"I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvelous works." — Psalm 9:1
Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing resourcing our “common purse” for our ministry plans in 2020. We have much for which to be grateful in our life together, and our conversations, letters, sermons, and messages have been shaped under the theme, Living Thanks, Giving Thanks.
Many people struggle with issues regarding how we allocate time and money. Jesus’ ministry and teaching clearly show he was concerned about these aspects of our lives. Jesus saw that little else in our lives could potentially deepen our relationship with God and with one another more than the ways we use our time and our money. In this regard, let me offer a thought about the difference between donations and commitments.
I’ve read through the Gospel a number of times, and I cannot find a single story where Jesus asks for a “donation.” However, there are any number of stories where Jesus asks for a “commitment.” The commitment our Lord asks for is a 100% commitment of heart, mind, strength, and soul.
Without a doubt, donations are good and important things. Lots of agencies depend on donations, and Catherine and I are happy to support many worthy endeavors through a donation. But in our lives, there is a huge difference between a donation to a charitable cause and the amount of our commitment to the ministry of supporting the work of Jesus Christ. Donations, worthy as they may be, simply don’t have the power to change us in the way a commitment does. A donation says, “I’d like to help.” A commitment says, “You are precious to me.”
Spiritual commitments come off the top – the “first fruits” as it were. It is a spiritual discipline to put Godly commitments first, whether time, talent, or treasure. Commitments are ways we proclaim what is most important to us: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Jesus, Matthew 6:21).
Proportional giving is a plan which helps us increase our financial commitments to Jesus’ work in the world in an ever-growing way. At the heart of proportional giving is the practice of taking a step forward each year. Wherever you are in your current giving in 2019, I encourage you to take a step forward in 2020 with the intent of deepening your relationship with Jesus Christ. Prayerful and thoughtful spiritual financial commitments made from grateful hearts are not “fund-raising”; they are quite literally “faith-raising.”
I ask that you prayerfully consider your faith-raising response, and that as a community gathered under Christ, we may wake to the morning sun each and every day with the commitment, “Today, thy will be done.”
Bishop Gary Lillibridge, Interim Rector