Three Christians were once debating how to go about giving money to the church. One said that he drew a line on the ground, threw his money up and whatever landed on the right hand side of the line would belong to God. The next guy said he did the reverse – whatever landed on the left would get put into the offering. The third said that he had a different approach altogether. There was no line. He threw his money in the air and whatever stayed up there, God could keep it!
Money is allegedly the cause of much offence in churches. People want to suggest that a church should never ask for money, talk about money or even collect money, except where this is done quietly, quickly and apologetically.
I find it amusing that, whereas every other non profit organisation from kindergartens to football clubs, can charge fees and perform all sorts of fundraising, churches are supposed to impact the community, run inspirational services, produce quality brochures and helpful materials, offer professional care and counselling, and pay all the staff needed to keep things going on a bit of loose change.
Although God provides, he does His work through people. The Old Testament regulated the giving of the people of Israel to maintain their devotion and to protect the priests and the worship system of the nation. The people were told to give ten per cent of everything they had to God. This was not formally rejected in the New Testament, yet the early church taught sacrificial giving, implying much more than ten per cent, anyway.
Most of us might compare ourselves to the next person, wish we had more or feel that we lack in certain areas of life, yet we all have and spend much more than we really need. Depriving ourselves money we might spend on snacks, soft drinks, purchased lunches and take-away coffees could add up to thousands in a year, if not hundreds, yet many devoted Christians clearly struggle to give anything substantial to the work of God that enriches their life and continues to provides meaning and purpose to others.
It is hard to imagine how one could be sold out to Jesus and live for Him as the New Testament instructs, without making a rearrangement of financial and time priorities part of the deal. Perhaps it is because this is both important and challenging that Jesus spoke about money more than almost any other subject. Perhaps, too, it is because of the difficulty in aligning our financial priorities to God’s that offence regarding money is often falsely attribute to ‘other people’ as a cover for the personal discomfort that it is causing.