Monday, November 26, 2007
WHAT DOES A HEALTHY CHURCH LOOK LIKE? (10: GENEROSITY)
HEALTHY CHURCHES ARE GENEROUS!
Money is important: try to think of a day recently where money played no part at all. Were you deserted on an island, or camping in the bush? Or didn't get out of bed? Every society has some form of currency - even bartering economies.
An excellent thing to do with money is to give some of it away. Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury. The rich gave large sums. A poor widow put in two small copper coins: 'all she had'. It's a truism that most churches/missions would not survive without the faithful regular gifts of poorer members.
People in generous churches give away their time, their gifts and skills, their prayers, practical assistance and a listening-ear to others. (When they ask 'How are you?¹ they really want to know). And their money...
'Who dies rich, dies disgraced'(Andrew Carnegie). Let us never forget, we were born with nothing; we shall die with nothing. We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. But humans, because of their insecurity, tend to be covetous, acquisitive. The desire to possess is very strong: the more we have the more we want. Deficits, inflation, cutting down forests, the greenhouse effect - all are caused by greed. The Bible is clear that we should provide for our family's necessities (1 Timothy 5:8), but each person/family/community ought to figure out the threshold between needs and wants. It's good to have what money can buy, but more important to have what money cannot buy.
And let's never forget the overseas - and nearby - poor. In terms of foreign aid individual Australians are fairly generous. But our government ranks 19 out of 22 rich nations for the aid we give as a proportion of gross national income (GNI). Economist Jeffrey Sachs says that if the world's richest nations took overseas aid to 0.5 per cent of GNI by 2010, it would halve the 1 billion people living on less than $US1 a day. (Try living on $1 a day for a month or two!).