Asbury United Methodist Church
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Open Hearts Open Minds Open Doors
The following illustration from www.stewardshipoflife.org presents the dilemma of giving: A pig and a chicken were walking through a poor section of the city. The chicken said to the pig, “Look at all those hungry people. Let’s give them ham and eggs for breakfast.” The pig said, “Wait a minute. For you, it’s a donation. For me, it’s a sacrifice.” When you give to the church, do you feel like the chicken or the pig?
Margaret Payne, a Lutheran minister, cites Deuteronomy 8:17, 18: "Do not say to yourself, 'My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today".
In her article entitled, “Carpe Tithem: Tithing as Invigorative in the Life of Faith” in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics, she lists five ways to view the tithe:
1. As a tool for transformation – it shapes us into people who understand and live the abundant life of self-giving that Jesus teaches.
2. As an exercise in relinquishment – it shows us that we do not need all that we are tempted to grasp, and it blesses us with a lessening of the desire for more.
3. As witness to an alternative vision in a consumer culture – it is a way to de-throne money and raise awareness of a different kind of abundance that outshines paltry material wealth.
4. As a belief that giving is a form of liberation – we cannot serve God and Mammon.
As an opportunity for delight – the joy of having resources that are already set aside for giving, the delight of selecting which part of God's work to support, the freedom from the endlessness of always wanting more.
Another illustration from www.stewardshipoflife.org demonstrates the hold of our possessions: The Sunday School teacher was just finishing a lesson on honesty. “Do you know where little boys go if they don’t put their money in the collection plate?”, the teacher asked. “Yes ma’am,” a boy blurted out. “They go to the movies.”
At it's heart, this is the dilemma, do we give up in order to give? I am not a seminary graduate, and cannot lecture anyone on the topic, but I don't believe Jesus asks us to be the pig. Nor do I think He is upset if we go to the movies. I am coming to appreciate, however, that my giving should be sacrificial in nature. Appropriate portions of my time and resources should be committed to serving His higher purpose and not my own interests. This is how I will live a life of substance that serves Him and not myself.
Don Bowers, Stewardship Chair