“FURTHER THOUGHTS ABOUT MISPLACED CHARITY”
Proverbs 14.12 & 16.25
1. Last Sunday was one of the strangest days I have had in a long time. I was so tired from Saturday that after Church Sunday morning I was too tired to think.
2. After a nap I got up and reviewed and greatly revised my Sunday evening sermon, which is not unusual for me. What is unusual is that after revising my sermon I forgot to copy the revision onto a computer disk.
3. When I came to Church Sunday evening I printed the sermon and then preached it. And it wasn’t until after I finished preaching the sermon that I became aware that the two main points I had added two hours earlier were missing.
4. So, let me quickly review what I would have preached to you, and you can read the entire sermon as it was intended, on the Church web site.
5. First, you will remember, I pointed out that it is not appropriate for the aged to take care of their adult children. The very definition of being an adult means that you take care of yourself. And you do not help grown children by tending to them as though they were still kids.
6. Second, I pointed out that your first duty is to your own children who are not yet grown, before your grandchildren. Your grandchildren were given to your kids to raise, not you. Therefore, raise who God gave you to raise and be extremely cautious about the matter of grandchildren.
7. Third, I related to you some general principles related to misplaced charity. For example: Charity is misplaced when it results in you or other people not discharging God-given duties and responsibilities, or interfering with people discharging God-given responsibilities.
8. An illustration of this is mountain climbing. Climbers know that it is better that one should perish than all of them be dragged to their deaths. So, an experienced climber will use his knife to cut his best friend loose rather than allowing his best friend to kill by his own unsupported weight a climbing party of five people.
9. But how many times have I observed parents who have foolishly allowed one child’s wickedness to drag an entire family over the edge, destroying a house full of kids because they didn’t have the guts or the brains to cut loose the one kid who was dragging everyone else down?
10. Fourth, I dealt with misplaced charity at work. This is when someone at work improperly supports and tries to help the failure of a coworker, thereby creating more problems that he is solving.
11. Fifth, and what you did not get last Sunday, was a point dealing with misplaced charity as a ministry volunteer. Volunteering to help out at the Red Cross, as a hospital candy striper, as a senior citizen involved in the civilian police patrol, as a docent at the Nixon Library or at the Getty Center. Giving money to and trying to serve God in a non-Church ministry, like Focus on the Family, are other examples of misplaced charity.
12. Don’t get me wrong. These things are fine for lost people to do. But my thinking is that a Christian has more important things to do than fritter away time on things that result in no one getting converted, that result in no local Church being strengthened, and that result in time being taken away from Scriptural ministry and service to God.
13. Don’t you just wish I would have spent time on that point last week? I’ll just bet you do. But since we are in the last days, since time is of the essence, what’s wrong with focusing your time on compelling ministry, rather than selling knick knacks in a hospital gift shop? I mean, it’s okay, but it’s not serving God.
14. Finally, I was going to spend some time addressing the misplaced charity of equally dividing the family inheritance. Look folks, it’s a terrible thing not to leave a well thought out will or trust to divide up the estate after the last parent has died. What a travesty is committed by parents who do not prepare their estate for disbursement after they are gone!
15. But almost as bad is the tendency of cowardly parents to divide the spoils equally between saved and lost kids, between godly and ungodly, between those who serve God and those who do not, between those who go to Church and those who refuse to darken the Church’s door. How insulting to God and to Jesus Christ it is for a surviving mom or dad to leave an equal amount of the inheritance to the scorner as to the spiritual.
16. I think people who commit such sin against God, who are so terribly irresponsible in their stewardship, stand in need of a strong rebuke, and should follow the example of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, and of God, Himself, in the disbursement of the inheritance.
17. But that was not only last week, but last week as it might have been. Tonight I want to address five issues that I believe will be immensely helpful in guiding you through the sentimentality and blindness that so oftentimes causes a person to misplace his charity.
18. And I believe these few pointers will help you, but only if you are committed to actually helping people and not just making yourself feel good. If your goal is to make yourself feel good, no matter the harm and the damage you inflict on others by your action or inaction, then I can’t help you because you don’t want help.
1A. First, REAL LOVE IS EXTREMELY DEMANDING
1B. Oftentimes when someone feels the need to help someone out it can rather easily be discerned whether or not the motive is love or the desire to make yourself feel good, love or the desire to cover up your own feelings of guilt. How so? By observing how demanding you are of the person you are seeking to help.
2B. Misplaced charity is always easy on people, but real love is pretty tough on them. Turn to John 5.14: “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” Now turn to John 8.11: “She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
3B. Thirty eight years the man in John 5 waited for someone to stir the water and get him into to it to be healed. Would anyone deny that Jesus loved this man? Yet after He had said to the man, “Take up thy bed and walk,” in verse 8, also said, “sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee,” in verse 14. Do you think the Savior’s love was not demanding? Your love should be demanding, as well.
