The Gospel Message and Money
- August 22, 2016
- Nathan Ealy
I have found in my time in this ministry that most pastors would like to separate themselves from anything that has to do with money. Either they have a warped view of money, or they are afraid to get in trouble with members by addressing the subject. Our seminaries have done a poor job of instruction pastors on how to deal with the issue of money, so avoiding it is the easiest path.
Here is an excerpt from a recent e-mail conversation with a leadership team in a church that was going through a capital campaign.
“I am not keen on preaching an entire sermon series in order for people to give financially to this project. I think that is not the purpose of preaching – which is to proclaim the gospel – and turns me into a campaigner, fundraiser.”
I was traveling when I received it so I responded quickly, but that comment stuck with me. Although some would like to avoid it, the subject of generosity, even financial generosity, can’t be separated from the Gospel message. Let’s take just the final days before Jesus’ resurrection and analyze financial generosity. Again, this is strictly financial and doesn’t include the overall message of generosity inherent in the Gospel.
Six days before Passover, Mary anoints Jesus with expensive perfume. John 12 is one account of the story in which Mary uses the perfume that cost a year’s wages in order to glorify Jesus. Of course Judas objects(more on that later)!
Mark 11 tells of the beginning of Jesus’ trip into Jerusalem. Jesus tells the disciples to go into the village and get a donkey that is tied up for him to ride on it. He tells them that if anyone objects to tell them “the Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.” There was an objection but the disciples followed Jesus’ orders. Jesus was able to ride into Jerusalem on that donkey because someone was willing to loan this donkey and trust it would be returned.
In Mark 14 and in the other gospels we see Judas betraying Jesus. We know that Judas did this for thirty pieces of silver. You might ask how this is a story of generosity? We know that Judas was greedy which is the reason he betrayed Jesus. Had Judas properly understood money and generosity, he would have likely been guarded from such greed.
Finally after Jesus dies on the cross, we see Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus preparing his body and burying him. In John 19 and other places, Nicodemus buys the cloth and Nicodemus buys the perfumes and spices to take care of the body. We also know that Joseph provided the tomb for the burial.
Even in Jesus’ final days we see multiple acts of FINANCIAL generosity! If you’re going to tell the Gospel story, you can’t do it without that aspect. It’s the same in our lives. We can’t live the life God wants for us without being generous with our money.