A volunteer fire department in Arkansas drew criticism for letting a house burn down. It seems the owner hadn’t paid a twenty-dollar annual fee for fire fighting service. Because of the fire fighters’ inaction, two adjacent furniture shops also were destroyed. A resident behind the shops did pay the fee—while the fire was burning. His house was spared. The chief told reporters, “Once your house is on fire, you can’t join, but if you’re a neighbor to some property that’s on fire, you can join.” When a house would burn down, fire fighters would simply stand by to see that the blaze didn’t spread to the homes of people who had paid the twenty-dollar fee.
Many of us act in just the same way. The punishment for our poor stewardship is always loss. Yet, once we start the “loss,” we start trying to make it up to God:
- Marriage—staying home from church until the storms start rising
- Children—making church a priority once they start rebelling
- Finances—start promising to give once it’s gone
- Job—build a conviction about tithing when you get the pink slip
- Car—breaks down, is repossessed then we repent of where we were taking it
We cause the “fire” and then we expect God to put the fire out!
When the house catches on fire, that is not the time to start paying the fire fighting fee!