Reflections on Money and Contentment
It's odd to think about stewardship and tithes in the midst of a pandemic. However, the truth of the Christian life is that we have pledged, as disciples, to pick up and maintain the spiritual practice of stewardship. It is important, for in the culture of the USA, money is god-like. Some time ago, I was a member of a stewardship spirituality group and Mark Vincent, a church fundraiser, wrote an article for the group that outlines seven ways that money is god-like:
Money outlives us—it was before and will be after us.
Money's circle of influence is greater than ours—it goes places and touches lives we cannot.
Money is mysterious—its properties, impact, and behavior cannot be fully described.
Money lives among the things we are tempted to worship—longevity, power, and mystery.
Money mimics everything promised in the New Jerusalem—comfort, feasts, and beautiful housing.
Money is an instrument we wield—it can be called upon to do great damage or perform great healing.
Money invites us to reflect upon the "cost" of every intention—even noble ones.
Because money has a god-like character, handling money becomes a creative act. Vincent notes, "While we intend something beautiful, we always risk creating disaster instead." Our use of money reinforces our worldview, and while worldviews are seldom clearly thought out or consistent—they are an unconscious blending of all our experiences—they do determine our actions. Each check, each debit purchase, each credit card use strengthens what we in our heart-of-hearts care about.
Stewardship is the spiritual practice by which we learn to handle money in an appropriate and meaningful manner. The biblical notion of stewardship turns us outward from ourselves and invites us to use the god-like power of money for the good of the wider community we live in. At no time does the Bible bid us to bring our goods into the storehouse for the purpose of storage. We bring our goods so that together they may multiply and be a blessing in God's creation to God's people.
We are most content with our money when it is being used to support our values. In no other place are our values more relevant and lived out than the local congregation. From our Houses of Prayer and Faith, our tithes are blessed and sent forth not to rival God, but rather to be God's capable instrument of justice, love, and peace.
While money can be god-like, through the spiritual practice of stewardship we learn to handle money with some adeptness. Along the way we also find ourselves entering ever more proficiently the role of co-creators with the great Creator.
David K. Popham, Conference Minister