Served, not Ruled

Read: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

“I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it.” This was a statement made by Pope Francis recently to business and political leaders that were gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The statement was a plea for leaders to care for the poor but it also was a statement that speaks volumes to all of us about how we approach wealth, money, and the blessings the God has bestowed upon us.

Wealth and money only become gods to us when we allow our lives to be ruled by them. In other words, if our focus is all about the accumulation of things, we soon lose sight of why God may have blessed us with those things in the first place. Paul reminds us of that in 2 Corinthians 9.

He writes that each of us should give and share of those things not reluctantly or under compulsion, but with a cheerful heart and attitude. (v.7) He then quotes a verse from Psalm 112:9 that says, “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

Beryl Jantzi, the Everence Director of Stewardship Education recently wrote some great thoughts about this. He wrote about a verse in Exodus 34:20b that says, “No one shall appear before me empty-handed.” He went on to say…

“Moses was clear in his expectation regarding giving. Generosity was considered an expression of worship to God and a way of reaching out to meet the needs of the community. Rules about giving, whether it was for religious sacrifice or for building materials needed for the tabernacle, were specific and clear. In Exodus 36, we read:

“Every skillful one to whom the Lord has given a skill and understanding to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.” Exodus 36:1

Whether it was giving gold or other precious stones or special skills of construction or weaving or artistry – you were expected to offer your first and your best to God. Here’s how the people responded to the challenge placed before them.

“The people are bringing much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do. So Moses gave the command and word was proclaimed throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing; for what they had already brought was more than enough to do all the work.” Exodus 36:5-7

Jantzi goes on to ask… “Can you imagine such a problem happening today?”

It got me to thinking, what if churches and organizations like MCC and World Vision had to say, “Stop giving, your giving is more than what is needed.” It seems like an impossibility and yet most likely it is not. It goes back to people, especially Christians, viewing and giving their money and wealth as a way to serve humanity instead of letting it rule our lives.

Byler concludes by writing, “There’s something about modeling generosity as a delight rather than a duty that can bring the spirit of Exodus 36 back among the people of God. Generosity is a spiritual discipline that can be expressed as an act of worship to God, as well as mutual aid to others. If this idea would grab hold, maybe one day we could say, like Moses, “Enough already! Your generosity has exceeded our needs!!” Might it be so.”

Make it personal: Consider your own attitude toward money, possessions, and wealth. What changes might God want to make in that attitude. Then think about the use of your own money. Do you give out of reluctance or under compulsion, or do you give out of the cheerful attitude that God desires? A good question for all of us to consider.

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church