Seeing Money as a Spiritual Issue
Remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Acts 20:35, NRSV
As a former rector, this time of year brings stewardship to mind. In the 1950s, when I was growing up in the Episcopal Church, stewardship was not talked about a great deal. The priest got up once a year, around this time, and handed out pledge cards for members to give to the "budget." As a child, I didn’t really understand about what he was talking. As an adult, I invited someone to church on one occasion–and it happened to be “Stewardship Sunday.” They handed out pledge cards and asked for money with no explanation. I was so embarrassed that I apologized and assured the person that this only happened once a year, and I hoped the person would come back.
What was the first lesson you learned about money: “It does not grow on trees” or “save it for a rainy day”? I really didn't learn about being a good steward until I was on the vestry at St. David's, Austin. I was asked to chair the stewardship drive—which was an eye opener—and I started to study and discovered Jesus talked more about money and possessions than heaven and hell combined! He knew that money, more than anything else, could keep us from a relationship with Him, our Lord Jesus. Yet it is hard to give to the church when we have been taught to hold on tightly to our money.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 says that those of us with wealth mustn’t set our hopes on money, which is untrustworthy, but on God who, out of His riches, gives us all we need for our happiness. Instead we are to be rich in doing good and share what we have. Following Jesus involves learning to give of time, talent and possessions—investing in our future with God.
How we use our money is a spiritual matter. We need to pray about what to give. The Lord provides for us and asks us to trust Him and give back to Him for the sake of the ministry we share, our outreach into the community and the spreading of the Gospel. And as 2 Corinthians 9:7 says: “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
May we learn to pledge and give as a reflection of the generous God we worship unapologetically, unashamedly and with faith. Even when we’ve brought a friend to church on Stewardship Sunday.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess: Grant us grace that we may honor Thee with our substance, and, remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of Thy bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, p. 827