Summary: Part 7 focuses on Romans 12:13 which discusses our obligation to take care of the needs of others.
A Living Sacrifice To God
This is part seven of my series “A Living Sacrifice to God.”
As many of you know I grew up in a small country Church in Tennessee. While most of the older members of the Church were not the most educated from a book learning perspective, they had a true love for God and each other. Our Church was located out in the country so in order to get there, you drove all the way through town by passing all of the other Churches on nice paved roads to transition to dirt roads with a lot of dusk to enter the small Church with no air conditioning. In our Church we had wooden pews so if you sweated too much during service your clothes would stick to the finish on the pews depending on what you wore. This was the Church that I learned about God and learned to love Him.
During our Sunday worship service we received two offering. The primary offering was where people gave their tithes/offering and monies for the building fund. This was interesting because the pastor’s weekly salary was a percentage of the tithes and offering; he did not receive any portion of the funds given to the building fund as those monies went to the maintenance of the physical building. This was a source of contention because when certain members of the Church did not like how the pastor was running things or if he had said something in a sermon that they disagreed with then they would take all of their tithes and offering and give it to the building fund. This was their way of getting the pastor’s attention and getting him back in line after some small offense he committed towards them. This was the set up for years in our small country Church.
We also had another offering that was taken up shortly after the deacons’ devotion. When I was a child my mother would give us a nickel or dime to give into this offering. This offering was called the “po saints” or “penny” offering by the older people. As I grew up, I learned that this offering was actually the “poor saints” offering or what was known in other Churches as the benevolence offering. I think some of our members may have had a hard time saying benevolence so it was shortened to “po saints.” The monies taken up in this offering was used for the members the Church who were experiencing difficulties. If anyone in the Church had a need, they would go to one of the deacons or mothers and express their need and ask for help. It was not broadcast to the Church and only the leadership knew who was being helped at any given time. If the Church did not have the funds available to meet the need, then the deacons or mothers of the Church would let other members know so they could help privately. It was not their intention to put anyone on blast. I learned how to contribute to the needs of other people based on what I saw practiced by my parents and the members of that small Church, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
But these were not the only examples that I had. You all have witnessed me paying our kids (and some college age young adults) five dollars for every “A” they got on their report cards. My goal with this is to provide them with a reward for working hard in school to get the “A.” In a good semester I may pay out upwards of $200 depending on how our kids do. This idea was born out of a childhood experience that I had. There was a pastor who owned and lived in a store right beside my grandmother’s home. Across the street from his store was our elementary school. One year he decided that he would provide a reward for those kids in the sixth grade with the highest grade point average. This was during a time when I was actually enjoying school because I had teachers who cared about me as a person and as a student. My sixth grade teacher was Mrs. Howell and I loved Mrs. Howell. Because she was one of my favorite teachers, I worked hard to make those grade. Well one day I, along with two other students, were called to the principal’s office and we thought we were in trouble. When we got there we were each given a note and was told to the notes across the street to Rev. White, the store owner. When we walked in the store he smiled, but then he looked at me and said, “I am surprised to see you.” He knew me and my family well because our churches fellowshipped together and he lived beside my grandmother. He then proceeded to give us $7.50 each for making such good grade. That was more money than I had ever been given at one time in my childhood. That memory stayed with me.