Fields of Gold Devotional
Day 5: October 18 by Susie Hergenrader
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
My faith is a journey that takes me five steps forward as my faith strengthens and then a few steps back as doubt, worry and fear begin to creep in. It happens most often during this time of year: stewardship season. Why am I questioning my annual increase in giving? Is it because of fear that we won’t have enough when we need it? Is it selfishness because I worked hard for my money and I deserve to keep it and spend it as I want? In Fields of Gold, Andy Stanley states that cheerful giving has become fearful giving which is irrational. It’s on par with a farmer, out of fear of losing his seed, refusing to plant his fields. The principle of sowing and reaping applies to our finances. Those who sow generously will reap generously and receive a bountiful return.
As I reflect on this idea of reaping and sowing, it seems to be true within our life. We have been blessed ten-fold since we started making it a priority to give to the church. I know that sounds cliché because we hear that all the time but it is true. However, I don’t really think God blesses us more because we are giving more. I think God blesses us so we can bless others, and when we bless others, our perspectives change. We experience a paradigm shift. We are no longer focused on ourselves but on others. That is what Jesus teaches us. Change your paradigm and you will feel an overwhelming sense of peace, hope, joy and love.
So we should all be more other-focused, but you ask, “Wouldn’t people be better off if we gave straight to those in need rather than give to a church that has a ton of overhead costs?” Possibly, but I have served 4 years on the Finance Committee. I review budgets every month. I see where every penny goes. Does it go to pay salaries? Of course it does. Does it go to fix air conditioners and pay utility bills? Yes! Does it go to pay for choir trips? In part, it does. But don’t let any of that bother you because the work the staff does while earning that salary, transforms lives. Those air conditioners keep our church comfortable so people will want to come inside and know the Love of Jesus, and be transformed. All of those youth on those trips are learning about God, Jesus, selflessness, service, hope, love and peace. Those are great lessons for our next generation and are ultimately priceless.
Custer Road UMC provides food, shelter and clothing to those in need. It provides friendship, love and connection for those in search of a sense of belonging. It gives individuals a sense of self-respect, self-esteem, confidence and hope. Only when people have achieved all of the above can they be who God made them to be and reach their full potential in life. Is my money being well spent by this church? You bet it is, and I will continue to increase my giving every year and enjoy the many blessings in return as I continue my faith journey, moving from being self-centered to other-centered. THIS is taking hold of the life that really is life, as Paul says, right here on earth. I know we have been blessed. It is time once again to be a blessing to others.
Father God, Our Provider, remind us to trust in You, not ourselves, and to give abundantly to Your church so that it can show the love of Christ to the world. Amen.
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