4B. And what about the woman taken in adultery? Did she have any doubt that the Savior loved her? None. Yet He demanded that she “go, and sin no more.” Your love should be demanding, as well. If your love isn’t demanding, if it doesn’t insist upon holiness, if it doesn’t require obedience, then it isn’t after all real love.
5B. Mom? Dad? Christian brother or sister? I am not saying love isn’t tender, or that it isn’t kind and long-suffering. Real love certainly is, and more. But real love is also demanding. And if your charity toward your child, or your grandchild, or your coworker, or your neighbor, doesn’t demand something of him then your charity is in all likelihood misplaced charity.
6B. You need to demand Church attendance. You need to demand obedience. You need to demand modesty in dress and appearance. You need to demand adherence to household rules. You need to demand employment or some form of work for food. Why? Read love is extremely demanding.
2A. Second, SIN IS EXTREMELY CONTAGIOUS
1B. That which causes the greatest harm is the greatest evil. And nothing is more harmful to any soul than separation from God and the eternal damnation that is caused by that separation. But what causes such separation? What causes such harm? What is the greatest evil? Sin.
2B. What would you do if one of your kids caught small pox? Would you let the other kids play with the sick one? What if one of your kids had polio? Would you let the other kids play with that sick one? What if your kid had diphtheria or anthrax or meningitis? Would you let the other kids play with that sick kid?
3B. Of course, you wouldn’t. No mother her right mind would let healthy kids play with a kid who is contagious. Why not? Because you don’t love the sick kid? No. Because you don’t like the sick kid? Don’t be ridiculous. Because you hate the sick kid? Of course, not. You quarantine the sick kid from the healthy kids, not because you don’t love the sick kid, but because you don’t want the healthy kids contaminated, infected, harmed, possibly killed.
4B. But you will let your kids hang around the homosexual uncle or the Lesbian aunt. And you will let your children play with their adulterous uncle. And, of course, your younger kids are always available to baby sit the children of the fornicating aunt or cousin or sister. “Of course, pastor, what’s wrong with that?”
5B. First Corinthians 15.33: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” Do you know what this verse means?
1C. “Be not deceived” shows us that people get fooled about this. It’s easy to be tricked. It’s easy to make a terrible mistake. So, I am warning you to be smarter and more discerning than most people are. Do not be led astray here, which is what “deceived” means.
2C. “evil communications” literally means bad companions. This is referring to being around the wrong kinds of people. But who are the wrong kinds of people? Are not the wrong kinds of people those people who do the wrong kinds of things? Can’t the people you are related to be the wrong kind of people? They are if they do the wrong kinds of things, aren’t they?
3C. “corrupt good manners” refers to spoiling good habits or behavior. In other words, you should wise up to the fact that the wrong kinds of people ruin the behavior of the right kinds of people. Bad people affect good people, not the other way around.
4C. Let me restate the principle of this verse another way: Sin is extremely contagious. Would you let your daughter hang around a murderer? How about a car thief? How about a prostitute? How about a child pornographer? How about a fornicator? Would you let your son hang around this kind of person?
5C. But things change when this person is a member of the family. Why is that? Why is it that the good kids have to forfeit their right to hang around good people when one apple in the barrel goes bad? How come the one who goes bad doesn’t have to give up anything? Why should good kids have to hang around bad people, wicked people, despicable people, just because they are related to them?
6C. You wouldn’t allow that if it was small pox or diphtheria, but you will allow it with sin. Why? You’ve been deceived. You’ve been led astray somewhere. And it’s my job to get you back on the narrow path.
3A. Third, HONOR IS NOT OPTIONAL
1B. Remember that the fifth commandment requires your children to honor you, mom and dad. But how is that commandment to be passed down to your children if not by you teaching them, you training them, you demanding them, you commanding them? You certainly don’t expect them to honor you out of the goodness of their hearts, do you?
2B. I’ve been around a long time. And I’ve observed a great many things. But I don’t think I have ever seen a kid just naturally honor his mom or his dad. A kid ends up honoring his mom or his dad when he’s been taught to, when he’s been trained to, when he’s felt the stinging rebuke for not honoring his mother, when he’s felt the sting of a switch or a belt or a razor strap for a lapse in judgment and for failing to honor mom or dad properly.
3B. Therefore, do not think that you are helping anyone by allowing them to dishonor you. Do not think that you are benefiting anyone when you allow them to dishonor you. Do not think it’s anything but misplaced charity to lend a helping hand to someone who has grievously sinned against you and has later come to you for help without ever offering an apology, without ever admitting wrongdoing, without ever asking for forgiveness.
