from the pastor

Friends in Christ,

Money is a subject that many people just don't want to talk about.  Most people figure that what they do with their money is their business, that it's a private matter.  And when the church begins to talk about money, everyone gets uncomfortable.  But as you read the Bible, especially the New Testament, you quickly discover that what we do with our money isn't just a private matter.  Instead, it's a matter that concerns God very much.

In fact, Jesus spoke about money a lot.  He taught that where your treasure is there your heart will be; so that if money is your treasure, there is no room in your heart for God.  He told a rich man to give all his money to the poor and follow him; but the man could not part with his wealth, which made Jesus very sad because the Bible tells us he loved the man. 

And then there is the story told in Mark 12: 38-44.  Jesus and his disciples are in the women’s court at the temple in Jerusalem.  They see the rich scribes enjoying their wealth and their status as they feast on fine food and dress up in the finest clothes.  They show off their wealth by making ostentatious gifts to the temple treasury.  But Jesus is profoundly unimpressed with their showy false piety; and instead of praising them for their generosity as other men do, Jesus warns us that they will receive the greater condemnation.  They will receive the greater condemnation because even while the scribes make a great show of giving to the Temple, in their day to day business dealings, they treat poor widows with contempt — in Jesus’ words, they devour widows’ houses, forcing them out of their homes to live on the streets while the scribes profit by the hard-heartedness.

Then, as Jesus is speaking, a poor widow comes and quietly deposits two small coins in the treasury.  They are lepta, the smallest coins used in commerce at the time, each one equal to about a tenth of a day’s wages.  And seeing that she has given everything she has, Jesus praises her for her generosity. 

Now usually when we hear this story from the pulpit, we hear that the lesson we should draw from this story is one of proportional giving — the idea that our gifts to God are not given value by their raw buying power but by their portion to the total assets of the giver.  The poor woman gave all she had while the rich and famous are condemned for giving small portions of their great wealth.  But let me suggest that the question Jesus poses in this story is not “How much should I give?” but “How much do I trust God?”

You see, it’s really not a question of how much we give; because God is the owner of everything we have.  Even the breath you drew when you woke up this morning was a gift of God’s bounty.  And if God is so generous in providing for us, how can we who call ourselves children of God be so stingy?  If we put our whole trust in God, God will guide us in our stewardship, and we will soon find that with God’s help we can be far more generous that we ever though we could be. 

Grace and peace,