We are nearing the end of our study on Faith Practices, and this week hit on a more intense subject. The topic for this week – one we often feel uncomfortable and awkward to talk about – Money. Why do we shy away from conversations about money? We are ashamed to say when we have too little, afraid to admit we want more.
This Faith Practice was not just a discussion about money – but about the joy of sharing money, sharing our things, sharing our time. More importantly, doing it not because we feel obligated to but because we feel love for the people around us – family, friend or stranger.
Week 5 – Money: The Joy of Sharing
Our adult group had good discussion about money, the meaning of success and our desires to live securely and in comfort. Americans have an often insatiable need for money, material possessions and power. The study video had this image which has stuck with me all week. The picture was a person desperately trying to climb this ladder of success, passing by Jesus as He was climbing down.
If we love our neighbors as we are called to do, whether it be across the street or on the other side of the world, the natural reaction should be to share.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7-8
We need to share out of love, not because we’re forced to. As a parent, this makes it all the more important that this particular Faith Practice is not merely a quick set of questions to ask my son. It needs to be an ongoing, open conversation; an ongoing awareness of how we as a family can give and how my kids individually can share what they have with others. Even more critical is that this lesson is taught not only through discussion but more often by example.
I saw awesome examples of sharing through love this week.
Our church is hosting a pastor from our sister congregation in Tanzania for 6 weeks. He is here to share the ministry of their church and to build relationship between our two congregations on opposite sides of the world. He told about a roof they hope to build for a mission church in their parish, and would like to partner with our church to raise funds. Someone wondered aloud what we would do if we couldn’t raise the funds. I said we don’t need to worry about that. I could share numerous stories where my church has come together to raise funds for a specific cause. When the need is there, we meet it.
This week saw disastrous storms and flooding in Southeast Nebraska, including a flood covering the entire town near my own small hometown. It has been inspirational to see how the town has come together; to see people donate, work together and provide for one another. The need is there, and help arrived. (Prayers that this small town continues to get the help they need.)
I am humbled by the response I see from people in the community. When we are deliberately exposed to a need, we respond. Yet we do not need to wait for these big opportunities to share and make a difference in someone’s life. I think the important next step is to open up our eyes and see the need around us all the time, and find ways to give of ourselves daily in big and small ways.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18
Think of the kind of change we could have in the world if we all gave of ourselves – our time, our money – in love; willing to sacrifice for others even when it is a little painful to do so. What if we taught our children, the next generation, to live this way too? What if we as a community of believers spent less time arguing about what it means to be a Christian and spent more time being Christ-like?