Good News, vol. 17, no.2, Feb 1926
A KICKING HORSE NEVER PULLS.
It is not a common thing for church treasurers to get mad, but here is the story of one who did.
The occasion was the new pastor's sermon, and it made such an impression on the treasurer that when it was over, refusing to shake hands with the preacher, he stamped out of church and went home to give vent to his feelings.
Now, the sermon that morning was a straight-from-the-shoulder appeal for businesslike methods of supporting the Church cf Christ. The preacher called the Kingdom business "the biggest of big business." He pictured the need of the world and Christ's often-forgotten programme to save it. Then he pointed out that you can generally tell the genuineness of a man's interest in the Kingdom by the way he puts his money in. Then he told how some frequently-used schemes of raising money were not only unbusinesslike, but were trifling with the great programme of salvation. It was like supporting a world war with pink-tea methods.
Probably this point of tho sermon was what got under the skin of the treasurer, for it was well known that he had been the leading exponent of the slogan, "Let the Ladies' Aid Society raise the deficiency."
Finally, the pastor came to the climax of his appeal, insisting with great earnestness that a man should realise that he is a steward of God, and that it is poor stewardship to pay to Christ's Church what one thinks he can afford after all other calls have been met. He said that the Lord wanted the "first fruits", that a man really ought to put Christianity first, and he should plan to set aside regularly a definite percentage of his income for the support of the Church and Kingdom. That percentage ought to be at least one-tenth—for the old Jews did as well as that.
This was the point when the church treasurer's wrath reached the high spot. He could hardly wait to get into the house before he began:
"That preacher needn't think we don't know how to give. He needn't worry about his salary, either. We've always paid our minister, and we always will. He wants an increase; that's what's the matter with him! But he can't get it."By this time the wife was making some meek pro¬test, but he went on: "Why, last year I gave $70 when you figure it all up. The idea of suggesting that a man ought to give ten per cent of his salary! What will he have left for himself?"
The hymn writer says:-—
"God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform."
Perhaps the Lord didn't have anything to do with it; but, anyway, when the treasurer's breath gave out, and he sought relief in scanning a paper, his eyes fell full on somebody's philosophy:—
"A kicking horse never pulls."
Now it happened that he had always prided himself on pulling his part of the load, and while the words "A kicking horse never pulls " only served, at the moment, to increase his anger, they stayed with him all through the evening as he tarried at home, while his wife sat in her usual place at church.
In the middle of the night, too, when something awakened him, he heard it again, "A kicking horse never pulls," and next day, when he started for the preacher to have it out with him, strangely enough, he heard it again. It was a hard week. The treasurer was fighting the battle of his life. Fortunately, at heart he was a good and just man, and one who feared God. Little by little the reasonableness of what the pastor had said on that Sunday became a conviction.
Finally he said to himself, "Yes, I'm willing to pray over it," Then he even got so far as to be willing to read the tract which, in his wrath, he had jambed down in his pocket on that Sunday morning. But it wasn't easy, nevertheless, to go to church when the Sabbath rolled around. Indeed, it is an even chance that, had he known beforehand the content of the preacher's. sermon, his would have been an empty place.
But he was there, and a second time came the pastor's appeal to mean business about Christ's big business.
"Christ claims first place in one's life, and how can a man give first place," said the pastor, "to Christ and His programme until he is ready to give Him first place in his pocket-book?' These were vital principles under the old Jewish law of the tithe. The old Jews were commanded to pay the first tenth to God, because it helped them to recognise God's first claim on everything. Surely those of us who really will put Christianity first, and mean it, will not hesitate to covenant to pay Him at least the tenth, and let it he the first tenth. It will serve as a pledge to Jesus Christ that we mean to keep Him and His Kingdom first."
If the church treasurer had not settled it, he certainly did settle it while the congregation was singing:
"I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
I'11 do what you want me to do."
For when the pa>tor gave the invitation to those who meant business about Christ's big- business to the place where they were ready to sign the covenant to tithe to come forward and do so, the church treasurer was the first man on the spot.
And the pastor who tells this story says that, not only was it the beginning of a new era in that man's life, but it was the beginning of a new era in that church.
Three lessons we can point out briefly from this story:—
First: That Christ wants us to mean business about His big business of reconstructing the world. No getting around this: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God" (Matt. 6: 24, 33).
Second: We can't really be sure we mean business about Christ's business until we are ready to "consecrate" our pocket-books as a part of ourselves. Money talks. That is, money tells whether we are interested deeply or not.
Third: You can't really he sure that your pocket-book is on the altar until you are ready regularly to pay to Christ's work at least the "first fruit" of your income to prove it. To pay a tithe is to say, "Lord Jesus, I consecrate my all to Thy big task, and here is my tenth to show Thee that I mean it"
The Mohammedans believed that when the year 1335 came a great prophet, or Mohammed himself, would come. So imagine their surprise when, in 1917, General Allenby (which means Allah Bey—God's Prophet) commandeered the pipes of the Standard Oil Company from the banks of the Suez Canal and used them with which to pipe water from the River Nile into Jerusalem for his horses and armies. There was an old Moslem prophecy that the Turks would never relinquish their hold on Palestine till they saw the waters of the River Nile flowing into Jerusalem. So, when Allah Bey—"God's Prophet"—came upon the scene and actually accomplished the seemingly miraculous, the Turks decided it was time for them to surrender. And that they did, on the morning of December 9, 1917.