Thank God: For Treasures
Topic: Giving Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:6–6:10
This Tuesday, October 31, 2017, is a big anniversary. It will mark 500 years to the day that Martin Luther first published his 95 theses, kicking off the Reformation. Surprisingly, much of his proclamation concerned money. Luther said salvation is the free gift of God—you can’t buy it, you can’t earn it. He denounced the sale of indulgences, meant to shorten a person’s time in purgatory. Proceeds from indulgence sales helped to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Although many efforts to reform the church preceded, Oct. 31, 1517 is a convenient start date for the Protestant Reformation. Thesis 64 reads, “The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.” Christ is our priceless treasure, Luther declared, and all the rest of life is a grateful response to the incredible Gif
Our Timothy passage causes me to wrestle with my attitude toward money. Do I love it? Do I hate it? Do I fear it, or avoid it? Have I experienced Godly contentment? An old axiom suggests, “To have what you want, want what you have.”
Money was a source of conflict in my family of origin. It was a taboo subject, but could also generate terrible arguments. It was often misspent wildly, followed by periods of no spending at all. The attitudes we absorbed growing up can determine our feelings toward money as adults.
I don’t know people who love money in a bad way, although I’m sure such people exist. I do know many faithful people who love money in a good and grateful way. They love how it can improve their lives and the lives of others. They have arranged their budgets so they can give a percentage of their income to God—2%, 3%, 5%, 10% or more. They enjoy their money and keep a reserve to be able to help people in need. Recently I learned of a church member whose friend fell on hard times due to no fault of her own. The friend needed some significant dental work. Our church member said, “You go ahead and get those teeth fixed. Don’t worry about the cost.” It was quite a gift. The apostle Paul urges us to make up our own minds—no sense of pressure or being forced—and then to try as best we can to be faithful to what we have chosen to give. As always, God is full of grace, and asks us to give what we can, not what we can’t. It’s up to us.
We’re mindful of those in our church who are going through transitions at work and in their living situations. The future is unknown, and they wonder what lies ahead. We pray for God’s peace even now, and for guidance in all decisions. One of our elders, whose family has been through a lot recently, was asked, “How do you get through?” The reply: “One step at a time.” Each step is a step of faith.
Our giving is really a grateful giving back to God. It is a way to say “Thank you, God, for the greatest treasure of all: Jesus Christ.” What is God calling me to share? What percentage of my income do I feel led to give? How will I say, “Thank you, Lord, for your true Treasure in Christ”?