This past weekend I preached a sermon on giving. As I was preparing the sermon I realized that in over 8 years of full-time ministry I have never preached a sermon on giving. My first response was a self-congratulation. I am not like those unbalanced, prosperity guys nor like the manipulating, arm-bending preachers who guilt trip those who don’t tithe.
Amid the back-patting I was convicted. The Bible talks a lot about giving and Jesus rings the stewardship bell quite often himself. How is it that I have gone through this many sermons without addressing it?
So why don’t we preach on giving?
Here are some ideas:
1) We get paid by the church. This makes it feel a little uncomfortable.
2) There are so many hucksters who talk about money. We don’t want to be confused with them.
3) We want to trust God. However, part of trusting God means that we trust that his word being faithfully preached with bring faithful Christian living (this includes giving).
4) We have to anaylze our own hearts. This is what every sermon should cause us to do. Perhaps pastors don’t want to talk about giving because they don’t like thinking about their own giving.
5) We fear man. This his related to the first. Let’s face it, you are not going to get many people patting you on the back when you preach on giving. If the pastor is concerned about the church’s finances and he preaches on giving then he may fear that people might leave (thus negatively affecting the church’s finances).
Why should we preach on giving?
Here are some ideas:
1) Jesus and the Apostles did (i.e. 2 Cor 8-9).
2) It is a strong cultural idol.
3) The purse and the heart are related (Mt. 6:21, 24).
4) Ministry expands as people give.
5) Because other people are not faithfully preaching about it (ie they manipulate and abuse the pulpit).
I quickly went from feeling noble to neglectful. In order to preach the whole counsel of God we as preachers must, well, preach the whole counsel of God. Just because others may manipulate people and abuse money does not mean that pastors should not talk about it. The fact of the matter is that money helps make ministry happen. It is not the master but the servant. Furthermore, finances are often secretly clenched in the fist of autonomy. We speak of “our money” when it is in fact no more our money than our time, our home, or our body. One of the ways in which preachers can serve their hearers is to put their homiletical feet on the power chord of idolatry. There is perhaps no greater idol in the West than money. As a result, we have got to talk about it from time to time.
In short, my rejoicing turned to repenting real fast. I would imagine that other preachers feel this same tension. However, the greater burden, above and beyond our comfort, is being found faithful by our master. This means wading into occasionally uncomfortable waters from time to time.