"The Lord's Money"
What is the "Lord's money"? Is the money in the church treasury the only money that can be called the "Lord's money"? Every Christian belongs to the Lord. Does not every Christian's money belong to the Lord also? What is the difference between the money contributed to the church and the money owned by individual members of the church? Can the money of the members of the church be spent and used and given for things that the money in the church treasury cannot be used for?
I understand that the expression, "the Lord's money," as used by some of the brethren, means the money that has been contributed to the church treasury.
The earth and everything on it, the world and everything in it, are the Lord's. "The earth is Jehovah's, and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein." (Psalm 24:1) They are His by right of creation. "For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods." (Psalm 24:2)
However, some things are the Lord's in a very special and peculiar sense, and he has made requirements and restricted the use of these things by legislation that does not apply to the earth and the world in general.
The church is a possession which the Lord purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28) It belongs to the Lord by right of redemption. (1 Peter 1:18, 19) Both the earth and the church belong to the Lord, yet it cannot be said correctly and scripturally that the earth and the church are the Lord's in the same sense and to the same degree. The fact that the church is called the "church of the Lord" and that it was purchased "with his own blood" justifies the conclusion that it is the Lord's church in a very particular way.
Every day of the week belongs to the Lord. "The day is thine, the night also is thine." (Psalm 74:16) Every day and every night are His because "Thou hast prepared the light and the sun." (Psalm 74:16) But John's statement, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Rev. 1:10), makes it quite clear that this one day of the week is the Lord's day in a peculiar and special sense. The restrictions and the requirements of the Lord concerning this day distinguish it from all the other days of the week.
All the food we eat is the Lord's, and it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer. (1 Tim. 4:4) But the "cup of blessing which we bless" and "the bread which we break" is a "communion" of the blood and of the body of the Lord. (1 Cor. 10:16) This is the "Lord's supper" in a very special way; and it has requirements, restrictions, limitations and a meaning which differentiate it from everything else that Christians eat and drink.
If we can understand that the church, the first day of the week and the communion are the Lord's in a particular way, and that he has ordered duties and placed restrictions upon our use of these things in a way that he has not legislated concerning our use of other things which he owns, then we should be able to understand that the money contributed to the church treasury is the Lord's in a very special sense and that he has legislated concerning its use.
Even under the law of Moses God made distinctions between His ownership of that which was to be given by the Israelites and that which remained under individual control. (Lev. 27:30)
Ananias and Sapphira knew the difference in God's requirements and limitations between the use of that which they laid "at the apostles' feet" and the part they "kept back" under their own control (Acts 5:1-4); otherwise there would have been no motive for their lying.
The Holy Spirit makes a clear cut distinction between the money of a member of the church and the money of the church in 1st Timothy 5:4, 16. "But if any widow hath children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety towards their own family, and to requite their parents: for this is acceptable in the sight of God." Now, verse 16; "If any woman that believeth hath widows, let her relieve them, and let not the church be burdened; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed."
A careful study of these verses reveals the following: (1) It is God's will for sons and daughters "that believeth" to use their money in the support of their indigent parents and grandparents, if they have such. (2) This "woman that believeth" is a church member — a Christian — but she is not "the church." (3) If this church member "hath widows," it is God's will for her, and not the church, to "relieve them." (4) It is not the will of God that "the church be burdened" by using its money in the support of that kind of widows. (5) It is God's will that the church's money be used in the support of another kind of widows — "them that are widows indeed." (6) This "woman that believeth" does a "good work" when she requites and relieves her indigent parents, but it is not "church work"; it is "family work." (7) Relieving them "that are widows indeed" is "church work." (8) Some "family work" is not "church work."
In the light of 1st Timothy 5:4, 16, how can any Bible student contend that there is no scriptural distinction between the use of a church member's money and the use of the church's money? How can any Bible student contend that a church member is doing "church work" when performing those family duties (1st Tim. 5:4, 16) and civil duties which God has assigned to the individual, but has not assigned to the church?
A Christian should "be ready unto every good work" (Titus 3:1) with both his time and his money, whether it be family work, state work, or "church work." But when he accepts the erroneous idea that "every good work" of the individual, or the family, or the state is a "church work," there is danger of his leading the church into fields of endeavor into which God never intended for the church to go, if he is given a position of leadership.