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Your Money and the Church – Part 2

Credit: Bernard Forand/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Bernard Forand/Flickr/Creative Commons

Did you know that you are lazy? And me too, I can be included in that number.

The basic nature of the human race is to always look for the easy way out, the softest cushion. We all have that affliction from childhood, and if you have learned to work hard, congratulations for resisting. Have you noticed how words like ‘luxury’ go with words like ‘ease’ and ‘relax?’ We don’t earn, we don’t learn, and we don’t manage, if we can find the couch first. That monster lives in all of us somewhere.

The popular picture of success is doing nothing like some ancient European aristocrat supported by an army of serfs, and not a brave person climbing mount Everest with a gritty expression on their face.

Did you also know that your life is a project, your family is a business and your church is a consortium? Everything requires diligent management. According to the Bible: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6) If ants could speak to us, their idea of success would be diligent busy-ness and not relaxing in luxury and hanging out at the spa.

Several years ago, I worked in a college and our department hired a new dean, who was our department manager. She was friendly, and direct and forceful with our problems, and we were all happy with our new leader. And then we all noticed something. She was never available for meetings before ten, and she always had business outside the department late in the day. We gradually caught on that her business, at the end of the day, was driving herself home. There were no meetings with other managers. She had achieved ‘career success’ by getting hired as our dean, and she planned to relax until she slid into retirement.

When senior administration caught on, they removed her by removing us all. The whole department was dismissed and some of my co-workers were almost ruined financially. I still feel bad for them. The Bible says “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.” (Proverbs 18:9) and our dean certainly destroyed us.

If we refuse to manage, we are giving in to the old curse of laziness, and the curse will spread to others. We probably all know someone who likes to spend money with reckless abandon, as if they are too important to count and account. One Bible word for giving is “tithe” which is usually interpreted as ten percent of income. The ancient Hebrews were commanded to give God this part of their produce or earnings “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30)

Here’s how tithing works; if you give ten percent, you must first count one hundred percent. Think about it. Tithing is impossible without diligent business management; counting and accounting are almost the same word. I don’t believe God wanted large amounts of money. He wanted careful and attentive management of business assets and income, diligence, for each person and each family. And if you are a Christian, that is also what God wants in your church. We are not called to be lazy and proud aristocrats who can’t be bothered by trivial details.

In popular thinking, Christian tithing or any similar generosity is like criminal insanity. I had an uncle who would say things like “Those churches only want our money!” In my experience, his finances were always in a mess and he could not afford to be generous. I think he missed the point. A diligent manager can manage giving, along with earning, spending, and investing. We need to focus on the giver, not the receiver, we need to be diligent managers who can operate the department of generosity.

I hope you will learn this truth, careful and diligent management of our resources is normal for every Christian.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6: 9 and 10)

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