4B. Consider the grandmother and grandfather who were both Church people who raised a house full of fornicators and whore mongers. They were wretched sons in their young adulthood, with all but a couple of them living like the devil himself. But the grandmother and grandfather would always lend a helping and whenever one of their boys needed it. But did any of the boys ever admit wrongdoing? Did any of the boys ever admit his sin? Did any of the boys ever deal with the fact that by becoming a fornicator he had dishonored his mother and dishonored his father? No. Therefore, any help extended to them did not really help them at all, did not really work to bring them to Christ at all, but was actually misplaced charity.
5B. Honor due a mother or a father is God’s requirement, not mom’s or dad’s. Therefore, it is disloyalty to God, in my mind, when a mother or a father does not require, does not demand, honor from a son or a daughter. Love that son? Sure. Love that daughter? Of course. But help that son or daughter in any way until they honor you by asking your forgiveness for grievously sinning against you? Not in a million years. No money help. No baby sitting help. No help getting a job. “I love you, son, but I will not help you until you show honor toward me.” To do otherwise is misplaced charity, which does not, after all, really help anyone.
4A. Fourth, CHILDREN LIVE UNDER LAW NOT GRACE
1B. Turn in your Bible to Proverbs 1.8: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” Please recognize that there is grace even under the administration of the law, but my point is that your children do not live in an environment, while they are living at home, in which they should be free to do what they want to do.
2B. I once heard a pastor remark that he raised his children under grace and not law. I thought to myself that this guy thinks he is smarter than God, because God points out, in Galatians 4.1-2, that children need to be under the rule of law: “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.”
3B. The responsible father will not grant the status of adulthood to his heir until he is mature, until he is ready to stand on his own, until he has reached adulthood, until he is ready to launch out into the deep, until he is ready to live on his own. The very idea of some fellow thinking he is an adult who should be allowed to make his own decisions, all the while living at home with mommy and daddy, all the while depending upon mommy and daddy for food and shelter and a place to live, is ridiculous.
4B. Now, what does this mean? This means, parents, that your children can do what they want to do when they live on their own, and not before. They can go where they want to go when they live on their own, and not before. They choose their own friends and companions when they live on their own, and not before. And it is confusion to treat non adult children as though they were adults.
5B. This doesn’t mean you don’t loosen the leash as the kid gets older and demonstrates a great degree of reliability and trustworthiness. But it does mean that you do not let go of the leash so long as that kid lives in your house. And when the leash needs to be jerked then go ahead and jerk that leash. After all, you cannot raise a child without that child’s cooperation. And when that child decides that he no longer wants to cooperate with your attempts to rear him then that child has reached adulthood. Congratulate him, throw him a coming out party, and send him on his way. Your relationship with that adult child has now forever changed. He’s on his own now.
5A. Fifth, ADULTS MUST BE TREATED AS ADULTS
1B. Has your child demonstrated that he or she has left the realm of childhood and has entered the universe of adulthood? If your child has engaged in adult sexual activity your child is now an adult. If your child has decided that he no longer needs to listen to you your child is now an adult. If he goes where he wants to go and does what he wants to do without asking your permission or approval, then your child is now an adult. I suggest that you recognize that transition has occurred.
2B. But remember that adults support themselves. Adults buy their own clothes and provide for their own transportation. Adults take care of their own children. Adults pay their own bills. Adults pay their own rent. Adults do not run off and play, while someone else does their chores, tends to their responsibilities, raises their children.
3B. Now don’t get me wrong. I think grandparents should watch their grand kids. But they need to make sure that their adult children are not being childish by offloading their kids on grandma. I think grandparents need to make sure they are not subsidizing sin by watching the grandchild. And of course, your baby sitting should be for your adult child who honors you, your adult child who has admitted wrongdoing done to you, your adult child who has asked forgiveness for wronging you and for sinning against you . . . before you baby sit.
4B. After all, adults should be treated as adults, shouldn’t they? And if someone is an adult he will ask forgiveness when it is due, will he not? And he will do the right thing, will he not? And if he refuses to ask forgiveness, if he refuses to do the right thing, then you don’t want him contaminating your other kids, do you?
1. I’ll stop here, with a few concluding remarks.
2. I have obviously only scratched the surface of this subject of misplaced charity. But my desire is for you to do some good when you try to do some good, not for you to spread the contamination, not for you to pretend like wrongdoing didn’t happen, not for your efforts and time and resources to be wasted.
3. I just flat don’t understand some of you parents, who seem to me to refuse to exercise the authority God gave to fathers and mothers to preside over your households.
4. Its seems to me like you are functioning from a position of weakness, as if you’re afraid of making waves or rocking the boat. Just remember, charity is yours to place or withhold.
5. You don’t have to help anyone. So, if you do extend charity, make sure you do it right. Don’t misplace it.