A message for my church WhatsApp group
CBCC’s and our church’s year theme ‘Righteous Living’ is proper and timely. It is something that each of us can relate to because we all are in need of righteous living for ourselves, for our church and society. In this, we are all somewhere along the road and none of us have arrived. The way things are in our lives and in our society, we are in need of righteous living more than any other thing.
One of the major benchmarks of how righteous or unrighteous our lives are is measured by our attitude towards money. And if we get this right, we will get a lot of other things right. There are other things but this attitude towards money will be a very important checkpoint. Sexual immorality, alcoholism, and drug addiction are easy to condemn while greed is often a weak spot for many Christians. This is where things can become so confusing that we can come to think that the love of money is actually a Christian virtue, that someone who lives extravagantly is a blessed man, or that spirituality guarantees material prosperity.
The ‘love’ of money is the problem and not money per se. So, we can say that our attitude towards money is more important than the quantity of money as such. One can have little but burn with desire. One is overtly corrupted and the other is not, but both may be made of the same material. The later may look less corrupted just for lack of opportunity to corrupt. And ‘how’ one makes money is as important as how much money one has. The means is as important as the end. Christianity asks, ‘Is the means to this money righteous or unrighteous?’ The real test of this is, ‘When no one was watching, did you follow procedure?’ What about living lavishly if the money is earned by fair means? I can think of no better biblical principle than the command to love our neighbor. Practically it will depend on the context. For example, if I live in a famine-stricken society but throw parties every night for my own family and relatives only, it will be very difficult to say that I love my neighbor.
Not only in making, even in giving money, Christianity is particular that we give with the right attitude. It is crazy to think of giving with our left hand without letting our right hand know about it. How is that humanly possible when both hands are connected to the same brain? Jesus knew it is not possible but he must have used that example for its shock value. In giving, Christians are asked to be like secret agents who do good yet stay away from public recognition! That is the attitude demanded while giving.
Now, when we give to church we give to God. We have given it and don’t own anymore. It was never ours anyway if we acknowledge that God is the maker and giver of all things. We would hope that the church will make the best use of it. But we have given to God and not to Tithe Collector, Pastor or Church Committee. Each one is accountable. We can discuss how best we can utilize our resources for God’s kingdom. But we are not shareholders in the church because of our financial contribution. Giving to the church is not a financial investment, a club membership fee for voting rights, or a bargaining chip. Giving in the church is an act of worship. We simply bring an offering to the altar and worship.
What will it be like in practice to give with one hand and not let the other know? What kind of lifestyle should we live by which we can say that we love our less privileged neighbour? In our church life, what are the ways in which we can promote and cultivate right attitude towards money among members? If we get the money factor right, we will get a lot of other things right in our road to righteous living, and church is a good place to start.