A superficial cut is a good thing; it heals pretty quickly. Not many other things superficial are worth much. Most
often they are worse than that; superficial things and thinking can lead us astray or distract us from the deeper
realities and truths.
I recently had one of those sales pitches offered to me by a man that tried to show me how financially beneficial
it would be for me to buy his product. Looking carefully at his numbers, it may have been advantageous for me
to actually buy what he was selling. But here’s the thing. However much money must figure into my life and
decisions, money cannot be the final reason for me to do something. God is the final reason. If I am going to
make money, great. But if I make money at the expense of God or God’s justice and truth, then I can make all the
money I want, but I’m really building a house on sandy ground, and it will wash away at some point. My money,
my time, my life and all are gifts from God that I am blessed to have and share with others for the good of God.
Anything less than that is foolishness or sinfulness, or more likely both.
Now making decisions in life deeper than the superficial and grounded in God, is no easy thing. I find that it’s not
just a matter of working hard to “know all the facts.” It’s a matter of praying constantly until I begin to see with
God’s vision. And it’s cumulative. If I make a big decision for the quick income boost rather than out of a deeper
vision of my life and God’s world, that has repercussions that last and last and are detrimental. And when I am
led into a good decision by God, that also has repercussions and helps me see the wider horizon and deeper way
of living God is calling me into all the time.
How do you make your financial decisions? How deeply do you go? How much is your faithfulness and God’s way
a part of your decisions? Some folks seem to think the church is “meddling in their personal lives” when we bring
up money. And I bristle myself when I see “church” throw guilt about in order to make a church budget. But God
is not meddling in your personal affairs. God is already right there and a major part of your personal affairs.
All this means that, as we look at our pledges and gifts to the church for 2022 in the month ahead, you won’t be
hearing from me that you must give 10% of your household budget, a Biblical tithe, or suffer the consequences.
(The tithe is a very helpful guideline, but it is a guideline, not a rule. How does your giving relate to the tithe is a
good question!) You also won’t hear me asking you to give a certain amount so that the church bills get paid – a
simple tit for tat transaction like the bills we pay. You can’t buy worship or the pastoral care. You are not paying
for classes or other activities at Kingston Parish. When you give for God, you give for different reasons, for the
good of God in a whole new way that is deeper and truer and infinitely bigger than the superficial products you
get or give in a year at Kingston. Giving out of God’s abundant gifts of life is not just a transaction, but a holy
action. It’s about thanksgiving and hopefulness and the dream that God’s will can be done on earth as it is in
heaven. I urge you not to be superficial as you think about your pledge to Kingston and all the rest of your
finances for 2022. Give instead with faithfulness, gratefulness, joy. This is not pie in the sky impractical, but
incarnational and more real than any superficial amount you figure with a pencil on a page once all the other
bills are paid. When it comes to money issues, God actually affects the bottom line. May God bless you in this
season when we look at our finances with God’s vision and a hopefulness that means your financial choices are
not made out of fear but out of faith.
The Very Rev. Gary Barker