The Holy Spirit teaches us to love the Gospel, to treasure the Lord’s gift of forgiveness. This is why it is a joy for the Lord’s Christians to support the work of the church. We know that Jesus established His church on the earth to deliver the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 16:17-19, John 20:23), to beat back the devil and his kingdom with His Word and blood (Revelation 12:11).
How wonderful to have a church, a place where we can find the Lord’s forgiveness, the Lord’s body and blood, the Lord’s smile! This is the joy of our Christian stewardship, we give our money to support the preaching of the Gospel and the delivery of the forgiveness of our sins.
Every year the members of our congregation are given pledge cards. This is an opportunity for our families to consider our support of our congregation. There is great joy in considering the gift of Hope Lutheran Church, the fifty-eight years of preaching and gifts, and all the years we have until the Lord returns for us.
There is joy, but there is danger as well. There are two things in the universe that, more than anything else, tempt us to trust in them. Money is one. Good works are the other.
Strange, isn’t it? If you ask a person if they will go to heaven, they never say, “I’m a blond,” or “I read poetry,” or “I’ve been to Tennessee.” It’s always, “I’m a good person.” What is it about good works that they sneak into the place where only God should dwell?
Money is the same way. We trust it. We think if we have enough then we will be safe, secure, happy, whatever. The trouble is that “enough” is always “a little bit more”, and that money flies away, and that it can’t, in the end, protect you from death. Money cannot forgive our sin or win God’s approval.
Good work and money are the two most common idols in the world. This doesn’t mean we should abandon good works or give away all our money, but it does mean that we should be careful. We should know that our good works and our money are always tugging on our hearts, always tempting us to trust them. This is especially true when we do a good work with our money, when we pledge our support of the church. We don’t want to mix up the law with the Gospel.
We are Christians not because we give to God but because God gives to us, gives everything to us, gives even His only begotten Son over to death for us so that we might be forgiven and holy and His. It is His giving, His generosity, His serving that gives us life and salvation. It is His work that we trust, that we look to for security and joy.
When we remember and rejoice in the Lord’s generosity, then we also find joy in serving our neighbors and friends with our offerings and service. May our Lord Jesus grant us joy in His service. Amen.
Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller