Our money and our lives…revisited

Pastors have more than a few reasons to be humble.  One is that we are constantly talking about things that we cannot possibly do or live up to, at least to the level that we know we should and to which we call everyone to aspire.  Another is that we often find ourselves preaching about matters with passion, only to discover that no one really seemed to get what we said.

A more nuanced way in which we are humbled is when God uses our preaching as a tool to bring about some needed change or response.  “Great,” we think.  “The word has done its work.”  Then a few months pass, and the change we believed our preaching had inspired proves not to have the staying power we hoped.

I’ve felt a little humbled like that recently, as I’ve considered our church family’s giving.  Right after our series on stewardship there was a tremendous “bounce,” both in our regular giving and in our Harvest Offering.  As the new year began, I had visions of the trend continuing and new opportunities being opened up to us in missions and outreach; maybe even some staffing issues.  Then I watched as the January numbers came in, and then took in the February numbers.  Now I find us $22,000 behind our annual budget already.  Should I be dusting off my stewardship messages for a “rerun” already?

I know that this kind of thinking about the power of my preaching is foolish–after all, any real change that comes to us is through the Word being applied to our hearts by the Spirit of God.  I’m not ultimately the cause of anything good that comes from anything I do, no matter how pure my motives and right my actions.  Neither am I ultimately responsible when nothing happens if I have been as pure and right as in the other case. 

The lesson I draw from the relatively short-lived change is this: we need to contstantly remind ourselves of basics, and not let either the passage of time or the excitement of the moment cause us to lose sight of them.  The Bible is my source of truth.  Read it.  Prayer is my communion with God.  Pray.  God’s people are his tool in my life and my target for ministering my gifts.  Serve the Body.  People all around me are lost if they don’t believe the Gospel.  Witness.  Everything I am and have is God’s and is to be used for his glory.  Invest in eternal values. 

If last year’s messages caused you to reevaluate how your giving needed to reflect God’s blessing and your need for sacrifice, may I encourage you to revisit that moment in your mind, and reenergize your decision.  If you, like me, recognize that it is a constant battle to stay generous, ask God to help, and do what you know you need to do.  Tell someone to hold you accountable if you need to.  If you would want to, you can review the messages in our message archive on the website.

And if I am all wet and no one needs to make any changes, then just forget I said anything!

Published in: on March 7, 2008 at 4:37 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Thank you for your faithful ministry in the Word to and for us! The Lord continues to show Diane and me that real ministry is a joy as we give ourselves away to Him and to others. There is nothing to be gained in holding on to our “stuff”. Only as we use our possessions to serve Christ and his kingdom is there lasting joy and real purpose! We still have much to learn, but submission to Christ is the only place where real freedom is located!

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