Monday, May 17, 2010

Letters Topic #1: Money

So, we're starting a new series this week at church called Letters.  The idea is simple: the NT writers wrote letters (hence the name) to churches throughout the ancient world to encourage them in their faith and to speak to specific issues that they were facing.  Over the next five weeks at church, we are going to speak to five issues that our church-leaders repeatedly confront as we are discipling others to become more like Jesus Christ.  The first topic we will address? Money!

Interestingly enough, Jesus talks about money more than he does any other topic.  One of the reasons I think he warns us repeatedly about greed and building our treasure here on earth is because greed is so hard for us to see it in ourselves.  In other words, even though we are wealthier than 95% of the world, we can always find someone who makes more money than we do and spends more than we do and therefore convince ourselves that we are not greedy or consumed with materialism.  But can we be honest for one minute?  We all struggle with being generous people.  With so many options to spend our money on, we can always think of a good reason to buy that new gadget, get the new car, buy the newer, bigger house.  I'm not throwing stones - I'm right there with you! 

You would think that because we are the most prosperous people in the world, we would be the most generous.  But all the research shows that people give less money as they become more prosperous.  This report from 2007 shows that the poor gave about twice as much as the rich in percentage terms.  How can this be?  I think the reality is that the more we make, the more we think we deserve to enjoy in life.  And when we buy into that line of thinking, it is harder for us to part with our money.  We begin to consider what other things we could do with the money if we didn't give any.  Think about it this way: if I give 10% of $100, that's only $10.  What can you really do with $10?  But if I give away 10% of $100,000, that's $10,000.  I could do a lot with $10,000 (for myself) - maybe a great vacation or a upgrade on my house or a great new car.  But what we fail to realize is that the first person only has $90 to live on, while the second has $90,000.

My dad used to always say (and still does): it doesn't matter how much you make, you can always find a way to spend it.  In other words, we are never at a loss of things we think we need to buy.  I would add my corollary to his nugget of wisdom: if you don't give first, you won't give at all.  Because we find ways to spend what we have, we have to give first.  Generosity must become a first-place discipline in our lives.  We can learn to live on whatever we have, so let's learn to give to God first and to live on the rest.

Any thoughts?


Hallam Fam News said...

I'm looking forward to this series and this topic. I hope that it'll cause people (including me) to think about all of these issues carefully.

I'm really excited about the text message Q&A coming again - that was lots of fun last year, can't wait to do it again!

Laura Van Cleave said...

I heard a story once about a man who had less than $100 to his name. He figured there wasn't much he could do with that $100 and he had heard God would return in abundance what the man gave; so the man gave the $100. Years later he inherited some money, made some wise investments and became a very wealthy man. He gave an investment seminar, and told his story. One young man stood up and said...You gave all you had? The speaker with much pride said, yes I did. The young man responded, I dare you to do it again.

Love you guys. Looking forward to the series.