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Faithful Words

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Faithful Words

By Dr. Kenneth Faught

 

The audacity of . . . Jesus   “And [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury [of the temple], and watched the multitude putting money in the treasury” (Mark 12:41). This is the time of year when many congregations are planning, promoting, and pledging their church budget for the coming year. In challenging economic times many churches discover that they may have to freeze some spending, increase other spending, and even make painful cuts in their budget. These are never easy decisions, and always speak volumes about who we are, what we believe about God, and what we think is important. Few of us would consider ourselves rich in money and material things. Yet, “rich” is a relative term. On a more global scale, “the poor among us” would be considered well-to-do in many countries. How rich are you? Can you think of someone who is richer? Someone who is poorer? Would you say you are blessed this Thanksgiving? How we manage our money is important. John Wesley advised, “Gain all you can; save all you can; give all you can.” His great fear was dying with money he had not used to help others! Have you found a way to gain? To save? To give? Surprisingly, the one that is least Christian is saving! One of my early friends and mentors in ministry used to say, “Give. Give until it hurts. Give until it stops hurting. Give until it feels good!” As Christians we are constantly challenged to remember that the church does not belong to us. We belong to the church and the church belongs to God. The church is not a business. It is not a savings and loans institution or credit union. We are meant to spend/give away everything we get. “Savings” are a sign of success for a business – but a sign of sin for a congregation. The three stages of a church’s life can be described as Mission (concern for others), Ministry (concern for ourselves), and Museum (concern for preservation and survival). It is giving which keeps us nearer to our mission. Give thanks. Give tithes and offerings. Give to God and others. If you don’t give, try it. If you do give, continue it. If you have never grown in your giving, increase it!.Truth is, we are not motivated to give by guilt. We are not even motivated (ultimately) by needs. We are motivated by gratitude and generosity. Billy Graham said, “If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area of his life.” This Thanksgiving, give thanks and thankfully give.   (Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.)