God is living generously

Published 8:39 am Monday, October 3, 2016

by Nathan Decker

“God does not want your money!”

Fred Craddock used to tell a story about a woman asking the preacher over to her house to visit her husband. Her husband would always tell the preacher, “All that church ever wants is another member and another offering — bills in the plate and butts in the pew!”

This time of year churches are often in the midst of budget discussions and some even do pledge Sundays or stewardship campaigns. Most churches are faced with the difficult prospect of doing more ministries with fewer resources. All of which is good, but let’s make sure we are doing it for the right reasons!

God does not want our money. That’s too cheap. It’s too petty. What would God do with a million dollars? God wants so much more than financial gifts or sacrifices.

Psalm 50 states, “Why should I want your blue ribbon bull or more goats from your herds? Are not the cattle on a thousand hills mine?”

To put it bluntly, God does not need our gifts to further God’s Kingdom. God is God. And yet, God does invite us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

God chooses to ask for something more personal than bills in the plate and butts in the pew. Being ‘Good Stewards’ or caretakers with what God has blessed us means more than putting more money in the offering plate. God wants us. God wants us wholly as well as holy. Not part of us. Not a piece of us.

Not one hour a week on Sunday. Not 10 percent or even 100 percent of our income. God wants our heart, soul and mind. God wants our decisions, our passions, our hopes, our dreams. The Lord is asking us to give our family, our work, our investments, our retirement, even our nest egg. In short, God wants it all. The real sacrifice God seeks is a life laid down and a cross taken up.

This is what Jesus meant when he told us to take up our cross and follow. This is what Jesus shows when he takes up his cross and gives up his very life. This is what we are saying when we worship and sing “Jesus Paid It All.” This is the challenge as disciples of Jesus Christ. We are called to live and give as Christ lived and gave.

God has given generously. God gave the very best, his one and only Son. God is living generously. As a people of faith, we are called to worship and live generously. Yes, that means we give of ourselves in tithes and offerings. Yes, that means we give of ourselves in time and talent. Yes, that means we give of ourselves by sharing our faith with others by inviting and bringing them to church.

God doesn’t want just our money. God wants us to live and be as the Body of Christ, the Church. You are blessed, be a blessing. Live in such a way that God is living generously through you. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

“Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”  – Matthew 22:37-40 The Message

NATHAN DECKER is pastor of High Street United Methodist Church. Contact him at 562-3367 hsumc@beldar.com.