This past week we spent time in worship talking about the practice of Extravagant Generosity. I wanted everyone to understand how this practice teaches us that money should be a tool we use to spread God’s blessings and not a vice that controls us.
I have been on both sides of that fence and I can tell you being in control of money, rather than letting money control you, is definitely more appealing. When I moved out of my mom and dad’s home and into my first apartment, I was 20 years old. I had saved enough money to have several months’ worth of expenses in reserve and felt confident I was ready to spread my wings and seize my independence. At first, things went according to plan. Then I decided I needed a new computer, so I bought one. I also decided that cooking was too time intensive, so I ate out every night. If both of those decisions were not enough, I also determined that my music collection needed some beefing up. Now if I had had the money to support all of these decisions that would have been one thing, but alas I did not. I put all of these “necessary” expenses on my credit card and it was not long before the only payment I could make was the minimum payment. As you know, that means you are paying off mostly interest and not really touching the balance. Money had now taken control of my life and it dictated every decision I made. I do not believe that is God’s intention for the gifts and treasure entrusted to us.
Rather, I believe God wants us to use those gifts and treasure to help others, to spread God’s love and blessings to others. I buckled down, made some lifestyle changes and now Debbie and I live on the other end of that spectrum. And the great thing about that is, when God called us to adopt, financially we could immediately say yes, a response that allowed us to bring Davis home. A child so perfectly suited for our family, that I know the day he was found at the hospital, God said to him, “Hang on little guy, I’ve got the perfect family for you, just give me some time to put it together.” By not having money control our life, we were able to use money to bring a new life to another.
That is a part of the reason why we are in the midst of this financial challenge to raise $5,000 for Heifer International and Stop Hunger Now. I want this congregation to look at the way we each use the gifts God has given us, make whatever changes we might need to make, and give out of our abundance to change the life of another person. The story we looked at Sunday from II Corinthians paints this exact scenario. We have a community not rich by any stretch of the imagination and in fact they are described as living in extreme poverty, giving out what they had left over to help the people of Judea. They did not know these people; they did not have personal relationships with them. The people of Judea needed help and that was all that mattered. These Macedonians, after taking care of the needs in their community, pleaded for the opportunity to give what they had left to help their brothers and sisters in need, and that is what we are doing now. While we do not personally know the people that will benefit from the Ark we want to purchase or from the food we want to pack, that does not matter. We have the opportunity to help another member of God’s creation, a community that God dearly loves, as God loves us. To date we have raised $1,375, just a little over a quarter of our goal and I am very excited about that! So I invite you to be in prayer about ways you can help us meet our goal, so together we can dramatically change the lives of another the same way God has changed ours.
Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!