Why I Give
by Jacob Juncker
This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Consecration Sunday, June 28, 2015.
Readings: 1 Chronicles 29:10-18
Over the last month, we’ve been talking about the way in which we use our money: how the American Dream can become, for many of us, a nightmare. We’ve looked at biblical teachings on finance and the management of our money and possessions. We’ve talked about simple living and living generously. This morning, as we wrap up our series on stewardship, there’s really nothing more to say; so, I want to offer a brief testimony. I’d like to tell you why I give.
Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today. It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray. Amen.
Why I give.
For me… I do not give in order to pay the church’s utility bills. I don’t give in order to pay for church staff or to offset my own salary (it’s weird to think that my giving goes to pay for my own salary). I don’t give so that a few people can enjoy fellowship isolated from the world. I’m not motivated to give to a church that functions like a social club. I’m not motivated to give in order to maintain someone else’s traditions no matter how noble they might be. And, I’m not motivated to give toward the upkeep of a building.
I give because I believe in what God is doing. My giving is a statement of my belief and a commitment to support the work God is doing through the Church. I give so that lives might be transformed. I give so that all people might find hope and joy, live in peace, and grow in love with God and neighbor. I give so that people might be fed in mind, body, and spirit; so that needs might be met and dreams fulfilled. I give so that the love of God found in Jesus Christ might be made real (incarnate) in people’s lives. I give because I believe that my contribution—meager as it may be—can make a real and lasting difference in people’s lives (now and into eternity).
I don’t always give what I should. There are times when my pocket book yells at me, screaming that I may have given too much. Nevertheless, as inconsistent as I might be, I give and am always blest through the giving.
I give because that is what I see God doing. From the very beginning God created all that is—including you and me—and set us as stewards of God’s creation. God created all that is and then gave everything, in trust, to us that we might care for it and help it grow (“be fruitful and multiply:” see Genesis 1). In Jesus Christ, God came in-the-flesh, offering himself fully in love for all people (see 1 Timothy 2:6). God gave Godself fully in love to us. God holds nothing back. God gives all that God has created and all that God is away. I believe God gives; therefore, I give. I strive to give as fully and freely as God gives.
I give. I give to God so that God’s work might continue at Lee Memorial. I give so that recovery ministries might happen at Lee Memorial nearly every day of the week. Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and Al-Anon provide a safe place for those struggling with addiction (either themselves or their family members) to meet, find accountable support, and, with God’s help, turn their life around. I give so that 100s of people in the greater Norwich area might be fed each month (and that’s not an exaggeration). Whether its meeting an emergency need by handing out food on “Food Fridays” at the Sprague Community Center, preparing and hosting a community meal in the Fellowship Hall or growing food on the church grounds, whether it’s showing someone whose shut-in or sick that we care through a nurture meal or just getting the neighborhood together for some good food and conversation, I give so that people’s most basic need—food—is met and that in so doing people might discover God in community at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church. I give so that our community might have an opportunity to worship God and discover the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ. I give so that people might be taught and given an opportunity to grow in love with God and neighbor. I give so that our church might reach throughout the region and around the world through our connectional giving. Our support of the global United Methodist Church goes to support ministries that fight for justice on a global scale in places that we cannot and may not go; it goes to support new church starts and meet community needs that we may not be aware of; it goes to provide opportunities for children to go to camp; it empowers people to explore God’s calling on their life; it goes to do way more than we could ever do alone.
I give in order to be a part of a movement so big that no one person, group, or community can take all the credit. I give to be a part of something so big—something that makes such a big difference—that only God can take the credit. That’s why I give. And, as we prepare to turn in our estimates of giving this morning, I hope you’ll consider giving too.
Let’s pray (based on 1 Chronicles 29:10-15):
you are to be honored throughout eternity,
you are great and mighty,
glorious and victorious,
majestic and splendorous.
Everything in heaven,
everything on earth,
every thing belongs to you,
Creator of the Universe.
Everything comes from you.
You made it all.
You, O God, have the power to create or destroy,
to build up and strengthen.
So here we are, O God, our God, giving thanks to you.
Who are we that the Creator of all would enable us to give?
We have nothing to offer on our own. Everything comes from you.
All we’re doing is giving back what is already yours.
We’re stewards of what you’ve created.
May we forever give thanks and be gracious.