Adam Hamilton shares the following story in his book with the title Enough: Discovery Joy through Simplicity and Generosity:
There was a man who gave millions to establish a university in Texas. Several years later he lost nearly everything. Someone asked him if he regretted giving all he had given to the university. His response was telling. “Regret it?” he said, “Look, that school is the only lasting thing I’ve done with my money. Had I not given for the school, I would have lost that money too, and there would be nothing to show for it.”
This man knew that we were created to give, not to hoard. He knew that hoarding his money not only would have been futile; it would have been fruitless (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TX, 2009, page 77).
Over the last twelve years our FUMC of Arlington finance committee and church staff have worked vigorously to operate our church ministries by principles of good stewardship. We are a remarkably transparent church. We believe in accountability to our congregation. Those responsible to help our congregation raise our church ministry budget for 2016 have a scheduled Q&A session. The purpose is for church members who may have questions about our church budget will have an opportunity to get those questions answered. The day chosen is 1 November 2015 at 9:30 am, in the Banquet Room.
Now we ask our church members to be accountable to your own church. We ask you to pledge for a simple reason: Because we wish to prudently plan for ministry next year—2016. If you give and don’t pledge however, our finance committee cannot and will not take your gift into planning. This position diminishes our ministry. We are clearly responsible to you; all we ask in return is that you be responsible to God and our congregation.
In Acts, Luke gives us a picture of what the early church looked like. Like the Garden of Eden, this portrait offers us a glimpse of what God intended at creation—a creation that looks much like heavenly perfection. Notice Luke’s image of a group of dissimilar people who submit to God’s authority and for whom the Holy Spirit guides life:
All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved (Acts 2:44-47).
Here is a good proverb for us to all consider: “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.”