After years of Bible study, sermon preparation, and annual stewardship campaigns – I can say with confidence that Jesus was not a fundraiser. Jesus had no interest in budgets or bills or end-of-year financial reports. That’s not to say, however, that Jesus was not interested in the relationship his disciples had with their money. On that count, I can also say with confidence that Jesus was very interested with the way disciples handled their resources.
Our stewardship ministry recently sent out letters and estimate of giving cards to members and friends of Central Christian Church. This year, we are asking people to consider the stewardship of ALL their resources – time, talent and treasure. Supporting the mission of the church involves more than writing a check – it also involves the commitment of time, prayer and effort toward achieving the goals we believe God has given us.
I am very glad to see we are emphasizing the need to give our time and talents. The Apostle Paul was fond of using the image of a human body to describe the function of the church. It takes all the parts, working together, in order for the body to function as it was intended. If you are withholding your talent and gifts, then the body is disabled in ways you might not even imagine. Everyone’s gifts – no matter how small – aid in building up the body and in continuing Jesus’ work.
Sharing our time and talent is absolutely essential for the health of the church. However, we mustn’t shortchange the importance of giving. Jesus talked about money nearly as often as he talked about prayer – and for good reason. Our giving is as much a spiritual discipline as our prayer life or Bible study. Jesus understood that if there is one god (with a little “g”) that is likely to take up residence in our hearts, it is the god of mammon. Giving is one way we have of establishing spiritual priorities in our lives, as well as supporting the work of the church.
A number of years ago, I was talking to a young father about stewardship. He told me his twelve year old daughter had recently asked him about their giving. He explained to her why it was important for their family to make a financial commitment and then he showed her the ledger on the family checkbook. She was amazed not only by how much they gave, but also by the regularity of their tithe. I wondered then (and still do), how many of us could use our checkbooks as an object lesson for our children or grandchildren about how our faith directs now only the way we spend our time – but also the way we spend our treasure.
Join me this year in making a real and tangible commitment to Christ’s Church and to an opportunity-filled future. Indeed, one depends on the other.