Sunday, May 21, 2017

Being Financially Faithful

                In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus calls his first disciples and they leave everything behind to follow Jesus. In Luke 18:18-22 when Jesus is asked by a rich man what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus brought to his attention that he had been faithful to the commandments but hadn’t sold everything he had and given it to the poor. In Mark 12:28-32 where Jesus is asked which was the most important of all commandments, Jesus said to first “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and secondly “Love your neighbor as yourself.” My takeaway from these scripture is that I must make God and Jesus priorities in my life and care for others however I can.
                Unfortunately I didn’t realize the guidance in the Bible on the subject of financial stewardship until later in life after the pull of our culture and my own desires set had already taken a toll. I have the debt to show for my incompetence. But as Jesus said in Luke 18:27, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
                So what does it mean financially to put God first and love my neighbor? First is to commit my firstfruits to the church. Second is to give generously in care for my neighbors.
                From Genesis on, God has instructed us to give our firstfruits proportionally. Technically, tithe in Hebrew means tenth and hence involves giving the first tenth of our harvest. However, the proportion depends on the individual as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 8:12, “if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable” and in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
                Aside from the firstfruits committed, we are to give generously. As said in Leviticus 23:22 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’” I gather from this that I am to use what I need after providing the first proportion of my income to the church and give the rest charitably.
                For some, giving a tenth of their income is difficult given their financial circumstances. I read that 65% of families are living paycheck to paycheck and the average mainline churchgoer gives less that 3% or less of their income to the church. Given my personal financial situation and this need, I started a financial stewardship ministry to spread the good news. I believe accepting God’s grace and guidance enables us to be financially faithful.