Journey to Generosity

In this pledge/stewardship season as we make the Journey to Generosity, we will be talking about money at church. Yes, it’s a hot topic. Money plays a major role in our personalities. Money influences the way we live, the way we relate to other people, our life-time goals, and the way other people describe us. The way money exerts these enormous influences in our lives is determined by the philosophy we’ve adopted regarding money. Does it buy happiness? Is it the key to happiness? Is money more about our material life or our spiritual life?

Jesus said that money is everything—not in the usual sense of that term but in the spiritual sense. Jesus did not divide reality into two parts—the material and the spiritual. He said that the way we think and behave with regard to money impacts us both physically and spiritually. Its use and misuse affects our relationship with God and the quality of our life. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” Jesus said (Luke 12:34), illustrating his point with a story about a rich man who tried to achieve a quality life by building more barns to hold his wealth. The punch line says, “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

Jesus’s insistence that money is both physical and spiritual explains why he spoke of it so frequently. Of the 43 parables of Jesus, 27 of those (62 percent) refer to money and possessions. One out of every ten verses in the four Gospels (a total of 288 verses) deals with money. The Bible includes 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, and more than 2,000 verses on money and what it buys.
The question Jesus illustrates so perfectly with the story of the rich barn builder is as current as the morning paper. Each of us asks the same question every day of our lives: Will I try to achieve a quality life by focusing on money or by focusing on God? As we answer that question, we tend to believe—yet resist believing—Jesus’s teaching that money is both material and spiritual. On one hand, we see that Jesus is right. On the other hand, we are constantly tempted to think and behave as if Jesus missed the turn on this issue.

Copyright 2009 by Herb Miller. Permission to use this in congregational settings

Shalom, Pr. Barb

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