Weekly Thought – February 18, 2020
Fred developed a reputation for his thinking on money. He taught his children money was “option…that it was a tool, not an idol.” He and Mary Alice lived out those principles. He was asked to address a large Baptist group of laymen on the topic of stewardship. Knowing “stewardship” usually connotes money, he covered three other major areas before even broaching the topic of money. This week’s email is an abbreviated version of his thoughts about giving.
When I was asked to speak on stewardship I know you expected the entire address to be on money, specifically giving money. However, the topic is much broader and I want to spend the first minutes outlining three other areas:
relations, identity, and talents. Then I will briefly give you my thinking on the stewardship of money.
I resent a great deal of the teaching on money. It strikes me that those people who refer to being “blessed” with money would be much better off to say “entrusted.” Those who talk about being blessed give me the feeling they feel God has chosen the right one and He couldn’t have made a better decision. I think it is an affront to the poor.
Likewise, I think it is wrong to teach that we can bribe God. Too many feel tithing puts them in a better position with God – that He owes them. I believe the tithe was a scheme to allow the rich to get out of significant giving. However, it is a very good starting point.
I have a good friend who pastors a well-to-do church. A member of his congregation made an appointment to see him with a “serious spiritual problem.” “Pastor, when I was poor I gave faithfully. As my wealth increased my struggle with giving the 10% increased. It has become a severe obstacle.” My friend responded immediately, “Let’s pray.” Eagerly the man bowed his head as the prayer began, “Father, you know how our brother here struggles with the problem of giving from such a high income. Would you please reduce it until he is comfortable giving 10% again?” At this point, the man jumped up, “NO! Pastor – that isn’t what I wanted,” as he hurriedly retreated.
When I was working 6 days a week making $6 I gave $.60. My income has increased many times that, but if I hadn’t given that $.60 I couldn’t give 6 figures now.
Let me give you three points on giving:
1) I never enjoyed giving until I started giving more than 10%. Recently I have been engaged with a friend who struggles with alcoholism. I learned about recidivism and staying sober for 20 years then relapsing. Those who fight for abstinence never reach the freedom of those who reach the joy of sobriety. Those who dutifully fight to give 10% may never enjoy it. Those who give out of love forget about the percentage, net/gross, or any other thing. They have the joy of giving.
2) Giving is the only drain pipe I know for our greed. I am convinced it is the answer to the greediness of our soul. We are fundamentally sinful and I believe God gave us the privilege of giving to detoxify our soul.
3) Giving is the ultimate freedom. My mentor Maxey Jarman gave millions of dollars to Christian ministries. At the end of his life he encountered severe financial difficulties. “Maxey, have you ever thought of the millions you gave away?” “Of course I have, but do you realize I never lost a dime of what I gave away – I only lost what I kept.” Many who are waiting to give money ought to be giving it right now. When we have it in our hands to give, that is the time. We don’t know how fast that money can be gone and we lose the privilege of giving.
This week think about: 1) When I think about stewardship, what immediately comes to mind? 2) How joyful am I in my giving? 3) What gifts should I be making now?
Words of Wisdom: “It strikes me that those people who refer to being ‘blessed’ with money would be much better off to say ‘entrusted.’”
Wisdom from the Word: “The one who loves money will never be satisfied with money, he who loves wealth will never be satisfied with his income. This also is futile.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NET Bible)