From the windy city of Chicago comes a true story that will absolutely blow you away. It happened several years ago ...
Neighbors were stunned when they heard about it. So were the police. On the outside, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Just a single-story, dilapidated house without running water, yard cluttered with weather-worn holiday decorations, a few stuffed animals and some old furniture.
But inside was a totally different story.
Police discovered the skeletal remains of a 67-year-old man, still dressed in the clothes he’d been wearing when he died. He was wrapped in blankets and plastic, lying on the bed in the front bedroom of his sister’s home. But that’s not the worst part. He’d been dead for FOUR YEARS!
That’s still not the worst part.
Are you ready for this? The man’s sister had kept him wrapped up in the bedroom, but apparently had no plans to take him anywhere. At least not anywhere soon. The reason? She was listed as his caregiver with the Social Security Administration and had been cashing his monthly Social Security checks ... for FOUR YEARS! Over that time period she was able to cash almost $29,000.00 worth of her brother’s checks and somehow ignore and conceal the fact he was dead in the front bedroom of her home.
She told police he died of natural causes. Thank God for that. But what she did could never be called natural, reasonable or acceptable and police were astonished as they tried to unravel the mystery of this ghastly ordeal.
Ironically, there’s a similar mystery that could use some unraveling and this time, of all places, you’ll find it in the church. This mysterious phenomenon involves the cashing of someone else’s checks. Only this time we’re not talking about Social Security checks. We’re talking about the continual attempt by some, in the body of Christ, to live off someone else’s spiritual income. In other words, people who have nothing on deposit themselves spiritually, but who try to draw interest and income from the deposits of others.
Those theological thieves who somehow hope to benefit from someone else’s obedience or be blessed because of someone else’s faithfulness.
The only problem? It doesn’t work.
Achan’s sin, in Joshua 7, is a great example. While his disobedience affected the entire nation of Israel, the obedience of the majority of the Israelites wasn’t enough to bless him, stave off his stoning, save his life or the lives of his family because of his sin.
Let me put it another way: He couldn’t survive on the spiritual deposits of others. He was bankrupt himself and when it came time to settle accounts, the reality was no deposit, no return. If he thought he could cash someone else’s check and somehow get by with it, he was wrong.
Unbelievably, people are still attempting to do that today — hoping to get to Heaven on someone else’s check (mama’s faith or daddy’s faithfulness). Wanting God to somehow ignore their personal, present unfaithfulness and in spite of it all, bless them anyway because of some period of faithfulness in the past. Sorry. It won’t work. The Israelites found out the hard way that moldy manna won’t make it for today. In the New Testament, Jesus said we have to ask God for “daily bread.” And He, in turn, demands daily obedience.
Don’t be lazy trying to depend on someone else for your spiritual growth.
Paul said we have to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). That doesn’t mean we work for our salvation. It simply means it’s up to us to pursue a dynamic, daily obedience in pursuit of our own sanctification (2 Corinthians 7:1).
Worship is so much better when the song springs from our own heart of holiness and walk with the Lord rather than the prompting of a worship leader or the participation of others. Studying the Word is so much more powerful when it comes from being stirred in our soul from our own time spent alone with God and His Word throughout the week, rather than a super quick Sunday fix from the passionate proclamation of a preacher.
Don’t be lazy trying to depend on someone else for your spiritual growth. You might be able to cash someone else’s Social Security checks and get away with it for a while, but when it comes to spiritual things, God will only cash a check from our personal account.
One more thing … in this final month of summer, invest your life in the work of the Lord and His church.
The dividends are off the charts.
© 2020. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.