Friends of Atonement,Thanks again for your faithful stewardship and generous giving. 2015’s income has allowed us to keep up with expenses while passing the 2/3 mark of our capital campaign. The campaign has begun counting down to our goal with less than $100,000 to go by our target date at the end of February 2016. Though giving usually goes down in these approaching summer months, the words of Jesus remind us not to worry about tomorrow. They also remind me of a story…
A man started a fight with two other men, and the police came and took the guy to jail. The next day the man went before the judge. The judge asked the man, “Where do you work?” The man said, “Here and there.” The judge asked, “What do you do for a living?” The man said, “This and that.” The judge then said, “Take him away.” The man said, “Wait, judge when will I get out?” The judge said to the man, “Sooner or later.”
We live with lots of uncertainty in life, especially when it comes to money. We’re not sure how the economy will do in the future, how much costs will go up, or just how long we will be able to work. Even with regular retirement income, we might worry what we’d do if something catastrophic happens. With responsibilities to care for family members or maintain a household, the command Jesus gives us not to worry about tomorrow may seem harder than any others, including any of the 10 commandments.
I spoke with a Roman Catholic lady last week who, in the middle of our conversation, gave a testimony about giving. Making her offering has always been very important to her, she said, though she never knows from month to month how much she’s going to make. She waits to see how much income the Lord gives her to work with each month. Then at the beginning of each new month, she makes a check out to her church for 10% of what she made the month before.
She had two points to make about her method of giving: #1 – By basing her giving on what her income was the month before, she was always giving as God has blessed her. #2 – By writing her check at the beginning of the month, she was putting her relationship with the Lord ahead of other bills, making it her first priority. On rare occasions when emergencies came up and she couldn’t make the whole amount, she would make it up later.
Everybody’s financial situation is a little bit different. Some people might have a fairly low income, but lots of other assets. Some people are well off, others don’t have much of anything, but everyone can give something as they are blessed by God. Like the widow Jesus pointed to putting two coins in the Temple offering, we can each find a way to give that is a true expression of our love for our giving God. For me that means giving a set tithe of my income to Atonement, which I do through the automatic Simply Giving program. I then find ways to supplement that giving as opportunities arise.
The point is not so much what you do as how you do it. Regular giving is a spiritual practice just as much as regular praying and regular worship. These are all acts of faith that not only build our relationship with God, they also help us quit worrying. Though she gave different amounts each month, the lady who gave me her giving testimony didn’t just give “this and that,” “here and there.” She gave purposefully, as an act of devotion and love to the God who had blessed her.
That is my prayer for you as well - that when you give, you always give with joy and love. And after you have given, all your worries are drowned in faith and hope. We are resurrection people – Easter people, blessed to be a blessing with no cause to worry. After all, if Jesus could take our sins and exchange them for new life, imagine what He can do with our good stuff?