But I Thought...
In today's society, we tend to think of our own thoughts more highly than those of others. It is a way of being that has been somewhat taught it would seem.
Every thought has its importance...right? Let's look at a few things where thoughts can really damage the heart...and the soul.
- "I thought that as long as I worship God at home, that is all that He would want."
- "I thought that I just had to give what I wanted in my heart...there is no requirement to tithe, etc."
- "I thought that it really matters more in my heart than what others think."
- "I thought that as long as it seems good...we are allowed to do anything."
Now, let's look at these statements in perspective...
Hebrews 10:24-25 would seem to imply that worship together is what God wants. Even if it was "our" decision, when we submit to our elderships that have charge over the flock (see Acts 20:28), when they specify a meeting time together, unified, with one accord, then that becomes a guide for us to abide.
If they were to "suggest" that we meet on the first day of the week at 7:14 a.m. and the eldership was in agreement, then that is when the congregation should meet. If they suggest instead at 1:38 in the afternoon...well, we should submit to their authority.
When our elders designate a time to come together to worship, we should submit and understand that there is authority for just that. When they determine that there is a need and an opportunity for Bible study classes either on Sunday morning, Wednesday evening, or even Thursday afternoon, an effort should truly be made to attend those if at all possible. (Hosea 4:6)
There is something about Matthew 6:33 that we tend to overlook in this thought process.
That is why so many may get it wrong when they say "but I thought..."
Giving - Yeah, I know, preachers aren't supposed to talk about this much. Really? Malachi wrote some pretty harsh words about "robbing God of tithes and offerings." He wasn't necessarily meaning 10% of what you made this week. He possibly meant with your attitude. In the Old Testament, it actually can be proven that they gave much more than a tithe, or 10%. Kyle Butt wrote a great book and there is a wonderful DVD available on the subject as well that would measure about 33% or more of what they had.
The New Testament covers giving pretty well. But, what happens many times, and I am guilty too, we find something else that is "more important" to do with our money that God has allowed us to steward, than to give back to God for the kingdom. Yes, indeed, the "tithing" laws were set aside...but would you want to only receive the "bare minimum" in benefits and blessings?
Some have the impression and idea that since they do not know where their money actually goes, that it is better to find some parachurch organization, some needy charity, or even a structured donation business to "support" the church with. Friends, I don't want to sound preachy, and I sure don't want to speak for God by saying that your money is needed...but, consider what could be done if WE together could decide to just give maybe one more dollar, or even 10% more of what we gave last week back to the Lord's church for growing and spreading the gospel in evangelism, supporting those in need, and giving God the glory for things that the church can do together!
Sometimes it is better to ask what is needed instead of "but I thought."
In the heart....well, this one is a bit tricky. However, I am always reminded of the passage in Jeremiah 17:9. You see, sometimes we may think that WE know best...but really, our hearts can deceive us.
The ways of God are not the ways of man, and the ways of man are not the ways of God. So, let's work on having a pure and clean heart...and not trying to live our lives only in our hearts.
In the heart, sometimes we can hear the most deceitful things when we say "but I thought."
"Let's do it this way...let's add this to make it better...let's do 'whatever it takes' to get more people in the doors."
Sadly, these statements have become so true in the past few years. One congregation after another is introducing confusion in the church by imposing a false belief that "times have changed" and the church needs to catch up.
Just over two years ago, a congregation in Texas implemented a campaign called "Whatever it Takes." Doesn't sound too bad on the surface; however, the ends do not justify the means!
This congregation slowly introduced instrumental music at certain intervals in the "out of worship" meetings. Next came the "second service" on Sunday to include instrumental music, then last year, it was announced that "ALL" services would be accompanied with the instrument.
I had a friend that was an elder at that congregation. Sadly, he could not explain to me or others that were asking how he would justify going along with his fellow elders in this apostate decision to bring their own devices in to satisfy their selfishness and unfruitful works. There was no justification at all! Matter of fact, this brother would not even reply to questions any longer.
Now, we are hearing about a congregation here...and a congregation there....and a congregation over here....installing their own agendas in worship to God. These "but I thought"s are plaguing the Lord's church.
I can't even imagine what Christ might think about all the devices of men to please themselves. We aren't talking about the old argument of a water fountain, song books, padded seats and air conditioning - all of which are expedients...we are talking about the WAY and METHODS that God is worshiped! This week's "Wise Words" has much more to say on this topic, and I do hope that you will read it as well.
"But I thought...." will not stand up in the day of Judgment. Let's quit trying to "overthink God...and just follow what He says.