Been challenged about money recently. Urg. I don’t like challenges. Challenging situations tend to be painful ones. Challenging sermons (especially about money) always make me shuffle guiltily in my seat. As soon as I hear the words, ‘gift day’, a little bit of me crawls into a hole and Feels Bad – too often without actually doing anything about it.
Why is this? For one thing, I’ve always had a fear of not having enough. Not enough tinned tuna or toilet roll or books or love or whatever. As Versace argues, More is More. Except that, whilst Gianni may be big in fashion circles, he isn’t God. Or at least, he shouldn’t be mine.
I could blame the recession. I’m not being mean, just thrifty. What with the whole toxic debt thing, now is not the time for generosity. Plus, in the last few weeks, there’s been all sorts of bills we hadn’t anticipated. The cats got sick. The car broke down. Christmas! (No-one saw that coming). And those novelty stocking-fillers won’t pay for themselves.
I’m both overwhelmed and desensitised by a global tsunami of need. I want to help – but I don’t know how. What difference can I make? None. So that’s exactly what I do – or at a pinch, I’ll absolve myself with a neat tithe.
I’m a Christian. I did discipleship 101. You can’t serve God and money. Got it. No, really. Look – I’m married to a church worker. We rent. I buy Economy Marmalade. So what’s the big problem?
It’s this. I don’t trust God. Sure, he says He’ll look after me – but I don’t think He’ll give me what I need. Or maybe He will, but it won’t necessarily be what I want. Which is a problem. Because the things I want, I like – really want. So I get creative. I’ll squirrel away a little bit of extra toothpaste or money for haircuts and we can call it faith. Right?
Er- no. Actually, it’s fear. And greed. And idolatry. And -urg, this is exactly why I hate money talk. It gets to something in me that’s squishy and dark.
More guilt is not the answer. And times are tough – no-one questions that. But as a Christian, my hope isn’t in the bank balance. Christ gave everything for us and He can be trusted. He doesn’t give like I do. He is open-handed. More than that, at the cross He is open-armed. Here is a generosity that changes me and which I can trust. That’s what will change my heart.
Lord, give me more of You that I may give more of myself.