The final message in the “Why?” series was interwoven with our annual church business meeting. We learned this weekend GateWay is doing well by many measures. We were challenged to get involved and not merely be a spectator of what God is doing through GateWay. Part of the challenge is to support the work financially, a topic many Pastors these days find challenging or even scary. It seems an often spoken criticism of the “church” is it is always asking for money. “Always” is a very encompassing word. I find it is used in many instances by those who lack clarity, or sensitivity, or wisdom, or who speak out of ignorance or self-centeredness or perhaps all of the above.(I am an expert in making this assessment from many years of looking in the mirror and having my own words played back to me.) “Always” seems to come up when one is engaged in a confrontation with another or when one is approached with a task, request or challenge to act. So when I hear of “the church is always asking for money” I wonder where that sentiment is coming from.
At GateWay, specifically asking for money is an occasional request,but stating everyone has the opportunity to honor God through their tithes and offerings is weekly. Dr. Howard Clark, former senior pastor at GateWay, who I admire and greatly respect, stated Jesus often talked about money/treasures and one out of every six passages in the New Testament concerns money/treasures. Financial matters in the church are not a forbidden subject and we should not avoid it but place it in its appropriate context. And that context is the condition of your heart. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” When challenged to give we likely should consult our “cardiologist” first to see what shape our heart is in.
I believe everyone who is part of GateWay, whether you are a member or not, if you are regularly part of our body andnot a visitor checking us out, then you need to share in the financial support of GateWay. You may be facing severe financial challenge and feel you have nothing but even then, I think $1 or less, given periodically, with the right heart-attitude, is called for. Jesus spoke highly of the widow who gave a few cents focusing not on the amount of money but the bigness of her heart. It is not how much but how committed she was to God. There are others who are amply blessed thus Jesus’ words, to whom much is given, much is required may be appropriate. Oswald Chambers draws a distinction between giving impulsively and giving from fixed determination. The determination Chambers refers to is giving for the sake of Christ and no other reason. Thankfulness and gratitude for our relationship with Christ leads to heartfelt giving.
And finally, this heartfelt gratitude extends to the whole picture. As Pastors Ed and Brian so well stated in presenting the church annual report, we are one body in Christ. There are multiple ways to give and share in the life of the body. Ed and Brian pointedthe better way is love. How will love manifest itself in your lives and in your participation in the local body of Christ known as GateWay?