a person can get than about living a life fully connected to God.

At the same time, getting our priorities mixed up is something every follower of Jesus does on a regular basis.

What are the "first-things" of Christian faith? Love and follow Jesus, and love and share Jesus with others! But when Jesus-followers fail to do these things, we live disobediently, we are paralyzed by fear, and the world is disgusted by our hypocrisy and selfishness.

Read This: Acts 11:19-24 (NLT)

In this text, there are a few points of interest.

  1. Everywhere the early Christians went, they told people about Jesus--even though they were exiles running from persecution because of their beliefs!
  2. The early Christians had to learn that there is no one off-limits when it comes to sharing the Good News of Jesus.
  3. Antioch was a big city, and it was renowned for its lack of morality. All kinds of sin was on display, yet the Christians obediently shared their faith, and soon Antioch became an important centre of Christian missionary activity!
  4. As the sinful people of Antioch came to know Jesus, they soon realized the important fact that Jesus changes everything.

For the Christ-follower, sharing your faith isn't optional.

If it wasn't optional for the early Christians when they faced great danger by doing so, it is definitely not optional for you as a Westerner!

Sharing your faith isn't optional, but it's also not something you have to do alone.

Christian faith has never been about what you can do. In fact, it centres on what you couldn't do. Humanity couldn't stay faithful to their loving Creator. Humanity couldn't repair their relationship with God. Israel couldn't keep God's Law. So what did God do? He took matters in his own hands and from the beginning had laid out a plan for his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be born, live a sinless life, to teach us, to be wrongfully convicted and killed, and to rise again. In this act of perfect self-sacrifice, God bridged the gap between us and him for us. He righted our wrongs, and all we have to do is say "Yes," to Jesus and turn and follow him!

Furthermore, because of Jesus, you can tell others about him with the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus-followers are encouraged to be Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, and Spirit-empowered believers in Jesus.

Yes, we're going to mess things up at times, and not everything is going to turn out the way we hope. However, we have to remember that it is our Spirit-obedience that matters, not the results we see. As we are obedient to the Spirit's leading, we can rest easy knowing that he will do the rest.

Here at Abundant Springs, it is our hope that two years from now, when any of us sits down with the people from our community we will begin to hear them share how they know that Jesus is welcoming them, that he cares for them, and that he loves them because of what they've seen this congregation doing and because of the spiritual conversations they've had with us.

For this, we must share our faith, going forth full of God's Holy Spirit. Yes, we'll likely still experience fear, but we must allow that fear to push us to rely on the Holy Spirit.

Action Steps:

  1. Repent of your disobedience.
  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and empower you.
  3. Pray the witness' prayer each morning:

"God, give me today an opportunity to speak with someone about Jesus; the wisdom to see it; and the courage to take it." --Alvin Reid, Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out.


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Does God play favourites with salvation?

In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity. He believed that in Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go worship with his own people. Gandhi left the church and never returned, “If Christians have caste differences also, “ he said, “I might as well remain a Hindu.”

While not all of us may hold the same prejudices that this usher and his church held toward Ghandi, the fact is that we make judgments on people's ability to find Jesus all the time. We even do this when we decide that we're "not good enough" for Jesus.

The fact is, none of us are worthy of Jesus' love and mercy, but he died for us anyway.

When we act in this way, it's not a great thing, because our favouritism and judgmentalism lack the love those who those who follow Jesus are commanded to have.

Our favouritism and judgmentalism lack the love those who follow Jesus are commanded to have.

Today's Text: Acts 10:34-11:4, 18 NLT

I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.
— Apostle Peter

God's grace is not limited to a select group of prim and proper individuals.

God adopts all who truly believe the Good News of Jesus and repent from their offences against their Creator.

Jesus brings life and his Spirit to those you expect and to those you don’t.

Action Steps:

  • Repent of your unChristlike judgments of others and/or yourself.
  • Consider whom you have written off as unlikely to receive Christ’s gifts and go tell them that Jesus loves them.

 

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