Coming Close: Whose money is it anyway?

IMG_2838I once worked for a rector who liked to say as the stewardship campaign rolled around each year, “We don’t need your money; you need to give your money away.” It’s a phrase that has hung around in my head ever since, and each time a stewardship campaign happens in a church with which I am involved, I wonder about this.

You see, I struggle with this phrase. I want to shout out that YES, we do need your money! We have a great vision from God that needs financial backing if it is to succeed and a building that needs to be maintained and protected if we are to keep using it. And heck, I have a wife and three kids that depend on the church body’s giving if they are going to eat three square meals a day! But each time I hear myself saying these things, I am reminded of the fact that it is God who provides for our needs, and not you or me.  He may choose to use us, but ultimately it is he who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps 50:10), and it is of him that we say, “All things come of thee O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee” (2 Chron 29:14b).

The church does not need our money. Actually, it never was our money in the first place. But we do need to give it away. Otherwise his money that he has entrusted to us will become an idol, and we will begin to find ourselves worrying about it more than we should. Then we will miss out on the blessing that comes when we give away what we think we need and realize that we actually never needed it, and in fact, God has provided all that we really needed anyway.

It’s amazing how many times I have seen this play out again and again in my life, and how each time I have given generously, he has grown my faith in him enormously. When my response is rooted in fear and I cling to what I falsely believe is mine, then I become poorer as a result. But, when it is rooted in the grace and mercy he has shown to me, his incredible generosity in giving Jesus to die upon the cross, then I become richer than I could imagine.

Tim Keller writes this: “To the degree that you grasp the Gospel, money will have no dominion over you. Think on his costly grace until it changes you into a generous people.” May we be a people who think on his costly grace shown upon the cross and give away cheerfully what was never ours in the first place.

Jonathan+