Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guess Who Knows How Much Money You Give?

Money is a big topic these days. Who knew? Right?

This guy, that's who

My church is currently going through a series based upon the teachings of Dave Ramsey, so money (especially giving) has been in the forefront of my mind for a while. I've talked about that before...briefly.

Yesterday, Tim Stevens put up a post that dealt with giving/tithing at his church. You can read about that here if you'd like:

The gist was that he was going to stop worrying about the frustrating aspects of knowing the donation records--such as wealthy businessmen giving less than a widow on social security--and instead focus on the positives--the generous widows, college students, single parents and others who don't have much income and still give incredibly generously.

He also wrote that his frustration wasn't about the financial loss to the church, but to the spiritual loss to the individual who wasn't generous. That they are missing out on the spiritual blessings God has for their lives due to their un-generosity. I thought the post was honest, insightful and showed a good way to look at a very complicated issue.

People commenting on his post did not share the same viewpoint as I did. And they let him have it.

I don't understand why, but there was quite a backlash against Tim, not just for 'judging those who aren't perceived as being generous' but for even having access to the giving records at all! Several people called his accessing the records as being non-biblical, telling him that that his frustration is deserved by his sinful actions, and many more 'questioned' his actions without directly calling him out.

Ok, I think I actually do understand why. But it doesn't mean I like it. I know money is a sensitive issue, it's a big deal. I know that people don't like others being informed about their financial situation, their giving, their spending, their whatever. And that for some reason many people think their pastor shouldn't be aware of this info. But I've got some bad news:

God knows about it.

And that's much more significant than some person who works in a church knowing about your tithing record. I think it's foolish to be embarrassed about your giving record, or think you can hide it from your pastor, or be offended if he's aware...because God is already aware of it. And more than that, God is aware of your motivations, the condition of your heart.

Why would you not want your pastor, someone who is supposed to help you with spiritual growth and discipline, to help you in this area? How can he help you unless he's aware of the problem?

And it really is a problem. Because it's not about the money. It's about the motivation. It's about our hearts. God doesn't need our money. Why would we think that we could possibly offer up anything to him that he would NEED?

I believe that what God wants is to help us be free from the kind of life/mind/heart that un-generosity promotes. And responsible spiritual leaders are aware of that, and they want to help free people from it too.

What are your thoughts on all this? Should pastors be aware of giving records? Why/why not?