For a number of years, I have used the pun-laden phrase “Money Talks” as the headline for my most-every-week blog. While my name is Money and I am apt to talk a bit – ask Lisa – I do approach both sermons and cyber summations as a chance to carry on conversations with my people. My aim is to talk about what is important in a way that answers the questions “So what?” and “Now what?” But on the heels of last week’s sermon of generosity, the moniker rings a little more literal. Money does talk, and the story it tells is often more personally spiritual than financial. And more self-revelatory than we might care to admit.
Our proclivity to give, or not give, particularly in the form of the tithe, says a lot about our spiritual grounding. To really embrace the practice as a way of life – one that I have practiced for years and cannot imagine life without – requires some other things to fall in place. First, I think we have to embrace the idea that everything we have is God’s to begin with. God is the source of it and the reason for it. Secondly, we must adopt a stance of obedience and joyful participation in his Kingdom work. It is freeing to know we are doing what God asks of us in this realm and exhilarating to feel part of divine activity that honors God, impresses people, and, most importantly, changes lives. Without that perspective, notions of submission and sacrifice will be about as life-giving as it sounds to most ears; not very. But from the right angle, the light shines on these twin spires in the form of a splendorous invitation; to relate and participate with God in the work that was, is, and forevermore will be. It is as much opportunity as it is obligation, though, for the honest follower of Christ, we understand that it is both.
Lastly, a life of faithful generosity cannot be separated from trust. We trust that God’s instruction to imitate his generosity is valid and vital. We trust that investing in Kingdom work, first through the local church, is the greatest hope for God’s mission in the world. And above all, we trust that God will take care of us, replenishing the well from which we pour out our blessings. The example of the biblical single mom in last week’s sermon rings true – God is especially faithful to the faithful. We cannot out-give God. We need HIS blessing far more than he covets ours.
This past installment in my now four-week-old manifesto called for FBC to be “A Generous Church.” It is the faithfulness and generosity that we show individually that allows us to live it out corporately. When pastors talk about giving, it is natural for some to wonder “what it is he wants from me?” The real truth is that I am driven to talk about giving because of what I want for you. I want you to be free from the grip money can have over you. I want you to know what it means to do money God’s way and feel the security that comes with it. I want you to experience the miraculous ways God makes our giving matter. And I want us all to know the joy of being a church that, individually and collectively, sees irrational generosity as a way of life. It’s a lot to want. And as your pastor who wants it for you, it’s not too much to ask.