Friday, March 16, 2012

Lent Day 21: Thankful for riches

My spiritual meditations center around riches today––not just the wealth of friends and health and life in a peaceful town. Today it's money-talk that may offend some, though I hope it points out a fatal flaw of expectation and Western culture.

When we moved to the USA, W and I were shocked at the privacy that surrounds personal money. We grew up in a small congregation that posted an annual report of membership giving, distributed to all church members with itemization for church expenses, missions, designated funds, etc. We enjoyed reading who gave what; it gave us a picture of generosity beyond salaries. It taught us the privilege of abundant giving and that everything belonged to God. We learned to celebrate the stewardship of God's people and to strive to give more than we had before.

We joke about money as the true Western god. But Jesus took very seriously God's distribution of wealth. He talked about employees receiving fair wages and not renegotiating settled agreements. He explained that those who were given much would gain more through faithful stewardship of "talents" (sometimes preached as responsibility for one's gifting = perhaps can be inferred ... but remember, Jesus was talking about money.) He invited a rich young man to leave his wealth for a life of significance.

"Oh, the Church just wants our money," people snort. Nonsense: that's a myth held over from Catholic sales of indulgences and prayer in medieval times. Most churches want to minister and keep their doors open!

Preachers and missionaries dread having to ask for money to fund basic ministries. Most church leadership hates to request support from stoney-faced and greedy congregants. Yeah, let's call us what we are.

We splurge on cars and houses and get fat on meals eaten out. Our mortgages and credit card debts prevent us from responding to missionary appeals or underwriting church costs. Our estate plans and wills make no provision for extending the kingdom.

Wealth is transient. In a day or two, the rich can lose everything and become impoverished. Natural disasters, market fickleness, and circumstances beyond our control easily wipe away treasures built on earth. A poor person can be singled out to receive money beyond their imaginations. It happens.

What we decide to do with our little or much is part of our "free will," another generous gift from God. We'd be wise not to spend what belongs to God only on ourselves or on things that don't last. God will require careful accounting from me––and from you. Let's make no mistake about it. Money only stays our dirty little secret for a while.

Most of us are thankful for money, food, housing, and all the rest of GOD'S abundance. But are we willing to take the risk to honor God with our money? Today, I'm throwing out a challenge. Let us:
Still unconvinced or unwilling? Read more:

*It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich. For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the LORD takes care of the godly. Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough." Psalm 37:16–19

*My child, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. Proverbs 23:26

*Jesus, looking at [the rich young man], loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." Mark 10:21

Moravian Prayer: Generous and giving God, we confess today that we are not always good stewards of our hearts or our resources. Forgive us and help us realize all that we possess belongs to you. Create within us sharing and giving hearts. Amen.


  1. Amen! This is one of the very few refreshingly honest and forthright sayings I've read, in the faith, in a very long time. I could feel my sense of self melting away with every word and I appreciate such things very much. It's true that "the love of money is the root of all evil." I've long ago stopped holding my head high as an American in many ways due to this fact. I'm what Americans refer to as, "the little man." I have footprints and tire tracks all up and down my back. But, my faith in God has always shown me how to avoid the next evil footprint. My faith is everything. He's faithful. God bless you.

  2. It's not about us or what we can achieve, is it? Thank God that he reigns in the brokenness of culture. We go to other countries and can easily point out cultural sins but have trouble identifying our own. God is merciful!