Today we take a look at Jesus’ focus on our relationship to money and possessions as a matter of importance as we steward resources God has provided for God’s people.
Glenn Taibl, Co-Director
Center for Stewardship Leaders
When Jesus Talks About Money
When Jesus talks about money and possessions, the focus is on our relationship to these important elements of daily living. The rich young ruler had much and the thought of changing the relationship to his wealth was unthinkable in spite of his confessed obedience to God’s commandments. The poor widow had little and the little she had wasn’t as important as her relationship with God. “Where your treasure is your heart will be,” is ultimately about the investment we will make either in our relationship with God or to another value that has an equal or greater loyalty and attention. You cannot serve God and Mammon is a question of relationship. Jesus never asks for money or possessions but he places a laser focus on the power money and possessions have in our lives. Our work as steward leaders is to help the people we serve to see and hear the importance of our relationship to money and possessions as a faith issue. Jesus Christ intends to transform our understanding of personal resources by claiming them as a part of our life of faith. For Jesus there is no separation of sacred and secular when it comes to money. If Stewardship is the management of all of life with Christ at the center, then Christ at the center of our relationship to money and possessions is an important part of the values that shapes us.
I celebrate the growing commitment on the part of many congregations to engage in year-round stewardship. More congregations are talking stewardship as an important part of congregational life at times other than the annual response program. More congregations are raising up the stewardship of creation, of our time, and of commitments to the communities where we live. Let us consider giving equal attention to the support of our members as they deal with the challenges of money and accumulation of possessions in a culture that has marginalized Christ in the daily reality of these challenges. Year-round stewardship is most often committed to the life of the congregation and the congregation’s mission. Meanwhile, our members move from Sabbath worship to their lives in the home, workplace and community where the credit card, bank account and financial planner are a way of life but not always a way of faith. The Widow’s sacrificial gift, the place of treasure and heart or the sadness of the rich young ruler is a story that is played out daily in a culture that has its own stories to tell.
Many congregations have implemented excellent programs to support people in the management of personal finances or in discussing the formation of values that move from a desire to live faithful lives in response to God’s life-giving presence in our lives. We can support this as biblical texts present themselves as a part of our worship gatherings and we raise up Christ’s concern about our relationship to money and possessions. We can include this important stewardship as part of the prayers of the church. We can even place as much attention on our management of the 100% of our resources as we do on tithes and offerings. We can add to this by increasing our congregational commitment to talk about money in ways that isn’t only focused on the congregation’s mission but also on the mission we each have as we live in the world God so loves.
Glenn Taibl is Co-Director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders.
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