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Fellowship with other followers of Christ is important

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DEAR DR. GRAHAM: A couple of people in my church have said things about me that are very hurtful, so I’ve decided to stop going. I know you’ll try to talk me into going back, but why should I? The important thing is to believe in Jesus, isn’t it? — Mrs. M.W.

DEAR MRS. M.W.: Yes, it’s certainly important to believe in Jesus; after all, He gave His life for your salvation. If we ignore or scorn Him, the Bible says we have no hope of eternal life, or even of God’s help right now. The Bible warns, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

But God doesn’t want us to be isolated from other believers. They may not be perfect, but we aren’t, either. We need each other, and when we cut ourselves off from other believers our spiritual lives are weaker and incomplete.

We need the understanding that comes from the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, as well as the love and friendship that grow from fellowship with other believers. God also wants us to serve Him, and a church can provide opportunities for this. The Bible says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Ask God to help you forgive those who may have hurt you, even as Christ has forgiven you. What they did was wrong, but don’t let it cut you off from others in your church who need you. And if it simply isn’t possible for you to be comfortable at this church anymore, ask God to lead you to another church where you’ll not only feel welcome, but can also grow in your faith.

DEAR MRS. GRAHAM: I was disturbed by what you wrote a few weeks ago about not cheating on our taxes. I agree we have a responsibility to pay taxes and all that, but as far as I’m concerned, the government is just going to waste our money anyway, so what difference does it make if I cheat a little bit? — K.G.

DEAR K.G.: Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if everyone had your attitude? Over time, tax revenues would go down, and even essential services would have to be cut. Eventually, taxes would have to be raised to make up for the lost revenue.

But the main reason the Bible commands us not to cheat on our taxes is because God wants us to be honest and above board in everything we do. If you cheated someone out of what you owed them, you’d rightly be branded a thief. Why is it any different if you owe money to a company or to the government?

After all, Jesus paid the taxes He owed; why should we do any less? When asked if He intended to pay a certain tax that He owed, Jesus immediately handed over the required coin (taken miraculously from a fish caught by one of His disciples). He knew it might be wasted or used in wrong ways, but that didn’t keep Him from fulfilling His obligation. He said, “Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours” (Matthew 17:27).

I can’t help but wonder, however, if the real issue you face isn’t simply taxes, but your whole attitude toward money — and toward God. Don’t let greed, or cynicism, or anything else rule your life. Instead, submit your life to Christ, who alone is worthy of your allegiance.

DEAR MRS. GRAHAM: Preachers like you always are blaming the world’s problems on human weakness, but I think it all boils down to poverty and economic inequality. If everyone had enough, then people wouldn’t have any reason to fight, would they? — M.N.

DEAR M. N.: I want to assure you that God is deeply concerned about the countless millions who live in poverty today — and He commands us to be concerned, as well. Selfishness and lack of concern for others are sins in His sight, and someday we’ll pay a stiff price for our thoughtlessness. The Bible says, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern” (Proverbs 29:7).

But what would happen if suddenly everyone had an equal amount of money? Would all wars and conflicts cease, and would everyone be happy? Tragically, the answer is no. Some people would still be driven by greed, constantly wanting more — and devising schemes to gain it. Others would spend their money unwisely, ending up in poverty before they realized it.

Why is this? The problem is the human heart. We are by nature selfish and sinful, and as long as this is the case, our problems will never be solved. The Bible says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1).

This is why our greatest need is to turn to Christ, for only He can change our hearts and plant within us a new love for others. And this can happen to you, as you open your heart and life to His transforming power. Don’t put your trust in solutions that will fail, but commit your life to Christ, and then ask Him to help you see the world and its needs through His eyes.

Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham

Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201;

call 1-877 2-GRAHAM, or go to www.billygraham.org.

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