The Gospel Message and Money
In my consulting work, I have often met pastors who would prefer to separate themselves from anything that has to do with money. Either they have a skewed view of money as it relates to the gospel, or they are afraid to get in trouble with members by addressing the subject. Our seminaries have generally done a poor job of instructing pastors on how to deal with the spiritual issues around money, so avoidance often seems the easier path.
Recently, I received this email from a pastor who was reluctant to preach on stewardship and generosity during the church’s capital campaign:
“I am not keen on preaching an entire sermon series in order for people to give financially to this project. I think that is not the purpose of preaching - which is to proclaim the gospel - and turns me into a campaigner, fundraiser.”
This pastor was unable to make the connection between financial generosity and the message of the gospel. However, the overall message of the gospel is one of generosity—yes, even financial generosity.
For example, let’s take the final days before Jesus’ resurrection and see what we can learn about financial generosity.
Six days before Passover, Mary anoints Jesus with expensive perfume. John 12 is one account of the story in which Mary uses the perfume that cost a year’s wages in order to glorify Jesus. Of course Judas objects (more on that later)!
Mark 11 tells of the beginning of Jesus’ trip into Jerusalem. Jesus tells the disciples to go into the village and get a donkey that is tied up for him to ride on it. He tells them that if anyone objects to tell them “the Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.” There was an objection, but the disciples followed Jesus’ orders. Jesus was able to ride into Jerusalem on that donkey because someone was willing to loan this donkey and trust it would be returned.
In Mark 14 and in the other gospels, we see Judas betraying Jesus. We know that Judas did this for thirty pieces of silver. You might ask how this is a story of generosity? We know that Judas was greedy which is the reason he betrayed Jesus. Had Judas properly understood money and generosity, he would have likely been guarded from such greed.
Finally, after Jesus dies on the cross, we see Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus preparing his body and burying him. In John 19 and other places, Nicodemus buys the cloth, the perfumes and spices to take care of the body. We also know that Joseph provided the tomb for the burial.
Even in Jesus’ final days, we see multiple acts of FINANCIAL generosity! If you’re going to tell the Gospel story, generosity…FINANCIAL generosity needs to be at the heart of it. It’s the same in our lives. We can’t live the life God wants for us without being generous with our money.