DEAR DR. GRAHAM: Our church is talking about taking on a lot of debt in order to build a new building for our youth groups. I suppose we need it, but I wonder about going so deeply into debt. Do you think this is the right thing for us to do? — R.R.W.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I don’t know if it’s the right thing for your church to do, but God does know, and the most important thing you and the other members of your church can do is to seek God’s will about this matter.
On one hand, you’re wise to be concerned about too much debt; occasionally I’ve known of churches whose ministry was seriously hampered because of unwise debt. God is not honored when a church or other ministry ignores sound business principles. The Bible says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” (Romans 13:8).
On the other hand, I’m thankful your church wants to reach out to young people — not only those in your church, but also others who need Christ or have no contact with a church. If we fail to reach the next generation for Christ, our churches will shrink, and our society will descend into moral and spiritual chaos. Jesus’ command is clear: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).
Modern buildings may have their place, but even more important is a commitment to use them for God’s glory. And that kind of commitment only comes from a deep love for Christ and a desire to serve Him. Is this true of you and others in your church? Never forget Jesus’ promise: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: My fiance and I got engaged several months ago, but I’ve discovered he gets upset when he doesn’t get his way. Sometimes he’s even gotten very angry and fairly violent, although he always apologizes and says it won’t happen again. Should I be concerned? — D. McD.
DEAR D. MCD: Yes, you definitely should be concerned about this. After all, if your fiance can’t control his temper now, what reason do you have for thinking he’ll be able to control it once you’re married?
However, it isn’t just a question of being able to control his temper (although that’s very serious, as anyone caught in an abusive marriage could tell you). From what you say, he always wants his own way, and that doesn’t hold much promise for a happy marriage. In other words, instead of taking your feelings and desires into account, he’s only concerned about himself and his desires.
But that kind of self-centered, “me-first” attitude is the opposite of true love. True love puts the other person first, and seeks to be sensitive to their needs and desires. This is the kind of love Christ has for us, and it’s the kind of love He wants us to have for others.
The most important advice I can give you, however, is to seek God’s will for your future. Put your life into Christ’s hands, and then trust Him to guide you and help you make right decisions. If it’s His will for you to marry (as it probably is), then trust Him to lead you to the man He has chosen for you, one who will love you and be your spiritual partner throughout life.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: Recently, my husband started getting his tax records together, and like every other year, he’s figuring out ways to cheat on his taxes. He says the government would only waste the money anyway, but I’ve told him that doesn’t make it right. Am I being too picky? — Mrs. N.N.
DEAR MRS. N.N.: No, you aren’t being too picky, and as tax season approaches, I hope your letter will encourage others to be honest and resist the temptation to cheat on their taxes.
The Roman Empire of Jesus’ day had its problems with inefficiency and corruption, and it often didn’t meet the needs of its citizens and subjects. In addition, its army occupied the land of Jesus’ birth, often in an oppressive way. And yet Jesus told His disciples that they still had a responsibility to pay their taxes. When asked if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar, He responded, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17).
If we cheat on our taxes, we aren’t only keeping money that isn’t rightfully ours, but we’re also making it harder for the government to carry out its responsibilities. If we disagree with its policies, we have the responsibility to voice our opinions, especially at the ballot box. The Bible says, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7).
I hope you’ll encourage your husband to be honest as he prepares his taxes this year. But most of all, I pray that you both will put Christ at the center of your lives. Don’t let anything — including greed, covetousness or money — control your lives, but put Christ and His will first in all things.
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.