I realize that in this column I’m a guest at your table, and I truly respect that relationship. But I hope that over the past year I have gained enough of your trust to talk about a sensitive personal issue: money.
I do so with some hesitation because, as a pastor, I know talking about money can create tension in a relationship. When I provided marital and premarital counseling, I learned that financial matters can be the most difficult area in a relationship.
I have often said that the shortest nerve in the human body is the one that connects the heart and the pocketbook. Jesus said it another way in Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.“
In other words, how we spend our money is a “heart matter”—a spiritual matter. I’m always amazed when Christians attempt to address financial matters with accounting and budgeting solutions. Accounting tells us where money has gone, and budgeting helps us plan how to use money, but neither can address the heart issues.
Heart issues are about who we are and to whom we belong. Jesus understood that. Money does matter, but not for the reasons we often think. Money matters because how we use it reflects the condition of our hearts. Our checkbook registers and credit card statements are good indicators of where our treasure is. Find the heart; there you will find the money.
Why do I share this? Is it an attempt to guilt you into increasing your support for denominational ministry? Is it a lame attempt to get your church to contribute more toward ministry share?
I suppose it could appear that way, but on this one you’ll have to trust me. I share this because the health and well-being of each of us, as Christ’s followers—and each of our churches—depends not primarily on money but on people whose hearts are in the right place.
In North America this is the season in which we’re encouraged to pause and give heartfelt thanks, whether on October 8 in Canada or November 22 in the U.S. Together we take time to remember what God has provided and continues to provide in our lives. As I look back in my own life there have been times of hardship and great pain, and I’m sure the same is true for you. But even in the most difficult times we can find reasons to give thanks and praise to our Father. And that produces a spirit of generosity that can change the world.
There is no question that I hope you will support the work of the Christian Reformed Church as it seeks to transform lives and communities worldwide. God is doing great things in and through the CRC and its ministries. I believe we have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to bring a Reformed witness to the world.
I also hope that you will support and encourage the work of your local congregation. As a denomination we have committed ourselves to creating and sustaining healthy congregations. We have agreed that local congregations that are devoted to the Word of God, the fellowship of believers, and the breaking of bread and prayer are the foundation of who we are.
But most of all, I pray that our hearts will find their home in Jesus Christ, and that we’ll use our time, talents, and resources to further his kingdom.
Let us be thankful together.